Here is the beginning of "A Hangin' Offense', historical women's fiction:



West Texas


July, 1871




            "My God, Daddy, you'd think I'd suggested we raise cattle on the moon," Jessie said. She had been leaning back in her chair, worn cowboy boots perched on the porch rail, purposefully bringing up the subject of growing cotton when her father, Captain Jack McDonough, was held captive audience due to his broken ankle.


            The Captain banged his cane on the wooden planks and leveraged himself to a more upright position, sweat popping out on his brow. Jessie dared a sideways glance from under her Stetson, and decided the sweat wasn't from the ninety-degree afternoon.


            Before she could defend her idea of putting in a few acres of cotton on the lower ground by the creek, he said, "Over my dead body. The Triple J is a cattle ranch. I never intended for it to be anything but a cattle operation, and by God, until you're putting me in that six-foot hole, the Triple J will have cattle. Period."

            Jessie sprang up, heedless of the chair falling, and started pacing the length of the deep porch that surrounded the adobe hacienda like a caged tiger. "Yeah, well that day will come pretty soon if you keep doing foolish stunts like getting on that bronc. When that colt's back legs came down, his right hind hoof missed you're skull by about six inches." She turned and regarded him closely at those last words, and was rewarded by the slight rise of his bushy white eyebrows. Good! He must not have realized when he was planted face first in the dust. "What kind of point were you trying to make? Haven't I insisted on training the young stock my way the last couple of years? I just don't understand you sometimes," Jessie took off her hat, wiped the sweat from her brow, sighed mightily, and walked back the other way, not wanting him to see the expression on her face as she relived the scene in her mind. "No, wait. I do understand. You can't stand the fact that I don't do everything just exactly the way you do. You can't admit that my way of training, not busting, is better. Aren't our horses sought out by the most prominent ranches in Texas?"

Here is the beginning of "Greener Pastures", a contemporary romance set in Colorado.


"How ya' doin' Spud?" Clint asked, putting what he hoped was a sincere smile on his face. Do you want to come eat at the dining room table?"


            Spud Stockton huffed something non-committal and pushed the joystick on his electric wheelchair so he was looking at his middle son instead of the pasture. A pasture full of hogs, not cattle. He said bitterly, "I suppose I'd better, before you three young bucks cook up some other hair-brained scheme without asking me. The next thing I know, you'll tell me you've taken to growing kale. Whatever the hell that is."


            Clint made a concentrated effort to relax his hands and keep his tone as even as humanly possible, considering that his father, even on his best day, was infuriating. Clint said in what he tried to pass off as a slightly humorous tone, "You're as obstinate as the bull that gored you. What's the big deal about raising some grass-fed hogs? We certainly have enough pasture, and the Whitmores say they can't keep enough pork in stock at their farm store. Hogs get to butchering weight in only five months, and the Whitmores will take all twenty of them."


            Spud spun his wheelchair around like it was one of the reining horses he'd trained in his youth. "What's wrong is that we are cattle men! Always have been, always will be. You and your brother hit your head too many times riding those damned dirt bikes," Spud said, his blue eyes glittering like ice chips from beneath his bushy eyebrows. "If I'd known what would happen when you two went to the stock auction without me, I'd have never let you go. And to top it off, you shot the best bull we ever had on the place."


            Clint was through trying to be nice. If the old man wanted to re-hash this Clint was game. Through gritted teeth, he said for the umpteenth time, "If you'd listened to us in the first place, and sold that bull, you wouldn't have wound up being gored. You're lucky Mom happened to go outside to her greenhouse and went in there to hit him over the head with a shovel. She distracted him as well as any rodeo clown so you didn't die. What if he'd gotten her, too? Have you even thought of that? No, because all you think about is how to be more miserable than you already are."   


            Spud's scowl deepened, his expression settling into familiar grooves in his face. He said, "We'll never have another bull of that quality. Shooting TJ was a waste of fine bovine genetics. I was waiting for Sementex to up their offer."


            Naturally, he won't admit that a woman saved his butt, Clint thought, wishing his brother Joey had been given the chore of asking him about dinner. He reiterated, "Semntex looks at hundreds of bulls a year. All my life I've heard you say, 'if you get an offer for an animal, sell it right then and there. It could die the next day', yet you hung on to TJ. " Clint said, his voice rising more than he'd meant it to. "The whole family has been telling you to sell that walking hunk of testosterone for weeks, before someone got killed. But no, Spud Stockton doesn't listen to anybody. The orthopedist said that if we hadn't gotten two inches of rain the night before, you'd have died."


            Clint turned to go, but couldn't resist getting a couple more things off his chest. "In the dictionary, the word 'stubborn' has your picture next to it." Clint spun on his heel, intending to leave before they got into a real screamer of an argument. But he couldn't resist the one huge problem with keeping the bull that had put everyone on the ranch under pressure. He said, "That could have been Kiera out there, and you know it. She'd be dead right now if she'd wandered into that pen."


            Spud grunted. "That little girl needs to behave herself. She's defiant and Joey needs to lay down the law."


            "It's not Joey's fault. We all try to get her to behave when she's here, but she isn't here enough for the lessons to stick. If Joey gets full custody, maybe we can counteract Chantice's terrific style of 'la-de-dah' parenting."


            "The house is your mother's business. I make the money and until I'm takin' the long dirt nap, I'm the law around here," Spud said, his face red with anger. He gripped the wheelchair arms and, face set in determination, tried to stand, but collapsed back into the seat with a grimace.


            Instinctively, Clint stepped forward, reaching out to him, but the old man swatted him away with one liver-spotted hand and he sat there trying to catch his breath, tears of pain in his eyes.


            "Excuse me, I forgot, you don't need anyone's help," Clint said, both hurt by the way his father had batted him off, and by never being able to pound it into his thick skull how much better the ranch would be with new ideas and methods. "I came back here to help the family, and you don't appreciate it one little bit. I could have worked for . . "


            Spud interrupted him, "Yeah, and those pigs are the magic answer. You think they're gonna sprout wings and fly, don't you boy? You and your degree in agriculture," he said, leaning toward Clint since he couldn't stand and get in his face, "you think with book learnin' you know better than me."


            Clint cringed. Not at having his education insulted, but because the look on his father's face brought up memories of eye-watering slaps, spankings, and occasionally worse punishments. That expression was one that Clint, Patrick, and Joey Stockton knew all too well. Actually, he was surprised any of them still spoke to Spud.


            "This is the last time I'm having this discussion with you," Clint said. "I did what I had to do with TJ. What would have happened if Kiera had climbed into that pen with him? Would you want the guilt of killing your only grandchild in that black soul of yours?"


            Clint stalked out of the room, unwilling to listen to any of the old man's bull. Then, thinking of one more thing, he turned back, leaned in the door and said, "Don't bother to come to dinner if you can't be civil. Mom's been cooking for hours, and we all would like to enjoy a pleasant meal."

            He heard Spud's snort of derision as he pushed himself off the door frame and came face to face with Ashley, wiping her hands on a dishtowel, a puzzled expression on her face.  Her ash blond hair was done in a disheveled  knot on top of her head, and loose strands of it framed her face. She was the only woman he'd ever seen who actually looked pretty when she sweated. What was wrong with him? She was intelligent, ambitious, faithful to him, and certainly turned heads where ever they went. He's been trying to separate the lust from the 'like-her-a-really-lot' in his addled brain, but she had him as tied in knots as any calf he'd ever roped.