Fire Across Texas, Book 2 The Bellamys of Texas

And we’re doing it again with the re-release of this book from Secret Staircase Books, a fiction imprint of Columbine Publishing Group! Fire Across Texas, like Winds Across Texas, will now be available in e-book for the first time and will soon be available in audio as well! This heroine is my favorite of any book I’ve written. And, just maybe, the hero is too.

Fire Across Texas front cover - large (002)

Hannah Barnes, wife of the austere preacher Caleb Barnes, is as dutiful and eager to please as she can be, considering the big difference in their ages. Texas Ranger Jeb Welles, on his way to the New Mexico territory, stops at the Barnes place to tend to his horse. There, he finds Hannah alone on the remote Texas property with no family or neighbors nearby, seemingly in shock, with blood on her clothes and her dead husband’s body in the cabin. Something tells him she’s no murderer, but he can’t be sure. He also can’t leave the stunned widow alone out there. They bury the body and he offers to escort her to the nearest fort to seek help.

Unaware that three murderers could be hot on their trail, the pair set out together. Jeb has no idea how deeply this shy woman will work her way into his heart. Hannah’s mission to avenge her husband’s death turns into a passion neither of them could have foreseen. This courageous woman and rugged ex-lawman discover tenderness and love under the wide Texas sky.

March 2019

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Book Life, Barn Life, My Life!

As the last week of February faded to March, I wrote the final scenes for Trouble in Action. I’m now in the mind-numbing phase of that first edit, reading my own words and finding my own mistakes. I must also comb through the endless notes I made as I wrote that first draft … all of the add this, delete that tidbits that occurred to me midstream. Only when I’m satisfied, will it go to the Trouble team to read. No matter how hard I try – and I do try hard! – mistakes will have gotten past my scrutiny. Hopefully the Trouble team will find those and my second round of edits will make it presentable for our wonderful BETA readers. I absolutely LOVE this story and these characters. I hope you will as well.

After a month of walking only and two weeks of walk/trot, Jetta and I have been working hard this month to get back in shape for our first run after her illness. This is my pretty girl in her ‘working’ clothes and winter hair which is slowly turning loose with every brushstroke!

On March 16, I took a break to spend an entertaining hour on a panel at the Mobile Literary Festival with two other Trouble writers, Carolyn Haines and Rebecca Barrett. The event was held at the beautiful Ben May Main Library where we spoke on the value of a shared character (aka Trouble, the black cat detective, of course!) Our moderator was the inimitable Cj Petterson. One of the questions posed to us was what method of promotion we each preferred, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, newsletter, etc. For me, without a doubt, it’s this newsletter. Promotion on Facebook feels awkward to me. I do it but not comfortably. I haven’t touched Twitter but suspect I must soon. But the newsletter, yes, definitely my favorite.

Book 1 of the Bellamy series, Winds Across Texas is now on sale! 

This book will eventually be available in audio as well! Last week, I chatted by phone with the artist who will be the voice for Winds Across Texas and Fire Across Texas. It was a fascinating discussion about how I heard each of the characters in my mind. Who might have a particular tone or inflection? Who had an accent? As we talked, I heard them more clearly in my mind than perhaps when I was actually writing the book. I never gave it much thought at the time, at least not that I recall.

And this is the new cover for Fire Across Texas which will be released April 25.

“Married to a fire-and-brimstone preacher, Hannah Barnes had given up hope of love and happiness. Then three gunmen killed her husband and she feared she would lose her life as well. A former Texas Ranger, Jeb Welles was determined to save the tart-tongued widow and be on his way. But while Jeb had only rescue on his mind, his body had other ideas. Hannah and Jeb had nothing in common, yet everything to share.”

Contest Winners!
January’s contest winners, Paula Adams and Grace Henley, won’t have too much longer to wait for their prize. We’re anticipating a July release date. February’s giveaway winner has not yet responded to a notification of their win. I’ve reached out a second time. If I still have no response by the end of the month, I’ll select another winner.

March will be another giveaway month! A lucky reader will be selected in a random drawing to receive a digital copy of Trouble in Action or Trouble in Summer Valley or the newly re-released Winds Across Texas!

Book Review
Trouble at his finest! The wickedly clever black cat is back, more wily than any coyote and more British than any Brit. Bone-A-Fied Trouble is an intriguing mystery replete with victims who must be avenged and criminals who must not get away. The séance scene is chillingly real with spirits that warn of dangers past, present and future while reaching out poignantly to love lost.

When lovely psychic medium Tabitha Kingsley arrives in Zinnia to meet with his aunt, Roger Long is immediately suspicious. His aunt is still grieving the loss of her best friend. It turns out Roger has reason to be suspicious but not for the reasons he thinks. Fortunately, Trouble is at hand to uncover clues and nudge Tabitha and Roger toward trust and love as they race to solve one murder and prevent another.

With the town of Zinnia and its residents in the background, fans of Carolyn Haines’ Bones series will be delighted to step into the world of Trouble, the black cat detective, as he is ably assisted by Sarah Booth’s own black cat, Pluto.

Fans of the Trouble series will happily settle into another excellent mystery featuring Trouble, son of Familiar.

Now for a little free fun!
Apple Die by Chelsea Thomas will be free March 26 and 27! Although I haven’t read this book, the snippets I have read look intriguingly entertaining so I’m adding this one to my TBR list.

Chelsea has had a rough few months. Professionally, personally and romantically. So when she finds a dead body on the family farm? All she wants to do is curl up under the covers and bury her problems in a box of cookies. A big box. Unfortunately, Chelsea’s aunt is a former prosecutor, and she’s dead-set on catching the killer.

Will Chelsea and her aunt solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again? Or will the body count rise, and ruin cookies for everyone?

You’ll love this clean cozy mystery, because everyone loves a down-on-her-luck sleuth who finds strength through solving murders.

Until April,

Susan Y Tanner
#booklifebarnlifemylife

Winds Across Texas, Book 1 The Bellamys of Texas

I’m excited to announce the re-release of this book with Secret Staircase Books, a fiction imprint of Columbine Publishing Group. Not only is Winds Across Texas now available in e-book for the first time, it will soon be available in audio as well! And look at this tasteful but romantic new cover. I couldn’t be happier!

Winds Across Texas front cover - large (002)

Held five years in captivity by the Comanche, Katherine Bellamy and the child she brings home are shunned by polite Texas society. Her brother Ford wasn’t a man to settle down—he’d gone away, seeking a life of adventure, trying to forget the girl who waits at home.

When Kate sets out to find Ford and bring him home, she encounters Slade, a mercenary soldier and Texas Ranger who rides the plains, seeking revenge for the deaths of his wife and infant son. Sparks fly whenever the two are together, but Katherine fears that Slade will discover her greatest secret.

As their attraction becomes impossible to deny, Kate wonders—can they build some semblance of a normal life together? Will either of them want to try?

Praise for Winds Across Texas:
“Action packed and poignant. ..builds tension from the very beginning and will keep you turning pages until the very end. Ms. Tanner’s straightforward style never allows for a dull moment.” —Linda Sandifer, author of Embrace The Wind

“Susan Tanner captures the fierce independence and adventurous spirit that marked the developing West. A heart-touching read.” —Elizabeth Leigh, author of Prairie Ecstasy

If I’d never bought a horse …

Jetta and Me Kiln 09 20 18

If I’d never bought a horse –
My hands might still be pretty – they were my only vanity ever – but I wouldn’t know the exhilaration of a tug at the reins insisting we go faster.

If I’d never bought a horse –
Maybe I would’ve vacationed on tropical shores or in exotic cities but I’d never have dared ride the Galway trail on a pretty, little Connemara pony.

If I’d never bought a horse –
I might have lots of money tucked away in a bank but no memories of highway miles filled with laughter and country songs on the radio tucked away in my heart.

If I’d never bought a horse –
No doubt I’d have friends but never have experienced the sisterhood and brotherhood of the arena.

If I’d never bought a horse –
I’m sure I’d be someone, but I wouldn’t be … me.

Susan Y. Tanner
#booklifebarnlifemylife

January 2019

Book Life, Barn Life, My Life!

2018 for me – as I suspect for many of you – was a time of loss and of gain, of letting go and moving forward. My heart and mind are set forward and I’m very much looking forward to the ride.

When long-time friend and fellow author, Carolyn Haines, reached out to me and several other writers three years ago with the comment, “I’ve got this great idea,” I cringed. I know her too well. Write a contemporary story? I’d never done that, only ever written historicals. Write a mystery? I’d never done that, only ever published romance. Include a cat’s point of view? I’d definitely never done that. I hadn’t written in a long, long time. Could I still? Should I even try? “Sure,” I said. “Count me in.”

Little did I suspect that her proposal and my foolhardy leap to join the wonderful madness would eventually persuade me to retire from a career I loved. This past September I realized it was time for me to change directions, time to shift writing from back burner to front.

Trouble in Summer Valley was released in 2017, Turning for Trouble in 2018, and Trouble in Action is slated for 2019. These books are all part of the Familiar Legacy Series based on Carolyn’s well-loved Fear Familiar Series. I’m excited to see where Trouble, son of Familiar, and every bit the skilled black cat detective, will lead us next.
Two of our Trouble authors are currently running specials. Rebecca Barrett’s Trouble in Dixie and Claire Matturro’s Trouble in Tallahassee are only .99 cents each through March 28!

And two more have new releases this spring. Jen Talty’s Trouble’s Wedding Caper will be released February 4 and Carolyn Haines’ Bone-A-Fied Trouble will be released March 4.
Both are available for pre-order NOW!

Because my other passion is barrel racing, all of my books in the Trouble series will feature horses. It’s been interesting for me to follow the journeys of the other Trouble authors as they find their inspiration for the stories they write, all varied and fascinating, but from me you’ll get horses. Equine therapy in Trouble in Summer Valley, rodeo in Turning for Trouble and stunt horses in Trouble in Action.

Now for a bit of fun! I need a strong, male Cherokee (or Cherokee origin) name for a lead character in Trouble in Action. No more than two syllables. It will take a bit of research, and I’ll need any submissions by February 15. But if you’re up to the challenge and I select the name you submit, I’ll send you a digital book or autographed print copy (your choice) of Trouble in Action upon release date.

Until February,
Susan Y Tanner

Jetta’s Journey: The Runaway

Four months later, I’m no less enchanted with Jetta than when my daughter and I first brought her home. I am, however, much wiser. Jetta is sweet. Jetta is smooth. And Jetta is very, very fast. I learned quickly that she runs faster than I think!

Our first run together was just that. A run. We did not make a barrel pattern although I had certainly paid my entry fee! She took the bit from me in the alleyway and put a whole new meaning in ‘blew my hair back’. We didn’t make the turn at the first barrel, much less the second or third. I finally got her slowed and stopped somewhere at the back of the arena.

Because I ride with super light hands, at our next run I stepped her up to a bit with a little more stopping power. Unfortunately, not enough. Once again, we bypassed all three barrels and made a nice sweeping run around the arena.

I don’t like being embarrassed. Never have. But I’m too honest a rider to blame a horse for my failings. I’ve never been one to step easily onto a horse and ‘just go’. My daughter does that effortlessly, but I need time to build what I call ‘muscle memory’ so that I’m acting and reacting naturally in sync with my horse.

I’m also very, very determined. Okay … stubborn. I don’t give up easily. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve learned to deal with both aspects. But when you know you’ve got a horse that’s better than anything you’ve owned in a long time, you don’t quit. Jetta is the caliber horse that I hope you will take the time to meet in the rodeo world of Turning for Trouble which will be released next week. I’m truly excited about this story, excited for you to glimpse the world of barrel racing that is so much a part of my life.

With the help of a friend who is also an excellent horsewoman, and much like the women I portray in Turning for Trouble, I found a bit that would keep my little runaway to a manageable speed until we could learn to work together. We’ve had two nice runs since then. Sedate, almost. Not competitive at all. The bit is too much, even with my light hands, but it has served its purpose. Jetta respects that I have control and I have gained back a bit of confidence (not to mention self-respect!) So, I’m back to searching and researching for the perfect bit.

Will it be the last one I use on Jetta? I doubt it. I suspect we’ll transition to lighter and lighter until she is running free and I am signaling how and when and what in concert with my fast, little mare. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

In the meantime, I am enjoying every minute with this sweet girl and I’m grateful for every opportunity to be out of the house and at the barn. Life is good and I am blessed.

Jetta Kiln 06 30 18

Jetta’s Journey

Jetta’s Journey began long before I met her but I’m excited for the stage that begins with me. When I first saw Jetta, the owner who’d trained her hadn’t ridden her in a while. Jetta had been turned out for the winter, left to her own happy devices.
Jetta's Journey 1
My journey toward Jetta began in my childhood and I’m often asked ‘why’. Why horses? Why barrel racing? The most honest answer to that question is, “I don’t know.” In my heart, I know I didn’t choose my passion for horse and sport as much as they chose me. It isn’t pride of ownership. For years, I had no concept of ownership. I rode what my sister made available to me and I was grateful. It isn’t the pride of success. I’ve stayed the course through failures as well as successes.

When I met Jetta, I was looking for something that was ‘not’ Jetta. I’ve ridden enough witchy-women mares to be absolutely sure I didn’t want another. The two horses on which I had my greatest successes and my happiest moments were both geldings. I was adamant I wanted another gelding. Jetta is a mare.

I’d never buy a horse based on color but I prefer a bay or a sorrel. Jetta is a golden palomino.

I wanted something trained, seasoned and settled. Jetta, though beautifully trained, is still a bit young and unsettled.

I wanted something ‘not huge’ but Jetta is tiny, smaller than anything I’ve owned!

I wanted a horse that loves his (er … her) job! Jetta loves running barrels as much as I do.
I wanted something fast because winning is fun, but I wanted something quiet until we were in the alley. Jetta – as my sister warned – is a firecracker now that she’s back in shape.

I wanted something smooth and I’ve never ridden smoother than Jetta.

When I began nagging (honestly nagging!) my daughter to find me a horse, my list was precise. It took almost two frustrating years for my daughter to find what I thought I didn’t want but Jetta is exactly what I need.

Not since my trip to Ireland – where I met and fell in love with a sweet Connemara named Silver Dollar – have I ridden a horse as loving as Jetta. She’d have me stand in her stall with her night and day, if she could. And I’d be content to be there. She wants to be brushed, combed, and petted. I don’t kid myself, though. For now, any human would make her happy but every day I feel the bond between us gaining strength.

We’ve had little success in the arena YET but that’s next month’s story so I’ll end with a picture of Jetta today and tell you that I’m in love with this mare though she bears scant resemblance to what I imagined my dream horse to be. And my daughter is happy that I am (finally) happy and her search is done.

Jetta's Journey 2And my final picture is of a long-ago day in Ireland on a horse I’ve never forgotten. Silver Dollar made her debut in America at long-last in “Trouble in Summer Valley”. I invite you to meet her there.

Silver Dollar Resized

Little Boys and Strays

 

“Nana, we need a Chihuahua. He could be a friend for Toby.” Translation . . . “I want something small and playful and cuddly.” And I really did ‘get it’. Sis, the chocolate Labrador is huge, clumsy and doesn’t listen. Her idea of play is to knock you down then walk on you. Toby, the Jack Russell, belongs to one person and regards the rest of us as his minions who must be tolerated. He does condescend to play with nine year old Wade but always on his terms and his timeline. Cuddle, not so much.

Mama didn’t necessarily agree that the place needed another dog of any size or personality. A barn cat, however, has long been needed. The last two left us and that isn’t a euphemism for death. They found a place they liked better, returning now and again – fat and healthy – to check on us. They were clearly content with their new abode as they came less and less often and then not at all.

My first glimpse of Kit Kat was a picture posted on social media captioned “Wade’s surprise”.  A cream colored stray picked up from a local vet, healthy but in need of a few fattening meals and looking quite content in my grandson’s arms.  Home from work, seeing her ‘in person’ for the first time, I could only laugh. She was a stray for sure and a blend of colors. Under the cream are a few barely visible splashes of palest tabby yellow. The black ears and tail, though softened to silver and gray, are quite definitely the trademark of a Siamese in the mix.

Wade's Surprise

I wasn’t laughing at her looks because she is really quite beautiful. I laughed because Siamese have always been the one breed of cat I’ve avoided. Who doesn’t recall the infamous twins from “Lady and the Tramp” singing superciliously ‘We are Siamese, if you please. We are Siamese, if you don’t please.’ And that, quite frankly is how I’ve always viewed them. As arrogant, disdainful and, perhaps, a little bit mean. The few that I encountered as a child, always yowled loudly which only added to my notion of a less than pleasant personality.

But Kit Kat’s arrival spurred me to some research. I expected to find intelligent listed as one of their traits but I also found them touted as good-natured, affectionate, inquisitive, energetic, and fun-loving. Those are pretty appealing characteristics! Even more surprising for me, they have also been proven to develop strong bonds with their humans, with those affections extending to other animals within the home. They’re purportedly very good at self-taught tricks so we shall see what Kit Kat devises for her entertainment and ours.

I also found territorial and opinionated and the fact that they’re best avoided when in a bad mood. Hmmm….. We shall hope her moods stay on the sunny side.

I did find reference to that yowl in most articles. Siamese it seems are vocal and communicative and use their voice to train their humans. Like the Siamese encountered in my childhood, Kit Kat has a very loud voice for such a very small kitten. And, according to one article – as her humans – we must now begin to figure out what she wants us to do. As I’m sure we shall.

Kit Kat