Thursday’s Throwback with Donna Schlachter

Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway!

Question for random drawing: Where would be your choice for a romantic honeymoon?

Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a print (US only) or ebook copy of Cactus Lil and the City Slicker


Excerpt:

A rough-and-tumble cowgirl longs for true love but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.

Double D Ranch

Near Cave Creek, Arizona Territory, 1885

Chapter 1

Sally Jo sank to the ground beneath the pain of her wrenched ankle. “Drat. I simply cannot walk one more step in these infernal boots.”

Thomas Peabody, broad of shoulders and narrow of waist, knelt beside her, cupping her aching foot in hands more accustomed to roping steers or shooting the eye out of a gnat at a hundred yards. “Miss Sally, allow me to assist you.”

Sally Jo stared into his eyes. Why hadn’t she ever noticed they matched perfectly the color of the summer sky? “Why, Mr. Peabody, you’re most gallant.”

He straightened, reached a hand toward her, and pulled her to her feet. When she tried to put weight on her aching foot, a jab of pain like a hot poker shot through her, and she collapsed into his arms.

Right where she wanted to be.

He pulled her near, and she closed her eyes, offering her mouth to him. Greedily, as though drawing his very life essence from her, he covered her lips with his own. When she thought she would suffocate, she opened her eyes, and saw mirrored what her racing heart telegraphed to her own mind: this was love.

Lily Duncan surveyed the words written on the page as she chewed the end of her fountain pen. Ink blotches on her fingers attested to her hard work this morning. A clicking sound like a metronome tickled at the periphery of her hearing while she considered whether she needed to change the word telegraphed to something more ooshy-gooshy romantic.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She tipped her head to listen. What was that sound?

Lily tossed her pen on the desk and glanced at the silver clock resting on the leather-topped surface. Time was running out. She had less than two hours to finish this story and get it on the last mail stage of the day. That snooty editor, Mr. Hogan, in New York, was waiting for it.

Not that she knew for certain he was snooty. Truth was, she didn’t know anything about him. 

She’d only met him through correspondence, so he could be any age, any degree of pretentiousness, any color for that matter.

But that didn’t stop her creating an image in her mind: middle-aged, a monocle, oiled hair parted down the middle and slicked back, muttonchop sideburns, and a beard, of course. A house on Fifth Avenue, a society wife, private carriage, servants, and twelve children. At least.

She sighed. Thinking about all the reasons why she didn’t like the man responsible for buying her stories to publish in his fancy eastern magazine wasn’t going to get the story written. Or mailed.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pushed back from the desk. What she’d written would have to do. She couldn’t work with such a racket. She stepped to the window and listened. Not coming from the front. Must be out back. She crossed the bedroom-turned-office to the window facing the rear of the house.

This view was much more utilitarian than the rolling desert and giant saguaros surrounding the house on the other three sides. A small barn for her three horses, a hen house, corral, and privy filled her line of vision.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

Yes, this is where the sound came from.

And she knew its exact origin.

Lily hefted the Colt .38 on her hip. She’d take care of that she-rattler right now. She strode to the back door and stepped into the late afternoon heat of the desert.

The musky smell of mesquite, heated by the sun, filled her nose as she paused on the doorstep. How she loved the desert. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. 

Certainly not a place like New York City. No way. Give her cactus and rocks, cattle and dipping tanks, horses and leather any day. Unlike her heroines, she wouldn’t darken the doorway of a town bigger than Cave Creek. And she sure wouldn’t fall for the first man who looked at her twice.

Not that many men looked at her even once. She wasn’t ugly. At least, not ugly like a javelina, with its short bristly hide and snarling tusks. And not ugly like a turkey vulture, with its naked head and red eyes.

She preferred men’s dungarees to skirts. She wasn’t much practiced at cooking and cleaning. But she could outshoot, outride, and outsmart most men she knew.

Which was probably why most men didn’t take a second look at her.

Lily neared the woodpile. She’d been meaning to clean that mess up, sweep out the old tinder from the previous year. Even prop the wood up on a couple of timbers to discourage snakes and other varmints wanting to find a warm place to spend the night. But her best range cow had a difficult birth, and her horses needed shoeing, and the hole in the roof . . . 

Too much work for one person. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. What had she been thinking when she started writing?

An escape, that’s what. Something to while away the long evenings. 

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pulled on a pair of leather gloves and tipped her head to one side. If she didn’t get that low-down, no-good rattler out soon, there’d be a passel of little ones slithering around.

She glanced toward the horizon. The sun dropped like a lead sinker as though intent on ensuring she missed her deadline to get that story mailed today. 

And she sure didn’t need Mr. Persnickety Hogan upset that her latest installment of Love in the Wild Wild West wasn’t on time.


Get to know Donna

Cactus Lil came about as the result of a long-standing friendship, a step-mother who I dearly loved, and a desert oasis I longed to write about. Mary Davis, a good friend, contacted me because I’d worked with her on a previous romance collection, wanting to know if I was interested in another, and I said yes. My step-mom and my dad loved Cave Creek, Arizona, and got married in a little chapel in town there, and I wanted to set a book there because I love the town, too. Being a writer with a pen name, I thought it might be neat to have my main character write under a pseudonym, too.

As with most of my books, my main character, Lily Duncan, is slightly autobiographical. She is strong and independent—or so she thinks—but she also recognizes something is missing in her life. I think readers will connect with the deep longing in her heart.

As for my hero, Peter Golding is named after a chemistry professor I had in college. To be honest, I was a little afraid of him—he seemed so unapproachable. But as the semester went on, I found out he had an incredible sense of humor along with a good dose of an inflated opinion of his own self-worth. My Peter comes west to “rescue” Miss Daisy Duncan from this western backwater of Arizona Territory and whisk her off to the City. Boy, does he have a thing or two to learn!

Writing a romance is challenging for me for two reasons: as a suspense writer, I tend to have three or four subplots going on at the same time, but novellas just don’t have the word count to support that. At the same time, I want to intrigue my readers to keep them guessing, so at least a small subplot is imperative.

The other thing is I must be certain that the hero doesn’t simply come in and save the heroine. Writing a strong female character helps with that, but I don’t want my male character to look weak, either. He has to have certain abilities that will help him save the day at least once. 

Getting to the romance can also be a challenge. There must be a reason why these two get together. It’s why we read romance, right? One reviewer said she couldn’t understand why my characters ended up falling in love. We must keep in mind that people in the 1880’s wed for different reasons. Their courtship—if there even was one—looked different than today. For Lily and Peter, they wrote about love and published love stories, but had never been in love. Yet they were drawn to this other person who was completely unlike them and whose life goals were completely different. I think this is a picture of what God does in our own lives. If we were whole, we wouldn’t need Him, and we wouldn’t need a spouse. Yet the combination of our differences makes us whole as a couple, and when we use our passions, experiences, and talents for Him, we are complete in Him.


About Donna

Donna writes historical and contemporary mysteries, and has been published more than 50 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of several writing communities; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly; and judges in writing contests. She lives in Denver with her husband and two cats, finding mysteries wherever she travels. You can find her books on Amazon under both her name and that of her former pen name, Leeann Betts.

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

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Friday’s Feature with Kelly Goshorn

A Love Restored

She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.


With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?


A Love Restored is Kelly’s debut novel. I can’t wait to read it. I know it will touch many women. Read an excerpt below:

Loudoun County, Virginia

August 1873

Benjamin Coulter cringed as the shrill tune hung in the air. That woman sure knew how to ruin a Sunday afternoon. Sounded like something was dying and needed to be put out of its misery.

He shook his head. All he wanted to do was rest a while longer. His decision to go around his headstrong superior and talk to Mr. Farrell directly about his boss’s inaccurate measurements had made for a nerve wracking week. That decision could have cost him his job. Thankfully, his discovery had been received well, saving the struggling railroad both time and money.

Benjamin leaned against the sycamore tree and tossed his line into the creek. A slight hint of remorse nicked his conscience. He now sat poised to guide the construction of the Washington & Ohio Railroad through the town of Catoctin Creek and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Winchester, but he hadn’t intended to get his boss fired. If only the man hadn’t refused to admit he’d made a mistake.

Yep, it was all coming together. Just the way he’d hoped it would when he agreed to leave Texas and take this apprenticeship in Virginia. All he had to do was pass that examination next spring and…

He shuddered. The woman’s screeching escalated to a bone-grating pitch. She’d frighten the fish away for sure. Like most folks, Sunday was his day off, and he didn’t intend to spend it listening to her sing off-key.

Wedging his pole in the mud of the creek bank, he set off to investigate. Her ear-piercing slaughter of The Merry, Merry Month of May led the way. He spied his first glimpse of the lyrical assassin through the thin limbs of a dogwood tree. Perched on a large, flat rock at the edge of the creek, she swirled her bare feet in the water. Behind the rock sat a pair of woman’s boots—fancy ones. Too bad she hadn’t spent some of her shoe allowance on singing lessons. Her voice cracked. “The skies were bright, our hearts were light, in the merry, merry month of May…”

Benjamin winced. That was the fourth time in a row she’d sung that part. For the love of Pete, didn’t Miss Fancy Boots even know the words? He needed to put a stop to this so he could continue fishing—and napping. He stepped forward then stopped. The woman reached up and removed a pin from her hair, then another. Mounds of long chestnut brown ringlets spilled over her shoulders into the middle of her back.

Curls. He groaned. Why’d she have to have curls?

“The skies were bright. Our eyes were light…”

Never mind. Curls or not, the woman’s voice could haunt the dead.


Get your copy today!

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About Kelly

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

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Friday’s Feature with Brenda B. Taylor

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.


A Highland Emerald by Brenda B. Taylor

Excerpt:

Isle of Mull

Scotland, 1486

My father sat in his usual chair in front of the crackling fire, staring at the flame with dim eyes and a fur robe wrapped around his broad shoulders, the deerhound curled at his feet.

“Where are you going, Aine?” he asked with his back turned toward the stone, spiral staircase where I stood. “Come, sit with me for awhile.”

I pushed the arisaid from my shoulders, letting it drop to the floor, then stepped over the wrap. Making my way to the stool where my mother’s embroidery frame stood, I took a seat and watched the flame.

Without turning his head, my father, Lachlan Og MacLean, eighth chief and fourth Laird of Durant Castle, asked, “Where are you going?”

“How did you ken ’twas I?” He never ceased to amaze me with his uncanny knowledge of events around him although his eyes, so dimmed by injury, saw very little.

“I heard the rustle of your skirts.” He extended his hand for me, so I rose and hugged his neck.

He smiled, embracing my arms. “And I ken your scent, lass. ‘Tis so like your mither’s. You use the same scented soap as she.”

“Aye, but from so far away and with the smell of burning wood and dog in your nostril’s?”

“Your odor is a different pleasantry among the usual burning wood and dog. It stands out in my memory as does the pleasant odor of your mither.” He smiled broadly, showing still straight, white teeth beneath a greying beard. I could almost feel his penetrating gaze upon me as in the days before his sight was taken in battle. He asked, “Where are you going this dreary night?”

“Here, Da. To sit beside you and talk of the feast on the morrow.”

“Don’t try to deceive me, lass. I heard the sound of your arisaid dropping to the floor. You are planning a tryst, I feel certain.” His dimmed gaze pierced through to the depths of my soul. “I could see the turn of your head toward him each time he spoke at the evening meal.” A line formed between his brows and a shadow darkened his face. “You are to marry the Munro.”

“I dinna love William Munro.” My voice began to rise, and I struggled to control the cry climbing from the depths of my heart. “I wanna marry him, Da. You promised I could wed for love, not convenience.” The cry emerged from my lips. I buried my head on his shoulder and sobbed.

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