Posts Tagged: Western Fiction

Donkey Derby Days

Donkey Derby Sign

During my first research trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado, I met a couple of the town’s beloved residents–two donkeys that are a part of a herd of about a dozen that roam the city’s streets. When miners had to leave the area, often their donkeys were let loose. The several donkeys that roam the streets are believed to be descendants of those used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek and Victor gold camps.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every June Cripple Creek celebrates its rich, historical heritage with Donkey Derby Days. Last summer when my hubby and I set out on a Book Tour Road Trip to celebrate the release of The Bride Wore Blue, Book 3 in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, we included participation in the annual Donkey Derby Days in our book launch activities.

Donkey Derby Sign

My participation in the celebration included several book signing events at the Cripple Creek District Museum and The Old Homestead Museum.

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

A parade is part of the Donkey Derby Days festivities, and the Gold Camp Victorian Society invited me to ride their float. So much fun.

Click here to learn more about the 82nd Donkey Derby Days,  June 29-30, 2013 in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Vote for Your Favorite Sinclair Sister

While I’m putting the finishing touches on my next series, I’m still celebrating the completion of my debut series: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek. 

Are you a Sinclair Sisters fan? While each of the sisters and their supporting characters sank deep into my heart, I have a favorite or two. I’m curious. What about you? Do you have a favorite Sinclair Sister? One you most identified with? Or one whose journey ministered most to you?

[polldaddy poll=6868714]

Which Sinclair sister (or sister-in-law) did you choose as your favorite? Why?

Endorsements for Sinclair Sisters Novels

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The folks who write the enticing blurbs about a story for a book cover or a front page receive ARC’s (Advance Reader Copies) from a publisher to read ahead of a book’s release.

What a blessing it was to have so many well-respected authors read The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series and offer endorsements! Gargantuan Thank You’s to each one of the authors listed below for reading the stories. And, of course, I’m thrilled they enjoyed the books!

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series (Waterbrook Press)

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series (Waterbrook Press)

“Spunky sisters, mail-order brides, a mining town full of men…but where are the right ones! I was captivated from the first page!” ~Lauraine Snelling, author of The Red River Series and Daughters of Blessing

“A beautiful tale! Intriguing. Inviting. Inspiring.” ~Cindy Woodsmall, best-selling author of When the Soul Mends, The Bridge of Peace, and The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

“Mona Hodgson has done it again. With deft storytelling and characters that leap off the page, Too Rich for a Bride is a book I won’t soon forget.” ~Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper and Anna Finch and the Hired Gun

Two Brides Too Many is one good book! Mona Hodgson sweeps the reader away with Sinclair sisters Nell and Kat an dnestles them in the majesty of Colorado, where a cast of characters eagerly await, to create a home. Hodgson leaves a tasty trail of breadcrumbs ready to lead us into the next story. Two more sisters…I can’t wait!” ~Allison Pittman, author of The Bridegrooms and Lilies in Moonlight

“Strong characters play out an intricately crafted story across a rich tapestry of setting. Not your usual mail-order bride story, and I loved the twists and turns. A real page-turner.” ~Lena Nelson Dooley, award-winning author of Wild Prairie Roses and Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

“This is a story that lets us stand on the cusp of a great societal shift–the entrance of women into the business world…. Cripple Creek’s cast of colorful characters plays host to a new romance, as well as pulling back the curtain on a local family tragedy. This sequel revisits the characters we’ve already come to love and creates a complementary depth to an entertaining new tale.” ~Allison Pittman, author of Stealing Home and The Bridegrooms

“I love recommending this series when readers ask me who I read and what books I can rave about.” ~Lauraine Snelling, best-selling author of Valley of Dreams and the Blessing series

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOUR WHO WON A SINCLAIR SISTERS OF CRIPPLE CREEK NOVEL–Susan M, Linda M, GodBLessAmerica2, and Jasmine A!

 

  • Do you read book endorsements? Do endorsements influence you to purchase a book?

The Intersection of Reality and Character Experience

Sinclair-Sisters-Oct2nd

Intersection Sign

Many of my closest friends are liars.

Those friends may prefer the title storyteller extraordinaire. Tale-weavers. And whether the literary yarn they spin is set in an actual place or based upon real life events and historical characters, like me, they are authors of fiction.

As novelists, we have chosen to write fiction, not fact. But even so, is the story we weave truly and completely made up?

Not the best stories. All compelling fiction resonates with readers. Why?

The best stories are rich in truth.

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

In writing each of my historical novels, I try to create an honest story world, premise, and character journeys that provide a platform for emotional and spiritual truth that deepens the realness of my fiction. While I’m not telling my story in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books, part of the authenticity comes at the points in which my life experiences—physical, spiritual, emotional, relational—intersect with my characters’ experiences.

Celebrating the completion of my debut series with the October release of Twice a Bride, I thought I’d offer you insight into a few of those intersections.

  • Like Ida, Kat, Nell, and Vivian Sinclair in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride, I am one of four sisters.
  • One of the sisters is a writer who, like me, began her career writing for a periodical.
  • I buried my father twenty-one years ago. Like me, one of my characters in Twice a Bride stands at a crossroads beside her father’s grave.
  • Our beloved Miss Hattie shares many of the amiable, mentoring characteristics of my dear friend and prayer partner, June Adams.
  • A character in Too Rich for a Bride was institutionalized with melancholia. Although the circumstances varied greatly, the grandmother my husband never knew was hospitalized with melancholia in the early 1900’s.
  • Like Deputy Carter Alwyn in The Bride Wore Blue, both my hubby and my father served in law enforcement and shared his compassionate and courageous stand for justice.
  • Before giving birth to my two daughters, I suffered two miscarriages. The circumstances and dynamics are not the same, but many of the emotions are, when one of the characters in Twice a Bride shares that experience.
  • Boney Hughes serves the series as a quirky sidekick and an unlikely mentor. Or is he a guardian angel? Mr. Boney shares many of my father’s Johnny-on-the-spot traits.
  • Like Willow in Twice a Bride, several of my family members have experienced a second chance for love and romance.

Even though my Cripple Creek tales weren’t formed in actual reality, my hope is that the setting and characters, action and themes, and my emotional investment as the writer, offer a tapestry of honesty that can make a work of fiction feel more real, at times, than life itself.

Thank you for joining me here. I so appreciate your interest in my historical fiction with WaterBrook Multnomah.

What do you enjoy most about reading fiction?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lKfEfKtofuI]

All four of the Sinclair Sisters novels are also available for eReaders?

Guest: Mark D. Ford, Artist for Two Brides Too Many Book Cover

two_brides 40

How much does a book cover factor into your reading choice?

It’s the first draw, right? (Forgive the artsy pun.)

Mark D. Ford, Senior Art Director
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Today’s guest isn’t an author. But as the Senior Art Director at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Mark D. Ford is a key member of my publishing team.

MONA: Mark, thanks so much for joining us on Hindsight today. We’d like to hear about your journey as an artist. Who most influenced your pursuit of art?

MARK: I was most inspired to be an artist by my father, a career Air Force officer. Although he was an administrator, he had a creative side. I loved to watch him sketch familiar cartoons. He even created a family logo and crest with our own motto: “Never Tease a Weasel.” The six of us kids were the weasels. I was the number three child–the rebellious one. Following my father’s lead, I’d draw cartoons endlessly, my favorite being Bugs Bunny. I even created my own comics.

Ironically, when it came time to choose a college path, my father directed me away from Art, toward a more serious degree—Business Administration. It may have been more about where a football scholarship would take me. With six kids in the family, I  needed the financial help to get through college. After graduating, without a clue what I wanted to do, I chose the excitment of the Air Force, and became a navigator in B-52 bombers. Six years later, unhappy with my career path, I left the Air Force to give a career in Art a chance.

About that time, I came across an article in Newsweek magazine, I believe. One of those “Top Ten Careers of the Next Decade” kind of articles. I read a profile of a guy who designed book covers for a living. I knew immediately that was it, and I enrolled in a local college for a degree in Graphic Design.

MONA: What training and/or experience brought you to your current position at WaterBrook Multnomah?

Out take from Two Brides Too Many photoshoot.

MARK: I was raising a young family, so I knocked out a degree quickly and landed my first design job at a scale manufacturing company. The scales you see in the supermarkets that weigh your fruits and veggies. I designed the scale dials, packaging, catalogs, and advertising.

MONA: Whew! What a relief to hear you were the designer for veggie scales, and not the kind doctors make us step on.

So . . . what happened next?

MARK: As soon as I could, I left there and found my first publishing job with a magazine that served the Christian marketplace. For five years, as I grew in my skillset, I watched thousands of products being pitched and presented in our magazines every month. Again, I was drawn to books. When a new publisher, WaterBrook Press moved to town, I jumped for a shot at a Designer position.

MONA: How long have you been with WaterBrook Multnomah?

Another Out Take
A box helped even out the models’ heights

MARK: I took the job offer as Senior Designer. Nine months later I became the Senior Art Director, running the Art Department. That was twelve years and several hundred books ago. Since then, we acquired another publisher, Multnomah Books, and together produce 70-100 frontlist books a year.

MONA: What is your artistic process for designing the book cover for a novel?

MARK: I enjoy the great variety of books for which we get to design covers. I would approach a nonfiction, self-help book much differently than an historical fiction title. And within fiction, a romance novel presents different challenges than a suspense thriller or YA (young adult) fantasy title.

Having said that, I still will often go to a sketch book and scrawl out a few quick ideas. Often, so sketchy only I could interpret it. Other times, I’ll do a tighter sketch to figure out placement and balance of items. But the computer is a great tool, and just as often I’ll jump in and start pulling elements together, usually in Photoshop. In either case, it’s preceded by doing some research on the book’s content, storyline, characters, etc., and coming away with some solid directions to pursue.

At WaterBrook Multnomah, we have a concepting meeting early on to meet with folks from Editorial, Marketing, and Sales. That launches our creative process. In the meeting, we discuss how to direct the book’s cover design, considering things like target audience, demographics, competition, and of course, author input!

MONA: Great answer, Mark, especially that last bit.

What mediums are used most in cover design for today’s marketplace?

An early composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: Cover design is taking place these days primarily using layout programs like Adobe InDesign, importing imagery from Photoshop and Illustrator–you can get all three by purchasing Adobe Creative Suite. Photoshop is a great tool, and original and stock photography are brought into Photoshop for touch up and manipulation. Often, multiple images are combined to bring about an overall effect that often times has to be ultra-dramatic to compete on the bookshelves. I think I counted about a dozen images that went into a recent fiction cover image I created for Liz Curtis Higgs.

MONA: What is your typical focus when thinking about the imagery for a cover? Setting? Characters? Theme?

A second composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: We’ve got to be accurate with the story elements on the cover. I’ll watch my wife reading one of our novels while flipping back to the cover repeatedly, and she’ll let me know if it doesn’t match the story. I often like to leave more to the imagination, having more vague imagery on the cover. But, the trend lately in Christian fiction has been to be more literal, showing a full face character, capturing a setting, and even timeframe on the cover. So, we pay a lot of attention to that as we’re developing the scene.

MONA: Mark, you designed the cover for Two Brides Too Many and worked with Kelly Howard on the cover for Too Rich for a  Bride. You’ve been involved with a lot of book covers since then, but do you recall any specifics from the design process for Two Brides Too Many?

 MARK: Working on Two Brides Too Many was a lot of fun for me. It was great to feature the local history of Cripple Creek, Colorado, just over the hill from us.

I knew I wanted to capture the feel of an Old West mining town with the Sangre de Cristo mountain range behind it. The tricky part was capturing the two sisters in a dynamic way. With this title, it seemed obvious to have the sisters both wearing wedding dresses on the cover.

Book 1
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

I had found a couple of stock photo images of brides that I “photoshopped” together on the cover. I submitted this composite and got approval to go ahead with a photoshoot. We often have to do a “preview comp” so people can see what the finished product will look like before going through the expense of a photoshoot. We found a company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, that rents 18th and 19th century costumes, and had two antique wedding dresses shipped to us for the photoshoot. Then we needed models. Through a talent agency in Denver, we found two girls who fit our character descriptions. “Kat” ended up being quite tall compared to “Nell,” which we remedied by having Nell stand on a box for the back-to-back shot.

I was a little nervous about the rental dress fitting Kat, so I brought my wife’s wedding dress as a backup. Julie, my wife, had her great-grandmother’s dress (circa 1865) completely remodeled for our wedding in 1985. We brought it along to the shoot, just in case. Turned out to be a good idea because the rental didn’t fit at all. Julie is 5’ 0” and Kat is 5’ 10.” Somehow we Julie’s dress work! As you can see from the finished product, we captured the Sinclair sisters’ personalities and attitudes. Our models did a great job.

Side note: My intention was to leave a little more to the imagination by cropping both girls just below the nose, but because their expressions were so captivating, we decided to show their full faces.

MONA: Mark, the cover choices you and the team made were spot on. Our Sinclair Sisters fans are captivated by the cover’s historical warmth and the girls’ intriguing expressions, as am I.

I’m remembering a story about one of the models and the flowers staged for the shoot.

A fun Out Take from the end of the photoshoot

MARK: We try to have fun on the set and after we shot a second option, basically a close up shot of the dress with the model holding flowers, we tried some different ideas. In one shot, we had Nell tossing the bouquet toward the camera while we tried to capture the roses mid-flight. You can only do this for a few takes before the roses begin to disintegrate. So we had a little game of pitch, shoot, and catch. Took some great shots—which we didn’t use, but we did end up using one of those dress shots for the cover of Too Rich for a Bride.

MONA: Sounds like fun.

Book genres seem subject to cycles. For instance: Not all that long ago historical fiction was a hard-sell. Not it’s “hot.” Are there also cycles in cover design?

Book 2
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

MARK: In the twelve years I’ve been here at WaterBrook Multnomah, I have seen styles come and go. With the advent of Photoshop, it became much easier to composite images in a realistic and even hyper-realistic way. So, illustrated covers suddenly looked dated on fiction titles. I think we’ll start seeing that swing the other way soon. In Christian fiction, we’re seeing characters full face and large on the cover. I think that trend will shift in favor of more anonymous, vague characters presented on the cover.

Colors are an interesting challenge. Everybody wants a warm, inviting cover, but we can’t have a list of all orange and yellow covers. So we find ways of making blue and green feel warm.

 MONA: What advice do you have for aspiring Book Cover artists?

MARK: Take all kinds of design jobs. They all build your portfolio and experience. And they all have their unique design and creative challenges to solve. I think that’s why we design…we love the creative process.

MONA: Great counsel. Mark, we so appreciate the time you’ve taken to give us a glimpse into your world of book cover design. Regardless of how well-written a book might be, a weak cover can keep it on shelves or warehouses. The careful work you do is critical. Thank you!

In closing, Mark, do you have a Bible verse that especially inspires you as an artist?

MARK: I’m an outdoors person. I like to hike, bike, run, 4-wheel. I have two cars, both are convertibles. I’m inspired by God’s creation, and I experience it everyday living in Colorado.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19: 1

Click here to read Chapter One Excerpt,

Two Brides Too Many!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DIANA G, WHO WON A COPY OF TWO BRIDES TOO MANY IN THE MIDNIGHT DRAWING!

Bob’s Corner: Mine Elevators and Ore Cars

Glen Eyrie Bob

Bob Hodgson

Bob here. Welcome back to my Corner.

Today, I want to share a little about the workings of a hard-rock gold mine at the end of the 19th century.

In the Cripple Creek District, the mines were mostly vertical shafts, blasted through solid granite. In a previous post, Headframes and Hoists, I explained that this had to do with the need to not trespass on another person’s claim. Folks were touchy about that.

Blasting a hole through rock requires a drill and explosives. The drill in this era was powered by steam, delivered through a cloth and rubber hose from the surface. Not a major feat when at or near the surface, but mighty noisy and claustrophobic as the shaft made its way down. And way down is where these shafts went. Some of the mines could reach 1500 feet.

As the depth increased, there were horizontal shafts cut to follow veins of gold-bearing ore. Each was carefully surveyed and monitored to avoid any encroachment of the surface measured claim. The court system at the time was glutted with accusations of trespassing, keeping a cadre of lawyers busy with suits and countersuits.

Headframe

About this time, you’re wondering how people got down into those holes to work, and how the ore got to the surface. Well, in the video titled “Mine Elevator,” you’ll see an example of a typical elevator of the time. This car would have been suspended by cable from the headframe, attached to the machinery we discussed in the earlier post, Headframes and Hoists. Each car pictured would hold six men, and these cars were stacked so that a team of twelve would be inserted into the shaft together. Six men over six men. In total darkness. Slowly lowered 1500 feet into the earth.  Some of the larger mines would have a double spool cable rig that would balance the work by bringing up an equal size crew at the same time. That’s twenty-four men suspended by cable in a completely dark tunnel, jerking and bouncing against the guiderails, for fifteen minutes or so, twice per shift. My commute to work suddenly seems tame.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQJI4CTy-JA&w=420&h=315]

Once the men were in place with their drills and shovels, they would proceed to drill into the rock face. The Powder Monkeys would then step in, to place dynamite charges into the holes and light the fuses. Employee safety was always a consideration. When the fuses were lit, the men would be herded into one of the aforementioned side tunnels to keep them from being injured by exploding rock. This kept the incidence of open wounds down, but the concussion must have been brutal.

Typical ore cars

The muckers would then follow with shovels, placing the broken ore into wheelbarrows and ore cars. There was a miniature rail system within the larger mines that allowed these ore cars to be pushed to the vertical shaft. The ore cars were tipped into a bucket that was attached to the same cable that deposited the men into the mine. This is seen in the video titled Ore Bucket. These buckets were also stacked to get the most material out as possible with each trip. Overzealous bucket loaders were frowned upon. Any ore that was loaded over the top of the bucket edge would have found its way back down the shaft. The hardhats of the day would have been of little use against a five pound rock falling 1500 feet.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WgnBOfyFng&w=420&h=315]

Have you “LIKED” my Mona Hodgson Author Page on Facebook? That’s where I post fun news about books and giveaways and such. I don’t want you to miss out on anything. https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

Preview Twice a Bride, Historical Romance

twice-a-bride[1]

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek—Book 4

Love lost doesn’t mean love lost forever
Can unexpected romance deliver a second chance for two deserving widows?

Coming Tuesday, October 2nd!

Fourth and Final Book,
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series!

Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek.  When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.

With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West.  Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns.

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend unto my prayer,
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:1–2

Read an Excerpt Here!

TWICE A BRIDE, now available for Pre-Order through your favorite bookseller!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lKfEfKtofuI]

Heroes: What We Look For in Leading Men

sinclair-sisters-group

In novels, a hero is the central male character in a fictional tale. A leading man with admirable qualities. Although the hero’s positive traits may not be obvious in the introduction, he possesses characteristics that typically will serve him and the heroine (since I write love stories). That’s not to say those strengths won’t come into play as weaknesses or obstacles at some point in the plot.

Think about your favorite story heroes from the books and movies you love. Who comes to mind? What would you list as the leading man’s admirable characteristics?

I asked the fans of my Mona Hodgson Author Page on Facebook to list three traits every hero should possess. I grouped similar responses, choosing one common term. Then I had some fun considering the key traits of the heroes that populate my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels.

 

I’ve listed the fifteen desirable traits for leading men, starting with the most mentions at the top then descending to the least poplular ones:

Courage
Honesty
Humor
Compassion
Gentleness
Integrity
Wisdom
Perseverance
Humility
Strength
Love of God
God First, Family Second
Patient
Willingness to grow with the heroine
Peaceful

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series

Here are five characteristics you’ll find in my story heroes, along with his particular flaw or flaws:

1. A Deepening Faith in God (may start out as a seeker, but he moves forward on the continuum in his spiritual journey) as he grows in God’s Grace
2. Integrity
3. Conviction
4. Humor
5. Resourcefulness

What traits do you count most important in a story hero?

Sinclair Sisters Surprise: Book Trailer Unveiling & Mug Giveaway!

It’s Here! The Big Day of SINCLAIR SISTERS SURPRISES!

All week, I’m celebrating my debut series The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek with the Sinclair Sisters Book Trailer Unveiling and a Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

Sinclair Sisters Book Trailer

Here it is–the brand new book trailer for the whole series! What do you think? Does Nell Sinclair look like you’ve imagined? How about Vivian?

Book and Collectable Mug Giveaway

Win an early copy of Twice a Bride and/or a collectable Sinclair Sisters mug! I’ll be giving away 5 early copies of Twice a Bride and 3 special edition Sinclair Sisters mugs! 3 winners will receive the book and the mug full of Cerretas chocolates, and 2 winners will receive the book.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

A Special Thanks

Thank you, thank you to everyone who is celebrating this series alongside me! A very special thanks to the following bloggers, who have graciously posted the series book trailer on their sites, too!
(If you haven’t already, you need to visit these lovely bloggers and subscribe to their blogs, too.)

Kathi Macias: Easy Writer

Finding Hope Through Fiction

Kitty Bucholtz

Lane Hill House

Routines for Writers

The Book Club Network

The Write Life

On a Western Trail

Waterbrook Multnomah (my publisher!)

The Flying W Ranch

Flying W 60 Years-800

Twenty-two years ago, Bob and I went with my folks to Colorado. One of the highlights of the trip was our time at The Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs. The Old West town setting, the cowboy grub, and the western show was a feast for the eyes, the stomach, and the heart. My dad’s joy was infectious as his whole rocked with explosive laughter and tears ran down his face. Priceless memories.

While laying out our Road Trip Book Tour for The Bride Wore Blue, I decided Bob and I were past due for a return to The Flying W. When I let the owner, Terry Wolfe, know about my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series of historical novels and my upcoming trip to Colorado Springs, she welcomed the opportunity to host a book signing at the ranch.

Mona signing The Bride Wore Blue
Flying W Ranch, Cowboy Shop

On Saturday, June 16th, Bob and I returned to the Flying W Ranch in Old West costumes. Terry met us at the gate and walked us through the recreated western town to the Cowboy Shop, ushering in another fabulous evening at The Flying W Ranch.

My marketing and publicity team from WaterBrook Press (publisher of my historical fiction) joined me for the book signing and the chuckwagon supper and western show. As the wranglers stepped onto the stage, new strains of laughter mingled with the old in an evening brimming with new memories.

Days later, I was in Cripple Creek, poised to participate in Donkey Derby Days events, when I received word from my editor in Colorado Springs that the Waldo Canyon Fire had consumed The Flying W Ranch.

My heart ached for the families whose loved ones passed, for the more than 300 families who had lost their homes, for Terry Wolfe and her Flying W Ranch family, and for all who suffered in the path of the Waldo Canyon fire.

Imagine my excitement when I learned of the plans to rebuild The Flying W Ranch. I’m already looking forward to our next visit.

The pioneer spirit of Colorado lives on. Just like the people of Cripple Creek who rebuilt their town after the devastating fires of 1896, the folks of Colorado Springs are moving forward…rebuilding.

Godspeed, Colorado Springs!

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