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It’s a tradition that August is a time for travel and when someone says ‘travel’ nowadays, I think ‘Road Trip.’ While I’ve recently lost my main travel partner, my daughter, to marriage, I can speculate that some time in the hopefully not too distant future, I might be relegated to a back seat, overseeing child or children, while husband and wife share driving to some enchanting site I’ve longed to see.

Road trips for me were initiated when I was still very young, way back in the ’Fifties. My family took off every Christmas-time to Florida in order to be with my great-aunts and their families who had moved down from NYC. Since my grandmother was one of eleven children, there were quite a few of these great aunts along with offspring, a giant family my own daughter has sadly been denied. The trip down took three days in a car that insisted on getting a perennial flat tire. We would pull off the road and my father would bravely remove jack and spare from the trunk but inevitably someone would stop to help us—for which we all sent up prayers of thanks. My father would always try to ‘tip’ the savior and sometimes it was pocketed with thanks, sometimes rejected, but it didn’t matter—we were off! Other years, the radiator overheated, another persistent problem in those days, and it often saw us sitting by the side of the road, a plume of steam like a genie from a bottle coming from the raised hood. One time we were able to pull into a diner. Believe it or not, my father went in to ask for water for the radiator and the waitress refused to give it to him. We were down south at that point and I think she just had a ‘thing’ against northerners perhaps. Another, more kind-hearted waitress came rushing out with a pitcher for us.

Yet another foible of road travel in my youth was car sickness, from which I suffered often. I would moan from the back, my father would pull over and I would throw up out the door. Okay, so this is not a pretty picture—apologies. But once my dad pulled onto the soft shoulder—which were rampant in the days before freeways—and my mother slammed the back door shut without looking, screaming for him to pull off. She caught my finger. Skin and bone were sticking out and it remains crooked to this day.

The traditions of that trip south stay with me. Burma shave signs lined the road at frequent intervals. Burma shave was a brushless shaving cream, and their advertising was a series of signs along the road with what would now be considered advertising ‘jingles’, or alternatively common sense warnings about driving or, apparently, some political propaganda during WWII. Keep well / To the right / Of the oncoming car / Get your close shaves / From the half pound jar/ Burma Shave. That bearded devil/ Is forced/ To dwell/ In the only place/ Where they don’t sell/ Burma Shave. Cattle crossing/ Means go slow/ That old bull/ Is some/ cow’s beau/ Burma Shave. Apparently, John McCain’s camp tried using the same promotion strategy with slogans against Obama without success.

Another tradition was stopping at Howard Johnson’s on the highway for lunch.

courtesy Christopher Ziemnokwicz/CZMarlin

always ended my meal with their ice cream cake roll—vanilla ice cream in a swirl of chocolate cake topped by hot fudge sauce. I can almost taste it now. And I long for the candies at Stuckey’s. Known for their pecan chocolates, my family gravitated toward chocolate covered cherries and chocolate covered flavored marshmallows. I’ve never been able to find these anywhere else and yet I can envisage them in their square shape as if it were yesterday. Now some of Stuckey’s items are available on line, but the chocolate covered marshmallows are not among the offerings.

When we reached the South the scenery changed markedly. Our motel would always be the highly kitsch ‘South of the Border’ in South Carolina. A complex which now encompasses two gas stations, a pharmacy, shops, and so on, even back in the fifties and early sixties it was huge. I left our room one night to get a candy bar from the dispenser and couldn’t find the room. I wandered for ages before finally, somehow (and at this stage I don’t remember how!) locating it. The motel’s Mexican theme remains today, and for those seeking a ’50s/ ’60s travel experience, this is the place.

At last there was Florida. Florida is a long state so there are many miles before you get down to the Hollywood/ Miami area. But you would always know when you were in Florida as alligator wrestling signs lined the road; oranges were readily available from farm stands along with a little plastic mini-straw you stuck into the fruit to suck out the juice; coconut patties were for sale everywhere; and Seminoles were selling coconuts carved into Indian heads, painted, and decorated with shells and so on. I once got into trouble with my parents when a

Library of Congress photo

stand across the highway from where we had stopped attracted my attention. A rainbow display of colorful feathers drew me over and I thoughtlessly crossed the two lanes.

Of course, that was it: you could walk across the one-lane highway just as you would cross a street now. The roads were slower, there was more to see. The signs and rest stops were varied. A friend recently said to me that road trips were SO different back then. And they were. We had no superhighways, no five lane major Interstates, no traffic-laden freeways. Life was slower; life was gentler. Route 66 was still the ‘Mother Road’ and Route 1 still drew travellers down from the northeast to, as yet, hardly developed Florida. On my 2015 seven week road trip with my daughter, it was obvious that lunch meant leaving the highway, and that signs were advertising places at specific exits. In the early ’Sixties, three-day drives to Florida were replaced all too soon by a four hour flight. Americans seem to want ‘fast’ now: fast roads, fast food, and an information superhighway.

There is still the call of the Open Road, that glorious moment when the door clunks shut, the seat belt snaps down, and you know you’re headed somewhere new and exciting, but the road itself has lost its mystique in most places. Yet in others, that straight line where the sky meets the earth, that destination of horizon, still holds its aura of endless possibility.

Even if there’s no hot fudge sundae en route.





Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

Romance Novels for the Beach

The trickiest thing when it comes to summer romances? There’s always a time limit. Sooner or later, the summer must come to an end.

What’s it About? 

bad boy, big heart

When New Yorker K.C. Daniels heads to Wyoming for a summer job, she wants nothing more than to fit in with the staff of the Lazy S Ranch. Yearning to be independent of her mom and dad, and have a taste of the west before she starts her Master’s degree, getting involved with a cowboy is the last thing on her mind—especially when she’s greeted with warnings about ‘Bad Boy’ Chay Ridgway.

High school dropout Chay Ridgway sees summer as his time to be a rodeo star and win a girl in his life, while facing the responsibilities he has for his father. Although working to bring in cash to help his dad, he’s never had a problem finding a woman who’s happy…

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Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

Source: Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

Psychic Adventures

charlene-raddon-headshot-4Another  co-author from The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly, Charlene Raddon is also a talented cover designer. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels. These were later released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. Currently, they are self-published with new covers designed by the author. Continue reading

Stepping Back in Time

anitaphilmarppAnita Philmar likes to create stories that push the limit. A writer by day and a dreamer by night she wants her readers to see the world in a new way.

Influenced by old movies, she likes to develop places where anything can happen and where special moments come to life in a great read.

Naughty or Nice?

Read her books and decide.

One of the reasons we enjoy reading historical fiction is because it gives us a chance to step back in time and experience another way of life. In McKee’s Ghost, we travel to Nebraska positioned in the heartland of America.

The small town of Shelton, Nebraska, has an interesting history starting with the way it acquired its name. Its original name was Wood River Centre and it is one of the oldest communities in Nebraska. The Great Western Stage Company established a stop here on it’s route to Fort Kearney. Years later, the Union Pacific railroad decided to use this town as a stop on its line to the west coast.

Patrick Walsh, the postman for this small town, wanted the name changed because of the confusion it had with another small community call Wood River. In 1873, he wrote the Postmaster General pleading for a new name. He renamed the post office to Shelton after Nathan Shelton, an auditor for the Union Pacific Railroad.

The town’s name shows no record of ever being officially changed. Probably to end the confusion with the other city, the citizens just started using the same name as the post office, and the name stuck.

Another interesting fact about the town is some of the residents of Shelton and Buffalo County raised Draft horses. The huge creatures were a much-needed asset for farmers. These animals were used to do the heavy lifting for their owners. Not only did draft horses plow the fields but also helped with other chores. These amazing creatures have a gentle disposition and don’t spook easily, making them perfect to have around a growing family. Living for twenty to thirty years, these animals were a solid addition to a farmer’s family.

Today, this area has a solid reputation of having some of the best breeders of draft horses in the state. Even today, the draft horse pull is one of the most popular events at the Nebraska state fair.

Like so many small towns across the country, Shelton, NE, has a unique history and has created a proud legacy of hardworking people building a solid future for their residents.

TGTBTGFInalCoverAbout McKee’s Ghost

His fiancée called off their engagement after be accosted by a ghost in his house.

Now, a beautiful ghost detective has shown up at his ranch, saying his brother has hired her to take care of the unwanted spirit.

Konnor McKee is more than happy with PSI Agent Ruth Oliva Wilson. One look and he was hooked. Now, if he can only get some help from a ghost, he might be able to secure himself a bride after all.

With the return of his ex-fiancee, his life is turn upside down by an angry ghost, a vindictive woman and a sexy medium. Konnor doesn’t know which way to turn.

Can he get everyone out of this alive and marry the PSI Agent?

Or has he lost all hope of a happy future because of the ruthless ghost of one of his ancestors?

Excerpt for McKee’s Ghost

The hands he’d dropped to her waist shifted. One drew Ruth deeper into his embrace while the other nudged her chin up with a knuckle until their eyes met. His searing gaze lit a fire, heating her core and arousing every cell in her body.

“No. The gentleman in me heads south whenever you enter the room. All I can think about is getting my hands on you.” Konnor sprayed his palms over her back and tugged her deeper against his chest. “I want you in a way I’ve never wanted a woman before, under me screaming while I make you completely mine.”

She gasped. “But you don’t even know me.”

“You’re wrong. Some instinct inside me knew the moment we met you belong to me. Now, all I need to do is convince you of that fact.” He dropped his mouth over hers. His kisses were gentle and sweet one moment, demanding and urgent the next.

The crisp flavor of the apple he’d just eaten played over her taste buds. Pleasure overruled the sound logic of keeping him at a distance. Instead, she gave into the tempestuous assault to her senses and slid her arms around his neck. Minutes passed. The hunger inside her growing until she couldn’t catch her breath.

He tore his mouth from hers, and she gasped for air. “Please, sweetheart, I’m not a patient man, especially when I’ve waited so long for you. I need—”

“Don’t say it,” she whispered and lowered her head to avoid eye contact. She’d tempted him, let him think if he asked for more, she’d willingly give him whatever he wanted.

Realizing how much she already cared for him, she rebelled against the likelihood of losing her heart to another man. More than once, she’d fallen into the trap of believing a man would love her no matter what.

Every time, she paid with a broken heart. This time, she needed to give him a day or two to come to terms with the true nature of her abilities. Once he saw her in action, he’d change. The desire he felt would wilt until he had no feeling for her at all.

“I’m sorry, but we need to take this slow.” She lowered her hands and pressed them against his chest. “Now, you should tend to your horses.”

Konnor studied her for a long moment before he slowly released his grip. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve finished my nightly chores.”

She nodded, and he turned for the door with a sigh.

The light click of the latch falling into place felt like a shot through her heart. She’d come here determined to do her job and leave. However, Konnor had blindsided her with his charm. She’d broken her new rule of not becoming involved with a client.

Now, she had to figure out a way to keep her heart safe when everything inside her wanted to give in to Konnor’s demands.

Find Anita Philmar at







The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway

Title:  Long a Ghost, and Far Away   Box Set: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly   Author:   Andrea Downing   Genre:  Paranormal Western Historical Romance     Book Blurb:…

Source: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway

Enter to Win Paranormal and Western Romances from the Authors of The Good, the Bad, and the Ghostly!

The authors of The Good, the Bad, and the Ghostly are sponsoring an ebook giveaway including western and paranormal romances. Enter to win, and be sure to check out the collection!   Sponsored…

Source: Enter to Win Paranormal and Western Romances from the Authors of The Good, the Bad, and the Ghostly!


TGTBTGFInalCover We hear an awful lot about ghost towns in the West, but maybe not so much about ghosts themselves. Have you ever seen a ghost? My own, personal encounter with a ghost was actually in Hampton Court, King Henry VIII’s favored residence outside of London. I was walking down the long corridor (known as the Haunted Gallery) and, just at the very moment a tour guide was saying it was haunted and some folks might feel a chill, I got such a chill I nearly jumped out of my skin. Let me make it clear: this was not a chill like one might get on a cold day; this was a true spine-tingler! Even my daughter, who was with me, looked at me and asked what was wrong. Continue reading

Luke’s Fate by Kathleen Ball


kathleen BallOne of my fellow authors in Come Love a Cowboy is Kathleen Ball.  Kathleen writes contemporary and historical western romance with great emotion and memorable characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including:  Amazon’s Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor’s Choice Awards, and The Readers’ Choice Award for Ryelee’s Cowboy. Continue reading


IMG_0423The judges have decided—the votes are in! Having traveled more than 8,000 miles and scoured the country for the very best, here are the 2015 DOWNING ROADTRIP AWARDS…in order of encounter. Continue reading