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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Women Mathematicians

By Kristy McCaffrey

As early as the 1700s, women were drawn to scientific fields but society excluded them from receiving proper training and the same employment opportunities as their male counterparts. However, that didn’t stop the following women from educating themselves and making important breakthroughs during their lifetimes.

Sophie Germain
Sophie Germain was born in Paris, France, in 1776. Her father was a wealthy merchant and when Sophie was 13 years old she began to read books on mathematics and physics in her father’s library. Her parents disapproved of this interest and would often deny her warm clothes and a fire in her bedroom to keep her from studying. When they finally realized her serious intent, they secretly supported her. When Sophie was 18, the Ecole Polytechnique opened but women were not allowed. However, notes from the classes were made public and she was able to obtain the material and study along with the male students. She submitted her work under a man’s name and when Joseph Louis Lagrange, a faculty member, requested a meeting, he didn’t turn her away when he learned she was a woman. Instead, he became her mentor. She is known as one of the pioneers of elasticity theory, and she won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her essay on the subject, the first woman to do so. She also contributed foundational work on Fermat’s Last Theorem, ideas that were central to other mathematicians works for over two hundred years. She died at the age of 55 from breast cancer.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was born in London, England, in 1815. She is best known for her work on a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer known as the Analytical Engine. She created the first algorithm and is often credited as the first computer programmer. Lovelace was the only legitimate daughter of the poet Lord Byron and his wife Anne. (His other children were born out of wedlock with other women.) Byron left Anne only a month after Ada was born and died when Ada was 8 years old. Anne remained bitter toward her husband and encouraged Ada’s love of mathematics and logic in an effort to subvert the madness that had seemed to grip Byron. Never close with her mother, she was raised by her grandmother and led a fairly scandalous adult life, with numerous purported affairs and a love of gambling. One project that never reached fruition was her desire to create a mathematical model for how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings, a ‘calculus of the nervous system’. Her interest in the brain came from an obsessive focus on the potential madness she may have inherited from her father. Ada died at the age of 36, most likely from uterine cancer.

Sofia Kovalevskaya

Sofia Kovalevskaya was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1850. Her military father, along with her mother, provided a good education. When Sofia showed an aptitude for math, they hired a tutor to teach her calculus. In order to study abroad, she needed permission from her father or a husband, so she contracted a ‘fictitious’ marriage with Vladimir Kovalevskij, a young paleontology student who later became famous for collaborating with Charles Darwin. In 1869, she attended the University of Heidelberg in Germany by auditing classes. After two years, she moved to Berlin where she took private lessons since the university wouldn’t even allow auditing. In 1874, she presented a doctoral dissertation at the University of Gottingen with three papers—one on partial differential equations, one on the dynamics of Saturn’s rings, and one on elliptic integrals. With the support of her private tutor, she was awarded her doctorate in mathematics summa cum laude, becoming the first woman in Europe to hold such a degree. Although Sofia and Vladimir had a fake marriage, for a short time it became real and together they had a daughter. However, much of their married life was spent apart. Vladimir, who suffered mental problems, eventually committed suicide. Sofia later settled in Sweden where she secured a teaching position and died at the age of 41 from influenza. She made noteworthy contributions to analysis, partial differential equations, and mechanics.

Emmy Noether

Emmy Noether was born in Erlangen, Germany, in 1882. Inspired by her mathematician father, she sought to follow in his footsteps but German universities didn’t admit women. She circumvented this obstacle by auditing classes and eventually proved herself so adept at the curriculum that she earned an undergraduate degree. In 1904, she was permitted to enroll in a doctoral program at the University of Erlangen and received a Ph.D. in 1907. For over eight years she worked for no pay, relying on her family to financially support her. It wasn’t until 1922 that she became an untenured associate math professor at the University of Gottingen, where she earned a modest salary. Noether is well-known in the physics community for two theorems she proved. The first dealt with a problem in Einstein’s theory of general relativity in relation to conservation of energy. She resolved the issue by showing that while energy may not be conserved ‘locally’, it is conserved if the space considered is sufficiently large. The other theorem uncovered a link between conservation laws and the symmetries of nature. Today, our grasp of everything from subatomic particles to black holes draws heavily from this theorem, known as Noether’s theorem. When Hitler came to power, she was forced to leave Germany and came to the United States to teach at Bryn Mawr College. Noether never married and died at 53 from complications stemming from a pelvic tumor.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Death Masks

By Kristy McCaffrey

A death mask is a likeness of a deceased person’s face following death. Typically constructed of wax or plaster, the impression is made directly from the corpse.

Death Mask of King Tut
In many cultures, a death mask was used during the funeral and was usually buried with the body. The Egyptians made them as part of the mummification process, the most famous being King Tut’s golden mask. They believed the death mask allowed the deceased person’s spirit to find its body in the afterlife.

Some African tribes believed a death mask imbued a wearer with the power of the dead. But in the Middle Ages, the practice became less of a spiritual link and more a way of preserving the dead. Death masks weren’t buried with the deceased but instead were used in funeral ceremonies and later kept in libraries, museums, and universities.

Famous death masks include Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederic Chopin, Oliver Cromwell, John Keats, Nikola Tesla, Mary Queen of Scots, and John Dillinger.

Death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Alleged  death mask of Shakespeare.

In Kristy’s story, BLUE SAGE, a death mask plays an important role.

AMAZON | Also available in Kindle Unlimited

Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …

Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?

Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?

BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.

Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.

HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?

Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and an old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?

PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?

Blue Sage Excerpt
Braden sat across from Audrey, a fire flaming between them, holding the darkness at bay. They’d found a flat patch of land not far from the spot where they’d discovered Blue and had set up a small tent and supplies. Braden planned to sleep outside, and if Blue’s affectionate attentions were any indication, he’d have plenty of warmth from the mutt. Not that snuggling against Audrey didn’t have its merits, but he wondered if it was too soon to make a move.

She’d seen him cry like a baby after all. So much for giving an impression of strength and confidence. Damned if he hadn’t spilled his emotions out like a broken water pump. But in some ways losing his dad had broken him.

The horses and Stevie were picketed nearby munching on oats and grass, and Audrey had prepared peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. After the days’ events, Braden had eaten four.

“What did you want to tell me?” he prompted, running a hand along Blue’s back as the dog lay curled up against him.

Audrey crossed her legs and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Bundled in her brightly-colored fleece, the garment seemed to heighten the flush of her cheeks to a rosy glow. Although her hair was still pulled back from her face, strands had escaped and framed the soft contours of her cheeks, her eyes a deep blue-green in the flickering firelight.

Her only makeup was a sunburned nose and faint smudges of dirt, and he watched her like a lovesick puppy.

When had it happened? When had he fallen for her?

He hoped she wasn’t about to tell him she had a boyfriend.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been here,” she said. “When I was nine, my dad took my sister and me for a weekend in the wilderness. I’m fairly certain this is where we were. When you mentioned seeing a family here years ago—I think it was us.”

That caught his attention. He laughed as he scratched behind Blue’s ear, the dog in canine bliss. “I remember you. It was early in the morning, and I was scouting around alone when I saw a dark-haired girl talking to herself.” He grinned. “Then she did a dance.”

Audrey twisted her mouth, appearing self-conscious. She took a deep breath. “Yeah, that was me. First, let me apologize for the fact that we were on Delaney land. I’m sure my dad didn’t realize we’d crossed the boundary between public and private lands.”

“You’re forgiven.”

She chewed on her lower lip. “So, you should know that as a young child I was very sick.”

Copyright © 2017 K. McCaffrey LLC

Author Bio
Kristy McCaffrey writes historical western romances set in the American southwest. She and her husband dwell in the Arizona desert with two chocolate labs named Ranger and Lily, and whichever of their four children that are in residence. Kristy believes life should be lived with curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, and one should never be far from the enthusiasm of a dog. She also likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

See The Grand Canyon

By Kristy McCaffrey

View from the Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim of
the Grand Canyon. Photo Kristy McCaffrey.
“All the descriptions written over the decades land with a dull thud next to the real thing. It’s because the Canyon is overwhelming. It is so personal, yet a beauty beyond us—a far world, unknown, and unknowable.” ~ Arizona author Leo W. Banks

Arizona’s number one tourist attraction is the Grand Canyon, and it should come as no surprise that the state’s nickname is “the Grand Canyon State.”

Grand Canyon National Park is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Over time, the elements have scoured and carved the dramatically splendid Grand Canyon, known as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The distance from the South Rim to the North Rim varies from half a mile to eighteen miles, and the canyon has a maximum depth of 6,000 feet. This great range in elevation allows for a variety of climate, flora, and fauna; of the seven life zones on the North American continent, four can be experienced within Grand Canyon.

View from Grandview Trail at the South Rim of the Grand
Canyon. Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

The most prominent feature in the Grand Canyon, besides the deep gorges exposing millions of years of rock layers, lies at the bottom—the Colorado River. Named in 1776 by a Spanish missionary, Padre Francisco Tomás Garcés, it means “red” in Spanish, which is how the river would have appeared back then. Due to the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in northeastern Arizona in 1964, the river is now clear, clean, and cold.

The Colorado River as seen from the
Desert Watchtower at the South Rim
of the Grand Canyon.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

The first documented expedition of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was accomplished by Major John Wesley Powell in 1869. Powell, a Civil War veteran with only one arm, and nine companions became the first men to journey 1,000 miles on the river, part of it through Grand Canyon. They braved rapids, heat, plummeting morale, and the loss of three men. Powell’s account of this expedition, Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries, made him a national hero as well as brought the canyon to the attention of the country. The Paiutes called the plateau that the canyon cuts through ”Kaibab” or “Mountain Lying Down,” but it was Powell who first consistently used and published the name “Grand Canyon” in the 1870’s.

Inside Desert Watchtower.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My daughters inside Desert Watchtower.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

There are many options when visiting the Grand Canyon. The most popular location is the South Rim with many lodging choices, including campsites. These are booked one year in advance, so plan accordingly. (However, if you’re flexible you can sometimes find last-minute cancellations.) My favorite place is the El Tovar hotel, built in 1905. Be sure to grab lunch in the dining room (my favorite dish is the Traditional Navajo Taco). Learn more about where to stay here.

My daughters and a friend.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

Activities while at the South Rim include hiking (the famed Bright Angel Trail begins here—if you’re in good physical condition then consider a day-hike to Indian Gardens, a halfway point to the bottom of the Canyon; overnighting inside the Canyon requires a permit), bike rides, and many lookout points (Desert Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest are my favorites). People often ask about the Skywalk, a 10-foot wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet over the rim of the Canyon. It’s not accessible from the South Rim, but lies farther west and is more easily reached from Las Vegas. A bit of trivia: the walkway is actually built over a side canyon and not Grand Canyon, although the view is still spectacular.

My daughter Kate taking a photo on the Bright Angel Trail.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My daughters at the start of the Bright Angel Trail. We
didn't get far before they were distracted with photo ops.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My husband and daughter on Bright Angel Trail.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

You can also visit the North Rim during the summer months (the roads are closed during the winter). It’s more remote and more difficult to reach, but there are also less crowds. And the different views of the Canyon make it worthwhile (the North Rim is at a higher elevation than the South Rim). The Grand Canyon Lodge offers a perfect place to stay, but remember to book 12 months in advance. You can find more info here.

Me and my girls.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

Kate and Hannah commemorating their visit with a selfie.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey

We saw this magnificent bull elk grazing by the side of
the road as we were leaving the park.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Guest Post: Writing - The Long and Short Of It by Patti Sherry-Crews

Please welcome author Patti Sherry-Crews today!!
Take it away, Patti.

“When are you going to stop writing for boxed sets and write another novel?”

That was a question my daughter asked me some time ago.

Her implication being that writing novellas for anthologies is a lesser feat than writing a novel. The question did give me pause. My daughter is one of my biggest fans, and I often share my work with her because she’s a careful reader, picking out all the little breadcrumbs I leave along the trail from page one to writing “the end.”

So, why put my energies into novellas? I’ve written nine novels (some yet to be published) and numerous novellas for both my publisher, Prairie Rose Publications, and Indie boxed sets.

There are many reasons I write novellas. I like the companionship, the reduced workload involved in a group effort, and the chance to learn from others. I also like to have a couple of projects going at once. I flip back and forth, letting one rest while I go back to another with a fresh eye. I find if I’m not writing it affects my mood. Sometimes I don’t have a big idea for a novel in mind, and to be able to answer a call for submission or write a story for an anthology ensures I have something on my laptop.

But is a novella really a lesser feat? Not at all. Size doesn’t matter. In fact, I’d argue writing a short piece is more challenging.

When I submit to my publisher they have a word count limit. Indie anthologies differ in that way because I can write a longer piece--in fact it’s encouraged as long as it still comes in as a novella. But still, the word count in one of my novellas is typically a third or less than a full novel. There’s less room to have your story arc or flesh out the characters, which is actually difficult to do. I measure every word to make sure it has the feeling I wish to convey, given that I have fewer words to work with to set the mood. Character has to be fine-tuned and defined in a few pages, opposed to chapters.

Editing is something I actually enjoy. I think of the process as polishing. Image of a rock tumbler running in my head. I polish, polish, polish. Every sentence, every word. The advantage of editing a short piece is that I can run through a novella from beginning to end in a matter of hours rather than days. I think that helps with issues such as continuity or to quickly see I’ve used a word or phrase a few too many times.

The short read is also a place to showcase what I’m capable of. And because I feel a responsibility to the other hard-working authors in an anthology, I put my all into these efforts.

So, Missy, I will continue to write both novels and stories for boxed sets!

Includes Patti's story - PHOENIX HEAT

After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?

An excerpt from PHOENIX HEAT

She switched off the ignition and reached for the bag when she heard the sound she dreaded. The sound of another car approaching. She squeezed her eyelids shut. After taking a second, she swallowed hard and opened her eyes. A pickup, riding a cloud of dust—pulling in behind her. Trapped. The driver turned off the engine and sat still for an agonizing few minutes.
Looking in her rearview mirror, she could see the grimace on his face. At last, Flynn climbed out of his truck. She took in a long, deep breath. Still looking in the rearview mirror, she watched his slow progress toward her. A plain white t-shirt and tight jeans might be the sexiest look on a man, she decided. His broad shoulders, trim waist, and muscular arms swinging at his sides couldn’t show more to advantage in any other clothes—except maybe his birthday suit. She caught herself mentally undressing him and bit down hard on her lower lip. He continued forward in an unhurried pace, a scowl etched on his features. An ache in her lungs alerted her to the fact she’d been holding her breath.
She rolled down her window as he approached and looked back at him over her shoulder. His feet landed in her tire tracks leading him closer, boot prints stamping a new pattern in the dust. Maybe she could hand him the bag and be on her way. He leaned down and put his hands on the driver’s side of her car with his arms spread wide. Oh my. He has a tattoo. Around one muscular bicep ran a band of Celtic design. He had his cheek sucked in like he wasn’t too pleased to see her.
“Hi, I brought you some food from the hotel,” she said, surprised by the slight squeak in her voice when she’d been going for relaxed.
“Rosa have you running her errands?” No squeak in his voice. He spoke in a deep, slow drawl. Very sexy.
“I pass by here on my way to work. It’s not a bother. I work at—”
“I know where you work,” he said in that same slow, deliberate way. That man didn’t do anything fast.
“Oh, right, well, here you go then,” she said, shifting the bag in his direction. “Nice of you to do this. I brought the food yesterday, so I know normally I’m to put the bag on the back porch.”
To her discomfort, he stood there, not reaching for the bag, intense eyes boring into her. She lifted the bag higher. “Well, here you are. I’ll just be on my—”
“Yesterday? You were here?” The muscles in his wide-spread arms bulged, making her feel like prey trapped by a more powerful opponent. His body, radiating heat, blocked her view. His male scent filled the car.
“Yes, I let your dog in too. Poor thing was frantic to get in with the storm coming.”
His face got tight and he narrowed his eyes. “Very kind of you, except I don’t own a dog.”
“Oh, well, I—”
“That dog did some damage.” A vein in his neck twitched and his compressed lips went white.
The scorch of shame flashed over her cheeks. “I’m so sorry! It never occurred to me.... Was it bad?”
“Words fail to describe. Let me show you what I came home to yesterday. Come on,” he said when she continued to sit in the car.
He stood back to let her open her door and step out into the hot sun, pulling the bag after her. She stood face to face with him now. With his hands hooked in his belt loops, elbows out, she was aware of the size of him. Large and imposing, his body held her captive without touching her. She didn’t know what to say, and he seemed to be taking his time raking her over with his eyes. He stood so close to her, she smelled the musky scent of him. The individual stubble of each whisker on his chin, clear to her.
Finally, he walked away, moving to the back of his truck, where he picked up something large and threw it over one shoulder—a fifty-pound bag of dog food.
“I thought you said you don’t have a dog?”
“It appears I do now.”

Patti Sherry-Crews lives in Evanston, IL with her husband, two children, one good cat, and one bad but lovable puggle. She writes historical western and medieval romances for Prairie Rose Publications. She also enjoys writing contemporary romances. When she’s not writing, she’s usually walking the dog or indulging her love of cooking.

Find Patti at

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Guest Post: Eight Seconds Of Glory by Andrea Downing

Please welcome guest author Andrea Downing to my blog!!


Rodeo revolves around several events that are timed at eight seconds.  Why eight seconds?
Brought by Spaniard colonists to what is now the southwest and California, rodeo originally referred to what we presently call ‘round-up’—the gathering and sorting of cattle. But at those gatherings, cowboys did compete—show off might be a better expression.  The term ‘rodeo’ itself did not have its current meaning until as late as 1929. Prior to that, cowboy sports were not standardized, and gatherings of cowboys to compete had names like ‘Frontier Days’ or ‘Stampede’ or even plain ol’ ‘Cowboy Contests.’   Those contests included trick roping, trick riding, and racing, but one of the feats displayed at the round-ups was breaking a bronco—a wild horse. 
A bronco will buck hard for about eight seconds; after that, its adrenaline decreases, and it becomes winded. A rider showing his skill would have ridden that animal to the ‘breaking point,’ hence broke the horse. To ensure that the bronco continues to buck at reasonable speed and height at the next arena, the first organization to set standards—the Cowboy Turtle Association (because they were slow to organize and stuck their necks out to do so)—set bronc riding in competition at eight seconds. This keeps the stock from being stressed and enables them to be spirited and in condition to compete. Obviously, stock growers don’t want their competition animals to become tame.
Today, in the rodeo event of bareback bronc riding, both the rider and the horse are judged.  The rider stays on by holding his rigging with one hand only—this looks like a suitcase handle on a broad leather cinch. There is also a flank strap, which encourages the horse to kick out straight and wide. This strap is not painful to the animal and, indeed, is covered in sheepskin or neoprene to protect his body. The rider’s free hand may not touch either the horse or himself. As the bronc and cowboy fly out of the chute, the cowboy’s spurs must be touching the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s feet touch the ground after the first move. This is called ‘marking out,’ and if the cowboy fails to do this, he is disqualified.  The rider earns his points by upper body control and moving his feet, toes turned out, in a rhythmic motion of spurring the horse and straightening again in readiness for the next buck. He pulls his knees up, rolling his spurs up the horse’s shoulders, and then returns them for that next jump.
Bareback bronc riding takes an immense toll on a cowboy’s body, and the men suffer many injuries and long-term damage. The swift action and turns of the animal stretch muscles, pull and pound joints, and strain and yank ligaments. It may be one helluva way to make a living, but it sure is exciting entertainment. And a bareback bronc rider makes for an excellent romantic hero….

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Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?

Late that night, with the bedroom door locked against whatever demons might lurk outside, exhausted from another bad night of serving to taxing patrons, Chay pulled the covers up and mustered K.C. into his arms.
“Adnan’s leaving. Going back to Pakistan at the end of this semester.”
“I know.” K.C. peered up into Chay’s face, assessing him.
“You knew? How long? Why didn’t you tell me?”
She shuffled to sit up, releasing herself from his embrace to face him. “I thought you knew, of course. When you didn’t say anything I just assumed….”
“What? What did you assume?” Anger rose like bile in Chay as he whipped around to face her.
“Why are you so angry? I assumed you knew, is all. You seem to see more of him than I do. I sometimes pass him on the street on campus and stuff, but you run with him and see him more socially than I.”
“When did he tell you?”
“Geesh, Chay, don’t bust a gut over it. Yesterday, I think. Am I supposed to tell you everything the minute I hear? You were still steaming over the meal with my parents and I was just trying to sidestep anything that would further upset you. You came home from work in a mood—”
“I didn’t come home from work in a mood.”
“Well, you’re certainly in one now.”
They stared at each other, Chay trying to feel less like his blood was boiling, but it wasn’t working. Without prompting, he blurted out, “And I’m not taking that damn high school test. It’s idiotic, a waste of my time—”
“A waste of your time? Why? Because you prefer going to the gym and running and heading to museums and reading?”
“What the hell is the matter with that? It’s more educational than those stupid questions.” He jumped out of bed and grabbed one of the books in a pile in the corner. Flicking through the pages, he found a sample to give her. “Here, look at this. Look at this crap, K.C. Do you think this is the sort of thing that can hold my interest? That I’m happy doing?”
She flicked a quick glance over the question about basketball players. “It wasn’t supposed to make you happy, Chay. The idea was to give you a high school diploma so you could—”
“Yeah, yeah, so I could go on to college. I’m not going to college, K.C. Once and for all, now hear this….” He put his hands to his mouth as if it were a megaphone. “I, Chay Ridgway, am not going to college.”
“Don’t be an idiot, Chay; at some point you’ll want this and you’ll be sorry if you don’t finish.”
“The only thing I’m going to be sorry about….”
But he left the sentence unfinished, slipped back into bed, and stared at the ceiling.
K.C. rested on one elbow staring at him for a time before she, too, lay down.
Then he rolled to his side to face her and gathered her back into his arms. They had enough to deal with, and he didn’t want the tensions escalating.

If he could help it.

A native New Yorker, Andrea Downing currently divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning historical and contemporary western romances.

She has been a finalist in the RONE Awards for Best American Historical Romance twice, placed in the International Digital Awards twice, and won ‘Favorite Hero’ along with Honorable Mentions for Favorite Heroine, Short Story and Novel in the Maple Leaf Awards. Her book, Dearest Darling, has also won The Golden Quill Award for Best Novella and been on the short list for winning The Chanticleer Award for Best Short or Novella.

You can find Andrea at

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Guest Post: Ranching In A Man's World by Devon McKay

Today I'd like to welcome author Devon McKay to my blog!!

Ranching In A Man’s World
Ride. Rope. Repair fence. This is what a rancher does. Every day. Come rain, sleet, snow, or shine. Such devotion takes a love of the land. And a determined nature. 
In a world, mostly dominated by men, women are fighting to make their mark. And succeeding. Nowadays, it’s more common to see a female rancher, but it’s been a long haul full of challenges and obstacles for those paving the way. Not only have they had to prove their worth to a doubting cowboy, even finding sturdy work gloves in a smaller size has proven to be a difficult task.
 Perfumed with the scent of leather and spurred on by sheer will, women all over this country are doing what they love…ranching. In The Drifter’s Kiss, Addison Reed knows this all too well. The Drifter’s Kiss is one of seven stories in A COWBOY TO KEEP. 

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The Drifter’s Kiss Blurb
Addison Reed doesn’t want to believe her foreman and family friend is responsible for her missing stock, but the man isn’t making it easy. Hoping to prove he’s innocent, she follows him into a seedy bar and finds herself in a bigger mess…kissing a complete stranger.
            Drifter Sawyer Dawson never settled anywhere for long. In fact, landing a job on a ranch as the new foreman just fell into his lap, and he figured Montana was as good a place as any to settle down for a while. Of course, sticking around might have a little something to do with a sexy blonde with an affinity for kissing cowboys. 

The Drifter’s Kiss Excerpt
Frustrated, Addison Reed tapped the counter with her fingers and targeted her stare on Jacobs. Not being able to trust the man was killing her. She needed something concrete to prove her neighbor, William Ramsey, was the one responsible for stealing her cattle.

Not her dearest friend.

Suddenly, the older cowboy rose, said something to Ramsey, and brushed past the waitress, heading toward the exit. He was leaving? Her heart seized in her chest, then began an erratic beat, thundering loudly in her ears. Now she faced another problem. She stood between Jacobs and the door. Unless she could get out first, he'd pass right by her. Perhaps he wouldn't notice? Or maybe she could blend into the crowd?

She wavered between standing her ground and fleeing. Jacobs may be a thief and a liar, but he wasn't stupid. If she stayed put, and he did see her, then her cover would be blown for sure and she'd never get the proof she needed. He certainly wouldn't believe she chose the bar, which happened to be an hour's drive out of her way, simply on a whim.

No. She couldn't chance it. Wouldn't chance it.

Addison raced to the door, but as she neared the exit the crowd thickened and slowed her escape. She glanced over her shoulder to see Jacobs closing in. Quickening the pace, the heel of her boot slid across the sawdust covering the floor and she lost her footing.

A firm grip grasped her shoulders stopping her fall.

"You again?" A husky voice rose above the blaring sound of the country fiddle rocking the room.

She raised her head and locked onto a familiar green gaze. Great. Of all the people in this place, she had to run into this handsome man. Twice? Frantic, she spared another glance behind to see Jacobs was almost within reach. Seeking camouflage and not knowing what else to do, she faced the stranger.

"If our first meeting made your night, then you're going to love this," she mumbled, then stood on her tip toes and planted a kiss on the cowboy's lips.

Devon McKay Bio

Devon McKay writes contemporary romance with a western flair. If she's not typing at her keyboard, Devon's busy with chores on her small ranch, working on a stained glass project, or walking one of her three dogs through the woods. Her greatest joy is putting a smile on a reader's face and hearing from fans. 

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Guest Post: Author Hebby Roman

Please welcome guest author Hebby Roman to my blog!!

Good Morning, Romance Readers,

First, I would like to thank Kristy for offering to host our boxed set collection of contemporary western romances, A COWBOY TO KEEP, by spotlighting some of its authors on her blog, “Pathways.”

Our collection of seven authors’ stories has a little bit of everything for a lover of western romance. We have ranchers and rodeos, mavericks and marshals, mysteries and suspense, feisty cowgirls and handsome cowboys, and one story contains strong paranormal elements. (I’ll let you guess which one!) It’s truly a collection of what makes western romance a joy to read.

My story in the boxed set is entitled: BORDER ROMANCE, and I believe it’s the only story in the set that can be termed a “seasoned romance.” Just another bit of diversity for this awesome collection of western stories.

But what exactly is a seasoned romance? It’s a romance between couples older than forty, sometimes called a second-chance at love, depending on the heroine and hero’s past history together.

Personal experience is a big part of the appeal of seasoned romance, and my inspiration for writing my first seasoned romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, came from a very personal situation.
My husband’s cousin, along with his new wife, stayed with us while he went to specialists to investigate possible treatments for a rare eye condition he had, which could lead to blindness. 
I was so moved by his courage and his wife’s support, I found myself entertaining the idea of a book featuring high school sweethearts, reunited after twenty years. She’s widowed, he’s divorced, and they both harbor secrets. The hero feels he’s living on borrowed time and can’t share his condition with the heroine because he doesn’t want her to pity him. And she’s kept a secret from him that goes to the very heart of their love.
Experimenting with the mature themes of widowhood, failed marriages, missed opportunities, and even what could be a devastating illness within the framework of a romance, whetted my appetite for more. For me, as an author, that’s what makes them fascinating to write, their inherent diversity and depth. Throw in some grown children who don’t approve of Mom and Dad moving on with their lives, financial struggles, and even grandchildren to consider, not to mention exes of all kinds, and you know there’s a wealth of conflict to tap into before the heroine and hero can reach their happy place.
I’ve also written another series of contemporary romances called, “The Snowbirds,” about mature couples finding love in an RV Park.

Given my writing experience, it shouldn’t be a surprise that my book in this collection is a seasoned romance, too. BORDER ROMANCE is the third in my series called, “On the Border.” The first book in the series is about Leticia Rodriguez, and her early struggles to save her family’s business and find love and happiness after a  disastrous divorce. In the second book of the series, Leticia’s daughter, Camila, is featured and her May-December romance with Leticia’s ranching partner, Rusty.

At the end of the second book, Leticia, now widowed, needs help training her charro horses. Charro horses are specially trained “trick” horses, much like the famous Lippizzaner stallions of Austria. They appear in Mexican rodeos, doing tricks and dancing around the arena on their back legs.

Leticia hires Franco Ramos, a Mexican national, for his superb credentials, particularly with regard to training charro horses. When they meet, he reminds her of her late husband, and she’s attracted to him. And that’s where the second book ends.

Thus, the kernel of the story for BORDER ROMANCE was born. What if, Leticia, lonely and grieving for eight years, falls in love with her new handsome horse trainer?

How will they overcome the sticky situation of Leticia being the employer of a macho Mexican national? And even if Ramos falls for her, is he willing to give up his native country, along with his children who still live there? The built-in conflict seemed perfect for a seasoned romance.

But when I started writing the book, it suddenly veered off, going in a very different direction. Leticia’s foreman purchases a Quarter horse who’s been bred for speed, and she considers starting a Quarter horse racing stable. Her new venture brings her into contact with an old boyfriend. An old boyfriend whose high-handed tactics when they were young and both newly-divorced, helped to drive her into her late husband’s arms.

So, who will Leticia choose, her hunky horse trainer or a way-too-handsome millionaire rancher she’s known since high school? I hope you’ll read our boxed set and my story to find out what happens to her.

Now available at AMAZON
Only 99 cents

Border Romance Blurb

When Leticia Villarreal, a lonely widow, considers adding Quarter horse racing to her ranch, she finds she has a lot to learn. John Clay Laidlaw, a millionaire rancher and old acquaintance, races Quarter horses and offers to help. But he also cares for her and wants a relationship. Remembering his high-handed tactics when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?

Border Romance Excerpt

John Clay swung back into the saddle and said, “You might think that calf is stupid but compared to sheep, she’s a virtual Einstein.”
            Leticia threw back her head and laughed.
            “But why cattle?” He asked. “I thought your ranch was all about horses?”
            “Yes, this is a horse ranch. The cattle are just a sideline. We don’t keep a bull, but for some of the better-bred heifers, we use our neighbor’s Angus bull. Keeps the herd young. We cull the older ones and sell them, of course.”
            “I’m surprised you bother.” He inclined his head toward the ranch house. “Must keep you busy, considering you said you’re short-handed.”
            “Oh, that, it’s only temporary.” She removed her Stetson and wiped her arm across her brow. The spring day was heating up. “We need the cattle to properly train our horses. Our charro horses are our pride and joy, but we’re just getting back into them. Mostly, we train working Quarter horses, and you can’t train a cutting horse or calf-roping horse without cows.” She pursed her lips.
            He slapped the side of his head. “Stupid of me. I wasn’t thinking. I’m all about sheep, except for my racing stable.”
            She laughed again. “Hey, don’t get overwrought and knock your hat off.”
            “Yeah.” He grinned and shook his head. “Kinda silly.”
And how right she was, he was acting like a goofy middle-schooler, just being around her. “So, your manpower shortage is temporary. Does that mean I won’t usually find you rounding up cattle?”
            “No, not usually. I always have plenty of paperwork to keep me from riding out. But today has been a nice break.”
            “I like the mare you’re riding; she’s a good-looking horse.”
            “Why, thank you, Mr. Laidlaw, how nice of you to say.” She patted her horse’s neck. “Yep, Pearl is a sweetie. Rusty and Camila brought her back from Ponder last year, and she was so good at everything, we couldn’t make up our minds how to train her, cutting horse or calf-roping or…”
She’d moved ahead to a thicket of live oak and ducked her head under a low-lying branch. “My mare, Sally, was getting old, so I decided to keep Pearl for myself.”
            He followed her into the thicket, staying behind her horse to navigate the rough, one-horse trail through the trees and undergrowth.
She cleared the thicket and stopped, waiting for him. He could see the ranch house ahead. He drew alongside her. “At least you have the grass for horses and cows. My ranches only support sheep. We keep some milk cows for the ranch hands, but other than that, it’s mostly mesquite and cactus and patchy prairie grass on my spreads.”
            She raised up in her stirrups. “Yes, Eduardo chose well. This land is fertile, and we irrigate some, using Las Moras creek to grow our own hay.”
She gathered her reins and smoothed them, half-turning toward him. “But I can’t wait to show you my new charro horse foal. Midnight Princess just threw a beautiful colt a couple of weeks’ ago.”
            “I won’t say no to seeing one of your charro horses. I remember how talented Eduardo’s horses were. I was sorry when I heard you’d quit breeding them for a time.”
            John Clay gazed at Leticia, and he thought he could see the faintest glimmer of moisture on her eyelashes. It was obvious she was still grieving for Eduardo? Where did that leave him?
            She dropped her head and fidgeted with her reins, smoothing the long ends. “Yes, Eduardo was magic with the horses.” She bit her lip.
            He wished he was the one biting her lip, her neck, and lower…

Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She was selected for the Romantic Times "Texas Author" award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. Her contemporary romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, was a 2016 RONE Finalist.

You can find Hebby at the following sites: