Inspiration for a story comes from…my readers!

Pt. Loma Lighthouse

Often my inspiration to write a story comes from a setting. For instance, the very first book I ever wrote grew out of my fascination with the Old Pt. Loma Lighthouse on the peninsula in San Diego Harbor. The peninsula is windswept with tide pools and cliffs on the ocean side and a sloping hill on the harbor side. That book is The Angel and the Outlaw. That lighthouse is featured again in my latest book, The Gunslinger and the Heiress. However, rather than having the setting inspire me this time, the main reason I felt compelled to write this story came from readers. They asked (repeatedly) for a story about the little girl, six-year-old Hannah from The Angel and the Outlaw. Many wondered what had happened to her.US_Boundary_Survey_1850

Hannah, grows up living the life of a princess with her grandfather in San Francisco. He owns a shipping business with a fleet of ships. Life for Hannah has been one of adults, tutors, and boardrooms. She is a princess in an ivory tower—smart, beautiful, and lonely. And one more thing…Hannah is mute.

Caleb, her childhood friend from the peninsula, has not been so fortunate to be born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Caleb had to fend for himself and learn life lessons the hard way. At a young age, he joined the army at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego. While looking out for his friend in an out-of-the-way saloon on the Mexican/American border, he was drugged and the next day found himself aboard a steamer heading for Alaska and the gold fields—shanghaied.

Crazy as it may sound, they never forgot each other. Hannah thrilled at the letters Caleb would write to her that were full of adventures and excitement in worlds she would never know. And Caleb liked hearing from her. Her letters gave him a “home” when everything else felt tossed and twisted in his life. They remained good friends up until Hannah’s sixteenth birthday. That is the day that everything changed, a day that Hannah chose to exclude him from her life.The Gunslinger and the Heiress

Five years later Hannah is on his doorstep. She needs his help to keep her family’s shipping empire. She has no right to ask him for help. She was callous and cruel before, driving him away, but he is the only one she can turn to now. And he is the only one that can help her step down from her ivory tower.

It’s been said there is a thin line between love and hate. Is it possible that he will help her…even though he might never forgive her? Would he do such a thing? And could she trust him if he did accept? She knows that if she were offered the same situation again from all those years ago…she would not choose any differently.  Where does that leave their friendship? How can she have the slightest hope that Caleb will help her…let alone forgive her?

She finds her answer only as they both work through old prejudices. She must come to realize that no matter the trappings and rules society places on her, it is up to her to find and grasp her own happiness. Can she be as strong as he needs her to be?

I loved writing Caleb and Hannah’s story. I have a soft spot in my heart for each of them. I guess in a way they are my “children.” For an excerpt click here.

I have one copy of The Gunslinger and the Heiress for someone who comments today. I would love for it to be YOU! Last month when I offered a book, I was unable to connect with the winner through their email, so I must ask that if you post in the hopes of winning a free book, please check back the next day to see if you won. Should your name be drawn, I will need to know if you want a print copy or an ebook and where to send it!

Kathryn Albright

Written by Kathryn Albright

From her first breath, Kathryn has had a passion for stories that celebrate the goodness in people. She combines her love of history and a good story to write novels of inspiration, endurance, and hope. Visit her at, on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

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Jennifer Uhlarik’s Winner!

Oregon Trail CollectionWow! Thank you, Miss Jennifer. We loved having you.

I put all the names in the Stetson and….

The Winner is………


Whoopee! I’m dancin’ a jig for you, Diana! Someone will contact you for your mailing particulars.

Written by 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.

Visit Felicia Filly's website



juhlarik-HR-3Hey everyone! Thanks so much for having me over today! As I write stories, I love being able to weave historical events and figures into my fiction. In my first novella, Sioux Summer, published in The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, I was able to do just that. The Grattan Massacre was the conflict that spawned the First Sioux War, and it plays a part in my story.

In August, 1854, near Fort Laramie, Nebraska Territory (present day Wyoming), one lonely cow wandered away from a group of Mormon emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail. The bovine ambled into an encampment of Lakota Sioux containing roughly 4800 men, women, and children and was killed by a visiting Miniconjou warrior named High Forehead.

Young Bull

Photo credit: Andreas Krappweis.

The cow’s owner who had tracked it down, became fearful at the sight of the Indian encampment, so he went to Fort Laramie and explained the situation to Lt. Hugh Fleming. Fleming approached the Sioux chief, Conquering Bear, to negotiate a solution. The chief offered a horse from his own herd or a cow from the tribe’s herd, but the Mormon man demanded $25 cash. When terms couldn’t be reached, Fleming demanded the arrest of High Forehead. Conquering Bear wouldn’t agree since he had no authority over the Miniconjou tribe, so their negotiations ended in stalemate.

Second Lieutenant John Grattan, a new West Point graduate, took matters into his own hands. With little respect for the Sioux, he, an armed detachment of thirty soldiers, and an interpreter went searching for a fight. They marched into the Sioux encampment, intent on arresting High Forehead. The interpreter, who was drunk at the time, taunted the Sioux warriors, promising that the soldiers would kill them. Grattan demanded High Forehead’s surrender. When he refused, Grattan approached Conquering Bear. The chief once more offered a horse in exchange for the dead cow, but Grattan would accept only the arrest of High Forehead. Again, the negotiations ended in stalemate.


Government Archives

What Grattan didn’t know was that the Sioux warriors had flanked the detachment during the negotiations. As he returned to his horse, one soldier became so nervous he fired a shot, and the bullet struck and killed the Sioux chief. With bows and arrows, the Sioux killed Grattan and eleven others. The remaining men retreated to a rocky outcropping nearby, but the warriors, led by rising war chief Red Cloud, pursued and killed them all.

For days, the Sioux raided nearby settlers, trading posts, and Fort Laramie. Finally, the Indians abandoned the area for their respective hunting grounds, and in so doing, broke the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. When a burial party went into the encampment, the thirty soldiers’ bodies were found mutilated almost beyond recognition.

Photo credit:Phil Konstantin.

Photo credit:Phil Konstantin.


News of the Grattan Massacre reached the War Department, and a plan for retaliation was formed. On September 3, 1855, a 700-soldier force led by Colonel William Harney descended on an encampment of 250 Brulé Sioux along Ash Creek. The soldiers killed more than one hundred Sioux men, women, and children and took roughly seventy prisoners. So began a long history of attacks and retaliations that continued for many years. And…the Battle of Ash Creek is directly linked to one of the most famous cases of retaliation in all of Indian war history. One of the young boys who witnessed the massacre at Ash Creek grew into the great Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse, who fought and killed Custer twenty-one years later at the Little Big Horn.


I hope you’ll be interested to see how The Grattan Massacre fits into my story, Sioux Summer.

You can find The Oregon Trail Romance Collection at bookstores everywhere, or purchase from Amazon. And to one lucky reader, I’ll be giving away an autographed copy. Leave a comment below to enter the drawing.


Oregon Trail Collection

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Written by Guest Blogger

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With This Kiss

Seekerville spring novella smRead all the way to the end for a chance to win. (Or what the heck, just skim down there, no one’s gonna have to take a quiz)

You know, this Indy pubbed thing is really interesting and REALLY SCARY. Because you have no editor saying, “Uh, what in the world does this mean?”

I did hire an editor and she was really good. But the whole thing just lands so firmly on MY shoulders.

Anyway, my buddies from Seekerville have put together our 3rd and 4th Indy novella collections and this pair is called, “With This Kiss Historical Collection by Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, Cara Lynne James, Julie Lessman and ME, Mary Connealy and “With This Kiss Contemporary Collection. By Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith, Tina Radcliff, Missy Tippens and Mary Connealy.”

So I’m in the contemporary one and that was fun but waaaaay outside my comfort zone, which I loved.

I’m posting exerpts from each book.

Here is Safe Shelter my contribution to ‘With This Kiss Contemporary Collection.’

Safe Shelter

Chapter One

A man stepped into the reception area and Janna MacCleod surged to her feet, then stopped herself before she ran.

It’s not him. It’s not Ned.

The man spoke to Alma, the lady who had interviewed Janna, then left the office. The flight reflex drove Janna toward the nearest room with a lock. Bolting the restroom door, her knees buckled and she sagged against the wall.

            Coming out of hiding went against all Janna’s instincts. But she had to do it. She hadn’t heard from or seen Jed for nearly a year. And she needed a normal life. She needed to find a spine. She needed to begin again.

            Pulling herself together, she straightened and rubbed her patchy cheeks proudly and checked her green suit. It did ghastly things to her complexion, bless it’s cheap, polyester heart.

She’d done some very good work on her appearance. No one would notice her. Men wouldn’t look twice.

God didn’t convict her of lying by dressing badly. Instead she took comfort that somehow God had inspired this. He wanted her here and He would get her past the only barrier—Prescott Chambers.

            Hiding from Prescott Chambers and his seedy reputation, hiding from Ned and his obsession, had the benefit, thanks to clunky glasses and dense freckles, of letting her hide from all men.

            She unlocked the restroom door and reentered the outer office of the Foundation, determined to reclaim her life. Whether it would be here rested in Chambers’ unsavory hands.

            She returned to the shabby couch and sat down with her spine straight and her head held high. Anna might be a sniveling coward but Janna was competent, calm, capable. And homely as a basset hound.

Janna is who she’d be.


He’d hire a basset hound to replace Alma before he’d have another simpering, love sick female around him.

The chair sagged along with his spirits as Scott Chambers leaned back and brought the personnel file up to his face until it covered his closed eyes. He rubbed his forehead with the thin beige cardboard wishing the rhythm would soothe him. 

He hated this. He still hadn’t gotten used to the shock of Alma’s announced retirement. No one could replace her. He pulled the folder away to study Alma’s scribbled note. “My first choice.” He knew what to expect. This highly trained young woman was too good and the money was too bad. She had applied for this job for one reason.

            In anger he slapped down the file and watched a dozen sheets of paper skid silently across the huge oak desk left in here from his grandfather’s time. He dreaded the dozens of women who trooped through his office every time there was a job opening. He hated the endless stream of lies.

            He rested his eyes again on “My first choice.” Fine, he’d trust Alma with this. He’d gotten so he trusted her with everything.

            But Miss First Choice had to pass one simple test.   

           Picking up the file, Scott tapped it into order. He smoothed his hair, straightened his tie, tugged on his cuffs, the perfect polished exterior he’d learned from his mother.

            For one second he longed to fling everything aside and go make his own life. But a last deep breath banished the impulse. 

            He snapped the paperwork flat on his desk, reached for the phone and tapped the intercom. “All right, Alma. Let’s get this over with.”


Next collection: We labeled my contribution to With This Kiss Historical Collection as ‘bonus content’….because it’s not a romance. So again, outside my comfort zone. It’s the backstory to my heroes in the Trouble in Texas Series.

Click to Buy on Amazon

Click to Buy on Amazon

Swept Away

Fired Up

Stuck Together

How they met in Andersonville Prison. It’s called ‘Closer Than Brotherrs.’

Chapter One


Vince—The Invincible

Burning hot. No way out. Surrounded by real bad people.

A description of hell if Vince had ever heard of one.

And it described Andersonville Prison pretty well.

Vince Yates heard a soft footstep and he braced himself. He’d known this was coming from the minute he pulled those filthy Raiders off that kid.

The kid had been greeted just like every newcomer to Andersonville, with violence. Vince knew better, but he couldn’t let that kid get beaten by a fellow Yankee.

Fired Up
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One of those thieves had picked himself up and backed away from Vince’s fury with a parting threat. “A man who don’t mind his own business, don’t survive.”

“Lots of ways to die in this pit,” Vince had told the low down coyote. “Might as well die with some honor instead of live with a yellow streak down my back—like you.” Vince knew he signed his own death warrant but he couldn’t leave the kid to his fate.

There’d been three Raiders and, with the kid’s help, two against three, they drove them off. But those Raiders had friends, dozens, maybe hundreds.

They were coming back in a pack like wolves.

Vince was weak already. Starved down to skin and bones after six months in here.

The footsteps came closer. Vince prayed the most heartfelt prayer of his life, and it wasn’t for help. He figured none was coming. And the prayer wasn’t to win this fight. With the exception of a few Bible stories—David and some stones—Samson and the jawbone of an ass—most of the time, when one man stood alone, that man lost.

Nope, he just prayed that he’d meet his Savior. He wasn’t even all that sorry to go. It was time to be getting out of this place and that was about the only doorway Vince could see. He put all his hope in the next life.

This one was over.

“Yates?” A Texas twang, laced with gravel. Vince knew that voice. The Kid.

Not a lot of Texans penned up in here. Texans fought for the Rebs.

10948 StuckTogether_mck.indd
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“I’m here.” Speaking barely above a whisper, Vince stepped out of the shadows.

“I don’t reckon I’ll let you protect me and not return the favor. You can use someone at your back tonight.” A kid at least five years younger than Vince. He’d done well against those three men but he was losing when Vince stepped in.

“I stepped into your trouble, and I was a fool to do it. Be smarter than me, Kid. Get out of here.”

A dry laugh with no humor in it answered. “Won’t be the first time someone accused me of being a fool. I’ll buy in.” The boy was close enough in the night that Vince finally saw the black shape of him.

“No sense both of us getting whipped, Kid.”

“No sense.” The kid came closer. “I’ve heard my pa say I got none, so I’ll stay. Name’s Luke Stone, from Texas.”

“Texas went with the Confederacy, Kid. Didn’t anyone tell you which side to fight on?”

Luke shrugged, barely visible in the dark. “My best friend as a kid was a Negro and he and his family were fine folks who lived free. I can’t see fighting for the side that’d make ’em slaves.”

Vince needed to get this youngster out of here. Two against two dozen lost the fight. “They’re just looking for me, Kid. This isn’t your fight, you already took your beating.”

They’d stolen all the kid had before Vince got there so chances were they’d leave him alone. No sense the kid getting hurt again.

“I seen you fight, Yates. They’ll have to send a passel of Raiders to beat the two of us.” Stone stood with a kind of alert tension that made Vince think of a gunslinger. The kid, even if he was young, was a man when it came to facing trouble.

“Make it three.” Another voice sounded from Vince’s right.

“Who’s there?” Vince wheeled to face the newcomer. He saw shaggy hair so dirty Vince was just guessing when he decided the man was blonde.

This man was a complete stranger.

The prison wall was nineteen feet away on Vince’s left. Right behind him was a small white fence they called the Dead Line.

That space between the Dead Line and the outer fence was No Man’s Land. The Confederate Guards on the prison walls had orders to shoot anyone who stepped in that space and they seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in doing it. Just as the camp commander, Wirz, took an evil pleasure in ordering it done.

Wirz was the man in charge of hell—to Vince’s mind that made Wirz the devil himself. But maybe this was just purgatory because Vince hoped and prayed he’d get out of here someday and everyone knew that hell had no end.

Mary Connealy
Mary Connealy

Except Vince figured he was going to die tonight, so he needed his soul to be right with the Lord and these men were giving him no time to pray, well, he had to hope he was already in good order with the Lord, but still, he’d like one last moment to set things right.

“I saw it, too.” The shaggy man seemed to vibrate with energy, and Vince thought the stranger might go to pacing if he had room. “I did some checking around, Yates. Twenty varmints are gathering right now to come at you. I’ll stand with you.”

“Three against twenty.” Vince grunted. “Get out of here both of you.”

“You sound like a man not afraid to die.” A fourth voice sounded and Vince knew this one. He was a red-headed man who’d formed a church of sorts in the belly of hell.

Jonas Cahill.

“I’m not afraid.” Vince wanted them all gone. “In fact, after six months in this prison, it’s sounding like a good idea.”

“You’re not going to die tonight.” A fifth voice. Deep and strong. Another stranger. When this man stepped close enough to see, Vince had his first real surge of hope. Big John they called him. Another Texan. Six foot six and two hundred and fifty pounds of solid muscle. Big John hadn’t been in here long, and he wasn’t so hungry he’d lost every extra pound and most of his strength. Vince had seen the Raiders slink back when Big John had come in. Not even in a group had they attacked him.

“Five against twenty,” Big John said with a deep laugh. No, he hadn’t been in long. He still knew how to laugh. “They don’t stand a chance. Not when I’m one of the five.”

Vince laughed in response to Big John’s boast, and the sound of it was so unusual coming from him he almost didn’t recognize what it was.

“We form a half-circle with our backs to the fence.” The Kid trying to take charge. Vince wanted to give the orders but his throat tightened. Like he might cry. A horrifying thought.

“Everybody facing out,” the shaggy blonde said, another one who thought he oughta give orders. “Name’s Dare Riker. Those traitors took the little I had when I came in here and beat me so bad I was more asleep than awake for two days. Jonas here was kneeling beside me praying when I came around. I’d like a chance to make them pay, but a man alone has no way to do that. I’d be mighty pleased to team up with you.”

“I didn’t help so you could see who you could hurt, Dare.” But for all his kindness, Vince had seen toughness in the parson. And a willingness to face evil with force as well as prayers. Jonas had the voice of a powerful, serene angel.

Vince had done some Bible reading in his day. Angels weren’t to be tangled with if it could be avoided and Jonas was such a man. Jonas turned his back to the Dead Line, facing out, watching for trouble with his fists clenched.

There were a lot of bands of men in here who backed each other in trouble. Now it looked like Vince had one of his own.

“John Conroy.” The big man turned and stuck out a fist half the size of Vince’s head.

Vince shook it and the strength of John’s grip put heart into Vince.

“I was a lawman in Texas, and I headed north to fight same as the kid here.”

“Luke Stone, and I ain’t no kid so stop callin’ me that.”

“Once we get the south calmed down and the Union preserved,” Big John ignored the boy and went on talking. “I’m going back to Texas where I reckon I’ll be thought a traitor by most everyone. I don’t see myself ever living a quiet life, so I might as well get started facing trouble right now. It’ll get me ready to go home and face more trouble in Texas when the time comes.”

The circle of men shook hands all around until another footstep broke off the introductions. This time it wasn’t friendly.

Leave a comment to win a copy of the two books and a third commentor will win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Written by Mary Connealy

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

Visit Mary Connealy's website

Jennifer Uhlarik Comes to the Junction!

Oregon Trail CollectionMiss Jennifer Uhlarik has hitched her wagon and will roll into the Junction on Friday, April 24!

This western romance author loves history. She’s going to tell about a very horrible incident that happened near Fort Laramie a long time ago.

She’s toting a print book to give away! Woo-Hoo!

Hitch your wagon and come join her.

We’d love to see you!


Written by 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.

Visit Felicia Filly's website

Fallen Lone Stars: Chappell Hill
The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1850. (photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore)

The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1847. (photo by Larry D. Moore)

Chappell Hill, Texas — founded in 1847 on 100 acres owned by a woman — is located roughly halfway between Austin and Houston on part of the land Mexico granted to Stephen F. Austin in 1821. Mary Haller, the landowner, and her husband Jacob built a stagecoach inn on the site, at the junction of two major stagecoach lines. Soon, other folks from the Deep South migrated to the area and planted cotton, for which the climate and soil were perfectly suited.

By 1856, the population had risen to 3,000 people, eclipsed only by Galveston and San Antonio. The town included a sawmill, five churches, and a Masonic Lodge, in addition to two of the first colleges in the state — one for men and another for women. A railroad line followed soon after.

A longhorn dozes among bluebonnets outside Chappell Hill, Texas. (photo by Texas.713)

A longhorn dozes among bluebonnets outside Chappell Hill, Texas. (photo by Texas.713)

During the War of Northern Aggression (otherwise known as the American Civil War), the men of Chappell Hill served in both Hood’s Texas Brigade (infantry) and Terry’s Texas Rangers (cavalry), participating in most of the major battles of the conflict. Two years after the war ended, in 1867, many of the Chappell Hill men who survived the fighting perished in a yellow fever epidemic that decimated the town and the rest of the area around the Brazos River.

Chappell Hill never recovered, plunging from one of the largest, most vibrant communities in the state to little more than a memory.

Today, with a population of 300 in town and approximately 1,300 in the zip code, Chappell Hill is an unincorporated community that retains its fighting spirit and independent nature. A May 2008 special election to determine whether the community would incorporate drew two-thirds of eligible voters to the polls. Incorporation was defeated by a vote of three to one.

Today, Main Street in Chappell Hill, Texas, is a National Historic District. (photo by stevesheriw)

Today, Main Street in Chappell Hill, Texas, is a National Historic District. (photo by stevesheriw)

Widely regarded as one of the best historically preserved towns in Texas, Chappell Hill maintains its landmarks with admirable zeal. The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since the doors first opened. Main Street is listed as a National Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. Restored homes, churches, and businesses offer tours to visitors, and the annual Bluebonnet Festival and Scarecrow Festival attract tourists from all over the state.

If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a visit.


Kathleen Rice Adams header


Written by Kathleen Rice Adams

A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen's imagination, even the good guys wear black hats. Visit her virtual home on the range at

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Linda Broday: Dr. Benjamin Thomas Crumley, Old Indian Doctor

scenery It’s strange at the things that catch my interest. An old friend of mine is always sending me things she finds in magazines. A few days ago, I received a thick envelope full and among the articles was one about Dr. Benjamin Thomas Crumley.

Dr. Crumley was known far and wide as “the old Indian doctor.” He was born in 1822 and was part Cherokee. In Texas, he was a bit of an oddity because he wore his hair very long. No one knows for sure if he went to medical school but it was common knowledge that he studied with the Cherokee for seven years.

A resident of Buttercup, Texas which is now Cedar Park , he treated his patients with plants, roots and herbal remedies for almost 50 years. Such as horehound for coughs, colds and sore throats. Sassafras to settle the stomach. Chest colds with a mustard plaster. Willow bark for fever. Johnson grass or broomcorn for kidney and urinary problems. Chicory root as a sedative. Asafetida for stomach flu and sour stomach.

Dr. BenjaminThomasCrumley & wife LuLuIn his saddlebags, he carried his trusty “madstone” for treating rabid animal bites. Madstones were often found in the stomach of deer. It was an oval, quartz-like stone about 1 ½ inches in diameter and ¾” thick. Patients swore by the stone’s healing properties.

Dr. Crumley achieved quite a reputation across the state and doctors in larger cities were always asking for his help with difficult cases.

I would love to have seen him. It’s said that he wore a white linen suit and rode a white horse to visit patients.

Once he was abducted by masked horsemen and taken to a remote hideout to treat the outlaw Sam Bass.

The photo shown on the page is of him with his third wife, Lulu. She looks thrilled to death, doesn’t she?

In my work in progress, I have a woman who was born and raised in the mountains. She knows all about natural medicines and what they cured. So no wonder this article caught my eye!

The countdown is on for the May 5th release of TWICE A TEXAS BRIDE. This is book two of the Bachelors of Battle Creek series and is about Rand Sinclair, the middle brother.

I’ll tell more about this book in my next blog on May 5th and will be giving away several copies.

Have you ever used or heard of any of these remedies or a madstone?
Twice a Texas BrideVisit me at:

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Linda Broday

Written by Linda Broday

I currently live in the Texas Panhandle where we love our cowboys. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy. I'm a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author. Look for my Bachelors of Battle Creek series in 2015. TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE in January. Twice a Texas Bride in May. And Forever a Texas Bride in December. There's just something about a man in a Stetson that makes my heart beat faster. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.

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Cheryln100000149781632_8303NOTE: It’s been twenty years. Hard to believe that twenty years have passed since that fateful day, when a homegrown terrorist snuffed out 168 lives, 19 of them children in the daycare at the Murrah Building. Yesterday there was a ceremony as there is, every year, at the bomb site. But I think it’s especially poignant this year for this milestone. Twenty years is a lifetime–time for a baby to grow to adulthood and strike out on their own; for grandchildren to be born and grow into the people they will become…but for 168 people, that future ended in a single moment. Please take a moment with me to remember, and reflect.

Where were you when you heard that Elvis had died?  Or John Lennon?  Where were you when you found out JFK had been assassinated? Where were you nineteen years ago on April 19, 1995?

Many people won’t remember the date, but they remember what happened.  This Saturday, April 19, is the anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building here in Oklahoma City.  Up to that date, it was the largest number of deaths on U.S. soil caused by a terrorist act.  That record was broken, of course, on September 11, 2001, with the destruction of the twin towers in New York City.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, I had gone to work.  My job at McDonald’s Corporate Offices was located several miles from the downtown area.  I was the “complaint person”—the one everyone called to report everything from an incorrect order to a pot hole in the drive-through on Forty-Ninth Street.  We had just received a call from a man who was attempting to sue McDonald’s for a scratch on his car’s paint job.  I’d transferred him to my supervisor, irritated at his persistence.
united-states-flag_2183_58326922[1]At 9:03, the building shook, and plaster fell from the ceiling onto my desk, and into my hair.  We were on the seventh floor of the building, but were not panicked about the safety of the structure.

Someone hooked up the small TV that was used for videos in conferences and we all made our way into the conference room.  The picture was grainy since the TV wasn’t on cable, but we were able to see the first reports as they began to come in.

In the beginning, the explosion was thought to be caused by natural gas.  Within the hour, though, those initial reports were negated and the public was told the truth.  Unbelievably, it had been some kind of bomb.

Another chilling fact was quickly disclosed.  Since no one was sure of why the federal building had been targeted, federal and state employees were being sent home from offices in other locations.

My husband worked for the Federal Aviation Administration at the time.  Normally, he would have been released.  But since he was a former Navy man with extensive military training, he and some of the others with a military background were asked to stay and help do a bomb sweep of the FAA training facility.

The entire facility was on lockdown.  This meant I couldn’t get on base to pick up our son, Casey, who attended the daycare there.
Within the next hour, I received a phone call from my mother-in-law, Esta, in West Virginia.  You had to know Esta to know, when she put her mind to something, she got it done.  In a world gone crazy, with telephone circuits busy and no hope of getting through, she somehow managed without even having my direct number.  All she knew was that I worked at the corporate office for McDonald’s.

When I answered the phone on my desk, at the other end of the line was an operator that Esta had commandeered, explained what had happened, and talked into placing the call through as a person-to-person emergency call.  I assured the operator that I was Cheryl Pierson and thanked her for placing the call.  She sounded worried.  “How bad is it?” she asked.  “We aren’t sure,” I told her.  There was silence for a moment before she turned the call over to my mother-in-law.  “Take care, hon,” she said.  “We’re all praying for you.”  Her voice was gravelly with emotion.  That brought tears to my eyes, too.

I didn’t tell my mother-in-law that Gary was still at the FAA, unable to leave.  Or that Casey was there, and I couldn’t get on base to get him.  I promised to call her when we knew more.  I had to get Jessica from school.

BUILDING BOMBINGYou see, the fear was not knowing.  Not knowing, at that point, who had done it, or why?  How many people were involved?  Were they going to target other federal or state agencies…or schools?

I drove to my daughter’s elementary school.  The parking lot was full, even though it was not quite 11:30.  I asked Jessica if she knew what had happened and was shocked to find out they had had the children in the auditorium with the television on for a big part of the morning…until things got too graphic.

“Are Dad and Casey home yet?”

I put on my best smile.  “No, not yet.  They’ll be along shortly.”

An hour or so later, prayers were answered and Gary pulled into the driveway with Casey.  But our world was changed forever that day.

As the news coverage continued, it was a nightmare we dealt with every day for at least a year: The deaths, the images of loss that came from that day, and the anger.

But there was good that came from it, too.  Oklahomans showed the pioneer spirit of those who came before us and rose to the occasion.  Because of that tragedy in 1995, we learned the hard way that a terrorist can be home-grown, but we kept strong and showed the world where the bar of the “Oklahoma Standard” was set.  When 9/11 happened, many of our first responders and medical trauma professionals rushed immediately to New York City.  We were the only other state that had had anything remotely similar happen, and the experience to lend a hand.

Though, thankfully, no one in our family was hurt or killed in that tragedy of April 19, 1995, I don’t know anyone who didn’t know someone—however remotely—that it touched.
I had to quit my job.  Casey began having nightmares, and believed his daycare was going to “blow up.”  When he built a Lego “daycare” with part of the wall gone and the flag lying in a heap of Lego bricks, I knew I needed to be home with him.  Eventually, his fears passed.

But the sadness will always remain for those who lost their lives in that senseless act of terrorism; for those since who have taken their own lives due to “survivor guilt;” for the end of the innocence we might have still harbored—the feeling that we were safe in the heartland of America.

As the years pass, we tend to forget.  But as painful as those memories are, we cannot afford to lose the hard-won lessons.
Rick Burgess sunset







A beautiful memorial museum stands on the site today.  There is a chain link fence surrounding part of the grounds where visitors come to leave remembrances and mementos.  In nineteen years, I still have not been able to bring myself to visit the museum.  I’m glad we have it, and that people come to pay their respects.  I don’t need to see it, though.  I lived it.  And I will never, ever forget.

A SIDE NOTE: My daughter, Jessica, has “the other side” from a child’s perspective on her blog, Caution to the Winds. This is a poignant accounting of her memories of what happened that day, when she was only 8 years old, from her now-adult self, remembering. I have to admit, it made me teary. If you are interested and get a chance, please take a look and leave a comment for her.




Written by 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: I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 34 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: (Follow me on Facebook)

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We Have a Winner!

1ATT00003Thanks, Miss Kristy! We hope you remember the trail back here.

I folded all the names and put them in my hat…..

The winner is……..


Woo-Hoo! Congratulations, Laurie! Miss Kristy will contact you on how to claim your books.

Written by 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.

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The Apache and the Bascom Incident & Book Giveaway


1KristyNewAuthorPhotoAWhat a pleasure it is to guest blog at Petticoats & Pistols. I’ve been studying the Apache Indians for the last several months as research for my latest book, and I wanted to share a pivotal moment in American-Apache relations.

In the latter half of the 1800’s, the westward expansion of the United States brought with it endless clashes between immigrants and the military with Native American peoples. Oddly enough, the Apache Indians of the territories of Arizona and New Mexico initially tolerated Americans, and didn’t consider them an immediate threat. Apache had their hands full with the Mexicans, who passionately despised the Indians for all the raiding and plundering they wreaked in northern Mexico. Historians generally agree that this all changed with the Bascom Affair.

In January 1861, Apache marauders attacked John Ward’s farm, located in the Sonoita Valley of the Arizona Territory, eleven miles from Fort Buchanan near the U.S./Mexican border. Two war parties stormed the ranch, one driving off a number of cattle, and the other abducting Ward’s twelve-year-old adopted son, Felix Martinez, who was outside herding stock. Ward himself was away on business at the time, and while two men from the ranch attempted to pursue, they were unsuccessful.


Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom

When news of the raid reached Fort Buchanan two weeks later, the post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pitcairn Morrison, ordered Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom to locate the Indians and recover the boy. Morrison incorrectly assumed that Cochise and his band were accountable for the kidnapping, so he directed Bascom to proceed east toward Apache Pass in search of the boy and the stolen cattle. Had the military been more familiar with the habits of the Indians in their district, they would’ve known that Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache—while certainly not innocent in other circumstances—had never been known to take American captives. The White Mountain Apache, however, habitually kidnapped whites to barter with other tribes or the Mexicans.


Apache Pass

Cochise had made efforts to keep a friendship with the U.S. government by frequently returning token animals stolen by other bands. But the increasing occurrence of raids on the Sonoita and Santa Cruz valleys had hardened the army toward the Chiricahua. Morrison told Bascom that if he located Cochise he was to settle for nothing less than the return of the boy, and to use force if necessary. Bascom assembled 54 men and rode toward the Chiricahua Mountains, known to be a winter home for Cochise.



Once they arrived, Bascom learned that Cochise was indeed in the area, and sent word to him. After a lengthy delay, Cochise finally came to Bascom’s camp, along with his brother, three other male relatives, his wife, and two boys. It is thought that Cochise must not have sensed danger in the meeting since he brought immediate family members with him. When Bascom questioned him about the raid on Ward’s farm, Cochise denied any involvement and even offered to help find the boy, cautioning that it could take at least ten days. Bascom agreed, but would keep Cochise’s family hostage until the boy was returned. At this point, Cochise and his brother, Coyuntura, pulled their knives and slashed their way out of Bascom’s tent. Cochise managed to escape.

Bascom now had six Apaches in custody, many of them related to Cochise, and he swiftly reinforced his defensive position around the camp. They readied for a long siege if necessary. The following morning a large contingent of Chiricahua Apache assembled in the 1ATT00002distance, but after a time most dispersed, leaving a small party bearing a white flag. Bascom reciprocated with his own white handkerchief, and a warrior approached. Cochise wished to speak with Bascom, so arrangements were made for a meeting. Each leader would be permitted to bring three men, all unarmed.

While they spoke, two civilians by the name of Culver and Wallace, ignored the rules set forth and began to approach the meeting. Bascom told them to stay back, but they didn’t. Apache warriors struck, and managed to drag both men into a ravine. Both sides opened fire, and a battle continued throughout the day. The following day, Cochise appeared on a hill with Wallace—hands bound and a rope about his neck—and 16 stolen government mules and offered to exchange them for the Apache prisoners. Bascom agreed, but Ward’s boy also needed to be returned. No resolution could be reached.

Unbeknownst to Bascom, Cochise managed to gain three additional prisoners by attacking a train of five1ATT00003 wagons loaded with flour eastbound for the Pinos Altos mines through the pass they all now occupied. Six Mexican teamsters had been killed during the abduction. Two of the survivors had been lashed to wagon wheels and set on fire. Cochise only spared the three white men to use as a bargaining position with Bascom. Cochise left a dictated note on a bush near Bascom’s camp stating that he would come in the following day to negotiate.

But due to the lack of cooperation of the army to exchange the prisoners, Cochise decided he would take back his people by force. He enlisted the aid of Francisco and the White Mountain Apache as well as Mangas Coloradas’s band of Mimbres Apaches. Over 200 Apache attacked two days later. Bascom’s men held them off, and for days he and his men were trapped. Reinforcements arrived, and troops were sent out to scout the situation. They found the decomposed remains of Cochise’s four prisoners—Wallace and the three men taken from the attacked wagon train.1ATT00001

The dead were buried, and talk soon turned to retribution. It was suggested that the Apache hostages be hanged in reprisal for the murders of Wallace and the three men. A Lieutenant Moore made the decision to hang the Apache prisoners, and while Bascom objected, Moore outranked him. The bodies of three warriors were left swinging to insure that Cochise saw them.


Mickey Free

The Bascom Affair, as it is known today, marked a significant turning point in relations between the Americans and the Chiricahua Apaches. It’s speculated that if Lieutenant Bascom hadn’t been duplicitous with Cochise at the outset (by keeping those Apache who accompanied him prisoner), then the outcome might have been much different. As for the abducted Ward boy, Felix Martinez did live and later became an army scout called “Mickey Free.” It’s very possible that Cochise could have obtained the boy’s freedom if Bascom had just been more patient. In the killing of his white hostages, Cochise forever changed the Apache-American relations, and the officers responsible for hanging the Apache men demonstrated that, in the end, they were no better than the savage men they condemned. This would lead to hostilities between the Chiricahua and Americans that would last for the next 25 years.


 THE BLACKBIRD ~ Available late-April ~

Arizona Territory 1877

1ATT00004Bounty hunter Cale Walker arrives in Tucson to search for J. Howard “Hank” Carlisle at the request of his daughter, Tess. Hank mentored Cale before a falling out divided them, and a mountain lion attack left Cale nearly dead. Rescued by a band of Nednai Apache, his wounds were considered a powerful omen and he was taught the ways of a di-yin, or a medicine man. To locate Hank, Cale must enter the Dragoon Mountains, straddling two worlds that no longer fit. But he has an even bigger problem—finding a way into the heart of a young woman determined to live life as a bystander.

For two years, Tess Carlisle has tried to heal the mental and physical wounds of a deadly assault by one of her papá’s men. Continuing the traditions of her Mexican heritage, she has honed her skills as a cuentista, a storyteller and a Keeper of the Old Ways. But with no contact from her father since the attack, she fears the worst. Tess knows that to reenter Hank Carlisle’s world is a dangerous endeavor, and her only hope is Cale Walker, a man unlike any she has ever known. Determined to make a journey that could lead straight into the path of her attacker, she hardens her resolve along with her heart. But Cale makes her yearn for something she vowed she never would—love.
Say hello to Kristy and you could win digital copies of the first three books in the Wings of the West series: THE WREN, THE DOVE, and THE SPARROW. The winner will be chosen on Sunday. For more info about Kristy and her books, visit her online at

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