WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! PAM CROOKS AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

By thunder! I’ve done had four hot flashes! One for each of the hunky heroes Pam Crooks brought with her to converse ‘round the campfire! I just can’t light on any one spot too long as I feel the need to be all proper and sit by each of the HOT men! If they weren’t already snatched up I’d have Cookie ridin’ hard to town and the nearest preacher man!

Not only did Ms. Crooks bring by somethin’ good to look at, but she’s givin’ us all the low down on the covers! So, after ya get done readin’ about the stories sure to be y’all be puttin’ some coin down for keep readin’ cause this is a fun and interestin’ post! Seriously, y’all it’s worth the read!

And if that wasn’t enough to get us all kickin’ up our heels, Pam is offerin’ up a copy of one of her backlist Harlequin Historicals to one lucky commenter! Easy as campfire biscuits folks, just leave a comment (Ms. Crooks even gave a topic) and your name goes in Cookie’s hat smooth as Aunt Betty’s silk bloomers!

Okay, Cookie, give yer dadblame disclaimer: Due to the high cost of sendin’ the Pony Express ‘cross the ocean the book giveaway is only open to folks in the United States and Canada.

Let’s get ta jawin’ folks! Let me introduce y’all to some fine Western gents and ladies!

All Sonnie Mancuso wants is to be needed by her father. Unfortunately, he already has a daughter–six, to be exact–and all he needs is a son.  Orphaned in the slums of New York, fifteen-year-old Lance Harmon needs a home. Sonnie’s father gives him one, on the cattle-rich Rocking M ranch. Through the years, Lance learns to love the land, the work . . . and Sonnie.

But Vince Mancuso’s health is failing, and there’s trouble on the Wyoming range. Sonnie returns home to claim the legacy that’s rightfully hers . . . but learns Lance has already claimed it.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: WYOMING WILDFLOWER is a story of two people both searching for their place in the world…a home, and they both think they’ve found it on the Rockin M ranch in Wyoming. By birth the Rocking M is a part of Sonnie. By years of blood, sweat and hard work it’s a part of Lance.

Lance is a strong hero with a tender heart. He’s spent most of his life working hard to become more than a boy from the slums of New York. His devotion to the land and work he’s come to love, Vince who rescued him from the slums, and Sonnie who he’s always admired and loved will draw you to this man. His struggle against past demons and the desire for a future and a home will cement’s his place in a reader’s heart.

Sonnie may come off a bit condescending, but when you consider all the years she’s worked and studied to be a valued member of her family and a daughter her father would love, her initial abrasive attitude toward Lance, who she sees as the man who stole her inheritance and father, is understandable. While growing up with all the “fine things” in life and sent to fine schools and trips to Europe, it becomes clear Sonnie is just as lost as Lance and just as desperate for a home.

Pam Crooks does a brilliant job of bringing these two lost people together, as they learn how to cooperate and lean on each other’s knowledge and strengths in order to fight a common enemy, and save the Rocking M and make it a home they can share.

 

Hannah grew up on the wrong side of the law, daughter of a master thief and student to his trade. But when he dies at the hands of an angry mob, she flees to a monastery to escape the world and her sins.  Quinn is betrayed by his brother and sentenced to a life in prison. Only the thirst for revenge keeps him alive. He will do anything to escape . . .

Together, they must run for their lives to survive their pasts. And in the journey, they find truth . . . and an unlikely love in their hearts.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  HANNAH’S VOW starts out with a bang and then things really get good! Hannah Benning is a woman longing for peace and safety. Quinn Landry is a man full of rage and the need for vengeance. I really loved both Hannah and Quinn right from the start, and Quinn is a bit hard, to say the least, but there’s something so vulnerable about both of these characters like a magnet your pulled into their story and rooting for their HEA!

The story itself is different (at least for me it was) a woman raised by a thief, serving as a novitiate at a monastery, and thrown back into using the skills her father taught her this time for survival and to help the man she loves who happens to be an escaped convict. And a woman who so desires peace and safety who is thrown into danger and turbulence, add the complication of struggling with the life she thought she wanted and the new love she could have there’s no lack of conflict for this poor woman. Hannah is one of those heroines who when you close the book you really feel like she’s worthy of the title heroine.

Quinn is hardened by betrayal and focused on revenge, but he longs for the peace he finds with Hannah and is determined to keep her with him. It was fun to watch as his appreciation of her skills she learned from her father grew, and as he relied on her as a partner. Quinn is a hero you can respect throughout the story and gals you’ll find him completely sigh-worthy while you’re respecting him.

As mentioned this was an original storyline. The daughter of a master thief, turned novitiate partnering with a respectable rancher turned escaped convict. HANNAH’S VOW is action packed, but has moments of sweet humor and sizzling scenes.

 

She belonged to no world of her own.  Not the world of the Gypsy, and not of the Gaje, the non-Gypsy . . . until their worlds collide.

Liza was born to roam the land with her mother’s people, but she is shamed by the sin that made her forever different.  Reese has set down roots deep in the Nebraska prairie. His dreams are sure to come true with a new railroad and a proper wife and child.  But Liza is accused unfairly by Reese’s people, and she is forced to flee the security of her world to see safety in his. When Reese’s careful plans for success are threatened, he must fight to save all he’s ever worked for.

Will it cost him the love he’s found with the beautiful, black-eyed woman with red-gold hair? His Lady Gypsy?

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: LADY GYPSY was another of Pam Crooks’ books that I enjoyed for the characters, but also found the story so engagingly different this time teaming a gypsy with a railroad tycoon. I learned a lot about the Gypsy culture, trestle bridges, and the railroad as well, which made it that much more enjoyable. And another great hero and heroine, Reese and Liza are wonderful!

Reese is a man with the plan. His life is carefully sketched out. He knows what he wants and he’s on track to getting it all, and then he meets Liza. And after a surviving a literal cyclone his world is tossed into another twister. Reese is an all-around good man. I know that might sound boring, but Reese is anything but boring, and I mean that as a high compliment. He’s a good man with a strong heart who’s worked hard to see his dream of a railroad come true. But it’s entertaining to see him try to keep up with his wife, and to learn the Gypsy ways and follow a few of their traditions to please her.

Liza is warm and fun and I loved her from the beginning. Her heart is so open to Reese and even as she struggles in his world she wants to see his dreams come true. Her love for her people and for Reese and being torn between the two is heartbreaking. Really there just wasn’t a moment in this story that I didn’t just love Liza.

This is one of those great stories, like I’ve mentioned before, where two people who have no business on the same side of the street are tossed together (this time literally) and you can’t imagine them being with anyone else.

 

When Carleigh flees her San Francisco home in a frantic flight through the California wilderness, Trig is blackmailed by her unscrupulous father to chase after her. Though the blossoms of her innocence are crushed forever, revenge for the death of Trig’s younger brother leaves him no choice but to outwit her escape attempts time and time again.

Carleigh must untangle the web of deceit in her past. Trig knows the truth can destroy her. But as a special agent for the United States government, he is drawn into an opium smuggling ring only Carleigh and her mother can help expose, and he is forced to choose between two loves–Carleigh or his country.

Will it cost him the only family he has left in the world? Or will he find new life with the beautiful woman whose very blood marked her his enemy?

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  BROKEN BLOSSOM’S is a bit like HANNAH’S VOW in that by the end of the book you’re exhausted for the hero and heroine, but it’s a fun ride. Again Ms. Crooks paints such a vivid picture of the places and people; you will have a hard time putting this one down.

Carleigh is headstrong and determined and gives Trig a run for his money. Her character goes through a real transformation throughout the journey to Mexico and then back to San Francisco. She goes from the sheltered, willful daughter of a rich judge to a caring and self-sufficient woman.

Trig is not only a wonderful hero, but he’s work for the United States government makes him an interesting one, as well. Though he tries to hate Carleigh for her father’s sins, he realizes he cares for her and is determined to help her find her mother and to keep her safe even as he completes his mission.

Not only is the story between Carleigh and Trig fascinating, but the history of the Opium dens and San Francisco in the late 19th Century intriguing and Ms. Crooks’ research and the history she weaves into every story bring the places and people to life.

Pam Crooks tells such wonderful stories and her characters both the hero and heroine and the secondary characters drag you into their worlds, and you hate it when it’s time to leave. Thank goodness I can put these enjoyable stories high on the keeper shelf and visit many, many times.

PAM CROOKS:  THE STORY UNDER THE COVERS

Writing a book is hard work. It’s stressful for a whole wagonload of reasons. It’s time-consuming and scary. And it may–or may not–be particularly profitable. Throughout the whole months-long process, we writers will bang our heads, chew our nails and agonize over every character, plot point and word choice until at last! We type “The End” and send the whole thing to our editor.

But it’s all worth it when we get our covers.

Most of the time.

Covers are the icing on the cake for us. They’re the final step in the process–the one thing that makes our book a real BOOK. They’re the reason why many of us write in the first place–beyond telling the stories we’re compelled to tell–seeing our name in bold, colorful print and knowing the rest of the world will see our name, too.

But waiting for that first glimpse often takes several months. Sometimes we have input, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re blessed with great art departments–or not. Sometimes the models on the cover are just who we picture how our characters should look, and sometimes–well, you get the idea.

Despite all this, getting the cover is THE most exciting thing about the book for me. I get my covers in jpg format, and when I find that email in my Inbox, my heart beats a little faster, and my finger hovers over the mouse for a sweetly agonizing moment while my brain worries … will I like it, or won’t I?

Covers are often hotly debated, sometimes collected, autographed and always promoted. They usually have a story or two behind them. Here’s a few of mine:

I just had to include my very first cover in today’s blog. It’s so darn special for that very reason. My first four books were released by Dorchester Publishing and their Leisure books line. We must not have had jpg’s back then, because the Production Assistant was kind enough to print me a color copy and mail it to me. I still remember standing in my kitchen with my jaw hanging down to the floor. I didn’t know that’s what the envelope held, and the surprise–and awe–at seeing my precious first cover will always stay with me. I didn’t put that paper down for 3 days.

I’ve always loved the model. He’s so-o hunky and more mature than most. The look is romantic, and the heroine is realistic and beautifully coy. My one complaint? Her gown looks like a negligee–and not a dress a woman at the time would’ve worn.

My third book with Leisure was HANNAH’S VOW. The same production assistant from above was a huge Titanic fan. When someone from the Art Department happened to stroll through her office, she noticed a photo of Jack and Rose tacked on the assistant’s bulletin board. She pointed to the picture and said–”I want a cover just like that for a book I have coming up.”

Here’s what I got. Cool, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, for those of you who think that every author’s book gets oodles of special attention, or that an entire department slaves away for untold hours making each cover just perfect, well, think again. The reality is that some covers get–ahem–recycled.

In this age of computer graphics, it’s easy to do, and it saves the publisher piles of money. For the author, however, it’s a bit disconcerting to see that a cover she sees and loves as her own has been used for another book.

Case in point:      My Spring Brides anthology came out in June, 2005. You can’t see it well here, but there’s a horse and buggy parked next to the church. And of course, the chair with the hat and wedding dress in front.

This was inside the front cover. Same church, but no horse and buggy, and of course, the chair was gone, too. I really liked the black and white shot of the bride walking toward the church. It fit well with the whole book.

When the book came out in the United Kingdom in May, 2006, they used the inside cover from the first book, but in color. Note that the sky is lighter than the North American version, and so is the grass, but the church is distinctively the same.

Imagine my surprise in February, 2008, when I found Jillian Hart’s cover was an exact match. Hers was the second book to launch the Love Inspired Historical line, and she got tons of promo. I suspect the cover will be laid to rest for awhile.

Below is the front and back of THE MERCENARY’S KISS, my very first book with Harlequin Historicals. I call it my infamous sausage pizza cover, and I’ll let you figure out why, but I’m told the model on the front was hugely popular with the readers, even voted Number One on eharlequin the year before the book came out.

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did find it strange that on the back of the cover they used a different model. Perhaps a cost-saving measure. Note that they’re both wearing the same shirt and vest, but the one on the back is older and more rugged. One of my favorites.

       

 

 

 

 

He’s such a cutie, I’m glad they gave him his own cover on my UK and Italian versions.

Now this one had me scratching my head bigtime. This is the cover to HER LONE PROTECTOR. I fell in love with this guy from the get-go, and so did virtually all my readers.

This is UNTAMED COWBOY.

 

When HER LONE PROTECTOR came out in the UK, this is the cover they gave me:

 

They put the cover for UNTAMED COWBOY on HER LONE PROTECTOR. Why they didn’t use my gorgeous cowboy from the North American version of HER LONE PROTECTOR is beyond me. I was um, dismayed, because not only were the covers switched, the cover had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Nothing, nothing. I was sure someone goofed since I’ve always been given my North American covers on foreign editions, but when my agent inquired, she was assured the cover chosen was a calculated decision to give the book a western look and feel.

Now I’ve entered a new avenue for covers.  When I received the rights back for my first four books, all previously published with Dorchester, I had 100% control.  Finding an image meant hundreds of hours of trolling through galleries, but luckily, my daughter, Katie, has an eye for these things.

So after I formatted the books to self-publish on Kindle, Nook, etc., once again the covers were the icing on the cake.

Here’s what we came up with:

Well folks we have had a full blown, two-steppin’, fiddle playin’ fandango today ‘round the campfire! WHOOOEEE! Hope ya found at least one, and if not all yer crazy, of Pam Crooks books ya’d like to pick up to read while the sun is bakin’ ya like a loaf of Cookie’s bread!

Now don’t forget to leave a comment! Today, let’s talk covers. Those of you who are pubbed, have any cover stories to share?

Does cover mistakes bother you? Do you even notice? Or care?

Have you noticed any recycled covers lately? 

Come on and don’t be shy!

To learn more about Pam and her books, visit www.pamcrooks.com

 

20 thoughts on “WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! PAM CROOKS AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

  1. Pam, I ADORE your new covers! I’m currently waiting anxiously for the cover art for my latest novella, and I agree with you. The cover art is so important. It makes the whole story come alive – or not. Like so many authors, I have framed copies of my covers hanging in my office, and I never get tired of looking at them. Good luck on your new self-publishing venture!

    • Howdy, Alison! Welcome to the campfire! How exciting for you to have a new cover on the way! I have to admit that’s one of the things I most look forward to are the covers of a published manuscript. Now if I can just get to the published part. :o) But, I agree a great cover can do so much for a book, while a bad one can turn readers off.

      Thanks for stopping by and your name’s in the hat!

      –Kirsten Lynn

    • Howdy, Donya! Thanks so much and glad you finally made it through all of Cookie’s obstacles and were able to post! ;) I know you’ll enjoy these books, or any others by Pam Crooks! I haven’t found one of hers I didn’t like. :)

      Your name’s in the hat! Good luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  2. Hi Pam and Kirsten!
    WOW, I love this! Pam, Hannah’s Vow remains one of my all-time favorite books. The premise was so unusual, the characters so realistic, and the action was non-stop. I have that book in print, and it never gets loaned out for fear that it won’t come back to me. LOL Love your covers and the insightful look into how it “all happened.” Kirsten, once again, a fantastic blog, and wonderful guest!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

    • Howdy, Cheryl! Always great having you stop by the campfire! I couldn’t agree more about Hannah’s Vow! I loved the premise of that story, and the characters just found their way into my heart. My copy is on Kindle, so I can’t loan it out, which gives me a great excuse because I never would. :) THANK YOU for the compliment, it’s greatly appreciated.

      Got your name is the hat! Good luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  3. Pam,
    Love all the covers, they look great! I will be adding these books to my tbr pile. They sound like great reads!
    Kirsten,
    Like always great blog!!

    • Howdy, Cec! Always a pleasure having you ’round the campfire, thanks for stoppin’ by again, and for your support! So glad to point you in the direction of Pam’s books, each one is a great read!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  4. Pam & Kirsten,
    I LOVE COVERS! From time to time, I do see repeats and that always makes me sad for the authors involved. Great post! Looking forward to reading.
    ~Rach

    • Howdy, Rach! Thanks a bunch for comin’ back to the campfire today, always great to jaw with ya a bit! I’m with you I always feel sorry for the author when I see a repeated cover. I’ve seen a lot of similar covers here recently, and I think it’s horrible as it takes something away from the promotion of each author’s work. Enjoy any, or all, of Pam’s books! They’re awesome!

      Got your name in the hat! Good luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  5. Aw, shucks–everyone’s so nice around here! I owe Kirsten a whole lotta hugs for taking such good care of me on her blog. She knows how to put an author in the spotlight–and don’t you love her enthusiasm for westerns? That girl knows what she’s doing!

    Thank you all!

    • For that, you get an extra cup of Arbuckle’s and a dish of Cookie’s prize winnin’ stew! (I wouldn’t eat the stew) But seriously, Pam, thank you for such kind compliments! It was a pure pleasure hosting you and featuring your awesome books!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  6. This was a very interesting look at cover art (and recycling!). All of your books sound fabulous, and Kirsten, I love how you add your review after each book blurb. Looks like I’ve got some new titles to add to my TBR list!

    • Howdy, Ally! Good to have you back round the campfire! Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like the thoughts I include, I really appreciate you saying so. You’ll definitely want to add these to your TBR pile! Pam writes great Westerns with such different premises and characters you will love! Enjoy!

      Your name’s in the hat, best of luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  7. When I’m in a bookstore, it’s always the covers that either draw my attention or keep me looking. I think the covers of historical romances give you a strong idea of the book’s focus: the couple, the man or woman, or even the landscape.

    • Howdy, Alison! You’re so right about covers and I hate when the cover doesn’t match what’s in the book. Nothing worse than a blond hero with a smile on the cover and the author’s description is dark and brooding, and as you mentioned even the landscape gave tell a lot about the story. That’s why it’s so sad when a publisher doesn’t take the time to get the cover right, because they might lose potential readers for their author.

      Thanks so much for stoppin’ by tonight! Got your name in the hat! Best of luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  8. I love your new covers! They’ve got that modern style that is so attractive right now. Although I miss seeing hunky heros on covers.

    It never dawned on me that companies would reuse cover images, although I guess it makes sense. I’m lucky because I have a good friend who runs a graphic design business and he does all of my covers for me. And he’s done a great job too! =D

    • Howdy Merry! Thanks for stoppin’ by the campfire. There’s definitely something about a hunk on the cover that catches the eye, isn’t there? I never thought of publishers using the same covers either, until I started noticing the same cowboy in the same pose on a number of covers, and then after reading Pam’s post.

      You are lucky to have someone who can design your covers, like Pam’s daughter Katie, who can help design original covers.

      Your name’s in the hat! Good luck!

      –Kirsten Lynn

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