Category: Giveaways

We Never Sleep–The Pinkerton Detective Agency

“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair  … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”

-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.

          Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leaves her luxurious life to settle on the Plains where she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

Motto: We Never Sleep

Formation and Prominence

          The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

          But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.  

          How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.

Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.

The Civil War

          The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.

          One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.

          The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.

Wild West Bounty Hunters

          The Reno Gang

          The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?

           A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.

          Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

          Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.

          Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure

          The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.

          One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.

           If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.

          The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.

          Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.         

Larger than the United States Army

          In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.

The Agency Exists Today 

It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.

 

*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.

The Heiress Comes to Town

by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.

 Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:

Janet Syas Nitsick

Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.

Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.

Click here to check out Janet’s website, blog or Facebook page.

Updated: June 21, 2019 — 9:05 am

If You Give a Mouse a Review: plus 5 book Giveaway

Years ago, I was a restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper.  My husband and I would dine at a restaurant like regular customers.  At the end of the meal, I’d pull out my card and announce that the restaurant had just been reviewed.

Once I became known, restaurant managers and owners offered me free meals and other bribes in exchange for reviews.  In order to write a fair and unbiased review, I never accepted anything free (though I must admit the costly bottle of champagne challenged my integrity), but you can’t blame anyone for trying. Restaurants depend on reviews for survival.  So do writers.

Whereas a single review in a newspaper or online can increase business for an eatery, writers needs a number of book reviews to notice a difference in sales.  In recent years, writers have lost important review outlets such as Romantic Times.  Now writers must depend on reader reviews on outlets like Amazon and Goodreads and those are not easy to come by.

Oh, sure, writers can pay review services and many bestselling writers do just that.  But the services don’t come cheap and there’s no guarantee that enough reviews will be provided to offset the costs.

Why All the Fuss About Book Reviews?

  1. Reviews offer writers greater visibility and a better chance of being found. Also, many promotional sites require a certain number of reviews before an author can use the service.
  2. A study conducted by the Northwestern University found that people bought products based on popularity, meaning the most reviews. Oddly enough, the reviews didn’t even have to be good.  Products with a lot of bad reviews sold more than products with fewer but better reviews.  (With that criteria, even a mouse could become popular if given enough reviews.)   
  3. It doesn’t take much. 20-50   reviews are enough to give consumers confidence enough in the product to purchase it.

Why don’t more readers leave book reviews?  According to my unscientific survey among friends and family, here are the top excuses, oops I mean reasons, for not leaving a review.

I didn’t purchase it from Amazon

Amazon allows reviews whether the book was purchased from them or not. If purchased from Amazon, it will say verified purchase.  Amazon does have an instinct for sniffing out reviews by a writer’s family members and friends (okay, you can’t blame me for trying), but otherwise anyone can review a book.

 I’m not a writer

You may not be a writer, but we writers value your words.  You don’t have to write anything fancy and you certainly don’t have to compete with a professional reviewer. I liked this book because….is a good start. Or maybe you didn’t like it as much as the author’s earlier works.  Honesty is always best when writing a review.  If you simply can’t bring yourself to write one, you can locate the book on Amazon, find the review that is closest to expressing your thoughts and click on “helpful.”  Yep, in the wondrous and sometimes confusing world of Amazon algorithms, “likes” and “helpfuls” count.

Don’t have time

I heard this one from someone who had recently won a free book from an online contest. I’m sure most winners don’t think about the time it takes the author to package and mail a book. Also, books don’t come free.  The writer probably paid for the book out of her own money, not to mention postage.  But writers do this willingly hoping the winner likes the book enough to recommend it to her friends, and yes, give it an online review. 

 My one review won’t make a difference

 Oh, but it does, it does, and we fillies appreciate readers who take the time to post reviews. You’ve helped contribute to the success of our books and we can’t thank you enough.

So how important are reviews to you in choosing books, movies, restaurants or Amazon purchases?

 Okay, now here’s the good part. Post a comment and you could be one of five winners to receive a copy of my new release The Cowboy Meets His Match—yep five.  BUT (yep, there’s a catch!) I’m going to ask for the very thing most writers are too embarrassed to ask for: All I’m asking in return is that winners consider posting a review of the book.  Yee-Haw!

 

Amazon

B&N

 

Updated: June 19, 2019 — 9:24 am

Game Day Winners!

 

 

I have my winners for today’s Game Day!

I hope everyone had a fun time with the game I made up,

although it was a little bit harder than I thought!

Congratulations to Colleen

for being the winner of an eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night.

Congratulations to Janine

for winning a $10.00 Bath and Body Works gift certificate.

Ladies, please watch for my email with the instructions on how to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who came over and played my first game day!

 

Updated: June 17, 2019 — 5:39 pm

Who Was Calamity Jane?

Jennifer Uhlarik

Hi everyone. I’m celebrating this month! June 1 marked the release of Cameo Courtships, a 4-in-1 novella collection which I am part of. My story in the collection is Taming Petra, and my heroine goes by the name of “Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth.” Buckskin Pete is a buckskin-wearing, gun-toting, tomahawk-throwing tomboy, loosely modeled after Old West icon Calamity Jane.

If you’re like me, you know of Calamity Jane, but only in the most general way. So who was Calamity Jane?

She was born Martha Jane Cannary, on May 1, 1852, the eldest child of a gambler father and a prostitute mother. She had two brothers and three sisters. As the family traveled from Martha Jane’s birthplace in Missouri to Virginia City, Montana, her mother fell ill with pneumonia and died. A year later, her father also succumbed to death, leaving Martha Jane, who was just fourteen years old at the time, to take charge of her five younger siblings and support her family. The six siblings settled in Piedmont, Wyoming, where Martha Jane took whatever jobs she could find—from dishwasher, to waitress, to nurse, to ox-team driver, to sometimes prostitute.

 

As her younger siblings grew up and moved on, it freed Martha Jane to strike out on her own as well. In the 1870s, she is said to have acted as scout for the Army, an Indian fighter, as well as displaying excellent aim as a sharpshooter.

Calamity in a dress

When asked how she came to be called “Calamity,” she told the following story in a short biographical pamphlet. While working with the Army near Goose Creek, Wyoming, they were sent out to subdue an Indian uprising. On the way back to the post, they were ambushed about a mile and a half out. As she charged through the fray, being fired upon, she turned in time to see Captain Egan struck and reeling in his saddle. Jane turned back to help, caught the officer before he fell, and pulled him onto her own horse in front of her. Once safely back at the post and the captain recovering, he jokingly stated that he would dub her Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains, and she proudly wore the name from that point forward.

While the story is an entertaining one, several details call its credibility into question. For one, Calamity Jane was functionally illiterate, so she would have had to dictate such a story to someone else for the pamphlet. It’s possible she did just that. But in the story itself, she claims to have singlehandedly pulled a wounded and reeling man from him horse onto her own and held him in the saddle until they reached the safety of the army post. The likelihood of such feats of strength do cause one to question the story. Another alternative for how she came to be known as Calamity Jane is that she would warn any man who crossed her that he was “courting calamity” by doing so.

She is known to have had a kind and generous side. In Deadwood, S.D., she is rumored to have nursed the sick during an outbreak of smallpox. And she was also known to have helped those in need, providing food she’d hunted herself or given money to those unable to provide for themselves.

Calamity Jane at Wild Bill Hickok’s gravesite

Rumors link Calamity Jane to another well-known Western icon—James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. Some rumors state they were friends. Others tout the pair were lovers. Calamity Jane herself stated that she and Wild Bill were married in 1873 and had a daughter, who was later adopted by another family. No marriage license has been found to support a legal union between the two characters. Of course, Wild Bill died by a shooter’s bullet in 1876, so any romance that may have existed lasted only briefly.

The later years of Calamity Jane’s life saw her become a hard-drinking alcoholic, often down on her luck, living life mostly alone. For a brief time, she performed with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as a storyteller and sharpshooter, but otherwise, she drifted from town to town. She died of pneumonia on August 1, 1903, at the age of 51. She and Wild Bill Hickok are buried next to each other in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.

My heroine, Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth, is loosely based on Calamity Jane—in their shared propensity to wear men’s buckskin trousers, their ability to scout and track, and their soft sides that enabled both to help those in need. Do you enjoy reading fictional characters you know are based on a true person from history, or do you prefer purely fictional characters that are wholly original? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for an autographed paperback copy of Cameo Courtships.

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Check out her website and Facebook page or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.

 

 

Updated: June 13, 2019 — 8:01 pm

Big Summer Giveaway #1 – We Have a Winner!!!

 

The winner of our first Big Summer Giveaway is . . .

Mary Barrientez

Congratulations, Mary.

Expect a box of beach goodies from Amazon this week.

 

Each of the Fillies will be sending your prize books to you individually, so it will be raining books for a while at your house.

 

Be watching for the next P&P Big Summer Giveaway
on the first Sunday in July.

Taking a road trip this summer? We’ve got exactly what you need.
Stay tuned!

 

An Interview With Tag Baker

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

Good mornin’ all y’all! Thank you for inviting me back to Petticoats and Pistols to talk about Cowboy Rebel. I’m so excited about this book, and can’t wait to begin to get reviews from the readers. It’s the fourth book in the Longhorn Canyon series. Don’t you just love looking at Tag Baker with his clear blue eyes on the cover?

I thought maybe I’d let all y’all hang out with him a little today, and get to know him. So I have him here with me to answer questions. He’s got a glass of sweet tea in his hand and has motioned that he’s ready so fire away.

Question: Why did you leave the huge ranch out in the Texas panhandle and come to the hill country in the north central part of the state?

Tag: Well, darlin’, it’s like this. My twin brother, Hud, and I’ve always wanted to buy a place that we could call our very own. We wanted something just like Canyon Creek Ranch with the potential of building it into a dynasty like our folks did with the Rockin’ B Ranch. Besides all that, our sister, Emily, married Justin Maguire over on the neighbor ranch a few months ago. We missed her when she left the panhandle a few years ago, and now we get to live close to her.

Question: What did you think of Nikki the first time you met her?

Tag: I met her at Emily’s wedding a few months before we moved out here to Sunset, Texas. She struck me then as a little independent and a whole lot sassy. My opinion didn’t change when I met her the second time in the hospital emergency room—but that time there were sparks between us, and I just had to get to know her better.

Question: So what did you do to get her to consider going out with you?

Tag: (With a chuckle) I bought her a gold fish.

Question: Why would you do that?

Tag: She said she’d always wanted a pet, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave it alone so many hours while she worked as a nurse at the hospital.

Question: I heard you were considered a bad boy before you came to Sunset. Is that right?

Tag: (Ducks his head) I’m afraid that’s the truth. I’m tryin’ to change my ways and be more responsible.

Question: Who all works on the ranch with you and your brother?

Tag: We hired two of our friends, Maverick and Paxton, and they’ve joined us on the ranch now. We’ve pretty much known them our whole lives, and we’ve worked right along beside them since we all got out of high school.

Carolyn: We’ve only got time for one more question, so that little lady in the back wearing a pink cowboy hat…what would you like to know?

Question: Will Hud’s story get told?

Tag: (With that brilliant smile that makes a woman’s bloomers begin to crawl down to her ankles) I believe that’s in the works, but first Maverick’s story, Christmas With a Cowboy, will come out in September.

Carolyn: Thank you all for letting Tag and I pop by today. I’m giving away a signed copy of Cowboy Rebel. Just tell me in the comments what it is about a good cowboy book that draws you to it? Cover, back copy, first paragraph, part of a series? Talk to me, folks!!

 

Updated: May 29, 2019 — 11:03 am

Pam’s Winner!

 

Teresa Fordice

 

I’ll contact you and make arrangements for your prize!

 

Thank you all for stopping by today and learning more about TRACE.

Watch for Book 2 of the Bachelors & Babies series coming July 1st.

LOGAN by Margaret Tanner

Preorder on AMAZON

Updated: June 6, 2019 — 9:40 pm

Winnie’s Winners!!

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to join the discussion on stereopticons and View-Masters! I truly enjoyed sharing your trips down memory lane.  I threw the names in a figurative hat and the two I drew out were:

Pam Lunsford

&

Kathy Rader

 

Congratulations ladies! You have won your choice of any book in my backlist ( You can find a list on my website HERE). Just contact me via my website with which title you selected and your mailing address and I’ll get them right out to you.

Updated: June 4, 2019 — 3:35 pm

3-D Pictures, 19th Century Style (Reprise)

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m afraid this month’s blog date sort of snuck up on me – a combination of dealing with my foot in a cast, a looming book deadline and planning an impromptu Disney vacation in a couple of weeks.  So I hope you will forgive me if I reprise an older post.  And to make it up to you, I’m offering 2 folks who leave a comment here their choice of any book in my backlist.

Did you know that the scientific principles behind 3-D movies had their first practical application as early as 1838?  That’s when Charles Wheatstone patented his reflecting stereoscope.   I’m sure you’ve all seen stereoscopes before, in pictures if not in actuality.  But do you know how they work?

Actually, they work in much the same way human vision works.  Because our eyes are spaced about two inches apart we see everything from slightly different angles.  Our brains, wonderful creations that they are, then process these into a single image with both dimension and depth.  Charles Wheatstone applied this principle to his invention, using drawings that were pairs of reverse images and a series of mirrors to create the illusion of a single three dimensional image.

In 1850, glass images were developed.  Though an improvement on the earlier drawings, the quality was low and the price was relatively high.

Queen Victoria took a fancy to the device when she saw one demonstrated at the Crystal Palace Exposition in 1851, and suddenly they were all the rage in Europe.  It was somewhat later before the fascination took hold in America.

These early stereoscopes were large, bulky and table mounted, requiring a large commitment of space as well as money.  But all of that changed a few short years later.  With the advent of photographic improvements, tintypes, daguerreotypes and flat mount paper became available, greatly improving the quality of the images.  Early attempts had photographers taking one photograph then slightly shifting the camera and taking a second.  The next evolution had photographers utilizing a rig that had two cameras mounted on it to take the twin photos.  Eventually an enterprising inventor created a camera with two lenses

Then, in 1862 Oliver Wendell Holmes and Joseph Bates created a compact, handheld viewer named the Holmes stereopticon and the popularity of stereoscopes exploded.  In fact, by the end of the century, in spite of their expense, you could find one of these devices in many middle and upper class parlors of the time.  The most popular slides were the travelogue type that depicted exotic landmarks such as the pyramids of Egypt and the closer-to-home scenic beauty of Yellowstone.   The marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1892 and the St. Louis World Fair also made their way onto stereoscopic slides.  As Burke Long put it, “Mass-produced and relatively cheap, the integrated system of mechanical viewer and photographs became fashionable for classroom pedagogy, tourist mementos, and parlor travel to exotic places of the world.”  You could say that, as a form of entertainment, the stereopticon was the Victorian era’s equivalent of today’s video players. 

By the 1920s movies and the enhanced availability of cameras to the ‘common man’ began to supplant the stereopticon’s hold on people’s  interest.  But, believe it or not,  the stereopticon survives to this day.  The child’s toy View-Master, named one of the top 50 toys of the twentieth century, is a direct ‘descendant’ of the stereopticon, utilizing the very same principles.

 

So, did anything in today’s post surprise you? Do you have firsthand experience with a stereopticon? Did you play with a View-Master as a child? 

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of one book from my backlist!

Updated: June 1, 2019 — 3:12 pm

P&P Big Summer Giveaway #1

Book lovers look forward to summer all year long. Why? Because we finally have time to read all those books that have been patiently waiting on the TBR pile! Summer is all about relaxation, vacations, and mental escapes with your favorite cowboy hero.

The Petticoats & Pistols Fillies love our readers, and we want to help you get the most out of your summertime experience. So we decided to offer three giant giveaways — one in June, July, and August on the first Sunday of the month. Each will have a different theme. All will feature fun gifts and fabulous summer reads.

Our theme for June is Take a Cowboy to the Beach. Whether you are lying on the sand or sitting poolside, summer relaxation often combines sun, water, and a good read. We’re here to give you everything you need to make that happen.

Our June contest winner will receive:

A summer beach tote; an insulated, stainless steel water bottle; Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen;
and a beach towel featuring wild horses gamboling through the surf.

But wait. There’s more. The winner will also receive a stack of escape-worthy stories by your favorite Filly authors. Each of these books loosely fits the beach theme by either having a plot point that centers around water or using a “fish-out-of-water” romance trope.

To enter for a chance to win, please use the form below.

The contest ends on Saturday, June 8, and the winner will be posted on Sunday, June 9.

Hope you win!

Click here to view this promotion.