I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person. I need to see it to retain it. I see better than I hear. When I see a list, I get tasks done. And organizing with colored notecards or Post-Its?
Be still my heart.
Just the way my brain works.
So it’s no wonder that I need images when I write. The words form much easier, flow much faster. And like any visual writer who is neck-deep in a manuscript and needing some help, I head straight for my friend, Pinterest.
Writing my contemporary western, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, by Tule Publishing, was no different. If you’ve had a chance to read the book, you might enjoy seeing some of the images that inspired me.
When I saw this image for Beau Paxton, my hero, I thought “This is IT!” Beau to a T. Love, love.
While writing A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my husband and I were totally binge-watching the thriller series, Homeland, and I was completely captivated by the lead character, played by Claire Danes. Hence, Ava Howell was born.
When Ava first arrives to the Blackstone Ranch and enters the little cabin where she’ll be staying while working, one of the first things she sees is a bouquet of Indian blanket that Beau’s mother thoughtfully picked for her in welcome. The wildflower is common in the Texas Hill Country. Beautiful, aren’t they?
This is a diagram of a Shotgun House, which I mention in the renovation of the Paxton family’s ghost town resort on the Blackstone Ranch. They say that a shotgun blast from the front door will go straight through the house and out the back door. I guess it’s true, eh?
Beau buys Ava her first cowboy hat, something she resists, but this is the one she picked out. On clearance, of course!
Another gift from Beau that Ava absolutely loves. Can you blame her?
Something really scary happens to Beau on the ranch, and that’s all I’ll say! But this hole was my inspiration!
And now I’m going to stop! I can’t give everything away, can I?
But you can see how much I depend on Pinterest. I took a Pinterest class recently, and my teacher said Pinterest is another Google. She’s right. It truly is!
Did you know Petticoats & Pistols has its own Pinterest account? Our sister filly, Julie Benson, keeps it up and running for us, and it’s hugely popular with almost 64,000 views per month! Come follow us and check out our boards. https://www.pinterest.com/thefillies/
How about you? Do you use the site to find recipes? Get help with ideas on re-decorating? Find gifts? Learn how to plant a garden? The list is endless, and I’d love to hear if you enjoy it as much as I do!
who starts off our Friday Guest Posts for the New Year!
Regina is a wife, a homeschooling mother of four,
a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.
She is also the author of award-winning humorous,
inspirational, historical romantic fiction.
Miss Regina is giving away a print copy of her newest release ~ The Lieutenant’s Bargain
to one lucky person who comments!
By Regina Jennings
When I first heard about the competition, I couldn’t believe my luck. You mean there will be cavalry re-enactors showing off their cavalry skills at Fort Reno, the setting of my current series? Yeah, sign me up!
In late September, the U.S. Cavalry Association held their Bivouac and National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma—the setting of my current series. Once again, the fort sounded with pounding hooves, stirring bugles and that bluster and swagger that occurs before any contest. Now, I’m always supportive of events that honor our past, but this was at the fort…my fort! It was like I was standing beside Louisa and Major Adams watching the goings-on at the parade grounds.
In the first book of the series, Holding the Fort, most of the story takes place in the General’s House, which was the residence of the highest-ranking officer on the post. The General’s House had a central view of the parade grounds where the men drilled.
Here, in front of the General’s House, a participant competes in the Mounted Saber competition. The obstacle course includes spearing rings on the blade, slicing through apples, popping balloons and stabbing targets on the ground.
Another competition was Military Field Jumping. Behind this soldier you can see the long barracks that the troopers like Bradley Willis stayed in.
Besides combat horsemanship, mounted sabers, and military field jumping, they were also judged on the authenticity of the era they were portraying. Participants had several different categories that they could choose from. Naturally, I was drawn to those portraying soldiers from the Plains Indian Campaigns, since that’s the time I’m writing about.
These two soldiers are currently stationed at Fort Carson, but they were representing troopers from Fort Concho, Texas, during the Plains Indian Conflicts.
They are judged on the historical detail of their uniforms, weapons, gear and tack. Finding these guys is a researcher’s dream! I learned that they would’ve carried more ammo than food, because if you have ammo, usually you can get food. There’s not much room in those bags for fluff, but they liked having both a canteen and a tin cup.
And even though it was a toasty day, they favor the caped overcoat when they want to make an impression. I have to agree with them.
See the heart on the breast collar of the horse –
According to these presenters, the heart meant that the horse had already seen combat. Is that true? I haven’t found that referenced anywhere else, but I’m open to the possibility.
One of the funniest moments of the competition was when this guy was doing his historical authenticity interview. He rode up to the judges in a full Lawrence of Arabia get-up. He did his presentation to the cavalry judges, explaining that he’d been stationed in the Middle East and had put together his gear and clothing while there.
The two judges just listened in wonderment. Finally one of them said, “You’re giving me a lot of information, but I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to judge an Arab outfit. All I know is that horse is not an Arabian.”
Being at the Cavalry Competition set up the moment that will always be one of my favorite writer memories– the time my book cover came to life. One of the contestants was competing in the Mounted Saber course, when I realized that it was a scene straight out of The Lieutenant’s Bargain.
See that house behind him?
See the house on my book cover?
It’s the same! And while Lieutenant Jack isn’t wearing his caped coat on the cover, you’d better believe it’s a big part of the story!
I’m so grateful that our military encourages their young members to keep the legacy of their units alive through events like this, and I’m doubly grateful that they choose to hold the contests at historical sites. I’d imagine if walls could talk, the buildings at Fort Reno would say that they miss the rowdy cavalrymen and the spirited horses that used to populate their grounds.
If you’re free next September, get yourself to Oklahoma to support these brave men as they honor the heroes that came before them. And not to be pushy, but you might enjoy your visit even more if you’ve read a few fun books set there. Then you too can feel like you’re walking into history.
There’s just something right about bringing the cavalry back to Fort Reno.
Remember to comment to have your name entered into a drawing for a copy of The Lieutenant’s Bargain!
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Find out more about Miss Regina Jennings and her books at ~
This year, Veterans Day fell on Sunday. The 11th of November is the actual day of the holiday. But did you know that if it falls on a Sunday, it’s celebrated on Monday, and if it falls on a Saturday, it’s celebrated on Friday? So, that being said, since we are “in the ballpark”, I couldn’t let this day go by without talking about the meaning of Veterans Day and how it came to be in our country. When I was a young child, I remember asking my parents about Veterans Day–but my mom always called it “Armistice Day”. When she told me the story about “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, it always seemed like a magical spell–and maybe that’s what the world hoped it would be–the war to end all wars had already been fought, and so there wouldn’t be anymore. But there were.
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect. It’s called “THE LAST TWO MINUTES OF FIGHTING”.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
(WWI SCOTTISH PIPER IN TRADITIONAL KILTS, STANDING TALL ON THE BATTLEFIELD–OVER 1000 PIPERS WERE KILLED IN WWI)
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
From 1971-1978, Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25. In 1975, then-President Gerald Ford signed a bill that would return it to November 11 again starting in 1978.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Do you remember the poem by Canadian John McCrae “In Flanders Fields”? Many of us had to memorize this in elementary school. McCrae was a physician/surgeon during WWI–he died of pneumonia not long before the war ended. Take a minute to listen to this recitation of “In Flanders Fields” by the late Leonard Cohen. It is haunting.
A Story of the West during The War of the Rebellion
The West – conjures up pictures of Cowboys and Indians, covered wagons, Wild Bill Hitchcock, saloons, gunslingers and Wyoming or Colorado, etc. But did you know that leading up to and including the Civil War, the ‘west’ was what we call today the Midwest – like Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. Huh? The original 13 colonies/states (New York to Maine, to Pennsylvania, Carolinas, etc) was considered the civilized society and anything past the Appalachian Mountains is the West.
When the Civil War is discussed even today, it is a story of the North and the South but what about the West? The Midwest was the food-producing states. Both sides counted it as theirs. Missouri, for instance, was the ‘west’, with no status as North or South until “Bloody Kansas” occurred. Newspapers in the North wrote their stories, painting the slave-holding Missouri as Southern. Missouri had a lot of ties to the north from an economic standard, being a bread-winning state and St. Louis was one of the nation’s highest importing towns, that you could by any import there, verses New York or New Orleans or Charleston (the other big ports).
Many businesses in St. Louis were tied to the North but this slanderous news stories propagated at this time during the crisis pushed Missouri in a corner, so to speak, and therefore, they did throw their hat in with the South. Many southerners did settle in the state and it was a slave state but that didn’t make them southerner. Even today, northerners referred to Missouri as southern and vice versa.
When the war comes, it concentrates on the east and the prime objective by the north was ‘take Richmond!’ – the old concept of take the capital (yet at first, the capital for the Confederacy was in Alabama). The push was take the Army of Northern Virginia, led by the mastermind Robert E. Lee, out, take over Richmond and the North wins! But what of the west? The West does include more than the battles at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Franklin. The west was also the breadbasket of the South (& North) but the key to conquering the rebels was the Mississippi River. Take it and cut the Confederacy in half (plus cutting them from their main food source –Texas).
The western theater also became the dumping ground by both sides for officers that lost favor in the east. General Halleck (US), Rosecrans (US), Braxton Bragg (CS), Joseph E. Johnston (CS) are good examples, like Johnston and President Jefferson Davis didn’t get along, but the South needed men, so Johnston was kept, just reassigned to the west. Sounds pretty awful, right?
My latest release, Rags & Hope, deals with this issue.Here is the blurb:
There was one thing about the War of Rebellion they could both understand: At least on the battlefield, the enemy is clear.
Thanks to his father’s political machinations, grieving widower Colonel Pierce Duval wants nothing more than to leave his family home in New York and return to his Union command in Tennessee. A chance and harrowing encounter with a true-blue Southern belle stirs emotions in him he thought long buried. When her safety is at stake, how can he not help her?
Cerisa Fontaine ran away from her wealthy Louisiana home, hoping to form a new life where no one would know her family’s awful secret. But her controversial marriage and southern drawl make her a pariah in New York. Her situation becomes downright perilous when her husband is killed in battle and Cerisa is left alone and penniless, forced to seek employment at the only establishment that will accept her: a brothel. When the handsome colonel offers her a way out, she’s compelled to accept despite his Yankee roots.
Each for self-serving reasons of their own, Pierce and Cerisa embark on a journey south to Tennessee, posing as a married couple. But even as their secrets stand between them, their passion wages its own war against their better judgment. All too soon, they must make a life altering choice: remain loyal to their cause, or give in to their heart’s desire.
Ready for a trip to northwestern Nebraska’s beautiful Pine Ridge area? I hope so, because today we’re going to visit Fort Robinson, a former army post that’s the poster child for reinvention.
It all started with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 in which the government agreed to provide food and supplies, what some called annuities, to the Native American tribes who agreed to live on reservations. In 1873 the government established the Red Cloud Indian Agency at what is now Fort Robinson to distribute those annuities to Red Cloud’s Ogalala Sioux. Unfortunately, not everything went as smoothly as some might have expected. When nontreaty bands of Indians threatened the agency, demanding supplies, shots broke out, resulting in several deaths, including that of the acting agent. But it was the death of Lt. Levi Robinson near Fort Laramie on February 9, 1874 that had the greatest impact on the area, since when troops were sent to establish a tent camp to protect the agency, they honored the lieutenant by naming it Camp Robinson.
Two months later, the camp was moved a mile and a half away from the original site, and tents were replaced by the permanent log and adobe buildings of what is now called the “old post.”
Primary responsibilities of the soldiers stationed at Camp Robinson were protecting the Red Cloud Agency and keeping the peace during the Indian wars. As you might guess, that proved difficult, and the camp’s history includes the death of Crazy Horse, who was mortally wounded in a scuffle when resisting imprisonment in 1877, and the Cheyenne Breakout of 1879, which resulted in the deaths of 64 Cheyenne and eleven soldiers.
Though the Red Cloud Agency was relocated to a Missouri River site in 1877, Camp Robinson remained an important part of the western military, and in 1878, its permanence was recognized by renaming it Fort Robinson.
More changes were coming. When the railroad reached the fort in 1887, the army expanded the post, creating what was in essence a new post, complete with a much larger parade ground and additional housing, all needed because it had become the regimental headquarters for the Ninth Cavalry, a unit of African American soldiers.
Within a short time, Fort Robinson had surpassed Fort Laramie as the most important military post in the area.
Times changed, and by WWI the fort was all but abandoned. Abandoned, but not forgotten, because in 1919, it became the quartermaster remount depot, providing horses and mules to the army. When the army replaced horses and mules with motorized vehicles, Fort Robinson was once again in limbo.
Time for more reinvention. From 1933 through 1935, it became a regional headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps, and during WWII it was not only a site for K-9 training but – more importantly – a camp for 3,000 German POWs. After WWII, the USDA turned it into a beef research station, and then in the 1950s it had its final reinvention, emerging as Fort Robinson State Park, a place where you can not only learn about history but where you can also spend a night or two in the same buildings where the army once lived.
What does all this have to do with my new release? Very little. A Borrowed Dream takes place in the Texas Hill Country, not Nebraska’s Pine Ridge. Its characters have no connection to the military. But like the fort itself, they’ve had to reinvent themselves. Catherine’s life has been shattered by her mother’s death and the realization that the man she had hoped to marry was fickle, while Austin has had to flee Philadelphia, abandoning his life as a successful surgeon to protect his daughter. What choice do they have but to create new lives?
I hope you enjoyed reading about Fort Robinson and hope it’s piqued your interest. And, of course, I hope you’re intrigued by the premise of
There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .
Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.
I’m offering a signed copy of it to one commenter.
US addresses only.
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.
One of the writer-related questions I get most often is where do my ideas come from. The answer is a bit complex. As a writer, I see stories everywhere – in snippets of conversation, in song lyrics, in throwaway scenes from movies and TV shows and just from everyday life. But story ideas are also very fragile – they can disappear like mist when the sun beats down or like dream fragments once you’re fully awake.
So, whenever I get an idea for a new story, even if it’s just for a character or scene, I’ll set up a document in my Ideas folder to capture it before it gets away. From time to time I’ll go back in and add to one or more of the files, depending on what snags my interest at the time. And eventually one of these ideas will tell me it’s ready to be turned into a full blown book.
All of the above is backdrop to explain that one of these idea files contained a snippet of a story set in the late 19th century with a female doctor in the lead role. Of course a story like this requires a lot of research – questions such as what educational options were available for women and where could these be found, how well received were female doctors, what difficulties would they have faced due to their gender and just in general what medical treatments and a medical practice looked like during that time period.
And as often happens, while I was happily ensconced in researching some of this, I stumbled upon an unexpected and totally intriguing story about a fascinating woman. Her name was Mary Walker. She was born in 1832, in upstate New York to parents who encouraged all of their children to pursue formal education. Mary took full advantage of her parents’ ideals and at the age of 25 graduated from Syracuse Medical School with a doctor of medicine degree – she was the only woman in her class. She then went into private practice and eventually married another physician, Dr. Albert Miller. However, in an action that was typical of her fierce independent spirit, she retained her maiden name. Eventually, she and Miller divorced due to his alleged infidelity.
When the Civil War broke out, Mary wanted to serve in the army as a surgeon, but because she was a woman she was unable to do so. Not willing to give up, she worked for free in a temporary hospital in Washington D.C. From there she moved on to Virginia, treating the wounded at numerous field hospitals throughout the area. Finally, in 1863, her medical credentials were acknowledged and she was appointed as a War Department surgeon. A year later she was captured by the Confederate Army and remained their prisoner for about four months.
In 1865, Dr. Walker became the first woman to ever be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, an acknowledgement for her services during the Civil War.
Mary’s unconventional life extended past her service during the war. She was an active and vigorous proponent of women’s rights. She became an author and a lecturer, focusing on issues such as temperance, health care and dress reform. And putting action to her words, she could often be seen garbed in bloomers or even men’s trousers and a top hat. Dr. Walker was a member of the Woman’s Suffrage Bureau in Washington D.C. and testified before committees in the US House of Representatives on woman’s suffrage issues.
In 1917 her name, along with 910 others, was stricken from the list of Medal of Honor recipients. The reason given was that none of these had ever officially served in the military. However, despite orders to return her medal, Mary refused and continued to wear it for the remainder of her life. She passed away in 1919 at the age of 86.
But that’s not the end of Dr. Walker’s story. In 1977, thanks to efforts made by her family who pushed for a Congressional reappraisal of her accomplishments, President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously. She is one of only six people to have this honor restored after it was rescinded. And to date she is still the only female to ever have this medal awarded to her.
So what do you think of this very unorthodox woman? Is there something about her life that particularly intrigued you? Comment on this post for a chance to win an advance copy of my upcoming December release Once Upon A Texas Christmas.
Abigail Fulton is determined to find independence in Turnabout, Texas—and becoming manager of the local hotel could be the solution. But first, she must work with Seth Reynolds to renovate the property by Christmas—and convince him she’s perfect for the job. If only he hadn’t already promised the position to someone else…
Ever since his troubled childhood, Seth yearns to prove himself. And this hotel is his best chance. But what does someone like Abigail know about decor and furnishings? Yet the closer the holiday deadline gets, the more he appreciates her abilities and her kindness. His business ambitions require denying Abigail’s dearest wish, but can they put old dreams aside for a greater gift—love and family?
I love visiting historic sites, particularly those that are so well preserved by the National Park Service. I’ve been to numerous ones throughout the West that are rich with that western culture and history we love here at Petticoats and Pistols, but you might be surprised that there exists such a place with western ties near where I live in the Florida panhandle.
Fort Pickens, which is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, has ties to American history going back to three decades prior to the Civil War. After the War of 1812, the U.S. government decided it needed fortifications to defend its major ports. Several were build to protect Pensacola Harbor. Among them were Fort Pickens, which sits on the end of Santa Rosa Island across the harbor’s entrance from Naval Air Station Pensacola, home of the famous Blue Angels demonstration flying team. On days when the Blue Angels are practicing, you can watch them from the fort.
The fort is filled with these types of arches.
Though we all learned that the first shots of the Civil War occurred at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, some say that they actually happened at Fort Pickens on Jan 8, 1861, when U.S. forces at nearby Fort Barrancas fought off a group of local civilians who intended to take the fort. Barrancas was abandoned in favor of the more defensible Fort Pickens. Two days after the attack on Fort Barrancas, Florida seceded from the Union. The fort was one of only four in the South that remained under Union control throughout the entire war.
The tie to the West came after the end of the Civil War, during what was known as the Indian Wars. Native American captives were transported east for incarceration. Apache war chief Geronimo; Naiche, the youngest son of Cochise; and several warriors were held at Fort Pickens, separated from their wives and children, who were held at Fort Marion in St. Augustine.
Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Tex. (Geronimo is third from the right, in front), September 10, 1886. Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain
Part of the reason the men were housed at Fort Pickens was because some in Pensacola felt Geronimo’s fame would enable the city to draw tourists, as horrible as that is to contemplate now. Tourists had to obtain permission from Colonel Langdon and then pay for a boat trip to the island so they could see the Apache prisoners. The Apaches were housed in two rooms that were built to house cannons and worked seven-hour days clearing weeds, planting grass and stacking cannonballs. In April of 1887, the prisoners’ families were brought to live with them at Fort Pickens. Fort Marion saw many deaths of Apache prisoners, but in contrast there was only one death at Fort Pickens. One of Geronimo’s wives, She-gha, is buried in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola.
From the top of the fort, you can look out over the Gulf of Mexico.
A yellow fever scare led to the the move of the prisoners to Mount Vernon Barracks north of Mobile, Alabama, in 1888. Six years later, they were moved to a reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Geronimo died in 1909, still a prisoner. In 1913, the prisoners were finally released. Some chose to remain at Fort Sill, but Naiche, the hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his family returned to New Mexico, to the Mescalero Reservation. Between 1850 and 1914, the Apache population had dropped a dramatic 95 percent.
The fort is full of displays such as this telling the long and rich history of the site. There is also a gift shop full of books if you want to learn more about the fort, historical figures and the time periods during which the fort operated.
Fort Pickens received some updates in the years that followed, partially to help guard against the threat of German U-boats, but by the end of World War II it had outlived its usefulness. It spent some time in the state parks system of Florida but has been part of the national seashore since the early 1970s. Today visitors can spend hours walking through the seemingly endless rooms of the fort, climbing to the upper level to look out over the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay, and imagining all the history that resides at the spot.
My current release is HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.
George and Libbie Custer are secondary characters and hometown neighbors of my heroine in book 1. The story takes place two years before Custer’s last campaign, a time when tensions were escalating on both sides of the issues. Each book in Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series, takes the reader closer to the final event in the Little Bighorn Valley.
How did I become interested in the Custer story? I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and knew that Custer spent some of his childhood in my home state. A job transfer moved us to Ohio for several years where we traveled the I-75 north through Monroe, Michigan to visit family. Alongside the highway in Monroe is a huge billboard with Custer in uniform stating: Monroe, Michigan – boyhood home of the boy-general. A few years later, a temporary job transfer brought us back to Michigan for a year. My husband rented a house on Lake Erie in Monroe County.
At that time, I had no plans about Custer being in one of my future books. Out of curiosity, however, I visited the small Custer museum in Monroe, and a neighborhood bookstore where I purchased several books about George and Libbie Custer written by a local Custer historian. Next, I stopped by the Monroe County Library that has a fantastic Custer Collection.
The librarian informed me that next to Presidents Washington and Lincoln, no other historical figure in our country has as many books written about him as George A. Custer. She also mentioned that people living in Japan and Italy have made inquiries about Custer’s career. After all this time, people want to learn more details about the controversial boy-general!
At a county flea market, I found an original edition of Libbie Custer’s BOOTS AND SADDLES or Life in Dakota with General Custer, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1885. That was the first book Libbie wrote, years after George died. Cost: $6.00. I do not really believe in coincidences. I finished four other stories, before starting my current release: HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.
George Armstrong Custer’s prankish career at the United States Military Academy put him last in his 1861 graduating class. Afterward, his flamboyant cavalry escapes during the Civil War brought a continual interest from the press of the day. Old men admired his courage and women saw him as a dashing figure. Today, however, mention Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and his 7th Regiment of Cavalry, given to Custer as a reward for his Civil War record, and images of war against the Plains Indians come to mind. Current authors and historians write more books about Custer as villain, because of the post-Civil War years, than as hero.
When people react negatively to Custer’s name, it is because as a military officer he represented our government and its policies at that time. Our point of view today, concerning the western expansion after the Civil War, is sympathetic toward the Indians and highly critical of our actions against Native Americans.
The list of officers mentioned here guided and/or ordered Custer’s military career. General Alfred Terry, Custer’s immediate superior; Major-General Phil Sheridan, his close friend and mentor; Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman; President Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief (all Civil War generals). In other words, Custer did not act alone.
My bibliography for Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series has exceeded my budget. Last month, I purchased two additional books on Custer. I’m hooked on research.
Some called the Little Bighorn Battle “a clash of cultures and Custer, a man of his time.” My hope is that the reader will enjoy the fictional story with interesting characters, set against the backdrop of an isolated fort in the Dakota Territory in 1874.
About the house on the cover of Honor Bright
The cover of HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1, features the 1989, rebuilt home and command headquarters for the famous 7th Cavalry. This was George and Libbie Custer’s first home built for them by the U. S. government, and the reassembled 7th Cavalry Regiment since it was formed after the Civil War. Location is Fort Abraham Lincoln, across the Missouri River from Bismarck, Dakota Territory (ND today).
The Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation raised funds and constructed the home after years of research and planning. The estimated total cost to develop Cavalry Square was $6 million, with $2 million appropriated by the U. S. Congress. The Custer House cost almost $400,000. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department now operates the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
As the centerpiece of Fort Abraham Lincoln, the Custer house is the third built on the exact same lot as the original Custer residence. The first was built in 1873, one of seven buildings that formed Officers’ Row on the fort’s western perimeter. In the center of three duplexes for bachelor or married officers, is the Custer home.
Fire destroyed the original house in the middle of the night in February 1874. George and Libbie barely escaped with their lives. Donations quickly replaced just about everything they lost. Libbie called their frontier home elegant, especially after she requested the installation of the bay window in her parlor, and George provided funds for the railing to the second story (balustrade) made of butternut, a difficult wood that required 80 hours of labor to construct.
HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1
Spring 1874. Rebecca Brewster arrives at Fort Abraham Lincoln to preview life on the far western frontier, before her marriage to an officer in Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s famous 7th Cavalry Regiment. Becca is soon disillusioned with her childhood love who is critical of her tomboyish ways. He insists she behave as a lady in the footsteps of Libbie Custer.
Major Randall Steelman, second in command under Custer, finds Becca’s fun-loving spirit and open affectionate ways charming. As an officer, however, Rand’s strict code of conduct forbids him to act on his interest in a woman when it involves a brother officer. How can he stand by and watch Becca marry an arrogant hothead with unbridled ambition, when he finds Becca more irresistible each day?
Amid increasing tension between the hostile Sioux Indians and the government that Custer represents, Rand walks a tightrope balancing professional duties and a friendship with his commander. Custer’s reputation is two-fold: Capable cavalry officer and fearless leader; arrogant and petty tyrant.
With one-year left to serve his country, Rand is determined to retire with a blemish-free record and with his rank intact. Becca must make a life-changing decision, before it’s too late and she marries the wrong man.
Diane Kalas collects antique books written by men and women who lived through the American Civil War, and/or who pioneered out West. With a degree in interior design, she enjoys touring historical sites, especially Federal era homes with period furniture. Published writers Pamela Griffin, Gina Welborn, and Kathleen Maher have been critique partners and mentors. Diane’s biggest challenge is writing Inspirational Historical Romance. Her biggest distraction is her fascination with historical research. Diane is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
When you picture a western fort from the nineteenth century, do you envision small, perhaps even dilapidated wooden buildings surrounded by a wooden stockade? I did until I visited Fort Laramie. It was the summer of 2004, only a few months after my husband and I had moved from the East Coast to Cheyenne. We needed a break from the unpacking, picture hanging, and other tasks associated with moving into a new house, so we headed for the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.
Foreground: foundation of barracks; background: part of officer’s row, including the post trader’s store (the one-story building in the center back)
It was not what I expected. There was no stockade, the buildings were far from primitive, and the way they flanked the central parade ground made it reminiscent of a New England village, not one of the military forts those old Westerns made popular.
Nothing primitive about this dining room.
An in-ground birdbath.
As we entered the Visitor Center, the surprises continued, and I found myself fascinated by the elegant lifestyle the officers and their wives experienced during the last decade of the fort’s existence (the 1880s).Houses were surrounded by picket fences, many yards had flower gardens, and women strolled along the boardwalks carrying parasols. There were even birdbaths. Of course, since this was Wyoming with its famous winds, the birdbaths weren’t the typical basin-on-a-pedestal style that you might expect. Instead, they were circular depressions in the ground. As I said, it was not at all what I had expected, but what I saw started my brain whirling, and I knew this would not be my only visit to the fort.
Partially reconstructed officers’ housing and Old Bedlam (the two-story white frame building)
Andrew and Elizabeth Burt’s home. The red SUV in the background was definitely not there when they lived at the fort!
There’s a lot to see. While many of the buildings have been destroyed, a number have been restored to their former glory to give visitors a sense of what life was like at the fort that was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail. The most famous of those buildings is Old Bedlam, the oldest military structure in Wyoming. Curious about the nickname? It was originally constructed for bachelor officers’ housing, and those officers were a little … shall we say rowdy? Later in its existence, it was used as post headquarters, and only a few years ago it was the site of a wedding. I suspect the guests were better behaved than those bachelor officers of 150 years ago.One of the restored houses is the one where Lt. Col. Andrew Burt and his wife Elizabeth lived during their two tours of duty at the fort. If you’ve never heard of the Burts, their story is told in Indians, Infants and Infantry: Andrew and Elizabeth Burt on the Frontier by Merrill J. Mattes, a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants an authentic view of life at nineteenth century forts. The author used Elizabeth’s Burt’s diaries and letters to create a story filled with fascinating details of real life.
What does all this have to do with my current release? Absolutely nothing. A Stolen Heart is set in a charming town in the Texas Hill Country, not on a military fort. Its hero is a sheriff, not a soldier. Its heroine is a schoolteacher who becomes a confectioner, not a woman dealing with tasteless dried potatoes. But Fort Laramie is such a wonderful place that I couldn’t resist taking this opportunity to tell you more about it. If you visit Wyoming, I hope you’ll consider spending a day at Fort Laramie. It’s well worth the detour.
And now to the highlight of the post: the giveaway. I’m offering a signed copy of either Summer of Promise, which takes place at Fort Laramie during its elegant decade, or my new release, A Stolen Heart, to one commenter.
A stolen Heart
The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . .
From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé.
But when she discovers he has disappeared—and that he left behind a pregnant wife—Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?
Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites you into Texas’s storied past to experience adventure, mystery—and love. She more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.
I’m so excited! TEXAS REDEMPTION will be out on Feb 7th- a week from today! This is a reissue of REDEMPTION that released in 2005. The book never got its due back then so I’m very happy to have it back in readers’ hands.
The climate of the story is during a bad time of our history. It takes place in 1869 –4 years after the Civil War. Texas was living under military occupation and the army was still searching for Confederates, especially the spies. Brodie Yates (legendary spy called Shenandoah during the war) is tired to running and wants to see his brother one more time before he dies. He’s going to make a final stand in his hometown of Redemption, Texas. The town is situated in the swamps of far East Texas.
During the war, he meets a beautiful woman known only to him as Lavender Lil in a brothel and loses his heart. Separated by war and miles, he never keeps his vow to get back for her. His skill with a Colt that hangs from his hip is the only thing keeping him alive. But can it when the army has built a stockade a few miles away?
Laurel James (Lavender Lil) is also in hiding after escaping the brothel where she was taken after being kidnapped from the area of Redemption and her family lives nearby but she can’t reunite with them until she cleanses her soul and regains respectability. She engaged to the town mayor, Murphy Yates.
So Brodie and Laurel are deeply shocked when they come face to face and they realize they’re still in love. But they can’t hurt Murphy.
It’s a no win situation. Someone is going to lose.
One man offers her the respectability she craves. The other his heart. Which will she choose?
Here are a few pictures that I took when I visited Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in East Texas where this is set. Dark, mysterious, and haunting, the swamp was the perfect place. My camera back in the late 1990s wasn’t very good, so excuse the quality.
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Their secret pasts hold the power to destroy them and everyone else around. The stage is set. What will be the outcome?
Question for readers—Are you a fan of unrequited love stories between two people who meet, are torn apart by fate then brought together again—only insurmountable odds keep them from taking what they most want?
I’m giving away two copies of the book. Leave a comment. I’ll draw the winners on Sunday!