Category: Margaret Brownley

They Said What?

There’s nothing like looking back at the Old West through the words of those who lived it. There were some real characters back them, and here are a few actual quotes to prove it.

Words to Live By

  • “Never run a bluff with a six-gun.”– Bat Masterson
  • “As a good horse is not very apt to jump over a bank, if left to guide himself, I let mine pick his own way.”-Buffalo Bill
  • “Why should I obtain by force that which I can obtain by cheating?”-Doc Holliday
  • “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” –Wyatt Earp
  • “Shoot first and never miss.” – Bat Masterson

Setting the Record Straight

  • “They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. It ain’t true. I only killed one man for snoring.” – John Wesley Hardin

Famous Last Words

  • “If a man knows anything, he ought to die with it in him.” -Sam Bass
  • “Can’t you hurry this up a bit? I hear they eat dinner in Hades at twelve sharp and I don’t aim to be late.” – Black Jack Ketchum
  • “Let the record show I’ve killed 51 men. Let ’er rip.” Deacon Jim Miller, professional killer
  • “Suppose, suppose …” Wyatt Earp
  • “I see a good many enemies around, and mighty few friends.”-Bill Longley

Calamity Jane

 Girls with Guns

  • “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.” -Calamity Jane
  • “A pair of six-shooters beats a pair of sixes.” -Belle Starr
  • “I never killed unless I was compelled to.” -Belle Starr
  • “I ain’t afraid to love a man. I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.”-Annie Oakley

Now That’s Mighty Thoughtful

  • “I didn’t want to send him to hell on an empty stomach.”- Clay Allison after killing a man at dinner

The Hangman Speaketh

  • “I never hanged a man that didn’t deserve it.” Judge Parker’s hangman George Maledon
  • “We never did hang the wrong one but once or twice, and them fellers needed to be hung anyhow jes’ on general principles.”- nameless judge

 That Fighting Spirit

  • “Well, if there ain’t going to be any rules, let’s get the fight started.” -Butch Cassidy
  • “I want results when I fight.”- Frank James

  Reaching for the Stars

  • “All my life I wanted to be a bank robber. Carry a gun and wear a mask. Now that it’s happened I guess I’m just about the best bank robber they ever had. And I sure am happy.” -John Dillinger

 Okay now it’s your turn. 

What saying or words of wisdom would you like to be remembered for?

 

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

A Match Made in Texas

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Updated: March 19, 2017 — 7:43 am

True Facts of the Old West

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!

A Match Made in Texas

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Updated: February 23, 2017 — 6:54 am

For The Love of Candy

 

Save the Earth; it’s the only planet with chocolate

I’ve got candy on my mind this month and it’s not even Valentine’s.  There are two reasons why I’m thinking of all things sweet and it has nothing to do with the empty box of chocolates on my desk; January is national candy month and the heroine of my current work in progress owns a candy shop.  

While doing the research for my book, I turned up some fun and interesting facts.  For example, we can blame our sweet tooth on our cavemen ancestors and their fondness for honey.  But the most surprising thing I discovered was that marshmallows grow on trees—or at least used to.  That was before the French came up with a way to replace the sweet sap from the mallow tree with gelatin.   

I also learned that during the middle ages, the price of sugar was so high that only the rich could afford a sweet treat.  In fact, candy was such a rarity that the most children could expect was an occasional sugar plum at Christmas.  (BTW: there are no plums in sugar plums.  Plum is another word for good).

This changed during the early nineteenth century with the discovery of sugar-beet juice and mechanical candy-making machines.   

Soon jars of colorful penny candy could be found in every trading post and general store in the country. It took almost four hundred candy manufacturing companies to keep up with the demand. 

This changed the market considerably. Children as young as four or five were now able to make purchases independent of their parents. (Had youngsters known that vegetables including spinach was used to color candy, they might not have wasted their money.)

Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the availability of cheap candy. Civil War soldiers favored gumdrops, jelly beans, hard candy and, hub wafers (now known as Necco wafers).     

Never one to miss a trend, John Arbuckle, noted the sugar craze that had swept the country and decided to use it as marketing tool.  He included a peppermint stick in each pound bag of Arbuckle’s coffee to encourage sales. 

 “Who wants the peppermint?” was a familiar cry around chuck wagons. 

This call to grind the coffee beans got a rash of volunteers.  No rough and tumble cowboy worth his salt would turn down a stick of peppermint candy, especially when out on the trail.

Arbuckle wasn’t the only one to see gold in candy. Outlaw Doc Scurlock, friend of Billy the Kid and a Bloody Lincoln County War participant, retired from crime in 1880. Though he was still a wanted man, he moved to Texas and opened up a candy store.

Cadbury, Mars and Hershey rode herd on the chocolate boom of the late 1800s, early 1900s.  Penny candy still made up eighteen percent of candy sales but, by this time, some merchants had refused to sell it.  Profits were thin and selling such small amounts to children was time-consuming. Chocolate was more profitable. The penny candy market vanished altogether during World War II when sugar was rationed.  Fortunately, no war could do away with chocolate.

Okay, so what’s your favorite candy?  Anyone have a candy memory to share?

LeftattheAltarfinalcover

 

Who knew being Left at the Altar could be such

sweet, clean, madcap fun?

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Updated: January 23, 2017 — 5:05 pm

Left at the Altar Book Release and Giveaway

MargaretBrownley-header

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverI have a lot to celebrate.  My novella Do You Hear What I Hear? released on the 24th; my book Left at the Altar will hit the stores on November 1st; and my office is clean (no small miracle).

Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it.  The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.

The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way.  We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing.  My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream.  He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors.  But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening.  The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.

banjo-clock

This Banjo clock circa 1929 was a wedding gift for my husband’s parents.

Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.

The book takes place in 1880 before standard time.  Prior to 1883, the town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time.  One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones.  Talk about confusion!

Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train.  I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really  knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time?  And if it was local time, which one?

clock

This clock has been in the family for a hundred years!

Ah, yes, time.  It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of.  It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story.  A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:

The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…

Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s your turn.  Leave a message and you might win a copy of Left at the Altar.  Giveaway guidelines apply.

How does time affect your life?  Are you always running late, early or on time? Are you looking forward to the November 6th time change?  If you could change one thing about time, what would it be?

Time for a little holiday cheer

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

only 1.99

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Updated: October 27, 2016 — 7:49 am

Jobs That No Longer Exist

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Recently I came across a list of occupations that some experts say will be obsolete in the next ten years.  Occupations on the line include postal workers, farmers, ranchers (yikes, we’re talking cowboys here!), cooks and cashiers.

Self-service checkouts are slowly taking over the stores and restaurants in my area.  You can even check out your own books at my local library, and meter readers have gone the way of the dinosaurs.  All this got me to thinking about occupations from the past that no longer exist.  Here are a few that caught my eye:

Bone man public domain

Bone man public domain

Rag and Boneman

Following the great buffalo slaughter of the 1800s, bleached bones covered the prairies.  It didn’t take long for homesteaders to figure out what the real money crop was.  Bones were used for cosmetics, glue, lubricants and sugar cane filters. During the height of the bone trade, eastern processing plants purchased an estimated billion-dollars’ worth of bones.    

Iceman

Icemen made daily rounds in wagons, carts or trucks delivering ice for ice boxes.

Knocker-Upper (it’s not what you think)

How did workers get to work on time before alarm clocks?  A knocker-upper banged on doors or windows to wake people at the appointed time. Some used peashooters aimed at second story windows.  It makes you wonder who woke the knocker-uppers?

Gandy Dancer

Gandy dancers 1917 source: wikipedia

Gandy dancers 1917 source: wikipedia public domain

This jobs sounds more fun than it was.  Railroad workers or gandy dancers, as they were called, laid thousands of miles of railroad tracks across the U.S.

Leech Collector

Bloodletting was a popular method by which to treat disease or infection. Doctors used millions of leeches during the 19th century and let’s face it; someone had to collect those suckers.

Pettifogger

Shyster lawyer (some people might argue that this profession still exists)

lamp_lighter

Wikipedia public domain

Lamplighter

These workers lit gas streetlights with the aid of a long pole. In some communities, the lamplighter also served as night watchman.

Lector

Lectors were hired by factories to educate workers and eradicate boredom. They did this by reading newspapers and even novels aloud. Should a lector read anything too radical or controversial, he could expect to be tossed out on his ear.  Hmm. Sounds like some college campuses today.

 

 

 

Do any of you remember milkmen?  What about gas station attendants who used to pump gas, clean windows and check the tires?  It wasn’t that long ago that people came to the door selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners. Most of us could probably do without the salesmen, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone fill our tanks on occasion?  I would also miss not having my mail delivered, and can’t imagine a world without cowboys.  What about you?  What profession or occupation do you or will you miss?

                              Left at the Altar

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverWelcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good.

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Updated: September 18, 2016 — 7:07 am

Cause for Alarm & Book Giveaway

 MargaretBrownley-header

Today I’m giving away a copy of Prairie Summer Brides, which includes my story, The Dog Days of Summer Bride.  P&P giveaway guidelines apply.

Fire is very much on my mind this month for two reasons; One, California has been plagued with massive wildfires this summer.  None were close to me, but the air quality has been poor and there were days when we couldn’t see the sun because of smoke-filled skies.

The second reason that fire is on my mind is due to a firefire in the fictional town of Two-Time, Texas (book three of my Match Made it Texas series) and I’ve been writing and rewriting the scene all week.

During the 19th century, fire was one of the biggest environment threats facing the nation.  Something as simple as a dropped candle or overturned lamp could wipe out an entire town or city in a flash.

When a fire broke out in those early days, a bell (usually the church bell) rang, and volunteer firemen dropped what they were doing and raced to join the bucket brigade.  Volunteers were a mixed bunch and included immigrants and native-born, merchants and laborers.

Being a volunteer fire-fighter was considered an honor and united men in a brotherhood of masculinity andtucson skill.  It provided men from all walks of life with an elevated social status.

Surprisingly, women started serving as volunteer firefighters as early as 1818. The first known woman to do so was a black slave named Molly Williams.

The main challenges firefighters faced in those early days were poorly constructed wood buildings and lack of equipment and training. The appearance of fire insurance companies in the mid-1800s created yet another challenge.

old fire mark plaque

Fire mark plaque showing business is insured.

Some fire brigades were either owned or paid for by insurance companies. Homes and businesses with paid fire insurance were issued a fire mark plaque. These fire marks were made out of metal and placed outside doors. The payment to insurers would help support fire-fighting brigades.  The fire brigade that arrived at a burning building first would get the insurance money.

Competition between brigades was so severe, that fistfights often occurred while a building burned to the ground.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the New York city companies sent runners ahead to cover fire hydrants with barrels to prevent other brigades from using them.

bucket

Old firefighting bucket. Rounded bottoms prevented buckets from being stolen and used for other purposes.

Firefighting has come a long way since the first volunteer fire department in America was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1736. Fire equipment back then was basically leather buckets for dousing flames with water and linen bags for collecting valuables from inside of burning houses.

I was surprised to learn that today, more than two-hundred and eighty years later, sixty-nine percent of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers. Unfortunately,  their numbers are dwindling.  It’s getting harder to recruit new members. People no longer live in the heart of town like they once did, so distance is a problem.  Also fewer people are willing to take time away from work and family to run into burning buildings without pay. (Can’t say I blame them, there.)

Despite these challenges, modern volunteer firefighters are well-trained and save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Best of all, fistfights are now a thing of the past.  Firefighting sure isn’t what it used to be and we can all thank God for that.

Are the firemen in your town volunteers or professionals?

                                                                                              

                              Left at the Altar

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverWelcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good.

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Updated: August 23, 2016 — 11:12 am

Movie Quotes: You Can’t Say it Better Than That!

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I love good dialogue, especially when it delivers the unexpected or makes me laugh. Dialogue sparkles when it reveals insight into the character, adds conflict, or moves the plot forward. I also like dialogue that adds sexual tension—hee haw!  Here are a few of my favorite western movie quotes.

The Ououtlawtlaw Josey Wales

Josey Wales: When I get to liking someone, they ain’t around long.
Lone Watie: I notice when you get to disliking someone they ain’t around for long neither.

 

Once Upon a Time in the West

Wobbles: You can trust me, Frank.
Frank: Trust ya? How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders, a man who can’t even trust his own pants?

True Grit

Rooster Cogburn: Damn that Texan, when you need him he’s dead.

The Magnificent Seven

Chico: Ah, that was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen.
Britt: The worst! I was aiming at the horse.

 Tombstone

 Wyatt Earp: You gonna do something or just stand there and bleed?

 Unforgiven

The kid:  Well, I guess they had it comin’.
Munny: We all got it comin’, kid.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 Man with no name: See, in this world, there’s two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.

 The Cowboys

Jebediah: Above all, forgive me for the men I’ve killed in anger…and those I am about to.cowboy

 Pale Rider

Preacher (played by Clint Eastwood): Well, if you’re waitin’ for a woman to make up her mind, you may have a long wait.

 Support Your Local Sheriff

Jake: You want me to tell Joe Danby that he’s under arrest for murder? What’re you gonna do after he kills me?
Jason: Then I’ll arrest him for both murders.

The Searchers

Martin: I hope you die!
Ethan: That’ll be the day.

Blazing Saddles

Lamarr: Taggart.
Taggart: Yes, sir.
Lamarr: I’ve decided to launch an attack that will reduce Rock Ridge to ashes.
Taggart: What do you want me to do, sir?
Lamarr: I want you to round up every vicious criminal and gunslinger in the West. Take this down: I want rustlers, cut-throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nit-wits, half-wits, dim-wits, vipers, snipers, con-men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bush-whackers, horn-swagglers, horse-thieves, bull-dykes, train-robbers, bank-robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers, and Methodists!
Taggart: Could you repeat that, sir?

GWTWWestern movies aren’t known for love or romance, so I offer one of my favorite romantic quotes from Gone with The Wind:

Rhett Butler (who else?) You should be kissed — and often — and by someone who knows how.

And finally, here’s one from my soon-to-be-released book Left at the Altar

Josie (when the groom fails to show up for the wedding) You don’t suppose something might have happened to Tommy, do you? An accident?
Meg (the bride) It better have!

Do you have a favorite book or movie quote to share?  If not, which of the movie quotes above did you like best?

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverWelcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good.

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Updated: July 28, 2016 — 2:27 pm

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me—Margaret Brownley

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It’s time for some more silly Filly fun.

Filly Fun 2016 Design to use

  1. I collect teapots. This was not intentional, but I made the mistake of setting two teapots together on a shelf and people just assumed I collected them.  I now own more than 40 in all shapes and colors.  Whenever I throw a tea party, guests each get their own teapots.

Teapots1

2. I have more than 2000 research books in my library, which probably explains why I can never find the book I want.   

   office

3. I’m currently a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor and have signed off on nearly 1000 badges.

4. In my other life I was a teacher.

5. I run a rescue shelter for Boston Ferns. Anyone having trouble with theirs knows to bring it to me.

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6. I flunked eighth grade English. I didn’t do all that great in history, either (All those dates and battles—ugh!). Since my head was always in the clouds, I was probably better prepared to be an astronaut than a writer of historical fiction.

7. I don’t sit on a chair when I write; I sit on a stability ball. These balls are great for building core strength but there is a drawback; A recent earthquake sent me flying.

chair

8. I’ve been to all fifty states. Alaska was the last state visited.  

9. I have six wonderful grandchildren. Other fillies claim to have the best grandchildren in the world, but that’s only because they haven’t met mine.

10. All my best ideas come at three a.m. My worst ideas come at three a.m, too.3

11. My office is Monet purple.  Purple is supposed to stimulate creativity.  I like to think that a messy office is the sign of an orderly mind. my office

12.  I can’t count.

Now it’s your turn: In what ways are you and I alike?

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverWelcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good.

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Updated: June 26, 2016 — 6:58 am

Tricks of the Trade: Unscrupulous Horse Traders of the Old West

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We all know to be on our guard when buying a used car. But a clever Old West horse dealer could make even the slickest car dealer look like Honest Abe.

Those early cowboys in the market for a horse didn’t have to worry about odometer fraud or hidden accident damage, but there were plenty of other ways they could be duped.

smileyMany an old mare was made to appear young again by a method called bishoping.  The horse traders of yesteryear often filed the teeth of elderly horses and stained them with silver nitrate. This little trick could shave years off a horse’s age. A story in a 1910 newspaper reported that one man paid dearly for a seventeen-year-old horse thinking it was but seven.

Horses with sore muscles were temporarily cured by the gasoline trick. Gasoline was rubbed into a horse’s back and withers.  Supposedly, this allowed horses to move pain-free long enough to allow an unscrupulous horse trainer to pocket his money and leave town.

Another trick involved removing a shoe to disguise a lame horse.  The horse trader would convince a prospective buyer that once the shoe was replaced, the horse would be fine.

It wasn’t just old age and limps that could be concealed. Sponges shoved up a horse’s nostrils would hide the ihorsesound of labored breathing or a runny nose.  Irritants hidden in other parts of the body made a sickly horse hold its tail high and appear active.  This was called gingering.

Droopy ears could be easily fixed by running a thread under the forelock.

A Pennsylvania newspaper dated 1897 reported that when a prospective buyer voiced concern over a horse’s slow speed, the horse trader took him for a ride. Unbeknownst to the buyer, the horse trader had arranged to be arrested for “speeding” and willingly paid the five dollar fine.  The duped buyer was so impressed, he immediately bought the horse.

White horses were often made to look more attractive by the addition of black spots. This was accomplished by a combination of powdered lime and litharge.  A handsome star was often added to a black horse’s forehead by spreading warm pitch to a spot shaved in the shape of a star.  The pitch was left on for three days and then washed away with elixir of vitriol.  The hair grew back white.

One horse trader received a complaint that the horse he sold the day before must be blind as it kept walking into things. “Well, he ain’t blind,” the trader explained.  “He just don’t care.”

Anyone ever come across an unscrupulous dealer or pushy salesman?

 

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverComing in November:  Left at the Altar

Welcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good

Click to preorder

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Updated: June 23, 2016 — 10:29 am
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