Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 18, 2022

Book Giveaway: Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt by Kathleen Whitford

Kathleen Wilford has a new middle grade book, CABBY POTTS, DUCHESS OF DIRT being published by Blue Bronco Books on September 1st. Kathleen has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Kathleen.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


A historical middle-grade novel that drops you right into 1870’s Kansas, with a whole lot of drama and a little bit of romance.

Housemaid? What a horrible word! Not that I’d ever actually seen a housemaid, but I could picture one: a meek, aproned, pale-faced girl who never saw the sun.

When her parents force her to work at grand Ashford Manor, 12-year-old Cabby Potts will do anything to escape, including playing matchmaker between her sister and the rich young lord of the manor. If it succeeds, her scheme will save her family’s struggling homestead. If it fails . . .

Can Cabby find the courage to stand up for her family, a Native American friend, and an entire community threatened by land-grabbers?

Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt, is a tale of the prairie with humor, heart, and a dash of romance.


I’m honored to share my book journey with Kathy Temean. She’s done so much to make NJ SCBWI a success, and her unselfish support for other writers is a real inspiration.

My writing journey began when I was a book-obsessed kid. In the fourth grade, I published a poem about snowflakes in the school newspaper. I lived in New Orleans and had never seen snow at the time, and the poem was truly awful, proving the wisdom of the adage, “write what you know.”

Despite studying literature in college and teaching English for several years, I didn’t have the courage to return to writing after my fourth-grade debut. I thought authors were special, a breed apart. Then a friend invited me to join a critique group, and I said “yes” despite not having anything to share with the group. I plunged into a historical novel about Henry Knox and carrying guns to Boston—well written, I was told, but no one wants a long MG about the Revolutionary War. Proving the truth of the adage, “know your market.”

After joining SCBWI and actually learning something about the kidlit market, I stumbled on a book called Prairie Fever, about the fascination of the British upper classes with the American West. A group of aristocrats, I learned, had started a settlement, a “community of culture and refinement,” on the plains of Kansas in the 1870’s. What if, I wondered, a young American homesteader, someone from a sod house, went to work in one of their grand homes? And the character of Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt was born.


I plunged into research and writing again, this time with more support and more knowledge of the industry. I wasn’t writing what I knew, since I’ve never lived in Kansas, but I’ve always been fascinated by the homesteading experience, and I immersed myself in journals, memoirs, and other primary sources. Since I teach at Rutgers, I have access to great materials that I could check out for a year at a time (surprisingly, no one else wanted books about how to build sod houses). After many trials, I honed the plot and also Cabby’s voice: funny, feisty and earthy. I actually fell in love with my main character.

When it was time to query, self-doubt kicked in again. I received a few requests for the full manuscript from agents, and even an R & R from one agent who eventually passed after giving me excellent advice. Ignoring the adage “keep trying—most writers get lots of rejections” (okay, I made that one up), I stopped querying. I dabbled in picture books, which are not really my strong suit, and basically spun my wheels.

Until . . .  on a whim, I submitted a pitch for Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt to #PitMad in 2021. To my utter astonishment, Michele McAvoy from Little Press liked my entry, asked for the full manuscript, and offered to publish it. And here we are today. I’m so grateful to Michele for her guidance through the publishing and marketing process and for her patience with my questions and continued self-doubt. I’m so excited to share my book with the world!

So, my advice to writers: “write what you know”—or what you can learn about through lots and lots of research. “Know themarket”—join SCBWI, read tons of comps, and educate yourself. And “keep trying—most writers get lots of rejections.”

Kathleen’s Bio:

Kathleen Wilford was born in Panama and has lived in four different countries and three different states—but never in Kansas. She studied literature at Cornell University and at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she now teaches writing. When she’s not teaching or writing, Kathleen can be found outdoors, chasing her disobedient dog.

Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is Kathleen’s debut novel for kids.

Connect with Kathleen at

Kathleen, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I haven’t read the book, but it sound intriguing. A young girl who plays matchmaker, with her sister and well-off Lord. hoping that will solve all her problems. Just reading the title Parts of the book: A tragic and Ironic Fate; Brilliant Inspiration; A Holiday and a Horse; A mysterious Letter; A pair of Scoundrels; amd A Gift, all add to the intrigue. Love the cover and can’t wait to read. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow.



  1. LOVE the title of Duchess of Dirt! (My granddaughter would fit that title, but in a different way). Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it. Putting it on my Goodreads list now. 🙂

    I follow by email and tweeted this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the premise of this book!
    Tweeted. Also posted on the ARHtistic License Facebook page. Also included a link in tomorrow’s Creative Juice on


  3. Hi Kathy: What an incredible journey. I love Historical Fiction and look forward to reading this interesting book. I will post on FB and Twitter.


    • Penny, thanks for reading my author journey. Hope you enjoy CABBY POTTS, DUCHESS OF DIRT!
      –Kathleen Wilford


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