As I told you last month, I’m writing a new series based in Texas and I’ve been studying maps. Texas sure does have some odd, charming and altogether weird or funny town names. Here’re just a couple that caught my eye.
Cut and Shoot, Texas
Believe it or not, this town name was the result of a church fight. No one really knows what the dispute was about. Some say it was over the new steeple; others say there was a disagreement as to who should preach there. Still others insist that church member land claims was to blame.
Whatever the reason, the altercation was about to turn violent. A small boy at the scene declared he was going to take up a tactical position and “cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes.”
Later, after the matter was taken to court, the judge asked a witness where the confrontation had taken place. Since the town didn‘t have a name the witness described the location the best way he knew how. “I suppose you could call it the place where they had the cutting and shooting scrape,” he said, and the name stuck.
As the saying goes, if you find yourself in Ding Dong, you had to be looking for it. Two early residents Zulis Bell and his nephew Berth ran a general store and hired a local painter named C.C. Hoover to make a sign for their business.
Hoover illustrated the sign with two bells inscribed with the owners’ names, and then wrote “Ding Dong” on the bells. No one remembered the Bells but they sure did remember Ding Dong and the name stuck.
The town’s name comes from the name of a fictional store in the Lum and Abner radio show, which aired in the 30s and 40s.
Dime Box, Texas
The name originated from the practice of leaving a dime in the box at Brown’s Mill to have a letter delivered. The practice stopped when a post office was opened in 1877.
The following town isn’t in Texas but I just love the name—and of course the love story.
Total Wreck, Arizona
Total Wreck was discovered by John L. Dillon in 1879. He named it such because he thought the ledge the mine was on looked like a total wreck. A man once got into a shooting at Total Wreck and survived because the bullet lodged in a stack of love letters he had in his jacket. He later married the girl who wrote the letters!
What is the strangest named town you ever visited?
For me it would have to be Monkey Eyebrow, Arizona.
“How come no one ever told me that kissin’
is even more fun that fighting a bear?”-A Lady Like Sarah
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The winner of the free e-book, LAKOTA SURRENDER, is Debbie. Debbie, to claim your prize, please email me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net. Put a (.) for (dot) and a @ for (at).
Many hardy thanks to all those who came to the blog today. I appreciate each and every one of your responses.
Yippee! We’ll learn about Wyoming dude ranches in the 1800s. Sounds very interesting.
This will be Miss Kirsten’s first visit as a guest author so I want all you ladies to make her feel at home.
She’s going to give away a e-version copy of her latest book.
So rise and shine come Friday and head over.
Last week, I took my kids to the local ice cream parlor since we had a BOGO coupon that was about to expire. (Can’t let free ice cream go unclaimed.) I decided not to get my own, but just to snitch bites from everyone else’s. Mama tax. LOL. Anyway, my middle child loves eating with the little sample spoons, so he always asks for a free sample before he decides on a flavor. This time they happened to have a new chocolate flavor that was extra rich. Chocolate Truffle. He wasn’t sure if he would like it better than the flavor he usually got, so he tried a taste. It was scrumptious! He immediately decided to get that flavor, and I must admit that my spoon wandered over to his dish more frequently than the others. It was fabulous!
I thought I’d offer you the same courtesy – a free sample to help you decide whether or not you will like my latest novella, Love on the Mend.
In this scene, Dr. Jacob Sadler (on his way back to hometown he ran away from 17 years before) stumbles across a young woman who is trying to rescue a boy who has fallen through the rotted floorboards of an abandoned church. When Jacob offers to help, Mollie insists that he man the rope and pull her up after she drops down into the cellar in order to get to the boy below. However, Jacob takes one look at the boy’s leg and knows that lifting and jostling the lad would be the worst thing for him. So he ignores Mollie’s demand to lower the rope and takes measures into his own hands.
From Love on the Mend:
“Boneheaded stranger,” Mollie grumbled under her breath when the man’s face finally disappeared from above her.
Not that I’m complaining, she mentally amended. I appreciate that you sent help, Lord. Truly. It just would have been nice if the fella weren’t so all-fired sure he knew best. Adam ain’t got the time to waste.
Mollie sighed and turned her attention back to her charge. Poor kid. He was only ten, too young to know the risks of playing in an old building. She was nearly twice that age. Full grown. Responsible. So why hadn’t she made the church off limits during their game of hide and seek? She’d known the place was run down. Should have guessed it’d been dangerous, too. But she hadn’t. All he’d done was drop down from the rafters after she’d discovered his hiding place. The floor had completely given way. She could still hear the crack of the wood ringing in her ears . . . and the crack of Adam’s leg before his scream drowned out all other sound.
She’d nearly panicked before she found that length of rope in the storage closet. She’d tied all her hopes on that rope and now that stubborn, know-it-all man wouldn’t even toss the end down.
“I’m going to get you out of here, Adam.” She smoothed the hair off his forehead, alarmed by how clammy his skin had become. “You’ll be all right. I promise.”
Please let him be all right.
Adam moaned, but made no effort to speak. Was he losing consciousness? Mollie’s heart thumped against her ribs. He had to be all right. He and Uncle Curtis were the closest thing she had to family. She’d never forgive herself if—
Mollie jumped. What on earth? Had that been a gunshot? She swiveled to look behind her.
Something crashed. Then a shaft of light penetrated the darkness and illuminated the outline of a man climbing down the cellar stairs.
Her jaw slackened. The boneheaded fella had actually done it. He must’ve shot the lock clean off the chain.
He marched straight up to her and dropped a coil beside her hip. “Here’s your rope.” It hit the dirt with a thud. She expected a smirk or a gleam of gloating in his eyes, but he didn’t even look at her. His attention zeroed in on Adam instead. “I’ll need wood for a splint. All this is rotted,” he said, scowling at the debris scattered around them. “See what loose boards you can pilfer from upstairs. No nails.”
Well, of course, no nails. She wasn’t an idiot. Mollie pushed to her feet, a scowl scrunching her forehead. Just because he succeeded in breaking down the cellar door didn’t mean he could come in and start taking over. Adam was her responsibility, and she wasn’t about to let some stranger mess with his leg. She’d seen what could happen when a bone wasn’t properly set. On the streets in Galveston where she’d grown up, many of the beggars had been crippled by similar injuries that had healed poorly. She wouldn’t risk the same thing happening to Adam.
Fisting her fingers in her skirt, she planted herself in front of the stranger. “We should wait for the doctor to tend his leg.”
The man glared at her. “Lady, I am the doctor.” He raised his hand and jiggled a black bag. A doctor’s bag.
Criminy! The Lord had not only sent her a man who could help get them out of the cellar, but he’d sent her a doctor. An honest-to-goodness doctor. One who wasn’t ancient like Dr. Bradshaw but young and strong and . . . downright handsome. She glanced away before he caught her staring. Really, a man’s eyes should not be that blue. Especially not when his hair was so dark. And here she’d been complaining.
“Hurry and fetch those boards,” he repeated as he hunkered down next to Adam, her looks obviously not distracting him in the slightest. “I’ll need your help setting the leg after I examine him.”
At least he didn’t expect her to stand around and wring her hands. That would save her from having to disabuse him of the notion later. After giving a quick nod to let him know she’d heard, Mollie turned and jogged toward the exit.
- So what about you? Are you a try-it-before-you-buy-it type of person?
- Ever discovered a new ice cream flavor or favorite treat after trying a free sample?
Firstly, because I have a new Tradepaper book of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR coming on sale on March 16th, I would like to offer a free e-book of LAKOTA SURRENDER to one of you bloggers today. All you have to do to enter into the drawing is to leave a comment..
Okay, so today, I thought I’d discuss the Mohawk Indians and in particular their part in the French and Indian War. I found a little known point of history that I’d never known and have never seen it imparted in any history of the Mohawk. I love these little known facts.
This is really quite an important fact because it contributed to the downfall of the Mohawk Indians. It’s a bit of history with an impact, if one views history (real history — not what one is taught in school) because if one can and should learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before, this would be a good bit of history to know.
The Mohawk Indians were Indians of the Northeastern part of America. They were part of the Great Iroquois Confederation. Known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door, they guarded the Iroquois Confederation for hundreds of years against invasion from the East.
They were known as united and invincible. They stood shoulder to shoulder and brother to brother. In 1666, they were attacked by the French, and part of the negotiations was to allow Jesuit missionaries to come in amongst their people. Sometime around 1669, the Jesuit missionaries not only converted many of the people to their faith, but several years later, they took half of the Mohawk Nation and took them north into Canada where they erected two missions close to Montreal. On one hand, this seems harmless enough. On another, it was not so smart…unless one was trying to destroy the Mohawks from within.
So what does this have to do with the French and Indian war. When I was in school, I learned that the war was fought against the French and the Indians, who terrorized the colonists. But here’s the little known history, that isn’t even touched upon in most written accounts of the Iroquois.
The Mohawk Indians who were left in the Mohawk River Valley of upper State New York, were friends with and sided with the English during the French and Indian war. However, the Mohawk Indians who had been taken into Canada, sided with the French. This had the effect of pitting Mohawk brother against Mohawk brother, something the chiefs feared more than any enemy.
Then came the Revolutionary War. Most of the Iroquois Tribes sided with their allies, the English. But because the Colonies were fighting for Freedom, and because the Mohawk treasured freedom, many of the Mohawks sided with the Colonists. Again, Mohawk Brother was pitted against Mohawk Brother.
This, coming so close on the tail-end of the French and Indian War effectively destroyed the unity of the Mohawks, who for so long had guarded the Iroquois against invasion in the East. Added onto this, the results of the Revolutionary War forced all of the Iroquois/Mohawk allies, as well as the enemies, of the Colonists to cede their lands to the Americans.
Interestingly, it was a corporation that took the lands of the Mohawk and Iroquois — at the time, I believe the corporation was headed by a man who was related to the President’s wife at the time of the undertaking. It has been many years since I did this research, so please forgive me for not knowing the name of that corporation, or the name of the man or wife.
So if I were a teacher, what might I ask was the lesson to be learned from this account of the Mohawk? What method of war was used upon them that eventually led to their downfall?
Wouldn’t it be the old trick of divide and conquer? There is an old, old, old book called THE ART OF WAR, which goes into how to employ the technique of divide and conquer without a people even knowing they were at war. There are many other methods of “winning” a war without firing a shot that are detailed in that book, as well.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed the blog today. I just find it interesting that this is such a little known bit of history, and yet is so major, that the fact that it is not known even in most history books, seems a little strange to me. For how are we, as a people, to ever learn from our mistakes if we much search and gather fact after fact to even put this information down to paper? And yet a very great nation of people — a people who treasured Freedom — failed. We should know why, I think.
I’m currently working on a continuity with three other authors about a boomtown in Kansas following the American Civil War. The westward expansion following the war created many boomtowns. Often there was a natural resource like lumber or gold nearby that instigated the growth. Boomtowns are special places with their own unique set of problems. Recently in America, we’ve seen an example of a boomtown in Williston, North Dakota.
Between 2010 and 2013 the town’s population exploded from around 14k to more than 20k people. That’s a big increase in population! The rapid expansion led to social, cultural and infrastructure difficulties. The current problems with Williston mirror the problems of the past. As towns struggle with the influx of people, there are often shortages of doctors, healthcare facilities, housing and recreational activities.
Then there’s the social issues. Some people profit from the influx of people – while others notice a deteriorating quality of life. A shortage of supplies can often lead to unrest and even violence.
While writing my story, I have to keep all the social aspects in mind. At best, a boomtown can expect a plateau when the resources are exhausted. Other owns experience a bust. Even 150 years after the gold mining boom, we are still struggling with the basic social difficulties of a rapidly expanding population.
I live in a little town on the edge of a larger city. In the seven years I’ve lived in my town, the population has almost doubled. Many people are resentful of the ‘newcomers’ while others are happy to see their businesses grow. Raising three children, I’ve watched schools grow overcrowded while waiting for another school to be built.
Have you ever lived in a boomtown? What was your experience?
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And thank you all for hanging around Petticoats & Pistols
The Three R’s for Authors
Ridin’, ‘Ritin’, and Ropin’
Most of our western characters ride horses. So, whether we personally ride or not, we have to know enough about riding to write about it realistically.
Ridin’ and Ritin’
To get started riding, you have to get on the horse.
To get started writing, you have to start the book. Now, how profound is that?
Come up with your plot. Establish a unique story line. Do some research. Historical research will help you understand motives for your characters as well as provide a sense of realism to your story.
Leave a map of your route when riding out on the trail.
When writing, an outline will help, even if it’s only a skeleton. You can flesh it out, seat of the saddle, as you go.
Establish a regular practice routine.
Likewise, work on your book every day. Choose a place to write that is different from where you do other activities. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they would not have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. The only way you get good is with practice.
Horseback riding is a dangerous sport. The safest way to learn to ride is with an experienced riding instructor or coach.
The same applies to writing. Acquire a mentor, someone who can guide you along the learning path. Then listen and follow instructions. Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Focus on visual details and be descriptive. Include description of colors, what the lighting is like, sounds and smells. Try to transport your reader to the scenes you picture. Don’t rush. You can’t rush inspiration, and rushing can cause mistakes. Write what you know.
When working with a horse, pay attention to rhythm.
The same thing applies to writing. We all work at different paces. But there are some habits we should develop. Give yourself daily or weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, page count, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable. No matter what, finish the book. Then send it to a publisher or agent. Just don’t put it in your drawer.
Riding too long can cause aches and pains and increase our grumpiness.
Sitting at the computer too long can do the same. Take regular breaks.
Check tack frequently for signs of wear and weakness.
Keep your computer in good shape. And don’t forget to make backups
The hardest thing about learning to ride is the ground. Learn how to fall. Then get up and get back on!
Do the same with writing. Embrace failure. Sure, it will hurt when it happens. But give yourself grace, room to learn. Then write another book.
To rope an animal:
- Enter the box.
- Mount your horse.
- Prime the lariat.
- Clench the piggin’ string firmly in your teeth.
- Nod your head to signat the animal’s release and start the clock.
- Charge into the arena.
- Leap off your horse and throw your loop.
Once your novel is finished:
- Have friends and family read through it.
- Share your work with professional colleagues or hire an editor.
- When it’s ready, send it out into the publishing arena.
- Swing a wide loop. Round up those readers!
I fell off my horse. Well, actually, my horse died. His name was Heartsong.
I had six books with my editor when the Heartsong Presents line closed. Now I’m trying to get up, brush myself off and learn the ropes of indie publishing by putting out a couple of those manuscripts myself.
Bandit Bride is a free download today. Help yourself. And if you enjoy it, a review would be greeted with a yeehaw!!
Prairie Bride, the second book of this duo, releases tomorrow.
Helen Brown grew up in a small Missouri town and changed colors when she married her pastor and became Helen Gray. They have three grown children. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.
Stats from boxofficemojo.com these are ranked by the money they made. This list is NOT adjusted for inflation.
|Rank||Title||Studio||Lifetime Gross / Theaters||Opening / Theaters||Date|
|1||Dances with Wolves||Orion||$184,208,848||1,636||$598,257||14||11/9/90|
|5||Wild Wild West||WB||$113,804,681||3,342||$27,687,484||3,342||6/30/99|
|8||Cowboys & Aliens||Uni.||$100,240,551||3,754||$36,431,290||3,750||7/29/11|
|9||The Lone Ranger||BV||$89,302,115||3,904||$29,210,849||3,904||7/3/13|
|10||Back to the Future Part III||Uni.||$87,727,583||2,070||$19,089,645||2,019||5/25/90|
The next top ten list if from Rottentomatoes.com this is ranked by movie review critics and how many good vs bad reviews did they get?
|Rank||Tomatometer||Title||No. of Reviews|
|1.||100%||The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)||44|
|2.||97%||The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)||67|
|3.||100%||The Searchers (1956)||41|
|4.||96%||High Noon (1952)||47|
|5.||98%||The Wild Bunch (1969)||47|
|6.||96%||True Grit (2010)||259|
|7.||98%||Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)||54|
|8.||98%||A Fistful of Dollars (1964)||43|
The 10 Greatest Western Movies of All Time: by the Editors of American Cowboy Magazine
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Searchers (1956)
Red River (1948)
High Noon (1952)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Some of these lists are about 100 movies long. But look at some of these titles.
Greed (1924) Johnny Guitar (1954) I’ve never even heard those titles let alone seen the movies. Rango? Wasn’t that a cartoon? Back to the Future III? Well, okay I guess that’s a western but I’d have never thought of it. I think The Lone Ranger was a huge flop. Yes it made a lot of money but it cost so much it was considered and disaster.
Are your favorites on this list? If not, what’s your favorite western movie of all time? I’m sure they’re on the lists farthest down but I’m a huge Quigley Down Under fan. I love Silverado. Anything John Wayne…but possibly my favorite is The Sons of Katy Elder.
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The Homestead Brides Collection
Through nine historical romance adventures, readers will journey along with individuals who are ready to stake a claim and plant their dreams on a piece of the great American plains. While fighting land disputes, helping neighbors, and tackling the challenges of nature the homesteaders are placed in the path of other dreamers with whom romance sparks. And God has His hand in orchestrating each unique meeting.
This dear lady has in mind to talk to about the three R’s. Anyone know what those are? Might not be what you think! Join us to find out.
We’ll make a party of it.
Sashay over here on Friday and get in on the fun.
If you don’t come, you’ll miss out!