Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 13, 2017

It's not only the inside of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' Grand Conservatory that's green. So too is the roof.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cover Reveal -- A Borrowed Dream

Even though we've all been told not to judge a book by its cover, I do, and I suspect you do too. That's why I'm always eager to see the cover art for one of my books and to be able to share it with you.

So, with no further fanfare, here it is -- the cover for A Borrowed Dream.

Isn't it beautiful? I never cease to be amazed at how the team at Revell manage to capture the spirit of my stories in the covers.

I love the way the designer incorporated so many authentic details:

  • The bluebonnets that tell you more clearly than words that the book is set in Texas
  • The stone schoolhouse, because one in the Texas Hill Country would have been made of stone rather than wood
  • The bell that students could ring to signal the end of recess 
  • The Texas flag
  • The heroine's blouse, which is virtually identical to one I saw in an historic costume book  
I could go on and on, but that might bore you. Instead, let me share the back cover copy with you, so you have an idea of the story that's inside this gorgeous cover.

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor's excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek's dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He's managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

Have I intrigued you? I hope so. And, if you'd like to learn why I wrote this particular story -- the story behind the story -- here's the link.

A Borrowed Dream will be released in March 2018, but it's available for pre-order at all the major sites right now. Here are some links.

Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 6, 2017

How often do you get to see the tallest palm tree in Wyoming being pruned? I was fortunate to be given a sneak peek at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' new Grand Conservatory before it opened to the public and happened to be there the day that the palm tree was being readied for the opening.  What fun!

You've probably heard me say that the Botanic Gardens are one of the reasons my husband and I chose Cheyenne for our home, and it's true. Now, with the Grand Conservatory, the Gardens are even more wonderful -- well worth a trip.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 30, 2017

What a difference a snowfall makes! Remember the grayish sky in last week's picture of Grand Teton National Park? Not only did snow cap the mountains, but it cleared the air, creating the quintessential picture of autumn in the park.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 23, 2017

Yellowstone's southern park sister, Grand Teton, is noted for its spectacular mountains and sparkling lakes. The sky is normally a deeper blue, but the smoke from fires in Yellowstone polluted the air this day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 16, 2017

No trip to Yellowstone would be complete without at least one sighting of a bison. This one's resting in a meadow, perhaps because he realized that snow was coming and wanted to conserve his energy.

Did you know that not only is the bison the dominant design on Wyoming's state flag, but it was recently declared the national mammal of the United States?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 9, 2017

Summer and early fall are fire season in Yellowstone. If you're old enough, you may recall the fires of 1988 which destroyed a huge portion of the park and created an uproar when the flames approached iconic parts of the park.

The dead trees that you see in the middle ground are evidence of that fire, but -- as you can see from the amount of new growth -- new trees have grown, creating a reminder that while fire is destructive, it can also benefit forests by providing opportunities for new trees.

Did you know that some trees are so well prepared for fires that they produce two types of seeds, one of which germinates only after the heat of a fire opens the shell? Those seeds are called serotinous.  (Even though spell checker is protesting, that's the correct spelling.)

Notice the smoke hovering over the hills in the background. Yes, it's yet another fire, although fortunately not one of the magnitude of the '88 fires.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 2, 2017

When most people -- myself included -- think of Yellowstone National Park, we focus on the thermal features. No doubt about it, those are dramatic and unforgettable, but there's more to the park than geysers, hot springs, and mud pots.

The wildlife are another attraction. Who can forget their first sight of an elk, a moose, or a bison? What about the elusive wolves, whose reintroduction to the park was so controversial? And then there are the coyotes, the swans, the otters ... the list is much too long for this blog post.

It was a warmer than normal day in September when this picture was taken, which is why the elk were taking advantage of the cool river. You'll see that one even appears to be lying down in the water. But this is Yellowstone, where the weather can change rapidly. The next day, we had snow!

I hope you'll return next week for more of Yellowstone's attractions.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 26, 2017

Today marks the last day of our tour of the JCPenney Mother Store, and what better way to end it than to show you a display of items connected to Mr. Penney himself?
Here we have one of his hats, along with a bronze bust of him in his older days. What do you think about the gold shoes? Too flashy? That's what I thought at first, but then I realized that they were an appropriate gift for a man who started his career at a store called "The Golden Rule."

From everything I've read about him, James Cash Penney embodied the values in the golden rule and left a legacy of hard work, honesty, and caring, not to mention a multi-billion dollar enterprise that bears his name. A fine legacy, indeed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 19, 2017

Let's continue our look at the JCPenney Mother Store in Kemmerer with a closer look at the interior.

Although the merchandise that's for sale is modern, Penney's wanted visitors to see what the store looked like in the early twentieth century.  To do that, they've placed antique merchandise on top of the shelves and posted some of the store's slogans along with old pictures on the walls.

I'm not sure what all these items are, although I did recognize the milk can and the barrel, but I found the combination of old and new appealing.  Do you?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 12, 2017

Do you know what this is?  Since I told you last week that my July posts would be about the JCPenney Mother Store, you can guess that the picture was taken there.  But what is the purpose of this system of pulleys?

Believe it or not, it's how customers paid for merchandise and received change in the early days of the store. One of the defining characteristics of the Golden Rule and subsequently the JCPenney stores was that sales were cash only -- no credit -- so a lot of cash changed hands each day.

When a customer gave a clerk payment, the cash was placed in one of the tubes along with the sales slip. The tubes were then hoisted via the pulley system to the second floor of the building, where the cash register was located.  Change was returned by the same method. A unique system, don't you agree?

This was the first cash register.

The "cash only" policy remained in effect until 1958, when the store introduced its own credit card, reflecting the fact the country had changed, and Penney's needed to as well if they were going to continue to adhere to their principle of making customer satisfaction their highest priority.

More changes occurred two decades later when bank credit cards began to replace individual store cards. (One of the advantages of the bank credit cards was that it was easier for customers to carry one card and receive one bill rather than dozens.) In response to customer demand, Penney's began accepting Visa in 1979, with Mastercard following in 1980.
And now, although the Mother Store still maintains a nostalgic air, payment is definitely modern.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 5, 2017

Did you know that JCPenney, the national department store chain, had its beginnings in a small town in southwestern Wyoming? I had the pleasure of visiting it last month and am going to share highlights of my trip in this month's Wednesday in Wyoming posts.

Although this is not the original building or, for that matter the original location, the building is referred to as the "Mother Store" and brings tourists to tiny Kemmerer, Wyoming from all across the country to see where James Cash Penney opened his first store on April 14, 1902.

The first store was part of the Golden Rule chain of stores and he was only a part owner, but by 1907 Penney had full ownership of three Golden Rule stores, and in 1913 he incorporated under the J.C. Penney Company, Inc. name. The rest is history.

As you saw from the first picture, the outside is typical of many stores in small towns, complete with a bench for husbands to sit while their wives shop. Here's the interior.

There've been a few changes to it, including the addition of skylights, but much of the rest is the same as it was in the early twentieth century.  The merchandise, however, is all twenty-first century. And the welcome that the store's associates give customers would have made Mr. Penney proud, because it incorporates his maxim "to serve the public, as nearly as we can, to its complete satisfaction."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 28, 2017

Aren't these hawthorn flowers beautiful?  While some hawthorns have a profusion of white flowers, this one is obviously more brightly colored -- a welcome sight in any yard.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 21, 2017

Today's the official start of summer, but I'm still celebrating spring-flowering trees.  This is an Ohio Buckeye which, despite the name, thrives in Wyoming.  Its trunk and branches are particularly sturdy, making it ideal for the strong winds.

What you see in the picture above is the first stage of the flower and leaf buds opening.

Here you see that the flower has emerged, and the leaves are beginning to take shape.

Although it doesn't have the showiest of flowers, the buckeye makes up for their somewhat bland color with quantity.

The next step is the formation of nut-like fruit clusters.

Although these are supposed to ripen in the fall, so far -- and I've had a buckeye in my yard for thirteen years -- I have not seen any last long enough to mature, but there's always a first time, isn't there?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 14, 2017

Although Wyoming winters are noted for being harsh -- and they are, with the combination of fluctuating temperatures, strong winds, and minimal precipitation making it difficult for trees to survive -- many crabapples, including this one, thrive.

This is a Centurion Crabapple.  Although you can't tell it from this picture, the leaves are often almost as red as the blossoms.  And, when other trees' leaves turn red or gold in the fall, these turn green.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 7, 2017

Although there are times when I miss the flowering trees and shrubs I had in the East, with dogwoods, azaleas, and rhododendron topping the list, spring in Wyoming has its own beauty ... and its share of flowering trees.

This is a dalgo crabapple, which produces what the nursery called "persistent fruit."  That means that the fruit lasts most of the winter, providing food for the birds.  The birds enjoy that.  I enjoy the spring flowers.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 31, 2017

I'm ending the month with what I call the Mystery Bird.  It appeared in the yard in mid-December and stayed long enough for a photo shoot, but -- despite hours spent with my Audubon Field Guide -- I could not identify it.  Neither could my neighbor, who's an avid birder.

Do you know who the mysterious visitor was?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 24, 2017

Today's post is going to be longer than normal, because I want to show you three Horned Lark chicks from hatching to fledgling.

Did you know that Horned Larks build their nests on the ground? That would seem to make them susceptible to being trampled by cattle or humans, but somehow they survive.
As you can see, their camouflage is excellent. If it weren't for the bright orange throat of a hungry chick demanding food, you might not even notice the nest, particularly since the egg looks very much like a rock.

At this point, the nest doesn't appear too crowded, but that's because all the chicks haven't yet hatched.

Here's the second chick, just hatched. If you look closely, you can see the eldest chick with its head next to the unhatched egg and its yellow down quite visible.

What are these two siblings doing? My guess is that they're waiting for the third egg to hatch. Note that their beaks are open, probably in search of food.

At last! Three chicks and -- yes! -- three open beaks.

The nest is getting crowded now, but the triplets aren't ready to leave. Did you notice that you can see darker feathers beginning to emerge under the yellow down? I'm amazed that their beaks are closed.

Here they are, beginning to look more like birds than chicks and almost ready to leave the nest. Good thing, since the nest is now very crowded.

Once they leave the nest, I see them perched on fence posts and hear their song, and then the cycle begins again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 17, 2017

I was fascinated when this bird appeared, since I'd never seen one with such a pronounced chest patch.  It turns out that it's a Northern Flicker, part of the woodpecker family.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 10, 2017

What are this pair of hawks doing?  Dining!  At first the younger one appeared content to watch its parent, but soon the lure of fresh meat took over.
As you can see, there was a bit of a struggle.  You can guess who won.

The next morning, the youngster returned to the same site, as if expecting food to have been delivered there.  It wasn't.

I believe these are Swainson's hawks, which are common here, but I'm not 100% certain.  Can you confirm that?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 3, 2017

This month I'm going to feature some of the birds that have visited (or even taken up residence) in my yard.

Do you recognize this one?  It spent a lot of time on the birdbath, then hopped to the ground and stayed there for the better part of an hour one morning, which gave me plenty of time to pull out my trusty Audubon Field Guide and identify it.

This is -- drum roll, please -- an American Kestrel, a member of the falcon family.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 26, 2017

Our last sculptures of the month are located on the capitol complex in Cheyenne and feature a cowboy and a steer -- both important parts of Wyoming past and present.

As you may have guessed, one of the reasons I included this picture is to show you just how beautiful spring can be here. Winter is long, but spring is glorious!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 19, 2017

Perspective is everything. From this angle, you could believe you were experiencing the same thing the early pioneers did, exploring a land with few settlers.

The reality is, this statue is located at the National Historic Trails Center in Casper, with buildings, a parking lot, and a fire hydrant close at hand.

Which one do you prefer? I vote for the first one.

If you'd like to visit the museum -- which I highly recommend -- here's the link for more information.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 12, 2017

Continuing our exploration of art in Wyoming, I'd like to introduce you to Lander Lil, Wyoming's answer to Punxsutawney Phil. Yes, she's a prairie dog rather than a groundhog, and yes, she's a statue rather than a live animal, but that doesn't stop her from predicting whether or not winter will last past Groundhog Day.

Does the snow give you an idea of what Lil normally predicts?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - April 5, 2017

This month we're going to focus on outdoor art in Wyoming.

If you've been to western Wyoming, you know that elk, also known as wapiti, are common, so it's no surprise that the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson would have this statue -- or is it a series of statues? -- named Wapiti Trail near its entrance.

But this is only the beginning. In addition to a variety of exhibits, the museum also has a sculpture tour.

For more information, click here. There's even a virtual tour.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Releases, Reviews, and Relief

If you're wondering what happened to Wednesday in Wyoming this month, I took a break while I was involved in heavy-duty promotion for A Stolen Heart. The month that a book releases is extra busy and this time it simply did not leave any time for my usual Wednesday posts.  But -- don't worry -- they're returning next week.

Like most authors, I wait anxiously for the first reviews of the book. So much hinges on them, and there's no way to predict which reviewers will like a book and which will pan it. Fortunately, A Stolen Heart has received some excellent reviews, which was a big relief to this Nervous Nelly author.

Publishers Weekly is one of the most influential reviewers, and they receive far more books than they actually review. That makes simply being reviewed an honor, and when the review is as positive as this one ... let's just say that celebrations are in order.

Librarians rely on a number of sources when making decisions about which books to purchase for their patrons. Booklist is one of those sources, so once again, it was a relief and a pleasure to see what they said.

Do you like books that arouse many emotions -- both laughter and tears? I do, which is why I was pleased by this review from Compass Book Ratings.

And if you want a book to sweep you away, which is certainly something I look for in a book, you'll understand why I smiled when I read this review from The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

I've saved this one for last, because it made me laugh. Do you like chocolate? I do, which is one of the reasons I created a heroine who becomes a candy maker. I had fun researching nineteenth century candy making, but I didn't expect my descriptions to make my editors and this reviewer hungry.

A word of warning: you might want to have a box of chocolates at your side while you read A Stolen Heart.

If you read the book, I hope you'll consider leaving a review of your own on the various online book sites. Those reviews are incredibly powerful, since they help other readers know whether or not to spend their time and money on a book.

And, of course, I hope you'll return next week when Wednesday in Wyoming resumes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The 5 Ws of A Stolen Heart

Journalists are taught that every article needs to include the five Ws -- who, what, where, when, and why. We novelists follow the same advice, although it usually takes us longer to answer those questions. In my case it takes a lot longer.

Instead of simply counting the minutes until the official release of A Stolen Heart tomorrow, I thought I'd show you how those questions relate to the story. And, yes, there's another reason for this blog: Revell gave me some wonderful graphics to share with you.

Who? That's shorthand for "who's involved?" As you can see from the family tree, there are multiple generations of people living in Cimarron Creek. Not all of them are still alive when A Stolen Heart begins, and not all play major roles, but the family tree shows you who's related to whom.

I found the family tree invaluable when I was writing the book and hope it'll add to your enjoyment of the story.

What?  Again, this is shorthand, in this case for "what happened?" The answer to that is much more complex than the "who?" question, so let's start with the beginning.

Schoolteacher Lydia Crawford arrives in Cimarron Creek expecting to hear the sound of wedding bells, only to discover that her fiance has disappeared, leaving behind a wife. A pregnant wife.

Travis Whitfield has his hands full dealing with a missing man, a rash of thefts, and an ornery father. He doesn't have time to think about love and marriage. But sometimes love comes when it's least expected.

Where?  The answer to this one is simple: Cimarron Creek, a seemingly idyllic town in the Texas Hill Country. In case you wondered what it looks like, there's a map in the book itself and a fancier version here.

When? This is another question with a simple answer. The story takes place in 1880.

Why? And now we come to the heart of the story. Why did the people in Cimarron Creek do what they did? Why are some of them hiding deep secrets? I can't answer that without giving away the story, and you know I won't do that. Instead, I hope I've intrigued you enough that you'll read A Stolen Heart and uncover all the missing pieces to the puzzle for yourself.

Here's a link to more information as well as buying links.

If you do read the book, I'd love to hear what you think. You can find my email address on my web site. I'd also appreciate an honest review at the major online retailers.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Counting the Days

As the subject line says, I'm counting the days -- seven -- until A Stolen Heart releases. This is always an exciting time for me, knowing that soon my book will be in the hands of the most important people -- readers. It's also a bit of an anxious time as I wait for your reactions.

Believe it or not, there's a lot of waiting involved in writing. Once the manuscript has gone through the editing process, the next step is to send it to well-known authors for possible endorsement.

I was so fortunate that New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick enjoyed the story enough to say this:

And Margaret Brownley, another bestselling author, offered this praise:

The next step is to send the manuscript to major review sites.  One of the most influential is Publishers Weekly. Since they receive far more books than they can review, simply being reviewed is an honor. As you might imagine, receiving a favorable review like this one is cause for celebration.

Romance readers often turn to RT BookReviews for recommendations, so I always wait eagerly to see what their reviewers have to say about my books. I smiled when I read this, since both of my editors had said the same thing about A Stolen Heart, namely that it made them hungry.

Now I'm waiting for you, my readers, to tell me what you think. Will you love Lydia and Travis's story? Will you be intrigued by the secrets in Cimarron Creek?  I hope so.

If you'd like to read more about the book before it releases, here's a link to my web site. It includes a sneak peek at the first chapter as well as discussion group questions, in case your book club would like to feature it.

Happy reading!