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:
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.
Can a Widow in the Wild West …find wedded bliss again?
When Cassandra Stewart fulfills her husband’s dying wish by visiting the ranch he loved, she plans to sell it. But then she meets his best friend. As aloof, ruggedly handsome Wolf shows Cassandra the value of life in the prairies, tenderness begins to grow from their shared pain into something more… Maybe theres a future for her at the Rocking S Ranch after all…
The hero in this story captured my heart. I have a soft spot for the competent, yet brooding type and Wolf is all that. What characteristics say “hero” to you?
I also wanted to share a short book trailer…
And an excerpt from Chapter One ~
Alexandria, Virginia ~ 1879
Cassandra Stewart slipped her had through the crook in her father’s arm and leaned on him for support as she descended the grand staircase of her parent’s estate. At the bottom of the stairs, her mother stood beside their housemaid. “I don’t like this, Cassandra. Not one bit. Are you sure that you want to do this today?”
“No. I’m not sure, but I’ve put it off for far too long. It’s been ten months since Douglas has been gone.”
“You are still weak. Just the work of dressing has taxed your strength.”
She smoothed the wide silk belt at her waist. It matched the dress she had donned. How she hated the color black. “The attorney said it was necessary as soon as I was feeling well enough. Today is a good day. I feel stronger. Besides, Mr. Edelman went out of his way to travel all the way from the city to take care of things. It is time.”
Father patted her forearm—his way of showing support, both physically and emotionally. He was ready for, as he stated, “the entire disaster of her marriage” to be over and done with. He wanted his little girl back and for life to return to the way it once had been before she ever met Douglas Stewart Jr. Father simply wanted to protect her—his only child—and this was his way to do it. He had no idea that she could never go back to life as it once was. Not after all that had transpired. Douglas had changed everything in her life. So had the loss of their baby.
The house echoed with the whispers of her two great-aunts. While she’d been confined to her bed, they’d discussed her in the hallway just beyond her bedroom door. A wayward woman—tainted—they’d called her, speculating whether the death of her husband was a punishment from above because she’d blatantly gone against her parents’ wishes and the mores of decent society to marry so quickly. Most couples were engaged a year before the wedding ceremony.
Cassandra consoled herself with the knowledge that their own marriages had been long and lonely, as their husbands both sought to escape their daily harping and criticism. Her own marriage, although only a few short months, had been a wonder, and she would be forever grateful to have had that time with Douglas. Yet her great-aunts’ harsh judgment stung her conscience. She had never been good enough to suit them. A disappointment—that’s what she was.
As she walked slowly down the hallway, a chill coursed through her. She pulled her tatted shawl tighter around her shoulders with her free hand. Despite the heavy heat of the midsummer afternoon, she was still cold. The meeting shouldn’t take long. All she had to do was sign the official papers, and her late husband’s land would then be ready to sell. She might have sold it long before this, releasing the burden of a property she’d never seen, if not for Mr. Edelman’s insistence that he make sure that no will existed.
And then there had been her daughter. Cassandra had held out hope that the property would be a legacy to pass on, but her daughter had come early—much too early. Her chest tightened at the memory. She didn’t want to dwell on it yet couldn’t help herself. Hope had become despair. And a mad fury had overtaken her. Douglas had been reckless to participate in that boat race. He’d thought himself invincible in all things. The very quality that had drawn her to him had also been the death of him.
Well, today would be one more snip in the rope that tethered him to her. A rope that she both loved and hated at the same time. Her heart had ached for so very long—nearly a year now. Her hopes and dreams had all been dashed the moment the boat he’d crewed with his friends had collided with another.
As she entered the library, Mr. Edelman turned from the floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked the lawn and the Potomac River. He was a short, round man, with light gray hair and eyes to match. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Stewart.”
At the sound of her married name, her father’s grip tightened on her hand. After all this time, it still bothered him.
“Thank you, Father.” She released his arm and sat down in the chair he held out for her on one side of the massive oak table.
“Mr. Edelman. Thank you for making the journey today. Please take a seat.”
Her mother and father took seats on each side of her at the long table as if to bolster her for what might be coming.
“Indeed, it is no imposition. It is always a treat to get away from the city for a short break in routine, especially in the oppressive heat of summer.” He cleared his throat and took a seat across from her. “I prepared the paperwork several months ago and simply set it aside, awaiting this moment when you would be ready. All that is needed is your signature in several places.”
He set his leather satchel on the table and withdrew a stack of papers. “Most of your late husband’s finances are tied up in the property. Since he left no will, as his wife, you inherit everything. Once the ranch sells, you should have enough money to choose where you want to live and live there quite comfortably.”
Mother gave her a quick side hug. “You will stay here. As you have since the…incident.”
It wasn’t an incident…it was a marriage. But the courtship and wedding had happened so fast, and then the marriage had been over just as fast. No one’s fault, the captain had written in his report of the boating accident. If not for the months of morning sickness that followed and the lingering ache in her belly, Cassandra might have wondered if the marriage had happened at all.
Mr. Edelman placed the first paper in front of her along with a pen.
Something he’d said gave her pause. “You must be exaggerating the extent of his holdings. Douglas said it was a very small farm. He only had a few cows. Certainly not sufficient enough to keep me for more than a year.”
She picked both papers up and started to read. Halfway down the page she realized she hadn’t understood anything and started over. The inked letters swam before her, the words meaningless.
Mother leaned toward her. “I’m sure Mr. Edelman has everything in order, dear. He’s very reputable, and your father has already looked over everything.”
Cassandra stared at the line where she was to put her signature. It was all so very final—putting her mark there. She should simply sign it and let it go. There was already a potential buyer in Denver waiting for word from her. But all that she could think of was the last time she’d seen Douglas. He’d been in so much pain toward the end, but he’d asked her to do one last thing for him.
Mother leaned toward her. “Sign the paper, dear. Mr. Edelman is waiting.”
Cassandra looked up and caught the worried glance her mother sent her father. Another chill slithered through her. Why did she feel so torn about this? Had she procrastinated, not because of her health, but because of the promise she had made to Doug? Was that the real reason she had put off this moment?
“Before I sign this, I have one question.”
“Yes?” Mr. Edelman said.
“Will I be able to stay on the property after these papers are signed?”
He looked momentarily surprised. “Well…no. Any further contact with the property would be handled by Mayor Melbourne in Oak Grove. He is the attorney there. He has agreed to handle the sale upon receipt of these papers. There would be no need for you to travel there yourself.”
“But…what if I choose to?”
Father shook his head. “We’ve been through all this. You are not strong enough to go.”
“But I will be. Not tomorrow, or even next week. But someday.”
Mr. Edelman leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers together over his girth. “I didn’t realize that you had reservations about selling your land. Perhaps you should explain.”
Your land. How could it be hers if she’d never seen it? Never walked upon it? “You see…after his accident and just before he…he passed, my husband asked me to go to the farm. He wanted me to live there—to stay for an entire month. I’m sure he hoped I would come to love it and stay, but of course, that is not possible. I would not want to be there without him.”
“Your parents didn’t mention any of this when they retained my services.”
Of course, they hadn’t. Discussing it in front of Mr. Edelman was their ploy to make sure she felt even more pressure to bend to their wishes.
“It would be sensible if the property were nearby, but to travel all the way to Kansas…” her father interjected.
“Yes, yes,” Mr. Edelman said. “Highly irregular for a young woman of means. Not a good idea to travel on your own. There are ruffians and scallywags out West.”
Cassandra nearly smiled at the exact same words her parents had used when trying to stop her from marrying Douglas. Surely the great Wild West held all sorts of people, not just the social miscreants mentioned time and again by her family and close friends.
“Douglas spoke of the place only a few times,” she said. “He looked forward to showing it to me, but then the boating accident happened.”
“It really is for the best, Cassie,” Mother said. “You belong here. Not halfway across the country stuck on a cow farm with a bunch of rough men.”
Her mother’s words left little uncertainty as to her true feelings. Cassandra glanced up at Mr. Edelman. No doubt he’d heard of her situation, bantered up and down the seaboard by gossipy society matrons. Mother’s inference did not help the slightly tarnished, although completely undeserved, reputation that she’d acquired by marrying Douglas so rapidly.
She suddenly realized that her fingers were clenched around the pen and her teeth were clamped together. Even her chest was tight. She had loved Douglas honorably. It wasn’t fair for others to judge her otherwise.
With that thought, something in the cold ashes of her core sparked. A wisp of the determination she’d once possessed began to glow inside her. Douglas’s memory didn’t deserve to be brushed aside and forgotten as if he’d never existed, as if he were an “unfortunate incident.” Their marriage had happened no matter how hard Mother and Father tried to sweep it under the rug…and push her to forget it.
She was angry that he’d left her alone and reeling from the consequences of his careless behavior, but she still loved him. Their short marriage had been wonderful. Maybe she should do as he asked. A promise, after all, was still a promise, even after death.
She set the pen down, her movement slow and deliberate. “I want to see the grave and make sure that my husband’s interment—” how she hated that word “—was handled appropriately. I believe I will make the journey after all.”
The silence that followed her announcement reverberated like the last gong of a bell.
“Well then,” Mr. Edelman said after a moment, glancing from her to her parents. He gathered the papers together in front of him. “If you are sure that is what you want, I’ll get these in the post to the attorney in Oak Grove. They’ll be waiting there for your signature after you have fulfilled your promise to your late husband.”
“Why can’t I carry them with me?”
He looked unsure. “It’s irregular.”
“It seems sensible to me. They are, after all, my papers.”
“Very well. When you arrive in town, simply leave them with Josiah Melbourne.” He started to close his satchel when he stopped. “Oh, yes. Here’s one more item.” He withdrew a small box and handed it to her.
The crude wooden box was the size of a small rectangle jewelry case and without any decoration. She turned it over. Her husband’s initials—DLS—were burned into the bottom. “Where did this come from?”
“Mayor Melbourne said it was found among your late husband’s papers.”
She frowned. “Why am I only seeing it now?”
“We thought it an oddity,” Mother said quickly. “It’s just an ugly box. Nothing of consequence.”
“But it was important enough to Douglas that he kept it with his legal papers.” Cassandra smoothed her fingertips over the letters. The box was an amateur attempt at woodworking. Was it Douglas’s first attempt? She knew so little of that part of his life. Now, she guessed it made scant difference.
“I took the liberty of opening it, thinking it might hold something of import regarding your late husband’s estate,” the attorney said, indicating she should go ahead and open the box. “As you will see that was not the case.”
She opened the lid.
A folded piece of paper lay on top of a few small assorted items—a lock of auburn hair tied with a bow, a bullet and a leather thong with a small turquoise stone. On the very bottom was a feather. Mementos, she supposed. She wished Doug were here to explain their meaning.
She opened the paper and found a note in her husband’s script, written with a steady, strong hand.
Wáse’ekhaar’a— You will know what to do. Wira’a
“This isn’t for me,” she murmured, confused. They certainly were strange names.
“We could put it in the post,” Mother suggested. “There is no reason for you to hand-carry it all the way to Kansas. You belong here.”
Cassandra closed her eyes. “Mother. Please. I will simply take it with me. Someone there will surely know what it is all about.” She turned to the attorney. “I’m sorry to have brought you all this way only to stop short at the last moment.”
“Quite all right.” He leaned toward her, his gray eyes kind. “Your mother and father do have your best interests at heart. You are obviously still recovering from your illness, and it is an arduous journey to travel so far.” He stuffed the papers and the box carefully back in the satchel. “If you change your mind and end up staying here, then send me word and we will talk again.”
“Thank you, Mr. Edelman.”
He stood, as did her parents. At the library door, he stopped. “Please consider, Mrs. Stewart. A promise made to a man on his deathbed isn’t legally binding. God would not hold you accountable for trying to ease the last few hours of your husband’s life. Good day.” He turned and headed down the hall, followed by her mother and father.
They would, as a matter of course, hold a whispered conversation out of her hearing, trying desperately to figure out a way to keep her here. Whatever plan they hatched would come to naught. She was getting stronger. She had to do what she thought was best.
“God might not hold me accountable,” she whispered into the empty room. “But I do.”
The westward expansion in the United States began before the Civil War, spurred by a yearning for exploration and discovery. Early settlers were also influenced by the lure of gold and inexpensive land and the belief in something termed “Manifest Destiny.” After the war, there was another catalyst that sent people westward; the desire for a new beginning. But the American west was wild and the way was difficult and dangerous.
Violence was a fact of life as people fought for a foothold in the vast and dangerous landscapes. And lawful governance was hard to come by. In this wide, uncertain world of the western frontier, outlaws thrived. There weren’t nearly enough lawmen to cover all the territories and sheriffs and deputies often found themselves with more than enough to deal with in their small communities. Besides, lawmen were greatly hindered by the limited scope and breadth of their authority. Chasing down outlaws who moved from one place to another was either outside their jurisdiction or beyond the capacity of their manpower.
Relief came as a result of a court decision in 1872 which gave certain individuals the power to track down, imprison (indefinitely, if need be), and turn in anyone who had escaped bail or had a warrant for their arrest. These bounty hunters worked on the side of law but were not regulated by the same rules that tied the hands of true lawmen. They could cross state and territory lines. They did not need a warrant to force entry to a fugitive’s property. They had the unique benefit of anonymity and often had to act outside the law in order to accomplish their tasks.
As you can imagine, this combination of power and independence and the lack of checks and balances attracted a variety of people. Many who took on the role of bounty hunter were former military men who possessed exceptional skill with firearms and the know-how to track and, if necessary, kill known outlaws. One of the most successful and well-known bounty hunters was Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton Detective. Other bounty hunters were barely a half step away from being outlaws themselves. Some were even convicted fugitives who were recruited to turn on their former partners and rivals.
When it came to outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West, the two were often one and the same. Outlaws became lawmen, lawmen became outlaws, and some men managed to live as both at the same time. That was possibly never truer than when it came to those who took on the mantle of bounty hunter.
In THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW, the first title in my new historical western series, Malcolm Kincaid started out as a vigilante on the hunt for justice. While tracking down the men responsible for his brother’s death, he just sort of fell into the occupation of bounty hunter. Though at his core he has the noble goal of finally seeing justice prevail, he has no problem making sure that happens by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, he falls for a woman whose life might depend on him giving up his vengeful vendetta once and for all.
Whether set in Regency England or the American West, I write historical romance about dashing and sometimes dangerous men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace what love and life have to offer.