Category: Behind the Book

Behind the Book ~ A look at Cattle

All of a sudden, I realized that Harlequin is releasing my Christmas novella TODAY!
I am not ready for Christmas. NOT. ONE. BIT. Autumn hasn’t even officially arrived here!

So…at the end of this post I will share a blurb about A Western Christmas Homecoming,
which is the last book in the Oak Grove Series that I have been writing with Lauri Robinson. 

Texas Longhorns

Recently, I had to research different types of cattle here in America for my story, Wedding at Rocking S Ranch that takes place on a ranch. Oak Grove was a railroad town that blossomed as a result of its location and the cattle drives from Texas. Sure, Longhorns came from Texas, but was that the kind of cattle that would be found on a ranch in Kansas? My grandfather and uncle raised Black Angus cattle here in the Midwest their entire lives and I have yet to see a Texas Longhorn this far north. So when, and where, did the switch occur? I also had to check the history of barbed wire.

1870 marked the start of the big cattle drives into Kansas. 300,00 arrived that year. The next year that amount doubled. Three-fifths of the cattle were “stock cattle” which means they were yearlings, heifers, cows and steers younger than four years old. Abilene, Kansas, Wichita and Dodge City became the towns (and later cities) that truly boomed with the transporting of cattle to market.

Many of the Longhorns didn’t immediately board the train and head to points farther east, but wintered in Kansas, existing on the buffalo-grass prairie. Although barbed wire had been invented and was in use, the sectioning off of large parcels of land hadn’t happened yet in Kansas in 1879 at the time my story takes place. Cattle still roamed free and had to be watched over by cowboys. At the Rocking S Ranch, the ranch-house and the crops had fences around them to keep the cattle out of the corn and alfalfa and off the porch. This was known as “fenced out.” Further east, a farmer would use wood and barbed wire to enclose a pasture, which was known as “fenced in.”

In my story, I have the owner of the ranch looking into crossbreeding his longhorns with another breed of cattle to make a healthier, more profitable herd. He has brought in Black Angus to give this a try. Black Angus first came to Kansas in 1873 when George Grant transported them from Scotland. Where the longhorns were hardy, they were a tougher meat and had a wild-streak and could be difficult to manage. Angus had a gentle nature but were more susceptible to extremes in weather. Their meat is more tender and has a better flavor that the longhorns. Angus weigh between 850 and 1000 pounds when mature.

When Grant took his four Angus bulls to the fair at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition that year, the local people didn’t know what to think of them. These cattle had no horns! (Called polled, which means naturally hornless.) But Grant had the last laugh when he successfully crossed his bulls with native Texas longhorns. The calves were hardier, hornless, and weighed more. They were also a bit more docile. Between 1878 and 1883, twelve hundred Angus cattle were imported to the Midwest. Cross-breeding has steadily improved the hardiness of the Angus here in America.

And there are Red Angus! Red Angus occur as the result of a recessive gene. They are the same as their black relatives except they are actually more tolerant of the hot weather. At one time, The Angus Association barred the registration of Red Angus in an attempt to promote a solid black breed. Likely that is one of the reasons they are fewer in number. Eventually, The Red Angus Association of America formed when breeders searched out and collected the Red Angus from the black herds.

Although I used a lot of this information in Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, it was sprinkled in with a light touch. After all, in historical romance it is the relationship between the two protagonists that carry the story!

* * * * * * * * * * *

And now for my New Release!      

Three festive stories ~ Christmas in the Wild West!

A Western Christmas Homecoming

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW by Kathryn Albright
SNOWBOUND IN BIG SPRINGS by Lauri Robinson
CHRISTMAS DAY WEDDING BELLS by Lynna Banning

In Christmas Day Wedding Bells by Lynna Banning, buttoned-up librarian Alice is swept away by US marshal Rand Logan on a new adventure.
Then, Welles is Snowbound in Big Springs in this novella by Lauri Robinson, where he must confront Sophie and their undeclared feelings…
Finally, rugged outlaw Russ rescues Abigail from spending the festive season alone in Christmas with the Outlaw by Kathryn Albright!

Available at HarlequinAmazonBarnes and Noble

Visit my website for excerpts and more information on all my books!

Welcome Guest – Charlene Raddon!!!


Placer Mining

Gold is found in tough clay. To dissolve the clay the miner fills a pan made of sheet-iron or tinned iron, with a flat bottom about a foot in diameter, and sides six inches high, inclining outwards at an angle of thirty or forty degrees. At a river bank, he squats down, puts his pan under water, and shakes it horizontally. Once the mass is thoroughly soaked, he picks out the larger stones, mashes up the largest and toughest lumps of clay, and again shakes his pan. When all the dirt appears to be dissolved, allowing the heavier gold to move to the bottom, he tilts up the pan a little to let the thin mud and light sand run out, until he has washed out all except the metal, which remains in the pan.

The arrastra, a Mexican contrivance, rude, but effective, was used in the early days to pulverize the ore. Winnowing, or “drywashing” was also practiced by the Mexicans where the ore was found too far away from a sufficient supply of water to make any other practice possible. The wind bears away the dust and light particles of earth, and leaves the gold dust, which is heavier.

The rocker resembles a child’s cradle. On the upper end is a riddle, made with a bottom of sheet-iron punched with holes. This is filled with pay dirt and rocked with one hand, while, with a dipper, the miner pours water into the riddle with the other. Being agitated, the liquid dissolves the clay and carries it down with the gold into the floor of the rocker, where the metal is caught by traverse riffles, or cleats. The mud, water, and sand run off at the lower end of the rocker, which is left open. The riddle can be removed, allowing the miner to throw out the larger stones mixed with the clay.

The chief want of the placer miner was an abundant, convenient supply of water not always readily available. One resolution was an artificial channel about two miles long. After eight years, six thousand miles of mining canals supplied water to all the principal placer districts of Nevada and furnished the means for obtaining the greater portion of the gold yield.

Where the surface of the ground furnished the proper grade, a ditch was dug. Where it did not, flumes were built of wood, sustained in the air by framework that rose sometimes to a height of three hundred feet in crossing deep ravines, and extending for miles at an elevation of 100-200 feet. Aqueducts of wood, and pipes of iron, were suspended upon cables of wire, or sustained on bridges of wood; and inverted siphons carried water up the sides of one hill by the heavier pressure from the higher side of another.

In Nevada, a total length of 6,000 miles of canals and flumes were created. The largest mine, the Eureka, had 205 miles of ditches, constructed at a cost of $900,000. As placers were gradually exhausted, the demand for water and the profits of ditch companies decreased. Flumes, blown down by severe storms, carried away by floods, or destroyed by the decay of the wood, were not repaired.

The sluice was a broad trough from 100-1000 feet long, with transverse cleats at the lower end to catch the gold. With a descent of one foot in twenty, the water rushes through it like a torrent, bearing down large stones, and tearing the lumps of clay to pieces. The miners had little to do save throw in the dirt and take out the gold.

In Hydraulic mining a stream of water is directed under heavy pressure against a bank or hillside, tearing the earth down and carrying it into the sluice to be washed. The force of a stream of water rushing through a two-inch pipe, under a pressure of two hundred feet perpendicular caused hills to crumble as if piles of cloud blown away by a breath of wind. When dried by months of constant heat and drought, the clay becomes so hard, not even the hydraulic stream, with all its

momentum, could steadily dissolve it. Often the miner would cut a tunnel into the heart of his claim, and blast the clay loose with powder, so that it yielded more readily to the action of water.

The erection of a long sluice, the cutting of drains (often necessary to carry off the tailings), and the purchase of water from the ditch company, required capital; and the manner of clearing up rendered it impossible for workers to steal much of the gold. Thus, the custom of hiring miners for wages became common in placer diggings.

Even today, men continue to search for gold and some manage to find enough to keep them going. Others give up and return home. I found gold once, at Knotts Berry Farm in California. I was eight years old. I wish I still had that miniscule vial of gold flakes, but it was lost long ago.

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Priscilla is Book 1 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. It is on preorder now and will be released on 9/15. There will be 17 books (or more) released the first and fifteenth of each month. Book 2, Blessing, by Caroline Clemmons is also up for preorder. There are ten authors: Charlene Raddon, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbot, Tracy Garrett, Christine Sterling, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Pam Crooks, Kit Morgan, Margaret Tanner, and Kristy McCaffrey. The series is about a Utah gold mining town in which the mine has been destroyed, killing off most of the men and leaving the women and children destitute and at the mercy of a greedy mine owner who also owns the town. To save their town they must remarry. Forty-six strong, determined women set out to save their town and find love at the same time.

After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla’s bed. Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?

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Charlene will be giving away two e-books.
One will a be copy of her brand new release – Priscilla (delivered 9/15).
Another will be the winner’s choice of any of her backlist titles.
You can find all of her books listed on her website
here.
Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Gifts Out of the Blue

People often ask where I get my story ideas. Once I’ve conceived the series concept, individual stories come from the characters, a lot of brainstorming, and research. My series ideas, however, often come out of the blue like my Wishing, Texas Series.

I was driving home and wondered if my oldest son was on his way to Athens, Texas, to meet his friends from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. I thought about how close he and his squadron buddies were, and I predicted they’d still be friends in ten years.

My Spidey sense tingled, telling me I had something special. What if I showed A&M squadron friends ten years after graduation? What if they still met at one friend’s east Texas ranch at least once every year? What if they were there for each other through life’s ups and downs?

When I got home, I jotted down notes. One would run the family ranch. Another would be in law enforcement. Because of A&M’s phenomenal vet med program, one would be a veterinarian. For some reason, I settled on a computer related field for my last hero.

The relationships between these men would provide the series backbone—the heart. Even now working on book three, my favorite scenes to write are when the heroes are together.

 

Here’s an excerpt from To Love A Texas Cowboy.

“Is there anything else you need, Ty?” The Horseshoe Grill’s waitress Tiffani, a woman he’d known since middle school, asked as she leaned forward showing off her recently enhanced cleavage.

“We’re good,” he said, staring at the pool table as he sorted out his shot.

“Let me know if you change your mind about anything,” Tiffani said before she sashayed away.

Cooper, Ty’s eight ball partner, elbowed him in the ribs and nodded toward

the departing waitress. “Are you going to take her up on the invitation?”

While easy on the eyes, with long, blonde hair a man would love to run his hands through, tall, curvy in all the right places, and good-natured enough, with her marital track record—oh for three—Ty doubted the good sense of any man who took Tiffani up on her offer.

“Anyone else notice she didn’t care if the rest of us needed anything?” AJ asked.

“Mind if I throw my hook into the water?” Zane asked his gaze locked on the waitress as she flitted around the restaurant. “She looks like she knows how to have a good time.”

“Come on. Give someone else a chance. Like maybe me.” Of all of them, AJ craved the connection and belonging that came with a serious relationship. After a six-year stint in the military and traveling around the world, he was more than ready to put down roots, but most of the women he met were leery of getting involved with an FBI agent. Poor schmuck.

“You’ve got more women on the line that you know what to do with.”

After sending the three ball into the side pocket, Zane turned to AJ. “Weren’t you thinking about going exclusive with Megan? Though why any sane man would do that is beyond me.”

Ty shook his head and smiled, feeling like the ring master of a three-ring circus. Despite that, he wouldn’t trade one of his friends for fifty-yard line tickets to an A&M /Alabama game in Kyle Field. Good friends like these could get a man through just about any rough patch.

“We broke up,” AJ said referring to Megan.

Before anyone could comment, “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown band rang out.

“Next round’s on you, Zane,” Ty said even before his cousin reached for his phone.

They’d instituted the cell phones on vibrate rule and the violations penalty two years ago when Zane’s girlfriend of the month drove them nuts with constant calls and texts. The man always had a woman desperate to claim, keep, or regain his attention. Hell, usually more than one. Zane was a master juggler, but that didn’t mean the rest of them wanted to be part of the act.

To read the first chapter of To Love A Texas Cowboy which includes the excerpt above, click here.

To be entered to win the horseshoe pictured, leave a comment on which hero– Ty, AJ, Cooper or Zane–you like best and why based on the short scene above. BTW, the excerpt occurred in Wishing’s favorite hot spot, The Horseshoe Grill. 🙂

 

 

Updated: August 28, 2018 — 7:18 pm

Cowboy Charm School & Giveaway!

When buying a horse don’t consult a pedestrian;

When courting a woman don’t ask advice of a bachelor.

                                               -Cowboy Charm School

I’m excited that my next book Cowboy Charm School will be published September 4th (but can be ordered now.) I played with the idea for four or five years before I actually got around to writing the book.  Book ideas generally come to me in scenes.  I’ll suddenly visualize someone atop a runaway stagecoach or scrambling over a roof and then have to figure out who, what, and why.

The scene that popped into my head for Cowboy Charm School was a wedding scene with a handsome stranger running down the church aisle yelling, “Stop the Wedding!” 

It took me awhile to figure out that the man was Texas Ranger Brett Tucker,  who thinks he’s saving the bride, Kate Denver, from marrying an outlaw. He’s mistaken, of course, but the groom jealously jumps to all the wrong conclusions and the couple breaks-up. 

Brett feels terrible for what’s he’s done and is determined to set things right. Since the hapless groom hasn’t a clue as to how to win Kate back, it’s up to Brett to give him a few pointers–and that’s when the real trouble begins. 

For a chance to win a copy of the book, tell us the best or worse advice anyone ever gave you.  (Contest guidelines apply.)

“This tale charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: August 19, 2018 — 7:38 am

The Oak Grove Series ~ A Look at the Making of a Series

When author, Lauri Robinson, surprised me by asking if I’d be interested in writing a book with her, I had just finished my San Diego Heroes Series and really hadn’t expected to write any more stories set in the Old West. However, her enthusiasm spurred me (please forgive the pun) to accept her request. The process of collaborating has been a learning experience and also a joy. With Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, we fell in love with the inhabitants of our fictional town and that first book propagated a series. Between Lauri and me there will be seven books by the time we are finished. You can view them all, along with a brief description, here: http://kathrynalbright.com/books/oak-grove-series

Throughout the series, I’ve gotten to know the town-folk with their secrets, idiosyncrasies, heart-aches, and joys from the moment Mary and Maggie, twin mail-order brides, stepped off the Kansas-Pacific train platform. As I type this, I just realized that the final book in the series ends with a scene on that same platform. Talk about ‘book-ends’!

I sketched out a town with buildings and stockyards, but, as I am no artist, I quickly gave up on that idea. Sketching did help me to visualize things better, but initially, I had to have a basic idea where buildings were situated so that both Lauri and I could mention them in their correct perspective without mistakes. (The smallest mistake can pull a reader out of the story.) Even shadows had to be falling the proper direction for the time of day. The Smoky Hill River had to run south of town and be within walking distance for a fishing scene (first book) and also because in the Spring (fourth book) it overflowed its banks, causing a horrific flood. (That is according to the real history of the river in 1879!) Here is the first map I made on my dining room table…

Original Map Cedar Grove

And here are some of my computer scribblings…

 

And then I stumbled across a picture of a real town’s Main Street that was so very close to what was in my head… it’s missing the school down by the church and Oak Grove doesn’t have a Fire Station yet. Instead, the Fire Station would actually be either the bath house or the Saloon. Still…it looks fairly close to my vision. Oak Grove…being a newly built town…would also be a bit spiffier.

Oak Grove town in real life picture

What’s next for the series?

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW is coming out NOVEMEBER 1st! This story will be the last in the Oak Grove Series and I am already sad to leave this wonderful community. It’s funny how fictional worlds and characters can become so ‘real.’ I would enjoy going to this town and meeting everyone there! I hear that from many of my readers about the Oak Grove Series and about other story “worlds.” I think that must say something about humanity. Despite the outliers – those ‘lone wolf’ independents, despite introverts and extroverts, we are all made for connection and for community to varying degrees.

What about you?

If you could travel to any fictional book world or setting, where would you like to visit?
(Does not have to be a historical western setting necessarily!)

Answer for a chance in my giveaway and your name might be drawn to win a copy (print or ebook)
of my newest release ~ Wedding at Rocking S Ranch!
(See Giveaway Guidelines at the top of this page)

Wedding at Rocking S Ranch cover picture

Sign up for my newsletter to keep up-to-date on my books and new releases at Kathryn’s Newsletter.
Follow me at Goodreads or at Amazon.  Or find me on Facebook

 

Old Hints and a New Release

 

In May my new book “Out of a Texas Night” was released.  I was so excited, and didn’t think things could get any better, but they have!  

I’m so thrilled to tell you all that the first book in the Kasota Spring series The Troubled Texan is on BookBub in the Romantic Suspense category today for a fantastic price of 99 cents.  Below is a link, so you can go directly to the website and purchase your copy from your favorite book provider.  If you haven’t checked BookBub out, please do so because they provide daily releases for special pricing, including free books, in almost every genera.

In my May blog, I gave you an insight into how this particular series came about. One of the things I mentioned is that in all three of the Kasota Springs stories I always use a family recipe for one of my characters, particularly Lola Ruth Hicks, who is the cook and the cement that holds the Jacks Bluff Ranch together. I then give the complete recipe, plus a little bit of my family history behind it at the back of the book.

In cleaning out some of my family “stuff”, I found a bicentennial cookbook from the town I lived in when I was born.  The Methodist Cooks Celebrate covers from 1784 to 1984.  I was amazed and enthralled with the book, especially the gems from way-back-yonder; so, I decided to share some interesting ones that are still applicable almost a century and a half later.

Measuring Ingredients 

She guessed the pepper; the soup was too hot,   

She guessed the water, it dried in the pot.

She guessed the salt and what do you think?

   For the rest of the day we did nothing but drink.

She guessed the sugar, the sauce was to sweet,

   And by her guessing, she spoiled the meat.

What of the moral, ‘tis easy to see,

    A good cook measures most carefully.

 

    There is no indigestion worse than that of trying to eat your own words.
    Those who think it permissible to tell ‘white lies’ soon go ‘colorblind’.

Advice to the Housewife

Well mix and bake the dainty cake,And beat the frosting light;

The sweetest plan to please a man is through his appetite.

 

A Couple of Cooking Tips:

    • To remedy greasy gravy, add a small amount of baking soda.

      

      Keep tomatoes in storage with stems pointed downward and they will retain their freshness longer.
      If you wrap each egg in aluminum foil before boiling it, the shell won’t crack when it’s boiling.
    Before measuring honey or syrup, oil the cup with cooking oil and rinse in hot water.

Household Tips:

    Tight screws:  Loosen a screw by putting a couple of drops of peroxide on it and letting it soak in.
    Buttons:  Coat the center of buttons with clear nail polish and they’ll stay on longer.
    Stubborn locks:  Dip key into machine oil or graphite to loosen up a lock.

 This is probably my favorite:

Let none escape, but try them all,

To boil or fry or bake.

We’ll warrant they are just as good

As Mother used to make!

 

Do you love old cookbooks?  If so, do you use many of the recipes?

To two lucky winners who leave a comment, I will give away an eBook of Out of a Texas Night.

   BOOKBUB Link 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: August 13, 2018 — 7:14 pm

Turn of the Century Texas Homes

I’m down to the last week before my deadline and things are crazy! However, as any professional writer will tell you, we’re never just thinking about one project. We are writing one while marketing another. We are working on edits for a third a researching plot ideas for a fourth. Thankfully, I’m only juggling three of those balls instead of all four this week, but it still requires a mental dexterity that can be as taxing as it is exciting.

Next week I will turn in my current manuscript and start work on the next project – one that took me to Gainesville, TX last week to research their wonderful history in person. My story will feature a Harvey Girl heroine working at the newly opened Harvey Lunch Counter in 1902 Gainesville, TX. The people of Gainesville have done a fabulous job of preserving their history, and last week I blogged about walking the very halls of the Santa Fe Depot that my character will. You can find that blog here.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the other wonderful finds I discovered in Gainesville. Not only did I need to know what the lunch counter and depot were like, but I needed to learn about the city itself, and I found a treasure trove. Gainesville has numerous preserved homes from the late 1890s and early turn of the century, the era that I will be writing about.

We took a driving tour of the town, and I took lots of pictures. These are my top 8 houses. The hero in my story is going to have a slightly snobbish mother who looks down on the heroine, viewing a waitress as not only being beneath her son’s station as a lawyer and wealthy rancher’s heir, but as a morally loose woman as well. Which of these houses do you think such a woman would live in?

If YOU were going to live in one of these houses, which would you choose?

Welcome Guest – Amy Sandas!!!

 

Bounty Hunters of the Wild West

The westward expansion in the United States began before the Civil War, spurred by a yearning for exploration and discovery. Early settlers were also influenced by the lure of gold and inexpensive land and the belief in something termed “Manifest Destiny.” After the war, there was another catalyst that sent people westward; the desire for a new beginning. But the American west was wild and the way was difficult and dangerous.

Violence was a fact of life as people fought for a foothold in the vast and dangerous landscapes. And lawful governance was hard to come by. In this wide, uncertain world of the western frontier, outlaws thrived. There weren’t nearly enough lawmen to cover all the territories and sheriffs and deputies often found themselves with more than enough to deal with in their small communities. Besides, lawmen were greatly hindered by the limited scope and breadth of their authority. Chasing down outlaws who moved from one place to another was either outside their jurisdiction or beyond the capacity of their manpower.

Relief came as a result of a court decision in 1872 which gave certain individuals the power to track down, imprison (indefinitely, if need be), and turn in anyone who had escaped bail or had a warrant for their arrest. These bounty hunters worked on the side of law but were not regulated by the same rules that tied the hands of true lawmen. They could cross state and territory lines. They did not need a warrant to force entry to a fugitive’s property. They had the unique benefit of anonymity and often had to act outside the law in order to accomplish their tasks.

As you can imagine, this combination of power and independence and the lack of checks and balances attracted a variety of people. Many who took on the role of bounty hunter were former military men who possessed exceptional skill with firearms and the know-how to track and, if necessary, kill known outlaws. One of the most successful and well-known bounty hunters was Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton Detective. Other bounty hunters were barely a half step away from being outlaws themselves. Some were even convicted fugitives who were recruited to turn on their former partners and rivals.

When it came to outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West, the two were often one and the same. Outlaws became lawmen, lawmen became outlaws, and some men managed to live as both at the same time. That was possibly never truer than when it came to those who took on the mantle of bounty hunter.

In THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW, the first title in my new historical western series, Malcolm Kincaid started out as a vigilante on the hunt for justice. While tracking down the men responsible for his brother’s death, he just sort of fell into the occupation of bounty hunter. Though at his core he has the noble goal of finally seeing justice prevail, he has no problem making sure that happens by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, he falls for a woman whose life might depend on him giving up his vengeful vendetta once and for all.

Whether set in Regency England or the American West, I write historical romance about dashing and sometimes dangerous men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace what love and life have to offer.

Visit me on my website, on Facebook, or Twitter.

THE GUNSLIGER’S VOW is available now! Click the cover to order from Amazon.

*****
GIVEAWAY
*****

Amy is giving away two print copies of The Gunslinger’s Vow.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Yesteryear’s News …

 

I decided today to go back and look at some of my history with P&P.  Our local newspaper sold after a century and a half and I’m none too pleased with some of the changes. It’s been on my mind so much, that my first anthology “Give Me a Texan” came to mind. Although it was publish a decade ago, I still love my story.  My hero is newspaperman Quinten Corbett who wasn’t exactly expecting his new apprentice to be a female.  Quin has to find something for the Boston-born Kaira Renaulde to do since she was much too sophisticated for the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Amarillo. He gives her assignments that today might be called “fluff” reporting.

In order to stay authentic, I researched newspaper articles during that era and used two of them.  “October 9, 1884: An itinerant looking man with very small mules was selling apples and things here Wednesday. They came from Wichita Falls. The apples retailed at four bits a dozen, and were quickly taken.”    — The Mobeetie Panhandle

Naturally, this type of article didn’t set well with the newspaper man, so he sends her out again.  This time she comes up with another piece.  “August 14, 1884: The juicy watermelon, the odoriferous muskmelon and the warty, git-up-and-dust cucumber have been here several days. Men and things change, but every returning season finds the cucumber possessing unalterably the same old characteristics.”    — The Mobeetie Panhandle

I’m happy to say that “Give Me a Texan” is still in print after a decade, as are the other anthologies, so if you want to know more about how Quin and Kaira handle working together, you can still order it through Amazon.com.

In the anthology “Give Me a Texas Outlaw”, which came out nine years ago and is also still available at Amazon in both rack size and eBook, I used old newspaper articles for the epilogue taking a bit of creative liberties. I tried to tie together my stories in the four anthologies just a little bit, along with foreshadowing the next two in the series.  Never did I believe that the anthologies, particularly “Give Me a Cowboy” would lead to my contemporary western romances with the same families of Kasota Spring, Texas, three to five generations later.

Here’s some more interesting information, I researched.

October 25, 1890: “At Tolosa, five miles south of Kemp, John Williams and Will Perkins became engaged in a difficulty, both being under the influence of whiskey. Perkins struck Williams just above the temple with a black smith’s hammer, smashing his skull. Williams made his escape, with the officer in pursuit, going in the direction of Athens, his former home. Williams is the son-in-law of W. Almow, a prominent farmer.”  Note: They called this “engaging in a difficulty” in those days?          —The Galveston Daily News

December 19, 1890: “Professor Garard, superintendent of the public schools, died very suddenly last night. He had been complaining a little for several days, but was feeling better yesterday. He ate a hearty supper last night, retired to his room and was found dead this morning.”   —The Galveston Daily News

I thought it’d be fun today to give you a taste of authentic news articles during the 1800’s.  I’ve left the spelling and punctuation as it was written for authenticity, so you’ll see some very odd spelling.  It took the folks a while to decide exactly how to spell Panhandle.  It was Pan Handle and Pan-handle, plus a couple of other ways before they settled into Panhandle.

“September 27, 1883: The largest cattle ranch in the world is said to be that of Charles Goodnight, at the head of Red River, Texas. He began buying land four years ago, securing 270,000 acres at 36 cents per acre. In the meantime the price has advanced from $1 to $2 per acre, but he is still buying, and controls 700,000 acres. To enclose his landed possessions, 250 miles of fence is required. On the range he has 40,000 cattle.”   Dodge City Times

September 20, 1883: “The wire cutters are busy at work with their clippers, cutting the fences in Montague, Clay, Wise and Denton counties, greatly to the annoyance of the owners.”

–Mobeetie Panhandle

June 29, 1882: “Hamburg has a curiosity in the shape of a chicken which has only one leg. It was hatched that way, is about two months old and seems as happy and contented as though it had four legs.”     —Dodge City Times

May 18, 1882:  “Pan Handle Items: The road between here and Tascosa said to be well defined by a row of black bottles that flash back the rays of the sun. They are empty.”   –Mobeetie Panhandle

October 16, 1880: “Land in Texas is cheap. The last Legislature set apart 3,000,000 acres of land in the Pan Handle, ordered a survey and put it on the market at a minimum price of 50 cents per acre. The survey of this 3,000,000 acres has been completed, and the land is now in market.” **    —Dodge City Times

**This is the land the state traded for a new capitol building, land that became the well-known XIT Ranch.  On my list of future blogs is the story of the famous XIT Ranch, which is still in existence today.

And, one of my favorite articles comes from the Dodge City Times dated September 20, 1879: “The Pan Handle has been suffering for the want of rain, as several weeks have elapsed since rain has fallen; and if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.” Hate to say it, but this is applicable to our weather today in the Texas Panhandle.

Since the Panhandle, as it was finally spelled, is suffering from a serious drought and prairie fires today, I must agree … if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.

Do you have favorite newspaper or magazine quotes you’d like to share?

I’m fortune to have a supply of all six anthologies, authored with our own Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace. Tonight I’ll be drawing a winner to either get an autographed copy of “Give Me a Texan” or your choice of one of my eBooks, including my recently released “Out of a Texas Night”.

Updated: July 2, 2018 — 8:04 pm

Gunsmoke and Lace and a Giveaway!

Today is going to be a very busy day for me. I’m going to West Texas A&M University to film a segment for PBS. It’s for a show called 24 Frames. It’s exciting but very scary. I hope I don’t mess up too bad. The segment will air in September. I’ll have more on that later. I may not get to all the comments right away.

But today I want to tell you about my short story collection that I’ve self-published. Gunsmoke and Lace is my first attempt to put something out myself and I found nothing about the process easy. I was supposed to have the ebook and print releasing simultaneously but it didn’t work that way. After two weeks, only the ebook is up. The print should be along soon I’m told.

I have four stories in this collection: The Telegraph Tree, Moon Dog Night, The Gunslinger, and Hard Luck.

The inspiration for The Telegraph Tree came after I attended a lecture about women who came West and the challenges at West Texas A&M University. The speaker quoted statistics about the number of women who committed suicide, unable to handle the constant hardships and loneliness. The women spent most of their time alone in the empty, vast space with their children (if they had any) and not having anyone to talk to broke their spirits until there was nothing left.

Listening to that reminded me of a Sam Elliott movie called Conagher that he made with his wife Katherine Ross. To combat her loneliness, she wrote poems and tied them to tumbleweeds. Maybe you remember it.

That’s where The Telegraph Tree was born and when I finished, I entered it in several writing contests. It placed 3rd in Women Writing the West and also in Wyoming Writers, Inc.

I wrote The Gunslinger (formerly The Widow’s Heart) for an anthology for Cheryl Pierson at Prairie Rose and was real proud how it turned out. I made a few changes to it though.

Moon Dog Night is about two children who ride into a bounty hunter’s camp on a cold winter night. They’re trailing the man who took their mama and they’re determined to get her back. Of course, Bonner Raine can’t let them go alone. But will they arrive in time to save her?

Hard Luck has a lot of humor as two cowboys try to rob a bank. Absolutely nothing goes right and I’ve saved a surprise at the last.

All these stories sprang from a deep well inside me and I think it’s time to share them.

The fabulous Charlene Raddon designed this gorgeous cover and I love everything about it. She’s so creative. The fantastic Jerri Lynn Hill did the editing and she’s an amazing woman. Jeri Walker formatted it. I couldn’t have succeeded without these ladies.

Gunsmoke and Lace is available everywhere online. But here are a few links:

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  iBooks  |  KOBO

 

My question for you is if you lived back in the 1800s in a desolate place, what would you have done to keep your sanity? Or would you have given in to despair?

I’m giving away a copy of Gunsmoke and Lace to three people who comment. If you’re willing to wait a few days for print, I’ll offer both formats.

Later this month, I’ll have a giveaway for my upcoming To Catch a Texas Star (July 3rd release.)

So don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come!

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015