I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but I’ve had some strange things happen during the writing of a book. I once turned a manuscript into my editor at the same time another writer turned in hers. Oddly, enough, our protagonists shared the same first names and professions. There were also many other similarities throughout our manuscripts, and all had to be changed.
Another time I was hiking a trail in Mammoth when I met a geologist who was the spitting image of the geologist hero in the book I was working on. Even weirder, his first name was Damian and I’d named my hero Damon. Close enough, right?
But the strangest thing that happened occurred recently. I’d been toying with the idea of taking a DNA Ancestry test for quite some time, so my daughter decided to gift me with one for Christmas. The results were pretty much what I expected, with one surprise. It turns out that the outlaw Jesse James and I share a common ancestor.
The timing was especially weird since Jesse James plays a part in the book I’m currently working on. Come to think of it, it’s not the first time Jesse James has popped up in one of my books, and I can’t count how many blogs I’ve written about the outlaw.
That’s because Jesse is a fun person to write about. Not only was he controversial, he had both a light and dark side. The son of a Baptist minister, he was known to pass out press releases to witnesses at his holdups and had no qualms about exaggerating his height. He might also be the only person on record who took a gang on his honeymoon. I don’t know what his bride did while he and his gang robbed a stage. Maybe she went shopping.
Jesse James lived for only thirty-four years, but there was never a dull moment. He was a Confederate guerrilla, was shot in the chest on two separate occasions and once overdosed on morphine. He also claimed to have murdered seventeen people.
Jesse went by many aliases, but his nickname was Dingus because he shot off the tip of his finger while cleaning his pistol. He wrote glowing articles about his gang, saying that they robbed the rich and gave to the poor, though all indications are that they kept the spoils to themselves.
Far as I know, he was also the first person to prove that housework can kill. While tidying up his house, he was fatally shot by his new hire Bob Ford in the back of the head.
I can’t tell you what it was about Jesse James that first caught my interest. I can’t even tell you why this writer, who’s allergic to horses, writes Westerns. All I can say, is that it must be in my DNA.
Have any of you had your DNA tested? If so, were there any surprises that you’re willing to share
John Henry “Doc” Holliday at at 20, when he graduated from dentistry school.
There are some figures in history who, while they were real people, have achieved legendary status. And sometimes that legendary status has a kernel of truth behind it but has grown well beyond the reality of the person. One such figure from the Old West is Doc Holliday.
John Henry Holliday was born in Georgia in 1851 and by age 20 had earned a degree in dentistry, thus the famous “Doc” moniker. Unfortunately for him, he soon thereafter was diagnosed with tuberculosis due to the fact he’d helped care for his mother when she had the disease. Hoping the drier climate of the American Southwest would help alleviate some of his symptoms, he moved there and became a gambler. During a stay in Texas, he saved Wyatt Earp’s life and a legendary friendship was born–a friendship that would lead to the O.K. Corral and the events that made both men famous.
Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp and Tim Rozon as Doc Holliday.
Despite Holliday’s reputation as an accomplished gunslinger, researchers have since determined that it’s likely he only killed one or two men during his short life of 36 years. But that hasn’t stopped the myth of the man from being repeated and embellished since his lifetime. He’s been immortalized in numerous pieces of fiction, in song and in a seemingly endless array of movies and TV programs. Famous names such as Cesar Romero, Kirk Douglas, Willie Nelson, Dennis Quaid and Val Kilmer have portrayed Holliday, and just this past week news broke that Jeremy Renner will be the latest in that list to play the man, this time in a biopic based on Mary Doria Russell’s books.
Me with the cast of Wynonna Earp at DragonCon 2017.
Holliday has even made appearances in sci-fi/fantasy stories such as a 1966 episode of Doctor Who, a 1968 episode of Star Trek and my personal favorite, the current SyFy show Wynonna Earp, in which actor Tim Rozon plays Holliday to perfection. In this reimagining of the Earp/Holliday story, based on the comic book series of the same name, Wynonna Earp is the great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt. On her 27th birthday, Wynonna officially becomes the “Earp heir” and inherits the ability to return revenants, or the reincarnated outlaws that Wyatt killed, back to hell using Peacemaker, the revolver with a 16-inch barrel that once belonged to her famous ancestor. In this telling, Holliday has been cursed with immortality, thus his lack of aging between the time he ran with Wyatt Earp and now when he’s helping Wyatt’s great-great-granddaughter with her duties.
Are you a fan of Earp/Holliday tales? If you’re a Doc fan, what has been your favorite incarnation?
Here we are on another wonderful Tuesday and today I thought I’d post another excerpt from my latest release, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE — (I posted one release a few weeks ago).
The book, set in Montana, is about a man determined to save his people from the whiskey trade, which is killing his people (and the truth is, that the whiskey trade was doing just that at this time period in history). So come on in, scroll on down and I hope you will enjoy the excerpt. Oh, and before I forget, I will be giving away a free e-book of WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE, so please do leave a comment. Over to the right here are our Giveaway Guidelines — these govern (so to speak) our give-aways. And don’t forget to check back Wednesday or Thursday night to see if you are a winner. I really do count on you to do so.
WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE
“Come in, Little Brave Woman. The water is good, very, very good.”
Alys turned her head away from the man, her air dismissive. She heard his laugh and wondered what it might feel like to dunk him under that falling water. She felt certain it would bring her great relief.
She drew in a deep breath. She’d had no choice in accompanying him, of course.
She had watched him struggle toward the falls, had tried looking away, knowing he had exaggerated each and every falter in his step. Yet in the end, she had not been able to remain a simple observer.
She had come to his aid, had helped him through the tunnels and outside into the falls. She had even spied on him as he had undressed, much to her chagrin.
The flirt. He knew the effect he was having on her, seemed to relish in it.
“Hmmm. Feels good, this water,” he called to her again. “Are you certain you will not join me?”
“I am going to the house. I will come back here later and check on you.”
“What? And leave me here by myself?”
“Yes, and leave you here by yourself.”
“But what will you do if I fall? What if I need you to help me return to the cave?”
“You should have thought of that before you came here.”
“But I am thinking of it now. Can you really consider leaving me?”
A long silence befell them, and suddenly he was in front of her, dripping water all over her, with no more than a cloth covering his unmentionable parts. She stared up at him, shivers running up and down her spine. And it wasn’t from the cold: she didn’t need to be told twice how this man would look without that tiny bit of cloth covering him.
He said, “If you are not going to take advantage of the water, then I will dress and follow you back through the caves. But I think you are unwise to leave the bath, and me ready to attend your every—”
“Enough. Do you hear me? You have done nothing these past few days but bait me. And what do you mean, parading here in front of me with so little clothing on?”
“I am properly clothed.”
“I beg to differ. Do you think I don’t know what you look like without that…?” She felt a deep flush creeping up to her cheeks, saw a grin on his face. “How much of this do you think I can stand?”
“I do not know. A little too much in my opinion.”
“I am a friend. I am trying to help you recover from a gunshot wound. There is nothing more to it than that. This constant flirting with me must stop. Do you understand?”
“Me?” His look was comically innocent. “Flirting? What does this word mean?”
She frowned at him. He knew exactly what it meant. “You are impossible.”
“And yet I have only your good at heart.”
“Humph. I’m not so certain of that either.”
He smiled at her before, looking away, he suddenly frowned. “I think I am well enough to use some of my day in exercise.” He stole a glimpse toward the falls. “Have you heard any gossip about the whiskey schooners going north?”
“I…I haven’t asked.”
He sent her a hard look. “Would you…ask? I would know what is planned.”
“Why? You are not well enough to do anything about it. Not a thing.”
“I do not agree. Look you here to me. I am practically recovered.”
“So much so that you have needed my assistance to help you to your bath?”
He smirked. “That is different.”
“I hardly think so.”
He came down onto his knees before her, his dark eyes staring into hers, his look completely serious. “Would you please find out what you can? I cannot discover this on my own, for I cannot yet move about the fort with ease.”
“And you are in no shape to stage an attack on a whiskey schooner, even if there were any going north.”
“Still,” he persisted, “I must know.”
She hesitated, even while his dark eyes pleaded with her. She sighed, feeling as though she were putty in this man’s hands. Though she knew she might come to regret it, she found herself saying, “Very well, I will do it, this once, but only after you are fully recovered. Do you understand? Only then…”
He grinned. “And will you help me to recover?”
“Yes, I will try.”
“Aa, it is good.” He lifted one eyebrow. “And how will you help me, do you think? I have many ideas…”
Howdy! And welcome to the Tuesday blog. Well, today I’ll be giving away THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR in either e-book format or mass market paperback, winner’s choice. There is a restriction. It is limited to the United States only. There are also the rules for free give-away — over to the right here — that govern our give-aways, so please do give that a read.
Sometimes there’s a problem because some sites out there contact you to ensure you know you’ve won. But we don’t do that here. We rely on you to come back in a day or two to see if you are the winner. If you have won, instructions will be given on how to contact me so that the book can be sent to you. But you must contact me in order to claim your prize.
Off to the left here is the e-book cover of the give-away book and at the very end of this blog is the mass market cover of the book.
All right. So with that said, let’s have a look at what I consider to be one of the most fascinating parts of this book, and of this series. This is the first book in THE LOST CLAN series. Now, this series is set not only within historical times, but within the framework of American Indian Mythology. There are a couple of characters in this series of four books which are caught in all four books, and one of those characters is the Thunderer.
The Thunder Being (or sometimes referred to as the Thunder Bird or Thunder God or Thunderer) is central to these stories. His anger has been stirred up by acts of violence against himself and his children by a clan that is part of the Blackfoot Indians – The Lost Clan. Interestingly, the Thunder Being plays a dominant role in most Native American tribes — perhaps because when one is living so closely to nature, the Thunderer, who can produce so much damage, would be a subject of much legend. In this series of books, the Lost Clan has been relegated into the “mist” by the Creator, who intervened on the people’s behalf when the Thunderer became bent on destroying every single member of the clan. Imprisoned within that mist, each band of the Clan is given a chance within every new generation to choose a boy to go out into the real world. That boy is charged with the task of undoing the curse, thus freeing his people from what would be an everlasting punishment (they are neither real, nor dead). But, not only must the boy be brave and intelligent (there are puzzles to solve within every book), he must also show kindness to an enemy.
Let’s have a look at the Thunderer and some of the different tales about this being. In Blackfeet lore, the Thunderer often steals women. He can take the image of a very large bird — his wings creating the thunder and his eyes shooting out the lightning. In Lakota lore, if one dreams about the Thunder god, he becomes a backwards person. He must do everything backwards. He washes in sand, become dirty in water, walks backwards, says exactly what he doesn’t mean, etc., etc. The dream is so powerful that it is thought that if one fails to do these things, he courts certain death. In THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, the hero is one of these boys who is charged with the task of freeing his people. He is desperate because he only has until his 30th birthday to undo the curse, and the hero of the story is 29, with only a few months left to accomplish this task. Relying on visions and dreams, he is drawn toward a woman with hair the color of starlight. But he regards her and his growing feelings toward her, as little more than a distraction, and great suspicion.
There is also a legend of the Thunder Being in the Iroquois Nation. In this legend, a young woman becomes the bride of the Thunderer and through him saves her village from a huge snake that burrows under her village, thus endangering the lives of everyone in her village. There is still another legend about the Thunderer which you can watch on the Movie called Dream Makers — well, I think that’s the name of the movie (if I am wrong about that name, please do correct me). In this legend, which is also an Eastern Indian tribe, a young woman marries the Thunderer and goes to live with him in the above world. But she is returned to her own world when she becomes pregnant with his child.
What is very, very interesting to me is how many and how vast are the stories and legends that abounded in Native America. Though we often hear or even study the ancient lore of the Greeks, seldom do we read much our own myths — the mythology that belongs intimately with this land we call America — which by the way, to the Native Americans on the East Coast, America is known as Turtle Island. Fascinatingly, there is a story for almost every creature on this continent, from the crow to the sparrow to the coyote (the trickster), the wolf and bear. There are legends about the stars, the Big Dipper hosts legends about the Great Bear (Iroquois) and the Seven Brothers and their sister (Cheyenne and Blackfeet). There are still other tales about the Morning Star and the Evening Star and marriages between the Gods and mortals.
Do you, like me, love these kinds of stories?
In closing, I thought I’d post a short excerpt from the book.
THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, by Karen Kay
He stared at her, and in his eyes, Angelia thought she saw a spark of…laughter?
“After all, what trouble could there be, since a man and his wife are often seen alone together?”
Angelia wasn’t certain she had heard Swift Hawk correctly. “What was that again?”
He shrugged. “What?”
“What you just said.”
He gave her a perfectly innocent look and repeated, “Your brother is over by that ridge, trying to discover who trails him.”
“No, not that—that other thing.”
“You mean about my wife and I being alone?”
“That’s it. That’s the one. Your wife? You have a wife?” she asked, feeling more than a little confused.
He said, “Certainly I have a wife.”
She sent him a sideways scowl. “I don’t believe you. Where is this person?”
He grinned. “Right here beside me.”
“Wait a minute. How can I be your wife?”
“Very easily, I think.”
Angelia sat for a moment, dazed. How could this be? On one hand, she was cheered that Swift Hawk was, indeed, very much interested in her. On the other hand, she realized she should have been worrying less and practicing more of exactly what she should say to this man.
Was this what he’d meant when he’d said they belonged to one another? Marriage?
Aloud, she said, “Swift Hawk, have I missed something? I don’t remember a marriage ceremony between us.”
Swift Hawk frowned. “You do not remember? And yet recalling those moments we spent together is forever here.” He pointed to his head, and then to his heart.
“Moments? What are you talking about?”
“You do not remember.” He tsk-tsked.
Angelia grimaced, placing a hand on her forehead, as if to ease the spinning sensation. “There must be something here I don’t understand, because I don’t recall a thing.”
“Ah, then I should refresh your memory. But…surely you do not wish me to do this…” he made a mock glance around him, “…where others might overhear us, or see us.”
“Swift Hawk, please. Be serious.”
She shook her head. “Have you gone crazy?”
“Perhaps, for my wife treats me as though I am nothing more to her than a…” he drew his brows together, looking for all the world as if he were in deep thought, “…friend.”
“You are a friend.”
“Haa’he, that I am…plus more. Now, I have something else to tell you, and for a moment, I would ask that we forget all this, switch our duties and I will be a teacher and you will be my pupil.”
“Why?” she asked, still feeling bewildered and having difficulty following his line of thought.
“Because I have a problem in mathematics for you.”
“Swift Hawk, please, we are not doing our lessons now. We are having a discussion about…about…”
Swift Hawk shrugged. “All right. If you do not wish to hear this problem, I will not bore you with it.”
Angelia blew out her breath. “Very well. Tell me.”
“No, I do not wish to disturb you with it…at least not now.”
She sighed heavily. “I’m sorry, all right? I… It’s only that you’ve said some things that have…surprised me, things I don’t understand, and frankly, you’re speaking about a subject that must be discussed by us in greater detail. But by all means, let me hear this problem that you have with mathematics first.”
He ignored the sarcasm in her voice and gave her a look that could have been innocent, but it wasn’t. Before she could decide what he was up to, he said, “Tell me, what is the result when you add a man, a woman, and a morning spent together in each other’s arms?”
“Shh. Swift Hawk. What are you doing? Say that quietly.”
“Very well.” Lowering his voice, he whispered, “What do you get when you add—”
“I heard you the first time. Swift Hawk, really, it…it…wasn’t like that… It was…” She stopped, for she seemed incapable of uttering another word.
Now was the time. Now she should tell him.
Angelia opened her mouth to speak, took a deep breath, then held it. How in the name of good heaven could she begin?
She shut her mouth, thinking, summoning her nerve to say what must be said.
Swift Hawk leaned in toward her. “Ah, I can see that you understand. Now you must observe that all of these things, added together, equals a marriage, does it not?”
“No, it—” Angelia shook her head, exhaling sharply. “It does not equal marriage. There was no ceremony.” She said every word distinctively. “But let’s not quibble. Not now. Not here, where we might be overhead. Besides, we forget that Julian might be in trouble. Now, if you would be so kind as to lead me to my brother, I would be much beholden.”
Angelia rolled her eyes. “Please, will you take me to him?”
“Yes, my wife,” said Swift Hawk seriously, though she could have sworn that a corner of his mouth lifted upward in a smile. “Truly, my wife, I will do anything you say.”
“Please, if you must say that, say it softly.”
“Very well.” Leaning up onto his elbows, Swift Hawk spoke quietly, for her ears alone, “Yes, my wife. I am yours to command, my wife.”
Angelia raised an eyebrow. “You are mine to command?”
“It is so.”
“Good. Then I command you not to speak to me of this again.”
Smiling, Swift Hawk inclined his head. “Very well. I will show you instead how eager I am to please you.” He held out a hand toward her.
Angelia rolled away. “Swift Hawk!” she uttered sharply, under her breath. “Stop this at once. Just…just take me to my brother.”
My current release is HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.
George and Libbie Custer are secondary characters and hometown neighbors of my heroine in book 1. The story takes place two years before Custer’s last campaign, a time when tensions were escalating on both sides of the issues. Each book in Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series, takes the reader closer to the final event in the Little Bighorn Valley.
How did I become interested in the Custer story? I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and knew that Custer spent some of his childhood in my home state. A job transfer moved us to Ohio for several years where we traveled the I-75 north through Monroe, Michigan to visit family. Alongside the highway in Monroe is a huge billboard with Custer in uniform stating: Monroe, Michigan – boyhood home of the boy-general. A few years later, a temporary job transfer brought us back to Michigan for a year. My husband rented a house on Lake Erie in Monroe County.
At that time, I had no plans about Custer being in one of my future books. Out of curiosity, however, I visited the small Custer museum in Monroe, and a neighborhood bookstore where I purchased several books about George and Libbie Custer written by a local Custer historian. Next, I stopped by the Monroe County Library that has a fantastic Custer Collection.
The librarian informed me that next to Presidents Washington and Lincoln, no other historical figure in our country has as many books written about him as George A. Custer. She also mentioned that people living in Japan and Italy have made inquiries about Custer’s career. After all this time, people want to learn more details about the controversial boy-general!
At a county flea market, I found an original edition of Libbie Custer’s BOOTS AND SADDLES or Life in Dakota with General Custer, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1885. That was the first book Libbie wrote, years after George died. Cost: $6.00. I do not really believe in coincidences. I finished four other stories, before starting my current release: HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.
George Armstrong Custer’s prankish career at the United States Military Academy put him last in his 1861 graduating class. Afterward, his flamboyant cavalry escapes during the Civil War brought a continual interest from the press of the day. Old men admired his courage and women saw him as a dashing figure. Today, however, mention Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and his 7th Regiment of Cavalry, given to Custer as a reward for his Civil War record, and images of war against the Plains Indians come to mind. Current authors and historians write more books about Custer as villain, because of the post-Civil War years, than as hero.
When people react negatively to Custer’s name, it is because as a military officer he represented our government and its policies at that time. Our point of view today, concerning the western expansion after the Civil War, is sympathetic toward the Indians and highly critical of our actions against Native Americans.
The list of officers mentioned here guided and/or ordered Custer’s military career. General Alfred Terry, Custer’s immediate superior; Major-General Phil Sheridan, his close friend and mentor; Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman; President Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief (all Civil War generals). In other words, Custer did not act alone.
My bibliography for Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series has exceeded my budget. Last month, I purchased two additional books on Custer. I’m hooked on research.
Some called the Little Bighorn Battle “a clash of cultures and Custer, a man of his time.” My hope is that the reader will enjoy the fictional story with interesting characters, set against the backdrop of an isolated fort in the Dakota Territory in 1874.
About the house on the cover of Honor Bright
The cover of HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1, features the 1989, rebuilt home and command headquarters for the famous 7th Cavalry. This was George and Libbie Custer’s first home built for them by the U. S. government, and the reassembled 7th Cavalry Regiment since it was formed after the Civil War. Location is Fort Abraham Lincoln, across the Missouri River from Bismarck, Dakota Territory (ND today).
The Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation raised funds and constructed the home after years of research and planning. The estimated total cost to develop Cavalry Square was $6 million, with $2 million appropriated by the U. S. Congress. The Custer House cost almost $400,000. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department now operates the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
As the centerpiece of Fort Abraham Lincoln, the Custer house is the third built on the exact same lot as the original Custer residence. The first was built in 1873, one of seven buildings that formed Officers’ Row on the fort’s western perimeter. In the center of three duplexes for bachelor or married officers, is the Custer home.
Fire destroyed the original house in the middle of the night in February 1874. George and Libbie barely escaped with their lives. Donations quickly replaced just about everything they lost. Libbie called their frontier home elegant, especially after she requested the installation of the bay window in her parlor, and George provided funds for the railing to the second story (balustrade) made of butternut, a difficult wood that required 80 hours of labor to construct.
HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1
Spring 1874. Rebecca Brewster arrives at Fort Abraham Lincoln to preview life on the far western frontier, before her marriage to an officer in Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s famous 7th Cavalry Regiment. Becca is soon disillusioned with her childhood love who is critical of her tomboyish ways. He insists she behave as a lady in the footsteps of Libbie Custer.
Major Randall Steelman, second in command under Custer, finds Becca’s fun-loving spirit and open affectionate ways charming. As an officer, however, Rand’s strict code of conduct forbids him to act on his interest in a woman when it involves a brother officer. How can he stand by and watch Becca marry an arrogant hothead with unbridled ambition, when he finds Becca more irresistible each day?
Amid increasing tension between the hostile Sioux Indians and the government that Custer represents, Rand walks a tightrope balancing professional duties and a friendship with his commander. Custer’s reputation is two-fold: Capable cavalry officer and fearless leader; arrogant and petty tyrant.
With one-year left to serve his country, Rand is determined to retire with a blemish-free record and with his rank intact. Becca must make a life-changing decision, before it’s too late and she marries the wrong man.
Diane Kalas collects antique books written by men and women who lived through the American Civil War, and/or who pioneered out West. With a degree in interior design, she enjoys touring historical sites, especially Federal era homes with period furniture. Published writers Pamela Griffin, Gina Welborn, and Kathleen Maher have been critique partners and mentors. Diane’s biggest challenge is writing Inspirational Historical Romance. Her biggest distraction is her fascination with historical research. Diane is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
Though it’s hard to imagine the likes of Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson bowling, this was actually a popular sport in the Old West. According to True West magazine, one of the strangest bowling alleys was built in California in 1866. After felling a majestic Redwood, miners turned the flat, heavily-waxed surface into a bowling alley.
Speaking of sports, baseball was also a popular sport in the Old West. Even Wild Bill Hickok was a baseball fan and reportedly umpired a game wearing a pair of six-shooters.
We think of the old West as wild, but it pales in comparison to what’s going on in some cities today. From the 1850s to the 1890s, Texas held the title as the most gun-fighting state. But during that forty-year span, the state logged in only 160 shootouts.
The number of Old West bank robberies were also greatly exaggerated. During this same forty-year period, only eight bank robberies were recorded in the entire frontier. Today, yearly bank robberies number in the thousands. California and Texas have the highest number of bank robberies. At long last, the west lives up to its reputation.
Some cowboys were real swingers. Yep, they even played golf.
It breaks my heart to say this, but some of the phrases associated with the Old West weren’t actually coined until the 1900s, which means I can’t use them in a book. These include “Stick em up” and “hightail.”
The one thing outlaws feared was dying with their boots on. To “die with your boots on” was a term that meant “to be hanged.” Outlaws often pleaded with the sheriff to take their boots off so their mothers would never know the truth of how they died.
Before the days of GPS, it was the chuck wagon cook’s job to keep the cattle drives heading in the right direction. Before retiring, his last chore of the day was to place the tongue of the chuck wagon facing the North Star. This was so the trail master would know which direction to move the herd in the morning.
It might be hard to believe, but most cowboys didn’t carry guns while riding. Carrying a gun was a nuisance to the riders and firing it would scare cattle and horses.
Of the 45000 cowboys working during the heyday of cattle drives, some 5000 were African-American.
The tradition of spreading sawdust on saloon floors supposedly started in Deadwood, South Dakota. The sawdust was used to hide the gold dust that fell out of customer pockets, and was swept up at the end of the night.
So what Old West fact did you find most surprising or interesting?
There’s a new sheriff in town and she almost always gets her man!
It’s Christmas Time! Please let me remind you — because I’ll be doing a free give-away today — to be sure to check back here at the blog on Wednesday or Thursday to see who is the winner. Remember, we here at the Junction don’t contact you. So please check back either tomorrow or the next day to see if you are the winner. The books I’ll be giving away are Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, the mass market paperback version of the book, and Seneca Surrender, e-book.
Well, I’ve been thinking and thinking of what I could possibly blog today, since Christmas was not a celebrated holiday for Native Americans before the arrival of priests into this land called Turtle Island. One of my most favorite Christmas memories is being told a story the night before Christmas in an attempt to get me to go to sleep. It didn’t work very well (getting me to go to sleep). But it is a wonderful memory.
And so I thought I’d regale you with a story. Hopefully I won’t put you to sleep with this story.
This is the story of the girl who married a star. It’s origin is Sioux — I don’t know if that’s Lakota or Dakota or Nakota. All three are Sioux, just different dialects. By the way this story comes to us from the book, Favorite North American Indian Legends, printed by Dover. Before I start, I wanted to say that this legend reminds me of a similar one I used in Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, which is the book I’ll be giving away today.
Okay that said, imagine yourself in the long, long ago, all warm and cozy, curled up in front of a fire with your relatives sitting around you. The Old Story Teller has arrived, and all is quiet as the story teller begins:
Long ago, there were two sisters, one whose name was Earth and the others name was Water. This was at a time when all people and animals were in close communication with each other and so the animals supplied the sisters with all their needs.
One night the sky was clear and beautiful and both sisters looked up to the sky through their wigwam — comment, now we know that this was most likely the Dakota since they were living in Wigwams — anyway, they looked up through the hole in their wigwam and admired the beautiful stars.
Earth said to her sister that she’d had a dream about a handsome young man and that she thought he might be a star. Water responded saying that she, too, had seen a man in her dreams who was a brave man.
The sisters chose stars that they thought might be these men that they had dreamed of. Water chose the brightest star for her husband. Earth chose a little star that twinkled.
Then they slept. When they awoke, they were in the land of the Sky. The stars were, indeed, people. Now it happened that the man that water chose was an older warrior and that the man that Earth chose was a young, handsome man. Both sisters married these men and they were very happy.
One day the sisters went out to dig turnips (a much favored food at this time in history). Both of their husbands warned them not to strike the ground too hard. But Earth, in her haste to dig the turnips, struck the ground so hard that she fell through the sky to the ground.
Earth was found and cared for by two older people who tried to help her. But she was so upset about losing her husband that all she did is cry. She could not even see her husband in the sky because he had blackened his face because he was now a widower. Earth waited and waited for him to come to her, but he could not. However, he did give her a most precious gift.
That night when she went to sleep, she dreamed of a beautiful red star. It had never been in the sky before. She knew at once that it was her son.
When she awoke, she found a handsome boy by her side — her son. Although Earth’s husband could not come to get her again, and though he loved his son deeply, he gave to his wife the only thing that he could — their son, Star Boy. It was a gift from his heart.
‘Tis the season of giving. I hope you have enjoyed this story. I thought it was quite beautiful.
Now one more thing before I end.
Seneca Surrender was just recently released in October in ebook and Tradepaper — from Prairie Rose Publications. Below is the cover. I’ll be giving away a free copy of Seneca Surrender in ebook format today to some lucky blogger. So that’s two chances you have to win a free book. All you have to do to enter into the drawing is to leave a comment. But please, over to right here is our Giveaway Guidelines. Please do have a look at them. The rules are few, but are important — so give them a read.
The picture to the right is of my husband and myself with Chief Mountain in the background, the setting for Soaring Eagle’s Embrace — this is on the Blackfeet reservation.
And so from my heart to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Oliver Winchester bought the remains of the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, started the New Haven Arms Company, reorganized it as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866, and manufactured some of the most famous firearms ever created. Today we’re going to look at one of their most revered rifles: The 1876 Winchester Centennial Repeating Rifle.
Introduced at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 and named to commemorate our nation’s one hundredth anniversary of independence, Winchester’s lever-action rifle was the largest and among the most powerful repeaters on the frontier.
The Centennial was one of the first lever-action weapons to use larger caliber, center-fire ammunition. In the same way that “rim-fire” meant the hammer struck the rim of the projectile, center-fire means the hammer strikes the center of the bullet when the trigger is pulled. In this case, larger means .45-75 to .50-90 caliber bullets.
The Centennial Repeater was 48½” long with a 28” barrel, and weighed in at 9 to 9½ pounds! And loading it with shells adds at least another pound. A gallon of milk weighs only 8.6 pounds–try holding that out in front of you and keeping it steady enough to hit what you’re aiming at!
The bullets go into the magazine through a spring-loaded feeder on the right side of the rifle. Fully loaded, the 1876 Repeater held 12 total cartridges–11 in the magazine and one in the chamber. All you had to do was stuff the bullets into the feeder, rack the lever and pull the trigger. Confederate soldiers who faced a Repeater in battle referred to it as that “rifle you load on Sunday and fire all week.”
This sturdy, reliable rifle was favored by good guys and bad guys alike. There were many of them at the Battle of Little Big Horn (most in the hands of the Native Americans), and they were common among those who traveled and settled out west.
The Model 1876 was carried by ranchers and cowboys, Texas Rangers and the Canadian North West Mounted Police. President Theodore Roosevelt owned and used one; even notorious outlaws such as Johnny Ringo (left) and Tom Horn relied on this rifle during the late 1800s.
Hollywood loved the 1876 Centennial Repeater, too. Tom Selleck carried one as Rafe Covington (right) in Crossfire Trail (TNT, 2001) and as Monte Walsh in Monte Walsh (2002). Virginia Madsen used the 1876 Centennial when she saved the day–and her man– also in Crossfire Trail. It made an appearance Steve McQueen’s hands when he played Tom Horn in the 1980 movie of the same name. And characters Johnny Ringo and Sherm McMasters used it in Tombstone (1993).
Just for comparison, the pic at the left, from the final gunbattle in TNT’s Crossfire Trail, shows an 1876 Centennial in the back, an 1866 “Yellow Boy” or “Golden Boy” (because of the polished brass receiver) in the middle and a Winchester 1873 in the front.
The 1876 Centennial Rifle was the king of its day. Manufacturing was discontinued in 1898 after Winchester produced nearly 64,000 of this amazing lever-action rifle.
In 1972 the movie Jeremiah Johnson hit the big screen bringing with it an interest in the HAWKEN rifle, a gun that Jeremiah coveted and eventually acquired. This movie sparked considerable interest in owning a firearm of this sty le. Many companies in the muzzle-loading field quickly brought forth their rendition of a HAWKEN rifle. Not many people knew “HAWKEN” was the name of an actual man with a shop building rifles in St. Louis in the 1800’s. No, not many knew but there was one.
In 1960 after 20 years of military service my father opened a small gunsmithing shop on Whidbey Island in Washington state. I joined him in the business and began attending trade shows to see what was new in the firearms industry. On one such trip at a very large show I ventured down an isle and was surprised to see that among the men in sport coats and ties was a man in full buckskin attire.
He was standing in a booth amid racks of HAWKEN rifles with other men dressed in a similar fashion. The display tables were draped in buffalo skins with tomahawks, powder horns, knives and other accouterments set about. I felt as if l had taken a step back in time and was comfortable in the atmosphere it all created. Then I saw it, hanging high above it all, a sign that read The HAWKEN Shop. While talking with the men in the booth, I learned that these rifles marked HAWKEN really were HAWKEN rifles. These were not imitations, they were the real deal! I was hooked and the HAWKEN rifle was embedded in my mind. The HAWKEN rifle came about from a need of people moving westward for firearms capable of taking down game larger than the rabbits, squirrels, and deer they hunted in the east. Moving westward, they would encounter elk, bear, and bison. A larger caliber rifle would be in demand.
I learned that in the 1970’s this buckskin clad man had brought the HAWKEN SHOP back to life. He was an estate buyer in St. Louis and had purchased what was left of the shop from the 1800’s. His plan was to once again offer these rifles to the general public. This he did. He took original parts from the rifles and had molds made to assure that rifles of current manufacture would be a continuation of those built in the 1800’s. With letters from HAWKEN descendants attesting to their authenticity, he made the HAWKEN rifle again available. Rifles from the HAWKEN shop were carried by such men as Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, and other mountain men of notoriety. HAWKEN rifles found their way across the prairie, they accompanied trappers upriver in their quest for furs, and traveled on wagon trains heading for the gold fields. The rifle being of sturdy build could come in handy as a pry bar to loosen your wagon should it bog down in the mud. The HAWKEN rifle is as steeped in history as the men who carried it.
In the late 1970’s the proprietor of the HAWKEN shop experienced some personal difficulties, forcing closure of the shop, and it was again put into storage. The HAWKEN shop never totally left my mind, and I went in search to find it. In 1990 my partner and myself located the owner and purchased the HAWKEN shop and are again offering this historically correct rifle. We have traveled to museums, historical landmarks, and forts, following the trails of the mountain men. We continually strive to learn more of the man Sam Hawken and his rifle and continue efforts to preserve this part of our country’s history.
Claudette Greene is offering an historical board game she developed and sells in her store. It involves several years of research and is about the Hawken muzzle-loading rifle and the mountain men that tamed the West. Leave a comment for a chance to win.
LOUD & QUIET PERSONALITIES – BRINGING LIFE TO THE WILD WEST
While doing research for my upcoming late-August release BETWEEN HOME & HEARTBREAK (book 2 in my Gambling Hearts series) about a Texas horseman and a Wild West trick-riding superstar, I was eager to delve into everything about 1800s show people including Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley who were the first American entertainers to gain superstardom.
BUFFALO BILL’S WILD WEST: the Greatest Show on Earth
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ran from 1883 to 1913 and toured all across America including summer seasons on Stanton Island and winter ones at Madison Square Garden. The show also spent four years touring Europe and gave a command performance at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 at Windsor Castle.
THE PERSONALITIES/PERFORMERS: the Colonel and Little Missie
Colonel was an honorary title given to Cody by his many admirers including the top military men of his time. Little Missie was Cody’s name for Annie.
I struck research gold when I read a fantastic non-fiction book by Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry called The Colonel and Little Missie and found the following descriptions…
1. HOW THEY DIFFER: the Loud and the Quiet
Cody: “generous, gushing, in a hurry, incautious, often drunk, and almost always optimistic.”
Annie: “in manner Cody’s polar opposite…reserved, modest to the point of requiring a female embalmer (that she organized in advance of her death), so frugal that many of the troupers believed she lived off the lemonade that Cody and [show manager] Salsbury served free to all workers.”
2. HOW THEY’RE SIMILAR: for the Love of the Show
Cody and Annie were show people “through and through. Even after a bad car wreck, rather late in life, Annie once got onstage and danced a jig in her leg brace.”
ON WITH THE SHOW: History + Personality = Wild West Life
For book 2, BETWEEN HOME & HEARTBREAK, I wanted to write about a character from book 1 in my series. In BETWEEN LOVE & LIES, my hero Noah Ballantyne is a Texas drover who arrives in Dodge City after completing a cattle drive with his friend and neighbor Lewis Adams.
THE QUIET (OR EASY-GOING) PERSONALITY: Lewis Adams – an honest Texas horseman
Buried deep beneath Lewis happy-go-lucky temperament was a territorial streak as wide as it was long. The only time Noah had witnessed Lewis’ anger was when someone threatened to take what belonged to him or those he cared about. (Noah describing Lewis in Book 1)
Who would be the most challenging woman for Lewis?
A woman who’s come to steal his land and add a lot of excitement to his easy-going life.
How could this woman steal his land?
She has a claim to it. She says she’s the previous owners’ long-lost daughter, Jane Dority, who vanished eighteen years ago while riding in a storm with her childhood best friend Lewis – who’s always felt responsible for Jane’s disappearance.
Why were they riding in a storm?
A medicine show with elixirs and acrobatic riders had entertained their community. Jane wanted to replicate one of their acts. Lewis wanted to learn to ride as well as Jane and impress his father so he’d let him join the ranch roundup.
THE LOUD (OR DAREDEVIL) PERSONALITY: Eldora Calhoun – a famous trick-riding superstar
So who is this woman who’s come to claim or steal (depending on your perspective) Lewis’ land?
A confident, well-travel, talented trick-riding superstar in the nation’s most popular Wild West show. She calls herself Eldorado Jane. Is she the long-lost Jane Dority? She might be something even better.
In a town ruled by sin, will he earn her love or her lies?
Dodge City, Kansas – 1877
Sadie Sullivan lost everything when a herd of longhorn cattle bound for Dodge City trampled and destroyed her farm. Now she works in Dodge—one of the most wicked and lawless towns in the West—at the Northern Star saloon. But her survival in this new world of sin and violence depends on maintaining a lie so deadly it could end her life before the town of Dodge can.
The one man capable of unraveling all of Sadie’s secrets is Noah Ballantyne, the Texan rancher whose herd destroyed her home. Back in town and taking up the role of deputy alongside legendary lawman Bat Masterson, Noah vows he won’t leave until he’s made things right. But with the saloon’s madam unwilling to release Sadie and a rich cattle baron wanting her as well, the odds aren’t in favor of finding love…or leaving town alive.
Who is Eldorado Jane? Long-lost friend or scheming superstar?
Texas Hill Country — 1879
Plain Jane Dority vanished while riding in a storm beside her childhood best friend. Eighteen years later, Wild West trick-riding superstar Eldorado Jane returns to claim her birthright: the Dority homestead now owned by the steadfast Texan who never forgot Jane or forgave himself for her disappearance.
Lewis Adams would give anything to see his friend come home, but he’s certain Eldorado Jane isn’t his Jane. So why does this mesmerizing woman—with the talent and fame to have anything she desires—want the small patch of land that he loves? There’s only one way to find out: accept a wager with a deceiver who holds the power to bring back his friend or break his heart. The outcome rests in her hands. Or does it?
Friendship. Betrayal. Blackmail. Eldorado Jane holds every card…except the one that matters most.
Giveaway!– Jacqui has three digital prizes lined up for our readers! Leave a comment for Jacqui and you’ll be entered to win. One winner will receive an e-copy of BETWEEN LOVE & LIES (Gambling Hearts series, book 1) and when it releases, two winners will each get an e-copy of BETWEEN HOME & HEARTBREAK (Gambling Hearts series, book 2).