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I have two fun tidbits of news to share with you today.

Celebrate background with balloons.

This week marks my fifth anniversary of saying adios to my day job and beginning the adventure of writing full-time.

I’m sure glad I took that leap of faith and I’m so, so grateful to all my readers for their ongoing readership, encouragement and support. Thank you!

To celebrate this milestone, I’m giving away five $10 Amazon Gift Cards. The winner will be announced Tuesday, Aug. 14.

To enter to win, just follow this link and fill out the info!

Bobbins and Boots 2

Today, Bobbins and Boots is on sale for just 99 cents!

If you haven’t yet read the book, it is book 4 in the Baker City Brides series.

How does an act of kindness result in… marriage?

 One carefree cowboy is about to find out in this sweet historical romance!

 Born dirt-poor into a life of hardship, Allie Tillman seizes the opportunity to better her situation by answering an advertisement for a mail-order bride in the West. Upon her arrival in Baker City, Oregon, she discovers her intended is a low-down, lying thief. Determined not to marry him, she grasps at the one thing that will keep him from forcing her to be his wife — marrying another man.

Good-natured cowboy Ben Amick had no idea a simple trip into town would completely change his life. When he happens upon a mail-order bride desperate to avoid marrying her fiancé, Ben does the first thing that pops into his head and weds her. Willingly, he gives her the protection of his name and his arms, never expecting her to capture his heart.

Humorous, heartfelt, and awash in sweet romance, Bobbins and Boots captures the tender and tumultuous emotions of falling in love.

~*~

And here’s a fun little excerpt:

Thane rocked back so hard, he had to scramble to keep from tipping off the chunk of wood. “You did what?”

“I married Miss Tillman. It all happened so fast, I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d done until I was partway home. I went to the bank, took money from my account, and left it at the jail for Tully to give Joe. I figured him punching me in the stomach and threatening to shoot me was worth a fifteen-dollar discount. Then I got Pastor Eagan and we went to the boardinghouse. He married us. I remember signing a marriage certificate and Hattie and Edwin witnessing the ceremony, but everything else is kind of a blur.”

Thane jumped up and looked around. “Where’s your wife, Ben? What did you do with her?”

As though he finally regained his full mental faculties, Ben stood while a look of panic settled on his face. “I left her at the boardinghouse. I didn’t even think about bringing her home with me.” Ben groaned and sank back down on the stump. “I stepped in it good this time, Thane. What am I gonna do with a wife? I’m too young to be married. I don’t even have a house. I’m no better than Joe Lambery.”

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Mom and Dad 68th anniversary

Yesterday, Mom and Dad celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. (Wow, right?!?)

A few weeks ago, my dad called and asked what I was doing on August 5th. Well aware of what day it was, I played dumb and asked him what he had in mind. He wanted to go for a drive and meet Captain Cavedweller and me halfway between our two homes (which is about three hours).

My oldest brother and sister-in-law drove Mom and Dad to a little town about an hour from where they live and we met them there for lunch.  It was so nice to see them and be able to celebrate their special day with them. I tried to get them to tell me when and how dad proposed, but they both claim they don’t remember. I might have to do a little more digging to see if I can get the story out of them.

honeymoon camping

I may not know how he proposed or when or where, but I do know they spent their honeymoon camping (which would be my idea of torture!) Here they are at the campsite. I have no idea who took the photo of them, but Dad sure looks like he’s having a great time.

Before we left to meet them yesterday, I was digging around through some old photos and came across a postcard a cousin had given me.

Back in 1949, after they graduated from high school, my dad went on two deployments with the Naval Reserve. One of them was to Alaska, the other to Hawaii.

Naval Reserves 1

Wasn’t he handsome in his uniform!

Anyway, Dad sent a postcard in August to his oldest sister, who was by then married. The postcard showed a photograph of the garden at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel – and it was Kodachrome, a full-color image! The postcard had no address on it, just the town and state where they lived and it was written in pencil – but the words are still crisp and clear even 69 years later!

On the back, Dad had written:

Hi Sis and Hub,

Well, here I am in Honolulu, Hawaii, 3,000 miles from home and my girl, but it is worth it. This is the most beautiful place I ever saw. 

See ya’ 

I thought it was so cute he mentioned Mom and was thinking of her even then.  He did bring her back a few treasures.

Mom and Aunt Rob grass skirt

Including this grass skirt outfit.  Love mom’s beautiful smile. The grinning girl on the steps wearing the Hawaiian Island t-shirt (most likely a gift from dad) is dad’s sister, my beloved Aunt Robbie.

I just loved this little peek into their courting days.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Here’s to more wonderful years together.

Today, I thought you might like to see my inspiration for the characters in Summer Bride.

First, we have Justin James. I knew I wanted to have dark hair, a little messy and longer, and kind eyes.

When I saw this photo of David Giuntoli it was like there was a neon sign hanging over it saying “This is the one! This is Justin!”

david

This is exactly how I picture our hunky, handsome, ever-helpful hero.

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Seriously, isn’t he a cutie? Can’t you just picture him in the crazy T-shirt Matilda gives him?

Sage Presley we met briefly in Valentine Bride (book 1 in the Holiday Brides series). But we didn’t know much about her.

I envisioned her as blond, with a sweetness about her that belied her inner strength. I pictured her as very feminine and lovely although she’s tough and capable of handling whatever challenges life throws her way.

skyler 4

I thought Skyler Samuels made the best Sage. She’s lovely and has that delicate look to her.

skyler-samuels 1

But a fun, playful side, too! I just loved the inspiration she provided for Sage.

Then I needed a little inspiration for Sage’s brother, Shane.

Colby Canterbury

Colby Canterbury was my choice for Shane Presley. From the hair and green eyes, to that soulful look on his face, he was just perfect for Shane.

The song I listed to while I wrote this book kept me smiling as I pictured Justin asking his friends this question:

Such a fun song from Joe Nichols.

Oh, and I have to share the ringtone Sage uses for Justin on her cell.

If you haven’t read it yet, get your copy of Summer Bride today!

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Summer Bride

releases today!

Summer Bride meme 1

Two scheming matchmakers are at it again…

Sage Presley loves her job as the receptionist at Golden Skies Retirement Village in Holiday, Oregon. She enjoys the residents and their wisdom, even if some of them are more than a little quirky. Determined to ignore the matchmaking efforts of two women at the retirement home, Sage’s sole focus is on raising her brother, Shane. In spite of her best efforts, she can’t help but notice the hunky electrician who continually comes to her rescue.

Grateful for the opportunity to open his own electrical business, Justin James moves to Holiday full of plans and dreams. He’s quickly drawn in by the close-knit community, but finds the lack of suitable single women disturbing. Despite himself, his attention is captured by the receptionist at the retirement home where he’s working on a big job. Yet, he can’t begin to understand why two matchmaking octogenarians are intent on forcing him together with the woman he’s convinced is married.

A sweet romance sprinkled with humor, hope, and the meaning of real love, Summer Bride will warm the hearts of readers while bringing them a smile.

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Summer Bride meme 5

Justin’s grin faded and he gave her a curious look before he glanced down the table at Shane. His gaze shifted back to her. “Isn’t Shane your son?”

Sage choked on the sip of lemonade she’d just swallowed. Matilda whacked her on the back as she coughed into a napkin. When she ceased coughing and could speak again, she shook her head. “Shane is my brother.”

Eyes wide in shock, Justin gaped at her. “Your brother? So you aren’t… you don’t have… Are you married?”

Had Sage taken another drink, she was sure she would have spewed it all over Justin. It was a good thing she’d merely sat glaring at him in disbelief. What on earth had given him the idea she was married and Shane was her son? How old did he think she was, anyway?

“She isn’t married,” Matilda said when Sage remained silent. “She doesn’t even have a boyfriend right now, do you, darling?” The old woman appeared to size up Justin before she leaned toward him. “Are you interested?”

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Today LAURA Award-Winning Author Carmen Peone joins us with her latest release, Girl Warrior.

Imagine Native American men on horseback charging down a nearly vertical, boulder-strewn crevasse in the face of a bluff. From there the riders race across a dry channel of the Sanpoil River and charge into the rodeo arena.

In the old days, Natives in the Keller, WA, area on the Colville Reservation gathered at the junction of the Sanpoil and Columbia river in late May during the salmon runs to harvest and dry a winter’s supply of fish. Games and horse racing were always present.

Excitement rolled in with the salmon and soon betting began.

Piles of loot swelled so quickly it was a wonder how accounts could be kept. Blankets, furs, saddles, knives, traps, tobacco, beads, whips, flour, and a hundred other items were staked. It was said that arranged marriages on occasion came from this traditional mountain race.

The race was eventually moved to the Omak Stampede in 1935, an idea inspired by local businessman Claire Pentz in an effort to promote rodeo and was named––The World Famous Suicide Race.

It’s a male dominated race, a rite of passage that few woman enter. All jockeys have to do is pass the hill, swim, and vet test. Albeit women have to stride one step further––endure not-so-charming rants many male racers sling their way.

It takes grit and determination for a woman to speed down 225 feet of a 62-degree slope, plunge into and swim cross the Okanogan River, and charge 500 feet before crossing the finish line inside the Omak Stampede arena.

Charnaye Toulou did just that in Girl Warrior.

Don’t miss out on this wild ride. Get your copy today!

GirlWarrior_Final

Does one teenager fresh out of high school have a chance at winning the race?

The instant the idea of entering the race stops swirling in her mind and settles in her heart, life changes for Charnaye Toulou. She has her sights pinned on winning the World Famous Suicide horse race during the Omak Stampede. The purse will help ease a financial burden of her paraplegic father, worn out mother, and ill grandfather. But more than that, she wants the respect earned from becoming “King of the Hill.” This race has been a long time rite of passage for male Natives. Charnaye is up for the challenge to prove females too can be awarded a warrior status as times are changing.

But when bully Hagan Hurst chokes her and causes her self-esteem to plummet, she hooks up with her Okanogan relatives and a horse that can take her the distance. Anonymous threatening letters find her and they all point to Hagan. Her father and mother become overly protective, but she meets a woman who has ran the race, jumpstarting her confidence. The day after Charnaye graduates from high school, she jumps in with cousin and trainer Craig Stuart and heads for her relative’s Omak ranch. And so do the letters.

Charnaye begins the rigorous training it takes to become “King of the Hill”, or in her case, “Queen”, and tries to figure out who is behind the threating letters. She combats fear and anxiety, fighting to fulfill this rite of passage.

Where to find Girl Warrior:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Excerpt:

He buckles the cinch to the new latigo strip and perches himself on a hay bale. He pats the space beside him. I know he’s about to tell me what’s good for me. It may not be what I want to hear, but it’s always the truth. “Your Stimteema rode him down the Keller hill when she was your age.” He points to his tall, bony quarter horse gelding. A blue roan with a ratty tail. Most of his teeth are mere stubs and we have to feed him beet pulp just to keep him alive.

I walk over to Old Blue and watch him eat. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“She didn’t want us to. It was before we were married, one month prior anyhow,” he said with a hitch in his voice. He wrings his hands.

“Why? What’s the big deal?”

“Because she knew you had that same streak of spitfire in you that lived in her.” He pops a stem of hay in his mouth. “She saw it in you as a baby.”

I try and imagine her plunging down the old Keller hill. “Was she sober?”

~*~

carmen peone head shot

Carmen Peone is a LAURA Award-Winning author who lives on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation with her tribal-member husband, Joe. She had worked with the late tribal elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes-Sinyekst- Language and various cultural traditions and legends. She enjoys her horses and competing in Mountain Trail Competitions. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college.

 

Carmen loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

CarmenPeone / FaceBook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram / Pinterest / BookBub

 

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Today, I thought it might be fun to share my visual inspiration for the two main characters in Lightning and Lawmen.

Deputy Dugan Durfey we met briefly in Corsets and Cuffs. We didn’t know a lot about him, other than he likes to joke and tease and he’s a valuable member of the sheriff’s office.

I did the cover for this book long before I wrote it, so I was looking for inspiration that matched the featured characters.

chris evans

Chris Evans offered the perfect inspiration for Dugan’s character. Can’t you just picture him with a cowboy hat and a brass star pinned to his jacket?

Dugan 4

I could just picture Dugan giving a bad guy this look… or Seth when he’d been squiring Delilah around town.

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And I could totally see Dugan with a smile like this when he was teasing Delilah or amused by something the sheriff said.

Delilah had to be a great balance to Dugan. From the cover, I knew she needed to have dark brown hair, but that was about it.

Delilah 2

Then I happened across an image of Odette Annable. She is very beautiful and spot-on for Delilah’s character.

Delilah 3

I could easily picture her giving Dugan (or Ollie) this smile.

Delilah 1

She truly is just lovely and I couldn’t envision any better inspiration for Delilah’s character.

Raccoon  On Grassy Bank

And I can’t forget the real star of the show – Oliver the raccoon.

While I wrote this story, I listened to the song If It Ain’t With You by Farewell Angelina. Captain Cavedweller and I had gone on a date night to our local theater. The opportunities to attend a musical performance are few and far between, so I bought tickets although I’d never heard of the group performing. It just so happened to be Farewell Angelina. The all-female country group is named after a Bob Dylan song, featuring four amazing vocalists who also play instruments and write songs.

If you haven’t yet read Lightning and Lawmen, I hope you’ll check it out.

Thimbles Sale 1

Stubborn, mule-headed, independent woman!

She’d take that as a compliment…

Maggie Dalton has no need for a man in her life. Widowed more than ten years, she’s built a successful business and managed quite well on her own in the bustling town of Baker City, Oregon. Aggravated by her inability to block thoughts of the handsome lumber mill owner from her mind, she renews her determination to resist his attempts at friendship.

Full of Scottish charm and mischief, Ian MacGregor could claim any available woman in Baker City as his own, except the enchanting dress shop owner who continues to ignore him. Not one to give up on what he wants, Ian vows to win Maggie’s heart or leave the town he’s come to love.

Kindle

Amazon

 

Excerpt:

In the bright spring morning light, Maggie took note of the sunlight glinting off his hatless blond head. He wore his hair longer than she deemed proper and more often than not, it appeared tousled and wild, rather like the man himself.

Broad shoulders looked like they could carry the weight of the world. Forearms corded with muscles drew her attention as he stopped the wagon beside her.

Brilliant blue eyes twinkled with humor as he leaned forward and rested an arm on his upraised knee. “Weel, lass, what on earth are ye doing traipsin’ around on foot out here in the middle of nowhere on such a bonny day?”

The man’s Scottish brogue unsettled her, in particular when the letter “R” rolled off his tongue with a delightful burr. The hair on the back of her neck stood at attention, as if eagerly awaiting the sound of his voice, while her knees wobbled. His effect on her only infuriated her further.

“Not that it is any of your concern, Mr. MacGregor, but I’m on my way to the Jordan Ranch.” Determined to ignore the way the corners of his sculpted mouth lifted into a smile, she narrowed her gaze and offered him a cool glare.

She wondered what his face would look like without the abominable growth of scruff he sported. The fuzz on his face was just long enough to give him a rakish appearance and set all the twitterpated girls in town into a frenzy of whispers whenever he passed by.

Fortunately, Maggie was long past the age of having her head turned by the considerable charms of a man like Ian McGregor.