Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hope on the Horizon by Cassie Hayes

I was so honored last summer when Debra Holland asked me to help launch her new Montana Sky Kindle World. Of course, I immediately said yes — ‘squeed’, is more like it — and started planning my contribution. While I could have connected my book to one of my other series — Gold Rush Brides or Dalton Brides — this was the perfect chance to work on a new series set in a fictional western town. The question was, where?

Gold Rush Brides is set in California, the Dalton Brides in Texas. I know Montana and Wyoming are popular settings for westerns but I wanted something a little different. I ended up choosing northern Idaho, somewhere in the vicinity of Coeur d’Alene. The country is beautiful up that way and there are plenty of opportunities for colorful characters to inhabit my new town of Hope Springs. In fact, you get to meet several of them in the epilogue of Hope on the Horizon.

I hope you enjoy Cora and Jasper’s journey to love…and hope.

EXCERPT for Hope on the Horizon
For the first time in her life, she’d met a man who wasn’t trying to make her do whatever he wanted. It frustrated her beyond words because, now more than ever, she needed a knight in shining armor to save her. Thinking hard, she came up with a different approach.

“Okay, then what would you do?”

He squinted at her, his upper lip twitching.

“You ain’t gonna trick me that easy, Cora. That’s just a roundabout way of getting me to tell you what to do.”

Squatting down in front of her, he placed a calloused hand on hers resting in her lap. Heat infused her skin in a way she’d never experienced before, not even when Amos had claimed her as his wife. Especially then. But Jasper’s simple, gentle touch had her tummy doing somersaults. Her brain told her to yank her hands back, to pull away from the feelings, but she lacked the will. Instead, she met his unwavering gray gaze and held her breath, wishing the moment would never end.

“It’s probably gonna be different for you, Cora, but right here, right now, you’re in complete control of your life. You gotta do what’s right for you now.”

As she basked in his gaze, Cora wondered what he’d say if he knew that what she wanted to do more than anything was kiss him.

When tragedy strikes, love blooms…

Jasper Eaton couldn’t be happier with his life. Despite having the deck stacked against him since the day he was born, he beat the odds and found himself a home in Morgan’s Crossing, Montana. He has friends, a farm and a future brighter than the stars in the night sky. Nope, he couldn’t be happier.

Or could he?

Cora Winters is a good girl who always does what she’s told. When she’s forced to marry an older man headed west, she never dreams she’ll end up widowed, injured and left for dead by the side of the road.

After Jasper rescues her, Cora proves to be a charming helpmate on his farm as she recovers. But it won’t last long. For the first time in her life, Cora must choose her own path. She could settle in Montana or continue on to her homestead in Hope Springs. But heading to Idaho would mean leaving Jasper behind because he would never give up his farm.

Or would he?

As their friendship blossoms, they each dare to dream of a better life together. When Cora’s past comes back to haunt them both, a gunman’s bullet threatens to kill their future before it even begins.

Hope on the Horizon is the prequel to the Western Sunset series, set in the fictional town of Hope Springs, Idaho. Look for the first book in the series in April, 2016.

Bestselling author Cassie Hayes grew up pretending she was Laura Ingalls (before that pesky Almanzo arrived on the scene) in the middle of Oregon farm country. She lives with her husband and cat on the Pacific Ocean and loves to hear from her readers.

Connect with her at:

Monday, February 01, 2016

Left Coast Crime Conference

This month I'm headed to the Left Coast Crime Conference in Phoenix, AZ. I attended my first LCC conference last year. I like the relaxed atmosphere and panels by mystery authors of all the sub-genres.

The conference has nightly events. I signed up to have a table at:
The Blue Rooster Mystery Saloon - Readers Welcome! Cash Bar and Complimentary Light Appetizers  -- Friday, Feb. 26 from 7 p.m. until 9:30ish at the Hyatt Hotel. This event is open to the public, so if you live in the Phoenix area and aren't attending the event you can still come. It's free to attend! This event is sponsored by Chanticleer Reviews. My book Double Duplicity is up for their Mystery and Mayhem award.

I'll have a special on my Shandra Higheagle Mystery books during the event and will give away a mug to anyone who purchases two or more Shandra books that night.

Saturday will be a day of attending panels, meeting people, and the banquet that evening.

Sunday I'm participating in a panel with other writers whose books deal with other cultures. Some, like me, have Native American elements, one has stories set in Thailand, and the other in Greece. I'm moderating the panel and have been reading and enjoying their books and coming up with questions for each of them and a brief bio. I don't normally like being the one running a panel, but I'm excited about this one and the authors who will be part of it.

During the conference I hope to hook up with some Women Writing the West members and some of my Ladies of Mystery blog partners.

This should be a fun trip and a good time to connect with other mystery writers.

Do you like attending conferences?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hat Etiquette- How to Find a True Cowboy

 Did you know hat etiquette was practiced mostly by cowboys? 

The practice dates back to the days of chivalry when knights would raise their helmet shields as a sign of respect. But it was the American cowboy who popularized the custom. 

John B Stetson started making hats in a small room he rented in 1865. Using $100 dollars, he rented the room, bought tools, and $10 worth of fur. A year later he was famous for the hats "Boss of the Plains" and "Hat of the West". They were durable hats that kept the sun off the cowboys faces.

According to the John B. Stetson Hat Company (founded in 1868) there are very specific rules to dictate when a man should tip his hat and when to remove it.

Tip your hat…
If a lady thanks you
After receiving directions from a stranger
If you excuse yourself to a lady
When walking with another man and he greets a woman you don’t know

Remove your hat…
During the playing of the national anthem
Upon entering a building
During an introduction
When attending a funeral
When initiating a conversation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mystery, Mayhem, and Motives by Paty Jager

Starting the next Shandra Higheagle mystery. I love this part of the process.

Photo of Lostine River taken by me.
The "Suspect" chart is made. I list the murder victim, how he died and possibly why. Sometimes I know by who, but this time I'm leaving that to come out as the clues unravel. Next on the chart are the names of suspects, their motives, and the red herrings that will have the reader thinking it's one when it is someone else. (rubbing hands in glee) Yes, this part of mystery writing is the most fun. Laying the little tidbits that makes one character look more guilty than another. Yet, keeping all the clues believable so when the real killer is revealed in the end the reader doesn't feel like it was thrown in just to spite them. ;)

Motives. Those are as fun to come up with as the characters who have a reason to dislike and even want a character dead. Giving each secondary character a bit of back story with the murder victim helps to not only make their reason for "offing" the victim ring true it gives me, the writer, a clearer picture of the victim. Knowing the victim helps me to come up with the reasons a person or persons would want them dead.

Then it's making the motives, the clues, the actions of the characters all kind of like a sleight of hand as a magician would do. I dribbled out the truth but cover it up with misdirection and fluff that makes the reader forget the truth. Yes, writing a mystery book is a bit like a magic trick.

The best part about this murder...it happens on a ski slope, so now I'm off to figure out how the victim will die and what can be clues.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Monday. Can you?