Did you know that I have often referred to the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, as my “musical?” No, not like a musical you might see on television or the movies — if you open up the book, it doesn’t play a song, and yet, in many ways, I’ve often thought of it as my musical. Interestingly, it is also based on a myth.
SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, from the Legendary Warriors Series, is inspired by a myth of a hunter and a daughter 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.
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 print of a circle in the grasses of the prairie each time he goes to hunt. It is 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.
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, three sisters alight from the basket and dance around it in a circle. Red Hawk watches this for many nights until one night he realizes that he has fallen 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 again and they live happily ever after.
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.
Now, what does this have to do with music and with a song? Well, maybe a lot. This book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, starts out with a song and the legend, and it ends with a song, incorporating, also, the legend.
In my youth, I used to watch Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies on television. I was enchanted with them, and with their music, which is operetta. Not full opera, but a light taste of it. My characters, I must admit, are drawn from both Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s personalities. Sometime in the future I might do a blog on these two people. They were in love, but never married, and it appears as if they were prevented from marrying. Perhaps that’s only a theory, but there appears to be some truth to it.
But that aside, I thought I’d leave you all a link to some great Native American music. The group is Brule’. This is a band of the Sioux tribe. It is extremely inspiring music, and so I’d leave you this for today. Please enjoy.
I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today to some lucky blogger, so I would encourage you to leave a comment — please see the Giveaway Guidelines over to the right here for our rules that govern giveaways, and be sure to come back in a few days to see if you are a winner.
What do you think? Is it possible to create a musical with text?
I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but I’ve had some strange things happen during the writing of a book. I once turned a manuscript into my editor at the same time another writer turned in hers. Oddly, enough, our protagonists shared the same first names and professions. There were also many other similarities throughout our manuscripts, and all had to be changed.
Another time I was hiking a trail in Mammoth when I met a geologist who was the spitting image of the geologist hero in the book I was working on. Even weirder, his first name was Damian and I’d named my hero Damon. Close enough, right?
But the strangest thing that happened occurred recently. I’d been toying with the idea of taking a DNA Ancestry test for quite some time, so my daughter decided to gift me with one for Christmas. The results were pretty much what I expected, with one surprise. It turns out that the outlaw Jesse James and I share a common ancestor.
The timing was especially weird since Jesse James plays a part in the book I’m currently working on. Come to think of it, it’s not the first time Jesse James has popped up in one of my books, and I can’t count how many blogs I’ve written about the outlaw.
That’s because Jesse is a fun person to write about. Not only was he controversial, he had both a light and dark side. The son of a Baptist minister, he was known to pass out press releases to witnesses at his holdups and had no qualms about exaggerating his height. He might also be the only person on record who took a gang on his honeymoon. I don’t know what his bride did while he and his gang robbed a stage. Maybe she went shopping.
Jesse James lived for only thirty-four years, but there was never a dull moment. He was a Confederate guerrilla, was shot in the chest on two separate occasions and once overdosed on morphine. He also claimed to have murdered seventeen people.
Jesse went by many aliases, but his nickname was Dingus because he shot off the tip of his finger while cleaning his pistol. He wrote glowing articles about his gang, saying that they robbed the rich and gave to the poor, though all indications are that they kept the spoils to themselves.
Far as I know, he was also the first person to prove that housework can kill. While tidying up his house, he was fatally shot by his new hire Bob Ford in the back of the head.
I can’t tell you what it was about Jesse James that first caught my interest. I can’t even tell you why this writer, who’s allergic to horses, writes Westerns. All I can say, is that it must be in my DNA.
Have any of you had your DNA tested? If so, were there any surprises that you’re willing to share
We are thrilled to welcome guest author Kristy McCaffrey to the Junction today. Kristy will be giving away a copy of her new book Rosemary to one lucky commenter!
Long before the westward expansion of the United States, the Spanish were present. Markings on a canyon wall in central Utah consisting of a cross symbol bear the date ‘1667’. Hieroglyphics and pictographs originally thought to be placed by Native Americans are actually markers along the Spanish Trail, which led from Mexico to the Uinta Mountains (in Utah) and beyond. This trail was the main link between Mexican and Spanish outposts, and it’s posited that they were religious outposts. The Spanish presence lasted well into the 1800’s, when packs of Mexicans were reportedly leaving the Uinta Mountains laden with gold.
Until the 1800’s, the tales of the Spanish gold mines were the subject of Native American history, with few white men knowing of the mines. The Spaniards used the Native Americans as slave labor, and after many years of oppression it’s believed that they revolted and killed most of their Spanish captors. Supposedly the Native Americans returned the gold bullion to the earth and sealed it in the very mines from which it had come.
Thomas Rhoades, a close assistant to Mormon Church leader Brigham Young, was one of the first white men to fully understand the implications of the Spanish mines. Young had become a religious mentor to a Ute Indian named Chief Walkara, who spoke of a secret cache of gold in the Uinta Mountains. The chief agreed to give the gold to the church, and Rhoades was selected to transport it to Salt Lake City.
Unfortunately, the Indians refused to remove the gold, believing it to be cursed. But it was easy for Rhoades to transport since it was already mined and left in bullion form. His first trip was said to have lasted two weeks, yielding more than sixty pounds of pure gold. For several years, Rhoades continued to transfer gold until, in 1887, he discovered additional mines located off Indian ground. This spurred interest in the lost Spanish gold mines, since it appeared there wasn’t just one mine to be found but many.
Prospector With Donkey
Searching for the mines could be deadly. In the early years, stories circulated of prospectors being shot and killed, often by Native
Americans protecting the sacred mines. Even as recently as 1990 there have been reports of modern-day prospectors being fired upon as a warning by Native Americans who protect the land near historic mining operations.
Old-timers in the Uinta Mountains have claimed there are seven mines lined with pure gold that supplied the Aztecs, serving as the basis for the seven golden cities of Cibola sought by early Spanish explorers.
In ROSEMARY, Book 11 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series, Rosemary goes in search of the fabled Floriana mine in the wilderness of the Utah Territory in 1884. While The Floriana is a fictitious mine, I based it on tales of the time.
Rosemary Brennan is recovering from the loss of her husband five months prior in a devastating mine accident that took the lives of nearly all the men in Wildcat Ridge. The mine owner, Mortimer Crane, has given the widows an ultimatum—find husbands or he will evict them from their homes and businesses. Desperate to keep the assay office that her deceased husband had managed, she heads into the hills in search of an old Spanish mine called The Floriana in the hope she can lay claim to a bonanza of gold.
Ex-U.S. Deputy Marshal Miles McGinty arrives in Wildcat Ridge to pay his respects to Jack Brennan’s widow. He and Jack had a history, and Miles is heartsick over the loss of the young man he had come to think of as a brother. When he learns of Rosemary’s problems with the piggish Crane, he will do anything to help her—even offering marriage. But when it becomes clear that Crane knew of Jack’s criminal past and was blackmailing him over it, Miles must decide whether to tell Rosemary the truth, because doing so may drive her away. And to his surprise, Miles has fallen in love with his new wife.
Kristy McCaffrey writes historical western romances brimming with grit and emotion, along with contemporary adventure stories packed with smoldering romance and spine-tingling suspense. Her work is filled with compelling heroes, determined heroines, and her trademark mysticism. Kristy holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering, but writing has been her passion since she was very young. Her four children are nearly grown and gone, so she and her husband frequently pursue their love of travel to the far corners of the world. Kristy believes life should be lived with curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, and one should never be far from the enthusiasm of a dog. An Arizona native, she resides in the desert north of Phoenix. To learn more about her work, visit her website.
I read a book, and I knew I had to go see this place for myself… It all started when I read THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH by Robert Hicks, a novel he wrote about a woman who made the dead soldiers of the War Between the States her life’s work. By the time I finished reading that book, I knew I had to go visit this place, Carnton, where she had lived and devoted her life to the dead.
Carnton is the name of the plantation just outside of Franklin, TN, where Carrie Winder McGavock and her husband John made their home with their two children, Hattie and Winder. There is so much history that comes before the fateful Battle of Franklin that changed Carrie’s life forever that there is no room to include it in this post.
So I will start with a brief nutshell of the circumstances. At the time of the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, Carrie’s children were nine (Hattie) and seven (Winder). Carrie herself was thirty-five, her husband, John McGavock, fourteen years her senior at forty-nine. They had been married several years, Carrie coming from Louisiana to marry John, who was quite a wealthy man for the times, worth over six million dollars in our present day currency. He owned the flourishing plantation, Carnton, in middle Tennessee, where he and his brother James had been raised,. The McGavocks raised wheat, hay, corn, and potatoes, as well as maintaining a thoroughbred horse ranch.
Carnton, (Scottish for “the place of stones”) was less than one mile from the battle that took place on the far Union Eastern flank. Most of the battle took place after dark, from 5-9p.m., so the McGavocks could see the firefight that went on over the town of Franklin that evening. Because their plantation was so close, it became a field hospital for the Confederate troops.
More than 6,000 soldiers were wounded and another 1,000 were missing. After the battle, many Franklin-area homes were converted into temporary field hospitals, but Carnton by far was the largest hospital site. Hundreds of Confederate wounded and dying were tended by Carrie McGavock and the family after the battle. Some estimates say that as many as 300 Confederate soldiers were cared for by the McGavocks inside Carnton alone. Hundreds more were moved to the slave quarters, the outbuildings, even the smokehouse—and when the buildings were full, the wounded had to lie outside during the frigid nights, when the temperature reached below zero.
After the battle, at 1 a.m. on December 1, Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, evacuated toward Nashville, leaving all the dead, including (several hundred) Union soldiers, and the wounded who were unable to walk, as well. So when morning came, the 750 or so residents of Franklin faced an unimaginable scene of what to do with over 2,500 dead soldiers, most of those being 1,750 Confederates.
According to George Cowan’s “History of McGavock Confederate Cemetery,” “All of the Confederate dead were buried as nearly as possible by states, close to where they fell, and wooden headboards were placed at each grave with the name, company and regiment painted or written on them.” Many of the soldiers were originally buried on property belonging to Fountain Branch Carter and James McNutt. Many of the Union soldiers were re-interred in 1865 at the Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro.
Over the next eighteen months (from all of 1865 through the first half of 1866) many of the markers were either rotting or used for firewood, and the writing on the boards was disappearing. Thus, to preserve the graves, John and Carrie McGavock donated 2 acres of their property to be designated as an area for the Confederate dead to be re-interred. The citizens of Franklin raised the funding and the soldiers were exhumed and re-interred in the McGavock Confederate Cemetery for the sum of $5.00 per soldier.
A team of individuals led by George Cuppett took responsibility for the reburial operation in the spring of 1866. By June, some ten weeks after the start, the last Confederate soldier was laid to rest at McGavock Cemetery. Some 1,481 Rebel soldiers would now be at peace. Soldiers from every Southern state in the Confederacy, except Virginia, is represented in the cemetery.
Sadly, George Cuppett’s brother, Marcellus, died during the process of the reburials. Just 25 years old, he is buried at the head of the Texas section in the McGavock Cemetery. He is the only civilian interred there.
The McGavocks, especially Carrie, took great care to preserve the identity of the Confederate soldiers. The original names and identities of the soldiers were recorded in a cemetery record book by George Cuppett, and the book fell into the watchful hands of Carrie after the battle. The original book is on display upstairs in Carnton. Time has not been favorable to the identities of the Confederate soldiers though. 780 Confederate soldiers’ identities are positively identified, leaving some 558 as officially listed as unknown.
Most of the above was taken from the Wikipedia article about Carnton and the McGavocks. Now you know the FACTS, but let me tell you about my impression of this remarkable woman and the cause she put above all else.
Robert Hicks’s book, THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH, is a fictionalized story about Carrie and John McGavock and their lives, but that was what made me want to travel to Franklin and see the house for myself. I put the description that Wikipedia gave near the beginning because I can’t begin to do it justice. It is one of the most gorgeous, meticulously restored homes of that period you will ever see. They do not allow pictures AT ALL as you’re touring inside. Many of the pieces of furniture, glassware and the pictures that are on the walls have been donated by the McGavock extended family and most everything in the house is a genuine period piece, whether it belonged to the family or not.
It is said that Winder’s room was used as an operating room. A table was set up by the east-facing window where the surgeries were performed. Today, there is a table there much like what would have been used, along with the crude medical implements that were available at the time. Our guide told us that when the doctor finished an amputation, he would throw the limb out the window, get the man off the table and make room for the next one. Because the doctor most likely wore a rubberized apron, the blood pooled in a kind of horseshoe shape on the floor where he would have stood. He walked in it and stood in it, grinding it into the wood. It is still there, to this very day—a testament to five of the bloodiest hours in the history of the Civil War.
Once, Hattie was asked about her most enduring childhood memory. “The smell of blood,” she replied.
In the book, there is mention made of Carrie’s friend, Mariah, who had once been her slave but chose to stay with her as they had been together since childhood. Mariah was said to have had the ability to look at some of the graves and tell something about the person who was buried there. She had “the sight.”
For the next forty years, after the Battle of Franklin, Carrie dressed in black, visiting the graves every day. She carried the book of names with her. I have to tell you, when I saw that book of names I got chills thinking of the devotion she had to this cause. Those men were not forgotten.
At one point, the house fell into disrepair, but was bought by a historical preservation society and maintained. The cemetery was the largest privately owned war cemetery in the US. Robert Hicks meticulously researched for the book he wrote, and the profits from the book (which made it to the NYT Bestseller List) helped to re-establish this grand old home as a piece of history where we can go to learn firsthand about what happened on that fateful day.
My husband and I toured the house, a gorgeous old mansion, with a wonderful guide who was glad to answer any and all questions. Tours are around $15, and well worth it. The cemetery tour is $5, or you can just walk around and look for yourself, which is what my husband and I did. If you buy the book, I promise you will be as anxious to see this place for yourself as I was.
Walking those same floors that were walked upon by Carrie and her family, and the wounded men, the generals, the doctors…gave me feeling I will never forget. I could almost swear I felt her presence, still there, still watching over the soldiers she devoted her adult life to at Carnton…the “place of stones.”
(This is a picture of Carrie as a young woman.)
Have you ever read a book that made this kind of impression on you? A book that, just from reading about a place, made you want to go there and see it more than anything else? What was it? I’d love to hear about the places you’ve gone after you read about them and just KNEW you had to see them for yourself!
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!
Since we are coming up very soon on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might talk about love, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love. The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing. As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that. That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.
My own tale began with a kiss. But let me backtrack. I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California like my home. Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons. After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again. Sigh…
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own. One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date. I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date. That was in January of 1996. GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date. The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great. He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
The date was good — okay. We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me. So, I put it behind me. He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing. To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me. She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.” and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so. Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.” And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
I had no idea that she would call his brother. I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date. Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends. So I accepted.
Goodness! Little did I know what was in store. On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends. He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me. Now, this was quite some kiss. He meant it. And I became very aware of that. His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world was spinning — but in a good way. Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
Well, that was that. We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996. Our first date was February 3rd 1996. So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. Well, a lot, I’m afraid. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY. That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work. Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book. His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.
Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears…!
In May of this year, we will have been married 23 years. Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 23 years more or less have gone by now. People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile. To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows. He stole my heart with that first kiss. (I’ll knock on wood here.) As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” — it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss. Ah, sweet!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message. I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift? You bet I will. I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!
Today we are thrilled to welcome former Fillie Tracy Garrett back home for a visit! Please join us in welcoming her!
I’m so happy to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Hey there, Fillies! I get to see old friends and make some new ones. I’m also glad to be here because I get to share my new release with you.
GRACE is one of a seventeen-book series set in Wildcat Ridge, a small mining town in the Uinta Mountains, Utah Territory, in 1884. The mine was devastated by two explosions, killing men, women and children, and leaving mostly widows in town. Each book introduces a widow who struggles to find a way to survive—and finds new love in the process.
When I started the book, I chose to have the hero work for the Wells Fargo & Company, and the stagecoach line serving Wildcat Ridge. As I learned more—and researched more—I discovered a television series called “Tales of Wells Fargo.” I watched a few episodes and, when Michael Landon appeared on screen as a young man wanting to be a shotgun messenger on the Wells Fargo, I knew I’d found my hero.
The shotgun messenger was literally that: he rode shotgun beside the driver, with the treasure box between his feet, holding a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buckshot. A shotgun messenger had to stay alert, identify danger in an instant and not be afraid to act on his decision to shoot. Though Wells Fargo policy said to let a robber have the money rather than risk lives, the shotgun in the hands of a good shooter was an effective deterrent.
“But the real security of the treasure boxes came from who was guarding them — the Wells Fargo shotgun messengers. They were ‘the kind of men you can depend on if you get into a fix,’ according to Wells Fargo detective Jim Hume. If thieves were foolhardy enough to try and steal a treasure box in transit, they would find themselves staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with 00 buckshot, possibly held by Wyatt Earp himself.” [from http://www.WellsFargoHistory.com]
The shotgun messenger gave me a strong hero, sure of himself and capable. All I had to do was add… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
— Now Available —
Book 10 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series
When a woman who has always done what she was told decides to take matters into her own hands—she just might discover her future waiting
Grace Hill has spent most of her life caring for others. When her beloved little sister is in trouble, Grace defies those who tell her she can’t, and rushes to her aid. Joining the other widows in Wildcat Ridge struggling to survive, she discovers the woman she is—a woman strong enough for a man like Benjamin Sloane.
Benjamin Sloane rides shotgun on the Wells Fargo stagecoach line through the rugged Utah Territory. He’s big-hearted, tough and about as civilized as a grizzly bear. But there’s something about a fancy lady from the big city makes him want to clean up his ways and give her his heart.
EXCERPT FROM GRACE:
Grace Hill stared in horror at the article in the several-weeks-old Denver newspaper. “No. This isn’t possible.”
“What’s that, Grace? Speak up. I’ve asked you not to mumble in my presence.”
“I apologize, Mother Hill. There was a mine collapse in—”
“There’s always a disaster, Grace. A mine today, an earthquake tomorrow. God will have his vengeance one day soon, mark my words. Close that drape. I swear the sun is hotter this April than ever before.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Grace rose to do as she was told. “But this collapse was in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, where my sister, Eleanora lives.”
“Scandalous place for a woman of breeding to live. Why ever did she settle there?”
“Her husband is a miner, ma’am. He moved his wife there soon after their wedding.”
“Is he dead?”
The emotionless question shocked Grace and sent a shaft of sorrow through her. Could Eleanora actually be the widow of Darvin Cavender? “I don’t know. A list of th-the deceased isn’t included.”
“If it’s God’s will, he lived. If not, she’ll find another husband to provide for her and give her children. It is the task for which woman was created.”
Grace clamped her teeth around her tongue to keep the retort inside. God created women with minds and dreams, just like men. Woman was created for more than marriage and procreation, not that she’d say that to Mrs. Hill.
“She has a child. A daughter.”
She read further in the article, her brain stuttering to a halt as she realized men weren’t the only victims. “It says townspeople were killed in a second explosion while trying to rescue the miners.” Townspeople? Women? Children? “I have to go.”
“Go where, young lady?”
“To this place. Wildcat Ridge.” She waved the newspaper. “My sister might be…” She swallowed hard and blinked back tears. Her employer thought tears a useless luxury and Grace didn’t want another lecture. She’d had her fill of her mother-in-law’s opinions. “This article was published in the Salt Lake City paper nearly a month ago. The Denver Rocky Mountain News released the story three weeks ago. I haven’t had a letter from my sister since before the accident. She would have written if she could. I have to go to her.”
“You will not. I forbid it.”
Grace rose, clutching the newspaper in her fist. “My sister could be injured, even de—” She forced air into her lungs. She refused to even give voice to the possibility. “My sister and niece might need me. I have to go, Mother Hill.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably still winter at that elevation. Some of the passes may not even be open. How will you get there? Who will go with you? A decent woman may not travel alone all that way.”
Grace stared over the woman’s head into an ornate, gilded mirror. She hardly recognized the image staring back. Her dark eyes seemed lifeless. Her long, dark hair tamed into a simple chignon at her nape was dull, as dull as her life had become. She wore an unflattering high-necked black gown and her only jewelry was her wedding ring and a mourning pin, woven of Theo’s blond hair, at her throat. Little remained of the happy girl she’d once been.
If she didn’t get away from this house soon, she would become as dead inside as her husband was in truth.
I’m out in the wine country of California preparing for our first grand’s wedding on Friday. We’re busy getting all of the last minute things in order and one of the big problems is hair-do’s. It got me to thinking that the styles of today’s bride and bridal party really aren’t that much different than those of bygone years. Hairstyles I used to describe women in my western historical romances.
Since I write both western historicals and contemporary romances typically set in the Texas Panhandle women’s day-to-day hairstyles have never been a problem to describe. Especially since woman on the ranches of today wear their hair very much like they did when this part of the West was settled in the mid-1800’s … either long, over the shoulder styles, sometimes curled, sometime straight, or in braids of some sort.
I thought it’d be fun to look at the different hairstyles of the American women during the 1800’s.
For the first fifteen years after the turn of the century, women wore short curls waved on the forehead with their back hair in a simple knot. Some wore top knots; and they used combs, tiaras and coronets for ornaments. To be honest with you, I had to look up a coronet to see what they look like and found they are a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. They differ from a crown in that they will never have arches. They are unlike a tiera because they completely encircle the head, while a tiara does not. Simply said, a crown is worn by an emperor, empress, king or queen; a coronet by a nobleman or lady.
Between 1815 and 1840 a woman frequently parted her hair in the middle, smoothed it, and wore ringlets, puffs or loops at the sides. From the early 1820’s to the early 1830’s they piled their hair progressively higher in the back, culminating in a style dubbed a la giraffe. Masses of sausage curls (tubelike curls) and ringlets were also popular during this period.
Topknots became smaller and moved to the back of the head beginning in the 1840’s and continued for another fifteen years. Large coils of hair at the nape of the neck and sometimes held by black or colored silk nets were popular from the 1850’s on. This chignon is a knot or roll of hair worn at the back of the head and sometimes ornamented with lace, ribbons, jeweled bands, combs, foliage, flowers and strings of pearls; and was very popular in the 1860’s, but worn throughout the century. As you can see by the picture, they are still popular today.
Between 1865 and 1890, the bun and chigon were moved up on the head with the front hair carried back without any parts. As it is today, in the 1870’s women’s hair was allowed to cascade down long and full in the back, sometimes in ringlets or hugh loops. Pompadous were worn, as were hair ornaments. Of interest, the pompadous was popular in the 1950’s by people such as James Dean and Elvis and was known as the Rockabilly Hairdo. And, of course, today many movie stars and singers wear the style.
From then until the end of the century the most prominent style was the psyche knot, which has the hair pulled back from the forehead and knotted on top. Small coiffures, pompadours and French twists were worn, as were ornaments.
The more research I did on hairstyles of the 1800’s the more I realized that as I heard all of my life everything sooner or later comes back into style; and hairdos are no exception.
Since I come from “Big Hair Country” and grew up with it, I have to admit that I still like the style. Now, what is your favorite hairstyle?
To one lucky commenter, I’d love to send you an autographed copy of your choice of any one of our six anthologies. To a second reader who leaves a comment, I will send you an eBook of my latest Kasota Spring Contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night. Thanks to all you all for stopping by and reading my blog.
I’m on the last draft of the third book in my Haywire Brides series (at least I hope it’s the last draft). My male protagonist is a Texas Ranger and, as some of you might have guessed from my earlier books, that’s my favorite type of hero to write about.
The Texas Rangers have a long and checkered history, starting in 1823. When Stephan F. Austin hired ten men to protect the frontier, he probably never imagined that nearly two hundred years later, the force would still be going strong.
Those early Rangers were called various names including mounted gunmen, mounted volunteers, minutemen, spies, scouts and mounted rifle companies. The term Texas Rangers didn’t come into use until the1870s.
Maintaining law and order on the frontier wasn’t easy, but those mounted gunmen still managed to move with quick speed over long distances, and settle trouble on the spot. Those early rangers were called upon to serve as infantrymen, border guards, and investigators. They tracked down cattle rustlers and helped settle labor disputes. They both fought and protected the Indians.
The job didn’t come cheap. A man was expected to provide his own horse and it had to be equipped with saddle, blanket and bridle. A man also had to supply his own weaponry, which included rifle, pistol and knife.
As for clothing, a Texas Ranger wore what he had. It wasn’t until the Rangers became full-time professional lawmen in the 1890s that many started wearing suits. (Today, Rangers are expected to wear conservative western attire, including western boots and hat, dress shirt and appropriate pants.)
He would also have carried a blanket, and cloth wallet for salt and ammunition. To alleviate thirst, a ranger would suck on sweetened or spiced parched corn. Dried meat, tobacco and rope were also considered necessities. What he didn’t carry with him was provided by the land. It was a tough life and it’s not hard to guess why a man seldom lasted more than six months on the job.
Those early professional Rangers received twenty-five dollars a month in pay and worked hard for it. An officer’s pay was seventy-five dollars.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
Today, the Texas Rangers enjoy a stellar reputation, but that wasn’t always the case. Frontier justice could sometimes be harsh and cruel, and some Rangers fought according to their own rules. This led to excesses of brutality and injustice, including the massacre of unarmed citizens. The Rangers were reformed by a Legislature resolution in 1919, which instituted a citizen complaint system.
The Texas Rangers have undergone many changes and transformations through the years. But the biggest change of all probably has such legendary Rangers as John B. Jones and Big Foot Wallace a-whirling in their graves; The Texas Rangers recently allowed women to join the ranks. (Hmm. I feel a story coming on.)
I told you the kind of heroes I like to write. What kind of heroes do you like to read about?
No doubt about it. I am a California beach girl. Somehow, though, the heroes in my books always seem to end up cowboys. For that “wild west” reason, the fillies here in Wildflower Junction let me be a member of the corral for almost nine years.
However, in June 2017, family matters demanded I put writing and blogging on hold. Some good stuff, like a baby granddaughter. Others, not so good, like a still-ailing mother-in-law. But the fillies assured me I’d always be welcomed back. And after twelve months of catching my breath, four amazing inspirational authors invited me last summer to participate in a Valentine anthology. It released January 11, so—here I am!
Timing was perfect. Jumping back into the writing saddle with “Heart of Hope” was a great ride. Since the keystone of each of our novellas was a recipe, nothing else would do but the directions for my late Aunt Grace’s historic banana bread. And well, that itself led to the hero having an Aunt Grace…
Of course, nowhere else would do for my setting but my beloved California. I decided to return to a place I’d used before, fictional Rancho Lorena inspired by the real-life Central Coast town of Santa Ynez, established in 1882.
It’s a favorite place to visit, and rich in history. In 1858, the Overland Coast Line stagecoach ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the Santa Ynez Valley area just about smack dab in the center. Sometimes travelers stayed on or came back, and civilization grew into a true microcosm of the American West with saloons, mercentilers, blacksmiths, and tillers of the soil. By 1887, the Pacific Coast Railroad roared through.
The valley and town likely took the name Santa Ynez from the nearby Mission of Santa Ynes, established by the Franciscans in 1804 and named for Saint Agnes of Rome.
Then and now, the near-perfect climate is ideal for raising cattle, olives, and fruit. These days, 20% of the valley’s land is cultivated for wine grapes.
This photo I took is the tree that lends its name to my hero, Akron McCrory’s, ranch, the Leanin’ Tree. I have no idea why it’s bent, but I liked the idea it somehow could have been a trail marker left by the native tribe.
The Thyme Arbor Inn, where Akron and Bree run into her sneaky ex Marshall, is inspired by this restaurant:
The California coastal oaks are one of the area’s hallmarks. I think you’ll see some in my story.
As well as these horses on Akron’s ranch.
If you want to get into the Valentine spirit early with some sweet reads filled with love and romance, food and family sprinkled with faith, please check out our anthology.
From today’s commenters, I will be pulling one name out of the Stetson to receive a digital copy of Love, Sweet Love, so don’t be a stranger. Please and thank you.
So to get you in the sweetheart mood, what do you prefer giving/getting—flowers, a mushy card, or CHOCOLATE?
And before I ride off into the sunset, I need to publicly thank Mary, Dora, Delia, and Zoe for all their hand-holding. Thank you, Mary Manners (head of the project), Dora Hiers (aka my rock), Delia Latham (who designed all our covers) and Zoe McCarthy (made this old lady want to go skiing again.)
Here’s a bit about HEART OF HOPE.
He gave Bree her first kiss, but can he give her a future? She’s back in Rancho Lorena but not to stay—until Akron steals her heart. For good this time. But his ranch is in financial trouble, and she’s a rich developer. A recipe for disaster. Until they find the missing ingredients of love, happiness, and hope when they help out together at a home for young women in need.
LIKE A DANCE by Delia Latham A former celebrity dancer with a child she adores. A successful but burnt-out therapist to Hollywood’s rich and famous. When they show up in Hummingbird Hollow at the same time, sparks fly… but can they fan the flames?
LANDING IN LOVE by Mary Manners Erin Mulvaney is comfortable in front of both crowds and cameras. It’s the tango of one-on-one relationships, especially when it comes to men, that ties up her tongue. When handsome Kyle arrives to renovate her family’s restaurant, can she conquer her fears to cover the project alongside him?
HER VALENTINE VET by Dora Hiers Veterinarian Murphy Denton doesn’t trust people. Heiress Micaela Stanford would donate her fortune to care for abandoned animals. Her generous spirit crushes his defenses. Will his dysfunctional past prevent them from a happily-ever-after?
GOOD BREAKS by Zoe M. McCarthy Life has dealt a mammography tech and an entrepreneur bad breaks and led them to a small North Carolina ski town. A new bad break introduces them. Can they share more than a love of skiing? Or is she intent only on fixing his flaws?