Melanie Backus, you’re the winner for Ruthy’s post yesterday! Congratulations! Email Ruthy at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get that copy of Christmas at Star Inn right out to you!
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk about Cabbage Night, Halloween traditions and candy. FYI, the favorite candy among those who commented seemed to be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, especially pumpkin shaped ones.
Now on to the important news…The winner of the fall coasters and Family Ties is:
Congratulations, Paula. Look for an email from me on how to claim your prize. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat. I hope y’all have a fun, safe and prank-free Halloween.
In my new release, A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my hero is Brynmor Llewellyn (a Welsh American who runs a freight business with his sister and brothers in Colorado) and my heroine is Lark (an Irish-Cree Métis singer and musician from the Qu’Appelle Valley in Canada).
Who are the Métis?
The Métis are specific cultural communities that trace their descent from First Nations (Native American) women and European men who came together with the fur trade in Canada and the United States.
Their unions were often called marriage à la façon du pays which meant “according to the custom of the country.” Written with a lowercase m, métis is the French word for “mixed.”
In Canada, the women in these unions were (in the east) Wabanaki, Algonquin, and Menominee and (in the west) Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Nakoda, and Dakota/Lakota. The men were fur trappers mainly from France (but later also from Scotland, England, and occasionally Ireland). Their children grew up mostly in their mothers’ cultures but were often also introduced to European traditions.
The Métis were (and still are) very musical
Their instruments were portable and easy to tune and play by ear. Favorites were the violin, mouth-organ, accordion, jaw harp, comb, and spoons. Some sources say there was rarely a Métis home without a fiddle.
In A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my heroine is forced to give an impromptu performance in a remote cabin and plays the spoons—her favorite instrument after the hurdy-gurdy.
While people of Métis heritage are found all across Canada, an area where their culture developed as a distinct ethnicity is the Red River Valley in Manitoba. This region extends south across the border into North Dakota and Minnesota.
In the map below, the Red River is in pink and the Red River drainage basin is in yellow.
But why is my heroine from the Qu’Appelle Valley (shown north of Regina on the above map)?
Lark might have come from anywhere, even from the Red River Valley. All those R’s give it a nice sound. And Lark is a singer and musician, so sounds are extra important to her. But it’s all backstory anyway. So why does it matter?
It matters because I love history, and I love giving my characters a connected history.
What’s the Qu’Appelle connection?
The Qu’Appelle River and Valley got their name from a Cree legend about a spirit that traveled up and down the river. The Cree told the fur traders they often heard a voice calling, “Kâ-têpwêt?” When the Cree responded to the call, it would echo back.
In French, “Kâ-têpwêt” means “Qui appelle.” And in English that’s “Who is calling?”
The word “calling” is the connection. Qu’Appelle is the perfect place for Lark to be from not only because she is part Cree, but because A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (set in January 1878) is really a sequel to Brynmor’s sister’s story, ROBYN: A CHRISTMAS BRIDE (set a month earlier in December 1877). And Robyn’s book is the sequel to THE CALLING BIRDS (set a year earlier in December 1876) whose heroine, Birdie, is French-Canadian.
Qu’Appelle is a historical callback (and tribute) to those previous stories and their characters—several of whom make an appearance in A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (book 1 in my Songbird Junction series). It’s all in the family, whether they are connected by blood or by love. From Birdie to Robyn to Lark. But it doesn’t end there.
There are Oriole and Wren—Lark’s sisters-of-the-heart.
They became family while growing up in a missionary orphanage after their Cree mothers died. Now they’re a songbird troupe under the control of a lying and abusive manager who calls himself their uncle. Lark, Oriole, and Wren’s goal is to finally escape him and start a new life. A goal that Brynmor, Heddwyn, and Griffin are determined to help them achieve.
You can read A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR’s book blurb and the opening scene on my website.
Do you have a favorite name, place, or word that inspires you? Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR or an e-book of your choice from my backlist.
Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada.
You’ve won a FREE e-book copy of The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride!
(Contact me at email@example.com and I’ll get your ebook to you.)
Hi, Kit Morgan here and today I want to talk about harvest festivals in the old west. Or anywhere for that matter!
Harvest time has classically been an important event in the year to celebrate bountiful crops. Among the most famous is America’s Thanksgiving, which was originally celebrated in the Plymouth Colony after the successful harvest of the Pilgrims.
For hundreds of years, harvest time has been one of the most important periods of the year, because let’s face it, people were either going to starve or be well fed for the coming year. Traditionally in Britain, local communities appointed a “Lord of the Harvest” who would oversee things such as the gathering of the crops, payment for the farm laborers and of course, a celebratory feast at the end of a good harvest. He got to sit at the head of the table of course!
The Harvest Supper was held on Michaelmas Day and pride of place would be given to a goose stuffed with apples and served with freshly harvested vegetables. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I was dining on goose when she heard the news that the Spanish Armada had been defeated, so she declared that goose should henceforth be eaten on Michaelmas Day. Goose Fairs were popular and even today a few still survive, notably the Nottingham Goose Fair which is over 700 years old.
And then we have our pioneer settlers, frontiersmen and farmers who also in one way or another celebrated at harvest time. All hallow’s eve got into the mix along the way and “Spook Hollows” were a fun part of some small town’s (not to mention a few big ones) harvest time festivals. You might have read a western romance that included a harvest festival and spook hollow. I have a book where part of the story is set during an annual harvest festival. Pumpkins and corn mazes, hayrides and yummy food, are all part of many a town’s annual traditions of the harvest festival!
When was the last time you attended a harvest festival? Does your town have one? I’ll pick a random winner from the comments below to receive an e-book copy of The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride. Here’s a little about the book …
The Weavers. They were boisterous, rambunctious, some would even say wild, and, until recently, unwed. First Arlan, the oldest, got himself a mail-order bride, followed by his younger brother Benjamin. Now it was Benjamin’s identical twin brother Calvin’s turn. But Calvin’s mail-order bride was different, really different. For one, she was Italian, an immigrant who spoke broken English. She was also the most beautiful woman Calvin had ever seen. But this vision of loveliness had a not so lovely secret. Can Calvin and his new bride make a go of it while other secrets threaten the family’s peaceful existence? Find out in this hilarious romp with the Weavers!
I found so many of the comments on Thursday inspiring.
So many great accomplishments among our readers here at Petticoats & Pistols.
Because of that I’m naming some extra winners.
Winner #1 Tonya Lucas
Winner #2 Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerrillo
Winner #3 Charlene Whitehouse
Okay, I found five more.
But I need to quit now. 🙂
I will email each of you to get your mailing address
And thank you all for leaving comments about your accomplishments. It was a really fun and inspiring day.
In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true. They rode across two states on horseback. Alone.
It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.
Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime. The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.
They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”
Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills. Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.
Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony. There were four rules the boys had to agree to: Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.
The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks. Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage. The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal. But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”
One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous. At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari. They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.
Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.
Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo. While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.
They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.
It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own. They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout. After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.
They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.
But their adventures weren’t over. The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco. If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000. Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days. Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, over one hundred years later.
The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City. They returned to Oklahoma by train.
As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer. There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.
Thank you’s go out to all you who came to the blog yesterday, and left a comment. We do have a winner for the gift of a free e-book, and that winner is:
Well, this cover leaves no doubt, right? Aya caramba!
This is one of those conundrum questions with no right answer.
Does a Western need cowboys?
But cowboys are always welcome here! 🙂
Does a Western need six-shooters or guns or shoot-outs?
Nope, but they want you to respect the 2nd Amendment and their right to carry.
Where are Westerns located?
Oh, gadzooks, this is a tough one! Typically west of the Mississippi, but would you set a Western in California? Probably not. Oregon? Yes, in parts, away from the coast especially. How about Washington state?
Yep, Central Washington is cowboy territory, with or without traditional cowboy dress or western garb. Texas, yes… Arizona? Not so much, maybe, even though there are ranches in Arizona, the spiking temps and lack of water don’t lend themselves to a lot of Western settings. But like anything else, there can be exceptions to the rule.
Part of this is researching your area. We all understand western expansion, the purchases that netted America from “sea to shining sea” which is pretty amazing in and of itself, right? And that gives us a whole scope of locations and settings, and then the author’s job is to be true to the setting. It’s amazing how differently school calendars and sports and systems are run from the east vs. the west. Or even within certain states. Learning the flora and fauna so you don’t plug sagebrush into Indiana or Missouri… or Live Oaks in New York or Ohio when they love, need and want a warmer climate.
We authors think long and hard about setting. We want it to balance the book and fit the situation and often to tax the characters whether it’s my blizzard-like snows in “Back in the Saddle” in Central Washington (Double S Series) or the hard, craggy landscape surrounding Pine Ridge Ranch in my Shepherd’s Crossing series set in Western Idaho.
And of course living in Western New York gives me every right to write westerns, right? 🙂 Laughing here, because an author’s love of genre or setting or style isn’t about where they’re from–
It’s where they’re willing to go and research and explore! To that end, I loved creating my historical western series set in Second Chance, South Dakota, smack dab in Laura Ingalls Wilder country. It’s so much fun to mix two favorite genres: Western & Historical and come up with absolutely delightful stories.
What’s your favorite kind of Western? Contemporary? Historical? Or is it the location that makes it sing to you?
I’ve got a copy of my Sewing Sisters’ Society novella collection for one commenter today… a fun look at settling the west, one romance at a time!
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk about the pumpkin spice craze. The consensus was that pumpkin baked goods are a good thing, and the rest of the items…we’re not so sure. Mixing pumpkin spice and coffee? Well, the reviews were mixed. But everyone agreed. None of us are brave enough to try the pumpkin spice Spam!
The winner of the Starbucks gift card, zipper pouch and Colorado Rescue is:
Congratulations. Look for an email from me on how to claim your prize. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat.