Monday Author Meetup: Sylvia McDaniel

My guest this week is Sylvia McDaniel, best-selling, award-winning author of western historical romance and contemporary romance novels.


Sylvia McDaniel is a best-selling, award-winning author of western historical romance and contemporary romance novels. Known for her sweet, funny, family-oriented romances, Sylvia is the author of The Burnett Brides a historical western series, The Cuvier Widows, a Louisiana historical series, Lipstick and Lead, a western historical series and several short contemporary romances.

Welcome Sylvia! Please tell us how you began writing

When I was in grade school I liked to write, but never even considered I would ever grow up to be a writer. But I always read. I’ve been reading books since the second grade when my mother took me the library and I was like, wow! In high school I read gothic romance and then I foundThe Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodwiess and I never looked back. Loved her books for many years and will still occasionally read one. In my twenties, I picked up a historical romance, I don’t remember the author’s name, but the thought entered my head that I could do better. So I sat down and started writing. I still have that first manuscript…it was HORRIBLE. I quickly learned it was much harder than it appeared. There was a class that Laree Bryant taught at a local school, it was a one day class and from there I learned about Romance Writers of America. I joined, starting attending the local chapter and it has grown from there. Now almost 25 years later, I wish I had more books written.

Describe your favorite place to write.

When I’m in the middle of a completing a novel, I spend eight to ten hours a day behind the computer, mostly in my office. But I do enjoy taking my laptop and writing out in my backyard, where the dogs can play. We have a new puppy and while he’s really cute, he doesn’t do well stuck in an office all day.

Over the years I’ve learned to write just about anywhere. I’ve written on planes, in the car with a kid hanging over my shoulder asking me what I’m doing, or sitting outside on the balcony watching the waves roll in. I don’t need absolute quiet, but I can’t write with music playing or I start singing along to the music and I need all my brain cells focused on the words on the page.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

I tried being a pantser and it takes me twice as long and more rewrites, so I use a storyboard. For me, it’s my map. My highway has hills and valleys and major curves along the way and occasionally a detour. Does that mean I know everything that’s going to happen while I’m writing? No and in fact, that’s where the detours come in. But if I know the external, then I’m free to focus more on the internal plot, which is always way more difficult for me.

Are your books published by a large publishing house or small press? Or are you self-published? If so, what made you choose this route?

Years ago I was published by a major New York house. I wrote nine books for them and after 9/11 never sold another story. For awhile I gave up writing until my husband told me I was happier when I was spending time creating stories. So when the eBook revolution came along, I already had twelve stories to put out and now I’ve written another eight, with six more planned this year.

Are your books professionally edited?

Since I’m now writing what I love without an editor, I hire cover artists, formatters, editors and I have beta readers. All of my work is professionally edited by an English professor since I focus more on the story and not so much on the grammar. I’ve never thought of myself as a great writer, but a very good storyteller. As a storyteller, I need professionals to make me look like a professional writer. So before I sell the first book, I’ve already committed a thousand dollars to the story.

What project(s) are you working on now?

Over the years I’ve learned that I really don’t write erotica well, so this year I made the decision to write kickass heroines who take charge. Yes, they’re in the old west, but there were women who took charge of their lives and made things happen. This is the kind of women I want to write. Currently in my Lipstick and Lead series, my girls are bounty hunters. In Annabelle’s book, Dangerous, she is the sister who stayed home to take care of the farm and she longs for adventure. While in town she sees a wanted man and goes after him by herself. She not only gets adventure, but she falls in love with her outlaw.

Now here’s an exciting look at Sylvia’s newest release:


Dangerous final

Book Blurb:

Annabelle McKenzie stays at home and takes care of the farm and the bookkeeping for their family bounty hunting business while her two sisters take all the risks. Except that she’s grown bored and longs for adventure. The chance to show her sisters that she’s just as capable of bringing a man to justice and collecting a bounty as they are. When opportunity bumps into her at the bank, she recklessly follows her prey out of town. Only she soon realizes she’s chosen the wrong man to hunt.

Beau Samuels has a dark secret that goes beyond the price on his head. And now there’s a wanted poster with his face plastered in every small Texas sheriff’s office.  As if things couldn’t get worse, now he has a novice in a skirt brandishing a gun and determined to collect his reward. Could he get away from the blonde spitfire with his heart intact?

When Annabelle unlocks the secrets to his heart and reveals the true man behind the wanted poster, can she lay aside her scruples and allow herself to love an outlaw?

Book Excerpt:

Slap her silly, but she was done! Annabelle McKenzie strode down the wooden sidewalk on her way to the bank. Done with raising chickens, feeding cows and goats, and shoveling manure. She wanted to go with her sisters to hunt for bad men. She wanted to be a bounty hunter.

Deep in thought about how she would explain to her sisters how she craved adventure and longed for excitement, she rounded the corner to enter the bank and slammed into the hard chest muscles of a large dark-haired man. The scent of soap and campfire spiraled straight to her center.

This was a manly man, and Lord knew, they were scarce in Zenith, Texas. Where had this specimen come from?

His hat was pulled low over his face, and he grabbed her by the arms, halting her progress. Her head fit just below his chin. She looked up at his strong, rugged jaw and serious face.

Long black lashes blinked over emerald eyes as he gripped her arms. “Slow down,” he said in a deep husky drawl. He kept his head down, barely looking at her. “There’s still plenty of cash left in the bank.”

What a condescending, egotistical, handsome renegade. Not an “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me”, but rather a crass remark about the money in the bank. “Maybe you should watch where you’re going.”

She tilted her head and stared into his handsome rugged features. There was something about him that seemed familiar, yet she couldn’t place him. Somewhere she’d seen his face. She gazed at him. “You’re tall enough you should be able to see a woman coming.”

He nodded, and she gawked at the way his shirt fit his strong shoulders and muscled arms. His lips were full and tempting, made for kissing.

“You’re right, ma’am. I should see a small package like you, barreling around a blind corner. Maybe I need to replace my spectacles with a pair that can see through walls,” he said, releasing her arms.

“Maybe you do.” The oversized giant was smarting off to her; he wasn’t wearing spectacles.

Where had she seen him before? “What’s your name?”

A sly smile turned up the corners of his full, luscious lips. “Why? You plan on having me arrested for running into you?”

The man had an ornery mouth, and she was just the woman to give it right back.

“Maybe,” she said. “I know the sheriff well. It would serve you right for being belligerent and disrespectful.”

He smiled a wickedly sly grin that sent tingles through her. “You have a really nice day.”

His voice was dripping with sweet sarcasm that made her feel like she’d eaten too many cookies. Tipping his black hat at her, he sauntered out the door.

Like a kick from a bull, it hit her.

His face was on one of the wanted posters she had out in her saddlebags.

Amazon   iBooks   B&N   Kobo   Google

Lipstick and Lead Series:

 Desperate & Deadly combo Desperate                               Deadly

Daring – April 2015

Determined – June 2015

Deceived—September 2015

Western Historicals

A Hero’s Heart

The Burnett Brides Series

The Rancher Takes a Bride

The Outlaw Takes a Bride

The Marshal Takes A Bride

The Christmas Bride

Boxed Set The Burnett Brides

Southern Historical Romance

A Scarlet Bride

The Cuvier Women




Boxed Set The Cuvier Women

Sign up for Sylvia’s newsletter at

Visit Sylvia’s website at

Follow Sylvia on twitter at

Join Sylvia on Facebook at


Look for her the first Tuesday of every month at the Plotting Princesses blogspot


Monday Author Meetup: Kit Morgan

My guest today is best selling author of sweet historical romance Kit Morgan.

Kit Morgan

About the author: A consistent Top 100 lists bestseller, Kit Morgan, aka Geralyn Beauchamp, has been writing for fun all of her life. When writing as Geralyn Beauchamp, her books are epic, adventurous, romantic fantasy at its best. When writing as Kit Morgan they are whimsical, fun, inspirational sweet stories that depict a strong sense of family and community.

Welcome Kit! Let’s begin with you describing your favorite place to write.

I live in a log cabin on twenty acres with a creek. I like writing on a bench down by the creek. I also have chairs set up around the property where I can go sit and write. I use voice recognition software a lot, and many times just walk the property while I write.

Do you ever wear your PJs or nightgown all day while writing?

Haven’t done it … yet…

LOL There’s always a first time. I don’t suppose you ever write naked either, right?

Egads! People do that?!?!?!?!

Winking smile So I hear. Getting serious, have you ever written a book together with another author?

Yes, kinda sort of. Cassie Hayes, Kirsten Osbourne and I wrote a trilogy of sorts. We each took one of three identical triplet brothers, and wrote their story which was taking place at the same time the other brother’s stories are taking place. Was quite the chore coordinating scenes with each other and having that particular scene be told from our character’s viewpoint.

That does sound challenging. What project(s) are you working on now?

Book 11 of my Holiday Mail Order Bride Series (book one is The Christmas Mail Order Bride and is a freebie on amazon if one hasn’t discovered the series yet), and another trilogy book.

A freebie, oh goodie! Mind telling us how you unwind and relax when not writing?

Ironically by reading! I’ve also gotten into listening to audio books lately which are a lot of fun!

Do you play any sports? What about hobbies?

I’m a hiker, and love a good trail! Also a flute player (I was an opera major with a flute minor in college) and of course biking!

Opera, wow! You are very versatile! Back to writing, are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Definite panster! Though I might have a slim outline just so I know kinda sort what direction I’m going, it often still takes a turn and I’m writing wildly along! But the story always turns out great!

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is book ten of The Holiday Mail Order Bride Series: His Mail-Order Valentine. I love creating towns and their quirky, odd residents. Independence is no exception. Readers are first introduced to this town in Love In Independence, where one is introduced to the antics of Mercy, Martha, and Maude, three matrons of trouble! And they create plenty when they order a mail-order bride for the new town pastor, and fail to tell him! You can start this particular series with The Christmas Mail-Order Bride, or start in with Love in Independence and go from there. The books can be found on amazon:

         TheChristmasMailOrderBride_1400px      KitMorgan_HisMailOrderValentine_1400px      KitMorgan_TheCowboysMailOrderBride_1400px

The Christmas Mail Order Bride

Love in Independence:

His Mail Order Valentine:

And if you’re interested in the trilogy you can find it here:


Book Blurb for Love in Independence:

They say love covers a multitude of sins, and for matchmakers Mercy, Martha, and Maude, it’s a good thing! Fearing the town’s new pastor is lonely, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and order him a mail order bride! Imagine his surprise when he finds out? Only he doesn’t! Mercy, Martha, and Maude see to that!

Winnie Longfellow has spent years caring for her sick mother, and now that she’s passed, has nowhere to go but her Aunt Eugina’s. But her aunt has other things on her mind, other problems to deal with, and so Winnie accepts a proposal from a pastor out west looking for a mail order bride. Little did she know, he was looking for so much more, anything more! He had no idea he’d sent for one! Now Winnie finds herself at the mercy of three madcap matrons, determined that love will find a way. Despite multiple misunderstandings, a horrid bully/gossip, and a woman she’s sure her intended will marry instead of her, Winnie discovers some things about herself, and finds that love really does find its way …


“More tea, Mrs. Vander?” Betsy the cook/maid asked.

“Why, thank you, Betsy. Don’t mind if I do.” Betsy poured her another cup before she moved on to the guests.

“I think we should write the young lady back and accept,” suggested Martha.

“Let’s not be too hasty. What about other applicants?” asked Maude. “Has anyone else written?”

“No, Mrs. Ridgley sent a note along with the letter,” Mercy told her. “It says Miss Longfellow is the only bride available. If we reject this one, who knows how long we’d have to wait for another to come along.”

Maude set down her teacup and sighed. “Very well, then. Martha, take a letter.”

“Why do I have to take a letter? I wrote the last one.”

“Betsy dear?” Mercy asked. “Would you mind?”

“No, ma’am.” Betsy set down the teapot and went to a small desk near the fireplace. She took out a piece of stationery, picked up a pen, dipped it in an inkpot, and turned to her employer.

“Isn’t she a dear?” Mercy asked her friends. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Betsy fought the urge to roll her eyes.

Maude turned to her. “Dear Miss Longfellow,” she dictated. “I think you’d make me a very happy man …”

“Should he sound so eager?” interrupted Martha. “The word ‘happy’ makes him sound too eager.”

“A man out here ought to be eager for a wife,” countered Mercy. “Any wife!”

“She’s going to make him happy, and what woman wants to marry a grump?” added Maude.

Betsy sat and stared at the three, her mind racing to decipher who the women were talking about. If she were a man, she’d think twice before letting a group of old biddies attend to something as private as his personal love life. What idiot let himself get talked into allowing them the task of obtaining a mail-order bride?

“Betsy,” her employer called across the room. “Leave in the word ‘happy’.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Betsy scribbled it down.

“My dear Miss Longfellow,” Maude began again. “Ah, let’s see, a happy man, yes … ah ha! And I think we shall be very happy together. You’ll be a fine addition to the church and community.”

Mercy stared at her. “That’s not very romantic.”

Betsy shook with suppressed laughter. The poor sap they’d suckered was even letting them answer his bride’s letter for him? Was he off his rocker? Who was this man?

“Romance is irrelevant at this point,” Maude snapped. “The important thing is to have her delivered … I mean, shipped out … brought here …”

“We all know what you meant,” Martha stated as she reached for her cup. “Which of us is she going to stay with when she arrives? We can’t just spring her on the poor man.”

“Why not?” asked Mercy.

Betsy’s mouth dropped open as her eyebrows rose in amusement. Was she saying what she thought she was saying?

“Pastor Luke has a lot on his plate – we have to be considerate of that,” added Maude.

Betsy snorted with laughter and almost fell out of her chair. All three heads turned to her as she quickly righted herself and resumed her position.

“She can stay with us,” added Maude. “If need be, we can rotate until Pastor Luke and this Miss Longfellow marry.”

Betsy could stand it no longer. “What are you talking about? Can’t Pastor Luke send for this woman himself? He’s not that busy!”

“Oh no, that would never do!” Mercy exclaimed. “You see, he doesn’t …” She quickly glanced at her counterparts. They sat as stoically as ever. “That is to say … he can’t be bothered.”

Betsy stood. “Mrs. Vander?” she began, then looked at all three faces in turn. “Has Pastor Luke given his consent for you to do this for him?”

The matrons glanced at one another with fleeting looks. “Well …,” Mercy replied haltingly. “Like I said, he can’t be bothered with such trivial things right now.”

“Trivial? A bride is trivial?!” Betsy gasped.

“I must say, Mercy, your hired help’s respect is sadly lacking,” huffed Maude.

“Now, Betsy,” Mercy began in a panicked voice. “Promise us you won’t breathe a word about this to anyone? Especially Pastor Luke!”

Betsy was about to comment when Maude cut her off. “If you do, we’ll see you fired!”

“You’ll do no such thing!” Mercy squeaked indignantly. “Why, Betsy’s been with us since we came west from St. Louis!”

“Dock her pay, then!” countered Maude. “We’ve got to get this settled and done with. Who’s in charge of the train and stage tickets?”

“I am,” answered Martha. “I’ll go down to the station first thing tomorrow morning and purchase them.”

“It’s settled, then,” said Maude. “Betsy, sign that letter, Pastor Luke Adams.”

Betsy could only stare. “You three are some kind of trouble, and you’re gonna be in a heap of it if your husbands find out.”

“They aren’t going to find out, are they?” Maude said with her eyes narrowed to slits.

“Don’t look at me,” said Betsy. “I ain’t gonna be the one to tell them. Besides, they’ll find out just as soon as that mail-order bride steps off the stage and goes looking for poor Pastor Luke!”

“Then we’ll just have to make sure one of us is there to meet her so that doesn’t happen,” said Martha.

Betsy shook her head. “You do that, and good luck. Because once Pastor Luke finds out what you three have been up to …” She sighed. “… he’s gonna be preaching nothing but fire and brimstone every Sunday for a month!”

Find a complete list of Kit’s books on her website, as well as links to her Facebook page and twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter and link to her alter ego, Geralyn Beauchamp’s website.

Kit Morgan | Bestselling Author of Sweet Historical Romance

Monday Author Meetup: Lynda J. Cox

Today I’m interviewing western historical author Lynda J Cox.

Lynda Cox

About the author: Lynda J. Cox will tell anyone who will listen that she was born at least one hundred and fifty years too late, and most definitely in the wrong part of the country. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Indiana State University after earning her BA from the same university as a non-traditional student. (Think being old enough to be mom to 90% of the students in her freshman cadre.) She’s kept busy with two spoiled rotten house cats, a 30 plus year old Arabian gelding who has been nicknamed “Lazarus” for his ability in the later years of his life to escape death, and quite a few champion collies. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on the road, travelling to the next dog show. She loves to chat about books, the writing life, and the insanity which is called a “dog show” and can be reached through her Facebook page.

Welcome, Lynda. Lazarus must have nine lives like my cats. And lucky you having collies to show! With such a fascinating “hobby” how did you begin writing?

I started writing in my first marriage and it was truly my lifeline to sanity. I could escape an abusive situation by escaping into the page. I didn’t get serious about it, though until after I married my best friend and one night while reading in bed, I threw yet another book across the room and announced, “I could write this well.” Hubby said, half asleep, “So go write.” And, I did.

Ha! I’ve tossed a few books across the room too. What’s your best time of day to write? On average, how many hours a day do you write?

I’m a night owl. I don’t hit a creative groove until long after everyone else is asleep. The fact that I also have severe insomnia (the type that even prescription meds doesn’t touch) can be seen as a blessing in a writing career.

Insomnia is my friend as well. Describe your favorite place to write.

My favorite place to write is my office. I can’t write in public places. I’ve tried. Just doesn’t work. My office has everything I need—a window that overlooks my dog kennels, internet, electricity, heat and air conditioning. It’s my own little space and because it’s actually separated from the house (was a guest house at first), I have to walk from the house to my office to work. That separation allows me to vanish into whatever I’m writing.

Are your books published by a large publishing house or small press? If so, how did you come to be with this publisher?

I’m published by a small press called The Wild Rose Press. I cold queried them and to my surprise, was offered a contract. I love being a Rose. They’re a great place for an author to be.

How do you develop your plots and your characters?

I’m a panster. The one and only time I wrote a detailed outline for a book, I put so much into that outline I destroyed any joy in writing the book. My characters, on the other hand, are incredibly well developed before I start writing. When I get a character in my head, I start asking that character questions. I actually have a character interview form I use with about fifty or more questions. And, most of the time, the answers to the questions bring about even more questions. I will also write extensive back story for the main characters.

Do you see yourself in some of your characters?

I think every author brings a little bit of themselves to every character they write. The trick is to separate from that. However, I’m tenacious and I’ve noticed most of my characters have that quality.

How and where do you research for your books?

So far, all of my books are set in the Wyoming Territory, during the period of westward expansion. I’ve travelled extensively in Wyoming. I’m a bookaholic. I bring more books home every single time we visit Wyoming because while we’re there, we visit museums and local tourist attractions. The tidbits of Wyoming history I learn in these places are incorporated into my books and add that “authentic flavor.” I also spend way too much time on the Internet, but because I was three credit hours short of a history major to go with my English major as an undergrad, I absolutely have to have my history correct.

Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?

I have a wonderful street team and three of those members are also my beta readers. They find the plot holes for me, toss ideas back and forth with me about plot points, and are just great people.

Who designs your book covers?

My shout out here goes to Deb Taylor at Dca Graphics. She works with The Wild Rose Press and did such a fantastic job on my first cover, I requested her as the cover artist for my second book. I LOVE what she does with a book cover.

How do you unwind and relax when not writing?

I make dog show leads. No joke—I braid leads and put sparkly beads on them. Braided bling leads are the hottest fashion trend in the dog show scene and selling those leads helps to support my dog show addiction. Showing dogs isn’t a hobby with me. It really is an addiction.

Now here are two thrilling western historicals from Lynda.

two book combo


Book Blurb for Smolder on a Slow Burn:

When your life has been stolen from you and the man responsible wants you dead, where do you run? Who do you trust?

Allison Webster dreams of having an adventure like the characters in the books she loves. But there is no romance in being pursued by a man who wants her dead for educating the children of former slaves. Unlike the heroines she reads about she doesn’t have a trusty companion to rescue her…until she literally runs into A.J. Adams, a former Confederate cavalry officer. Now, she just has to convince A.J. he really is the honorable man and hero depicted in the dime novel she is reading.

When everything you fought for was stripped away, even your honor, what is left to fight for other than revenge?

Branded a “traitor” for more than ten years, scarred by harsh treatment in an inhumane prisoner of war camp, A.J. Adams wants revenge. Allison Webster’s arrival into his life provides the bait to destroy the men who murdered his wife and daughters and kidnapped his little brother. The men pursuing Allison are the very same men he has sworn to kill. Falling in love and admitting he might actually be a hero means surrendering his need for vengeance. Surrender is not part of A.J.’s battle strategy.

Excerpt for Smolder on a Slow Burn:

For the first time since she had met him he wasn’t wearing that battered cavalry hat and she noticed that the silvering at his temples wasn’t even. The silver among the black at his right temple traced nearly to the back of his head about two inches above his ear and followed a direct line with the thin scar along the slope of his cheek bone.

“May I ask what caused that scar? A deflected saber blow?”

He shook his head and plopped his hat on, tugging it into place. “Nothing so romantic. It was a rifle butt to the side of my head. As I recall, I said something the other man didn’t appreciate.”

Allison felt her stomach turn. “Why?”

“Why? Why was what I said unappreciated—?”

“Why were you struck in the head with a rifle butt?”

“Because even though I could say something that man didn’t appreciate, he still had the authority and the power to knock me senseless.” He lifted a shoulder in a negligent shrug. “Train’s slowing, which means the porter will be here shortly to let us know which town we’re coming to. Let’s not damage your reputation beyond repair, shall we?”

Allison wiped the tears from her face, aiming for some semblance of normalcy when the porter arrived. “Even if I’m mistaken, I want to thank you for not doubting me, Mr…A.J.”

He quirked a brow even as he stretched his legs out, crossing one ankle over the other. “I learned a long time ago that a woman’s intuition is often the best source of information available. A lot of men are complete fools for not giving it more credence.”

Allison glanced at the revolver tied down low on his thigh, visible where his greatcoat had slipped open. She lifted her face to his. “I don’t think many people would dare accuse you of being a fool.”

“You’d be surprised how often I have been accused of that.” He leaned back, another smile tracing new lines across his features. “And I do believe, Allison Webster, you’re flirting with me.”

Heat seared her cheeks, but she managed to keep her gaze steady on his face. “I suppose I am.”

Buy Links:

Smolder on a Slow Burn:

The Devil’s Own Desperado:

Linda’s Social Links:

@lyndacox (Twitter handle) (web site) (Amazon author page)

Monday Author Meetup: Linda Hubalek

I’m happy to welcome western historical romance author Linda Hubalek to my little corner of the blogospere.  Today I’m featuring Linda’s  Brides with Grit trilogy, Don’t you love that series title? For me it personifies our strong pioneer foremothers perfectly.

linda hubalek

About the author: Linda Hubalek grew up on the Kansas prairie, always wanting to be a farmer like her parents and ancestors. After earning a college degree in Agriculture, marriage took Linda away from Kansas as her husband worked in engineering jobs in several states.

Meanwhile, Linda wrote about pioneer women that homesteaded in Kansas between 1854 to the early 1900’s, especially her Swedish immigrant ancestors.

Her historical fiction and western romance book series are: Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread, Planting Dreams, the Kansas Quilter and the Brides with Grit.

Linda and her husband finally returned back to Kansas, where they raised American buffalo (bison) for a dozen years.

Linda will begin by describing her favorite place to write.

I have a home office in my house, with a desk, book shelves, and credenza. I use a big monitor and curved keyboard to write, so I’m always at my desk. I have many antique dishes that my ancestors used displayed on shelves to give the feel of the 1800’s time period to my writing space. I have a nice rural view out my window with pink rose bushes and bird feeders right outside my window.

Sounds lovely!Can you write amid noisy distractions or do you need absolute quiet?

Nope, it’s got to be total quiet. I can’t “think” in the 1800’s with modern distractions.

I completely agree. How do you develop your plots and your characters?

I have a spiral notebook where I write down ideas on pen and paper, then type my thought into the computer so I can move the plots around, eventually forming an outline, and then expanding it into individual scenes.

My best ideas come on quiet country walks, or right when I wake up in the mornings.

Do you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser?

I start out with an outline, and, then make a new list of things I wanted to include, and find a place to work them in the story—and then do this about seven times before the book is finally ready for the editor.

Are your books professionally edited?

Absolutely, but even then readers will write to me, finding words that should have been found and corrected. But I appreciate them taking the time to do it, because I can correct the ebook or print book easy enough these days.

If you don’t mind telling us, which of your books has been most favorably reviewed? Why do you think it’s a favorite among readers?

Trail of Thread. Right now it’s at 132 Amazon reviews with a 4.5 star rating.

I think it has done well because of the work I put into it, and the fact that people are fascinated with pioneer woman’s wagon trail stories.

To research my Trail of Thread book series, I drove to Kentucky, and Ohio, and back to Kansas to follow the trails that my ancestors would have traveled in 1854-55. I needed to see what they left behind, and then what they encountered along their journey. I saw the rivers they had to cross, what towns were in existence then, and how the scenery changed from day to day. I stood on a hilltop next to the original log cabin in Kentucky that my Pieratt ancestors left, and stood in the private graveyard of my Kennedy ancestors in Ohio, and ended my trip at the land they homesteaded next to each other in Kansas.

Fascinating! You obviously love researching. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

Several of my historical fiction book series are based on real people and places. So the connections of family and time, and realizing my ancestors lived through the 1800’s has made me fascinated with the homesteading era. The connection of standing on a piece of land that my ancestors homesteaded in the middle of the open prairie and seeing the same view as they did…me walking up the steps in the house that their feet touched…just electrifies me.

Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. What project are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on the Brides with Grit series. I’ve outlined eight books of the series and writing them pretty much in sequence, but I’ll think of scenes for other books and write them down too.

This is a clean historical western romance set in 1873 around the famous cowtown of Ellsworth, Kansas. It’s based on real-life type situations, and strong women that want a decent husband, home and community life


***Linda just told me book 2, Millie Marries a Marshall will be out this week!


I’ve used catchy titles so people realize it goes with the series. First book, Rania Ropes a Rancher, is available now. Millie Marries a Marshal will be out in late November and Hilda Hogties a Horseman in December.

Catchy titles indeed! I also like the book covers. They convey an old time feeling and tie together very well. Don’tyou agree,readers?


brides with grit trio 1-2-3


Rania Ropes a Rancher

A Historical Western Romance

Book Blurb:

Ellsworth, Kansas,1873- Rania Hamner spent her life herding cattle up the Chisholm Trail with her family. Something on the trail caused her to doubt her worth, and her ability to trust a man enough to become his wife. Once the family buys a homestead in Kansas, she meets rancher Jacob Wilerson, who begins to make Rania believe she can trust and fall in love after all.

When Rania’s past attacks with new danger, she decides to fight for all she’s worth because she realizes she wants to be with Jacob forever.

When Jacob realizes Rania is in danger, he rushes to save her, whether or not she still loves him, hoping to rope Rania—his heart—once more, as she has roped his.


Before Jacob could run down the twenty feet to the little boy, the horsewoman trailing the herd, snapped a lasso through the air which landed around the six-foot spread of the bull’s horns. She yanked the rope back hard with her right, gloved hand at the same time her horse jumped backwards, snapping the animal’s head back from its disastrous route. Both bull and boy were bawling at once, but the horse and rider just pulled the animal back onto the route of the herd, like it was an everyday occurrence. The woman was attuned to the livestock, but she also saw the child in danger in an instant, and took care of both.

Now that’s the kind of wife he needed, someone who could ride, rope, handle livestock and children—a woman with grit.


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Monday Author Meetup: Merry Farmer

For the next few months I will be hosting western historical authors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the Pioneer Hearts group on Facebook. Today, I’m happy to welcome the very talented Merry Farmer.

About the author: MerMerry Farmerry Farmer is an award-winning novelist who lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. She has been writing since she was ten years old and realized one day that she didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. It was the best day of her life. She then went on to earn not one but two degrees in History so that she would always have something to write about. Her books have topped the Amazon and iBooks charts and finalled in the prestigious RONE and Rom Com Reader’s Crown awards.

Howdy, Merry. Let’s start with you telling us how you began writing.

Sure thing, Lyn. I’ve actually been writing since I was ten years old and realized that I didn’t need my teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. I remember the moment vividly. I had been hoping and hoping that Mr. Morley would give us a writing assignment for weeks. Once again, he hadn’t. But right after that Language Arts class, we had recess. I hated going outside and running around, so it just dawned on me that while everyone else was being rowdy I could just take out a piece of paper and write something. So I did.

Smart girl! What’s your best time of day to write? On average, how many hours a day do you write?

I have two times during the day that I write. I wake up at 5:30am and write for about an hour before I get ready for my day job. Then, when I get home at night, after supper, I write for about an hour and a half. I tend to write fast, so those two and a half hours usually net me about 3,000 words. I also happen to believe it’s very important to write on a schedule, because then your brain is used to the creative process at that time of day.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you choose it?

At the moment, I only publish under my real name, Merry Farmer. But starting next year, I’ll be publishing different genres with different pen names. I always said I would never write under a pen name, but as it turns out, all those people who told me that readers who are used to seeing you write in one genre for each name are right. So from now on, different genre, different name.

I’ve heard that too. Are you self-published? If so, what made you choose this route?

I’m self-published. I was never particularly interested in publishing traditionally because I really love a good challenge. And believe me, self-publishing is a tremendous challenge! I love the independence and freedom to work on whatever projects I want in my own time. It’s like owning a small business though. So much work!

So true! Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?

I do! I have a core group of writer friends who are the most excellent beta-readers a gal could hope for. They encourage me and keep me heading in the right direction. I also like to invite “guest beta-readers” to take a look at my stuff now and then to get a fresh perspective.

Are your books professionally edited?

Absolutely! I am a firm believer that every writer should have a professional editor take a look at their manuscripts before they publish. We are not good judges of our own work. We need someone to examine the story to be sure we’re telling it in the most effective way possible, and we need someone to come along and clean up all of our copy errors.

I totally agree. If money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy?

I love traveling, so I would want to buy a whole lot of plane tickets to exotic places. But I also have this idea that I should just buy one of those awesome, high-tech RVs with the sides that pop out and just live in one of those, constantly traveling. I guess that would make me a gypsy, eh?

LOL The gypsy life could be fun. What book are you reading now? Is this by a new author to you, or an old favorite?

Right now, I’m reading The Countess Conspiracy, by Courtney Milan. Courtney is one of my favorite authors, both because the kind of characters she writes are the kind of characters I want to write. She’s also an amazingly helpful and intelligent woman who is always ready to step up and help her fellow authors. She’s amazing.

Now a touchy subject: How do you react to a bad review of your book?

The first really bad review I ever got had me weeping into my Cheerios for two weeks. It also happens, to this day, to be the worst, most scathing review I’ve ever gotten. After that, all other bad reviews have paled. I will admit, I replied to that reviewer, thanking them for their opinion and mildly disputing a few of their points. I shouldn’t have done that and I’ve never done anything like that since. These days, I tend not to read reviews at all. They’re not for me. They’re for future readers to decide whether we’re a good author/reader fit.

I think you’re right not to read them. If you don’t mind telling us, which of your books has been most favorably reviewed?

You know, the book I just published, Trail of Kisses, the first in my Hot on the Trail series about the Oregon Trail, has had the highest number of positive reviews in the fastest amount of time of all my books so far. But I do believe that my book In Your Arms, which is part of the Montana Romance series, has the highest ratio of great reviews to date.

Both books sound terrific! Now here’s a tempting taste of Merry’s new book.

Trail of Kisses



Someone is trying to kill Lynne Tremaine. After her father sentences two members of The Briscoe Boys gang to death, Judge Tremaine feels he has no choice but to send Lynne to Denver City along the Oregon Trail to live with her Uncle George…against her will. For Lynne, the only thing worse than being sent away to the wild west is making the journey with the handsome, arrogant, wicked man her uncle has hired to escort her. Especially when the anger she feels toward him begins to turn to something hotter.

Cade Lawson is determined to prove himself to his employer, George Tremaine, after letting him down months earlier. But what he thought would be his second chance may, in fact, be a harsh punishment for his past mistakes. Lynne is headstrong, fiery, and determined to show him she is fearless. She is also beautiful and tempting, and when Cade sees just how afraid she really is underneath her brave act, he may be in danger of losing his heart to her forever. When her would-be killer attacks, it’s all he can do to keep Lynne safe.

He swore to protect her, but who will protect him from her?



The sharp cry Lynne gave as she bent to retrieve her towel from the bush where they’d left their clothes dampened Cade’s errant ardor. She backpedaled from the bush, clutching the towel to her chest.

“What is it?” he asked, pushing faster through the shallows. “Is it a snake?”

Lynne didn’t answer. She clutched the towel tighter around her chest and sidestepped to meet him as he stepped onto the dried grass beside the stream. Her silence set his nerves on edge.

“It’s your boots,” she said at last.

Cade’s tension fell into confusion. “My boots?” he said, striding to the bush. What the devil could be so upsetting about his—

Behind the bush, separate from the rest of his clothes, his boots lay in tatters. The leather had been sliced clean to ribbons and separated from the soles. Long, thin scars marked the soles where he could see them. The laces were shredded.

He was instantly on the alert and spitting mad. He scooped one of the shredded boots off the ground and studied it for a moment before glancing around. The area near the stream was open, nothing but grass and a few scrubby bushes between it and the cottonwood trees that marked the edge of Fr. Kearny. Callie and John were still in discussion further up the stream as they dressed. The miners cavorted as though nothing was out of the ordinary downstream. Closer to the fort, a handful of groups were either coming or going. Ben walked toward them with a basket of laundry.

“Ben!” Cade called, marching across the grass to meet him. “Did you see anyone lingering around our things just now?”

Ben picked up his pace to meet Cade closer to the stream. “No, sir, I didn’t see nothin’.”

Cade’s frown deepened. Somebody had to have seen something. He twisted to study the miners again, counting them. How many had there been when he and Lynne were in the water? He checked the groups of people walking away from the stream. They were all families, most with young children.

The hair stood up on the back of his neck.

“He’s here,” he said, low and cautious.

“W-who?” Lynne asked. She had thrown her blouse and petticoat on and was halfway through fastening her skirt.

Cade turned and marched back to her. He needed to get her out of the open as quickly as possible.

“Whoever is trying to hurt you,” he said, leaning closer. “And I sure as hell am not going to let them.”

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Monday Author Meetup: Sharla Rae

Kicking off a new season of author interviews, I’m delighted to welcome my dear friend and critique partner, Sharla Rae.


About the author: Sharla Rae and her husband live in California. She is a multi-published historical romance author whose first solo effort, Song of the Willow, was nominated for best first historical by Romantic Times Magazine. Sharla is also one of the original founders of Writers in the Storm, named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 by Writer’s Digest. Currently, she is preparing to publish How To Fell A Timberman, book one in her new historical series.

Welcome Sharla! To begin, please tell us how you began writing.

Lyn, I was reading romances like some people eat potato chips. One night hubby glanced over from his Time Magazine and said, “You’ve read so many of those $%#@ things, you could write one yourself.” I’d dreamed of doing just that but never dared. His words were a challenge I couldn’t resist and I soon discovered I loved writing.

LOL I’m glad you parlayed your addiction to romances into writing them. What’s your best time of day to write? On average, how many hours a day do you write?

My fav times to write are first thing in the morning when I’m fresh or very late at night when the world is quiet and I can immerse myself in my book’s world. I write at least four hours a days unless I’m on deadline and then it’s more like 12 to 14 hours, utilizing those quiet midnight hours.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In my office. It’s quiet and hubby knows not to bother me when I’m in there. That said, we’re moving soon and there’s a lovely patio with an ocean view so I can totally see myself out there working. We’ll see, I guess.

An ocean view sounds lovely. Do you ever wear your PJs or nightgown all day while writing?

Once in a great while I’ll get caught in my PJs all day but not often. If I’m up to it, I like to exercise in the mornings so that means a shower afterward and of course getting dressed for the day. Starting with the exercise gets the blood flowing to my brain and I think I actually write better.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you choose it?

I use Pen names for privacy’s sake. My first book was co-authored. The pen name was a combination of my name and my writing partner’s name. When I went solo, I wrote as Charlotte McPherren at my publisher’s suggestion. Just try writing Charlotte McPherren over and over at a book signing and you’ll know why these days I’m going with Sharla Rae. Rae is my middle name.

Are your books published by a large publishing house or a small press? Are you self-published?

I was originally published by Avon and then Leisure books. That was some years ago. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of e-publishing – so much freedom! And for an introvert who develops a bad case of stage fright when she pitches, e-publishing is a gift from heaven. I also honestly believe e-publishing is here to stay and is the way to the future. Let me add that I will soon be e-published.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

This is any easy one to answer: Definitely a pantser. It’s just plain more fun. I read because I enjoy the adventure so writing has to be the same, an adventure.

How do you develop your plots and your characters?

It’s all about the characters for me. They just sort of pop into my head. I decide who they are, what they like and dislike, goals etc. Then I throw them into a situation that is the worst thing I can think of for their situation. I think a lot of writers do that. Again, it makes the writing fun.

How and where do you research for your books?

I have a relatively large personal library. I love everyday-life books, especially. So most of my research comes from my own collection. These days if I don’t have a book to answer a question, I turn to the Internet. Trouble is, anyone can say anything on the Internet. If I can’t verify the info on at least three different sites I won’t use it. I also find historical societies great founts of info.

Does your significant other and/or family support your writing career?

I can’t say hubby always understands my process and my need to be so solitary at time. He’s a scientist and businessman so he supports by going out of his way to make sure I have a nice office, a computer and all the other tools I need. And I discovered that while he might not say much to me about my writing, he actually brags to others.

Are your books professionally edited?

Yes. I’ve read my own book a zillion times so the tendency is to read into it what I “know” is supposed to be there. Having a set of new eyes seems the smart thing to do.

How do you unwind and relax when not writing?

Hubby loves to travel and of course I go with him. But when we’re not traveling, I dress like a hag and veg out in front of a fav TV show or I cuddle up in a big chair with a great book. I’m a boring homebody.

Do you belong to any social/community groups? What charities do you support?

I’m getting ready to move, so no community groups right now. I do belong to 4 RWA chapters and three or four non-RWA writing groups.

My husband and I lost our son to cancer a little over a year ago so we support the cancer research groups.

What a terrible loss for you both. I know how much you miss your son. I, too, support cancer research.

In closing, what advice would you give beginning writers?

Learn to take criticism good and bad because there’s something to be learned from both. Never stop learning and growing as a writer and be gracious along the way.

Excellent advice, Shar! Now, I know you have a new website with a beautiful banner featuring a majestic mountain scene. And, I also happen to know you snapped that photo. Yes, folks, she’s a terrific photographer as well as a writer. Don’t you agree?

Shar's site header cropped


To tempt your reading taste buds, here’s a sample of Sharla’s upcoming release.


Book title


Fleeing scandal, Texas schoolmarm, Noelle Bridger takes a job in Washington Territory. There she discovers yet another man has duped her. She’s to teach in a place called Whiskey Spit and her students are a bunch of brawling and profane loggers.

Vidar Bjornson, son of a Norwegian immigrant, is Noelle’s new boss and he isn’t any happier with Noelle than she is with him. He’d expected a plain middle-aged woman. Instead, the gorgeous Texan is already arousing jealousy among his men.

Bawdy loggers, bad men and lots of fun ensue as Noelle teaches Vidar the error of his ways and the mighty timberbeast is felled by the love of a good woman.


“My goodness,” Noelle gasped, “you weren’t exaggerating. There are so many men.” She was about to ask where their wives and children were when the steamer sidled up alongside the wharf with a jarring thump.

Sailors set to work securing the mail packet amidst the loud crowd of grinning lumbermen gaping up at her. A motlier bunch she’d never seen. All wore plaid shirts of various colors, stained canvas britches held up with suspenders and sturdy, high-top boots. With their hulking builds, shaggy hair and thick, untrimmed beards, they resembled grizzly bears more than men.


“Men, this is the teacher, Miss Noelle Bridger.”

Wolf howls split the air, barely eclipsing the thunder of stomping boots.

Reminding herself that Texas cowboys were just as boisterous, Noelle forced a nervous smile. Still, the uneasy feeling she’d experienced earlier returned twofold. “Mr. Gjerset, where are the –”

“Out of my way!”

Two men with arms like tree trunks stood on the gangplank elbowing each other. One grinned up at her, displaying a gold front tooth. The other man grabbed Gold Tooth’s arm and yanked him backward, almost dumping the man into the Canal.

“Where do you think your goin’, you damn Frenchie?”

“I escort ze teacher,” Gold Tooth growled in the other man’s face. “Leave off me!”

“Like hell! I’m escortin’ the lady.”

Gold Tooth threw a punch and in another moment, both men tumbled into the water, still slugging. The rest of the men shouted and wagered on the outcome. Then another brawl broke out. Two more men splashed into the drink. Somebody yelled, “Fly at it,” and they all hurled punches.

Whoops, hollers, and obscenities burned Noelle’s ears. She stared aghast, her entire body trembling at the sickening sounds of flesh pounding flesh. She told herself it wasn’t fear that gripped her as much as anger. She had more reason than most to abhor senseless violence.

“Mister Gjerset, do something!”

“Aa jo!” Gjerset exclaimed over the clamor. “Our bull of the woods is coming. The boss does not look happy.”

Noelle followed Gjerset’s gaze and spotted a long-legged giant charging down the spit. He must be Vidar Bjornson, she thought. Surely, he’d stop this senseless riot.

Bjornson cannoned into the boiling mass of bodies. She lost track of him but figured he’d start ordering the men to desist at any moment. Instead, another logger joined the others thrashing around in the green sea. A few feet closer to the gangplank, two more sailed off the pier. Bjornson was not putting an end to the heathenish row. He was slugging his way through it!

He punched, butted heads, and kicked backsides, clearing a path to the gangplank. When he finally reached it, Noelle got a better glimpse of Whiskey Spit’s pillar of the community.

Her breath caught.

Bjornson, was the epitome of a massive Viking raider gone berserk. His long nose bore a slight deviation at the bridge, as if once broken. Beneath it, a thick mustache flowed into a shaggy beard. A tawny lion’s mane scuffed his broad shoulders around a bull-like neck.

He mounted the gangplank, his torn shirtsleeve exposing a bulging bicep. Noelle noted the angry set of his features and retreated a few shaky steps.

…Without a glance in her direction, he glared below at the brawling men, fixed his fists on his narrow hips and bellowed, “Fun is over, boys.” Amazingly, the fighting ceased almost as quickly as it had begun. “This is no way to greet a lady. Get back to work. Daylight’s wasting in the swamp.”

Grumbling lumbermen sporting bloody noses, swollen eyes, and split lips splashed ashore. The rest tromped off the wharf with good-humored slaps on each other’s backs.

Standing a mere two feet from Noelle, Bjornson shifted and glared at her with startling ice-blue eyes. His gaze journeyed slowly down her body, then up again in rude perusal. A tremor of alarm gripped her gut, but she stood her ground and returned his impertinence in kind.

Up close, he seemed as lofty and strong as the mighty trees he logged. And twice as intimidating. Noelle pressed a hand to her stomach in an attempt to calm the squall erupting there.

His gaze followed her hand to her stomach, then ambled upwards again, pausing at her breasts before meeting her gaze. “Freya’s tits! You’re Noelle Bridger?” he bellowed.

Noelle gasped in outrage. She didn’t know who Freya was, but crude was crude, and she refused to be bullied by this . . . tree trunk. Squaring her shoulders, she stared him in the eye. “Yes, I’m Miss Bridger, and I’d like to know –”

“You are not what I expected.”

“This place isn’t what I expected,” she shot back. Her “new beginning” no longer looked so promising.


Vidar stared at the angry young woman, unable to believe his eyes. He cast a quick, questioning look at Ole, but his cousin merely lifted his shoulders in a bewildered shrug.

Damn. His specific needs demanded he hire a female teacher rather than a male, but he’d asked his brothers to find a plain, old-maid schoolmarm who wouldn’t stir up trouble among his men. One who wouldn’t faint at the sight of scruffy loggers.

After months of waiting, Vidar had almost given up hope. Then Garth’s telegram arrived, insisting he’d found the perfect woman. Ha! His brother was either blind or this was another one of his famous practical jokes. …

Instead of the sallow skin of a prune-faced old maid, Noelle Bridger’s creamy flesh blushed with youth. Her big eyes, the color of moss on the forest floor, tilted up at the corners with thick, brown lashes. Hair the color of polished oak was swept from her heart-shaped face into a neat braided bun at her nape.

Likewise, she was no dried up twig or a lumpy matron. Her parted cloak revealed a slender figure with a generous bosom, a trim waist, and hips that flared into gentle curves.Trouble. That’s what a pretty woman was. The men were already fighting, and she hadn’t even set foot off the steamer. He should send her packing before they killed each other. Unfortunately, time had run out.

He sighed in disgust. Well, at least she was female and so far, she hadn’t fainted.

“Mister Bjornson?”

The teacher’s slow southern drawl evoked visions of wild sex on a fur rug in his cozy fire-lit cabin. But Vidar didn’t miss the angry spark in her pretty eyes. The schoolmarm was building up a good head of steam. If he meant to keep her in Whiskey Spit — and like it or not, she must stay — he’d have to do some fancy talking.

He combed his fingers through his beard and offered a well-practiced grin, one that charmed every female he aimed it at. “I hope my men didn’t scare you, Miss Bridger. They’re rough around the edges, but they mean well. Come. You must be anxious to see your cabin, and you’ll want to rest before dinner.”

“No. That is, I want to –”

Ignoring her half-formed protest, he captured her arm and hauled her down the gangplank.


Noelle gritted her teeth at Bjornson’s high-handedness, but didn’t dare fight him on the wobbly plank, for fear of falling into the cold waves below. Once safely on the wharf, however, she planted her feet and wrestled free of his hold. Just as she opened her mouth to give him what for, she spied Gjerset directing the sailors to unload her trunks.

“Y’all can leave those, right there!” she called up to them.

His face coated with impatience, Bjornson jerked his thumb toward the lumber camp, signaling the sailors to proceed. “The Excelsior has a schedule to keep. Take them to her cabin.”

“Just a darn minute.” Noelle fumed, clenching her hands at her sides. “Something isn’t right here. Before I take another step, I want some answers.”

Seeming impervious to the chili sea breeze, the hulking logger, stood hip-shot and crossed his thick arms over his chest. “Just what is it that you think ‘isn’t right here?’”

“Plenty. I thought I was hired to teach in Seabeck. Then I find out that’s not true. I’m to teach in a place with the ridiculous name of Whiskey Spit. Fine, I told myself — a simple misunderstanding. Then I arrive at this . . . this wart of a town, and I’m greeted by a bunch of brawling hooligans. I might be willing to overlook them, but I demand to know where all the women are. And where are the children, my students?”

He quirked a tawny eyebrow and his mouth twitched. “Hmm. Students.”

Noelle heaved an impatient sigh. “Mister Bjornson!”

“The men.”

“The men what?” she asked.

“The men are your students.”






Capt. Jack Sparrow and Me

I’m being interviewed by Captain Jack Sparrow today on Lady Katherine Bone’s site. Jack is such a flirt! Come say hi to the handsome rascal and me. Please!