Tag Archive | western

Claire McEwen: Convincing the Rancher

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Claire McEwen will be awarding $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances to win.

Backstory Saved My Characters!

by Claire McEwen

Thank you for having me on Susana’s Morning Room today! I’m so happy to celebrate the release of Convincing the Rancher with you.

Authorpic_Claire McEwen copyI didn’t get too far into writing this book before I realized that my hero and heroine were pretty different than any characters I’d written before. Tess is promiscuous, avoids any difficult conversations, throws herself into work and allows herself the occasional one-night stand. She’s so guarded even her best friends don’t know that much about her.

Sound familiar? She’s a lot like many of the heroes I’ve read.

My hero, Slaid, is a family man. His wife left him and their adopted son so he’s juggling his ranch, his role as the mayor and his need to be a devoted, loving father. In an early scene he allows himself the luxury of one beer and a tiny bit of time to contemplate the unfolding events, but quickly realizes his time is up – he needs to cook, do chores and help his son with homework.

Sound familiar? He’s a lot like many of the heroines I’ve read.

I don’t think I did this consciously. Tess was created years ago, and has appeared in my last two books. Slaid came to me as a complete vision, the rancher-mayor at his desk, already a dad, fully formed. But once I realized who they were, and that she was going to be a lot less emotional, more aggressive, and sometimes less sympathetic than he was, my challenge became how to make them likeable. I didn’t want him to be a wimp and I didn’t want her to seem like (as a few friends jokingly described her) a total slut!

I realized that my first step in making them likeable was to really develop their backstory, to find out why they were this way. So I got out a notebook and started writing down whatever came to me about their lives before they met. I was pretty surprised by the results!

Tess, it turned out, was raised in foster care and never adopted by anyone. That feeling of never being chosen, never being deemed worthy of love and a family, created a wound so deep that her only way of managing it was to put it in the past and close the door on it. Whenever someone gets too close she pushes them away, because deep down inside, she considers herself un-loveable. Thus, the one-night stands. It’s a way to have a manageable dose of intimacy and still save herself from the rejection that she feels will be inevitable.

And Slaid? I learned that he’s a pretty dutiful guy. He was raised with a strong connection to his family and their legacy of ranching and community service. He’s a regular church-goer, a former football hero, the kind of guy who steps up and does what needs to be done. Including adopting a cousin’s child when she could no longer care for the boy. But because he hasn’t traveled far from his hometown, he hasn’t been exposed to a lot of other people who might be different from him. He’s crazy about Tess, but she also drives him crazy because she won’t do the most basic things that have been drilled into his moral code. He gets self-righteous sometimes, and controlling, as he tries to make her fit into the only way of life he’s known.

I learned a big lesson from writing this story. If characters feel one-dimensional, or unlikeable, I need to take the time to open my imagination to their backstory. And once I know it, I need to think about what this means for them. How does it affect the way they react to each other? How can secondary characters challenge them or teach them?

The next time you feel stuck with a story, open up your notebook and imagine where your characters came from. You might be amazed by what you find out!

About Convincing the Rancher

About that night…

Benson, CA, represents all that Tess Cole doesn’t want. So she intends to keep her business trip there brief. Too bad her idea to quickly change the mayor’s mind about some planning issues dissolves the moment she recognizes him! That one night with Slaid Jacobs remains a personal favorite for Tess—and for him, too, it seems.

Even though he’s gorgeous and hot, it’s clear to Tess that the single dad wants a commitment—something she avoids. It’s also clear Slaid is bent on convincing her they can build a future out of their passionate past. And that’s a very tempting offer…

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Excerpt

TESS WASN’T PREPARED for a Jeep that looked like an ice sculpture. With a pang of longing, she pictured her underground parking space in San Francisco, where even on the rare frosty morning she never had to worry about a frozen car. Reluctantly she opened her wallet and stared at her rainbow assortment of credit cards, wondering which one she could sacrifice as an ice scraper. The Saks Fifth Avenue card was nice and thick and would work the best, but she didn’t want to risk ruining it. Same with Bloomingdale’s. And there was no way she’d sacrifice Nordstrom—their annual shoe sale was coming up.

Cover_Convincing the Rancher copyShe finally settled for Talbots and started scraping at the frosted windshield. The ice came off in a spray coating her bare skin. “Ow!” she exclaimed and pulled her hand away abruptly, shaking it to try to get the frost off and the heat back in.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t bring gloves?” The deep voice had her whirling to confront the mayor. He looked warm and comfortable, his thick parka advertising the fact that he was prepared for the weather. The battered leather cowboy hat on his head was one more reminder that she’d left San Francisco far behind.

“It’s probably seventy degrees at home today,” she said by way of an answer.

“It’s seventy degrees in San Francisco most days. Didn’t you check the weather report before you drove out here?”

She hadn’t. She’d been in denial until she’d pulled into town yesterday. Despite all the arguments with Ed and the cramming she’d done to understand wind power, she’d ignored the fact that she’d be living in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere for the next month or so. Tess could safely say that denial was one of her strongest abilities.

About the Author

Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her family and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course! Convincing the Rancher is her third book for Harlequin Superromance.

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Charlene Raddon and “Taming Jenna”

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Charlene will be awarding an e-copy of one of her books from her backlist at each stop to a randomly drawn commenter, and a Grand Prize of a $30 gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Taming Jenna

THE WRONG MAN

Deserted by her father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington had taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl…and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her gun on a rugged stranger—only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she’d been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun…and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman!

THE RIGHT WOMAN

If there’s one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it’s a female who packs a six-gun. But what a woman! Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive—and satisfying—job he’s ever taken on.

Available

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Excerpt

Jenna scowled as she studied the man by the flickering glare of his campfire. He had the right build and appeared close to thirty, Mendoza’s age. But something didn’t fit.

The Denver police chief had described her quarry as a spoiled aristocrat, too busy wooing Lady Luck and every other female to be much of a train robber, let alone a killer. But the rogue in front of Jenna looked too lean and hard to be spoiled, too wary and aloof to be a ladies’ man

To Jenna he seemed the perfect gunslinger: cold, tough, and ready to spring. Like a big yellow cougar perched on a ledge. Or a rattler, tightly coiled. Either way, his bite would be deadly.

MEDIA KIT_Taming Jenna by Charlene Raddon - 500In spite of the cool night breeze, sweat oozed from her pores. She couldn’t forget that lightning draw. Why had she come here? How had she expected to take an outlaw Pinkerton’s other agents had failed to bring in? No, she refused to think that way. She was every bit as capable as any man to capture Mendoza. She had to believe that, the same way she had to do what she’d set out to do. Only one question remained: Was this Mendoza or not?

“Who are you, mister?”

“Who am I? Hell, who are you? ”

Blast! Did no male exist in this empty wilderness who wasn’t so taken with himself that he couldn’t cooperate for a change?

She took a calming breath. A body could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, old Charley Long Bow used to say. Jenna figured flies might fancy the hairy creature facing her, so she decided to try being friendly. “Listen, I smelled your coffee and hoped you might spare a cup, is all. You can understand me being a mite leery of walking into a stranger’s camp without knowing who I’m hooking up with.”

Firelight glinted on the man’s straight white teeth as his whiskers parted in a cold smile. “Don’t recall inviting company, but I’ll play your game. Name’s Branch McCauley. Now it’s your turn.”

His smile unnerved her. It held no humor, only a lethal sort of grimness that cannoned her stomach into her throat and made her wish she’d wired William Pinkerton for instructions instead of going off half-cocked this way. “I’m Jim…Jim White,” she lied.

“All right, Jim, how about some honesty? You come here looking for me?”

“I’m not looking for anyone named Branch McCauley. If that’s who you are, you’ve nothing to worry about.”

The wide, innocent eyes McCauley studied held honesty. He relaxed. “In that case…be glad to pour you some coffee.” He reached for the battered graniteware pot. His visitor’s next words froze him in a half-stoop: “I’d feel more welcome if you’d set aside your gun first.”

Cool as Montana sleet, McCauley straightened, hand poised above his holster. “Reckon you would. Wouldn’t do much for my sense of well-being, though.”

So much for trying to be friendly, Jenna thought. What now? She clenched her knees together to still their shaking and swallowed the fear knotted in her throat.

“Look.” McCauley shifted his weight to one leg. “Why don’t you put your gun away and have a sit? Could be I might know something about the hombre you’re hunting.

Hombre. Sounded Spanish. Like Mendoza. It must be him. She had to get his gun away from him. Surprise seemed the best means. She squeezed the trigger of the .44 Starr. The bullet kicked dirt onto the man’s scuffed boots. He jumped and let out a yelp as though she’d set his feet afire.

“Dammit, kid, going up against me won’t get you anything but a six-foot hole in the ground.”

“Shut up and toss over your gun or I’ll turn them boots into sieves. ‘Course, my sights might be a bit off.” She raised the muzzle toward his groin.

“You made your point,” he growled as he unbuckled his gun belt and tossed it over.

Instead of the fancy weapon she had expected a gunslinger to own, an ordinary, six-gun lay at her feet. No ivory handle or engraved barrel. Only an ordinary .44 Peacemaker, crafted and worn for one reason—to kill. The thought did funny things to her innards.

“All right,” she said, getting back to business. “You aren’t going to like this, mister, but I don’t know any other way to be sure who you are. Drop them trousers to your ankles.

“Do what?”

About the Author

Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing.

Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.

Currently, Charlene is working on her next release.

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Cora Seton and “The Cowboys of Chance Creek”

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Cora will be awarding a $100 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the banner to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About The Cowboys of Chance Creek Box Set, Books 1 – 3

Ethan Cruz, Jamie Lassiter and Rob Matheson have been friends since they were kids, and they’re about to get each other in a whole lot of trouble—women trouble, that is. When a practical joke kicks off a series of romances, the Cowboys of Chance Creek will never be the same.

Includes:

The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride (Book 1)

When Ethan Cruz finds himself with an e-mail order bride he never asked for, he’s ready to send her right back where she came from—just as soon as he gets to know her a little better. When Autumn Leeds answers a plea for a modern mail-order bride for a cowboy, it sounds like the story of the century, but when she reaches Montana, she’s surprised to find Ethan’s the perfect cowboy husband-to-be. Against her better judgment, her plan to keep her handsome groom at arm’s length while she writes a scathing article on the subject disintegrates into a night of passion spent in his arms.

Ethan knows he can’t keep playing this game – he has to come clean with Autumn and tell her the truth; about the practical joke and about the state of his ranch. Autumn’s in bigger trouble than ever. Not only has she fallen in love with the subject of her exposé – she might be carrying his child. Can she trust a man she’s just met when she knows too well that men always let you down?

Can a love based on lies last?

The Cowboy Wins a Bride (Book 2)

All Jamie Lassiter wants is to marry his best friend’s sister and settle down for the rest of his life in Chance Creek. He’s saved his money, bought into the Cruz Guest Ranch and he’s ready for that wedding, but Claire Cruz is nowhere to be found. Claire’s too busy leaving Montana behind to care about cowboys or their wedding plans. She’s got plans of her own – a trip around the world. She’ll go as soon as she buys her tickets and she doesn’t care if she ever sees Chance Creek again.

Desperate to change Claire’s mind, Jamie proposes a bet: give him six weeks to convince her to marry him. If he can’t, he’ll pay for her round-the-world tickets himself. Claire can wait six weeks if it means free tickets and a chance to get a little revenge on a man who once broke her heart. She’s got only one stipulation: Jamie can’t touch or flirt with her – or any other woman – while the bet is on.

Now Jamie’s on the run from a bevy of cowboy-groupie ranch guests, and Claire’s learning she cares about the ranch – and Jamie – more than she dreamed possible.

Maybe it’s time to lose that bet. As long as Jamie loses it first.

The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Book 3)

Rob Matheson doesn’t know how much longer he can keep up the tough-guy act. As his buddies get married one by one, he’s left with the sinking feeling he lost more than his dreams when he traded them for a thick skin. Now Rob’s father has issued a challenge – he’ll give 200 acres to the first of his four sons to wed. Could this be a chance to become the man he really wants to be?

Morgan Tate’s worked for years to climb the ladder to a top job at Cassidy Wineries, but Duncan Cassidy, the boss’ son, always stands in her way. Now he’s issued an ultimatum; marry him or he’ll make sure she never works in the wine industry again..

Rob offers Morgan a proposition – marry him and split the land. Now they’ve got sixty days to fall in love, and a passel of family and friends determined to keep them apart. Will it take the biggest practical joke of all to convince the world – and themselves – that they’re truly meant to be man and wife?

The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire (Book 4)

Cover_TheCowgirlRopesaBillionaireBella Chatham will lose everything – her veterinary practice, her animal shelter, and even her home – if she can’t find another source of income, fast. So when her best friend signs her up for the hot new reality television show, Can You Beat a Billionaire, Bella accepts the challenge and hopes against hope she can win the ten million dollar prize. If she doesn’t, it’s bye-bye pet clinic and shelter, bye-bye Chance Creek, Montana, and hello to marriage to the billionaire for a year!

Evan Mortimer, billionaire, can’t believe he’s reduced to competing in a television contest to win a wife. Unfortunately, it’s the only foolproof way to secure his position as head of Mortimer Innovations. At least he’ll be able to dump his “spouse” at the end of the year; he’s much too busy to be tied down to a country bumpkin cowgirl.

As the contests heat up, so do the sparks between the contestants. Will either of them remember in time that it’s not who wins or who loses – it’s how they play the game that really counts?

Excerpt

The Cowboy Wins a Bride

“Bet she shoots you down when you do ask her,” Rob said, catching up to him.

“Bet you she doesn’t,” Jamie said, even though secretly he thought Rob might be right.

“How much? Hundred bucks?”

“You got it.”

“Good luck winning that bet,” Cab said, overtaking them. “Seeing as how Jamie isn’t asking her anytime soon.”

Jamie frowned. “I’ll ask her soon.”

“Bet you can’t marry her by Labor Day,” Rob said.

“If you’re getting married in ten weeks, you better hurry up and pop the question,” Ethan said from behind them.

“I’m not marrying Claire on Labor Day,” Jamie said. His plan called for using the summer to build her interest in the ranch. At some point, he’d ask her out, and in the fall he’d suggest they move in together. Maybe he’d propose at Thanksgiving. Sure, he’d bought the ring early, but experience had taught him to be prepared. Like Ethan said, some occasions were more romantic than others. If things should move faster than he expected, he didn’t want to be caught short.

And…well, he was looking forward to being engaged to Claire.

“You admitting she’ll turn you down?” Rob said. They reached the stack of chairs again, and added the new ones to the pile.

“No. I’d just like to go on a few dates before I ask her.” Jamie straightened up.

“Chicken.”

“I ain’t…”

“If you haven’t asked her out in the past decade, you aren’t going to ask her now. You’re blowing smoke up your own ass if you think you’re ever going to marry her.”

Jamie shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from balling them into fists and punching Rob. “I ain’t chicken and I am going to ask her.”

“Hundred bucks says that come Labor Day, you’re still single,” Rob said. “Safest bet I ever made.”

Cab, joining them, laughed out loud. “Got that right.”

“He’s got to think it over for another twelve years,” Ethan chimed in. “Doesn’t do to rush these things.”

Jamie bristled at this group attack on his cautious personality. “Hundred bucks says I’m married to Claire by the end of the summer.”

“Deal.” Rob grabbed his hand and shook it before Jamie had a chance to reconsider. He pointed across the lawn. “There she is, tiger. Go on and ask her. Just keep your distance from her right hook. You know how cranky she gets.”

About the Author

Author Pic Cora SetonCora Seton loves cowboys, country life, gardening, bike-riding, and lazing around with a good book. Mother of four, wife to a computer programmer/eco-farmer, she ditched her California lifestyle eight years ago and moved to a remote logging town in northwestern British Columbia.

Like the characters in her novels, Cora enjoys old-fashioned pursuits and modern technology, spending mornings transforming a neglected one-acre lot into a paradise of orchards, berry bushes and market gardens, and afternoons writing the latest Chance Creek romance novel on her iPad mini. Visit http://www.coraseton.com to read about new releases, contests and other cool events!

Contacts

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Adrienne deWolfe and “Scoundrel for Hire”

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Adrienne will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour; a Professional Story Critique of Chapter 1 of your novel (a $125 value) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour; an ebook copy of TEXAS OUTLAW (Book 1, WILD TEXAS NIGHTS) to to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour; an ebook copy of HIS WICKED DREAM (Book 2, VELVET LIES) to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and character worksheets to write Heroes, Villains, and Sidekicks for your novel to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Scoundrel for Hire: Book 1, Velvet Lies Series

Raphael Jones is a Kentucky-born scoundrel, who has never played by the rules. When Colorado mining heiress, Silver Nichols, hires him to stop her precious daddy from marrying a golddigger, Rafe sets out to seduce Silver and win her fortune.

Cover_SCOUNDREL FOR HIREBut beneath Silver’s cool veneer, Rafe encounters a sweet vulnerability and an aching secret that threatens to send his whole world up in smoke.

Now the wily scoundrel must choose: walk away or wager the one thing he can’t afford to lose—his heart.

Excerpt

Rafe Makes Mischief at the Party

Oblivious to the knife that was twisting in Silver’s chest, Papa blew his fiancée a kiss. Celestia pinkened like a bonbon. Clasping her well-corseted bosom, she made a great show of blowing back her answer, and Papa chortled, reaching up to catch it.

It was more than Silver could bear.

“Papa,” she said tersely, “perhaps it’s time you introduced Lord Chumley to your fiancée. I’m sure Celestia might be persuaded to tear herself away from her palm-reading long enough to… uh…” She tossed a withering glance at Rafe’s preposterous, chartreuse waistcoat and outlandish muttonchop whiskers. ” … Meet such a distinguished member of the British House of Lords.”

“Odds fish,” Rafe drawled, squinting through his quizzing glass at Celestia’s equally outlandish costume. “A palm reader, is she?”

“She sure is,” Papa said proudly. “She talks to spirits, too. Why, we’re planning on having a séance to talk to that pesky ghost,” he continued over Silver’s sputtered objections. “You know, the one that’s been haunting our mine and driving all the shovel stiffs away.”

“A ghost, you say?” Rafe looked like he might burst out laughing. “Lud, what rotten luck. Can’t be good for business, what? My great grandmummy’s castle was haunted once,” he improvised brightly. “The bugger kept driving her sheep away. It was deuced inconvenient; they kept drowning in the moat. Turns out, Sir Harry—that was our ghost—had it in for the critters. Choked to death on a leg o’ lamb, you see. So he’d ring a cowbell to lure them over the drawbridge.”

Silver narrowed her eyes at her playactor’s ad-lib. “Fortunately, there are no sheep in Silver’s Mine.”

“But there is a bell,” Papa added thoughtfully. “‘Course, it’s supposed to be a warning bell, but it’s got all the men spooked ’cause it rings for no danged reason. Or at least, that’s what we used to think. But maybe Nahele’s been trying to warn us away. Do you suppose that’s why he’s resorting to more drastic measures, like snuffing out lanterns and dumping lunch pails into the abyss?”

“Papa,” Silver ground out, ever-conscious of the newsman who was trailing after them, “Nahele is not roaming our tunnels, upsetting lunch buckets. The very idea is ludicrous.”

“Now, daughter, you can’t be so sure. No one knows for certain what happens to the spirit after it leaves its fleshy abode. Celestia says we can ask Nahele anything we like during the séance, and I mean to ask him to stop harassing our shovel stiffs. Besides,” Papa added more ominously, “who knows what Nahele might do next if we keep ignoring him?”

“A séance is a rather novel approach to avoiding a miners’ strike,” Buckholtz interjected snidely.

Silver scowled. So much for trying to keep that headline out of the newspaper.

“Our miners are reasonable men,” she told the newsman with long-suffering dignity. “I’m sure their peculiar set of grievances can be logically explained. With safety being our primary concern, of course, I shall direct our mining engineers to re-inspect the timbering for buckling and cracking. I’m sure this will allay the Union’s fears.”

“Dash it all.” Rafe donned a hangdog expression. “Does that mean there won’t be a séance? I was so looking forward to chatting with a real, live ghostie—”

Silver furtively stomped his foot.

Available

http://ebookdiscovery.com.p8.hostingprod.com/AdrienneDeWolfe.html

About the Author

Adrienne deWolfeAdrienne deWolfe is a #1 Bestselling Author and a recipient of 48 writing awards, including the Best Historical Romance of the Year.  She consistently delights readers with sexy, action-packed, western-style romances, including her Wild Texas Nights series and her Velvet Lies series.  In addition, she is the author of the bestselling non-fiction ebook series, The Secrets to Getting Your Romance Novel Published.

Fascinated by all things mystical, Adrienne writes a weekly blog about dragons, magic, and the paranormal at http://MagicMayhemBlog.com to help her research her upcoming YA Epic Fantasy series. She also writes a weekly blog with fiction writing tips and advice about the business of writing at http://WritingNovelsThatSell.com.  She enjoys mentoring aspiring authors and offers professional story critiques and book coaching services.

Contacts

Other Books in the Velvet Lies series

Book 1: SCOUNDREL FOR HIRE

Book 2: HIS WICKED DREAM

Book 3: SEDUCED BY AN ANGEL

Book 4: DEVIL IN TEXAS (Available 2014)

VELVET LIES_Trio_Adrienne deWolfe

Jennifer Zane and “The Lady and the Lawman”

A few writing tidbits about me:

  1. lady_lawman_200x300I contemplate my plots, twists, sagging middles (and I don’t mean my belly!) in the bathtub. In my house with three boys (two kids and a husband), I savor the peace and quiet in the bath.
  2. I’m not a morning writer. I’m not a morning anything, actually.
  3. For Gnome On the Range, I used my sons as book fodder. Yes, one did get his arm stuck in a patio umbrella stand (I have a photo to prove it). Yes, when they were younger, they’d rather pee outside than in. They were the easiest characters to write because little ones are genuine and have great things to say and do that are hilarious.
  4. I love cowboys. Who doesn’t? When I lived in Montana (and we lived in a town, not out on a ranch), I didn’t live the ‘cowboy’ lifestyle. The closest I get to a cow is under plastic at the grocery store. One day at the gas station there was a cowboy. A REAL cowboy. I swear my heart skipped a beat like in a book. He was big, broad, dark haired. Cowboy hat. Wranglers. Big pickup truck. Full handlebar mustache. I was gobsmacked. Sorry, husband-of-mine, but a cowboy is…wow. That’s why I wrote The Lady and the Lawman because I wanted a cowboy of my own.
  5. When I think about my characters like I would real people in my life, I know I’m at a spot in my story that’s good. They become real to me and want to stay with them, to learn more about them. So I sit down and keep writing. And keep writing. Hopefully, you’ll keep reading!

About The Lady and the Lawman

Desperate to escape a fiancé who plans to marry, then murder her for her wealth, Margaret Atwater runs West as a mail-order bride. Freedom seems to be within her grasp until her stage coach is robbed and the driver killed. Her life is spared, only she’s taken and sold to a brothel. Now she’s a high dollar ante for the brothel owner, and the only eyewitness to cold-blooded murder.

Colorado sheriff, Grant Masterson, is looking for a killer, not a woman. When a round of cards turns into a high-stakes game for the life and future of the lovely and innocent Miss Margaret Atwater, he must win. Grant isn’t prepared for the danger and chaos that haunts his prize. Outlaws are trying to kill her.  The brothel owner wants her back. And a man from her past is willing to do anything to reclaim what he lost. Will bullets and brawn be enough to save her?

Excerpt

Colorado – 1878

Curled in a ball on the uncomfortable bench seat of the stage, her arm an awkward pillow against the jolts and rocking of the stage, Margaret Atwater snoozed fitfully. The heat was stifling, covering her like a wool blanket in July. Her dress clung to her sweaty skin, her hair damp and sticking to her brow. She’d undone the top few buttons at the neck, revealing the full swell of her breasts above her snug corset. The smallest of adjustment offered a reprieve from the endless warmth and the strict confines of polite society. Who cared about social mores when it was almost too hot to breathe, much less be covered head to toe in linen and cotton?

The leather curtains flapped noisily with each rock or lumbering sway. Rays of intense sun intermittently filtered through and burned through her closed lids. She licked her parched lips, anticipating the next stop on the route like a lost man in a desert finding an oasis. She must look as poorly as she felt. But she didn’t care. She was safely away from her fiancé’s clutches and that was her sole concern.

It was impossible to say exactly where she was beyond a two days’ ride west of St. Louis. She’d lost track in the tedium of horse hooves and the never-ending sway and dip of the stage. If she had to guess, she was somewhere in the new state of Colorado.

Deafening shots rang out, rousing her. “What?” she whispered to herself, clearing her fuzzy head.

A second round of gunfire chipped pieces of wood out of the panel above her head and the stage lurched forward with incredible speed.

“Oh no!” she shouted, instinctively covering her head.

There was no time to panic, or even think. Chunks of wood flew through the air and landed in her hair, on her lap. The uncontrollable swaying had her reaching her arms out, one hand hitting the side of the stage, her fancy East Coast hat toppling off her head.

She spread her legs wide on the floor to help maintain her balance and grunted in an unladylike fashion as she held on. If any of her society friends could see her now, they’d probably faint dead away. Her dress was unbuttoned low enough to expose her ample cleavage the lace on her corset, her hat was crushed beneath her feet, and tendrils of her dark hair fell from its pins. Her dress was stained and wrinkled from travel, and most likely beyond repair.

Through the clamoring leather flap, she could make out a blur of the endless green prairie. A wheel caught on what felt like a deep rut and the stage jumped as if it were a feather in the wind. It fell more like a boulder from a cliff.

Dust kicked up as the stage slid to a rough stop and she coughed in the thick air. The stage—and Margaret—landed on its side, the horses unable to drag the heavy load farther. Whoever fired the gunshots were nearby. She heard their heavy breathing from where she laid, sprawled in a heap, her skirts around her neck.

Wincing, she rubbed her hip where she landed on the corner of the seat. Continuing on, she did a quick assessment of the rest of her body and found only a few sore spots and probably, come tomorrow, many a bruise. Attempting to get her bearings, she looked up at the roof, no, the wall of the stage. Carefully but without any ladylike grace, she pulled herself up to the window to peek out, standing on the other wall and door, which were now the floor. Her legs, tangled in the mess of skirts and petticoats, made it extremely difficult.

Two men on horseback waved their guns and one fired again into the air. Her heart leapt into her throat as she covered her ears and flinched at the deafening sound. Only a squeak escaped her throat, a full scream clogged by fear. She was going to die. Alone, standing in a tipped carriage, a complete mess, shot by bandits or robbers or desperadoes. She’d never contemplated how she would eventually die, but she always assumed she’d be old and gray, and not in the middle of nowhere!

 About the Author

Jennifer lives in Colorado, but spent five years hunting cowboys in Montana. She’s a Civil War buff who drags her children to reenactments back East where she grew up. She’s writing the next book in her Gnome Novel Series—this one titled: Gnome, Alaska. Her historical western—The Lady and the Lawman—was released in May.

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Contacts

jennifer@jenniferzane.com

www.jenniferzane.com

Twitter: @jenniferzane

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