Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stone Mountain Christmas by Caroline Clemmons

Thanks to Paty for sharing her blog with me today.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Not the actual day, but the anticipation leading up to that day. From Halloween through December 24th, my mind is abuzz with plans for gifts, decorating, and all things festive. Picturing the face of those I love when they open a particular gift fills me with glee. Remembering those less fortunate is always important, but especially so at this time of year when most parts of the country are having cold weather. And this is the time of year we’re allowed to crave holiday treats (even if you’re as “comfortably padded” as I am).

I’m very pleased to be a part of a Christmas anthology, SILVER BELLES AND STETSONS, which is available for only 99 cents. And what a bargain! Ten novellas certain to put you in a holiday mood for less than a dollar. I’ve read each of these stories and enjoyed them. I believe you will, too. By the way, the cover design is by Paty’s daughter, Christy.

My novella, STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS, is set in North Central Texas in the Palo Pinto Mountains just west of where I live. They don’t compare with the Rockies, but they are beautiful in their own way and I love them. That’s why I chose that setting for my Stone Mountain, Texas series.

photo of Palo Pinto Mountains

Most of my books have crime and adventure in them. But who wants trouble at Christmas? While this is a feel-good story, I had to slip in one crime. I just couldn’t help myself. ;-)

Here’s the synopsis of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Christmas has been Celia Dubois’s favorite time of year as long as she can remember. When she moves in with her parents a year after the death of her husband, the young widow is appalled at the town’s lack of Christmas spirit. Two months earlier, banditos had burned the church and crushed the townspeople. Celia vows to return holiday joy to the town. Perhaps doing so might help mend her aching heart. Will Celia’s plan work magic?

Rancher Eduardo Montoya knows Celia is the woman for him. She enchants him with her winning smile and vivacious nature. When her father warns Eduardo away from Celia, Eduardo is both angry and frustrated. After he stops a robbery in her father’s mercantile, will Celia’s parents change their minds about him? Can handsome Eduardo heal Celia’s sorrow?

And here’s an excerpt of the opening for STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:

Radford Crossing, Texas, November 1874

Eduardo Montoya focused on the beautiful redhead who swept the walk in front of Sturdivant’s Mercantile across the street. He turned to speak to his friend. “She is a vision, is she not?”

Micah Stone, his cousin’s husband, asked, “Have you met her or spoken to her?”

Eduardo’s gaze returned to Celia Dubois. He refused to let anyone shatter his dreams. “See how graceful she is even when performing a menial chore? When we are wed, she will not have to be concerned with such things.”

Sounding incredulous, Micah said, “I repeat, have you even met or spoken to her?”

Eduardo had no doubt his friend believed he had taken leave of his senses. He wasn’t so sure he hadn’t, but he placed a hand over his heart. “In good time, my friend. All in good time.”

Micah clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, Romeo. We’ve finished our business with Joel. Hope’s expecting us for lunch. You can daydream about the pretty widow on our way home.”

“I suppose we must go.” He exhaled, reluctantly willing to leave town but unwilling to let anyone derail his plans.

Micah untied his horse from the hitching rail in front of his brother’s law office and mounted. “Have to say this is the first time I’ve known you to be shy about flirting with a woman.”

Determination steeled Eduardo’s resolve as he swung onto his gelding. “Never before has a woman been so important to me. You will see. One day, she will become my wife.”

The two rode toward Micah’s ranch.

From where she stood on the walk, Celia had known the men watched her. One was the youngest Stone brother. Identifying him was easy because the three Stone men looked so much alike.
But she hadn’t yet met the handsome man dressed as a Spanish Don. He fit the description she’d been privy to of Eduardo Montoya, one of the wealthiest men in this part of Texas. At least, that’s what she’d overheard while helping in her parents’ store.

He certainly cut a dashing figure in his black clothes trimmed with silver buttons. She wondered if he was entitled to dress like Spanish nobility or if he merely played a part. The silver on his saddle flashed in the sunlight and she questioned the safety of such a display.

One thing she’d noticed in her few days in town and working in her father’s mercantile, she heard tidbits of local gossip whether intentionally or not. She wondered what the gossips had to say about her. Probably best she didn’t know. Most people she’d met were friendly but there were a few prunes eager to criticize everyone.

Wasn’t that true everywhere? Yet she thought an unusual pall lay over Radford Crossing. The town definitely needed a large dose of cheer. As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t mind a measure for herself. With a sigh, she went back inside the store.

Please let me tell you about each of the novellas in SILVER BELLES AND STETSONS:

Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors bring you ten western romance novellas featuring alpha-cowboys from the past. This boxed set will take you back in time when
men were rugged and handsome and the women who loved them, courageous and

The Greatest Gift: A Montana Cowboy Christmas by Kathleen Ball. Amazon Bestselling
and Award- Winning Author. Looking for the man who ran out on her, Ginger finds a
cowboy worthy of love but he doesn't want or need love.

Catherine’s Cowboy by Cait Braxton, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author.  During a supernatural dust storm, Fate steps in when rugged army tracker, Elam, helps Catherine deliver her child.

Stone Mountain Christmas by Caroline Clemmons, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Can Celia restore the town's Christmas spirit? "A beautifully written story about love and hope and all the emotions Christmas brings out in people." Karren Lucas

Angel and the Texan from County Cork by Carra Copelin.  Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Does Angel trust marriage to the man she suspects of killing her husband or the stranger who promises to pay off her debt and set her free if she decides their marriage of convenience won’t work?

The Drifter’s Proposal by Kristin Holt, Amazon Bestselling Author. The baker's man is home for Christmas... "Compelling. Heartwarming. Tender." ~Diane Darcy, USA Today Bestselling Author

The Perfect Gift by Lyn Horner. Friendship has blossomed into young love, but it seems destined to die on the vine...until an unexpected Christmas gift promises happiness.

 Marshal Mistletoe by Susan Horsnell. She married the wrong man. Will fate intervene?

Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives? "A story of forgiveness that has a wonderful hero who has worked hard to redeem himself."

A Hard Candy Christmas by Hebby Roman, Amazon Bestselling Author. Two damaged souls. Can their budding love and the healing power of Christmas bring them together?

Cowboy Christmas by Margaret Tanner. Will a miracle Christmas baby unite two tortured souls, or will it forever keep them apart?

BUY LINK:     Amazon

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of North Central Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with family and friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mystery and Mayhem Award

I was pleased to open my phone on Saturday morning and saw a tweet with my name tagged.
More finalists

The Mystery & Mayhem Writing Competition recognizes emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Cozy Mysteries and Classic Mysteries. The M&M Awards is a division of Chanticleer International Novel Writing Competitions.

The M&M Awards FIRST IN CATEGORY sub-genres are: Amateur Sleuth, Romance, Animals, Cooking/Knitting/Hobbies, Blended Genre, Medical/Lab, Travel, Humorous, Historical, Classic British, Y/A, and Senior Sleuth.

The following titles will compete for the FIRST IN CATEGORY Positions and Awards Packages.
The Finalists Authors and Titles of Works that have made it to the Short-list of the M&M 2015 Novel Writing Contest are:

Iced Tee by Cherie O’Boyle
Blood Relations by Lonnie Enox
There is Something About Marty by Wendy Delaney
Not with My Brain You Don’t by Richard Tenney
Terror in Taffeta by Maria Cooper
Community Affairs by Michele Lynn Seigfried
Prosecco Pink and Limoncello Yellow by Traci Andrighetti
The Hut in the Woods by VLZ
Murder Off the Beaten Path by M.L. Rowland
Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs
A Stitch in Time by Ann Yost
Stabbing in the Senate by Colleen Shogan
Brain Matters by JR Scott
Double Duplicity by Paty Jager
Murder Beside the Salish Sea by Jennifer Mueller
A Time to Love in Tehran by C. J. Fewston
St. Louis Affair by Michael Scheffel
Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Sword Princess by Suzette Hollingsworth
Endangered Eagle by Richard Carl Roth
Crossing Paths by Kate Vale
Organized for Murder by Ritter Ames
Fit to be Dead and Dang Near Dead by Nancy G. West

I'd like to wish good luck to all the finalists!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guest- Kristin Holt - Cake Baking in the Old West


Our grandmothers and great grandmothers couldn’t simply rip the top off a box of Duncan-Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix. Baking at the turn of the 19th century was a far sight different than it is today. Many baked on coal- or wood-burning stoves… without temperature dials and judged an oven’s heat by sticking a bare hand in and counting how many seconds they could stand it.

In a day and age when cake recipes often relied solely on eggs to make the batter rise, they whipped egg whites separately from the yolks and carefully folded both highly-beaten components into the batter. When hand-cranked rotary egg beaters came on the market in the mid to late 19th century, the exhausting and time-consuming chore became much easier.

Common Baking Ingredients of the late 19th Century Old West:

1. Butter
2. Lard
3. Eggs
4. Milk (including sour milk)
5. Flour (wheat, rye, cornmeal, graham flour, etc.)
6. Sugar, pulverized sugar
7. Molasses
8. Salt
9. Vinegar
10. Baking Powder
11. Baking Soda
12. Cream of Tartar
13. Corn Starch
14. Chocolate
15. Citrus like lemon
16. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc.
17. Nuts

Cream Cake Recipe, 1890
From: Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes, 1890
10 eggs, divided
1 ½ cups pulverized sugar
1 goblet flour
1 heaping teaspoon cream of tartar
½ pint sweet cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
A little milk
½ lb. almonds

1.       On beaten whites of 10 eggs, sift one and a half cups pulverized sugar and a goblet of flour throughout which has been stirred by a heaping teaspoon cream of tartar. Stir very gently. Do not heat it.
2.      Bake in jelly pans.
3.      For cream: take half pint of sweet cream, yolks of 3 eggs, a tablespoon of pulverized sugar, a teaspoon cornstarch, and dissolve starch smoothly with a little milk. Beat yolks and sugar together with this.
4.      Boil the cream and stir these ingredients in as for any cream cake filling, only make a little thicker.
5.      Blanch and chop fine a half pound almonds and stir into the cream. Put together like jelly cake while icing is soft and thick. Stick in a half pound of almonds. Split into two.

I’m an experienced baker, and this recipe confuses me. It’s perhaps more informative than useful for today’s bakers, as it provided a valuable glimpse into history.

In The Drifter’s Proposal, Adaline Whipple runs her family’s bakery business in the wake of her father’s untimely death. She learned every skill of baking (bread, pies, yeast rolls, quick breads, tarts, doughnuts, cookies) from her father. This part of the story came easily for me, as I’m a capable self-taught home-baker.

The Drifter’s Proposal Book Description:

The baker’s man is home for Christmas…

Spinster Adaline Whipple runs the family’s business, Whipple Bakery, since her father’s demise almost four months ago. She’s stunned by a surprise mortgage her father made with a bank in Denver City six months before he died. Now that the loan is sixty days overdue, the big-town banker wants his money. Adaline’s sure the handsome drifter Malloy’s proposal of… marriage?... won’t do her any good. But his mere offer to help feeds the attraction she’s felt for him, and before she knows it, she trusts the one man who can break her heart.

The Drifter’s Proposal is novella #5 of 10 contained within Silver Belles and Stetsons, a Western Romance Christmas Anthology.

About Kristin Holt:

I recall the winter of my first grade year, basking in the heat from our fireplace in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Dad read aloud Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME and Mom peeled orange segments for us to enjoy. That was the definitive moment I fell in love with fiction.

I write sweet (wholesome) romances set in the 19th Century American West. I'm newly active in a fantastic Facebook group for authors and readers of Western Historical Romances: Join the fun at

Please stop by at and say hello!