Tag: To Love a Texas Ranger

Lottie Deno, Lady Gambler

Do you know who Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke was created from? If you said the lady gambler, Lottie Deno, you’d be correct. Born Carlotta Thompkins on April 21, 1844 on a Kentucky plantation, she created quite a stir everywhere she went.

Her parents were very well-to-do and Lottie didn’t want for anything. At her birth, she was assigned a nanny from among the slaves—Mary Poindexter. She was a giant of a woman—7 ft. tall—and she accompanied Lottie everywhere she went. Nobody messed with big Mary.

Lottie’s father taught her to play cards and she became an expert. When he was killed in the Civil War, Lottie played cards to support her mother and younger sister. For a while, Lottie worked on the riverboats and gambling houses along the Mississippi. She was a vivacious redhead with sparkling brown eyes and could charm the pants off any man—and his wallet too. I love this woman!

In 1865 Lottie arrived in San Antonio and a year later was offered a job dealing cards at the University Club. She fell in love several times but stayed single until later meeting a half-Cherokee gambler named Frank Thurmond. He left town very suddenly after killing a man and soon after, Lottie followed.

Lottie rode into the rough town of Fort Griffin, Texas on a stagecoach. She sat out in the open right on the very top where she could see everything. She caused quite a stir. It didn’t take long to get a job at the Bee Hive Saloon. One night she and Doc Holliday played cards all night long and by morning she’d won thousands of dollars of Doc’s money. She also played with legendary Wyatt Earp and many other notables of the old West.

It was in Fort Griffin where Lottie got the Deno part of her name. One of the gamblers who’d lost to her hollered out, “Honey, the way you play your name should be Lotta Dinero.”

Once when a gunfight broke out inside the Bee Hive Saloon all the people fled except Lottie. She got under a table and waited. When they asked her why she stayed, she said she wasn’t about to leave her money and besides, they couldn’t shoot straight.

She separated herself from the violent population of Ft. Griffin by taking a shanty in what they called The Flats on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. She only left it only to visit the local mercantile and to go to work. But Lottie lost her heart to Frank Thurmond and followed him to Silver City, New Mexico where they married and opened two saloons, a restaurant and a hotel.

Lottie got involved in charity work, feeding newly released prisoners and giving them a place to stay.

She and Frank eventually moved on to Deming, New Mexico where they got out of the gambling business and settled down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Frank became vice president of the Deming National Bank and helped found the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

In 1908, after forty years of marriage, Frank passed away. Lottie outlived him by 26 years until she, too, died and was buried next to Frank. Those who knew her said she maintained her laugh and good cheer to the end. I’d like to have met her. I’ll bet she was a lot of fun.

She and Frank became models for characters in a series of books by Alfred Henry Lewis. Miss Kitty owed everything about her characterization to Lottie Deno.

I think I would’ve been friends with her. She was bold and daring in a time when women were told what to do and how. I like her rebellious spirit, maybe because I’m a little rebellious also.

If you could sit down and talk to one of the larger-than-life characters from the old west, who would it be? I’m giving away a copy of TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER (#1 Men of Legend series.) 

I’m so excited! I have a new release on February 7th–TEXAS REDEMPTION. This is a reissue of REDEMPTION (2005.)  It’s set in the swamps of East Texas four years following the Civil War. Brodie Yates and Laurel James are searching for redemption for things done in their pasts. Secrets abound–all threatening to come out. It’s a tale of two brothers who love the same woman. I’ll tell lots more about this in my next blog on release day, Feb. 7th. It’s available for preorder everywhere online.

The Mighty Red River

Linda pubpixMen have fought rivers all the way back to Biblical days but none more so than the Red River that creates a natural boundary line between Texas and Oklahoma. It’s very long at 1,360 miles and can get very wide in places and is the southernmost major river system in the Great Plains.

Seasoned cattlemen and drovers of those trail drives feared and cursed the crossing as well as those living in towns along its length. It was a roaring, growling beast. The currents were unpredictable and fast moving and, especially when it flooded, you took your life in your own hands crossing it. Many people (and cattle) died in the attempt. The river demanded respect (and got it) and earned the name The Mighty Red. Quicksand also added to the danger.

It begins not far from where I now live in the Texas Panhandle and winds its way to the Mississippi River. It’s notorious for severe flooding even today, despite that the river usually doesn’t contain but a trickle of water. In an effort to control the flood damage, levees and dams were built along the length.

I always feel very sad whenever I drive across it now and see little or no water. I feel we’ve lost part of our history.

red-river-movieThis waterway has been the subject of many books and movies. Howard Hawks directed and produced the blockbuster Red River in 1948, starring John Wayne. It was filmed in Arizona and the San Pedro stood in for the Red River.

Tidbit: John Wayne gave the producers extensive advice about the possible location and logistical problems associated with making Westerns and insisted Howard Hawks hire real cowhands and trained stunt professionals instead of the amateurs he had lined up. The director ended up signing 70 real cowboys for the job. He also contracted to have dozens of horses represent the hundreds required by the story and about a thousand head of cattle at $10 per day each stand in for Dunson’s herd of 10,000. Wayne said once it was clear Hawks was taking his advice seriously and the budget would be increased, he agreed to do the picture.

Another tidbit: Most of the cattle were actually Herefords because they couldn’t find but about two dozen longhorns. They strategically placed the longhorns during the filming to make it appear the herd was comprised solely of these. And the 10,000 strong herd was actually only about a third of that. Camera angles and other tricks were used.

Joanne Dru was the author of the book Red River that they adapted this movie from.

Often a river, town or other place becomes a character. That’s the case with the Red River. I wrote a scene in Heart of a Texas Cowboy (Book 2 of Men of Legend) of Houston Legend driving 2,000 longhorns across it.

Do you know other rivers that cause big problems, maybe where you live? Comment to enter the drawing for one copy (print or ebook) of To Love a Texas Ranger.

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Tattoos in the American West

 

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I don’t think anyone will disagree that often research takes us to some very interesting places. When I wrote my new release To Love a Texas Ranger, I needed to know just how prevalent tattoos were among the people who lived in 1877 and I found out some surprising things.

The earliest recorded tattoos were in 12,000 BC in Egypt. The workers building the pyramids wore them. Later the Romans adopted tattooing to mark criminals and slaves.

Interestingly enough, the Greeks used tattoos as a form of communication among spies. Bet you didn’t know that. And other nationalities utilized tattoos in ceremonies.

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OLIVE OATMAN

Borneo had a rather odd practice of tattooing. And maybe they still do. It was customary for a young woman to get a tattoo to advertise a particular skill and that increased her marriageability status. I just wonder what kind of tattoo indicated being a good housekeeper? A broom? A mop?

The American Indians also were big on tattooing. One of their most famous captives—Olive Oatman—was captured in 1851 and then sold to the Mojave tribe where they tattooed her chin with blue dye of some sort. There’s conflicting stories about what the tattoo meant. Some say it marked Olive as a captive and others claim it was a mark of esteem. The western TV series, Hell on Wheels, portrayed her in the show only they named her character Eva.

Love a Texas Ranger smallerIn my new book, a horrible bad guy wears a black widow spider tattoo on his hand. Sam Legend keeps his eyes peeled throughout the book for a man with that spider tattoo. The scene where he finally finds him is pretty gripping.

In Texas, some Legends are born, some are made, and some are created by destiny.

This Legend family has carved their name in blood on the raw Texas land. Sam is tested in ways he couldn’t have expected as secrets are exposed and he finds the love of a lifetime. Only the path is a rocky one. He can’t bear the thought of waking up in the same place every morning for the rest of his life so feels he can’t ask her to marry him. Sierra Hunt has never had a home and dreams of owning one where she can plunk down deep, lasting roots and she won’t give that up—not even for Sam.

I’m giving away one copy of my new book (if you already have it, I can do something else) to one person who can tell me either about their tattoo or one they saw on someone else. This is going to be fun!

Buy Links:  AMAZON  |   B&N   |   iBOOKS

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TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER Book Release!

Love a Texas Ranger smallerI’m so excited! TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER is out and just waiting for you to read it! This is book #1 of my new Men of Legend series. It’s about a family – a father and his three sons – who live on a huge North Texas ranch called the Lone Star. For those who remember the western TV series Bonanza it’ll seem like going home. Instead of the Cartwrights this is the Legend family and they’re bigger-than-life.

Stoker Legend is a tough rancher who carved his name in blood on the Texas landscape. The ranch began as land given to him for fighting in the Texas War of Independence but now it’s grown to 480,000 acres and it’s a lot harder to hold onto.

His sons Sam, Houston, and Luke learned to have the same kind of steel in their backbone and they don’t back—from anything or anyone. Sam left the ranch as soon as he was able though which is a bone of contention between him and his father. Houston is most like Stoker and wants only to ranch. It’s in his blood. No one knows about Luke, not even Stoker, until this book. This illegitimate son turns their lives upside down. Luke is also an outlaw. Being a lawman, Sam feels a duty to arrest him and would if Stoker hadn’t stopped him.

So you see, conflict oozes from the pages of this story.


to-love-a-texas-ranger6In TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER, Sam is incapacitated and can’t do his job so his captain sends him home to recover. He boards a train and is immediately launched into saving Sierra Hunt, a pretty young woman who is running from outlaws. If he can just get her to the Lone Star, she’ll be safe. But two hundred miles stand between them. A mysterious gunslinger, joins them in the mad dash and at times only seconds separate them all from death.

And of course, with this being a romance, Sam falls in love with Sierra. But he won’t give up his job and the need to keep moving. Sierra has always dreamed of having a house one day where she can put down strong roots and she won’t give it up—not even for Sam Legend.

BLOG ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD-1910Sierra is a schoolteacher so once she reaches the Lone Star, she teaches the ranch families’ children. On a ranch of this size, there are about 30-40 children. The Lone Star is so remote that Stoker Legend built a small town so the families wouldn’t have to travel so far to a town. They have a mercantile, telegraph, doctor, blacksmith, and a school.

Strangely enough, there were ranch schools back then. There was no excuse for ignorance so they taught them everything they needed to know in order to make it in the world. The schools consisted of one-room with the various grades all combined. The ranch owner paid the teacher a salary and furnished a place to live. It was a setup that greatly benefited everyone.

Pick up a copy of this book and ride along with Sam and the Legends. Stick your feet in the stirrups and hang on tight because if you fall off, Sam’s too busy chasing outlaws and saving Sierra to come back and get you.

Four lucky people will win a copy– choice of format. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

If you like a book brimming with juicy secrets, this one is for you. What are you most drawn to in western romance? I really like stories that contain a lot of juicy secrets. And boy do I mean juicy!

Book #2 – HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY comes out in May 2017 followed by the 3rd one in November.

Visit my website, read an excerpt and sign up for my newsletter at  http://lindabroday.com/

AMAZON   |   B&N   |   iBOOKS

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Big Ranches, Big Story

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The state of Texas has 268,597 square miles so it’s no wonder we have huge ranches to match the size. Some are simply too enormous to comprehend. So I had no trouble setting a big ranch here for my latest Men of Legend series. I wanted it as big and bold as the father and sons who owned it, so Texas was perfect. (It’s rumored that the state produces people with big personalities.) Strictly rumor of course. I’m laughing here.

My fictional Lone Star Ranch is a little on the puny side at 480,000 acres. I modeled it to some degree after the Waggoner Ranch which was 510,000 acres in 1954. When it sold in 2016, it had grown. The Waggoner Ranch also fit the location of mine in North Texas.

XITbrandThe largest ranch in the world in 1880 was the XIT Ranch (stands for Ten in Texas) at a whopping three million acres in West Texas and the Panhandle. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly 4,687 square miles. Just think how long it would take to ride over it by horseback. All that land was owned by a syndicate of English investors. It was simply too big for words.

The mighty King Ranch down at the far end of the state was and still is one of the largest ranches in the world. It has well over a million acres. It was established in 1854 by partners Richard King and Gideon Lewis.

King RanchNorth Texas certainly has a lion share of ranching land. That’s mostly because the rugged, rocky, dry landscape is fit for little else. The Matador Land and Cattle Company (purchased by Scottish investors) is another large one at a million and half acres in the beginning. It has shrunk now but still going strong.

Four sixesThe 6666 Ranch is an interesting one that keeps on thriving. Captain Samuel Burk Burnett bought 350,000 acres in 1870 and started raising cattle. Rumors have swirled for decades that he named it this unusual name because he won it in a poker game with a hand of four sixes. Descendants swear that’s not true. It’s still a huge ranch at 275,000 acres. I always love driving past it and looking at the large herds of horses. Their buildings are always pristine and they even have an airstrip. It’s pretty.

Love a Texas Ranger smallerOkay, back to my Lone Star Ranch. The patriarch, Stoker Legend, acquired 100 acres as payment for fighting in the Texas War for Independence. Everyone scoffed and said he had little chance of making the ranch thrive what with Indians, outlaws, drought, and the fact the land was extremely inhospitable. He paid them no mind and carved out the mighty ranch that serves as a legacy for his sons—Sam, Houston, and Luke.

Sam Legend joined the Texas Rangers as soon as he could because ranching just doesn’t interest him. He has restless feet and is driven with a need to see what’s over the next hill. Book #1 of this Men of Legend series is TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER. Sam runs across a desperate woman named Sierra Hunt who has been dragged from pillar to post. She burns with a dream of permanence—a little white house with a picket fence around it, flowers in front and a garden in back. She’s not going to settle for anything less…not even for Sam.

There are lots of twists and turns in this story as they seek to find common ground and protect the fragile love that forms as they run from a ruthless band of outlaws.

Think the western series Bonanza. This series is every bit as big and bold as the Cartwrights. I’m enjoying writing this so much.

Release day is October 4th! You can preorder at these links:  AMAZON  |    B&N    |    iTUNES

There are still one million acre ranches today in the United States. What do you think the biggest challenge would be to owning such a huge amount of land?

By the way…Did you know July 23rd is the National Day of the Cowboy?

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Here a Pocket, There a Pocket

Rides the WestI love the word pocket.  Pockets can hold everyday items, things of necessity…maybe even the hopes and dreams of a heart. These cloth pouches offered a private place to keep personal items. Pockets can be any size or shape.

1700s PocketsPrior to the 1790s, pockets weren’t attached to their clothing, instead tied around a woman’s waist under her skirt or petticoat. A slit at the side allowed room for her to slip her wrist inside and into the detachable pocket that she sewed by hand, even embroidered with a pretty stitch.

On the other hand…males’ pockets were attached to the waistband of his trousers and into the lining of his coat. So, they pretty much always had the same thing. Theirs were easily accessible and THEY didn’t have to fumble around, trying to get into something hidden. Like it was a sin to wear.

Good Heavens!

There were watch pockets, flap pockets and even breast pockets. Yes, the men had it all. Easy and accessible.

But maybe women wanted theirs hidden. At least she didn’t have to explain to anyone what she carried or why.

And what did she find important enough to put inside? Let’s see.

Early pocketIn Samuel Richardson’s novel in 1742, he described his heroine’s pocket when she escaped her master as holding one shift, 2 handkerchiefs, 2 caps and 5 shillings. Now, that was a mighty big pocket!

The Victoria and Albert Museum have these listed as common items:

Keys, spectacles, a mirror, a watch, a diary (smart thinking, no one could read it,) pencil case, a snuff box, knife and scissors, a thimble, a pincushion.

Okay excuse me, now why on earth would a woman carry around a pincushion? Or a thimble? was she going to whip those out and start sewing? Or maybe she wanted to keep pins handy so she could jab someone who annoyed her. Lord knows there were probably plenty people who did. After all, every time she turned around someone was telling her what to do, say, or where to go.

I found it interesting that some women carried food–oranges, an apple or some biscuits. I think it hilarious to carry biscuits in your pocket. I assume in case the wearer got a hunger pain. But then food was a bit scarce.

This is from Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield: Releasing one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put in my hand, but not one word did she say.’

BAGS OF CAKES!!

If you’d lived back then and made yourself a pretty tie-on pocket, what things would you have put inside?

Here’s my new cover!! This book comes out October 4th and is available for preorder at AMAZON and B&N.

This is Book #1 of my new Men of Legend series. I’m so excited about this.

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Linda At the RT Booklover’s Convention!

Booksigning RT 2016I just returned from the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention 2016 in Las Vegas. I’m exhausted, but boy did I have fun. If you’ve ever been to one of these, you know how wild and crazy they are. This one was no exception. Tons of readers as well as authors. This is where you can really sit down and talk to your favorite writer and ask all about their books. Cover models are everywhere! Oh man, I almost broke my fool neck. They’re just walking around acting all normal while us ladies are having a hard time getting our breath. It should be against the law! Click on the photos and they should enlarge for drooling purposes.

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it! Right? Yee-Haw!

Michael Foster (left) and Sean Hampton

Michael Foster (left) and Sean Hampton

Vikkas Bhardwaj

Vikkas Bhardwaj

Scott Nova and me

Scott Nova

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my awesome roommates — E.E. Elizabeth Burke and Jacqui Nelson. We had such a great time. I never laughed so hard in my life. Every night we had “giggling” parties as we recapped our day. This is Elizabeth on the left and Jacqui on the right. If you haven’t read their books, you need to get started. They write historical westerns also.

Leigh, Me and Jacqui

But RT wasn’t all about partying. They had workshops all day long except on the weekend. The first I attended was What Really Happens in a Cover Shoot? Very eye-opening. It’s not fun or glamorous or exciting. It’s very hard work. The models have to stand under hot lights for long hours. Often, the photographers shoot 600-1000 pictures during one session that lasts all day. The models get sweaty and tired. And hungry. There are tons of costume changes. The male models have to do push ups regularly during this time to pump up their muscles. The female models have to wear layers of heavy clothing when shooting for historical covers so they burn up too. Scott Nova was the model they used in this workshop. He’s a super great guy and I got my picture taken with him.

Scott Nova and Jacqui NelsonScott Nova3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another workshop was about how to write fight scenes. I really needed that one! Tons of eye-opening information. I also attended lots of others.

I met up with Rosanne Bittner, Kirsten Lynn, Merry Farmer, Charlene Raddon (RT honored her with a Pioneer Award.) Tonya Lucas, a reader who traveled from a town near me was there. So many wonderful people and Facebook friends.

Kirsten Lynn

Kirsten Lynn

E.E. Burke, Tonya Lucas, Rosanne Bittner, me and Jacqui Nelson

E.E. Burke, Tonya Lucas, Rosanne Bittner, me and Jacqui Nelson

Charlene Raddon, me, E.E. Burke

Charlene Raddon, me, E.E. Burke

 

 

Leigh, Rosanne

E.E. Burke and Rosanne Bittner

Rosanne and Linda

Rosanne Bittner and I

E.E. Burke, Tonya Lucas, Jacqui Nelson

E.E. Burke, Tonya Lucas, Jacqui Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Altman and me2But now I have some news…my wonderful editor, Mary Altman, showed me the cover for To Love a Texas Ranger that’s coming out in October! Oh my Lord! It’s gorgeous! I can’t wait to show it to you. Soon.

 

Also, today through April 25th, FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE is on sale for $1.99 at B&N. Go snag you a copy. This is book 3 of my Bachelor series.

Here’s the link:  http://goo.gl/jWIoqn 

 

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