A Crazy Thing Happened…

I hate to admit it, but I find a lot of inspiration for the crazy, odd, unique, outlandish, and downright strange things I often incorporate into fun or funny scenes in my books from things that happen in real life.

And those happenings aren’t things I’ve seen on the news or heard someone discussing.

Oh, no.

They are things that have happened to me.

So many loony things happened to me when I was growing up on our family farm, I guess I didn’t give a thought to them seeming weird to others.

But they are – weird, that is.

I captured some of my favorite bizarre childhood happenings in Farm Girl, a humorous account of my growing up years.

Some of the wild tales that really did happen include being chased up the stairs by a snake, battling a shrew (the fuzzy, four-legged kind), and watching a coyote come back to life on our back patio.

I’ve fallen out of moving farm equipment, been drenched in gated pipe slime, and freaked out my mother when we found bones on top of the ground in an old cemetery.

If I’m looking for something different, something a little out there to include in a book, I generally don’t have to look too far.

In my two recent releases, I incorporated tidbits of real happenings into situations with animal characters.

In  Lightning and Lawmen, the heroine, Delilah, decides to befriend a half-grown raccoon.  Despite of everyone telling her she’s crazy, she works at making him a pet. In one scene, Ollie, the raccoon, attacks the hero. With a recent rabies scare in town, they are thinking the worst, but they soon discover Ollie just wanted the sweets in Dugan’s pocket.

The same thing happened to my dad. 

When I was probably around six or seven, my brother brought home a young raccoon. I don’t recall the reason why he had the raccoon, just that it was pretty awesome to have raccoon.

We soon learned that if something wasn’t nailed down, the raccoon viewed it as fair game for him to pilfer. He could take the screen off the window at the bottom of the stairs and make his way into the house. One of his favorite places to explore his cat burglar skills was in my parents’ bedroom where he’d grab anything shiny that was left out. Watches, buttons, even pens disappeared with regularity.

We also learned Bandit had a sweet tooth. My dad, a hard-working farmer, often took a few cookies with him after lunch for a little afternoon snack. One summer afternoon, he was busy working in the shop when the raccoon wandered in. He’d bent down to work on something and the raccoon lunged at him, growling and clawing at his chest. Dad pushed him away and hollered at him to knock it off, but Bandit did it again. The third time, he rascally little devil managed to grab a cookie from Dad’s pocket and, perfectly content, sat down to eat it. Dad quit carrying treats in his pocket after that.

In my sweet contemporary romance, Summer Bride, one of the characters is a whackadoodle cat named Crosby.

The cat is based entirely on our persnickety, cranky, completely insane feline.

In the story, Crosby is afraid of everything: other cats, birds, animals in general, most humans, grass, leaves, the wind – and mice.  (Yes, this is totally our cat. In fact, he freaked out just yesterday when a hummingbird flew by!)

There is a funny scene where the cat lets a mouse inhabit the garage and Sage, the heroine, has to take care of it.

The reason for that scene being in the book is because I experienced it while I was writing the story and decided it would be fun to incorporate.  Only in real life, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that funny.

Because our cat is a lovable freakazoid we both are allergic to, he stays outside except when it’s time to eat. He gets fed in the garage twice a day (and spends many happy hours lounging on his special bed in there). Anyway, my husband and I take turns feeding the cat so it took us a while to figure out the cat seemed to be eating a lot more food than usual. And his food bowl was licked clean (which has never happened in the many, many years we’ve had him since he adopted us). We finally compared notes and decided something must have snuck into the garage.

We tried to monitor who much food was disappeared. And it was a lot. I mean A LOT!

We set traps. We cleaned the garage from top to bottom. One friend assured us we were probably harboring an entire family of pack rats (and no, that didn’t help me sleep at night). I finally sprinkled flour all around the food bowl one night, hoping to at least see what kind of tracks were left behind.  The next morning, Captain Cavedweller and I rushed into the garage to discover tracks all over the floor that led to the door of our furnace room. And they were far too big for a mouse. Freaked out by the prospect of a rat invasion or something bigger – he promised to help me figure out what we were dealing with and get rid of it on his day off.

The next morning, the biggest mouse either of us has ever seen was in one of the traps he’d left setting everywhere in the garage (and you don’t have to worry about our cat getting into one of them. He’s scared of those, too).

Not prepared for whatever was waiting in the furnace room, I opened the door,  expecting to be greeted with horrible smells, snarling rodents and disgusting messes.  Only, nothing appeared amiss. There were no messes. No bad smells. Nothing.

Then I glanced down and noticed a single piece of cat food in front of the suitcases we’d stored in there. I shoved the suitcases out of the way, and this is what I saw.

You can’t tell it from the photo, but the apocalyptic mouse had stockpiled about ten pounds of cat food. It was packed beneath the shelf you can barely see on the left and stuffed into a little ledge where the concrete floor meets the wall.

And the worst, most insane part of it all? I turned around to get a shovel to start scooping out the cat food and our lunatic cat ran in and started chowing down on the mouse-slobbered food as though he hadn’t eaten in months.

Yep, a crazy thing happened…


To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Farm Girl and your choice of either Lightning and Lawmen or Summer Bride, just share something funny or crazy that happened to you in the past.

Shanna Hatfield
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Mules in Mines? Julie Lence Shares Her Research

Hello Petticoats & Pistols! I am honored to help Linda Broday by joining you today. (Have fun at RWA, Linda!) For those you don’t know me, or may have forgotten, I’m western romance author, Julie Lence, blogging about a subject I knew nothing about and had fun researching: Mules Working in the Coal Mines.

In the summer of 2016, the Pastor of our church retired and our other priest was transferred to a different parish. We welcomed a new Pastor and another priest and looked forward to getting to know them. During their sermons, each priest will sometimes mention something from their childhood or personal experience to tie into the day’s Gospel. One such Sunday, one of them began talking about mules living in coal mines. My first thought was comical, and my second thought was this would make for a great blog. I’ve never heard of a mule living in a coal mine and wrote a quick note to research.

Throughout civilization horses and mules have been used to help man with lifting or hauling something heavy. This practice was carried over in Montana when it came to working in a coal mine. Pulling carts laden with ore was hard labor for man, so mules were brought down into the mines to help. Horses couldn’t be used, as the cages used to get to the bottom of the mine were small. A typical cage proved difficult trying to cram in six men, but could hold one mule. To get the mule onto the cage and to the bottom required a few days planning. The initial step involved not feeding the mule or giving him water for three days because there was a risk the mule would succumb to a ruptured bladder or suffocation while being lowered. Before being led into the cage, the mule was blindfolded so he wouldn’t spook and his legs were bound in a leather truss to keep him still. The mule was placed inside the cage on his rear and lowered to the bottom. Sometimes, he tried to kick, but usually he settled down to the quiet of the mine and rode the cage just fine.

Once down at the bottom, mules were put to work pulling the ore carts. They worked their eight-hour shift and then were taken to a lit stable inside the mine for food and rest. Muleskinners cared for the animals, and along with their food, made sure the mule had a tub of ice water to drink each night. The muleskinner also scrubbed the mule’s hooves with soap and water to rid him of the deadly copper water he plodded through during the day. The copper was capable of eating away at the hoof and if this happened, the mule would end up useless.

Mules adjusted well to the mines, with many knowing the mine better than the minors. Tales abound of many a mule saving miners from fires and other dangers. One such tale involved a miner who made a hole through a wall the size of his head to see what was on the other side. He discovered a lake but thought nothing of it until the next day. His mule began acting strange, and cutting him free from his job, the mule took off for higher ground. Knowing a mule’s instinct was good, the minor and his coworkers were able to escape quickly when, at the same moment the mule dashed off, the hole the miner had made crashed open, with water gushing toward them from the lake.

Though a mule labored beneath the ground, he wasn’t left there his entire life. If a mule was injured or sick, he was brought above ground immediately. The same applied to the duration of the mine shutting down for vacation or the miners going on strike. And mules weren’t treated cruelly. Miners and mule skinners learned early on to care for the mule. If treated poorly, the mule usually got even with either kicking a man in the ribs or head, or squeezing him against the wall. Trained mules were valuable, worth as much as $200, and always received medical treatment and rubdowns when needed.

The use of mules in mines pulling ore carts came to an end in December of 1965. An Act of Legislature outlawed the underground stable, making it illegal to house animals in mines.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by and read about the mules. They truly were exceptional in that time period. To connect with me and learn more about my writing, you can catch me here:

Website: http://www.julielence.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/#!/Julielence

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLence

Amazon: http://a.co/czoevJ4

As an added bonus, I’m giving away 3 ebook copies of my 1st book, Luck of the Draw. To be eligible to win, leave a comment here regarding your favorite thing about the old west. Until next time, have a great day.

Guest Blogger

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU…EVEN WHEN I SHOULDN’T BE–by CHERYL PIERSON

Anyone here a Bon Jovi fan? I AM! LOL I love his song “I’ll Be There for You”—I’ll try to include a link here before the end of the post. This is one saying that I see a LOT when I’m editing. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, I edit a LOT of historical fiction. I don’t remember ever hearing it “back in the dark ages” of the 1950’s and 1960’s…so I guess maybe the 70’s was when it got to be popular. The 1970’s, not the 1870’s, y’all. I don’t believe a knight would tell his lady he’d “be there” for her…at least not for another 500-800 years, or somewhere around that, anyhow.

Here’s another one that’s jarring to me—the use of “morph” for “change”—it reminds me of those wonderful days when my son Casey was a young boy and so, so crazy about the Power Rangers. Anyone remember them? They were popular in the 1990’s. Five teenagers—two girls and three boys—who had the power to change from mere teens to THE POWER RANGERS! How did they accomplish this? They gave each other meaningful looks and said, “It’s morphin’ time!” And with some fancy camera work, there they were, in their Power Ranger color-coded uniforms. All…morphed…

 

How about the response to “Thank you.”? Truly…can you picture a knight responding with “No problem.”? No…me either. Yet, sometimes that’s the response that crops up in historical manuscripts. It doesn’t matter how politely one responds, the response has not been invented or introduced into thought or speech patterns of that time.

Another simple one that turns up a lot in response to “How are you?” is … “I’m good.” When did this phrase come into existence? I don’t ever remember this being said until only in the last couple of decades. When talking about someone else—“He’s good to go.” No…you might hear that on Blue Bloods or Law and Order, but not so much in 1860’s Indian Territory.

  “Marshal Tilghman, how are you today?” “I’m good.”

Here are a couple of words that tend to creep in a lot—and shouldn’t—flashback and replay. Remember what these words are really saying, what they convey to people of this day and age who are reading the stories we’re writing. A medieval knight or a drifting cowboy will have no idea what “replaying something in his mind” even means—or that he’s having a “flashback” to when he was fighting at the battle of Honey Springs. Or that he’s “flashing back” to something that might have been a sweet memory in his early years. These characters are going to just be remembering, recalling, or thinking back to something… When you use this type of modern wording that refer to contemporary actions/equipment, it’s easy to pull readers out of the story. Because my husband is such a sports fan, I can’t hear or read the word “replay” without thinking of the sports connotation it carries. Flashback—this conjures up images of Hollywood movie scenes.

“Well, it’s all about you, isn’t it?” This is one that creeps in every so often, too. It “being all about” one person or another—or NOT “being all about” them is something that should never, ever, ever show up in any kind of historical writing. It’s easy to do—these contemporary sayings are so normal to us we can’t imagine NOT using them in daily conversation—problem is, it’s our job to check and double check what our characters are saying. If we don’t, they go out into the world showing that we have not “brought them up” correctly.

That reminds me—do you know the difference between being “reared” and “raised”? The standard saying used to be that “Children are reared; livestock is raised.” Those lines have blurred in modern times. I still remember my mother talking about children being “reared” and her brother “raising” cattle. She was born in 1922, so I would say that distinction has faded only during my lifetime.

RAISED, NOT REARED

This is “picky” but it’s the sort of thing that readers will seize on—and there are certain word usages and phrases that will definitely pull me right out of a story that’s written in historical times, so I’m sure that’s true of others, as well.

One more biggie–the use of “bleeding out” in describing someone’s medical condition from being stabbed or shot. I don’t ever remember hearing this until detective and police shows became so popular on television in the last several years. And when I asked a Scottish doctor friend of mine what a correct historical term would be, he replied that “bleed out” is not used in Britain to his knowledge even today. If you’re wondering, “exsanguination” is the correct medical term for “bleeding out”–but of course, that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

These are a few of the many “uh-ohs” I see when I’m reading/editing. These are kind of fun to think about, but good golly–we have to watch what we put into our stories, don’t we?  What are some words or phrases you’ve come across that don’t belong?

If you are a FRIENDS tv show fan, you know that there is another “I’ll Be There for You” – the theme of the show by the Rembrandts. There’s also a Kenny Rogers song that uses that phrase. But I promised you Bon Jovi! Here he is singing “I’ll Be There for You”—a wonderful song to turn up loud and belt out when you’re driving…just remember, in historical fiction writing, we have to find another way to say this. Kinda makes me sad, but we have to wait for it to be invented.

https://youtu.be/mh8MIp2FOhc

 

 

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

Kathleen Y’Barbo Has a Winner!

 

Thank you so much for visiting on P&P, Miss Kathleen. We enjoyed it.

Now for the moment you’ve all waited for…………..

Winner of My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas is………..

RACHAEL K.

Huge congrats, Rachael! I’m happy for you. Miss Kathleen will contact you so be watching.

 

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: July 15, 2018 — 11:54 am

Julie Lence Will Call on Tuesday!

Miss Julie Lence will come to visit on Tuesday, July 17, 2018!

She’ll tell how mining companies used mules in their mines and how the animals often saved the mens’ lives.

She’s toting a book to gift to some lucky person!

How fast can you say comment? That’s how fast you can win.

Rise and shine on Tuesday morning and follow the trail over here.

Help us make Miss Julie feel at home.

 

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: July 13, 2018 — 3:39 pm

WRITING THE OLD WEST: IT’S IN THE LOCAL PAPERS by Kathleen Y’Barbo

I love historical research almost as much as I love writing historical romance—some days, depending on how the writing is going, I love research even more! One of my favorite ways to get acquainted with my setting is by finding old newspapers writing during that time and, if possible, in that location.

By the mid-1800s, nearly every Western town of any size had at least one newspaper that kept a printing press busy. Many had more than one, and press wars—while they seem to be current—really do originate way back when. In their quest to be the best, as they do now, reporters were always looking for a blockbuster story. Sometimes they made it up, but newspapermen—and newspaperwomen—who cared about their craft would go to great lengths to get the story. In a time when photographs were not so easily available, words had to do the job of showing the reader the story.

When I created the character of Madeline Latour, my intrepid reporter for the New Orleans Picayune who goes west to get her story in my novel My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas (Barbour Books, July 2018), I knew she would have to be the type of person whose editor would trust to bring in the big story. She had to have a spirit of adventure to go along with her desire to bring the truth to her readers. Since Galveston, Texas is a real location, Madeline also had to exist within the framework of what was actually happening in Galveston—and in Texas–in the spring of 1880.

And that is where the real fun began. I went to the archives of the Galveston Daily News and read everything I could get my hand—or rather eyes—on. My favorite part of putting real life into historical fiction was to read the social column and the advertisements.

  I found a mention of a party that happened in the same week my characters arrived in Texas, so of course Madeline and Jonah attended. As well as this mention in the society column, a story chronicling the benefits of Dr. C. McLane’s Liver Pills and an advertisement for the Hazard Powder Company Blasting and Mining Powder actually appeared in the March 26, 1880 edition on the third page. Obviously there was no gossip about my fictional characters in that episode, although there were other interesting articles and advertisements. These included one for Jenkins’s Annihilator cure for rheumatism, gout and neuralgia, and another assuring readers that a cure for opium addiction could be found by purchasing morphine from the doctor who placed the ad. The name of the doctor in the opium cure ad is too blurry to read, which is probably just as well.

So the next time you’re curious about an area or an era, an incident or a person of historical significance in the Old West, check out the local papers. Imagine what your Old West character could do with some blasting and mining powder or a vial or two of morphine. Not only can you find out where he or she could have purchased it, but you can probably find an article or two detailing what happened afterward.

I will be giving away one copy of MY HEART BELONGS IN GALVESTON, TEXAS to one commenter from the UNITED STATES.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 BIO: Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than ninety books with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. She is a member of ACFW, Novelists Inc., and the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division.

 Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for her historical romantic suspense Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas.  Recent releases include 2018 CBA Bestseller The Pirate Bride and the newly released My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.

 To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at http://www.kathleenybarbo.com.

 

 

 

Guest Blogger

Amy Sandas’s Winners!!


Big congratulations to the two lucky ladies who won
The Gunslinger’s Vow by Amy Sandas.

.

Linda Orr

and

Janine

.

YeeHaw! Miss Amy will be contacting you with instructions on how to claim your prize. There’s gonna be some good reading around these parts real soon.

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.

We Have a Winner for Karen Kay’s e-book BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY

Howdy and Good Evening!

Yes, we have a winner for the new e-book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY.  But first before I tell you who the winner is, let me thank you each and every one for coming to the blog on Tuesday and chatting with me.  I love it.

We do drawings so that it truly is a chance of luck.  And the winner of the free e-book is:

Sally Shupe

Congratulations Sally.  If you will please email me at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — we’ll make arrangements to get the book to you.

Again, many thanks for the great chat on Tuesday.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: July 12, 2018 — 9:34 pm

Goodbyes Are Not Forever

Dear Readers,

This will be my last blog for Petticoats and Pistols but instead of goodbye, I’ll say “see you down the road!”

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read and comment on the travel adventures I’ve shared with you over the past year. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know you and learning about your travels, too!

I’ve recently begun working as a caregiver for the elderly and have taken on more responsibility for my eighty-one-year-old father—the handsome high school jock in the plaid shorts!

These new obligations require that I scale back my writing commitments, but I still plan to carve out time in the coming months to work on a story that I plotted this past spring. Once a writer—always a writer!

I’d love to stay in touch with you and continue to share my travels, news about my books and future giveaways.

If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to subscribe to my Newsletter.

  ***

You can also connect with me on…

Facebook http://bit.ly/MarinThomasAuthor

Amazon http://bit.ly/MarinThomasAmazon

Goodreads http://bit.ly/MarinThomasGoodreads

Pinterest http://bit.ly/MarinThomasPinterest

YouTube http://bit.ly/MarinThomasYouTube

 

Stay well and be happy!

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Marin Thomas
I may have grown up in the Midwest but my favorite place in the whole world is Arizona. Hubby and I are recent empty nesters living in Phoenix and we like to take off and explore the Grand Canyon State every chance we get. I’ve been writing contemporary western romances since 2004 for Harlequin and also write contemporary romance for Tule Publishing Group in addition to romantic women's fiction for Berkley-Penguin Random House. When I’m not writing I like to spend my free time junk hunting, researching ghost tours and exploring Route 66. I invite you to visit www.marinthomas.com to learn more about my books and where I hang out on social media.

Kathleen Y’Barbo Visits on Friday!

The next guest to visit the Junction is Miss Kathleen Y’Barbo. She’ll arrive Friday, July 13, 2018!

Miss Kathleen will talk about the newspaper business in the old West. Very interesting!

She’s also toting a copy of her new book to give away!

Tie a string around your finger or a circle on the calendar.

Then follow the trail to Wildflower Junction.

We’ll be waiting for you!

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: July 10, 2018 — 11:39 am
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