Category: Behind the Book

Pinterest, My Friend and Inspiration!

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.

If you haven’t read it yet, but want to . . .

 

 

 

Buy on Amazon

  S  P  O  I  L  E  R    A L E R T!

 

Here’s a few images, straight from my board:

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.   http://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!

Updated: February 7, 2019 — 7:47 pm

The Very Personal Story of Gray Hawk’s Lady

Howdy!

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!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

http://www.amazon.com/Gray-Hawks-Lady-Blackfoot-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0723B3VCM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1549300185&sr=8-3&keywords=gray+hawk%27s+lady+by+karen+kay%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: February 5, 2019 — 9:02 am

The Wells, Fargo & Co. Shotgun Messenger and Give Away by Tracy Garrett

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 —

GRACE

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.

GRACE, Book 10, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge

Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/ycubop7k

 

In honor of the release of GRACE, I’m giving away one copy, ebook or print (U.S. only for the print), to one person who leaves a comment about ~

Do you like to read connected books by multiple authors?

 

Happy Reading,

Tracy

Facebook  TracyGarrett.author

Bookbub  @TracyGarrett

Twitter  TGarrett_Author

Hair Styles of Yesterday and Today!

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.

Chignon Pix 2I thought it’d be fun to look at the different hairstyles of the American women during the 1800’s.

Short Hair with ringlets

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.

Cornet Hair AccessoryBetween 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 frontChignon Hair Do 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.

Elizabeth Frenchie McCormick 1852-1941From 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.

 

Updated: January 22, 2019 — 11:59 am

Before There Was a Texas, There Were Texas Rangers

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?

“This book charms.”  Publishers Weekly

Amazon

B & N

iTunes

Updated: January 18, 2019 — 2:16 pm

Back in the Corral ~ by Tanya Hanson

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!

Thank you, fillies!

AMAZON

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?

Updated: January 24, 2019 — 11:46 pm

Behind the Book ~ The Oak Grove Series

With the release of Christmas with the Outlaw over the holidays, the Oak Grove Series 
that I wrote with Lauri Robinson came to its conclusion. I loved writing this sweet series set in Kansas,
diving into the history of the land and  the people there so that the stories would come alive with authenticity.
I thought I’d share some of the behind the scenes facts that helped drive and layer the plots of each book.

For example ~

 

BOOK #1

FACT:  

A year after the 1878 setting of the first book in the series, I learned that a prominent issue in the state legislature was prohibition. Carrie A. Nation, was living at Medicine Lodge, KS at this time before she began her famous crusade against alcohol. By 1880, an amendment to the state constitution was in place that prohibited the manufacture, sale, or gift of liquor. And by 1881, Kansas had become the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.

FICTION:

So, in Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove (set in 1878) when twin sisters, Mary and Maggie, were “railroaded” into the fledgling town as obstinate mail-order brides-to-be, it was only natural for them to try to escape their predicament. As daughters of a snake-oil salesman, and in the midst of the brewing controversy (pun intended,) they resurrected their past livelihoods and began making their meade-based family health elixir.

 

BOOK #2

FACT:  

Flooding of the Smoky Hill River often occurred in the spring and eventually dams were built along the river to try to control the worst of it. While bridges were slowly being built along the more populated areas of the river (Salina), Oak Grove still had a ferry crossing. In the spring of 1879, the heavy rains brought intense flooding that destroyed the crops and land to the south of the river. In soddies, it wasn’t unusual for the roof to cave in. (For more on this, see Homesteading on the Prairie, a previous post of mine.)

FICTION:

In The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, it was this torrential rain and flooding that necessitated that independent, isolationist Sylvia Marks leave her soggy soddie and brave the river so that she and her son could survive. It also forced her to leave her comfort zone and look to others for help. Eastern-educated Doctor Nelson had a lot to learn about women and life on the prairie, and Sylvia was just the one to teach him, if he’d only put aside his prejudices.

 

BOOK #3

FACT: 

In 1873, George Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to Kansas and showed them at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition. Breeding these bulls with Texas longhorns produced a much heartier breed. (For more see my post From Longhorns to No-Horns.)  In 1874 four Kansas Railroads shipped 122,914 head of Texas cattle to the east. Mennonites from Russia introduced Turkey Red wheat to the state. And the Native Americans were forced to move to the reservation in Oklahoma Territory. In 1878, the last Native American uprising in Kansas occurred in Decatur County.

FICTION:

In Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, Raymond Wolf is looking out for the ranch of his best friend. The ranch had once been an encampment of his mother’s people – the Wichita. He is studying the breeding of the Texas longhorns with Angus cattle. When his best friend’s widow arrives in the autumn with news that she intends to sell the ranch, Wolf’s life is suddenly upended. Amid the arduous work of branding and driving the cattle to market, they discover that the truths they have believed were an illusion, and that what matters most is far more important.

 

BOOK #4

FACT:

Newspaper work is dangerous! Missing fingers and long hours. (See The 19th Century Newspaper Office)  It was fun gathering facts about small-town newspaper offices and touring Midway Village ~ a nearby living history museum. I was able to speak with the docent there who just happened to be a small-town newspaper man!

FICTION:  

In Christmas With the Outlaw, my novella in A Western Christmas Homecoming, Abigail White is a straight-laced, just-the-facts, unemotional journalist. It’s safer for her heart that way. When a man from her past stumbles into her newspaper office to hide from the law, suddenly she is confronted with an emotional crisis. Should she be true to her journalistic sensibilities and report him to the sheriff? Or will her heart win out? She must learn that not all is what it appears on the surface of a person’s life.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Researching my stories always gives my plots more layers ~ even though often I disappear for hours down the “research rabbit hole” chasing trails that are down right fun, but don’t lead anywhere productive. But then…sometimes they do!

 

 

I have been a filly in P&P’s corral for the past four years and the time has come to say an affectionate goodbye. It has been a delight to get to know each of the “fillies” and also the many women who have commented frequently on my posts. Thank you for joining in the fun here! Thank you for the camaraderie and the friendship. Saying goodbye is bittersweet and I will miss being a part of this group.

I wish you all the best!

                                                                                                                                        

HAPPY 2019!

 

Please visit me!

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  GOODREADS

And find my books at

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE 

 

HOW WILL WE REMEMBER OUR ANCESTORS? by Cheryl Pierson

How will we remember our ancestors? In these days of hectic living, when there is very little oral tradition–much less written documentation–of our family history, what can we do to preserve the memories of these people who came before us? For their life experiences were so different than ours, yet the same–births and deaths come to every generation, along with the happiness and sadness those events bring with them. But learning about our family and the events that brought us to the place we are, as individuals, NOW–is a precious gift that is slipping away from us.

Every so often, (and it’s been a while now!) I teach a class called “Writing Your Life Story.” Most of the people who are there for classes are senior citizens, who, for the most part, have been urged by family members to come.

As they introduce themselves, it goes something like this:  “I’m Jane Doe, and I’m here because my children keep telling me I need to write this all down—but I don’t know where to begin.”

My first assurance to them all is that they don’t need to write like Laura Ingalls Wilder—their families will be thrilled with anything they put down on paper.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t feel they have anything of interest to tell their descendants!

This is a picture of me and my aunt, Emogene (my mom’s sister) on one of her visits. She was one of the funniest, sweetest, and MOST REBELLIOUS people I ever knew. I loved her with all my heart, and I do think maybe I got a bit of that rebellious attitude of hers! I was 6 here. There was never a dull moment with her–and I have some wonderful memories to cherish.

Cheryl and Aunt Emogene 1964I want to tell you about my parents, because they were the epitome of opposites when it came to this. My mother told stories from the time I can remember about her family, about her friends, the small town she grew up in. These were details of an ordinary life that gave me insight into the way times were during the Dustbowl days in Oklahoma. It told me about her life in particular and life in general, and it also brought people I never knew to reality for me through her memories.

Mom had a dear friend, just her age, named Mary. They were both the eldest of their respective families, each with many younger siblings that they were responsible for. Mom mentioned how she and Mary both longed for an d cherished the few times when they could be alone to talk “girl talk” without each having two or three little ones they had to look after.

One of their favorite places to go was the cemetery. They’d both been born in Albany, so they knew the stories of everyone buried there in the small cemetery: The Taylor family, whose six children went berry picking, only to take shelter under an oak tree when a storm blew up suddenly. Lightning struck the tree and killed all but two of them. The oldest boy crawled to a nearby farmhouse for help, but died later. Out of the six, only one survived. There were no markers on their graves, but Mom showed me where each was buried.

A drawing I found when going through my mom’s things after she died. She did this in 1939–she would have been 17. Of course, it’s faded and blotchy, but I can’t help but marvel at the talent she had for someone with no artistic training, with only a pencil and piece of paper. My daughter inherited this from her…I can’t draw to save my life!

Another grave she showed me was that of a young child who, at eighteen months, crawled under the porch and drank tree poison his father had believed was well-hidden. Mom told me how his lips were stained purple She and Mary had gone to the funeral and it was imprinted in her mind forever.

Christmases were sparse in that time. It was a good Christmas if they each received and apple, and orange, and some hard candy in their stockings, and maybe a doll, in addition, in the better-then-most years. I wrote a story called SILVER MAGIC for an Adams Media Christmas anthology about something she told me. They’d brought home a Christmas tree that particular year, and one of her younger brothers had suggested maybe they could have some tinsel…My grandfather went into the shed and hand-cut tinsel and a star from the foil covering of an old battery. What a thrill that was for them! Yet, who would ever dream that was something that could be done, now, in our world of buy-it-already made?

 

GENEALOGY STALLINGS AUNT JOYCE487347_384127544966584_100001080247175_1016691_1728302232_nFrom Mom I learned about our family ancestors—where they’d come from and who they were. As a child, I thought of them as a story she told, but as I grew older, they became real people to me.

I learned about her, too—how, as a teen, she’d pool her hard-earned money with her younger sister, Joyce, to buy the newest Hit Parade Magazine with all the lyrics to the latest songs. They had sung together from the time they knew how, adding more harmonies as more sisters came along.

 

My aunt, Joyce. She was something else! She was in the Navy during WWII where she met and married her husband, Bill. Remember the expression “cuss like a sailor”? She could, and did–regularly. My mom always gave her the “big sister look” and said, “Joy-y-y-c-ce” in that shaming voice. She always just laughed. And she could cook like nobody’s business. Her heart was huge.

 

MOM AND DADScans 009My dad never talked about his adolescence much. Even though he and Mom grew up together in the same small community, he never had much to add to the conversations. What I know of his family, I learned mostly from my aunt, his younger sister–and my mom, who had known him from the time they started elementary school together. Theirs was a love story for all times–they grew up together, married, had their family, and were married over 60 years–and they died within 3 weeks of one another.

Why write it all down now? Because most people never believe they’ll run out of time. “Someday” never comes. My mom had such fascinating stories, filled with tenderness, charged with emotion—stories that made it seem as if I was there along with her as she spoke. She was a painter, an artist, and she could paint pictures with her words, as well.

 

El Wanda and Fred Moss, my parents, newlyweds in 1944–ready to take on the world!

Mom told stories of my great grandparents, who I never met–who eloped and ran away from Tennessee in the dead of night. (He was a high-tempered school master…and she was one of his students.) Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

This is my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin,  the granddaughter of the Indian boy who was stolen by the cavalry (see story below). In this picture she was only about 25 years old, and already getting gray hair. She had 4 children, very young, and her husband had been killed in a freak accident. She married a man with children and they had more between them, for a grand total of seventeen kids before it was all said and done! Mom loved her “grandma”–I did get to know her when I was very young, but she passed when I was in elementary school.

GenealogyJosieBelleWallsMcLainMartin1882-1972made1907542164_386610498051622_691310310_nAnother story of my great-great-great-grandfather, a young Indian boy, who was stolen by the cavalry from his village and given to a white Presbyterian minister to raise, and “assimilate” into his family (my story One Magic Night is based on this–he finally got his happy ending). His name was changed, and I don’t believe he ever saw his real family again, once he was adopted.

And my dad’s grandmother, who stopped beneath the shade of a tree long enough to have her third child as she and her husband made their way to a new life in Indian Territory? He must have been a typical man–they stayed two nights and moved on, her with a new baby and two “stairstep” children just a little older.

I treasure these stories now, but oh, how I wish I’d had my mom a little longer, and that I’d been a little older, to be able to ask her questions that now overrun my thoughts. Mom always had good intentions, but like so many, never found the time before it was too late, and Altzheimer’s took away that ability.

I will write it all down…all that I can remember of it. But I can’t help thinking how I wish she had written her story, with all the vivid details and description she used in telling about it. There is so much I won’t know. So much will be lost, simply because this was her life.

My mom (the oldest) with some of her siblings. Dustbowl Oklahoma–taken probably 1935 or so–she’s on the far left in the back. Hard, hard times.

Genealogy Stallings kids484279_386540661391939_100001080247175_1022301_589553159_nThe memories are hers: the hard times, as well as the good—the days in an everyday life…and, the nights, when entertainment was nothing more than the beautiful harmonies of the four little girls, floating in the summer stillness for miles as they sang on the front porch…in a much simpler, slower time.

Do you have any special “family” stories that have been handed down from your ancestors? Any special memories of special family members from the past? I would love to hear them!

 

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson/span/a/p?tag=pettpist-20

Here’s an excerpt from my story ONE MAGIC NIGHT–an oldie but a goodie!–based on the life of my great great- great-grandfather, David Walls (his name after he was adopted).  I’ll be giving away a digital copy to one lucky commenter! Leave your contact info in your comment so I can reach you if you win!

PRP One Magic Night WebONE MAGIC NIGHT EXCERPT:

As Whitworth’s hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spit the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you just can’t wait to see if you’ve won, click the link to buy on Amazon

Cowboy Brave with Guest Author Carolyn Brown

Please give a warm ‘welcome back’ to our guest author Carolyn Brown! 
She’s here to talk about the newest book in her Longhorn Canyon Series and also
to give one (plus a bonus!) as a gift for one lucky person who comments.

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Miss Carolyn
or her books, here’s a short introduction …

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Brown was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma, a small town of less than three thousand people where everyone knows everyone, knows what they are doing and with whom, and read the weekly newspaper to see who got caught.

A plaque hangs on her office wall that says “I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas.” That is her motto and muse as she goes through the days with quirky characters in her head, telling their stories, one by one, and loving her job.

 

 

Howdy to all y’all at Petticoats and Pistols! Every time I see the name of your site, I think of my Christmas present last year. Mr. B bought me a lovely little five shot .38 caliber pink pistol. I didn’t want anything that fired 15 rounds in ten seconds. I figure if I can’t hit something with five bullets, then I shouldn’t be firin’ a gun.

I loved writing Cowboy Brave. Justin and Emily were such fun characters to have in my head for those weeks when we were writing the book. And I do say we, not I, because if I didn’t get the story just right, they kept me awake at night.

The blurb for the book tells you a little about Justin and Emily, so I thought maybe today we’d interview the Fab Five. That would be the five senior citizens in the retirement center where Emily works. I thought maybe I’d just give you a little excerpt to introduce you to them. Picture this (as Ma used to say on Golden Girls)—Bowie, Texas, last year. The Fab Five are all in the van on the way to Longhorn Canyon ranch for a week. They’re excited to be away from the retirement center for a whole week, and Emily is driving for them. She’ll be staying with the three ladies in the girls’ bunkhouse. Otis and Larry will live in the boys’ bunkhouse. Now get ready for the ride…

~ Excerpt ~

“Wagons, ho!” Otis shouted from the middle of the van.

“Wagons, my royal butt,” Patsy said. “We’re on tour and this is our tour bus. We’re off to do shows.”

“And what are you going to do?” Bess poked her sister in the arm. “You never could carry a tune, so it can’t be anything musical.”

“Oh, but, honey, I can dance, and I’ve been practicing my striptease dance. I bet Larry can figure out a way to fix me a pole so I can do my best work,” Pasty shot back.

Larry’s grin deepened the wrinkles. “I’ll get my dollar bills ready to stuff inside your under britches, darlin’.”

“Everyone buckled up?” Emily called out as she started the engine.

“Yep!” they all said in unison.

Emily put the van in reverse, popped the clutch, and spun out, leaving a skid mark on the concrete parking lot. “Then get ready for a ride. If you see flashing red lights, yell at me and I’ll go faster.”

“This ain’t a tour van, it’s a race car. When we get to the ranch, we should do some street racin’ in the pasture,” Sarah yelled from the back. “I love to drive fast.”

“You love anything fast. Did you take your heart pills this mornin’?” Patsy said.

“Did you?” Sarah shot back. “I just have to take one to keep my ticker goin’. You have to take three, so don’t be fussin’ at me.”

“Both of you hush and enjoy the fast ride,” Bess demanded.

“You got it, darlin’.” Sarah’s blue eyes glittered. “I’m like fast food. Hot, cheap, and ready in a minute.”

“That’s like Patsy in college,” Bess said.

“Oh, the sweet memories.” Patsy sighed.

Now that you’ve met the five, would you like to see what kind of trouble they’re going to get into,
and how they try to play match maker between Emily and Justin Maguire?

But wait before you answer, there’s more. As a special treat this is a two in one book.
You also get the Second Chance Cowboy by A. J. Pine. So happy reading to all y’all!!

(Don’t forget to comment to be included in the drawing for the giveaway!)

 
FYI: Books in order of publication
Cowboy Bold, May 2018
Cowboy Honor, September, 2018
Cowboy Brave, Now Available!
Cowboy Rebel, May 28, 2019
 
 
Buy Links for the books:

 

 

A Luxury Resort–Was it Really a Ghost Town?

 

My first contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, will be released on January 24th by Tule Publishing.  Yee-Haw!

I just loved writing this book!  From the moment I envisioned Beau Paxton and Ava Howell in my mind, I fell in love with them.  I used the classic ‘fish out of water’ storyline, and the words just flowed.

Ava has a degree in construction management and drives all the way from New York City to take on a ghost town renovation project to honor a promise she made to her friend, who had made a promise to Beau’s mother. 

And of course, Beau doesn’t WANT his beloved ghost town renovated.  He doesn’t want strangers on his family’s land, he doesn’t want to spend the money, he doesn’t want his grandfather’s legacy (the ghost town) touched or changed from the way he’s always known it, and how it’s been for decades.

Sparks fly, for sure. 

I enjoyed the research, too.  But even before I dug in with Google, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as renovating a ghost town into a guest resort.

Indeed, there was.

Dunton Hot Springs is located near Telluride, Colorado.  Dunton was first established in 1895 as a mining camp, and as was normal for mining communities springing up in less-than-ideal locations, once the mining peaked, the town died a slow death, eventually becoming deserted in 1918. 

A pair of long-time residents bought the entire town and a few mining claims, operating the land as a cattle ranch, then a dude ranch for a number of years.  Finally, in 1994, the current owners purchased the entire town and devoted seven years to renovating it into the luxury resort it is today.

Visitors can enjoy winter sport activities or bask in the captivating summer landscapes.  They can go glamping in a camp of eight luxury tents, enjoy hot springs that steam in the winter and entice in the summer, or head to Telluride for a stay in the historic Dunton Town House.  For the adventurous, or for those who just want to put their cell phones away and relax in the wilderness, Dunton promises a get-away not to be forgotten.

Rooms at the Town House rent from $350 – $500 per night. Cabin rates range from $1,200 to $2,020 per night. 

Um, yeah.

From its website:

“Apart from the beautiful landscape, Dunton Hot Springs is also the number one all inclusive resort in the US according to TripAdvisor, and number 8 in the entire world. Each cabin is different, but shares some things in common. They are all immaculately decorated with elements that find that spectacular combination of rustic and luxury. Oh, and did we mention one cabin has a private hot spring all to itself?”

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?  Of course, luxury comes with a cost, and this resort taps into a clientele that is willing to pay the price.

What about you?  Have you ever stayed at a luxury resort or hotel?  Are you willing to splurge on lavish accommodations as part of your vacation?  Can you justify the cost of an expensive room?  Do you love a spa treatment?  Massage?  Is atmosphere an important part of your get-away?  Do you prefer an outdoors vacation?  Or an urban one with all the comforts of home?

Let’s chat!

 

 

Join in, and you might win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

                                                 

                     Available on Amazon                                                                Preorder on Amazon

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