Category: Behind the Book

What is it about Mail-Order Bride Stories?

My new book, which comes out tomorrow, is about a fictional, newly established town in 1870’s Kansas. The men create a Betterment Committee, banding together to entice women from the east to come there as mail-order brides.

Mail-order brides have been around for ages, although the actual term “mail-order bride” was not in use much until after 1908. It didn’t appear in a major newspaper until 1929 when it was a headline in the New York Times.  That first major occurrence detailed the murder of Carroll Rablen by his mail-order bride, Eva, through the use of poison.

The first incidence of enticing women from afar for men in North America was in 1620 with the arrival of the Jamestown Brides. The Virginia Company was made up of men, many who planned to make their fortune in America and return to England. The founders knew that wives and families would make the men establish roots here in the colonies. The ratio there was ten women to every nine men, whereas in the Jamestown Colony the ratio was six men to every one woman.

westward expansion

Ninety middle-class spinsters (single women 30 years of age and older,) came across the Atlantic on a ship hired by the Virginia Company. They were promised a husband and given clothing and sheets as a further means of enticement to make the journey. Most of these women were from the middle class in search of a better life, and indeed they were able to share property with their husband and held a higher status here as the “founding mothers of America” than they had in England.

As men moved west and established towns, they advertised for women to come to help “grow” the towns and settle them. The Civil War played havoc on the notion that every girl would grow up to eventually marry when it wiped out so many men of marriageable age on both sides of the conflict. In the south, the dearth of men was even higher. That is when matrimonial agencies suddenly sprang up and posted advertisements in every major eastern newspaper.

Were these all honest, forthright ads? Of course not.

mail-order brides

One incidence I came across in my research fascinated me. Eleanor Barry was an orphan who became a schoolteacher. After answering an advertisement in the San Francisco Magazine, she started corresponding with a Louis Dreibelbis who professed to be a miner in another part of California. After several months of letters back and forth, she agreed to marry him and departed on a train to meet him.

As she neared her destination, four men boarded the train to blow up the strongbox that was filled with gold bullion and money. Eleanor asked that they spare her luggage telling them she was soon to be married. The leader acquiesced, blowing up everyone else’s but hers. It was only after she had reached her destination and married, that she realized the man who had spared her trousseau was the same man to whom she had just said her vows—evidenced by a familiar scar on his face.

In romance novels, there is a huge readership for these types of stories. I think this is due to the Cinderella story-line and the happily-ever-after. The first mail-order bride story that I ever read (and where I first heard the term) was Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. It was 1986 Newberry Medal winner and Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the 1986 Golden Kite Award. I still remember lines from the book!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Why do you think this type of story is so appealing?
Have you read any mail-order bride stories that you enjoyed and would recommend?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
(Print or ebook for the continental U.S.A. Ebook for outside the U.S.A.)

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Pathfinders — Sacagawea

 

Pathfinders — Sacagawea

I need to add to my series of posts on Pathfinders, Sacagawea, the lone woman who’s story seems to have survived.

The more I read about Sacagawea the more … well, it’s strange … but the more emotional I felt about it.

When you start and read the bare bones account, from Wikipedia, it’s fine, fascinating. This young girl. I MEAN YOUNG. She set out with the Louis and Clark Expedition as a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD!

Now pause for a moment and think of the 13-year-old girls you know.

Now picture her married. Pregnant. A mother. Setting out with a husband known to be abusive with a crowd of men headed across the Rocky Mountains on a path for which no map exists.

Add in the rumors of Sacagawea being won by her husband while gambling. Or possible sold to him.

This isn’t some pretty fairy tale. Well, maybe it is considering all Cinderella went through with that old bat. But Cinderella … well, the shoe fit and she got her prince.

Not Sacagawea

She did all this work, hiked over those monstrous mountains, came near starvation and is credited with keeping the men alive by finding food in odd places. My dubious research says she dug up wild asparagus roots, or something related called camus roots, and pretty much kept everyone from starving with those things.

Anyway, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

But the most blunt thing I read, that also made me hurt, was a statement written by someone very realistic who said so much that we know about Sacagawea, is just plain made up.

The truth is Louis and Clark and their expedition members took a stunning number of notes. By count they wrote more than one million words about this expedition. Very few of them were about Sacagawea.

Sacagawea is mentioned by name seventeen times and her name is spelled eight different ways. There is plenty of debate about her name. Generally, Sacagawea means Bird Woman in the Hidatsu language, (the Hidatsu the tribe is who she was living with when she joined the Expedition-taken captive from her own tribe, the Shoshone) . But there are those who say  she renamed by the Hidatsu or her true Shoshone name was mispronounced by them to sound like Sacagawea…honestly how would they know how to spell her name in English. And Louis and Clark just had to sound it out. Still, you’d think they’d have PICKED ONE NAME AND STUCK WITH IT!

I will note here that Louis and Clark and their corp were notoriously bad at spelling. Their journals are incredibly hard to read. I will additionally note here that until Daniel Webster wrote his first dictionary, no words were really widely spelled alike. Most people wrote by sound with no one judging a word ‘misspelled’. There just was no accepted correct spelling until 1806, when Webster’s Dictionary was first published…and he kept adding words and republishing until 1825. So random spelling was widespread.

What words there are about Sacagawea, are very favorable, about her courage, about how much she helped. About how her knowing the Shoshone Indians and indeed finding her brother and enabling the expedition to trade for horses, once they had to abandon their boats, helped them through the mountains. About those camas roots.

But most of these things are noted in a one sentence reference to her between long intervals of writing about other things.

Women of the West

I have this theory that I can get very passionate about that someone needs to take all the famous men in history and write about their wives. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett had wives. What were they doing while their menfolk went about exploring? I’ll bet they were standing right there beside them, fighting the wilderness, wrestling survival out of the frontier and doing it pregnant and wearing a dress.

I suspect if I set out to research these women, I’d find something similar to what exists about Sacagawea. A few passing notes left behind. I’d have to build my books out of fantasy, make 2 + 2 = 10 by sheer willpower.

So Sacagawea did NOT keep them alive. No, she did NOT single-handedly drag their sorry backsides across the Rockies.

The truth of the Corp of Discovery

The truth of the Corp of Discovery is that this was a pack of incredibly tough men. Louis and Clark did a fantastic job of picking real hardened men who took their job seriously, faced untold hardships, battled on forward through disappointments, danger and pain.

And Sacagawea was right there with them. She was tough. That little baby strapped on her back was tough. That awful Charbonneau, well he might not have been all that tough, but he knew the mountains. He helped. They all worked hard together and managed this incredible journey. Made it to the Pacific…and made back to tell the tale.

One man died. Based on the sketchy notes taken, it’s believed Sgt. Floyd probably died of an appendicitis attack, get that? He didn’t freeze or starve or die in battle or fall off a cliff. Poor guy, he was probably really tough too, but he didn’t make it.

I want so much more for Sacagawea than to die at age 25 of a stupid fever. I almost hunger for her to be more. To have survived.

Sacagawea’s ages on this timeline are approximate. No one really knows. It is known that Jean Baptiste lived to travel in Europe and knew several languages. Louis was his godfather and kept his promise to Sacagawea to give her son a fine education.

There are oral histories that are very weak, that say she lived to be 100 years old. There are markers by her burial site in Wyoming when the truth is almost certainly that she died and was buried in an unmarked grave in North Dakota.

And the real tricky part here is, those few words written about Sacagawea, with two very minor exceptions that support her death at age 25, were all that was ever written about her until one hundred years later.

All the oral history, including that she married a second time, had more children, reunited with her son Jean Baptiste and lived until 1884, was only ‘discovered’ on the centennial celebration of her amazing fete of endurance and courage.

 

 

Creating a fable about Sacagawea

Clark nicknamed Sacagawea’s son Pompy or Pomp and refers to him in notes occasionally by those names. He named a pillar of rocks after Pompy and this memorial sign refers to the still visible name ‘W. Clark’ dated 1806.

Yes, I want more for her. So much more.

But it is very doubtful she lived until 1884…a story that was ‘discovered’ in 2004. There was certainly a woman who lived to be 100 who many, on looking back, believed could have been Sacagawea. But these were the long ago memories of elderly people remembering a long dead member of their tribe. And these folks may well have believed this woman was Sacagawea, but they may have wanted that to be true as badly as I do.

Whatever happened to her after this expedition, she belongs in this list of Pathfinders.

By creating a fable about Sacagawea, I think we diminish what she really did.

As if surviving, guiding, and feeding the Corp of Discovery wasn’t enough.

As if walking, boating, riding a horse from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean wearing a dress, carrying a baby on your back, a baby she’s certainly breastfeeding and diapering and probably trying to get to sleep at night, wasn’t enough.

I think we need to let the story we know, the story that is written down about Sacagawea be enough, because….it is.

To get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Long Time Gone leave a comment about Sacagawea or any woman in history you’d like to know more about.

 

Long Time Gone

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

Updated: May 17, 2017 — 11:14 pm

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN– SNEAK PEEK by Charlene Sands

Today I’m super excited to share with you the first scene in my upcoming story.. LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN!  It’s book 2 of the Forever Texan Series, but can certainly be ready as a stand alone.   Here’s a sneak peek and keep on reading for the giveaway!

 

Gravel crunched under Sheriff Jack Walker’s boots as he exited his patrol car and headed for the cherry red sports car parked alongside the road just outside of Hope Wells. The Texas night sky twinkled above with bright stars, but on the ground his flashlight was his guide. Years of wearing a badge made him ready for anything and he knew better than to think he’d find a driver in that car, not with Wishing Wells, the town’s natural flowing hot pool just fifty feet away. Lovers and others often frequented the waters past closing time, past curfew, sometimes breaking other Texas statutes as well. His mouth cocked up at the notion. He’d broken a law or two at the wells in his younger days. But Jack didn’t rightly recognize the car and that put him on alert.

He crossed the road where gravel became wildflowers and then headed down the familiar path. As he came upon the gate, the chain link didn’t appear to be jimmied, but that didn’t mean much since the gate was more than climbable. There’d never been a need to secure Wishing Wells with anything more than a strong link fence, Hope Wells being a peaceable town for the most part.

The honeyed sweet scent of star jasmine flavored the air as he drew closer. His ears perked at a disturbance in the wells, a quiet swishing that only occurred when someone was upsetting the soothing waters.

“Who’s there? You’re trespassing at this hour. This is Sheriff Jack Walker.” Giving fair enough warning for a trespasser, he climbed over the gate. He hoped like hell he wouldn’t find two lovers going at it hot and heavy.

His flashlight illuminated the springs with a blast of brightness. Nope not two lovers at all, but one scantily clad woman.

A woman he recognized.

His eyes burned hot and his senses blurred.

He shined the light just below the soulful, baby blue eyes of the trespasser.

Damn.

Jillian Lane.                                                                                                                                                                     

What was she doing here? He didn’t think he’d ever see her again. It’d been years since Jillian had washed her hands of Hope Wells… and of him. He was over her, but cool and casual wasn’t what pounded in his chest now. Instant disappointment at his reaction to her sent him back eleven years.

“Hello, Jack.”

Her soft sultry voice filled him up with memories. “I see you’re still breaking laws, Jillian.”

A smile surfaced and the baby blues that had once done incredible things to him, seemed just as potent now. She had charm and grace to spare, a trait he’d once thought was exclusive only to him. He’d thought he’d known her mind too, but she’d proved him wrong in the end and his grief had lasted too long to admit, even to himself.

“As I recall, you helped me break more than a few, Jack.”

The moonlit waters flowed freely around Jillian’s bare shoulders. What in hell was the famous lingerie designer wearing underneath all that pooling water? A bikini? A thong? The woman ran a successful million-dollar company aptly named Barely There. Maybe Jillian wore next to nothing.

Jack drew a deep breath reminding him that Jillian wasn’t the girl from the wrong side of the tracks anymore. She wasn’t that poor misunderstood wild child that had once touched his heart and made him want to protect and cherish her. But seeing her at the wells again, unguarded, smiling up at him with a gleam in her eyes and that come-here look on her face, had him stumbling for a comeback.

She had moved on. So had he. Both had made something of themselves. It was best to let it alone. “Now. I protect the law, Jillian.”

She looked away, staring out into the darkness. “And the fine people of Hope Wells.”

“One in the same.”

She stroked the water, her hands playing over the pooling liquid like a delicate instrument. “You were meant to be sheriff. It suits you.”

“Don’t see as I could be anything else, what with my father and his father before him, being sheriff. It’s in our blood, I suppose.”

“It’s a good thing, Jack. I understand you saved a little boy’s life. You’re the town hero.”

“I’m no hero, Jillian.”

His gut twisted. Visions of that fateful day tormented him still. That winter night six months ago, rain had poured down so heavily the banks couldn’t hold and the river overflowed in large gulps. The blinding deluge and a set of bad tires had the driver of a sedan skidding off the road and plunging into the raging water. Trapped inside the car was a family of three, a young boy and his parents. Jack had seen it all happen from his patrol car and hadn’t hesitated to jump into the river. Frantically, he’d searched for the passengers, hoping to help, hoping to save everyone. And then he’d seen it, the small arms of the boy flailing wildly from inside the car, his parents offering up the boy through the darkness as if to say, take him. Take him. Their faces strained in panic as they realized their fate. Jack would never forget that scene, as the swift current carried the car and the boy’s parents under and away. There wasn’t anything Jack could do for them but bring the boy to safety.

“I did what any other man would do in that situation.”

“Not every man, Jack.”

A breeze blew by and Jillian trembled. She’d been in the water too long. Typical Jillian.  “I think it’s time you got out.”

“You mean I can’t make a wish in the wells?”

“Is that what you’re doing, wishing?”

She gave her head a tilt. “Maybe.”

“It’s cold tonight. You should get out.”

“Is that an order, sheriff?” A teasing smile played on her lips.

“It’s a firm suggestion.”

“Will you hand me that towel over there?”

Jack reached for the towel hanging over a tree branch and walked closer to the wells as Jillian stepped out of the waters. Dewey droplets cascaded down her body adding a glimmering sheen on tanned, healthy-looking skin. He held the towel open, dipping his gaze to take a peek of frilly black silk covering her near naked body. Male fantasy wet silk.

“Thanks,” she said, tucking herself into the towel.

“It’s late. You’d best get to wherever you’re going.” He kept his focus on her face and off the tempting swells pushing the barriers of her towel.

“I’ve already been there,” she said breathlessly, running a hand through wet hair, “and the Winslows weren’t home.”

Jack arched a brow, ignoring how the honey blonde strands fell against her bare shoulders. “You’re staying at the Winslow place?”

“Yes. They said I’m welcome anytime.”

Jack twisted his lips and shook his head. He had a thousand questions for her, but only one pounded hard in his head repeatedly. Why was she here? What brought her back to Hope Wells after all this time? “Damn, Jillian. As far as I know, they’re gone for the weekend. Won’t be back until Monday.”

Jillian shrugged. “That’s okay. I’ll get a room at the motel or something.”

Jack took his hat off and ran a hand through his hair. Leave it to Jillian not to see things through. She’d always been the impulsive one, the make-love-to-me now and damn the consequences, kind of girl. Jack had been the one to hold back, to want to wait, to do right by her. Jillian had been a temptation from the start, a girl he’d wanted above all else, but he’d been the responsible one. Sometimes, he hated that about himself.

“Doubtful. The rodeo’s in town this weekend. You won’t find a room anywhere.”

Her face fell. “Oh.”

She chewed on her lower lip and Jack’s temperature rose watching her tongue dart in and out of her mouth as she contemplated her next move. He dragged his gaze off her mouth and glanced at his watch. It was almost eleven–too late for her to go traipsing along the highway looking for a place to stay. Jack doubted she’d find a vacancy for fifty miles or so.

Another breeze blew by and she shivered. Goosebumps erupted on her arms as she hugged the towel tighter. Ah, hell. “Follow my patrol car. I know a place you can stay.”

A nervous little laugh erupted and she shook her head. “No way, Jack. I’m not staying at the jail.”

Jack didn’t hide a wicked grin. “You don’t have too many options, now do you? Get dressed. I’ll wait for you by your car.”

 

Do you enjoy stories about lawmen? What did you think of the excerpt?  Some of my favorite television shows revolving around lawmen are Gunsmoke, Justified and Blue Bloods.  What are yours?  Post a comment and one blogger will be picked randomly and announced at the very end of the day to win a gift ebook copy of Taming the Texas Cowboy, book 1 or another of my available titles.  

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN is available for PRE-ORDER and released on May 22nd.

Be sure to sign up for my latest news and contests at Charlenesands.com 

 

Updated: May 9, 2017 — 4:31 pm

Ruth Logan Herne’s Newest Release!

Huge thank yous to Karen Witemeyer for hosting me here at Petticoats and Pistols, and to Mary Connealy for suggesting me as a guest today. It’s always an absolute pleasure to talk Westerns! #mustlovecowboys

I kind of stumbled into writing Westerns when asked to join a Love Inspired continuity… I was book 2 “His Montana Sweetheart” and as I chatted with the other authors about the town set-up and the events, I was smitten…

But I got firmly hooked while writing the book.

I love Westerns. I love the feel of the West, the broad, broken land, the distant horizon, the hills, mountains, the far-reaching spreads of ranches. There is something alluring about the whole thing. Something different. And when it comes to heroes, something definably masculine. Manly…

But beyond the look, there’s the unwritten code of the West… put others first.

I don’t know if that seeded itself in faith-filled beginnings or just the prairie common sense that if your horse died, you’d be next… either way, it’s a great code to live by no matter where you hang your hat.

That book became my stepping stone into Westerns and the bestselling “Double S Ranch” series from Waterbrook Press.  Even the concept sounded fun— and a little tragic, but from the very worst can spring the very best, so that was the concept I worked with. An egocentric father, mad at the world over the loss of his beloved wife, and three sons, two from different mothers and the third a nephew he rescued and adopted. If you throw together Bonanza, Dynasty, The Big Valley and a splash of My Three Sons, you’re on target… but how do you write three cowboy brothers, all raised on the same huge Central Washington spread, and keep their stories interlocked but distinct?

That’s where life comes in.

And these days life offers a lot of drama! It surrounds us, and if it doesn’t, cable news will make you feel like it does.  Based on the Biblical story of the prodigal, Colt Stafford left the Double S to prove himself in Manhattan. Ivy League educated, he amassed his own fortune while working hedge funds but it all ground to a stop when one of his major investments turned out to be an epic Ponzi scheme. With his assets tied up by the courts, Colt has nothing to show for years of hard work.  When he realizes his father is gravely ill, Colt returns to the Western ranch, ready to help. Mind you, I didn’t say he was happy to help.  But as Colt glimpses his father’s somewhat lame attempts at reconciliation, and his brother’s unhappiness, he begins to re-acclimate himself to the land he could have loved if only things had been different.

It was so much fun to compare the rigors of Wall Street financials and the cut-throat policies that prevail there and the depth of “cowboy code” and Western lore. It’s about coming home… and then being home.  It’s about a woman with a past, searching for her future… and it’s about a man’s lament, a man who put his land, his ranch, his state-of-the-art beef enterprise ahead of his children… and isn’t sure how much time he has left to fix things.

It’s about life.

Creating the Stafford men was fun, but I had to be careful to keep them lovable even though they mostly needed Gibbs-smacks upside the head. Colt, the prodigal who stalked away angry and came back, somewhat humbled… but not too humble, because Colt isn’t exactly the humble sort. Nick, the brother who stayed home on the ranch, but not for altruistic reasons. Mostly because he wanted to show up his father on how a real man gets married and has a family and stays devoted while working the land… but when his happy-ever-after walked out with a rodeo cowboy, Nick’s carefully laid plans went up in smoke. Despite his efforts, here he was, working night and day and raising two kids— two troubled kids— as a single parent. Oops.

And then, this week, just released, is Trey’s story. The third brother, a country music superstar, rescued twenty-five years ago when his country singer parents overdosed on a bad batch of heroin. Trey’s the catalyst. He’s the wound-binder. He’s the son who sees beyond Sam’s nature because he wasn’t just born to the ranch: he was chosen. Saved by an uncle who made him his own, Trey’s strong but gentle nature will never forget that blessing even though Sam hasn’t exactly supported him for pursuing country music after seeing what happened to Trey’s parents.

Three stories of forgiveness and moving on. Three Western men. Four, actually, because without Sam Stafford setting the Western stage with his newfangled ideas, there wouldn’t be a story at all… And the four women set in their paths to complete the circle.

Old posters used to proclaim “Go West!” with pictures of a covered wagon and endless grassland.

I went “West” with some of my stories, and it’s been love of the highest order ever since.

Buy Ruth’s newest release, PEACE IN THE VALLEY, on Amazon!

Take a moment to chat with Ruth and be eligible to win a print copy of  her opening book, BACK IN THE SADDLE!

BIO: With well over a million books in print, multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories with unforgettable characters, the kind of books that make you regret the last page because you simply don’t want the story to end. A mom and grandmother, Ruthy lives on a small farm in upstate New York.  She’s no stranger to power tools, livestock or an oven.  She loves her dishwasher and she’s not afraid to discharge errant critters that might find their way into her old farmhouse.  And we’re not talking “catch-and-release” here. She loves chatting with readers and writers on Facebook so send her a friend request, or follow her on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne. Keep up with her scheduled releases and maybe some farm life at her website http://www.ruthloganherne.com, or her blogs http://www.ruthysplace.com, http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com (with 12 other authors!) or the fun café she operates with friends http://www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com.

Updated: April 29, 2017 — 8:25 pm

Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson

 

                                                            

A while back,  I and my hubby T.L., brother-in-law Timmy and sis Roberta (l-r in the pic above) had the experience of a lifetime, taking a wagon train around the Tetons with an amazing group, Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventures headed by wagonmaster Jeff Warburton out of Jackson, Wyoming. He’s a true cowboy and a gentleman and guested here in Wildflower Junction not long after we got back.

Anyway, this fantastic trip helped inspire my eight-novella series Hearts Crossing Ranch, about the lives and loves of eight siblings of a Colorado working ranch that also runs city slicker wagon trains. The entire series–including the never-before-published finale about the baby sister Chelsea–has been compiled in one big anthology, available next month, and available for pre-order.

 

Anyway….We spent four days circling the Tetons through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest bordering Yellowstone bear country. We didn’t see any bear– likely the thundering horses skeered ’em away.

We got our start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First stop on the bus taking us to the wagons were photo-ops of the Grand lady herself..followed by her neighbor Mount Moran reflected perfectly in a oxbow lake.

These scenes were practically perfection in itself..but all breath stopped when we reached The Wagons.

 There was nothing quite like chuck wagon cooking in the open mountain air.

Pulling our wagons were magnificent draft horses, Percherons and Belgians. They are named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 pounds as a team, and they love to work. In winter, they lead sleighs to the elk refuge outside Jackson.                                                              

While the wagons do have rubber tires and padded benches, the gravel roads are nothing like a modern freeway. Most times our route was called the “cowboy rollercoaster.”

Most of our hard-working, helpful cowpokes were college students working for the summer. I promise you they remembered everybody’s name from the get-go. No question was too dumb.

 

 

I think everybody’s favorite “crew member” was Buddy, probably the cutest dog ever. He accompanied every trail ride after following the draft horses from camp to camp…he romped in every stream and lake, caught mice, and totally stole everybody’s heart. Jeff says, Buddy’s pretty disgusted to become a backyard dog after the summertime.

Our tents were comfy—all sleeping essentials are provided–, and there was nothing so fine as a cup of Arbuckle’s to warm us up on a chilly evening.  After supper—cowboy potatoes, Indian frybread, and raspberry butter are among our favorites—we gathered around the campfire for Jeff’s tall tales, historical accounts of the Old West, legends, guitar strumming, cowboy poetry and songs, S’mores, and delicious Dutch oven desserts such as peach cobbler and cherry chocolate cake always served to the ladies first.

One of the nicest parts of the meals was Jeff leading us in a blessing first. Nobody had to join in…but seems like everybody did.

 

Days were full of Wyoming wildflowers, lakes and pine trees reaching for the clouds.   Nights after the camp quieted down were almost beyond description: the stars are endless, multi-layered, sparkling on forever and ever amen. What a sight.                                                   

But the most fun of all was riding horses!  Folks either rode, hiked, or wagonned it to the next camp each day.   My favorite mount was Copper. You can see her ears in the photo below–I’m astride and taking a pic of my hubby, ahead in the red ball cap.

t

Our last day, the Pony Express rode through camp and brought us all mail.

Me and mine, well, we had the time of our life.

 

As Jeff said when we left, “There’s always be a campfire burnin’ for ya here in Wyomin.”

 

Yep. I’m feeling the warmth right now.

Sigh.

 

Updated: April 6, 2017 — 11:40 pm

Old West Towns: Real or Myth?

Shops and businesses on the streets away from the center of town were laid out willy-nilly; some with entries facing alleyways. Boarding houses and private homes were seemingly dropped at random, as if tossed like dice from a gambler’s hand. –from my WIP, Stop the Wedding (book #1 Shotgun Brides)

I’m working on a new 3-book series that takes place in the fictional town of Haywire, Texas.   Before I could begin writing, it was necessary to map out my town.  Fans of western movies might think that’s a bit strange.  When a town is only one street wide and a block long, what’s to map out?  Well, for one thing, western movie sets are generally much smaller than a real town ever was, and less spread out.

Gold Hills, Nevada

The town in my book was built prior to the Civil War.  That’s important to know, because towns founded before the war generally sprang-up along wandering cow paths.   If you ever got lost in parts of Boston, as I once did, you’d know how confusing such towns can be.

Fortunately, after the war, town founders hired surveyors to plat grids oriented to railroad specifications. This practice came too late to help the poor residents of Haywire—or my hero who gets lost while chasing a bad guy through town.

Since business taxes in the Old West were calculated on width, shops and saloons were built long and narrow. What was generally called Outhouse Alley ran behind the buildings, parallel to the main thoroughfare.

Some buildings did double-duty. Schools often shared space with the Oddfellows or Masons, and shopkeepers lived over shops.

My town’s main street is T-shaped which runs into the railroad.  On the other end of Main, the town is split in two by a hundred-foot wide cross street.  A street like this was known in many western towns as the Dead Line, the purpose of which was to separate moral businesses from those beyond the pale.

Dead Line streets were wide enough so that anyone who accidentally ventured into the wrong side of town, occupied by saloons, bordellos and in Haywire’s case, the barbershop, could easily turn horse and wagon around.  Thus delicate constitutions were saved and reputations left intact.

Typically, the bank would be built next to the sheriff or marshal’s office, which explains why bank robberies in the Old West were rare. Only the most daring outlaw would attempt a bank robbery. It was much easier to rob stages—and a whole lot healthier.

Movies do get some things right. For example, buildings in many towns were mostly wood with false fronts.  These fake facades were added to make hastily-built buildings look more impressive and provide a place for signage.  Some towns, especially in the south-west where few trees could be found, were built mostly from adobe.

Speaking of movies, what western would be complete without having the hero barge through a saloon’s bat-wing doors? In reality, not every saloon had such doors. In some parts of the country, it was too cold or windy and too much dust would blow inside. Saloons that did have café doors also had standard doors that could be shut and locked when necessary.  A tour guide at Universal Studios explained that movie sets had saloon doors of different sizes: an extra-large one to make the heroine appear small and demure, and an extra-small door to make the hero appear taller and more imposing.

Another thing that frontier towns had that you won’t see in most western movies is a sign telling visitors to check their guns.  Now that’s one area where Hollywood and Haywire can agree.

Have you ever visited a western ghost town or movie lot?

 

Welcome to Two-Time, Texas

There’s a new sheriff in town and she almost always gets her man!

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Updated: April 27, 2017 — 4:50 am

CROP CIRCLES & LEGENDS OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN (Plus free give-away)

Howdy!

Strange title, eh?  Or maybe not.   THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR from the Lost Clan Series is based on a myth that is common throughout the American Indian myths — tribe to tribe.  The story of the Thunderer.

But there’s another legend that caught my interest early on — and it is the one I thought I’d discuss with you today.  At the time I came upon this myth, I knew nothing about crop circles — had never heard of them — but this legend, and my knowledge of crop circles has left some questions in my mind — and I thought I’d tell you about them.

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, from the Legendary Warriors Series, is based in no small degree upon the myth of a hunter and the daughters of the Star People.  The book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE actually starts with the hero and heroine and the legend as it is told in Native American lore.  Interestingly, I found this myth not in just one tribe — but several — and the thing is, it was told almost (but not quite) identically, tribe to tribe.  The legend I’m about to tell you is from the Shawnee.stortell[1]

I believe that the name of the hero (it’s from a children’s book that I’m quoting) is Red Hawk, and the name of the book is RED HAWK AND THE SKY SISTERS by Gloria Dominic and Charles Reasoner.  Again, this legend is repeated in several different tribes — although the hero’s name is often different.

Red Hawk is a great hunter.  But he is puzzled because he sees the same thing in the prairie each time he goes to hunt.  It is a circle — a perfect circle — but there are no paths leading up to it — or going away from it.  There is evidence that something was there and made the circle — but how?  Red Hawk decides to spend the night, hiding himself from view.

51GoIbPuXOL._SL110_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-sm,TopRight,10,-13_OU01_[1]And so he does.  He discovers by hiding himself, that a basket gently falls to the earth and that there is singing from feminine voices.  As the basket comes to land softly on the earth, the sisters alight from the basket and dance around it in a circle.  Red Hawk watches this for many nights until one night he falls in love with one of the sisters — the youngest I believe.  And so, once again hiding himself, he waits until the sisters are about to get into the basket and go back into the sky — but suddenly he jumps out from his hiding place and captures the woman of his heart.

They marry and are happy, but she misses her home in the sky (she is a star).  They have a  child and she wishes to take the child and return to visit her home in the sky.  Our hero lets her go, but keeps the child with him, hoping that the child will be enough to cause her to return.  When she doesn’t return, our hero again captures her, and she falls in love with him all over and they live happily ever after.

th[1]I did find that the ending varies a bit from tribe to tribe, and I’m uncertain of how this book ends the story — I have this book, but of course, needing to find it for this post, the book eludes me.  : )

So what does this have to do with crop circles and aliens.  Well, I found it very interesting that crop circles seem similar and are also tied to aliens — here’s a link, if you’ve never heard of crop circles:  https://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/cutting/cropcirc.htm

Here is a picture of an actual crop circle — where the crops have been bent back without any footprints to or from the circle.   They are usually made at night — and made within one night.

Although attributed to more modern times, it’s interesting to me that our legend goes back centuries — to come to us today — to perhaps make the crop circle even more mysterious.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the post today.  And I hope I’ve created some interest in the American Indian legend.   Oh, and by the way, what do you think of the legend and the crop circles in general?

I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today to some lucky blogger — please see the Giveaway Guidelines over to the right here for our rules that govern giveaways.  Oh, also I wanted you all to know that LAKOTA SURRENDER, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER are now on KindleUnlimited.  If you are a part of that, you can now read those books for free.  Nice, huh?…

 

Updated: April 24, 2017 — 10:56 am

The Pathfinders — John C Fremont

 

The Pathfinders – John C Fremont

I’ve written a series of posts I call The Pathfinders.

I’ve talked about John Mullen, John Colter, Kit Carson, and Jim Bridger.

Today I’m writing about the guy they call………..The Pathfinder.

Yep, he’s the guy that inspired this whole thing.

John C Fremont — The Pathfinder

As I write my books I am struck, again and again, with how formidable the west was to people traveling through it. The mountains, the deserts, the vast grasslands. Not only the land but the grizzlies, the herds of buffalo. The harsh winters, the burning hot summers, and the storms in all seasons. Let’s add native people who weren’t that crazy about their new neighbors.

A person couldn’t just start driving their covered wagon across the land and hope to survive. There were streams and rivers that were hard to cross. Someone had to find the places shallow enough, without sinking mud and steep sides. Even on fairly level grasslands you had to guide your team to water, and there weren’t just creeks and lakes everywhere.

The deserts had water holes and narrow crossings but you had to know where they were. These are cattle drive stories many of them. The Goodnight Loving Trail was a wonder. Goodnight and Loving found a way through that no one had ever traveled before (well, not with a herd of cattle needing to be watered)

The Rockies. ON MY GOSH. Hello? Sacagawea dragging the Louis and Clark Expedition through? Donner Party anyone??

I am honestly just in awe of the men who made this their life. Finding a path through these places. What compelled them to do such a thing? How would you set out in the mountains and hope to find your way through. First on horseback, then a trail a wagon could cross, finally a path wise enough, up and down those vast, rugged mountains for a train.

John C. Fremont — The Pathfinder

And no one…No One was better at it than John C Fremont. In the 1840s, Fremont led five expeditions into the American West.

Fremont’s first expedition

was in 1842. He went with Kit Carson to present day Wyoming to find and map a path called South Pass, first discovered by Jedediah Smith. This trail was at first only passable on foot, so narrow and with such cliffs and barriers a horse couldn’t cross it. By 1846, after Fremont’s expedition and with tons of work to widen and clear it, it became the Oregon Trail.

Fremont’s reputation was launched from this. He was featured in dime novels, including one called The Pathfinder, which propelled to him to nationwide fame.

Fremont’s second expedition

was began at South Pass and was to map and describe the rest of the trail to Oregon. Jedediah Smith again led the way, but Smith never wrote down a good description, he never drew a map. He just told tales and Fremont, again with Kit Carson, followed Smith’s trail all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

 

Fremont also reached the site of present day Las Vegas and he is the first non-native person to see Lake Tahoe. He saw it from a great height and didn’t go down close to it, but he wrote of seeing it. The maps he drew led the pioneers through the Oregon and California trails, inspired the Mormons to travel to Utah, and were the road map for the 49ers heading for the California Gold Rush.

Fremont’s third expedition

was a wild one. He started out to explore the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains but instead ending up in California, nearly started a war with Mexico, and had battles with the Indians, both of which nearly cost him his entire crew of men. Fremont, the son-in-law of a powerful Senator, ended up being appointed California’s military governor, but there was trouble when the president appointed another man, and Fremont ended up being court marshalled and thrown out of the army. He was pardoned. But his career was over.

And then came

Fremont’s fourth expedition

To restore his honor after the mess in California, Fremont, along with his father-in-law Thomas Hart Benton, went all in to work for America’s Manifest Destiny. That was the idea that the United States should spread all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Mexico had signed California over to America but the country had yet to really take control of the area. Fremont set out to plot a path for the railroad to reach San Francisco. It was a disaster at the time, with ten of his thirty-five men dying on the trip due to unexpected snow storms.

Fremont’s fifth and final expedition

was mostly a second try at finding a railroad path along the same trail he’d tried before. His goal was to pass through the Rocky Mountains in winter. It was a brutal journey but they made it and this path was ultimately the trail taken by the Transcontinental Railroad. Fremont had found the way to connect the nation.

John C Fremont for President 1856 at age 43

Fremont also was an anti-slavery Republican presidential candidate in the election before Abraham Lincoln was elected. He was 43 when he ran. Yes, that’s right, he’d done all that stuff, all those expeditions and he was only 43 and was back east running for president. 

James Buchanan won and many believe Buchanan’s sloppy handling of the growing divide between the north and south led to the Civil War.

Fremont then fought in the Civil War and rose to the rank of General, yes this was after he’d been court martialed and drummed out of the military.

He also discovered and documented countless new species of plants and he has so many western places named after him it’s almost funny, including towns named Fremont in ten states, streams, canyons, counties, schools, on and on and on. Chances are if you named something in the west Fremont, the man had been there.

When I read about Fremont’s life after his exploring years, the man seemed like honestly a radical nut, always in trouble. He declared an emancipation proclamation before Lincoln did, in Missouri and he put the whole state under martial law. He had absolutely no power to do this, but he did it anyway. This is just a sample of some of his wild ways.

But I think a man living in the west, forging his own path, had to be so independent, such an individual and so used to being a in charge and going his own way, that he’d make a darned poor employees.

Long Time Gone

Do you have anything near you named Fremont? Can you imagine what it took to be a pathfinder? Tell me the bravest thing you’ve ever done. The wildest thing?

Could You Have Found a Path Across the West?

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Long Time Gone (Cimarron Legacy #2)

Long Time Gone 4 Star Romantic Times Review

Here is another amazing, fast-paced, suspenseful, page-turning novel by Connealy! Written in third person, this works as a stand-alone novel, but is the second in the Cimarron Legacy series. You will recognize characters from the first book as well as from a past series. This is a must-read that will stick with you long after you finish. Recommended for fans of historical suspense.

 

Updated: April 20, 2017 — 7:09 am

THE MAKING OF A WESTERN SERIES and a giveaway by Charlene Sands

Most of the romantic series I’ve written are family sagas, with the stories centering around one set of family members or friends and usually, (but not always) the stories are set in the same town, territory, or city.  But the key factor is how to tie in the stories, while still making the plot easy to follow for readers who have not read the other books.  Authors often say the books are part of a series, but they can also be read as a STAND ALONE, meaning they have all the elements in the story to make for a satisfying read even if you haven’t read the other books.   It’s the task and joy for the writer to make sure the story holds up and is a cohesive enough to stand alone.

My series are usually a set of three stories, but sometimes as I’m writing, another character pops up that needs his or her to be told.  So there’s no hard and fast rule about how many books can be in a series.  If an author has a vision for six or ten or fifteen stories and the readers are invested enough and love the stories, the writing, and the setting, more the better.

 

 

What’s Fun About Writing a Series:

The Setting—once the town or ranch or territory is established, readers (and the authors) love to revisit familiar places from the earlier books.  In my Forever Texan series we often see the Bluebonnet Bakery and Wishing Wells and 2 Hope Ranch.

Taming the Texas Cowboy

The Characters—it’s fun to see the characters interact together from one story to another. Brothers, sisters, cousins, moms and dads and best friends all play a role, but the writers strive to make sure the romance between the hero and heroine is the main event in every story. The secondary characters often get their own stories later down the road.

The Theme – Often there’s an underlying theme that connects the stories.  It can something as simple as a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas maybe, or a special event such as a rodeo coming to town.  It can also be a wedding or a pregnancy that connects the stories.  The themes know no bounds.  I was once  part of a multi-author series about a Bachelor Auction.  I’ve also written a series centered around a winery called Napa Valley Vows, a series centered around a hotel called Suite Secrets and around a ranching family called The Slades of Sunset Ranch.

The Love–  Not between hero and heroine, because that’s a given,  but for the author.  Once I’ve established my town and the people in it and yes, even the stories I plot and plan out, I sorta fall in love with the whole idea.  These people are my friends, this town is somewhere I’d love to live and it’s the journey and the challenge to make the series click and stick, as I say.   One thing I know for certain, once the love is gone, once the writer tires of the setting or runs out of story, it’s time to move on, to be inspired once again.

I’m really proud of my new Forever Texan story set in Hope Wells, Texas.  The stories center around two cousins and their best friend.  It’s been a labor of love for me, as I started this series long ago and have finally found the right time and place to publish this trio of amazing Texans.   I’ve been lucky enough to have input in the covers, the titles and series name.  It makes this all the more special for me.

You may already know the first book in the series Taming the Texas Cowboy starring Trey and Maddie Walker, but I’m happy to say the second book in the series (Jack and Jillian’s story) is available for pre-order.  And this is the OFFICIAL COVER REVEAL for Loving the Texas Lawman.   I know, it’s a hardship looking at this guy, isn’t it?

 

 

The last thing honorable Sheriff Jack Walker needs is a blast from the past, but that’s exactly what he gets when his high school love, now sexy lingerie designer, Jillian Lane arrives on his doorstep needing his help and protection. 

Jillian is desperate to save her company, Barely There and turning to Jack Walker, the town hero, is her only option. The trouble she left behind in California has followed her home, leaving Jack no choice but to protect her. Unwittingly, Jillian’s put everything Jack has ever wanted in life at risk. 

The years have not made it easier for Jack to say no to his first love, but saying yes may threaten all he holds dear. Jack may have a solution: marriage–the temporary kind. And how can a girl from the wrong side of the tracks refuse a marriage proposal from her one-time love? 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y3MW7HJ/?tag-tulepubli-20&tag=pettpist-20

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1126172852?ean=2940157567781

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/loving-the-texas-lawman/id1224208557?mt=11

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/loving-the-texas-lawman

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06Y3MW7HJ/?tag-tulepubli-21&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

For Fun:  Take a guess at the names of my hero and heroine from FOREVER TEXAN Book 3 titled, Redeeming the Texas Rancher coming this August.  Post either number ONE, TWO OR THREE and be entered into a random drawing to win a backlist book of your choice, either print or digital from my available titles.   Random drawing winner will be posted later tonight.  Be sure to stop by again!

 

  1. Conner and Willow
  2. Tristan and Susanna
  3. Colby and Dakota

 

 

Updated: April 11, 2017 — 12:08 pm

Can Horses Fly? How About Hearts?~Tanya Hanson and a Giveaway!

Eadweard Muybridge, born Edward Muggeridge in Kingston-upon-Thames, London, (April 30, 1820) became an American icon. How? By inventing the motion picture! When I first read about him years ago, I knew someday, somehow, he would be a character in one of my books—and he finally did, in my latest release, When Hearts Fly. (I’m giving an e-copy away today to one commenter, so please leave some words behind before you ride off.)

What made him stand out to me? Well, first of all, was the name change. I grew up with such an odd name myself, I would never have made it worse. But when he came to America in 1850, Edward Muggeridge spelled it Eadweard Muybridge because he believed the archaic spellings were truer to his Old English roots.

However, he took “Helois” as his professional name as a photographic artist in San Francisco where he earned a stellar reputation. In a traveling darkroom, he produced breathtaking landscapes of the West, most famously Yosemite and Alaska.

At thirty, Muybridge suffered a head injury in a stagecoach accident. Changes in his behavior and vision alarmed his friends. It is believed now the accident damaged his frontal cortex, an explanation for his increasingly eccentric behavior…

…which culminated in the cold-blooded, shot-through-the-heart murder of his wife Flora’s lover in 1874. He had become convinced her baby had been fathered by Major Harry Larkins. Although his lawyers used the stagecoach injury in an insanity defense, the jurors didn’t buy it. Nonetheless, they did acquit Muybridge on the grounds of justifiable homicide.

(His penchant for killing an adulterous male is a plot point in my novella, when my hero’s past behavior with Muybridge’s fictional niece is misconstrued.)

The early 1870’s saw the rise of Muybridge’s place in history. Railroad tycoon, former California governor, and soon-to-be-founder of a great University, Leland Stanford hired Eadweard to settle a bet.

A fiery controversy blazed at this time: was there ever a moment in a horse’s gait when all four hooves left the ground? Prevailing attitudes claimed NO—if horses were meant to fly God would have given them wings.

But Stanford believed differently and wanted Muybridge to capture the moment. However, the moment happened too fast for the human eye to see.

During some five years of experiments at Stanford’s farm in Palo Alto, California, Muybridge’s primitive results did show a horse “in flight” but the results did not survive. Finally, he and Stanford were ready to face the crowds. In June, 1878, at a racetrack at the farm, Muybridge set up 12 cameras with strings tripping the shutters  to capture the images against a screen. In front of enthusiastic spectators, a horse named Sallie Gardener proved four feet off the ground.

The achievement was featured in the October 1878 issue of Scientific American.

In 1883, Muybridge went to the University of Pennsylvania to continue his photographic studies of animals—and humans, some nude!—in motion. He had access to the veterinary college and the local zoo. And unclothed athletes as well.

His invention, the zoopraxiscope, showed images on a rotating glass plate projected against a screen. However, the images on the scope, about the size of a dinner plate, had to be drawn on. At that time, they were not his actual photographs. He toured the country and Europe giving demonstrations of “motion pictures.”

Muybridge’s techniques inspired Thomas Edison back then, and still inspire artists and film makers today. He died of cancer in 1904.

Are you a fan of motion pictures? What’s your favorite movie Western?

Blurb:

Innkeeper Cordy Meeker wants a cowboy all her own and to head to the mountains to find him. But she faces financial ruin thanks to her late gambler brother and a hopeless winter of no paying guests. With the bank threatening foreclosure, she needs help fast.

On his way to his family’s holdings in Colorado, British nobleman Hawk Shockley lands in Paradise, Nebraska on a whim, robbed and penniless. Concocting a money-making scheme with the beautiful Cordy is easy, and giving his heart easier, but a woman has gotten him into a pickle before. So…when Eadweard Muybridge threatens to come to town, will a last-minute wedding make things better? Or worse?

Excerpt:

Cordy tightened the shawl so she didn’t scream. But cry, never that. No man would ever make her cry again. Not even the foolish banker. Never. Not after Lambert Truefitt. In some way, she would outwit Mr. Pelikan and his ilk at the bank. True, she hadn’t had a guest for weeks. True, her Sunday chicken dinners were wildly popular. But also true, locals hurried home after church before it snowed again.

So bills had mounted. She and her horses had to eat. The mercantile allowed her to pay down her debt of nine dollars and twenty cents two bits at a time.

Clancy. She clenched her fists. A trudge to the cemetery would be muddy, but the urge to kick her brother’s headstone wouldn’t be stifled. Finally, anger outranked grief, relief, and guilt. On her way to the tiny vestibule where she kept her rubber boots, the little counter bell clanged. But she didn’t hurry. With her present luck, it would be Sheriff Pelton arresting her on behalf of her felonious brother, and she couldn’t afford bail. Finally she called out on the fourth ring.

“I’ll be right with you.” Then she tripped on a boot, stumbled, flailed.

And landed in the arms of a man just in time to break her fall. His warmth scented from the outdoors snuggled around her. Cordy managed to toss her arms around his neck. He held her panting form against his mighty chest.

Then her breath stopped. The sight of him heated her blood. Here he was, as if stepping out from a dream. Her Wild West cowboy, with his Stetson and scruffy cheeks and lake-blue eyes she wanted to drown in.

“Are you all right?” His voice rumbled from his chest to her ear. A drawl mixed with someplace else.

“Yes.” She saddened when he broke contact and set her down. He kept hold of her hand, and she practically fell in love on the spot. “I’m fine. Thank you.”

“I am Keaton Shockley.” He touched his brim and removed his Stetson. Weather and leather ruffled his rugged coffee-brown hair. “And I’d like to let a room. I must find C. Meeker, proprietor.”

Her heart flipped inside itself. Not only a paying customer, but a handsome one. Oh, and how magnificently that duster tightened around his shoulder muscles when he moved.

“You have found her. I’m Miss Cordelia Meeker. Welcome to my inn.” She held out her hand. Adding the Miss risked her appearing a stuffy spinster, but it was a surefire way to inform him she was unmarried. “But do call me Cordy.” There.

“Do call me Hawk.”

“Hawk?” Oh, so…cowboy!

She sparked to her toes when they touched. He raised the hand he held, slowly, then placed it against his warm lips. “Keaton supposedly means where hawks fly.”

 

 

Updated: March 16, 2017 — 1:49 pm
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