E.E. Burke's "Best of the West" featuring Sylvia McDaniel

I love reading (and writing) Western historical romance, which is why I started a series of guest interviews called "Best of the West" -- to introduce readers to classic Western romances and authors that I've loved over the years, and also to share new books and authors I've discovered.

Sylvia McDaniel is one of those "new" authors I've recently discovered. Only, she isn't new to writing, having penned nearly 20 books, most of them Western historical romances. She grew up watching the old Western movies with her father, her favorite being McClintock with Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne. So it's not surprise she loves strong, sassy heroines, which must be why her latest series, Lipstick and Lead, features a trio of bounty hunters who happen to be sisters. Desperate is a newly released novella that introduces the series. Here's a blurb and excerpt:

With the death of their father, the McKenzie sisters, Meg, Annabelle and Ruby find themselves penniless and need a way to earn their keep. They try the normal ways for women to earn a living in a small western town. Meg even asks Sheriff Zach Gillespie to marry her. When that doesn’t work, they have no choice but to take up their father’s profession, bounty hunting.

They quickly put their feminine wiles and Six Shooters to work to earn their way in the old west. Tough, resilient and badass to the core, they soon learn they don’t need a man to protect them even if that man is the handsome sheriff who has stolen Meg’s heart. Kick off this adventure with Desperate the first installment of this new historic western series, Lipstick and Lead.

Chapter One
“I don’t believe you. My sister was not charging boys to kiss her.” Meg McKenzie said, standing in the field of her small east Texas family farm. Her sister’s school teacher stood in front of her, arms folded, the schoolmarm's temper barely held in check.
 At nineteen, Meg felt too young to be the responsible parent of a fifteen year-old. And Ruby was definitely more than one person could handle.
 “I’m sorry, Meg. I know you’ve had to raise this child without much help from your father, but I can’t have her coming back to my class. She’s a distraction in the classroom,” the young woman told Meg, her parasol shielding her from the sun.
They stood out in the pasture where Meg had been hoeing the spring garden, preparing it for spring planting. Her working pants were coated with mud, she smelled of manure and her hands were calloused and rough from time spent working the land.
Meg dreamed of being a woman who had few responsibilities and wasn’t accountable for the care of the farm and her two sisters.  She didn’t want to be a parent. She longed to wear skirts, go to dances and flirt with young men. She wanted to feel young, not like her life was half over before it had even begun. And Ruby seemed to stay in trouble. 
“My sister may not have had a mother to raise her properly, but she’s been taught that girls don’t chase boys.”
Staring at the schoolmarm's clothes, Meg recognized her poke bonnet and how she wore a bustle beneath her skirt. From the last catalogue her Papa had brought home, it was the latest fashion.
“She wasn’t chasing them, Meg. She was charging them a nickel a piece to kiss her,” Miss Andrews said, her parasol held tightly in her gloved hands. The old maid had driven out here in her buggy, her fourth visit this school year.
Meg couldn’t help herself, she laughed. Not even Ruby would be foolish enough to do something so naughty. “I don’t believe you.”

Miss Andrews placed her hands on her hips and almost snarled at Meg. “I would never have found out about it, if the line hadn’t gone clear around the building. I caught her in the act of kissing Jimmy Brown.”

Meet Sylvia

Sylvia McDaniel
Sylvia McDaniel is a best-selling, award-winning author of western historical romance and contemporary romance novels.  Known for her sweet, funny, family-oriented romances, Sylvia is the author of The Burnett Brides, a historical western series, The Cuvier Widows, a Louisiana historical series, Lipstick and Lead, a western historical series and several short contemporary romances. 

Her novel, A Hero’s Heart was a 1996 Golden Heart Finalist. Several other books have placed or won in the San Antonio Romance Authors Contest, LERA Contest, and she was a Golden Network Finalist.

She's been married for nearly twenty years to her best friend. They have one dachshund that is Queen Supreme Dog in the house and a good-looking, grown son who thinks there’s no place like home. She loves gardening, hiking, shopping, knitting and football (Cowboys and Bronco’s fan), but not necessarily in that order.

Where to find Sylvia:

Sign up for Sylvia’s newsletter at www.SylviaMcDaniel.com
Visit Sylvia’s website at www.SylviaMcDaniel.com
Follow Sylvia on twitter at www.twitter.com/SylviaJMcDaniel
Join Sylvia on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SylviaMcDanielAuthor

Look for her the first Tuesday of every month at the Plotting Princesses blog: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com/.

You can also write to Sylvia at P.O. Box 2542, Coppell, TX 75019 or visit her web site.

Now, on to the questions:

E.E.: What is your favorite fairytale and why?

Sylvia: My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella. I’ve loved that story since I was a little girl because she was treated so harshly by her family members and her fairy godmother helped her become triumphant. When I grew up, I wanted someone to kick her father in the booty for being so blind to how his daughter was being treated. But I also loved Prince Charming searching for her. Yep, I’m kind of sentimental.

E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?

Sylvia: Green Eggs and Ham – absolutely loved it. It’s still one of my favorites. But my favorite first-reading memory is my first trip to the library. There were so many books and so many choices and when I finally left with three books, I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to read first. So I would read a little of one and then pick up the next one and read for awhile.

E.E.: What about the first story you wrote?

Sylvia: In the fifth grade, I had to write a personal story. I wrote about the adoption of my sister and I remember my teacher was moved to tears. And this teacher didn’t really like me. Or at least I never thought she cared for me. She often made me stay in at recess and write 50 times, I will not talk. But that day, she gave me a good grade and even told me I’d done a good job.

E.E.: Be honest, when reading (or writing) do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?

Sylvia: Oh my God yes!! And when I write, I find myself putting me in that role. it’s very hard not to write yourself into a novel. I want the heroines to be different, so I use the Myers/Briggs personality types to create my heroines. I love spunky, kick-ass heroines who stand up and fight for what they believe. In the past, I didn’t write as many of my heroines that way. But the ones that readers love and send me comments about are the spunky ones. So in this last series, I’ve got some tough, mean-ass women.

E.E.: Which is easier, writing or story-telling?

Sylvia: Story-telling is definitely easier for me. I’m a damn fine story-teller, but the writing part is not always easy. Grammar is not my friend and if you wanted me to dissect a sentence, I’d look at you and laugh. But what I pour out onto the page comes from my heart. My goal is to tell a darn good story and leave you wanting more. Hopefully, I’ve made you laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two along the journey. 

E.E. What question are you never asked but wish you were?

Sylvia: After writing almost twenty books, I would like for someone to ask me about who I aspire to be like in terms of writing style. For my westerns, I'd love to write like Linda Lael Miller--such rich characters and great plots. To have readers crave my books is my dream. For my contemporaries, I would LOVE to write stories like Kristin Hannah or Rachel Gibson or Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Funny and endearing.

E.E.: Do you read reviews? Let them influence your writing?

Sylvia: Yes, I do read the reviews and I’ve responded to some of the good ones. The ones that irk me are the readers that give you a one because the book had sex in it. I don't write erotica. My characters have sex with one man. Flip the page if you don’t like sex. The bad ones I try not to let influence me unless I think their criticism was warranted. Some books just come out better than others. I also look to see other reviews that person has given. Today, I had one where I was the only book she’d reviewed. Why was I the lucky person she decided to give a bad review? And it was on a free book.

E.E. What is your hope for the future of romance publishing?

Sylvia: There are thousands of readers and thousands of writers. My hope is that independent publishing will open the doors for everyone. That the readers will have more books to choose from and that the writers will have more markets.  The market has changed so much in the last few years and I hope it continues to thrive. I’d also like romance readers and writers to be given respect. I’ve never understood why it’s bad to read about love and relationships and it’s okay to watch or read people getting blown to bits. Why can’t we all just get along and respect each other's choices in entertainment? Isn’t there room for everyone’s reading and movie choices? So, come on Hollywood could we see more fun romantic comedies and love stories? Yep, I told you I was sentimental, and also kind of sappy.

Sylvia's next books in the series will be coming out soon. Deadly debuts in October, and Dangerous is out in November. Daring is set for December.

Today, Sylvia is giving away two eBook copies of her latest novel, Desperate. All you have to do for a chance to win is enter the raffle and leave a comment.

What draws you to Western historical romance? Do you have a favorite Western movie or character?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. A wonderful post thank you & all of the books look amazing.

    Western historical romance just seems to have it all - black hatted villains, feisty heroines & heroes to swoon over. ( I do love the history too.)

    I was talking to someone about THE SEARCHERS ( a John Wayne movie) the other day. It's an epic western that is always worth re-watching.

    1. Hi Mary,
      I bet I've seen that John Wayne movie. My father and I watched a lot of John Wayne movies together.

  2. Sylvia, thanks so much for being my guest today and sharing your series with us. I can't wait to read it!

    I love strong, smart heroines. One of my favorite female characters is Mattie Ross from the book True Grit by Charles Portis. I'm also a sucker for the seriously flawed hero. My current favorite is Cullen Bohannon from the television series Hell On Wheels. Loved The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood. Oh, and Sam Elliott in Tombstone. I think I'm seeing a theme here... :)

    1. Hi Liz,
      OMG! I love anything with Sam Elliott in it. That deep voice gets me to purring. I also enjoyed The Outlaw Josey Wales. It was good one. I haven't watched Hell On Wheels, but I will have to watch it. Thanks for having me today and I had such a great time with you at RWA.

  3. Hi Sylvia!
    Welcome to GLIAS. What a cute bio photo.

    Mary, her books ARE fun and amazing. I am a big fan of her Burnett Brides series, too.
    I love western romance for a couple reasons, my great grandparents helped settle Arizona so I feel very connected to the old west. As a kid I read Louis L'Amour series because of his authenticity.

    I entered your raffelcopter just for fun. I've got all your books Sylvia so in case I win choose someone who might not have them.

    1. Hi Kat,
      Thanks for everything you do for me. My covers are so awesome because of you. I didn't know that your grandparents settled Arizona. How neat. I just packed a whole set of Louis L'Amour books that my father had. Moving is not fun, but we couldn't let go of the books.

  4. l love a good western romance and I believe I have some of Ms. McDaniel's older titles in my collection.

    1. Hi Cindy,
      Thanks for buying my books. I appreciate it very much. I'm really enjoying this new series and can't wait to get them published. Right now the writing had to take a back seat while I move my parents, but soon I'll be back. Thanks again.

  5. Goody, goody, goody--one of my favorite people. Hi, Sylvia! I listened to an interview with Maureen O'Hara and she said she did a lot of her own stunts, then they showed a clip from McLintock, the one where John Wayne accidentally knocks her down a mud hill.

    1. Hi Vicki,
      I'm coming home on Sunday!!!! I love McClintock, but I didn't know Maureen did her own stunts. I love the way she poked people with her umbrella.

  6. I just love the cowboys! I don't read a lot of historical romance, but Sylvia's books are a must-read! And Sam Elliott is a must-watch!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Love the cowboys and thank you so much for reading my books. Sam Elliott is a must-watch. I'll be home on Sunday.

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  8. Another Western Romance lover here! I really enjoyed that first chapter, Sylvia! -- Beckie - your long-time fan and friend from NTWRA :)