Search Results for – "rules"


Seven Rules of Cowboy Hat Etiquette

VetschcowboyhatJohn 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!


Vetsch headshotevetsch-5Author 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.



VetschCactusCreekChallenge_F-page-001About 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.


Here is the Buy Link:



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?


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:

The Code of the West Still Lives!


Phyliss's caption

“A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” 

~John Wayne

When I began writing western historical romances, I had to do some serious research on the old west. It became quickly apparent that every account of the men and women who came out to the new frontier during the westward expansion of the United States were bound by a special caveat that ruled their conduct … not by written laws. Being a native Texan, I grew up with these unspoken policies being pounded in my head, but never thought about them being anything but doing what is right whether you can legally get by with it or not.  I never thought about “The Lone Ranger” being a perfect example of a hero living by homespun laws and a gentleman’s agreement.

Lone Ranger

Almost every article about the Code of the West attributes the famous western writer, Zane Grey, as the first chronicler of the unwritten laws in his 1934 novel aptly titled The Code of the West. The resilient, heroic trailblazers who forged west and learned to live in the rough and tough country were bound by these understood rules that centered on integrity, fair play, loyalty, hospitality, and respect for the land. For these pioneers, their survival depended largely upon their ability to coexist with their neighbors, their rivals, and their peers.

The Code of the West

A cowman might break every written law on the books if deemed necessary, but took pride in upholding his own code of ethics. Failure to abide by the unwritten law of the land didn’t necessarily bring formal punishment, but the man who broke it basically became a social outcast. Losing a man’s honor was considered a fate worse than being hanged.


I read a very technical, yet interesting, article where historians and social theorists explained the evolution of the Code of the West. How it was a result of centuries-old English common law. The paper explained the code’s elements which includes “no duty to retreat”, “the imperative of personal self-redress”, “homestead ethics”, and “ethic of individual enterprise.”

Although informative and logical, it sounded a little stiff, so here’s my explanation of the code as it applies today as it did in the Old West.

1. Mind your own business;
2. Keep your hands to yourself; if it isn’t yours, don’t touch it;
3. Be loyal, modest, courageous, friendly, and respectful; and
4. Live by the Golden Rule.

There are many practical, and some quite humorous, interpretations, I’ve come across.

  • Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.
  • Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.Never try on another man’s hat.

Texas Boot

  • Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses, and cow. 
  • Defend yourself whenever necessary and look out for your own; but never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. Known as “the rattlesnake code”, always warn before you strike.
  • And, never shoot a woman, no matter what.
  • Don’t inquire into a person’s past.
  • Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
  • Be pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is for quitters, and a cowboy hates quitters.
  • When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting (call to camp) before you get within shooting range.
  • After you pass someone on the trail, don’t look back…it implies you don’t trust him.
  • Be modest. A braggart who is “all gurgle and no guts” is intolerable.
  • Honest is absolute–your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.

There are hundreds of “do’s and don’t” that the pioneers and cowboys honored because of the informal code they lived by. What are some of your favorites?

I’m giving away an autographed copy of any of the western historical romance anthologies that I wrote with fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas and the late DeWanna Pace.  I added a picture of our anthology “Give Me a Texas Ranger” that was included in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Writing the Ranger exhibit.

Updated: February 26, 2018 — 6:23 pm

Erica Vetsch: Putting Historical Figures In Fiction

Erica Vetsch here. Thank you so much to the P&P ladies for inviting me to join you again! I love visiting with you all. That being said, I am on vacation today…sitting in a car, driving the 1700 miles back to frigid Minnesota from beautiful sunny Florida where I was visiting my awesome parents. I will most-likely be unable to respond personally to your messages until I get into my hotel room for the evening, so please, bear with me!

Using Historical Figures in Your Fiction

Have you ever read a novel that used an historical figure as one of the characters? Was it fun for you to ‘recognize’ a character and see the author’s portrayal of how they might have been in a given set of circumstances? Did the character ring true to what you knew about them?

I love stories that have cameo appearances by historical figures, especially famous cowboys and lawmen and outlaws of the Old West, or presidents, soldiers, and personalities of the Civil War, but when I read one and I see things that are glaringly off with an historical figure’s portrayal, I tend to cringe and put the book down for something else.

So how does an author go about using real people in their novels? Can you use a real person in fiction legally? Are there any rules?

First, it is certainly legal to use historical figures in your fiction. Writing about Richard the Lionheart or Wyatt Earp won’t get you into any trouble, even if you mischaracterize them or portray them in a less than glowing light. (FYI, writing about current public figures has different laws about slander, libel, and image copyright, so research those laws if you want to write contemporary fiction. Even flattering treatments of people who are alive and kicking can land you in a legal tangle.) Second, writing about historical figures doesn’t have any ‘rules’ per se, but there are some guidelines that I try to follow that will endear you to readers of historical fiction.

  • Learn the basic facts and personality of the character by reading history books, watching documentaries, and if possible, reading primary sources such as diaries, autobiographies, and first-hand newspaper accounts. (No matter which historical figure you use, there will be a reader or two out there who is an ‘expert’ on that character and jealously guards their canon. As much as possible, try to get the history correct—or you might hear about it later!) Some things that might be important to consider are: the character’s family situation, how they make decisions, attitudes and philosophies about social issues, familiar catchphrases or gestures (Think Teddy Roosevelt and “Bully!”) etc. You will also be able to create dialogue that feels authentic if you can read their own words and get a sense of their speech patterns and cadences from reading primary sources.
  • Create a timeline of the character’s life, paying particular attention to the time and setting of your story. If you are going to include an historical figure in a fictional situation, make sure they weren’t demonstrably elsewhere in real life. For example, if your scene takes place in St. Louis on November 19, 1863 and you have President Lincoln show up, EEEK! Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address on that day and couldn’t possibly have been in Missouri at that time.
  • Stay true to the things you know about the character. Lincoln was tall, skeletal, with a dry wit. George Armstrong Custer was ambitious, overconfident, with a near-obsessive devotion to his wife. Clara Barton was a shy child, a determined crusader, and an autocratic leader. Readers will respond to an historical figure in your fiction that ‘feels’ like the character they already know.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of historical accuracy. Many people read historical fiction in order to learn while they read. Often, readers will take as gospel what they read of historical events and people in fiction, relying on the author to do the research and present it in a truthful way. Sometimes, you want or need an historical figure to do something in your story that you can’t authenticate through research. That’s fine, but be sure that you are staying within the bounds of historical accuracy when you do. (Unless you’re obviously writing a spoof piece like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) If you include a fictional variation that might be misconstrued, use an author note to explain to the reader what is factual and what is fictional.

An example from my own work is the story A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. I used several historical figures from Dodge City who would be familiar to readers of western fiction. Because they were used fictitiously, I wanted to make certain that readers understood which characters were historical and which were fictional, and which characteristics for real people I had manufactured for the sake of the story. I included an Author’s Note so that readers would feel I was ‘playing fair’ and not misleading them with inaccurate historical information. Here’s that Author’s Note as it appeared in the beginning of the book:

Author’s Note: While most of the characters in this story are fictitious, the characters of Charlie Basset, Luke Short, and Bat Masterson are taken from the annals of Dodge City history. I have tried to stay true to the historical record, with one noted exception: Bat Masterson’s proclivity for keeping printed material stacked in his office is fictional and entirely of my own creation.

In my story, it was important that a piece of paper get lost in the sheriff’s office. Since Bat Masterson was the sheriff during the setting of my story, I needed him to be a bit of a paper hoarder. But I also wanted to be clear to the reader that I had no historical facts that would indicate that he was an office slob. J Hence the author’s note.

Questions for you!

  1. If you are a writer, have you ever included historical figures in your fiction? If so, who?
  2. If you’re a reader, do you have a favorite novel that included an appearance by an historical figure?

Answer in the comments below to be entered to win a copy of my newest release, 7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers!

* * * *

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at where she spends way too much time!

Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert

During our Route 66 travels through Arizona last summer I visited the famous Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. These two wonders have been on my bucket list for years and they’re definitely worth seeing. The Petrified Forest is the only national park in our country that protects a section of Route 66.

The Petrified Forest National Park, which has one of the world’s largest deposits of petrified wood, encompasses the badlands of the Painted Desert, archeological sites and 200-million-year-old fossils. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation creating the Petrified Forest National Monument, and it became a national park in 1952. The park averages about 645,000 visitors each year. 


The Petrified Forest is known for its fallen trees (coniferous, ferns, and gingkoes) from the Late Triassic Period 225 million years ago. It’s believed some of the trees reached 200 feet high when they were alive. The park has one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world. Other places with petrified wood are North Dakota, Argentina, and Egypt.



Painted Desert Inn



The National Park also contains the historic Painted Desert Inn, which sits on a mesa overlooking the Painted Desert. The Inn was built in 1924 as a roadside hotel called the Stone Tree House by Herbert David Lore (the name came from the petrified wood used in its construction). In 1935 the National Park Service purchased it and the surrounding land. The Inn was redesigned in the Pueblo Revival style by architect Lyle E. Bennett. The Civilian Conservation Corps supplied the labor. In 1987 The Painted Desert Inn became a National Historic Landmark.

View out the back of the Painted Desert Inn


Inside the Painted Desert Inn



The Painted Desert encompasses over 93,500 acres and stretches over 160 miles. It begins about 30 miles north of Cameron, Arizona near the southeastern rim of the Grand Canyon and extends all the way to the Petrified Forest about 26 miles east of Holbrook, AZ.

Photos don’t do justice to the breathtaking scenery and the vast emptiness that stretches to the horizon in all directions. I can only imagine what early travelers thought when they came upon the apocalyptic-looking badlands that seemed more like a planet from outer space than earth.

I’m wondering how many western historical authors have mentioned or used the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert…or perhaps the Painted Desert Inn in the plot of a book. Have you read a historical romance that mentions these places?

Until Next Time…Happy Trails!


I’m so thrilled! Prairie Rose Publications just released a fantastic boxed set—with SIX WHR novel-length stories included. Best of all? For a limited time, this collection is ONLY .99! Every one of these stories is a bold, exciting western read with (of course!) a wonderful romance at it’s core—take a look at UNDER A WESTERN SKY!

Where do the very best love stories blossom? UNDER A WESTERN SKY, of course! This fabulous boxed set of six tales of danger and romance are sure to capture your imagination as you are carried away to the old west. Handsome marshals, Texas Rangers, gunslingers, and wealthy landowners meet their matches with the daring women they happen to fall in love with, and you won’t want to put this boxed set down until you’ve read the very last story!

Authors Cheryl Pierson, Celia Yeary, Kaye Spencer, Tracy Garrett, Patti Sherry-Crews, and Agnes Alexander spin six incredible novel-length love stories filled with danger, excitement, and romance that will keep you turning page after incredible page until the very end. Saddle up and kick back for some excellent reading, as star-studded romance finds you UNDER A WESTERN SKY!



FIRE EYES by Cheryl Pierson
Beaten and wounded by a band of sadistic renegades that rules the borderlands of Indian Territory, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner understands what the inevitable outcome will be for him: death. But Fate and a war party of Choctaw Indians intervene, delivering him instead to a beautiful angel with the skill to heal him. Jessica Monroe has already lost a husband and a brother to these outlaws. Can she afford to gamble with her heart one last time?









To escape an arranged marriage, beautiful, proper Cynthia Harrington impulsively marries Ricardo Romero, a sensual Spaniard who ranches on the edge of the Texas frontier. She struggles to gain a foothold in the hostile household, determined to make a place for herself—but will she also find a way to make her husband love her? 








TEXAS GOLD by Tracy Garrett
Texas Ranger Jake McCain is hot on the trail of a band of murderous outlaws when they ambush him and leave him for dead in the blinding snow. The last thing Rachel Hudson expects the blizzard to bring is a wounded Ranger with a pack of trouble. She and Jake have more than a powerful mutual attraction in common—the dangerous gunmen he’s been chasing intend to steal Rachel and her brother, Nathan. But Jake’s not about to lose the woman who means everything to him—Rachel, his TEXAS GOLD…(Previously published as TOUCH OF TEXAS)










Beautiful heiress Elizabeth White is exiled to Texas until she agrees to marry the prominent politico her parents have chosen for her—Grayson Beal. When Elizabeth is approached at a fiesta by dark-eyed, handsome Mingo Valderas, her heart will never be her own again. But Mingo has a reputation as a Comanchero—a man who is as fast with his knives as he is with his gun. Still, Elizabeth gives her trust to him, and their whirlwind courtship begins. Beal will stop at nothing to claim Elizabeth—and only one man can protect her. Elizabeth and Mingo stay one step ahead of Beal…but will that be enough?








Pampered Margarita McIntosh is sent away by her father for her own safety—from what, she’s not sure. The long journey ahead and the secret she carries in her saddlebag could be the death of her. A rough Irish gunman, Rafferty, is entrusted with getting her to her destination—for a reward—his ticket to a new life. But will Rafferty’s protection be enough to save their lives? And will the heat of their passion seal their future—if they do survive?




XENIA’S RENEGADE by Agnes Alexander
An urgent plea for help from a family member calls for action from Xenia Poindexter and her sister. But traveling west to save their uncle, a raid on a stagecoach way station would have seen them dead if not for handsome half-Sioux rancher, Ty Eldridge. Ty wants to protect Xenia from her uncle’s schemes, but he’s been burned in the past by love. Though others say they’re all wrong for each other, Xenia has never felt more “right” than when she’s in Ty’s arms. Is true love worth the chance of becoming XENIA’S RENEGADE?


















I hope you’ll snap up your very own copy of this wonderful boxed set today–there’s truly something for everyone here! Here’s the Amazon link! 

Welcome Guest – Amanda Renee


Farrier Fascination

Happy New Year and Happy early Valentine’s Day!

I’ve wanted to write a Valentine’s story for years, and was lucky enough to do so before my beloved Harlequin Western Romance line closes this year. WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY is not only a holiday romance, it has allowed me to share my fascination with the age-old art of farriering.

Many moons ago, I worked on a large reining horse ranch in Northern New Jersey. Up until that point I had always thought of farriers as people who trimmed hooves and put shoes on horses. I hadn’t realized that many farriers work alongside equine veterinarians and provide therapeutic and corrective shoeing to horses suffering from hoof disorders, trauma, neglect and other injuries.

The reddish orange glow of our resident farrier’s forge drew me in and I became captivated watching him precisely sculpt each shoe with what seemed like the most primitive of tools. From the first rise of steam when the shoe met the horse’s hoof, I knew I wanted to write a farrier story. Back then I had always assumed it would be about a male farrier because that’s all I had ever heard about. Years later, I moved to the deep south and discovered most of the farriers in my area are women. The story idea once again began to rattle around in my brain, but I hadn’t given it the attention it deserved until I stumbled across a photo of country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves with her horse Mismo. The name Delta Grace immediately sprung to mind and I knew I had my female farrier. I just needed a rugged family man to round out my story…and like a sign from above, singer Luke Bryant began playing on the radio. The man epitomizes family and I had all the inspiration I needed to write WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY. While this is by far my most heart wrenching story to date, it was one of my favorites to write. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Farrier Delta Grace has a strict rule about not getting involved with clients. Rugged ranch owner Garrett Slade is exactly why. The attraction between them is instant. He’s also her biggest client and the epitome of complicated. A widowed father of two, he’s moved back to Saddle Ridge, Montana, for a fresh start.

Despite her better judgment, Delta can’t stay away from Garrett or his kids. And it’s not long before her heart melts completely, along with her rules. However, when life deals Delta a devastating blow, she needs to distance herself from Garrett—their family has already experienced too much heartache. All is not lost, though, because with Valentine’s Day around the corner, love may actually conquer all!

Want to win a copy of WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY?

Tell me what fascinates you most about ranch life in the comments section and one winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy (your choice: digital or paperback).


Amanda Renee was raised in the Northeast and now wriggles her toes in the warm coastal Carolina sands. Her career began when she was discovered through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. When not creating stories about love and laughter, she enjoys the company of her schnoodle—Duffy—camping, playing guitar and piano, photography and anything involving animals. You can visit her at

Two Days After Christmas


Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with beauty, gifts and all things good.

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, 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.

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.  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 Native America 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 two days behind us…
Updated: December 27, 2017 — 8:38 am

Tombstone: The Town Too Tough To Die

Tombstone is a step back in time!

Two years ago my husband and I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona. I’d been to the town once before but for some reason we never walked through the Bird Cage Saloon. Visiting the infamous building was on the top of my list this last time. I hope you enjoy my photos from this trip!

 Tombstone is located in southeastern Arizona and was the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Boothill Graveyard.


The town suffered two devastating fires: one in 1881 and again in 1882, but the Bird Cage Saloon survived both.The saloon was located in the heart of the red-light district on the corner of Allen Street and 6th Street. The photo below shows what the Bird Cage looked like before the outside was renovated. 

The building remained boarded up for the next fifty years before it reopened as a tourist attraction. The outside of the structure was remodeled to protect it from the elements. Inside the Bird Cage you will find the original wood floors that Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Luke Short and the Clanton family all walked across. Even the mirrors behind the bar are original. The only part of the inside that has been renovated is the staircase leading to the basement.


  The Bird Cage served many purposes as listed on this sign.

The saloon was considered a “house of negotiable affection” and for $25 a gentleman could buy a bottle of whiskey and time with a lady in one of the 13 “cages” or cribs suspended above the gambling parlor. 

Twenty-fours hours a day the vaudeville circuit played on the stage.




The piano in the picture has sat in that same spot since 1881. The piano was the first to arrive in Tombstone and was part of a five-piece band that played in the saloon from 1881-1889.

The saloon also had a barber if any cowboy wanted to “spiff up” before visiting the ladies in the upstairs cribs. 


Curly Bill

Outlaw Curly Bill was recognized getting a haircut in this chair and was later tracked down and killed by Wyatt Earp. The table is the original table in the gaming parlor where Doc Holliday was often seen playing and dealing Fargo.



The Longest Poker Game Ever Played

The basement of the saloon is where the serious gambling took place and was the location of the longest poker game ever played in history. The game lasted eight years, five months and three days. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. There was a $1,000 buy-in and a continuous list of gamblers waiting to get into the game. The saloon employed runners to go out on the street and find the next player on the list when someone folded or left the game which averaged every 3 to 4 days. 

Below are pictures of the basement gaming area. I was surprised at how small it was. In the photos you’ll see the original service bar that served drinks to the gamblers as well as the men visiting the two bordello rooms in the basement. The mirrors behind the bar have hung in the same place since 1881. The whiskey keg and heating stove are originals and have been in the same place since the Birdcage closed its doors. The gaming tables, chairs, dealers box and money boxes all sit where they were during the “longest game.”



The Infamous Sadie Jo

One of Tombstones most famous soiled doves, Sarah Josephine Marcus, who went by the name of Sadie Jo & Shady Sadie worked at the Bird Cage in the basement. Below is the room where she and Wyatt Earp had their romantic liaisons while she was engaged to the then sheriff of Tombstone, John Harris Behan. At the time Wyatt lived in a covered wagon fifty feet away from the Bird Cage with his common law wife Mattie. Wyatt left Mattie for Josephine and Mattie was forced into prostitution in Prescott, AZ. and later committed suicide by overdosing on laudanum.

Haunted Bird Cage 

You know me and my fascination with ghosts…well, it is said that 27 ghosts inhabit the Bird Cage Saloon—the same number of people believed to have been killed in the building.

Employees say they often smell perfume and cigar smoke when working as well as seeing apparitions. Ghost tours are given at night, and one day I’d love to return to Tombstone and take the tour.

Before I sign off, I have to share one more photo of this little cowboy I came across on my trip to Tombstone.


To be entered into a giveaway for a Kindle copy of all three books in my series share this blog post and put the link where you shared it in the comment section! I’ll post the winner’s name on Saturday Oct 14th in the comment section of this blog post.

Until Next Time….Happy Trails!





Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms & Book Giveaway

Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arm will be released on October 3rd.  Don’t you just love that title?  I’m so excited to be part of the collection, which also includes stories by Leigh Greenwood and our very own Linda Broday!

My story is titled A Texas Ranger for Christmas and I’m giving away a copy (giveaway guidelines apply). So be sure to leave a comment.  Here’s a sneak peek: 

Sadie had just put Adam down for his afternoon nap that second week in December when a hammering sound drew her to the kitchen window.

“Dang that man!” Now the ranger was on the barn roof hammering down shingles. Last week, after he’d spent the day repairing the fence, he’d run a fever and had to spend two days in bed.

Now here he was at it again, overdoing it.

She pulled a woolen shawl from a peg by the back door and stepped outside. The wind was cold and angry clouds crowded in from the north like a bunch of wooly sheep.

Upon reaching the barn, she yelled up to him. “If you fall and break your neck, don’t come runnin’ to me!”

He peered over the edge of the roof. His nose was red from the cold and his hair tossed about like sails in the wind, but he sure was a sight for sore eyes. “I guess I’d just have to wait ‘till your friend Scooter comes.”

She balled her hands at her side. “I’d think you’d have a little consideration for my reputation.”

His eyebrows quirked upward. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

“How do you think it looks for a woman to entertain a man that’s not her husband?”

She’d not yet told anyone of Richard’s death. She didn’t want friends and neighbors coming to her door to express condolences until after the ranger was long gone.

He shrugged. “Isn’t it a little late to worry about that?  Some of your neighbors already know I’m here.”

“I told them my husband sent you here to recover from your bullet wound.”

“Your husband sent me? That might be hard to explain when the truth comes out that he’s dead.”

“That’s my problem.”  She tossed her head.   “I mean, it Captain.” She grabbed hold of the ladder and gave it a good shaking. “If you don’t come down, I’ll see that you’re stuck up there for good!”

“Why, Mrs. Carnes, is that a threat?”

She glared up at him. “You’ve already had one relapse and I’m not about to take care of you for another. So what’s it gonna be?”

“Okay, okay, I’ll come down, but only on one condition.”

She straightened, hands at her waist. “What?”
“You stop calling me captain. My name is Cole.”

“Not gonna happen,” she said. Calling him by his given name would only strengthen the bond between them, and she couldn’t let that happen. It was hard enough trying not to like the man more than was absolutely necessary.

“Why not?” he asked.

“I never name an animal I plan on eating, and I sure don’t aim on naming a man who’ll soon be gone.”

“All right, Mrs. Carnes. Have it your way. But could you at least tell me what your Christian name is? I promise not to use it unless you say it’s okay.”

She chewed on a bottom lip. “Sadie,” she said. “And I don’t want you calling me that, you hear?”

“Nice name,” he said. “It suits you.”

She didn’t know what he meant by that and she wasn’t about to ask. “So what’s it gonna be, Captain?” She grabbed hold of the ladder and rattled it. “You coming down or ain’t you?”

“Oh, I’ll come down, Mrs. Carnes.  But only because I don’t want you complaining about me to your dead husband.”

Short stories and novellas are popular around the holidays.  I don’t mind writing short, but I prefer reading full-length novels. Which do you prefer?  Also, has a short story ever inspired you to check out the author’s novels?

What do you call Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms?




Updated: September 21, 2017 — 9:39 am
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