Monday, February 17, 2014

Sneak Peak: A Lawman's Lady (RAWHIDE 'N ROSES) by @LynHornerAuthor #western #historicalromance

Romancing The West welcomes the author of the Texas Devlins, Lyn Horner.

Lyn resides in Fort Worth, Texas – Where the West Begins – with her husband and several very spoiled cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. This hobby grew into a love of research and the crafting of passionate love stories based on that research.

Lyn’s Texas Devlins trilogy blends authentic Old West settings, steamy romance and a glimmer of the mysterious. This series has earned Lyn several awards, including two Reviewers Choice Awards from the Paranormal Romance Guild, the most recent for her 2013 release, Dearest Irish. She is now at work on her next book.

Jacquie, thank you for having me here today. I’m delighted to have this chance to talk about our upcoming anthology, Rawhide ’n Roses.

Being a contributor to this collection of short stories has been a real learning experience. I thought it would be fun and wouldn’t take much time. Right. The problem is I don’t often write short stories. How was I going to tell a complete story, a romance no less, in two or three thousand words? Most chapters in my novels are longer than that. What had I gotten myself into?

Well, I quickly learned the key is to cut out all “fluff”. I ended up cutting at least a third of my first draft, a painful process as you know. We authors don’t enjoy dumping sentences, paragraphs, even whole scenes for the sake of brevity, even if it does improve the story. Now I’d like to share a snippet from my short story.

The Lawman’s Lady
by Lyn Horner


Marshal Trace Balfour doesn’t care for schoolmarm Matilda Schoenbrun’s straight-laced attitude. However, a few moments alone with the spinster lady makes him realize she isn’t quite what he expected. It also makes him curious. Why doesn’t she like to be called Mattie? Most of all, what would she look like without her specs and with her hair down? 


“Move aside,” Marshal Trace Balfour ordered, pushing through the noisy throng gathered in the street outside the Golden Slipper Saloon. Their shouts and laughter had drawn him from his office up the block. Among the crowd, he saw the local Methodist preacher, the undertaker and the owner of the mercantile across the dusty street. Several ranch hands, in town on their day off, made most of the racket. 

Trace also noticed the schoolmarm, Matilda Schoenbrun. With her brown hair wound in a tight bun at her nape and wearing a drab calico gown of the same color, she brought to mind a brown jay such as he’d seen as a boy in south Texas. When she spotted him, she threw her shoulders back and narrowed her lips, looking down her bespectacled little nose, setting his teeth on edge.

“Marshal, please put a stop to this!” she demanded in a haughty voice. 

“Ma’am, that’s what I aim to do.” Touching his hat to her, he shouldered aside a pair of cowboys whose laughter and catcalls almost drowned out the shrieks coming from a pair of females rolling in the dirt. Trace recognized them as saloon girls form the Golden Slipper. With red and purple skirts bunched around their knees, they fought viciously, scratching, biting and pulling each other’s hair.

He’d rather face a gang of bank robbers than deal with these snarling wildcats, he thought grimly. 
* * *
Dearest Irish
By Lyn Homer

Dearest Irish, book three in Lyn Horner’s Texas Devlins trilogy, is the recipient of a 2013 Reviewers Choice Award from the Paranormal Romance Guild (historical category.)


Set in 1876, Dearest Irish stars Rose Devlin, the youngest of three psychic siblings who hide their rare talents for fear of persecution. Gifted with the extraordinary ability to heal with her mind, Rose inadvertently reveals her secret to Choctaw Jack, a half-breed cowboy she finds fascinating. Unfortunately, she harbors another, darker secret that threatens her chances of ever knowing love.

Choctaw Jack straddles two worlds, dividing his loyalties between his mother’s people and the family of a friend who died in the Civil War. Like Rose, he keeps shocking secrets that could cost him his job, even his life. Yet, he will risk everything to save his dying mother, even if it means kidnapping Rose.


Rose regained her senses slowly. Feeling herself rock to and fro, she groggily recognized the loping gait of a horse beneath her. But how could that be?

She forced her eyes open, taking in the starlit sky and the dark landscape passing by. Blinking at the sight, she realized she was seated crosswise on the horse – in a man’s lap. Just like that, the scene in her bedroom with Jack came back to her, and she knew whose chest she leaned upon and whose arm was locked around her.

Panicking, she cried out in fright. Pain lanced through her jaw, reminding her of the blow her teacher-turned-abductor had delivered just before she’d sunk into oblivion.

“Easy now,” the brute murmured. “You’re all right. Nobody’s gonna hurt you.”

She threw her head back to see his shadowed features. “I’m not all right, ye . . . ye kidnapper!” Cupping her painful jaw, she demanded, “Take me back this instant!”

“Can’t do that, Toppah.”

“But ye must! Tye and Lil will be looking for me.” Catching the odd word he’d spoken, she repeated it. “Toppah? What’s that?”

“It’s you. It means yellow-hair.”

“Oh. Well, don’t be calling me that again. Now turn this horse around and take me back,” she again demanded.

“Nope. We’re heading for the Nations. You might as well relax and enjoy the ride.”

“Enjoy the ride, is it? You’re daft!” She pushed at his steely arm and attempted to twist free, but, although his hold caused no pain, it was unbreakable. Feeling smothered and panicky, she shoved at his chest, managing to create a small space between them.

“Be still,” he ordered sharply. “Do you want to fall off and break your neck?”

Before she could reply, another man’s voice sounded nearby, speaking in an unfamiliar tongue. Unaware of his presence until that moment, Rose uttered a frightened cry and instinctively shrank against Jack. His arm tightened around her for a moment. He said something to the other man then spoke softly to her.

“Don’t be afraid, Poe-lah-yee. That’s only Tsoia. He is my friend, my blood brother. He won’t touch you as long as he thinks you’re mine.”

“Yours! I’m not yours!” she shrilled, once more stiffening against him.

“You might not want to let him know that.”

Twisting her upper body and craning her neck, Rose caught a glimpse of the other Indian’s shadowy form. He rode near them and, unless she was mistaken, he led another horse.

“What did he say?” she warily asked.

“He said you screech like an owl,” Jack replied, a grin in his voice.

Rose huffed in annoyance, not liking the comparison. After a moment’s silence, she asked in a softer voice, “And what did ye call me a minute ago?”

“Poe-lah-yee. It means rabbit.”

“Rabbit! I told ye before I’m no scared rabbit.” Although she did feel like one just now, she privately admitted. “Oh, and my hair’s not yellow, ’tis strawberry-blonde. That’s what they’re calling the color back in Chicago these days.”

“That right? Well, I guess I could call you Poe-aye-gaw. That means strawberries.”

“For goodness sake, can’t ye call me by my proper name?”

“I dunno,” he drawled. “Poe-aye-gaw is kinda nice, or maybe P’ayn-nah. That means sugar. Yeah, I like that one.”

Sugar? Did he think her sweet? And what if he did? It made no nevermind to her. Snorting in disdain, Rose squirmed uncomfortably in his lap.

Buy Dearest Irish here:

Find Lyn Here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day! Cowboy Casanova Giveaway Hop #historicalromance

Cowboy Casanova Giveaway Hop

Welcome! The Cowboy Casanova Giveaway Hop is hosted by Lily Graison and runs February 12-16, 2014. Check out the links at the bottom of this article for more great giveaway stops.

What You Could Win
Your choice of the Hearts of Owyhee books and a $5 Amazon gift card!

Books for Valentine's Day

Sleight of Heart

Combine a dash of James Bond with a big dose of Bret Maverick and a smidgen of Remington Steele and you have Burke O'Shaughnessy. Combine Poker Alice with my Aunt Grace, and you have Lexie Campbell. Lemme tell you, these two characters led me on a merry chase!

Sleight of hand? or Sleight of Heart?

A Straight-Laced Spinster
Lexie Campbell, more comfortable with neat and tidy numbers than messy emotions, is determined find the sharper who ruined her little sister and make him marry her. When his lookalike brother Burke appears, she greets him with a rifle and forces him to help her. Can she resist his magic charm?

A Gambler With Magic Hands
To claim the family fortune, smooth-dealing Burke O'Shaughnessy has to find his brother Patrick, despite being saddled with an angry spinster. But when Lexie shows an astounding talent for counting cards and calculating odds, he figures she might be useful after all. Can he draw the queen of hearts?
"... a fun and fast paced read with a charming and sexy hero!" ~Jennifer Haddad

Hearts of Owyhee Series

Book 1: Much Ado About Marshals

*** NOR Top Pick ***
Buy a copy and see for yourself what everyone is talking about. Once you read just one of Ms. Rogers' books, I can assure you that you'll be a fan ... Diana Coyle, NOR Reviewer

In the sleepy western town:

  • A wannabe woman sleuth is determined to marry the recently-hired town marshal.
  • But the man sworn in is wanted for bank robbery!
  • Then there's a real bank robber and the actual new marshal who both claim the job...
  • Alas, affairs of the heart mess up everything!

Book 2: Much Ado About Madams

A suffragist schoolteacher with a hidden past,

Six shopworn whores cooking up plans for a better future,

And a hunky cowhand who isn't quite sure what to do with all these women...

Life isn't always comfortable at The Comfort Palace!

Book 3: Much Ado About Mavericks

  • A sexy ranch foreman who just happens to be a beautiful woman
  • A Boston lawyer who wants to settle his father's estate and go back East.
  • Rustlers who have another agenda in mind
  • Mayhem endangers them all--but can the foreman and the lawyer ever see eye to eye?
Benjamin Lawrence is a highly respected attorney in Boston, but in Idaho Territory, they still think of him as that gangly awkward boy named Skeeter. When he goes back home to settle his estate, he's confronted with a ridiculous will that would be easy to overturn--but can he win the regard of his family and neighbors--and the foreman?

The Bar EL's foreman, Janelle Kathryn aka J.K. aka Jake O'Keefe, is recognized as the best foreman in the territory. But being the best at her job still isn't enough--now she has to teach the new owner how to rope, brand, and work cattle before she receives clear title to her own ranch, the Circle J. The last thing she expects is rustlers. Can she save her ranch without losing her heart?

Book 4: Much Ado About Miners

Cupid’s bullet...
Hired gun Kade McKinnon interrupts a bank holdup and is shot by the teller, Iris Gardner, whose victims have a tendency to be the next groom in town. Will he be the groom this time?

Cupid’s bow...
Iris Gardner, a smart, independent bank clerk, fell in love with Kade when she was too young to know better. So when he walks back into her life and her bank, it's only fitting that she shoots him ... by accident, of course. But she’s a suffragist now, so his charms can’t affect her...right?

Cupid’s blindfold...
Kade doesn’t know Iris’s company is the one who hired him to escort a bullion shipment, and Iris doesn’t know Kade owns the security company, but they both know robbers are on their trail. Which is more likely to be stolen—the silver, or his heart?

For a special Valentine's Day treat, read my short story in Hearts and Spurs, A Flare of the Heart.

Celia Valentine Yancey has no illusions she’ll ever enjoy wedded bliss, so chooses marriage over spinsterhood even if she has to marry a man her father picked. On the way to meet her groom, she endures armed robbery, a stagecoach wreck, a dozen hungry baby pigs — and an incorrigible farmer.

Ross Flaherty retired from bounty hunting to become a farmer but now Celia has brought his worst fear to his door — in more ways than one. A ferocious wolf-dog and a dozen piglets are no match for this determined lady.

Which is more dangerous — the Sully Gang or Miss Celia Yancey?

Enter now!
You have two chances to win:
1. Comment on this article
2. Sign up for my newsletter, the Pickle Barrel Gazette.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Win Free Books at the Valentine's Day Fandango!

Y’all pull on your fanciest cowboy boots and join the Prairie Rose Publications authors for a rootin’ tootin’ Valentine’s Day Fandango over at Facebook! We’ll bring spirited western women and a bunch of wild, to-die-for cowboys. Be prepared to win because we’re giving away prizes every hour. It’s one heckuva party, so don’t miss out! Follow the Prairie Rose Publications blog for more chances to win!

Saturday, February 8th
11am to 9pm Eastern Time.
10am to 8pm Central Time.
9am to 7pm Mountain Time.
8am to 6pm Pacific Time 
(and a bonus for the Dessert Divas)

Your featured authors:
Cheryl Pierson
Livia Washburn Reasoner
Jacquie Rogers
Sarah McNeal
Kristy McCaffrey
Tracy Garrett
Tanya Hanson
Sara Barnard
Kathleen Rice Adams
Linda Broday
We're dancing with Hearts and Spurs 
at the 
on Facebook

Monday, February 3, 2014

Western Trail Blazer presents WESTERN TALES! #NewRelease #amreading #kindle

Western Tales!

Western Tales! is a new, ongoing anthology series from Western Trail Blazer. It will appear monthly, and probably a little more frequently than that. We have the first 6 issues in various stages of preparation, and will be showing you the covers not only of Volume 1 but a couple of others, as well.

Volume One features:
Wearing Out a Welcome by John D. Nesbitt
Shot for a Dog by Cheryl Pierson
Four Gold Coins by Frank Roderus
Man of Iron by Chuck Tyrell
Judah King by Troy D. Smith

Each volume will have five short stories. Here are comments from some of the first volume’s contributors, and a couple of short excerpts…

Frank Roderus
 Western Trail Blazers is fast becoming one of the players in high quality e-books. I am delighted to be counted among their authors, the names of which are among the best in the business. I heartily recommend the Western Trail Blazer list of publications. Anyone who loves westerns, as I certainly do, will be in for hours of pleasure.

Four Gold Coins

“I got money. I got….” A burp interrupted him for a moment. “I got….” He reached into his pocket, ignoring the dampness in the cloth, and pulled out four coins.

When he laid them on the bar, Jason was as astonished as Pete, or more so, to see that they were gold. Four twenty-dollar double eagles, gleaming and beautiful.

“That’s…I can drink on that, can’t I?” Jason said, hiding another nasty tasting belch.

“Jesus!” Pete blurted. He raised his voice and shouted, “Boys, see what I found here.”

A partial hush spread through the crowd as men crowded even closer in an attempt to see.

“Damn you, Myers, where’d you get money like that?” Otis Riordan bawled. “You never had that much in your pocket since the day you was born.” It was a statement of fact, not an idle accusation. Jason indeed never had had so much money at one time in his whole miserable, useless life.

“All right, Jason, what gives? Where’d you get that money?” Burt Kyle wanted to know.

“I…I don’t know,” Jason said. It was the truth. He had no idea where those coins might have come from or why they were in his pocket now.

John D. Nesbitt
 Wearing Out a Welcome is one of my most recent short stories.  This story came about as a result of two ideas coming together.  One idea was about the difficulty a person has in dealing with someone who is unduly interested in the person’s wife.  I have seen this problem in other situations as well as in my own.  People cross the line, and it is difficult for someone to say, “Look, I don’t care for you hanging around and ogling.” 

 The other idea I was working with was about people who point guns at one another.   I just don’t like it.  I know people do it in movies and in stories for purposes of suspense, but I don’t like the emphasis it receives, especially in television advertisements.  So I thought I would write a story about a fellow who has to deal with someone taking interest in his wife and also pointing a gun at him.  I conceived of this story, then, as being about civility, respecting other people’s privacy, and not having to resort to violence to solve a problem.   It is not a conventional story with a gunfight at the end.  Rather, it is a story that stretches the bounds of the genre a little, and I hope it seems real.

I am very happy to see this story produced by Western Trail Blazer.  I have been working with WTB for a few years now, and I have had several different things published under this imprint—short stories, traditional western novels, a contemporary western mystery, and a collection of western poetry.  I appreciate the courtesy and the honesty with which the WTB people have treated me, and I appreciate the distribution my work has enjoyed.  I have more work scheduled to come out with WTB, and I look forward to continued success.

Wearing Out a Welcome

Decker worked at odd jobs in the barn the next morning.  He expected Hayden to come out in his own good time and go on another ride, but the man stayed in the house.  In the latter part of the morning, Rosalie came to the barn and watched without speaking as Decker finished splicing a rope.

“He’s getting on my nerves,” she said.  “He just sits around reading a book, and I can feel his eyes on me.  He’s worse than the grub line riders.”

Decker nodded.  The first year he and Rosalie were together, their house had been a favorite stopping place.  Word must have gotten around that Rosalie was easy on the eyes as well as a good cook, and a couple of the riders had been pretty shameless about sitting around and gawking and not even helping with chores.  Then when Decker put them to work mucking stalls and had them sleep in the barn, word must have gotten around again.

“It shouldn’t be much longer,” he said.  “This is his second day.  If he doesn’t leave tomorrow, I can give him a hint.”

Cheryl Pierson
 Shot for a Dog is the story of a teenage boy’s descent into madness. Is it from hydrophobia, or from his own sick jealousy of his younger brother? At sixteen, Lucas Marshal is eight years older than his younger half-brother, Jeremiah. His hatred and jealousy of Jeremiah is all-consuming, and though their mother is aware of it, she is passive about it until one dark day when it gets the best of him. Luke and Jeremiah are working in the corn patch and Jeremiah decides it’s time to quit. This makes Luke so angry he does the unthinkable, and decides to shoot the family dog, Shadow. But Jeremiah runs to prevent it and is shot, as well. Forced to leave home by what he has done, he tries to convince himself that he doesn’t care, and is not going for the doctor.

But as he journeys into the nearest town, he finds he has a companion he didn’t count on, and can’t get rid of. A river runs with blood, he hears voices, and starts to believe he has hydrophobia. He knows the doctor is his only chance. But when he gets to town, somehow, the townspeople already have learned what he’s done. Will they help him? The sheriff has a terrible secret of his own that may be the death of Lucas Marshal.

Shot for a Dog

It had been an accident—a trick of the relentless, shimmering heat—that had made Luke pull the trigger. At least, that had been the story he told, and the tale he stuck to in his own mind, until he had almost come to believe the fabrication himself
He and his younger brother, Jeremiah, had been finishing up hoeing the corn. The late afternoon sun had begun to relent, and though this July day would never cool off enough to be comfortable, at least it was becoming tolerable.

“I’m hungry,” Jeremiah declared.

“We gotta finish,” Luke answered flatly. At sixteen, he was responsible for Jeremiah, who was only half his age—and with no more brains than a turtle.

After a moment, Jeremiah stopped hoeing. “I’m goin’ back to the house,” he stated, straightening to stretch his back muscles.

“You ain’t goin’ back ’til I say we’re done, brother,” Luke said mildly, but when his blue gaze met Jeremiah’s dark eyes, the animosity couldn’t be hidden, nor did he bother to try.

Troy D.Smith
 I never come right out and say so, but “Judah King” is actually Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar set as a western –just as the movies Boss of Texas and Jubal are western versions of King Lear and Othello. I think The Bard’s blend of action and passion would have been perfectly suited for westerns, actually.

My version is not about a Roman general who wants to become Emperor, and his trusted lieutenant who fears for the country if that happens- it’s about an outlaw leader who conspires to become a town marshal, and his loyal lieutenant-turned-deputy who fears for the town. It’s one of my favorites from among the short stories I’ve done.

Judah King

No matter who they were or what they did, everyone loved Judah King. It was a certain air he had about him, I guess¾it was in the way he smiled at folks, the way his eyes looked straight into them. When Judah King grinned and looked at you¾whether you were man or woman¾it made you feel like the only person in the world, and you would do just about anything he asked of you.

People would just smile right back at him, and hand over their money and jewelry like they were doing a favor for their best friend. When Judah would shoot a man down for daring to stand up to him, most of the witnesses would conclude that he had it coming.

Chuck Tyrell

Man of Iron

God, I wish I hadn't shot that woman.

She was Chiricahua, plain as day, and that meant only one thing. She was one of Massai's people, and he'd sworn to kill me on sight. But there she was, down and bleeding from my bullet, and almighty weak   from bearing a baby boy.

What in heaven could I do with an Apache girl and a new-born babe, only a stone's throw from Hell's Gate?

For a while, I just stood there, rifle cocked and pointed at her belly. She stared back, not about to let me see how scared she was, and clutched the newborn to her.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

New from Western Trail Blazer: LADIES LOVE OUTLAWS #anthology #newrelease #western

Ladies Love Outlaws 

This is the first of what we hope to be many Western Trail Blazer western romance anthologies. Ladies Love Outlaws will be a series, as will Lawmen Love Ladies, and possibly more. This volume features stories by Celia Yeary, Cheryl Pierson, and Chuck Tyrell…

Celia Yeary

Some time ago, I answered a submission call from an ebook publisher for a 25,000 word story, either about an outlaw or a lawman. Addie and the Gunslinger popped in my head very quickly, and that night I wrote about ten pages--the amount for the submission. I included all the requirements and submitted, certain I would get a spot in the series. Nope. They hated it. Literally, the editor wrote more about why this story wouldn't work than I had submitted. 

Needless to say, I was a bit angry because I thought I had a good story. I filed it away.

When Rebecca sent out a call for more Dime Novel type stories, I pulled up Addie and studied it. I still believed it was good.

This time I completed the tale and sent it to Rebecca. Bless her heart, she praised it.

And as I've related before, Rebecca and I call Addie and the Gunslinger "The Little Story That could." Yes, it's still going and going.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
Sweethearts of the West-Blog

Excerpt from 
Addie and the Gunslinger
At the screen door, Jude used all his skills to move silently and entered the dark kitchen. Moving stealthily past Caleb's room, he made his way to the stairs. Knowing stairs always creaked, he walked on the end of each one where sounds were less likely to occur. At Addie's door, he paused.

Taking a deep breath, he slowly turned the doorknob and slipped into the dark room. Straining to see toward the bed, he froze when he felt something like the barrel of a pistol jam into his left ribs.

"Hands up," Addie said. 

Damn, he was proud of her. What a woman.

In one swift move, he turned and grabbed the hand with the pistol and raised it high over their heads, bringing their bodies together.

"Gonna shoot me, sweetheart?" He spoke softly close to her face.
♥ ♥ ♥

Cheryl Pierson

The Gunfighter’s Girl was originally titled Scarlet Ribbons after the old folk song of that same name. In the song, made popular by Harry Belafonte, a father sings of overhearing his daughter’s prayer for some scarlet ribbons for her hair. Everything is locked up tight, and there’s no way for him to get her those ribbons. Just as dawn breaks, he goes to check on her and finds her asleep with the scarlet ribbons on her bed. In the end he says, “If I live to be a hundred, I will never know from where/Came those lovely scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair.” I always loved the poignancy of that beautiful song and that’s how I developed the story.

What father could refuse his little daughter something so simple? In The Gunfighter’s Girl, Miguel Rivera, a man who sells his gun, comes home briefly at Christmas to keep a promise to his sister. He’s been gone five years, and when he comes face to face with the woman he left behind, he finds he hopes for what seems impossible—reconciliation. But he also learns that Lina kept a secret from him—one that might have brought him back sooner, had he known. He’s purchased some scarlet ribbons from a street vendor earlier in the day, but they’ve mysteriously disappeared. When he goes in search of the vendor, he finds the answers he is searching for, and discovers that Christmas really is a time for miracles. 

Excerpt from 
The Gunfighter's Girl

Miguel has just come face to face with Lina, the young woman he loved and left five years earlier. Here's what happens:

As she moved past him, he caught her arm, unable to bear her cool contempt.  He met her eyes as she looked up at him from under the thick velvet lashes he’d thought of so often.  She was just as he remembered, but older, and more certain of herself.  A smile teased at the corner of his lips.  Her gaze turned murderous. 

“Something amuses you, El Diablo?  Me perhaps?  Again?” 

He shook his head slowly, letting the saddlebags slide to the floor beside the bed.  “No, Lina.  I’m not laughing at you.” 

“You’ve had five years to do that, haven’t you?”  Her eyes sparked with anger and humiliation. “I never—”

“No.  You never.”  She looked down at where his fingers gripped her white blouse, a loose camisa that contrasted sharply with the dark softness of her skin.  Something seemed to change in her black eyes for an instant as he released her.  The anger fled, and Miguel’s heart skipped a beat at the sadness and wistful hope that took its place. 

“Lo siento, querida,” he whispered.  “I’m sorry.”  How could he have hurt someone who loved him so much?  Why hadn’t he realized before that Lina did love him?  The answer wasn’t hard to find, and surprisingly, he voiced it without thinking. “I never deserved you, Catalina.” 

She shook her head, and he knew what she was thinking; that he was lying, trying to keep her feelings intact.  He reached out and cupped the softness of her cheek, and just for a moment, she turned into his touch, her lips resting against his palm. 

“I never meant to hurt you.” 

A tear escaped as she tried to keep them in, squeezing her eyes shut, her chin quivering.  “I know,” she whispered, her forgiveness thawing out the calm coldness in his gut, leaving an unfamiliar emptiness in its place. 

In the next moment, somehow, she was in his arms, and nothing had ever felt more right.  She didn’t turn her face up to be kissed.  She pressed close to him, her tears soaking his own shirt.  He laid his cheek next to her hair, breathing in the tangy smell of the citrus-scented soap she’d used.  He felt her eyelashes, like butterflies’ wings, against his throat, and realized all over again what a fool he’d been to ride away from Rio Verde and Catalina de la Vega five years earlier. 

“Why did you go, Miguel?” 

Ah.  At last, the question he’d tormented himself with.  And why had he never returned before now?  He gave a short laugh, pulling back to look down at her.  “What could I offer you, Catalina?” 

“Everything,” she answered with no hesitation.  “You were everything to me, Miguel.” 

Irritation and denial surged through him.  “I’m nothing!” He let go of her, stepping back.  He raked a hand through his dark hair.  “I am…a gunfighter.  A hired killer.” 

She shook her head.  “You pick and choose what battles you fight.  I know that much about you!”  She took his hand, her thumb tracing the sides of his fingers.  “You are a good man, Miguel.  You are the only one who doesn’t know it.” 

He had to laugh.  “And you are the only person in the world who’d say that, Lina. “ 

“Then I am the only one who matters.”

♥ ♥ ♥

Chuck Tyrell

The White Mountains of Arizona are one of God’s masterpieces on earth. It’s high country, the plains are at about 6,000 feet and the highest mountain is a bit over 12,000. For some time I’d been thinking of a family of mustangers with a rawhide operation in the foothills of the Blues, which are just to the New Mexico side of the White Mountains. At first, when they started to jell, it was four sons and a mountain man father. But when I started to write Big Enough, the youngest sibling turned out to be a girl. 

Kimberly McCullough went with her brothers on mustanging expeditions, often to Sycamore Canyon and Sheep’s Crossing. On one such trip she saw a little black filly that was built for speed. She immediately put her dibs on the colt and with the help of her brothers, captured it. When I was growing up in that area, we had a little horse named Big Enough. I stole that name, and I stole my uncle’s way of winning the trust and love of a horse. That’s how she set about training little filly, Big Enough. The brothers went on down the mountain, leaving Kimberly alone. Those mountains were a wild and lonely place, so who could know that a ruthless outlaw was headed for Sycamore Canyon?

Except from 
Big Enough

"You must be Mort Eggertson," I managed to say to the tall man without my voice trembling much.

"I am."

"Why was you in jail?"

"Killed a man."

I put on my stone face. "Then you deserved jail," I said.

"Ah, but he'd of killed me if I'd been a hair slower with this S-n-W." He waved the Smith & Wesson, but never far enough away for me to make a move. 

"Come on, Mort. Them guys with Hubbell cain't be all that far behind us. Let's git."

"I could whip up a bit more bacon and biscuits if you want," I said. The longer I could stall them here, the closer the Sheriff's men would be, I reasoned. 

I unbuckled my gunbelt and put it on the ground by the rifle. "Just so's you won't get any wrong ideas about me," I said. 

"You don't seem all that scared of us, missy," Eggertson said.
♥ ♥ ♥

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Twilight of the Gun at Western Trail Blazers #NewRelease #anthology

       Twilight of the Gun
Troy Smith

by Troy D. Smith
Since Robin and I took over Western Trail Blazer on January 1st, we wanted to start this new phase of WTB by letting readers know who and what we are. So we started with a nice, big anthology that includes work from many of our regular authors — Twilight of the Gun. Many of the stories in it are tales that we have previously released as shorts; hopefully fans of the individual writers will find it, and discover other authors who are new to them that they like.

Why Twilight of the Gun? To be honest, just because it sounds cool. But there is, of course, a certain elegiac element to the traditional western, the feel that things are changing and the frontier is in the process of receding from the moment it is discovered.
Here are the stories and writers included:

  • This Old Star   by  Wayne Dundee 
  • Blackwell’s Run   by  Troy D. Smith
  • The Keepers of Camelot   by  Cheryl Pierson
    Lee Aaron Wilson
  • A Fire in Brimstone   by  Tom Rizzo 
  • Sharpshooter   by  Kit Prate 
  • Trail’s End   by  Les Williams
  • The Downfall of Ross Dent   by Lee  Aaron Wilson  
  • West of Dancing Rock   by  John D. Nesbitt    
  • Morning Shadow   by  Frank Roderus 
  • The Prodigal   by  Chuck Tyrell
  • Tucker’s Homecoming   by  Kevin Crisp 
  • Angel and the Cowboy   by  Celia Yeary                   

Some of these stories have made a huge impact. This Old Star won the Peacemaker Award, and both Blackwell’s Run and The Keepers of Camelot were Peacemaker nominees. Sharpshooter and Angel and the Cowboy have been two of the best-selling books in WTB’s history. And the others are great, as well.

Some of the authors have agreed to say a few words about their stories, and about WTB:

Kit Prate: Sharpshooter is part of a projected series, a trilogy covering 1841 to 1941; about a pioneering Arizona family who struggles to hold on to their land — part of a vast Spanish land grant that came to the patriarch of the clan through a fortuitous marriage.

As often happens when you are fleshing out a story you find yourself intrigued with creating a past and a future for a particular character who seems entirely real.

That's how it was with Clete Benteen.  Where did this boy come from before he assumed the role as the Terril's family Segundo; what was his beginning and how did he end up at Trebol? And is he strong enough to remain?

Les Williams
Les Williams: In 2011, Western Trail Blazer published my first Lance Kelly story Unwanted Reputation. I was surprised that the sales of this story exceeded my two previous westerns. Rebecca said someone had told her they thought the reason was the main character, Lance Kelly, reminded readers of Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. Rebecca suggested I write another story featuring Marshal Kelly of Freeman, Nebraska. I had an idea of Calvin Hawk , the protagonist from my first published WTB story Under Nebraska Skies, making an appearance in another western. Out of that came the story Trail’s End. I’ve since gone on to write a third story about this frontier lawman.

 My first short western, Under Nebraska Skies, was published online and in a small booklet by Wanderings. This was followed up by being reprinted in The Storyteller Magazine. Then I “met” Rebecca Vickery when she joined Western Fictioneers. When she mentioned that she E-Published short stories as Dime Novels, I knew I had found another outlet for Under Nebraska Skies. Rebecca was easy to work with and ready to answer any question I had, no matter how simple or complex it may have been. WTB came around at a time when no one else was publishing short western stories. She was a big boost to the genre. I’m sure I am not alone when I say: my short western fiction would not have been available to the reading public had it not been for Rebecca and her imprint WTB. Our stories were able to reach a wider section of the western fan base because her. Due to her health preventing her from keeping up with the demand required to keep WTB a force in the western publishing industry, Rebecca turned the reins over to Troy and Robin Smith. I see nothing but a bright future for WTB for now and in the years to come.

Kevin Crisp
Kevin Crisp:  Tucker's Homecoming is a story about two brothers.  One is a by-the-book lawman, but the other will do just about anything to protect his fiancĂ©e's inheritance.  Together, they want to ensure that the estate is deeded over to her before anyone figures out her brother Tucker's not dead after all.  But how can they get Tucker out of the picture...  without killing him?

This story first appeared in Frontier Tales eZine in June 2013.  It's part of a series of stand-alone but related tales I've written about my small town in Minnesota, as I imagine life might have been like here back in the mid-1800s.  Another story in this series is Doing Right by Dodd, which will appear in the Western Tales anthology (volume 2), also from Western Trail Blazer.

John D. Nesbitt
John D. Nesbitt:  West of Dancing Rock was my first published short story.  I wrote it as a conscious effort in writing a western story, and I also tried to write it in a more convincing first-person voice than I found in some of the western fiction I read at the time.  I was very fortunate in placing this story with a commercial magazine that came out at about that time.  It was called Far West, and it paid real money, so I was thrilled.  I was also thrilled to walk into a Seven-Eleven and see the magazine, with my name on the cover, on the magazine rack.  This was in 1978.  Several years later, when I included this story in a collection of western short stories entitled One Foot in the Stirrup, I was impressed with what I might call its purity of form as well as with its almost existential starkness.   It was like reading something written by someone else, which is always a good experience when a person goes back and reads something he or she wrote.

The short story collection went into large print and later into e-book format with Western Trail Blazer.  This collection, along with an individual story entitled Rose of Durango, got me started with Western Trail Blazer.  This has been a very good publishing outlet for me, as I have been able to have individual short stories and a book-length collection made available in e-book format, plus a series of traditional western novels, a contemporary western mystery, and a collection of poems all available in both e-book and print format.  

Celia Yeary
Celia Yeary: Angel and the Cowboy is the first Dime Novel I wrote of four. I used Max Garrison, who appeared as a young boy in my first "Texas" novel, Texas Blue. I pictured him as a grown man who left the business of being a U.S. Marshal so he could ranch and settle down. On a trip into town, he noticed the small Tea and Book Shoppe decorated for Christmas. He laughs to himself about the name of the store, but the deceased owners were British. Inside, he encounters the daughter, Daniella Sommers, whose British lineage doesn't ring true.

I almost wrote this story with my eyes closed. It seemed to have a life of its own, a story already formed and all I had to do was write it. There's a twist at the end, a surprise, and I have been thrilled that readers "got" it and told me so.

Western Trail Blazer came along at a time when I wasn't certain I would continue writing Western Romance. When Rebecca J. Vickery first invited me to write a story for an anthology, I accepted because I thought so highly of her. I wrote Angel and the Cowboy, and the anthology was a success. Then she allowed me to publish it as a separate story for her imprint Western Trail Blazer under  the 99Cent "Dime Novels." How clever and catchy! And the magic continued with three more Dime Novels she published for me. In particular, Addie and the Gunslinger has been on one to three of Amazon's Top 100 lists for two years. Needless to say, I have loved those checks!

My desire is to continue a line of novellas with Western Trail Blazer. This depends on my writing ability and if they fit the requirement for Western Trail Blazer. Why give up a good thing?

Chuck Tyrell
Chuck Tyrell: The Prodigal started as A Death in the Family,but the publisher wanted something that didn't give anything away. Again, we’re high on the Great Colorado Plateau, where I've placed my Havelock family. I didn't know this story would involve Ness Havelock until I wrote the first paragraph. I knew that the protagonist was an older lawman, and I knew that he was after his own son for a capital crime. Ness Havelock’s always been a first-person narrator, so I let him carry the ball.

In The Prodigal Son parable, the strong-headed boy who leaves his family and goes out to seek his fortune in the world ends up in a pig sty and repents and walks home to a joyous reunion with his father. In The Prodigal, the boy has been spoiled by his mother and he resents his lawman father, so after he leaves, he goes over to the dark side. It’s hell to have to ride after your own son, but it would be even more painful to leave him to be apprehended by another man. The problem is, of course, that a son who has committed murder will not willingly allow his lawman father to arrest him.

Tom Rizzo
Tom Rizzo: A Fire in Brimstone represents my first Western short story — the first of a series of stories based in this fictional frontier community. The focus of the story is Sheriff Cass Ryan, a man on the mend, psychologically, with a dark past he'd rather keep secret. 

I've always been fascinated by the real-life characters who populated the Old West. They were complicated men and women, many of whom survived a blood-bath called the Civil War, and either returned to their homes on the frontier to resume their lives, while others drifted into the West, hoping to find somewhere to call home. 

Whatever the reasons, these occupants of the expanding American frontier could be generally classified as either hero or rogue, depending on their mindsets and ambitions. But, it's the third category that attract the most attention from me — those individuals who walked both sides of the street of law and order. Lawmen who became outlaws, outlaws who pinned on badges, and the ones that enforced the law but, at the same time, broke the law. In many ways, nothing was as it seemed. A situation that makes for great storytelling.

Cheryl Pierson
Cheryl Pierson: I've always been fascinated by Arthurian legends from my childhood days. In The Keepers of Camelot, the characters we know from those legends, Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, appear in a most unlikely circumstance.  Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot have lived a thousand lives since that fateful day in centuries past when Camelot fell. But when they “return,” they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen, or how long they’ll be able to “stay” in that life. As The Keepers of Camelot begins, we find Arthur on a stagecoach in the middle of hostile territory, and it’s not long before the Apaches attack.

Once the stage makes it to the nearby stage station, Arthur is even more concerned to discover that Guinevere is the wife of the station’s owner. As the Apaches come back for another round of battle, he discovers what Guinevere already has known…Lance is their leader. Will Arthur be able to stop Lance from destroying the station and all the people inside, including the woman they both love? And how will they ever be able to end this endless circle of  lives without the one thing, forgiveness, they all seem unwilling to give?

Rebecca Vickery is one of my heroes. A few years back, after we'd both been "had" by an unscrupulous publisher, Rebecca did something about it. She opened her own publishing company! She asked me to write a short story for her first anthology with her brand new Victory Tales Press. From that time forward, I contributed to many of her anthologies, and at one point, we talked about how great it would be to have a western imprint. A dream was born and took flight, and Western Trail Blazer came into existence. I was thrilled! Not only another venue for short story writing (which I had discovered I loved to do!) but for my western novels, as well.  

As a free lance editor, I worked for Rebecca, and that's how I met Troy Smith. I've had the pleasure of editing many of his works and through the years, have developed a wonderful friendship with him, as well. Due to health reasons, Rebecca decided she needed some capable hands to take control of the Western Trail Blazer imprint. Troy and his wife, Robin, stepped up and took the reins — and they have made some fantastic plans for expansion with Western Trail Blazer. 

I'm so proud to have been on the ground floor of this venture, and to continue on with it through the reorganization. Western Trail Blazer is a publishing company with the highest standards of integrity. More than the treasured thrill  of seeing my short stories and books in good hands all through these years, is the gift of friendship of two of the best people I could ever hope to meet — Troy and Rebecca.

Here's to many more years of high ridin' for Western Trail Blazer!

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