Category: Oklahoma History

Posts that have to do with the history of Indian Territory/Oklahoma Territory prior to 1907 or shortly thereafter when Oklahoma became a state.

LOVE LETTERS AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES–February#blogabookscene by Cheryl Pierson

 

Ah, those wonderful love letters! Don’t we love reading them? I must admit I have an affinity for love letters because of the insights they give us into the past, and the people who lived then.

With Valentine’s Day almost here and my 39th wedding anniversary just celebrated on the 10th, love letters are something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Probably because of the time of year, but also because, as authors, we have to use letters and notes in our writing to “get the message” across that perhaps our characters might not be able to speak aloud.

 

My hubby is, like many men, not sentimental. He wouldn’t care if I never got him another Valentine’s Day or anniversary card, but they mean a lot to me—so we exchange them every year. I suspect that, through the years past right down to the present, most men didn’t and don’t make flowery love speeches from their hearts, or even write their innermost thoughts and feelings in cards and letters.

 

One of the most poignant love letters I know of is the famous letter written by Union Army Major Sullivan Ballou, just before the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 where he died at the age of 32. Married only 6 years, he left behind two small sons and his wife, Sarah. The letter he wrote to Sarah days before he was killed is one that speaks poignantly of his guilt at having to choose between his duty to country and duty to family. Ken Burns used a shortened version of the letter in his series, The Civil War—and its contents are unforgettable, and so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

                                                                           SULLIVAN BALLOU

In part, it reads:

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

I had to come up with a love letter, of sorts, for my latest novel, Sabrina, part of the 4-book set entitled MAIL-ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Oh, nothing to beautiful as this letter penned by a soldier marching to his inevitable death, but a letter that had to convince Sabrina to leave her wealthy lifestyle in Philadelphia and come West to Indian Territory!

Sabrina and her three older sisters (Lola, written by Celia Yeary; Belle, written by Jacquie Rogers; Lizzy, written by Livia J. Washburn; and Sabrina, my character) have to have mail-order arrangements in order to get out of the fix they’re in with a step-father who plans to sell them to the highest bidder—and they don’t have much time to do it. When Sabrina receives two proposals on the same day, she counts her lucky stars that she’s able to compare the two letters and has a choice between the two men who have written her—something many women of the day did not have.

She’s safely with the man she’s chosen now, Cameron Fraser, but she’s remembering the day she received the letters and why she made the decision she did. Take a look:

She’d answered ads from both Cameron Fraser and David Mason. Ironically, she’d received offers from both men on the same day. That had been a blessing, as she was able to compare their responses immediately.

Mr. Mason had written one page, in sprawling wide script.

“I have need of a wife to help me raise my four children I was left with after my sainted Amelia passed on last year. Your help will be appreciated. And I will do right by you. I hope you are a willing worker and a good cook. Can you make good cornbread? That is a must in our home…”

She’d opened Mr. Mason’s letter first, and tucked it back into the envelope quickly. She’d hoped she’d managed to keep the revulsion from her face when her oldest sister, Lola, had come hurrying through the door. Lola was five years older, and Sabrina could never manage to keep a secret from her, no matter how she tried.

“Well?” Lola had asked, pinning Sabrina with “the look” that Sabrina dreaded.

“I haven’t read them,” Sabrina said defiantly.

“Bree. You know we have to get out of here—the sooner the better. We don’t have much time.”

Here’s the difference, and why she chose Cam. He wanted her for more than making cornbread!

Lola had turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. That’s how Sabrina knew her oldest sister was angry—or hurt. Maybe both.

She’d sighed, and begun to open the letter from Mr. Cameron Fraser. And before she’d read the entire first page of his two-page missive, she knew her decision was made.

 

Dear Miss Remington,

Thank you for your very kind response to the ad I placed for a bride. I felt out of place to do such a thing, but your answer made me glad I did so, after all.

I know that Indian Territory may seem uncivilized and wild to a well-bred lady such as yourself, who has grown up in the cultured, genteel society of the East, but I assure you, I will do everything in my power to welcome you. In no time at all, I hope you’ll come to think of the Territory as your home.

My family owns a fairly large cattle ranch in Indian Territory. I wanted to assure you that, although the ranch itself is somewhat isolated, we are close enough to Briartown to travel there frequently for supplies.

You will be safe here, Miss Remington, and cherished. You will be well-treated, and I promise you here and now, I will never raise a hand to you.

If it is your will, and I hope it will be, I am willing to be a good and loving father to any children we may have—and a good and loving husband to you.

The sky here is the bluest you’ve ever seen. The water is the freshest and coldest. And I hope you will come to love the open range as much as we Frasers do.

I await your arrival in Ft. Smith. I will meet you there, where we’ll be legally married in a civil ceremony before we travel together to the ranch. Enclosed, you will find a financial draft for your passage and travel expenses.

Sincerely,

Cameron James Fraser

 Something about the underlying feeling of the words Cam had written spoke to Sabrina. That he’d taken time to describe—even briefly—how he felt about his ranch made her know that he cared about her feelings—not just about what skills she might bring to the marriage table.

I see it, too, don’t you? He loves the land and his life, and wants her to share it with him. I wonder if women who were forced to take this route looked for these types of things—I know I would. And Sabrina is a bit of an adventurer, so going to Indian Territory would not hold her back. Adventure awaited!

Have you ever received a love letter that meant the world to you? I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and they’re tucked away in my desk and my heart! If you would like to share, we’d love to hear about your love letters—it’s that time of the year—love is in the air!

 

Here’s the blurb for MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS–buy link below!

Boxed set of four full length mail order bride novels.

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.

Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link!

https://tinyurl.com/y8cmb4m8

PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS WEBSITE: https://www.prairierosepublications.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cherokeegirl57

SILVER MAGIC–MERRY CHRISTMAS! by Cheryl Pierson

Cheryl Pierson

 

Several years ago, I had just sold my first short story to Adams Media’s Rocking Chair Reader series. I was on Cloud 9! This story, SILVER MAGIC, was the 2nd story I sold to them and would appear in their first Christmas collection, Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill. I want to share it with you here. This story is true, and is one of the most poignant tales I could ever tell about my grandfather–he died when I was eleven. I never saw this side of him, and I don’t think very many people did–that’s what makes this Christmas story so special.

 

SILVER MAGIC by Cheryl Pierson

Did you know that there is a proper way to hang tinsel on the Christmas tree?

Growing up in the small town of Seminole, Oklahoma, I was made aware of this from my earliest memories of Christmas. Being the youngest in our family, there was never a shortage of people always wanting to show me the right way to do—well, practically everything! When it came to hanging the metallic strands on the Christmas tree, my mother made it a holiday art form.

“The cardboard holder should be barely bent,” she said, “forming a kind of hook for the tinsel.”   No more than three strands of the silver magic should be pulled from this hook at one time. And, we were cautioned, the strands should be draped over the boughs of the tree gently, so as to avoid damage to the fragile greenery.

Once the icicles had been carefully added to the already-lit-and-decorated tree, we would complete our “pine princess” with a can of spray snow. Never would we have considered hanging the icicles in blobs, as my mother called them, or tossing them haphazardly to land where they would on the upper, unreachable branches. Hanging them on the higher branches was my father’s job, since he was the tallest person I knew—as tall as Superman, for sure. He, too, could do anything—even put the serenely blinking golden star with the blonde angel on the very highest limb—without a ladder!

Once Christmas was over, I learned that there was also a right way to save the icicles before setting the tree out to the roadside for the garbage man. The cardboard holders were never thrown out. We kept them each year, tucked away with the rest of the re-useable Christmas decorations. Their shiny treasure lay untangled and protected within the corrugated Bekins Moving and Storage boxes that my mother had renamed “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in bold letters with a black magic marker.

At the end of the Christmas season, I would help my sisters undress the tree and get it ready for its lonely curbside vigil. We would remove the glass balls, the plastic bells, and the homemade keepsake decorations we’d made in school. These were all gently placed in small boxes. The icicles came next, a chore we all detested.

We removed the silver tinsel and meticulously hung it back around the little cardboard hook. Those icicles were much heavier then, being made of real metal and not synthetic plastic. They were easier to handle and, if you were careful, didn’t snarl or tangle. It was a long, slow process—one that my young, impatient hands and mind dreaded.

For many years, I couldn’t understand why everyone—even my friends’ parents—insisted on saving the tinsel from year to year. Then one night, in late December, while Mom and I gazed at the Christmas tree, I learned why.

As she began to tell the story of her first Christmas tree, her eyes looked back through time. She was a child in southeastern Oklahoma, during the dustbowl days of the Depression. She and her siblings had gotten the idea that they needed a Christmas tree. The trekked into the nearby woods, cut down an evergreen, and dragged it home. While my grandfather made a wooden stand for it, the rest of the family popped and strung corn for garland. The smaller children made decorations from paper and glue.

“What about a star?” one of the younger boys had asked.

My grandfather thought for a moment, then said, “I’ve got an old battery out there in the shed. I’ll cut one from that.”

The kids were tickled just to have the tree, but a star, too! It was almost too good to be true.

Grandfather went outside. He disappeared around the side of the old tool shed and didn’t return for a long time. Grandmother glanced out the window a few times, wondering what was taking so long, but the children were occupied with stringing the popcorn and making paper chains. They were so excited that they hardly noticed when he came back inside.

Grandmother turned to him as he shut the door against the wintry blast of air. “What took you so long?” she asked. “I was beginning to get worried.”

Grandfather smiled apologetically, and held up the star he’d fashioned.   “It took me awhile. I wanted it to be just right.” He slowly held up his other hand, and Grandmother clapped her hands over her mouth in wonder. Thin strands of silver magic cascaded in a shimmering waterfall from his loosely clenched fist. “It’s a kind of a gift, you know. For the kids.”

“I found some foil in the battery,” he explained. “It just didn’t seem right, not to have icicles.”

In our modern world of disposable commodities, can any of us imagine being so poor that we would recycle an old battery for the metal and foil, in order to hand-cut a shiny star and tinsel for our children’s Christmas tree?

A metal star and cut-foil tinsel—bits of Christmas joy, silver magic wrapped in a father’s love for his family.

This anthology is only available used now, but it’s well worth purchasing from Amazon and reading so many heartwarming Christmas stories from yesteryear! Hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2018!

 Christmas horses

SOMETHING THEY WANT…by Cheryl Pierson

 

Cheryl PiersonHere’s something I learned recently that I sure could have used in Christmases past when my kids were younger! Searching for the perfect gifts, the ones that “everyone” would be getting, made for a stressful time—not the relaxed, easy-going holidays we always imagined in our minds. You know, the Norman Rockwell scenes we all believed our Christmas holidays should look like—but that was before Playstation, X-Box, iPad…the list goes on.

Last year I read something that really opened my eyes and made me wish for this bit of wisdom much earlier in my life. A simple Christmas list like this would have surely made life easier and less stressful—what do you think?

“Something they want

Something they need;

Something to wear,

Something to read.”

Problem solved! FOUR GIFTS! No, I’m shaking my head. I know I couldn’t have limited it to four gifts—not “back then”, anyway. Now that my kids are 31 and 28, this is a lot easier to follow and keep to! “Toys” are more expensive—as is everything. Clothing, wants, needs – yes, even books!

Maybe that’s why we enjoy writing historical western romance—those were simpler times and the expectations were not so great. My parents grew up during the Great Depression in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma’s history. Their families were so poor—and, coming from the same small town, Mom and Dad knew each other—and everyone else in that area—from the time they were born.

Mom talked about how sparse the Christmases were, but how happy they managed to be, in spite of it all. I imagine, with her being the eldest of eleven kids, her Christmas was especially small. She mentioned that the girls got a doll and a pair of shoes. If times were “good”, they got ribbon candy and an orange in their stockings.

When I was growing up in the 60’s-70’s, Mom kept up that tradition of always getting me a doll. When I got too old for baby dolls, she switched to the Madame Alexander collectible dolls. By that time/age, I was on to other things—blacklights, posters, incense, record albums, and of course, bell bottom jeans and “smock tops” to wear! Did I mention crayons? There was nothing more wonderful than getting the HUGE box of crayons and new coloring books—I don’t think I ever outgrew those. I would still sit down today and take joy in coloring!

 

This is BABY FIRST STEP–I got her when I was about 10 or so–she really walked (with the help of 2 “C” batteries!)

A woman with no home. A rancher with no heart.
Can holiday magic bring The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson together?

In my story, THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON, the heroine has fled her home in Georgia to get away from a distant family member. Filled with a sense of propriety, she scarcely knows what to ask for when the hero, rancher Devlin Campbell, asks her what she might like for Christmas. Even though they’ve made the hasty decision to marry to avoid the scandalous talk that might otherwise surround them, they don’t know one another very well yet—certainly not well enough for Julia to mention anything personal she might want or need—even though she has arrived in Indian Territory with not much more than the clothes on her back. What does she ask for? Take a look…

EXCERPT FROM THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON:

Something had changed. Julia felt it. His touch was more…possessive. The bitterness seemed to have disappeared, only to be replaced by lines of weariness, instead. What had happened in the short space of time since he’d left?

“Got anything left to make for breakfast?”

Before she could respond, he went on. “We’ll head for town here in a bit. Gotta take the prisoners in.”

“I have my list…it’s long.”

He laughed. “Good thing there are so many of us going. Still too treacherous for a wagon, but maybe we can pack what you need back on the horses.”

She brightened. “That will be wonderful, Dev. Thank you.” What a relief to hear him offer, with no complaint. She breathed deep, knowing this Christmas was going to be special for everyone. But it was especially important for the children.

“And…what would you like for Christmas, Julie?”

His voice was rich, low, and somehow, his question was reassuring. It had been so long since she’d thought of wanting anything for herself—even necessities—that she struggled to think of how she should respond.

“I—maybe some new pan grips for the kitchen—”

Dev stood looking at her in shock. “Pan grips—you mean pot holders?”

She nodded, and he laughed in disbelief. “Well, I tell you what, Miss Julia Jackson. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a man who buys his betrothed pan grips for Christmas.” He leveled a narrow look at her. “You better think of something other than…pan grips.” Shaking his head, he started for the door. “I’ll go gather eggs. At least, we’ll have those for breakfast if nothing else.” He grabbed his coat from the wall peg and shrugged into it. Just before he closed the door behind him, Julia heard him mutter, “Pan grips.”

Asking for any kind of personal gift would mean…reciprocating. And she had nothing to give him. If only he knew how she’d had to scrimp, even with the money he’d sent her—to get here! She had a blessed five dollars left, saved back in case she and Lauralee hadn’t been able to make it to the Flying C and had to stay in town.

How could she tell her soon-to-be husband that she needed—everything? She had bought one dress for herself and one for Lauralee. The first new dress Julia had had in over two years. And in those past two years, she’d embarrassingly filled out in certain places. And even grown taller. She was an excellent seamstress and had done all she could. The older dresses she possessed were tight, and shorter than was decent. But Julia supposed a man would take no notice of that. Dev would probably not realize that it wasn’t the fact that her clothing was woefully out of fashion, but that it was bordering indecency, that embarrassed her.

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

What were your childhood Christmases like? I miss those days! As soon as it was a “borderline” decent hour on Christmas morning, my best friend, Jane, who lived down the street, would call—or I would call her—and we’d excitedly talk about what we got and when we might get together to play. Those were simple joys—just sharing our new gifts with one another and enjoying each other’s company.

Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a digital copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! If you can’t wait to see if you won, you can snap up your copy at Amazon—and it’s also available in paperback.

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Miss-Julia-Jackson-ebook/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512283314&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson&tag=pettpist-20

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS–AND A GIVEAWAY! BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl PiersonHi everyone!  Here come the holidays! The impending season and all the preparation for the meals has got me thinking, as it does each year–and I know I’m not alone.

Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment.

Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it.

It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how.

Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.)

Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life.

Sweet Texas ChristmasMy mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them.

It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR.

Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? Be sure to leave a comment along with your contact information for a chance to WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS!

I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.

• ? •

My latest WHR novella, KIDNAPPING KALLI, appears in the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS Christmas anthology, SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS. This anthology contains four SWEET Christmas tales that mention a sweet Christmas treat somewhere in the story–and the recipes for those wonderful goodies are also included. My heroine, Kalli, is half-Cherokee, half-Irish. She makes Cherokee fry bread–and if you’ve never had good, hot fry bread you don’t know what you’re missing! Other authors in this anthology are Stacey Coverstone, Sarah J. McNeal, and Marie Piper.

What happens when a former Texas Ranger is hired to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy landowner–or else? He does it–but then finds himself in quite a predicament. Here’s what happens when he goes for water in the darkness:

EXCERPT:

As Shiloh neared the creek, he stepped on something in the darkness. He heard the rattles just as the surprised snake sank its fangs into the side of his leg, two inches above the top of his right boot.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” He stepped back quickly, his mind only just now absorbing the fact he’d been struck—and there was no doubt, it was a rattler. No point in trying to shoot it—he couldn’t see in the darkness. He pulled the matches out and struck one, but the snake had slithered away.

Numbly, he knelt and filled the coffee pot. Probably the last brew he’d have in this world.

Stuck in the mountains with a girl he’d kidnapped who spoke no English. Damn it. He’d not figured on living to a ripe old age, but sure as hell hadn’t thought to cash it all in at twenty-eight, either.

As he hurriedly stumbled back into the firelight, he saw Kalliroe had spread his bedroll on the ground near the fire and was adding more wood.

She glanced up, and instantly was on her feet, running to him, taking the coffee pot from his nerveless fingers. So much for keeping calm—she’d read something on his face—and he hoped to hell it wasn’t the harsh terror he felt. He tried to calm himself.

“Kalli…listen…I got snakebit—a rattler—” He pointed to the place in his denims where the fangs had penetrated. Would she light a shuck out of here? Leave him to die alone? He couldn’t blame her if she did, could he?

Maybe…dammit. If he could only make her understand why he’d taken her…for a father that loved her…

“There’s…a cave a couple more miles from here, but I’m not sure if it’s clear—safe—got animals in it—” He was talking fast, trying to get it all said—and for what? She didn’t understand. And she wouldn’t be needing shelter—she’d be heading back to Talihina…

Was she even listening? Of course not. Time was running out. Snow was on the way, now—he could smell it.

“Show me,” she said.

He cocked his head, wondering if the venom was working on him already. But she’d rolled up his bedroll and had begun to put the fire out. She gathered the wood they’d not used yet, and located a rope on his saddle, lashing it together quickly and tying it to her horse.

Pouring the water into their canteens to fill them, she looked at him again. “We need to go,” she said softly.

“Shiloh. Shiloh Barrett.” He moistened dry lips. “Just in case.”

Impatiently, she shook her head, understanding he thought she might need to know his name for the undertaker. “Let’s go, Shiloh Barrett. I will help you. And you will tell me what this is all about. 

• ? •

I’m giving away two digital copies of SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS, but just in case you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link!   http://amzn.to/2hrasn5

 

 

WELCOMING FALL WITH A NEW RELEASE! by CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone! What better way to kick off our fall special events week here at PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS than with some good news about a new book? The end of the year is in sight and with it comes such a time crunch for most of us. In the publishing world, things begin to gear up toward the end of August and don’t grind to a slow-down until Christmas. Holiday stories must be gotten out in a timely manner for readers, and there are many contests that deadline at Dec. 31, as well.

 

In the midst of all that, I managed to finally get one of my own short novels out, and what a joy! THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON started out as a short story for our Prairie Rose Publications anthology, Sweet Texas Christmas. BUT, sometimes stories take on a life of their own, and this one did just that. It soon became obvious that it was not going to be eligible to include in the anthology when the word count topped 20K and I was only about halfway finished. These characters needed a longer story! Here’s the “short” version:

A woman with no home…

Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…

The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?

In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON is available now for pre-order for KINDLE, and will release on October 26 in both digital and paperback. It’s full of action, suspense, and of course, Christmas magic!

Here’s the link to pre-order your very own copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506003195&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson%3C%2Fstrong%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Fall is definitely here, and it’s time to settle down with a good book in a comfy chair with a favorite beverage (and maybe some chocolate!) and read, read, read!

 

FAMILY HISTORY–DO YOU USE IT IN YOUR WRITING? by CHERYL PIERSON


My mother was the oldest of eleven children. In her younger days when I was growing up, and on into my early adulthood, she reminded me of Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind—not in looks or mannerisms, but in the way that she knew the relationships between people–and not just in our family! Growing up in a small Oklahoma town, Mom knew the ins and outs of most every other family in that small community—but so did everyone else. That old saying about everyone knowing your business in a small town was so true…but what a legacy of stories she provided me with to write about!

 

A relative who hung his pocket watch up on the wall to “give it a rest” overnight. Another relative who, shunned by his prominent businessman father, (we don’t know why) rode a bicycle all over town selling condoms. What better way to embarrass him?

Then there were the sadder tales…the little boy who crawled under the porch and drank tree poison and died. All those many years later, my mother would get teary remembering how she and her 12-year-old best friend, Mary, attended the funeral.

The family who lost five of their six children—they’d gone out to pick berries and taken shelter under a big tree when a storm hit. Lightning struck the tree and killed many of them, but the oldest brother crawled to a farmhouse for help. In the end, he was the only survivor.

MY MOM, EL WANDA STALLINGS MOSS, AND MY DAD, FREDERIC MOSS (NEWLYWEDS–1944)

 

Another story that, in this time would be almost unbelievable is that of a little girl, six years old, who had appendicitis. The doctor would not operate unless the money was paid before the surgery. The girl’s father stood on the corner and begged for money – this would have been in the mid -1930’s, in Dustbowl Oklahoma…during the Depression. No one had any money to spare. I have a picture of that little girl with my aunt who was the same age—they were second cousins. It was the last picture made of her before she died.

 

So many stories my mom told about—with such description of the people, the places, the events…maybe that’s why I’m a writer now. But I know the happenings she told me about were a true-life depiction of actual events, and she had a great memory for detail most of her life.

 

Being the eldest of eleven siblings, she was all ears when the adults talked, of course. And she was old enough to remember many of the happenings herself. She told of watching them rush her grandfather into the house and put him on the kitchen table when he collapsed in the field—she and Mary were watching through a nearby window—they saw it all.

 

Going to Blue River was sometimes a Sunday social event in the summers—the men cooled off in the water while the women set out the food for a picnic. The children—none of whom could swim—were the older kids’ charges. Mom told of a time when one of her young cousins, Warren, went missing as they were all playing in the shallow water of a nearby clear creek running into the river. She felt something brush her leg and looked down—it was Warren, drifting by, his eyes open sightlessly as he stared up. She automatically reached down and grabbed him up out of the swift-moving current and yelled for help—and remembered nothing else about the rest of that day. Yes, he lived. But…why would so many parents think it was okay for their kids to play in water when none of them could swim?

 

It hit me after listening to her talk about her life and growing up in that small town that the older siblings seemed to have had no childhood of their own. Her earliest memory was of standing on a stool, washing dishes in a pan of water. She said she was about 3 or 4.  By then, there were two younger sisters and another on the way.


SOME DRAWINGS MY MOTHER DID WHEN SHE WAS 17 (1939)–SELF TAUGHT

 

I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it at the time, but Mom and Dad, having grown up together, knew all of the same people. They’d talk about who was related to whom, and who this one or that one had married, and what had become of them. I remember once in a great while, my dad would sit back and look at her with an odd look of appreciation on his face and a little half-smile and say, “Doris Lynn had an illegitimate baby? I never knew that!”  Or some other “morsel” he’d somehow never heard.

Mom knew all the stories of the past, too. The tales of the relatives who had gone before and what they’d done—her great grandfather who had been “stolen” from his Indian village and given to a white Presbyterian minister to raise as part of the “assimilation efforts”…and how that had forever affected our family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, JOSIE WALLS MCLAIN MARTIN. SHE IS THE DAUGHTER OF MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER WHO WAS STOLEN FROM HIS HOME. SHE MARRIED AT 13. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE WHEN SHE WAS ABOUT 25–SHE ALREADY WAS GETTING GRAY HAIR.

 

 

 

Even the stories of my dad’s family—of his grandmother and grandfather coming “up from Texas” and stopping under the shade of a tree by a creek in Indian Territory long enough for her to give birth, then moving on after one day’s time.
MY DAD’S MOTHER, MARY, ON THE LEFT, WITH OLDER SISTERS MAUDE, GRACE AND BYRD                        THIS WAS PROBABLY TAKEN AROUND 1905 OR SO.

 

Mom knew so much—untimely deaths of family members, “early” births, family dreams and goals that came to fruition, changed, or never happened at all. Games played, meals cooked, weddings held…so much that I would have given anything to have written down—but was too young to realize how much it meant, at the time.

 

But to whom? Those things are important to the families and friends of the principal players, but now…there are few left who would remember or care. The small-town cemetery is filled with those who lived together, worshipped together and worked together. Friends and family who lived, laughed, loved, and made their way through life—leaning on one another in a way that is rare in today’s world.

 

So…I use those memories in the best way I can. In my writing. There is a piece of my mom’s remembrances in my own stories—probably every single one of them, in some way or another.

 

Authors, do you use long-ago memories from relatives in your tales? Readers, do these books and short stories we weave jog your own memories of things you’ve heard in the past from older relatives?  What are some of the stories you recall?

 

Here’s an excerpt from an “oldie but goodie”, ONE MAGIC NIGHT. After learning the story of my gr gr grandfather and how he was kidnapped, I just had to give him a happy ending. In real life, his adoptive parents changed his name to David Walls. They sent him to medical school in Missouri–I don’t know if he ever finished or not, but he came back to Indian Territory to practice medicine. Of course, he never fit in, either in the white world or the Indian. But in my make believe world, he did find happiness…

EXCERPT: FROM ONE MAGIC NIGHT:
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 spat 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.”

GET IT HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/One-Magic-Night-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00I1MINT4/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1501215944&sr=8-8&keywords=one+magic+night&tag=pettpist-20

WHAT DO YOU PREFER? SHORT STORIES OR NOVELS? (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by CHERYL PIERSON

I had never thought of myself as a short story writer.  But if it hadn’t been for short stories, I never would have “broken in” to this business.  I’d always wanted to write longer projects, and in fact, had written a huge saga-type western novel that I still have hopes of someday revamping (and it will take a LOT of revamping) and getting out there. That was the true book of my heart that set me on this path.  But I had a lot to learn about writing.

After sending the query and first three chapters out to several agents, I did land one. But after a year of nothing happening, I couldn’t see anything changing. I was getting very depressed, to say the least.

A friend of mine found a call for submissions from Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader series.  This series was somewhat akin to the Chicken Soup For the Soul books, and my friend and I had already missed the deadline for the first of the series! But there was another anthology coming out as a follow up to the first one.  The second one was called, ROCKING CHAIR READER—MEMORIES FROM THE ATTIC.  These stories were true stories about something the writer had found years later that brought back memories of something that happened in childhood.  I had the perfect tale! I wrote it and submitted it, and thankfully, the editor liked it, as well. That led to several more publications with Adams Media through these anthologies, and then a few stories with Chicken Soup.

 

But these stories were all based in truth, and I wanted to write fiction.  Western romance fiction.  It was shortly after that when I sold my first book, FIRE EYES, to The Wild Rose Press, and then branched out into contemporary romantic suspense with SWEET DANGER.  While writing these novels, I had been approached by a couple of publishing companies asking for fictional short stories.  But did I really want to go back to short stories?  The answer was YES.

Writing those short stories in the beginning helped me realize that while I was adding to my portfolio of credits, I was also proving to myself that I could write compactly, in short story form.  Writing a short story is a totally different breed of cat than writing a novel. Making each word or scene count and not seeming to rush the story while doing it is something I will forever be working on, just to improve the telling of the story even more.

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. This is what he wrote:  “Baby shoes for sale.  Never worn.”  If that doesn’t tell a story, I don’t know what does.

 

I’ve written many Christmas-themed short stories–most of them with a western historical holiday setting. A Night for Miracles, Homecoming, Meant to Be,  and The Gunfighter’s Girl are all included in my single author collection, A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS

One of my favorite Christmas short stories is Outlaw’s Kiss–because I love stories that give the hero his redemption!

 

I have two other single author anthologies of short stories. WINTER MAGIC is  a set of three stories about three brothers and how they meet the woman of their dreams–under less than ideal circumstances!

And DARK TRAIL RISING is a collection of western short stories, containing my Western Fictioneer Peacemaker nominated stories HIDDEN TRAILS and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT, as well as two other stories, SHOT FOR A DOG and THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.

All of these stories are available at my Amazon page:

    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE/a /strong/em?tag=pettpist-20

Here’s a bit about some of these stories.

HOMECOMING:

A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiance, Sarah. Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL:

Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.

When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing.

Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the scarlet ribbons set Miguel on a new path?

THESE ROUGH DREAMS:

When Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.

Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.

Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS. ** SENSUAL

OUTLAW’S KISS:

Talia Delano has been humiliated before the entire town of Rock Creek by Jake Morgan. A known gunman, Jake has bid an outrageous sum for Talia’s “boxed supper”, a kiss, and the gift of her time for the rest of the Independence Day celebration. But, as always, Jake changes the rules and takes more than he should—especially with the whole town watching. Talia’s chance of happiness is dashed, along with her reputation, when Jake leaves Rock Creek suddenly.

When he shows up five months later at her farmhouse, wounded, and in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, she can’t turn him away—even though she knows being alone with him will cause tongues to wag once more. But with Christmas only two days away, how can she harden her heart against the handsome outlaw who has no place else to go—even if he is being trailed by someone just as dangerous? Magic and danger are woven together in the OUTLAW’S KISS.

WINTER MAGIC:

The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.

HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!

SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.

LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DRAWING OF A DIGITAL COPY OF OUTLAW’S KISS OR THESE ROUGH DREAMS! I WILL PICK TWO WINNERS AFTER 8:00 P.M. THIS EVENING.

TORNADO SEASON IN OKLAHOMA–BY CHERYL PIERSON

Growing up here in Oklahoma, every spring was the same story—tornado season. My dad would carry me out on the front porch with him to watch the clouds. He’d talk about them, and command the thunder to roar! The lightning to flash! Looking back on it now, I understand that he was trying to teach me not to be afraid of the weather, and it worked. And maybe he was trying not to be afraid, too.

In those days, there was little to no warning before the storm hit. In today’s world, so many improvements and inventions have come along that our weathermen can pinpoint the minute the storm will hit a certain area. There is round the clock coverage on the three major stations when we are in a severe weather watch. They also broadcast from sister-station radio channels, in case you’re not near a television or are in a storm shelter. Doppler radar is one of the greatest life-saving inventions that ever happened, in my opinion.

Every elementary school child here is trained in our “tornado drills” just as they are trained in fire drills. How well I remember the hardships of trying to crouch on our knees, bowed over next to the walls in the hallway! At that time, most little girls wore dresses. Our biggest worry was trying to hold our dress down so no one could see our underwear.

Most families here don’t have storm shelters or cellars.  Most houses don’t have basements. Our home was no exception—no basement and no cellar.  Our water table is so high here that it’s hard to keep the dampness and/or flooding out. Even the pre-fab shelters are sometimes prone to leaking water. I’m proud to say that last spring we figured out a way to add a storm shelter (above ground) to our garage and STILL get both cars in–it’s a tight fit to get everything in the garage and everyone in the shelter, but I sure sleep better at night knowing it’s there.

One of my enduring memories was of the time when I was about five years old and we were caught at my grandparents’ just before the storm hit. They had an old root cellar—dug out of the red Oklahoma dirt, with an old tin door that my grandfather had made, and some cinder block steps that led down into the darkness. I remember my mother not wanting to go down into the cellar for some reason. (She probably knew what lurked down there!) And when I got down there, I understood. My grandfather lit a kerosene lamp and we could see spiders…There was an old cot against the wall, and Mom and I sat down on it. Across the cellar, no more than 5 feet away, there were rough shelves that my grandmother’s jars of canned goods lined. And in the space between two jars…two eyes looked out at me.

“Look, Mama…there are eyes looking at us,” I said. In the next few seconds, I found out something about my granddad I would never have suspected. He could move like the lightning above us outside! He had everyone stand to one side, and he took up a hoe and an axe from the corner (hmmm….this must have happened before down there!) and quick as anything, he had that snake out of the shelf and on the floor with its head chopped off.  I learned later it was a copperhead.

Public shelters? Few and far between. Liability is a huge responsibility that no one wants to assume. And in these sue-happy days, it’s a very real possibility that organizations who are just trying to be good neighbors and offer safety could lose everything to one lawsuit. This is true of governmental and private organizations alike. Another fear, quite justified, is the fact that many people trying to get to a shelter create a traffic jam and are sitting ducks.

 

 In light of all the tragedy that has happened in past years here in our great state, I’m relieved to learn that FINALLY there is some positive action being made toward outfitting our schools with a safe place for the kids and teachers to be. That should have been done long, long ago. Of course, it’s all a matter of money. It’s expensive to do. But what price can we put on a child’s life?

 

 

I guess we can say that is the “silver lining” to all this. Thanks to all of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers, each and every time this happens. What a country we live in! I’m so proud to be an American. We have our differences, but when tragedy strikes, no one stands together like we do. I’m so thankful for that.

This is one of the most touching pictures I’ve seen. It reminds me of how, someway, there’s always someone who manages to fly Old Glory in the direst of circumstances and remind us that we are all just human beings, trying to make it in this world, helping one another when our world is literally ripped away from us. There is such an outpouring of love and help from all over not only our own nation, but other countries as well when this happens, and yet–for whatever reason, we are always surprised and humbled that others care so much.

 

Last but not least, I leave you with a picture of one of my favorite Oklahomans, Miranda Lambert, who was, at this point in time, married to another favorite Oklahoman, Blake Shelton. Blake organized a benefit concert and got tons of performers, not just fellow Okies in the business–to come out and give their all for our ravaged state 4 years ago when we were last hit so hard. God bless them all!

 

 

I’ve never written a full-blown tornado into any of my stories, but I’m thinking that might be something I would like to try. Do you remember ever being in a tornado, or seeing one? What was it like?

MAMA TRIED! (WHAT DOES A MEAL MEAN IN OUR WRITING?) by Cheryl Pierson

Cooking is the bane of my existence.  I know, I know. I hear the gasps of disbelief now! (Big grin here, because I know there are some people who agree with me, too.)  I think the reason for this is that my mother was TIRED by the time I came along. She was 35 when she had me, and already had her hands full with my 10-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Like the Merle Haggard song says, “Mama Tried”—but it just didn’t work out.  I would have rather been climbing trees than making cookies.

When I was around 5 years old, our entire family went through the allergy clinic in Oklahoma City.  I got a wonderful flash of news that day! The doctor told my parents to let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast—even if it was a hotdog.  I never liked “normal” breakfast food at breakfast—I usually just wasn’t hungry in the morning. I married a man who could wake up and eat a huge breakfast—but not me. Opposites DO attract.

So when I began to write, I tended to forget that my characters needed a meal every once in a while.  I still don’t write long cooking scenes, or even dinner scenes.  But, I know that dinner scenes most usually have a deeper meaning in our writing, or are meant to reveal something.

I will confess, I have never forgotten the breakfast scene in SWEET SAVAGE LOVE where the Mexican general makes Ginny come to his room as he is eating breakfast, offers her a bite, and then makes sure Steve sees it–while she’s half-dressed! I almost hated Ginny in that moment, seeing the scene through Steve’s eyes after he’d given himself up to save her. I had to remind myself she was just as duped as he had been. Anyone else remember that scene? It’s stayed with me after all those years, and I can still recall that feeling of shock and betrayal when I read it for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote a scene in my novel BEYOND THE FIRE, where Kendi is making breakfast for herself and Jackson Taylor, the wounded DEA agent she’s caring for.  In FIRE EYES, Jessica makes oatmeal, and at one point she has cooked something earlier. But my cooking scenes are few and far between.

How about you? Do you love to cook? Hate it? Love to read about it or write about it? Anyone have a most memorable cooking scene in reading or writing ventures you want to share?

I will leave you with an excerpt from BEYOND THE FIRE, where Kendi and Jackson share a meal. I’m also including a DIVINE, easy recipe—the first thing I ever learned to bake—Blonde Brownies.

Amidst all this, I should say that I’m very very thankful to be able to cook and do it well. It’s a talent I never cultivated, but I’m thankful every day that I have the appliances I have to cook with rather than what was available in the old west.

Have you read or written any “meal” scenes that revealed something so deep you couldn’t get it out of your mind? Inquiring minds want to know! This subject intrigues me because it’s such a basic thing, but something that truly IS so revealing.  If you can’t think of one, tell me what your favorite thing to cook is–I’m always looking for new recipes and ideas!

I’m giving away a digital copy of one of my books of your choice–FIRE EYES (western historical romance) or BEYOND THE FIRE (contemporary romantic suspense) today to a commenter! Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment. 

 

EXCERPT FROM BEYOND THE FIRE:

She stirred the eggs and laid the unbuttered slices of bread onto a cookie sheet, then popped it into the oven to toast. Jack’s earlier confession about running drugs had been quite a surprise. He obviously wasn’t used to sharing information about himself, especially something so personal.

She sighed, turning the bologna, then cutting a slice in each piece as it rose up in the center. That confession had been honest, though totally unexpected. There were only two choices—to trust him, or not. If not, she needed to find him one of Tal’s old shirts and send him packing no later than tomorrow morning.

If she did trust him, that was a bit stickier. That meant more doctoring, more talking, more caring…and letting him stay until he recovered enough to…to what? Go back and get himself killed trying to rescue this ‘partner’ of his?

Kendi gave a caustic chuckle as she pulled the toasted bread from the oven. Some partner. She’d never forget the way Clint Rivers had bent and put the gun close to Jack’s head. That he’d shot to the side is beside the point, she thought indignantly. Logically, she realized if the man had wanted to, he could have killed Jack. But in her heart, she was angry he hadn’t killed the shorter man with him and driven Jack to a hospital for the care he needed. Didn’t partners take care of each other?

She lifted the eggs up from the pan to the plate, then the bologna, which she cut up. Even that small task would be too much for Jack to manage with his wounded hands.

Somehow, she realized her dilemma was solved. She couldn’t say how or why, but looking at the tray she’d put together, she knew Jack would be staying. No matter what happened, her life was already entwined with his. It had happened the moment she witnessed his ‘murder’—and it might very well end with her own.

Oddly, that was why Kendi trusted him. She had brought him into her home, and she had not called for help. She had cleaned and bandaged his wounds and sat up with him through the rest of the night. She had even laid down beside him to give him her own warmth.

She wanted to laugh at herself. Her fate had been decided the minute she stepped out of the house last night, intending to scare the high school kids off her property. She tried to tell herself there wasn’t room on the tray for two plates, and that was why she’d put the food on one common dish for both of them. But in her heart, she knew it was more.

She put the coffee carafe on the tray then slowly opened the silverware drawer and took out two forks. Eating separately from the shared plate was a lot like living individually in the same, suddenly small universe. She started toward the stairs with mingled fear and wonder, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop this world of theirs from turning toward whatever end Fate dealt them. She wondered if Jack knew it, too.

 

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL OF CHERYL’S WORK, CLICK HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson/a/strong/em?tag=pettpist-20

SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOLS IN INDIAN TERRITORY by CHERYL PIERSON

What did people on the prairie do for their special needs children? It must have been so hard on families, trying to do the right thing for their children who were deaf, sight-impaired, or with other special needs that, at that time, the world was unequipped to deal with. This is an article about two remarkable women who opened schools for the blind and the deaf with little to no funding for these projects. Take a look at what they accomplished!

The Oklahoma School for the Blind was truly a pioneer institution. In 1897 Miss Lura A. Rowland, a graduate of the Arkansas School for the Blind and “a frail wisp of a girl,” solicited funds and undertook to establish a school for the blind children of Indian Territory at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. She operated the school without any government assistance for ten years, though there are reams of correspondence indicating she implored governors, congressmen, and other public officials to assist her struggling organization. She did present a case sufficient to be permitted the use of the old Barracks Building to house her school. Concurrently, a Territorial School for the Deaf had been established in Guthrie in 1897 under a five-year contract to care for deaf children under boarding school regulations.

Miss Rowland traveled all over Indian Territory, appearing before the various tribal councils, presenting her needs. Since few Native Americans were blind until Europeans brought diseases causing blindness to the tribes, there was not the acceptance that might have been the case otherwise. During the first four years the institution was supported solely by contributions from the people of the Indian Territory and sympathizing states.  In 1900 the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations each made appropriations for the education of blind Choctaw and Cherokee children. Repeated but unsuccessful efforts were made to have Congress aid the school through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1907 the school became a state-supported institution. For “reasons variously stated,” it was moved to Wagoner but soon returned to Fort Gibson. 

(Learning to make shoes–photo by Lewis Hines–ca. 1917)

Miss Rowland, now Mrs. Lowery, had used her own resources, begged for furniture, and convinced other teachers it was their patriotic duty to help her with her project. In addition, schools from various parts of the United States had helped her from time to time. So frugal was her operation that her financial statement upon her retirement indicated that she had operated the school the first ten years on a total of $15,048.44, besides contributions by various persons, including herself. In those ten years she had held eleven school terms from six weeks to nine months long for a total enrollment of fifty pupils.

Oklahoma’s first legislature appropriated $5,000 on May 29, 1908, for the maintenance of the “Lura A. Lowery School for the Blind,” and provided in the same act that the school be under the control of the State Board of Education.  As a state institution the school was supported by legislative appropriations, varying from twenty to thirty thousand dollars yearly. A headline in the Muskogee Times-Democrat March 11, 1911, read: “Perry Miller Saves Blind School.” Miller had authored a bill in the State House of Representatives to move the Oklahoma School for the Blind. Slid Garrett of Fort Gibson had introduced a similar bill in the State Senate. Mr. Miller knew that if the school was not moved to Muskogee, it would be moved to Tulsa. It remained in temporary quarters at Fort Gibson until June, 1913, when the fourth legislature acted to move it to Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Upon moving the school to Muskogee in 1911, first in a couple of temporary locations locally, the state began construction on several beautiful buildings of English architecture with steep roofs. The tornado of 1945 destroyed most of those roofs, demolished the gymnasium, in which three girls were killed, and wounded several others. In the rebuilding, flat roofs replaced the originals.

The school is outstanding in the annals of education, and brave little Lura Lowery deserves a great deal of credit for initiating and carrying on such a program. Helen Keller honored the school with a visit February 17, 1915 and was very complimentary of its administration. Superintendent Mrs. O.W. Stewart was voted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1943 as a result of the outstanding record of the school. When Richard Carter retired as superintendent of the school in June 1979, after being associated with the school since 1939, he had completed the longest tenure of any like position in the nation and was considered an authority in the care and the teaching of the blind.

Following is a list of additional historical highlights:

1897 – 1907 Superintendent Mrs. Lura A . Lowrey

1907 – 1911 Superintendent Mr. G.W. Bruce

1911 – 1925 Superintendent Mr. O.W. Stewart

1913 Oklahoma School for the Blind was moved to its present location in June in accordance with an act of the fourth Legislature. An 80 acre tract of land was donated by Governor C.N. Haskell.

1917 The Oklahoma Commission for the Adult Blind was established. The funds and services of this Commission were quite restricted and the primary thrust of the early program was the provision of limited home teaching services to the blind.

1920 The civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Program developed out of the effort to rehabilitate disabled veterans during and after WWI. On June 29, President Woodrow Wilson signed Public Law 66-236, creating the civilian rehabilitation act. This early program was limited in scope with primary services being counseling, guidance, job training and placement.

1920 Fifty acres of land south of the school was donated to the Oklahoma School for the Blind. This land is currently leased by the city of Muskogee and is known as Civitan Park.

1925 The Oklahoma Legislature passed enabling legislation empowering the State Board for Vocational Education to operate with the Federal Board of Vocational Education in the administration of an Act of Congress related to the promotion of vocational rehabilitation of persons disabled in industry or other, and their return to civil employment. However, this program was not funded by state appropriations until 1927.

Source Documents for this article:

“A History of the Oklahoma School for the Blind, 1897 – 1969”, a document by Cleo Bowman Larason in 1953.

“A School History, 1897 – 1937, of the Oklahoma School for the Blind.”

Updated: May 13, 2017 — 11:37 pm
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