John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, James Arness. Epic cowboy actors all. When you call them to your mind, what are they all wearing?
A cowboy hat! The iconic image of the Old West.
Though there are many different styles of cowboy hat, they all mark the wearer as a cowboy. From a ten-gallon, to a wide-awake, to a silver-belly, they’re all cowboy hats. But are you aware that there is a certain code, an etiquette if you will, to wearing one?
Doing a basic search of cowboy hat etiquette turned up lots of rules and requirements, and I’ve distilled it down to seven that seemed fairly consistent.
Here are Seven Rules of Cowboy Hat etiquette:
Rule 1: Always remove your hat when you enter a place where people live. It’s fine to keep it on when you enter a public building like a bank or store. Exceptions are churches and courtrooms.
Rule 2: The first time you meet a lady take your hat off when you say howdy. After that, it’s fine to tip your hat to her.
Rule 3: Never let your hat touch your bed. It’s bad luck.
Rule 4: Rest your hat on the crown. The crown will hold its shape better than if you rest it on the brim. Also, if any good luck falls your way, it might land in your upturned hat.
Rule 5: Keep your hands off anyone else’s hat. Touching someone else’s hat is a serious fight-starting move.
Rule 6: Never tip your hat to another man. It’s like calling the fellow a girlie-boy.
Rule 7: Never show the inside of your hat while you’re holding it. Hold it against your chest or your leg.
Follow these rules, and you’ll never be considered a rude buckaroo!
Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
About the book: Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.
I’d love to give a copy of The Cactus Creek Challenge to one US resident who comments on the blog.
If you’re like me, you have a few rules for writing–and for reading. In my writing there are some things I would “never” do. Here’s a list of a the top three:
Rule #1 – I never write in first person.
Rule #2 – I never write from a child’s point of view.
Rule #3 – I always have romance somewhere in my stories.
Well…one out of three ain’t bad.
I threw Rule #1 out the window when I picked up my pen and started my latest release, Kane’s Redemption. I wrote Kane’s Redemption in first person. It’s the first work of fiction I’ve ever written from this perspective, and after I wrote it, I knew there would be two more of these novellas to follow. There was no better way to tell this story of young Will Green and Jacobi Kane – and the secret that stands between them.
Will is a child when the story begins, but a young man by the conclusion. So, I guess you could say I broke my own “Rule #2” as well. But there are some stories that have to be told by the child, to take hold of the innocence that only a child possesses and manages to hold on to in the face of reality. Who could have told Scout’s story better than Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird? No one. She was the perfect character to tell us what was happening and the perfect filter for us to see for ourselves those things she couldn’t put into words. Through her eyes, we saw everything. I knew that Will had to tell the story of what happened to him and how Jacobi Kane rescued him…and what happened afterward.
Growing up in the 1800’s on the prairie of the southwest would make an adult of you quickly; even quicker if you watched your entire family murdered in the space of five minutes. This story is not just about Will, though – it’s also about Jacobi Kane, who has some secrets of his own. Although he rescues Will, he wrestles with demons that can’t be fought alone – but how can Will help? In the end, who is the true rescuer – Will, or Jacobi Kane?
Romance? Well, there’s a bit of that. But it’s the romance that comes with new beginnings and the kiss of forgiveness–sweet, touching and straight from the heart. Come to think of it, the romance in Kane’s Redemption is a bit different from anything else I’ve ever written, too.
This story came from somewhere deep; a place I didn’t know existed. It’s a gift I hope you will take as much pleasure in reading as I did in writing.
Look for Book 2 in the Kane trilogy, Kane’s Promise, in the fall of 2012.
I will be giving away a copy of KANE’S REDEMPTION today! All you have to do is leave a comment, and please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you! I will leave you with the blurb and an excerpt. Hope you enjoy!
A ten-year-old boy fights for his life when he is taken prisoner by a band of raiding Apache. Steeling himself for death, Will Green is shocked when a lone man walks into the Apache camp to rescue him several days later.
Driven by the secret he carries, Jacobi Kane has followed the Indians for days and needs to make his move to save the boy. With the odds stacked eight against one, his chances for success look pretty slim. But even if he’s able to rescue the boy and they get out alive, what then?
EXCERPT FROM KANE’S REDEMPTION:
Red Eagle moved back just as fast as before and I felt my cheek burning. Blood dripped off his blade and that was it. I went after that red devil like I had lost my wits. I guess, truthfully, I had – because I don’t remember anything about it, except how good the first smash of my fist in his face felt.
Blood ran from Red Eagle’s nose and he cried out in a snarl of anger and pain and surprise.
I felt a pulse of energy rush through me, and I wrapped my fingers around his throat like he’d done to Mama. I tightened them and his blood streamed warm and slick over my grip. His eyes began to bulge, and I thought in another minute, maybe I could have the vengeance I had wanted so badly for the past week.
Papa always said a man’s quick wits are sometimes his only defense. I was exultant. I may have been foolish for what I did, and I felt sure Papa and I would disagree sharply on the use of my wits. But I did what I had to do.
Suddenly, rough hands were upon me, pulling at me. But I was like a mad dog, snarling, and foaming at the mouth in my pent up anger and hatred that was finally spilling out. What a glorious opportunity! Even if I died for it, I knew I couldn’t have passed it up – whether Papa might have approved, or not.
The Indians were all speaking at once, yelling, calling out, laughing. The moon was full, providing even more light than what the fire gave, making the night seem even hotter, as if the sun still shone on us. From somewhere in the distance of the woods beyond, I heard the call of the owls, and I knew enough Injun to know what that meant to them.
Someone was going to die. It might be me, but I was doing my damnedest to take Red Eagle with me.
A gunshot split the night air. “Dammit, stop it!” Hands like steel bands wrapped around my shoulders and jerked me off of Red Eagle. “Stop it!”
I couldn’t answer. I was breathing too hard, panting like the mad dog I had become. My hands balled into fists and flexed open again and again, and my fingers were sticky with Red Eagle’s blood. My own pulse sang through my veins in a triumph I had never experienced before.
“Boy, straighten up or you’re gonna get us both killed.” The voice was calm. I stopped struggling and looked up into the face of a white man. A white man had walked right into Red Eagle’s camp. I figured, now, those owls would have plenty more to tell – at least one more death.
But he didn’t seem worried. He held his rifle at the ready, pointed in the general direction of the group of eight Indians that rode in Red Eagle’s band. I glanced around the half-circle of painted faces, and I couldn’t help gloating. They all looked as if they’d met up with some kind of spirit or demon more wicked than they were. And that was going some.
“Can you ride bareback?”
I nodded. I guessed I could, I wanted to tell him. Been doin’ it for a damn week.
“Need help getting on?”
I shook my head and he let me go real slow. “Pick the one you can manage best and get settled on him. Take Red Eagle’s rifle and bullets.”
“Wait!” Red Eagle challenged. He rolled onto his side, wiping the blood from his nose. It pleased me greatly to hear that he wheezed when he spoke. “You take our horses, our weapons—”
“I ain’t takin’ your lives, you bastard. And I ain’t takin’ all your weapons,” the big man answered in a slow drawl. “Only yours. Pitch that knife over this way, and do it easy. My trigger finger is mighty nervous tonight.”
For KANE’S REDEMPTION and all my other work, click here:
Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with beauty, gifts and all things good. Traditionally (in England) today is boxing day. Here in the USA, it is a very good time to go out and get Christmas wrap, ribbons and other beautiful Christmas ornaments on sale.
Of course, during the Christmas season, there’s the rush to get everything done — all the food shopping done, gifts bought and wrapped, cookies made, pies made, cakes made and decorated, roasts or turkey prepared…rush…rush…rush….
But once we’ve settled down a bit, gifts having been bought, everything wrapped, food prepared, and the magical day having come when those special people open their presents, it’s time to sit back, and look at this season with kind eyes, because at the heart of the season is real beauty. When I did so, I began to think about how different it was in the American Indian’s way of life. The ideas of gift giving were so different from today’s, that I thought I might take a moment to share my reflections with you.
Let me explain. In the days of old, before the white man came to this country and influenced the American Indian into other traditions, giving gifts to others was a point of survival. No chief could become chief who did not give to the needy and the less well to do. Often the chief of the tribe was the poorest person in their society because he gave away almost all that he had to the needy. However, contrary to the more modern point of view, this was not a socialist system, nor a pure socialism, because the giving was never regulated and never mandatory, and one knew exactly who was receiving the gift. It was given from the heart, not wrested from a clutched hand. Also, in those old days, only the strong, the wise and the kindhearted could be counted on to give, and it was considered one of the most aspired-to attributes.
Actually, it requires a bit of mind change to grasp the American Indian idea of giving. If a man attained a higher state or did some great deed, he was not given something by the tribe, but rather, he gave gifts to others. If a woman attained some desired state (a young girl attaining puberty for instance — or an older woman being praised for her handicraft) she and her relatives worked night and day to give gifts to others. An example of this might be this: Say it is your birthday, but instead of you getting gifts on your birthday, you and your relatives would work for months and months in order to have a feast, where one would give to the community in celebration of something one attained (the birthday). This was considered the highest honor one might place upon a family member.
This tradition is still carried on in the American Indian society/reservations today. When a family wishes to distinguish one of its own, members of the family will work for many months (sometimes years) to produce goods, not for oneself, but to give away to others — in honor of the family member. In this manner, we have an example of giving something that cannot be measured in terms of finance. The gift of caring, the gift of giving of oneself and one’s time for another.
These presents in Native America weren’t wrapped. Sometimes the offerings were simply in the form of food or clothing or blankets. Sometimes, in the case of a marriage or some other big event, items such as a tepee were donated to the cause (remember in the movie, Dances With Wolves and the tepee the star of the movie was given?) When one couldn’t give because one didn’t have the wherewithal to do so, that person might give away all that he had. In this way such articles were kept afloat in the society. Sometimes one bestowed the very best possession that he most treasured, especially so if there were a sickness in the family and one wanted to ensure their beloved family member recovery. Sometimes the donation was in the form of gifting a service to one’s people. Certain societies had stringent rules about bundles or other sacred items and most people didn’t wish to take the responsibility of seeing to the care of these items (such as becoming a bundle holder.) In this case the bequest would be in the form of the entire family taking on the responsibility, in order to preserve the spiritual traditions of the people.
This picture was taken at a give-away celebration that my friend, Patricia gave many years ago. Another aspect to the American Indian’s way of thinking, was that it was considered a great honor if one gave in such a way that the other person didn’t feel they had to return the favor. This happened to George Catlin in the 1830’s when a young warrior bestowed him with the diary that Catlin had lost. The giving was done in such a way that Catlin was unable to give-back, since he was embarking upon a ship.
There is yet another example of giving by the American Indian comes to us from the Iroquois. The Iroquois (which was composed of originally 5 tribes and eventually 6) had a system of government that was truly Of the people, For the people, and By the people. Men served and were never permitted to draw any kind of pay for serving — it was simply considered their duty and their way of helping the tribe. Such service is still in operation today.
I’d like to disagree with corporate America for a moment if I might. I think the most potent gifts are those that one cannot measure by physical means. When my kids were growing up, they used to give me coupons for Christmas — I still have them to this day — little chores they would do for me upon presentation of the coupon. I guess the point is that one can always give something of themselves to another.
And here’s the most beautiful gift of all — something that those who crave material wealth over all else will never understand nor will they ever receive this gift (though some might pretend an affection) — the gift of love — true love. No gold, no silver, can ever replace these gifts, since they have their roots in one’s heart and one’s nature.
And so, I would like to make this wish during this upcoming New Year’s season: That the reasons for war — and the profit received from war — will perish from this earth.
And with this thought in mind, I leave you with a YouTube video of a song performed by Keith Whitley (who I believe is one of the best country singers to every grace the stage).
And speaking of gifts, I’ll be giving away a free copy of the e-book THE LAST WARRIOR to some lucky blogger. (Our Give-away guidelines apply of course.) So come on in and tell me your ideas about giving. What are your thoughts now that the big day is one day behind us?
Christmas is almost here and I feel the panic creeping up on me every day just a little bit more. That’s not RIGHT! Christmas shouldn’t be a time of worry or frenzy or “fever” pitch—but many of us feel that way because of the expectations of others and the standards we hold ourselves to at this time of the year.
It’s hard to make time for everything—and sometimes we tend to put ourselves at the very bottom of the list. I read a lot of books throughout the year in genres I might not normally pick to read because of my position at Prairie Rose Publications as Editor-in-Chief. But when the holidays roll around, I know I have to find some relaxation time for myself—and the best way to do that is to read some things I’ve been looking forward to but maybe haven’t had a chance to get to yet.
Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I find that’s a lot easier to do than it used to be. I love to write Christmas stories, too, and I’m going to post some of mine and some others here, too, in case you need a little Christmas list of your own! Taking time to relax and unwind with a book can make the holidays go a lot smoother and help you keep your sanity.
A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS is an “oldie but goodie” with four Christmas novellas included. One of these, A NIGHTFORMIRACLES, was the first Christmas novella I ever wrote (first published with The Wild Rose Press) and it’s still one of my favorites. Other stories included are MEANT TO BE, THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL, and HOMECOMING.
Here’s a little about each story:
A Night for Miracles Widow Angela Bentley takes in three children and a wounded gunman one snowy Christmas Eve. Angela determines to keep her distance—until the children drag in a scraggly Christmas tree. Will she find love on this, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?
Homecoming A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate enemy. Will a miracle be able to heal his heart and reunite him with his beloved?
Meant to Be Robin Mallory is shocked when she is tackled by a man in a Confederate uniform. A flat tire and a coming snowstorm have stranded her in the middle of a re-enactment – or is it?
The Gunfighter’s Girl Persuaded by a vendor, Miguel Rivera ~ El Diablo ~ makes a foolish purchase—scarlet ribbons. Will they, and a mysterious meeting, set him on a new path? Can he find his way back to the love he left years before?
Most of my stories are set in Indian Territory since I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and our family roots on both my mother’s and father’s side go back too many years to count here. I try to incorporate family history and stories in my writing when I can, but no matter what, I always try to set my stories in then-Indian Territory, making a detour sometimes to Texas, if the story calls for it.
A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE was included in a mail-order bride anthology from Prairie Rose a few years ago, (A Mail-Order Christmas Bride) and now is also sold as a stand-alone story! A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMASBRIDE also contains stories by former fillies Kathleen Rice Adams and Tanya Hanson, as well as many other very talented authors (Jacquie Rogers, Livia J. Washburn, Patti Sherry-Crews, Jesse J. Elliott, and Meg Mims)
Beautiful heiress Melanie duBois is running for her life—halfway across the continent. Marriage to a man she’s never met is preferable to what her stepfather has planned for her. Thank goodness for the mail-order bride offer she received from a handsome officer of the law—even if he is in wild Indian Territory.
Lawman Rocky Taylor is expecting a “surprise” to arrive on the stagecoach, never dreaming it will be a young woman. She’s here as his mail-order bride, she says— Trouble is, he never sent for her, and he’s sworn off women after a disastrous first marriage.
With her stepfather’s man hot on her trail, Melanie vows she’ll not return to West Virginia to a monstrous fate. Can A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE keep her safe, and open the door to love?
The same is true of OUTLAW’S KISS—this one is so special to me because it was the first story I wrote for Prairie Rose Publications and was included in our first Christmas anthology, WISHING FOR A COWBOY. You can find it there (along with Christmas stories by fellow fillies and past fillies Phyliss Miranda, Tanya Hanson, Kathleen Rice Adams, and Tracy Garrett) or in single-sell format. By the way, all the stories in this collection are sold as single sell stories, but for the best bargain, get the entire collection—these are some wonderful Christmas tales you won’t want to miss.
Talia Delano has been humiliated before the entire town of Rock Creek by Jake Morgan. A known gunman, Jake has bid an outrageous sum for Talia’s “boxed supper”, a kiss, and the gift of her time for the rest of the Independence Day celebration. But, as always, Jake changes the rules and takes more than he should—especially with the whole town watching. Talia’s chance of happiness is dashed, along with her reputation, when Jake leaves RockCreek suddenly.
When he shows up five months later at her farmhouse, wounded, and in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, she can’t turn him away—even though she knows being alone with him will cause tongues to wag once more. But with Christmas only two days away, how can she harden her heart against the handsome outlaw who has no place else to go—even if he is being trailed by someone just as dangerous? Magic and danger are woven together in the OUTLAW’S KISS.
LUCK OF THE DRAW is part of a trilogy of stories I wrote about three brothers, Nick, Brett and Jake Diamond. Originally, these stories were part of different Prairie Rose Publications anthologies, but I eventually got them all under one cover in a single-author anthology called WINTER MAGIC. Here’s a bit about the stories:
The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.
HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!
SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.
LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!
LUCKOFTHEDRAW is also available in a Christmas collection, WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS, containing stories by Kaye Spencer, Jacquie Rogers, and Kathleen Rice Adams.
KIDNAPPINGKALLI is my newest novella, and one of my favorites. What can go wrong with a simple kidnapping plan? Miles from nowhere with a snow storm moving in, the handsome kidnapper, Shiloh Barrett, gets bitten by a rattlesnake. Will Kalli O’Connor, his kidnapp-ee, stay with him to help? Or will she see the perfect opportunity to make her escape? It’s Christmas, and Kalli is curious to see where he’s taking her–all bets are off!
Here’s the blurb:
Texas Ranger Shiloh Barrett loses his hotheaded older brother to a gunfight over a hand of cards. Now the “winner”—a wealthy landowner who’s coveted the Barrett homestead—finally has what he wants. But could there be something Seamus O’Connor desires more than the Barretts’ land?
O’Connor has not seen his beautiful daughter, Kalli, for thirteen years. He knows that she’s living with her mother’s Cherokee people in northeastern Indian Territory. Determined to have her kidnapped and brought to him, Seamus uses the deed he holds to the Barrett homestead to get what he wants. Even though it goes against everything Shiloh Barrett believes is right, O’Connor’s blackmail cannot be ignored.
But beautiful Kalliroe White Dove O’Connor has some tricks up her sleeve as the handsome ex-ranger spirits her away into the nearby San Bois Mountains. The tables turn when Shiloh is bitten by a rattlesnake their first day on the trail. Though Kalli tells herself she has no other choice but to stay with Shiloh—and she does want to reunite with her father—deep down, she knows there is another reason she can’t leave the handsome lawman. Could it be she’s falling in love with him?
In a final showdown with a cutthroat outlaw gang, Shiloh heads straight into the pit of vipers to buy some time for the man he despises—Kalli’s father. No matter how this all plays out, KIDNAPPING KALLI has been the best thing Shiloh Barrett’s ever done—if he only lives to see it through…
For a full-length Christmas story, try THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON.
A woman with no home… Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.
A rancher with no heart… The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?
Can love find a way? In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…
Still Christmas! But not a “romance” as we think of them…or perhaps the greatest romance of all. My story THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT was nominated for the Western Fictioneers’ Peacemaker Award a few years ago, and it remains one of the best stories I’ve ever written, in my opinion. Here’s a little bit about it—see what you think.
Legend says that King Arthur will rise once more when the world needs him the most. But in my story, something goes awry, and Arthur has returned in many times, many places, throughout the centuries since his final battle.
The story opens with Arthur on a stagecoach in the American west—Indian Territory—of the 1880’s. But in this life, he comes across two people he’d never thought to see again—Lancelot and Guinevere. Why are they here—and how will it all end…this time?
The stage is attacked by Apaches minutes before the driver gets the passengers to the safety of the next stage station. Though they’re safe for the time being, a nerve-wracking Christmas Eve is in store as the Apaches wait for them outside.
Arthur has a plan. He’s seen the fearless leader of the Apache—the man they call “Sky Eyes”—a man he knew as Lancelot du Lac a hundred lifetimes ago.
Will Lance’s prowess as a warrior combine with his legendary arrogance to seal the fate of the people inside the station—including Guinevere, the woman he gave up everything for in the past?
One young boy in the group unknowingly holds the key to Lance’s decision. But will the glorious legend of Camelot be remembered?
If you are in the mood for a contemporary story, try THEWISHINGTREE. The end of this story gets me every time—even now all these years later!
Pete Cochran, a war veteran with both visible and invisible scars, is mostly a loner. Then a special woman with a young son walks into his life as he works at his father’s Christmas tree lot–a woman with problems he can’t ignore.
Maria Sanchez and her son Miguel eke out an existence on her part-time earnings, but share an abundance of love, except when terrorized by her drug addict relative. When she meets Pete, she sees him not as a frightening man, but a wounded hero returned from war. Her son seems immediately drawn to the unusual Christmas tree vendor.
Will a special tree–a wishing tree–contain enough magic to fulfill all their Christmas desires?
Since Christmas is upon us, I want to do a giveaway today! Be sure to leave a comment mentioning a favorite Christmas tradition in your family to be entered. I’ll draw two names to win a free digital copy of KIDNAPPING KALLI and two names to win a free PRINT copy of A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS OR THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON!
Thanks to everyone for stopping by today! I’m going to leave the link to my author page below where each and every one of these Christmas stories or collections can be found. Happy reading over the Christmas holidays! Be sure to check back on Sunday to see if your name was drawn!
Hello everyone, Jodi Thomas here.
In a few weeks MISTLETOE MIRACLES will be out as the 7th book in the Ransom Canyon series. I’m very excited about this one.
Hold on to your hats this is going to be a wild, funny ride.
I had a series of events, like every writer experiences sometimes, tumble down on me when facing the deadline on this book. One roadblock after another happened. Sometimes the real world interrupts my fantasy world. 😉 So, all of a sudden I had a book due, I was suffering from exhaustion, and the holiday season was nearing.
“Rest.” The doctor insisted. Great. No talks, no travel, no lectures. I stayed in my pj’s and wrote. The book took over my brain—in truth it wasn’t much of a fight.
All at once the characters were living in my mind, not just subleasing a few hours a day.
I got better and finished the book. My editor loved it. Christmas, three love stories, a horse ranch. I turned it in right after Christmas, getting to live both in real life and in my mind for the holidays.
Then life rushed in. Travel, talks, business, relatives. I’m behind again. This time on Number 8 that will be out in 2019.
No problem. Then came the head-on car crash. I’m back at home–with a broken leg. Not in fantasy this time. I wrote half the book in a month with my leg propped up.
I’m starting to see why BREAK A LEG means good luck. Maybe whoever made it up was talking to me.
So, I googled it:
A phrase of encouragement typically said to one who is about to perform before an audience, especially an actor. It is thought to be used due to the superstition that wishing one “good luck” will result in the opposite, but the exact origin of the phrase is unknown.
I also researched jobs and found that being a cowboy ranks at the 4th more dangerous job in America. All of us who’ve been tossed from a horse are yelling, “Amen” right now.
So ladies and gentlemen, enjoy my MISTLETOE MIRACLES this fall with my three cowboys on the Maverick Ranch because next spring while I’m writing book number 9, one of my heroes is going to break a leg for a change, and I plan to stay healthy.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Mistletoe Miracles to kick off your holiday reading. I’d love to hear what your lucky saying is.
And don’t forget to sign up for a three-day stay at my hideout in Red River, New Mexico. You pick the season, they’re all beautiful. Just check the rules on my website: jodithomas.com.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I truly do love researching details for my sweet historical romances.
While I was digging through books and sifting through online information for my upcoming release, Dream of Her Heart (Book 3 in the Hearts of the War series), set in World War II, I found several fascinating details that I hadn’t read before.
One of the most interesting was the surge in cattle rustling that took place once rationing went into effect. The war caused shortages of many things like rubber, metal and nylon stockings, but the rationed food affected just about everyone on a daily basis.
The short supply of food was due to a variety of reasons. Much of the processed and canned food was reserved for our military and Allies. Due to gasoline and rubber rations, transporting food to civilians was not a priority when soldiers needed food and war supplies needed to be shipped. Restrictions on imports, like sugar and coffee was limited.
The U.S. Office of Price Administration established a system that would, in theory, fairly distribute food in short supply through ration books. The books contained removable stamps good for certain items like sugar, meat, oil and canned goods. A person could not legally purchase a rationed item without having the right ration stamp.
That’s where the black market of food came into play during World War II – and rustlers found a ripe opportunity for stealing cattle and selling the meat.
Cattle rustling has been around as long as there have been cattle to rustle. In the old West, a no nonsense kind of place, cattle rustling was considered a serious offence which often resulted in the offender hanging from a rope by a group of vigilantes. Whether the cattle were stolen for food, or to sell, thievery took place all too often.
Some people will say the transition from open range to fenced in grazing reduced the practice of rustling. In fact, rustlers knew cattle country and adapted to the changes.
Most rustlers could rope, brand and trail with ease. One only needed to buy a few cows, register a brand, and start branding “strays” to build up their own herds. Unbranded calves were a popular target and easy to steal, especially if they were “orphans.”
Other rustlers relied on the catching ranchers by surprise, stampeding herds and driving them off. Herds that grazed on the western ranges were a favorite of rustlers, especially where canyons or high brush afforded hiding places. They also had rebranding down to an art.
Altering brands was a common practice among rustlers, using a “running iron,” which was a straight rod with a curve at the heated end.
Cattle rustling prevailed through range wars and settling of the West.
While many might think rustling died down with the advent of vehicles and modern inventions, it continued. Thieves equipped with trucks stole cattle at night, butchered them, and sold the meat the next day, perhaps hundreds of miles away. The extent of the thievery, and the fact the rustlers often crossed state lines, led Congress to pass the National Cattle Theft Act in August 1941.
The act was instituted “To provide for the punishment of persons transporting stolen cattle in interstate commerce, and for other purposes. ” Interstate commerce included transporting stolen cattle from one state, territory or the District of Columbia to another state, territory, District of Columbia, foreign country or from a foreign country to anywhere in the United States.
The penalty for being caught transporting, receiving, concealing, storing, bartering, buying, selling, or
disposing of any cattle known to be stolen was a $5,000 fine, or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both.
However, the implementation of the act wasn’t enough to deter cattle rustlers during World War II. Between the rising costs of meat and then rationing of beef and pork, rustlers grew bold, stealing as little as one or two cattle to dozens, butchering them, and selling the meat on the black market.
The fact cattle branding became such a big issue during World War II caught me by surprise. It’s not something you even think twice about happening in the 1800s. But the 1940s? However, it was a huge problem for many ranchers and farmers.
I couldn’t let a little nugget of history like that slip by, so I included it in Dream of Her Heart. And how do you work in cattle rustling when the hero is a pilot in the Pacific? You make him from a ranch in Texas, of course.
Is there room for love in a time of war?
Days before he must ship out to prepare for a dangerous mission in the Pacific, Lieutenant Zane West crosses Oregon to see a good friend who has been wounded in action. He arrives at the veteran’s hospital, only to discover the army captain has disappeared without a trace. As Zane searches for answers, he finds himself captivated by a beautiful and spunky nurse who offers her help. Is she the key to his future, or an unwelcome distraction from his important wartime mission?
Nurse Billie Brighton puts her heart and boundless energy into caring for wounded soldiers, but she vowed long ago never to let one of the dashing rogues turn her head. That is, until a handsome lieutenant arrives seeking his missing friend. Thoroughly enchanted, she can’t help but break her own rules. Has she finally found the love she secretly longs for, or is she headed for heartbreak?
Step back in time to 1942 with a sweet, charming World War II romance full of history, heart, and a happily ever after.
The book is available for pre-order from Amazon and releases Sept. 27!
My western mystery, The Reckoning, was recently released by The Wild Rose Press. It’s set in 1868 and follows Ike McAlister, a Union soldier who returns from the Civil War to his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas to find that his parents have been killed by Quantrill’s raiders. He sets out on a single-minded hunt to find the murderers; a search that takes him to the high plains of Colorado. My sequel, The Renewal, set in South Park, Colorado, 1872, was released in March 2108, also by The Wild Rose Press.
Let’s talk westerns for a minute. We’ve all heard that the traditional American western is dead—which prompts the question, ‘If that’s so, why write westerns?’ Well, it’s true the golden age of westerns was some time back. Since then, there’s been a bit of a dry spell until recently when several big box office westerns based on great new novels have been released.
Are they’re coming back? It sure seems like it. Why would they be mounting a return? Probably because westerns and the Old West embody timeless values—a place and time where right triumphs over wrong. Not always, certainly, but in our stories it does. The American West in the nineteenth century was a black and white society with clear-cut rules—there were things you were supposed to do as well as things you weren’t. And if you did wrong, there were consequences, oftentimes immediate.
Code of the West
There was a code of the West, even observed among the bad guys. Simple rules for simpler times. Unwritten, but adhered to nonetheless. The Code drew its strength from the underlying character of westerners, both men and women alike. Life back then was hard, but it was also simple. Things that needed to get done got done. Whining wasn’t tolerated. Complainers were ignored. You weren’t a victim. You played the hand you were dealt.
If you’re getting the idea I like that kind of culture, you’re right.
The world we live in today sometimes baffles me. Everything seems to be different shades of gray. Honor and fidelity seem to be out of fashion. People are entitled. The media are advocates, not observers.
While the Code of the West was unwritten and existed in various forms, there were certain common elements everyone—from the hard-working sodbuster, to the law-abiding citizen, to the hardened criminal—typically abided by. Granted, there were exceptions, but generally that held true.
In 2004, Jim Owens synthesized the Code into ten guiding principles in his book, Cowboy Ethics- What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.
Live each day with courage.
Take pride in your work.
Always finish what you start.
Do what has to be done.
Be tough, but fair.
Keep your promises.
Ride for the brand.
Talk less and say more.
Some things aren’t for sale.
Know where to draw the line.
Let’s look at three of these.
How about number seven—Ride for the Brand. It means be loyal to the people in your life—from family and friends, to those you work for. Support the people you’re involved with.
Take a look at number four—Do what has to be done. Life is oftentimes messy. Our days are filled with ups and downs, and we make choices all the time. This is about choosing to get done what has to be done, then getting on with life.
Next, there’s number nine—Some things aren’t for sale. The Code gave westerners a guide to live by that they broke at their own peril. Are there still things today that aren’t for sale? What are they for you? They might be different for each of us, but at the end of the day I’d wager we all still have values that are non-negotiable. After all, values don’t really change—only times, circumstances, and people do.
The good news is the values the Code embodied haven’t vanished from today’s America, but more often than not it seems they have been marginalized. Popular culture tends to look down on old-time values, or should I say the timeless values of nineteenth century America. We’re an instant gratification society that focuses on the here and now, and disregards the lessons of the past. Imagine a world where you sat with your family for dinner at night, even going so far as to talk with each other. Imagine a world where a man’s word, and a woman’s, was their bond. Where handshakes took the place of fifty-page contracts and lawyers.
Arthur Chapman captured these principles in a poem he penned in 1917.
“Out Where The West Begins”
Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying—
That’s where the West begins.
So, yes, occasionally I yearn for those simpler times amid the hustle and bustle of our world. We’re inundated today with various media from morning to night. Sometimes Ike’s and Lorraine’s world-my main characters-looks pretty appealing. Especially right now.
At the end of the day, westerns remind us of our solid roots and what we were and could become again. That’s why the American western will never die.
To buy a copy of Mike’s latest release The Renewal, click here.
Mike is giving away the winner’s choice of either a print or digital copy of his novel, The Renewal. To be entered in the drawing leave a comment about one of the ten Code of West principles listed above.
I have always loved going to school. Even now, when I walk into WalMart or Target and the school supplies are displayed (in JULY!) I have to stop and look at them. My husband laughs at me, but I just keep on picking up post-it notes and pencils, thinking “I will need these at some point…”
Growing up in the 60’s, our school supply lists were not long at all in elementary school. A “Big Chief” tablet, one of those HUGE pencils, paste in a jar (with a brush built into the lid!), a box of crayons, and a pair of “school scissors” and a wooden ruler. That was it. By the time my kids started school in the 90’s—all that had changed. After shopping for school supplies for only two children, I wondered how families with several kids could afford for them to even go to school—and that wasn’t counting back-to-school clothing.
ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD, OK, 1910
My mom spoke of her school days just shortly after Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma. That happened in 1907. She was born in 1922, and started school when she was only 5. She attended a one-room school house in Albany, a very small southeastern Oklahoma town. With the Depression on the way, and the Dust Bowl days looming, she spoke of the poverty of everyone she knew. She was the eldest of eleven children. Food was scarce. School supplies were almost nonexistent. I imagine that was why she took such pleasure in buying Big Chief tablets and crayons for me.
SEQUOYAH ORPHANS TRAINING SCHOOL, 1920 (near Tahlequah, OK, Cherokee Capital)
Education is so important. Thinking back, I’ve included it in many of the stories I’ve written, and I always love to see it included in the stories I read, as well.
Young boys pose during recess. This picture was taken at Newcastle, Oklahoma, in 1914.
This is interesting. It’s the exam that students had to pass in order to graduate from 8th grade. This one came from Salina, Kansas, and is dated 1895. Students could take the exam in 7th grade and if they didn’t pass, could have another chance in 8th grade to re-take it. I don’t think I could pass this even now! Take a look!
EXAMINATION GRADUATION QUESTIONS OF SALINE COUNTY, KANSAS April 13, 1895 J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.
Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)
Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts
Grammar (Time, one hour)
Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?
Orthography (Time, one hour)
What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.
Health (Time, 45 minutes)
Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.
Incidentally, during these times, school only lasted 7 months, from October 1 to April 1. This allowed time for planting, farming, and harvest.
What about your “school days” memories? Were you a student who looked forward to school, or hated it? Do you have a favorite story of those by-gone times to share?
Some ranches have the strangest names but probably all mean something personal to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all reflect the owner’s state of mind or what they value. Some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head though. Like the Dime Box and Hoof Prints ranches.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in mine and Phyliss Miranda’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. I thought it was perfect.
Here are others I’ve used:
Sullivan – A Texas Christmas
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Aces ’n Eights – Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star
Each one tells a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star named his ranch for the poker hand he won Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget the miracle of how she changed his life.
To Catch a Texas Star is a story of hope, forgiveness, self-discovery, and vanquishing evil. Marley Rose is on her way into town when she finds a man bleeding and unconscious by the side of the road. Roan Penny has seen the worst of humanity, but Marley and the McClain family restores his faith. As he recovers he falls in love with the dark beauty he calls his Texas Star and longs to make a life with her. But evil from the past finds them. Will it destroy the happiness Roan and Marley have found?
The book released on July 3 and is available everywhere in bookstores and online.
Here are a few of the old Texas ranches still in operation not far from me:
Tongue River Ranch
Matador Land and Cattle
Yellow House Ranch
How about you? Can you name a ranch either in books/TV shows/movies, or that you’ve seen or heard about? I’m giving away one copy (winner’s choice of format.) Comment to enter the drawing to be held on Saturday, August 4. Giveaway Guidelines.
I goofed. As you might know, we at Petticoats and Pistols, draw names so that each person who posts has a chance to win the book. The rules are off to the right side here of the page, here. So I did a drawing and then saw that one name hadn’t made it into the “hat,” and so I did another drawing, as well. Thus we have two winners, and they are:
Arlene Jones and Linda Orr
Congratulations to you both. And to those who didn’t win today, my sincere thanks for coming to the blog today and commenting.
To Arlene and Linda, I would ask that you email me privately, so that the e-book can be sent to you. My address is: karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.
I so love these opportunities (the blog) to get to know you all a little better. Come back soon.