Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CABIN ON PINTO CREEK - A J Hawke - Free Book

About the Author:
A J Hawke is a native Texan who has a passion for exploring the American West and creating stories with Christian based romantic themes. CABIN ON PINTO CREEK is her first Inspirational Western Historical Romance; A J is also the author of the Inspirational Contemporary Romance CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. Soon to be released is her second Inspirational Western Historical Romance, MOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I’m sure that there is some of me in my characters as to beliefs, interest, and preferences. For example, I would never write a hero character who likes to eat onions raw. Ewwww. Just not my taste. Although if I really didn’t like the character and they were a villain I might make them suffer eating raw onions.

On the other hand, I want my heroes to be what I envision the moral character to be of a really good person. So I do write into my characters my sense of right and wrong.

Now about all those really cute heroines. I probably describe them with the looks and abilities that I always wanted growing up. Long gorgeous hair, perfect figures. Well, they are my characters and I can make them appear any way I want. That’s part of the fun of writing fiction.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh, this is a hard one. I’m such a sweet, simple, normal person. Really. Quirky is just not my thing. Last year I did make a Pinto Bean Pie and served it to my Ladies Bible study group. They thought that was pretty odd. The recipe is on my blog if you want to shake up your friends and family with an unusual dessert for Christmas.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve always sort of known it. When I was a kid I was forever writing stories in my mind and even had a file of story ideas from the time I was about fourteen. But I got serious about writing one hot July afternoon in 2008. I had just read a bland, silly romance and thought, “I could write this.” So to relieve the boredom and to avoid doing anything useful I started writing a novel.

It probably would have been better to have read some books on how to write first as I had no clue that there were rules for writing fiction. POV, show vs. tell, commas in the right place? Who knew it was so complicated? I just wanted to tell a great story.

I found I really enjoyed the writing and continued. It was a bit of a surprise when people started to tell me they enjoyed my stories. 

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read fiction, history, self-help, and Biblical textbooks and commentaries. Western historical romances are my relaxation fav, although I will read other historical fiction as well as contemporary. I don’t particularly enjoy murder, suspense or scary stories. Stephen King and I are not buddies, although his book ON WRITING is excellent. It is the only one of his books I have read. I just read his back cover descriptions and get scared.

And I only want happy endings so if the hero and heroine don’t have a happily ever after I just don’t want to start the book.

I read a lot, as I read very fast. I do try to limit myself to three hundred books a year. But this year I have gone over that. Me and my public library are great friends. They all know me by my first name. They will even renew my books without my asking, so sweet. Amazon/Kindle and free books are great when you read as many as I do.

An unlimited budget to purchase books would be my dream. With Christmas coming up, Amazon Gift Cards are welcome.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Balance, balance, balance. That is the only way to survive.

Keeping appointments with myself helps. If I will honor a time I have set aside for an appointment with others, I need to give myself the same respect.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
If I am writing a historical novel, I go to the US Census records of that time and see what was popular. People in the 19th century did not use some of the popular names of today. You don’t find Chase or Brianna much in old records. I have also looked at the names of songwriters and authors from the period. Edgar, as in Edgar Allen Poe was a common name, as were Thomas, George, and John. They did use names like Beulah, Elmer, and Eunice more than is found in today’s literature. Of course, Biblical names are always good.

I try to give my heroes strong manly name, one that fit the character. When naming a couple, I want the two names to go together well, such as Elisha and Susanna from CABIN ON PINTO CREEK.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being a faithful Christian in our secular world. It is not always easy but ever fulfilling. I’m proud of the friends and family relationships that I have maintained over the years. I’m not sure if it is more of an accomplishment that I still like them or that they still like me. The latter I suspect.

What is your favorite food?
Ohhh, this is hard. I love to eat. A good roast and potato meal with all the trimmings is a favorite for Sunday lunch. Now a great snack is any kind of ice cream ... well, except for Mocha. I want my coffee liquid and in a cup. Lemon Meringue pie is good, and then there is fresh baked bread still hot from the oven with butter and homemade strawberry jam. I’ll answer the rest of the questions later, I’m heading for the kitchen.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
All of the pesky rules, and who is saying that I have overcome them?

Take putting the action in the correct order. For example, he sat at the table as he came through the door. Wouldn’t he come through the door before he sat at the table? Who notices such things? Well, I do, come to think of it. I have seen some odd sentences in books I’ve read.

The correct word choice is another challenge. I once stacked some horses out on a field when I meant to stake them out. Minor detail but one of my beta readers seemed to think it was a big deal.

Tell us about CABIN ON PINTO CREEK, the first of the Cedar Ridge Chronicles?
Elisha Evans is out of luck. By the age of twenty-five, he’d planned to have his own ranch. Instead, he is forced to beg for a job, destroying his dreams of having a family he can provide for and protect. Betrayal and loss brings him to a cabin on Pinto Creek in the high Colorado Rockies. Just before winter hits, he finds a broken-down wagon in the snow with precious cargo inside. Perhaps, his luck is about to change. 

Susana Jamison doesn’t feel so lucky. Despite being rescued by Elisha, she is challenged to the limit of her strength, both physically and spiritually, when faced with the brutal conditions of frontier living and the dangers she encounters. Can she hold on to her faith in the midst of this desperate situation, especially when she’s forced to marry a man she’s doesn’t love? 

An inspirational historical western romance, CABIN ON PINTO CREEK is the first in the Cedar Ridge Chronicles. 

Please give us the first page of the book.
Chapter One
Northern Colorado March, 1872
Elisha Evans gripped his mid section as the pain of hunger ripped through his core. Giving his horse his head, he searched along the trail through the forest for signs of small game. Three days without anything to eat except some pine nuts left him trembling with weakness. Where was that ranch? Back down the trail, he had been told of it. The Weathers’ ranch couldn’t be many more miles ahead. At least his horse had found plenty to eat along the trail as the spring grass showed itself at the melting of the snow.

A sound from the forest caused him to turn where he saw a cow with a young calf through the trees. Quickly he drew his rifle from his scabbard and put it to his shoulder. Sighing he lowered the rifle. The cow wore a brand. Not yet, he wouldn’t kill another man’s beef. Not yet. Gathering the reins Elisha encouraged Jasper on up the trail, toward the peak of the ridge. Cresting the height, he saw it.

Elisha Evans slumped in his saddle as he looked down the slope at the ranch house ahead. Jasper, his bay gelding, stood head down, not even bothering to nibble on the grass. Days of riding had extracted a heavy toll on the horse. Elisha fared even worse. 

About to meet folks he needed to impress if he hoped to get a job, Elisha glanced down at his faded overshirt, once blue but now a slate gray with frayed edges along the collar and cuffs. More hope than thread held his clothes together. His boots, scuffed and worn down, showed more wear than his old saddle and saddlebags. He sighed and rubbed his lower back as he sat straight in the saddle.

Taking off his hat, Elisha wiped his face with his bandana. The beauty of this northern part of Colorado Territory was something to behold. Beyond the nearby hills, a distant range of snow-capped mountains stood like sentinels. Compared to where he had come from, he’d have no problem getting used to this.
A slow ten-day ride to the south, Elisha had spent a long, cold winter on a ranch spread out across dry scrubland. With the first signs of spring, Elisha drew his pay—what little there was of it after paying for the bay gelding—and rode out.

He patted Jasper’s neck. “Just a way more and you can rest. Sure hope they welcome strangers. Here I am, twenty-five my birthday this month, and I’m looking out over another man’s ranch looking for work.” Gathering the reins, Elisha sighed and gently kicked the horse in the flanks. “Might as well face it, Jasper, you didn’t pick no winner.”

Elisha desperately wanted a job on this ranch, as he had nowhere else to go. He picked this place partly because he was broke and partly because of the land’s beauty. Right now, hope was all he had.
He nudged Jasper forward, down the trail toward the main ranch buildings. A large log ranch house with a covered porch running the length of the structure’s front sat off to the right. Curls of smoke rose from two chimneys. To the left a bunkhouse had several smaller buildings scattered around it. Behind the main house, a log corral held several horses with a big barn that boasted its prominence. Elisha feasted his eyes on a solid and prosperous ranch. He longed to have a spread like this someday, but he had no more to show for the last ten years than when he left the home place at fifteen years old.

His stomach grumbled. He drew a deep breath, savoring the aroma that hung in the air. Roast beef. He hoped they’d offer a meal and bed for the night as was the custom. He rode easy as Jasper ambled into the yard between the bunkhouse and the ranch house.

A lanky man of medium height approached with a big grin. “Howdy. Welcome to the J Bar C. I’m Fred Lewis, the foreman here.” The man took off his hat and ran his fingers through hair as red as a fiery sunset. “Of course, most of the boys call me Red.”

Elisha dismounted then offered his hand. “Elisha Evans. Any chance I could impose for a meal and rest over the night?”

“Sure. We’re always glad to have folks come by. Put your horse in the corral, find a spot in the bunkhouse, and wash up for supper.” Red turned toward three ranch hands, slumped down on a bench with their hats shoved back. “Hey, Josh, come show Elisha where to put his stuff.”

A lean, sandy-haired cowhand got up from the bench and ambled over. “In case you couldn’t figure it out, I’m the youngest rider here. Of course, I do more work than the rest of these drovers.” A wide grin spread across his boyish face. “Come with me.” He led him to the corral where he watched Elisha unsaddle the horse.

Elisha turned his horse loose in the corral. A pipe coming down the slope behind the corral fed into the watering trough. Elisha nodded. Yes, he was definitely going to have a spread like this someday and he’d do anything he could to get one. He wasn’t about to spend the rest of his life as a busted-up cowhand.

He picked up his saddlebags and pack. “So, you get to greet and help the visitors.”

“Here, I got your saddle.” Josh tossed it onto his shoulder as if it were a five-pound sack of Arbuckle coffee.

“Thanks, partner.” He’d been on the trail since daylight. The pain in Elisha’s back was near intolerable and his knee felt near to giving way on him. But knowing the other cowhands watched, he tried to walk alongside Josh without limping. After dropping his things next to an empty bunk, Josh showed him where to clean up for supper.

Elisha washed the dust from his face and neck. He tried to comb his hair with his fingers, but it refused to lie flat and his dark curls still hung across his forehead, strayed over his ears and down his neck.

Josh sat on a nearby bench. “Mr. Weathers might be hiring more riders for the summer, if you’re interested.” 
Elisha was definitely interested. “Who does the hiring, Mr. Weathers or Red?”

“Oh, Mr. Weathers does all his own hiring. He’s a real hands-on boss with everything but branding. He leaves that to us.” Josh’s grin spread across an open face.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

 Thank you for having me, Lena. And thanks for this blog. It’s my favorite one to come to learn of new authors and books. You do a great service for both writers and readers.

And it's my great pleasure and blessing to have you, A J.

Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Cabin On Pinto Creek

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Wendy Newcomb said...

Ohhh, this is sooo my kind of story!

I live in FL

wfnren at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Hi AJ! Hello everyone! I have read Cabin on Pinto Creek!! Very good! I would love an extra to give to a friend so please sign me up!


Jo said...

This sounds good! Enjoy reading books from the late 1800's. The challenges that those people went through during that time period.


Mary Preston said...

Action in the correct order is always a good idea. The cover for CABIN ON PINTO CREEK is just beautiful. I am looking forward to reading this.

Mary P


Judy said...

Such a great interview! I love roast, potatoes and all the trimmings too! I'm thrilled to read how commited to Christ you are. It is hard being a Christian in a fallen world, but oh the rewards we have waiting for us!

Cabin On Pinto Creek sounds like a great read. I'd love to win a copy of it!

Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Judy B from IN

scottsgal said...

Pinto bean pie is quirky for sure :-) Sounds like a book I'd enjoy

cheryl in IL
msboatgal at aol.com

Rebecca said...

Love the excerpt! It sounds like a great story.
I'm going to your web site now to get the recipe for the Pinto Bean Pie. With a name like that, it has to be interesting!
Thanks for the giveaway!
I'm from NC.

A J Hawke said...

Hi wfnren, I always like to hear that someone likes this type of story. I have three books coming out in 2012 that are part of the Chronicles of Cedar Ridge series. Each story stands alone but has characters introduced in CABIN ON PINTO CREEK. Those who have asked me for more of Elisha and Susana will learn what happens in their lives.

Hi Salena, Good to see you here. Love your blog.

Hi Jo, you touched upon the very thing that drew me to this time and place. The challenges that those people faced and overcame were amazing.

Hi Marybelle, I looked at hundreds of photos and nothing looked right. Then I saw the photo I used on the cover of CABIN ON PINTO CREEK and knew it was perfect.

Welcome, Judy, Yes, living in this world is daunting but I take comfort that our God has made us capable. It is all to His Glory.

Cheryl and Rebecca, If you bake a pinto bean pie let me know how it turns out and the reactions of your family :>)

Lorna Faith said...

I love the intriguing 1st page AJ...can't wait to read more:-)

Lorna from Alberta

lornafaith at gmail dot com

Sally B. said...

My husband and I love western fiction, and he is a lifelong Louis Lamour fan. I was disappointed when the chapter ended - a good sign! I'm anxious to know what happens next.

A J Hawke said...

Lorna, Welcome to you as you come from Alberta. I have only been there one time but I want to go back someday.

Hi SallyB, I grew up reading Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. My brother and brother-in-law both gave me positive feedback after reading CABIN ON PINTO CREEK. They are also fans of Louis L'Amour. I'm sure their good response was because it is a great novel, not because I'm the little sister :>)

apple blossom said...

Love to be entered thanks
live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

apple blossom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Cat said...

Sounds really interesting! Thank you for the chance to win it - would be very excited to read a historical romance, as I do enjoy and learn from them! Blessed Christmas! I live in Arizona

Kim Blalock said...

A J, I cannot wait to read your book, "Cabin on Pinto Creek"! I think I'm getting a Kindle for Christmas and your book will be my first purchase! You are a truly an inspiration to so many Christian women! Thanks for using your talents to bless others!

Kim B. From Texas

Unknown said...

Thanks AJ and Lena for another great giveaway. Would love to win!

from Arizona

Teresa7 said...

I sent this book to my cousin for Christmas, I had enjoyed it so much. I can't wait to see how she likes it. So glad to see this interview here.

A J Hawke said...

Hi Appleblossom, glad to see you here. Love your handle, makes me think of spring.

Hi Mamma Cat, I'm looking around for kittens. Don't want to step on one. Western historical have always been my fav.

Hey Kim, Know you will enjoy your Kindle (unless Katie gets ahold of it :>)). Let me know what you think of CABIN ON PINTO CREEK. When my nephew-in-law read it his comment was, "It's like a real book!" I'm still wondering exactly what he was trying to tell me.

Marianne, welcome, hope you get your Christmas wishes.

Hey, Teresa7, I look forward to hearing what your cousin thinks of the book.

Abigail Mitchell said...

Sounds interesting. Please enter me in the drawing.
Merry Christmas!
Blanch, N.C.

Lucky Lady said...

Sounds like a great book, would love to win it....Lucky Lady/Ohio

Anonymous said...

please enter me in the drawing for
your book. God Bless You!

Dennie Richmond
Blanch, NC

Summer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Summer said...

Sounds great. Thanks so much for such a powerful and insightful work.

Blessings from Missouri, and have a wonderful holiday break!


Faith said...

Lovely interview and excerpt.


Patty said...

Sounds good! Reading about the developement of the AMerican West is always interesting.
Patty in SC

Sandi Rog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandi Rog said...

It's so great to see you here, AJ! Excited about your upcoming publications! Congrats!



Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me I would love to win a copy of this book it sounds like a great story! Thanks and God bless.
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

Coolestmommy said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. But the thing I'm taking away from your interview is to honor time with yourself. Great advice!

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

rubynreba said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. Love the colorful cover of the book!
Beth from Iowa

Aizess said...

Historical, western, and romance in one book? Sounds good! Please enter me in this giveaway!

I live in New York