Sandy…The Monsoon Dog!

Sandy the Monsoon Puppy

monsoon wash 001

There was something brown bobbing around the wash swollen by the monsoon rains, pulled along by the swift, vicious current.  Leo Stanton Worthington knew it wasn’t a bunch of rags, or a pile of twigs, and when her ranch foreman Joey lassoed the bundle, it turned out to be a puppy.  Leo immediately named the small shivering bundle Sandy.

sandy good

Turned out Sandy was a very brave puppy and very loyal.  In the following months, the puppy grew into a loving and sweet dog; a courageous dog that saved Leo from the clutches of kidnappers bent on murder.  Of course, all of this happened in the late 1890s in the mystery novel, Take the Train to Tucson.

sandy good 3

However, there is a lot of truth in fiction, and Sandy is one of those truths.  The model for Sandy the Monsoon Puppy is the loving real life Labrador who has brought many years of happiness, and loyalty to her family.  For fourteen years she has chased after little children and watched them grew into men and women, she has followed her owner Bill and Candy around with love just pouring out of her. Fourteen years is a long time for any puppy, and now it is time for Sandy to find her rest, but her spirit will live on, if not in reality, than in fiction.



Thank you Sandy for sharing your love and life with us, you have made our lives so much richer.  May everyone be blessed with a Sandy in his or her life. sandy good 2


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Got the Hots? Cool it!

If you have not noticed it is hop then you are probably not in Tucson Arizona, where we are ‘enjoying’ temperatures over 100 degrees. It is so hot that my rear view mirror slide down my front window.

Think Beach.Shore

We do find creative ways to keep cool. One way is with eating stuff that makes us feel like the temperature has dropped.


Now Marie, the gourmet cook in Take the Train to Tucson might be a fictional character, but she has connections on this side of reality. One of her connections, Mike, chief chef and bottle washer in the Marriott household, has created a great receipt for Gazpacho, that Spanish cold soup perfect for hot weather. He roasts the veggies in the morning, purees them, and puts the results in the refrigerator. It keeps well for about ten days, although it never last past that in our house, so perhaps you can keep it longer.

You can add a dollop of sour cream on top. Serve it with a cheese quesadillas, or match it with a nice warmed loaf of Italian or French bread, and ice cream, or a shushy for dessert. Lots of good vitamins and nutrition for you and a tasty and cooling lunch or dinner.

Mike’s Gringo Gazpacho

1 sweet onion

1 head of garlic

6 medium ripe tomatoes

2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 small eggplant

1 medium red bell pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Slap Your Mama hot pepper mix, (or a dash of your favorite hot sauce)

1 fresh lime for juice or a dash of lemon or lime flavored balsamic vinegar.

Salt to taste

Cut off the top of the garlic and wrap in aluminum foil with a little olive oil. Peel the eggplant, thinly slice and layout on a baking sheet with the eggplant. Find a spot or the garlic. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the veggies with olive oil. Broil until browned and tender. Cool and process the cooled vegetables with the cucumber until smooth. Add lime juice (or a dash of lemon or lime flavored balsamic vinegar.) Season to taste with the hot pepper and salt. Add slices or chunks of avocado. OLE!





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Getting ready for your vacation and you think how neat it is to be traveling in the twenty first century.  You have cars and airplanes, all they had in the 1800 was horses, stagecoaches, and with a bit of luck, a steam engine train.  Right!

Think again.  Two things…getting there, and getting home marred a recent trip to the Bahamas…a vacation that included pastel cottages and solo beaches.






Eleuthera blue










As soon as the trip started reality set in.  Each leg of flying was met by aircraft delays, canceled flights, rerouting, seats that were given away, and long waits on the tarmac while Mother Nature and the airlines negotiated routes, also socked in airports and go nowhere airplanes.

Now Leo Stanton Worthington had the right idea, although she didn’t have much choice in 1884.  She took the steam engine train to Tucson.  So what if she was robbed.  The outlaws didn’t keep her waiting four hours, then give her pretzels to make her feel better.  The robbery was quick and she kept her appetite.

When she couldn’t take the train, she hopped on a stagecoach.  Turns out her fellow passenger was a dead man, at least he didn’t complain, snore, or demand she get up every ten minutes so he could take a short walk down the aisle.

If you want a bit of the good old days, some western fun, and a western mystery, climb aboard and Take the Train to Tucson.  Its a good summer read whether you are on the Bahamas beach, at the lake, or touring.  It’s even good reading if you are stuck on an airplane.

Take the Train to Tucson is now available on, barnes&, and your local bookstore in e-book and soft cover.


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We’ve got a guest today, so put on your smiles and your company manners and welcome Shanna Hatfield who will entertain you and inform you about mail order brides in the old west.  Check out her delightful fictions.


The Women of Pendleton Petticoats


Imagine a mail-order bride from Chicago, who has never been anywhere else, stepping off the train out west to meet her husband and discovering a lively, colorful city that is nothing like the quiet, dull town she anticipated.

Her gaze travels over the milling crowd, taking in the sight of people from all walks of life as they mingle on the platform at the depot.

There’s a tall, handsome cowboy wearing a shiny deputy star. A Chinese man wearing a queue and wide-brimmed conical hat hurries on his way, keeping his head down and gaze averted. Two Indians with colorful wool blankets stand talking to a young woman with her black-haired baby strapped into cradleboard. Finely dressed gentlemen escort women attired in the latest fashions. Ranchers pick up supplies while farmers with huge wagons and lumbering teams unload burlap sacks filled with golden kernels of wheat.

This was Pendleton, Oregon, queen of a golden wheat empire, at the turn of the century.

My latest historic western romance series, Pendleton Petticoats, is set this fascinating western town.

During the period of 1900 through 1910, Pendleton experienced a boom in both population and modernization, making it the perfect setting for this series.

Although many thought it was a Wild West town (which it was), it was also a very progressive town with a theater, opera house, French restaurant, and tearoom. Pendleton opened a telephone office in 1902 and was the second city in the state to install paved streets in 1904.

The people who inhabited the town were an eclectic mix from every background

As I began writing the first book in this series, I envisioned a mail-order bride stepping off the train, completely unprepared for what awaited her. She expected the town to be quiet, dusty, and backward. What she found was something so entirely different.

It is nearly impossible to fathom the bravery and strength of mail-order brides. They left behind everything they knew to travel somewhere they’d never been to pledge their life to a man they had yet to meet.

I can tell you right now, I’m not cut out for that kind of adventure. I also wouldn’t do well with the lack of electricity or in-door plumbing the majority of them faced.

Fortunately, for the women in my Pendleton Petticoats series, they found themselves in homes with telephones and bathrooms.

Aundy, the main character (and namesake) of the first book in the series, knows she is physically strong and capable to work on her husband’s farm, but she has no idea of the depths of inner strength and fortitude she possesses until it is tested.

The second book in the series, Caterina, features a feisty Italian girl on the run from the mafia in New York City. Have you ever wondered how many women journeyed out west because they jumped on a train with nowhere else to go? Unlike Aundy who arrived in town as a mail-order bride, Caterina is free and unfettered – or as free as she can be, hunted by powerful men bent on vengeance.

Ilsa, my latest release in the series, shines a light on one girl’s struggle to toss off the fetters of expectations placed upon her as she learns to believe in herself.

Isn’t that what we all should strive for?PendletonPetticoats



Shanna Hatfield is a hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure. In addition to blogging, eating too much chocolate, and being smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller, she is a best-selling author of clean romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Follow Shanna online: ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Email Shanna at






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Cooking Up Trouble

CookMy husband loves to cook, and I’ll admit he’s pretty good t it.  His white chicken chili will put a smile on your face.  However, like all cooks he has his disasters.  Now when the wife cooks, you eat the food and say something like…”That was interesting dear, but really not my favorite.”  OK, she gets the picture.  However, never, never, say that to your male cook.  His artistic talents would be hugely insulted.  So, you muddle through guacamole with peanut butter, cod swimming in skim milk, and other novelties.  When asked what you think, you say something like, “That was a real creation with a unique taste.”  You may get it again, but it beats days of silence, or…”Well if you feel that way I’m never cooking again.”  (Which may be a good thing.)

Now Leo Worthington Stanton, a fictional character in Contact Creede, and Take the Train to Tucson (out June 2014), doesn’t have a cook problem.  She has Maria, a feisty, commando-type Mexican woman who cooks heavenly French gourmet food at the Crooked Button Ranch.

Crooked ButtonFor those of you who want to add a bit of classic French flare to your cooking, be you male or female, here is a simple receipt for a favorite soup filled with good vegetables.  It will bring complements, not vague comments.


French Vegetable Soup

This vegetable soup is a favorite of Marie’s.  It is easy and nourishing.  In France, this is served to all ages, including babies. This keeps well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, in fact its flavor improves as it sits. You can also serve this soup cold.

3 cups chicken broth

As much water as needed

2 medium size potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 medium size carrots, cut in chunks

½ onion (optional) you can substitute 1 leek

1 cup cut green beans

1 tomato quartered

1 cup of a green leafy vegetable of your choice, cut in chunks for easy blending.

Rounds of toasted French bread

Grated Parmesan cheese (or slices of a soft melting cheese)

Place all vegetables in large pot, cover with liquid, and bring to a boil. Simmer until vegetables are cooked.  Puree in blender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For hot soup, reheat to serve.  Add either a shot of sherry or ¼ cup of milk or cream to mixture, stir well, and serve.  Before serving, place a slice of toasted bread covered in grated cheese. Bon appetite.

Serves 4 – 6


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