Hotter Than a Fur Coat in Marfa

That’s what my house felt like this June when my air condition conked out. When the temperature hit over 85 degrees inside, I wondered how people in the old west handled the summer heat. How did they stay cool? Or rather as cool as possible? Staying warm in the winter I can image as the upstairs bedrooms in my grandparents’ northern Iowa farmhouse lacked heat. We piled on the layers during the day and stayed in the room with the gas furnace. At night, we bundled up and slept under a huge pile of blankets. But summer? There’s only so much folks can take off before they get thrown in jail for indecent exposure!

Here’s what I found when I researched the subject. Folks wore loose fitting cotton clothing like the couple above that “breathed” allowing air in and sweat to dry which also helped keep them cool. I’ve got to admit, I’ve found some fabrics cooler than others.  Western settlers also woke before the sun and accomplished the majority of their work before the heat of the day hit. After that they either napped or took a dip in an irrigation ditch, or canal. I’m not sure how I feel about those based on the picture above. They don’t sound like the most fantastic swimming holes. I’d prefer a nearby lake, stream, or spring.

irrigation ditch


Settlers learned to include shady breezeways in their houses. Thick walls of grassy sod and the same material covering the wood roof helped keep the structures cooler. The downside of this was sod houses let bugs in. Ugh. Not a great choice—being hotter or dealing with bugs. Many soaked their bedsheets in water before sleeping. Others slept outside to take advantage of the breeze. Kitchens were lean-to structures which allowed some heat to dissipate. But this didn’t help cooks much who still had to cope with it being ten to twenty degrees warmer at the cookstove.








Around the 1870s to 1880s, ice could be shipped in by railcar. However, it was so expensive few regular folk could afford it. Fans weren’t common either. There were some powered by foot treadles, but they were mostly used by businesses, offices, or the wealthy.

1890s ice wagon

That’s what I discovered. In the old west during summer folks dressed in loose, lightweight cotton, drank a lot of water, rested during the day, slept outside, or on wet bedsheets to cope with the3 heat. I suspect it made for quite a few cranky people. I sure was a bit short on patience when we lost AC!

To be entered in my random giveaway for a copy of The Rancher and the Vet, a car rearview mirror charm, and a drink sleeve, leave a comment on your favorite way to keep cool in summer. Other than staying inside, that is!


BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER Pre-Sale and a Lakota Wedding Ceremony


And welcome to another terrific Tuesday!  So…news…news…  My newest release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, will be released on August 17th.  However for a short time, the book is on sale — a pre-sale — 20% off.  It’s on sale now for $3.99 until August 17th, when the book’s price will be changed to $4.99.


Well, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the book.  This excerpt is a Lakota Wedding Ceremony.  A word on this before I post the excerpt:  many American Indian tribes did not have a wedding ceremony.  Most couples were married by simply living together.  Sometimes, when a marriage between them might be frowned upon, they ran away and tied the knot in private.

However, to my knowledge, both the Lakota and Cheyenne had ceremonies that could be used in order to marry them.  But again, most simply invited the Creator into their marriage privately.



Karen Kay



“You are telling this to me truly?  It isn’t for yourself and your…needs, alone, that you are speaking to me of divorce?”

“It is not.  I say again that my intentions are honorable.”

She took several moments before speaking and he watched her closely to see if he might be able to know what her thoughts were.  He didn’t obtain any insight, however.  When at last she spoke up, she said, “Then, if that be the case, I do believe my answer is ‘yes.'”

He didn’t reply to her.  He wasn’t certain his voice would allow him to speak.  Instead, he merely nodded.  After some moments, he let down his guard a little, his stance becoming more casual, and he said, “I would like to marry you in the Lakota way, I think, because if we seek the Captain of this ship to marry us, what happened between us personally will come to be known by all, and I do not believe this is good for you or me.  What is private and between us should remain private.  Also, if we become man and wife in the Lakota way, I will still be able to allow you to divorce me if you are unhappy with me.”

He watched her closely, trying to determine her thoughts—not only on his insistence that she could divorce him, but also to determine if she might object to the two of them making their own marriage ceremony.  But, once again she seemed to be able to hide what was in her mind and he was not enlightened as to her thoughts.

However, after a moment, she stared straight at him and said, “Mr. Thunder, you have said I may divorce you many times now.  Know that I won’t do it.  Nor will I allow you to chase after another woman or to divorce me.  And, you agree with this?”

He nodded.  “Hau, hau.”

“Very well.  But, I have another question for you about our marriage.”

“I am here to listen to you.”

“Very well.  It is this.  What do you have to gain by marrying me?  Yes, yes, you speak of taking care of me.  I thank you for your consideration.  But, by marrying me, you will have to change your life somewhat.  Why would you do this?”

He laughed aloud.  But then, seeing she did not share in his humor, he said, “You must be truly innocent if you do not know how marriage to you would aid my life.”

“Then I suppose I am innocent.  Oh, I admit, you would have a woman to share physical desires with.  But, you have already attained this with the pretty women who encircle you and your friends, for it is no secret that many women haunt your steps.  I would like to think that I would be helping you in some way, also.  And, I don’t understand why you would seek to do this for me.”

He stared at her for some moments as he sought to come to terms with an answer for her.  Why was he doing this?  Because he cared for her?  Yes.  He knew this already.  But, was this the only reason?

He didn’t know; he simply didn’t know.

At last, he answered her and said, “It is true that a man has…needs that are answered by having a woman in his life.  But, there is more to it than this, and I should tell you what I can so you might come to understand my culture better.  Often in life, a man will require the attention and care which only a woman can give.  And, when a family is the result of her care, a man must dedicate himself to the support of her and their family, for, it is within the love which a woman gives him that he might grow into being who he is, in truth.  And so, without his woman’s love, a man does not genuinely live.”

She became suddenly silent and stared at him…simply stared.  It took several moments before she was at last able to voice her thoughts, and said, “You are a strange man, Mr. Thunder.”

He grinned at her.  “You could be right, but why do you say this?”

Again, she hesitated.  After a few moments, however, she uttered, “You speak of marriage and divorce as though both belong together, and you worry that I should have the right to walk away from you.  And yet, you also tell me that a man without a woman is a man who doesn’t truly live.  If this be so, and you really believe this, why would you try to make a divorce easy for me?”

She looked directly into his eyes, but he didn’t wish to stare back at her, for indeed, he was afraid she might see too deeply into his heart and become aware of the trauma that was always present there.  Hence, he merely shrugged and said, “Because if I can, I would have you be…happy.”

Again, she became silent, and into that silence, he asked, “Do you have any other questions for me?”

“I do not.”

“Is your answer, then, still ‘yes’?”

“It is.”

Hau, hau. I am happy to hear this.  Are you ready to marry me in the Lakota way, then?”


At last Blue Thunder relaxed and smiled at her.  “You have brought happiness and sunshine into my heart with your decision.  But, I have a question.”


“You have told me you are coming to America alone and that, outside of your friendship with my ?óla’s wife, Jane, you have no one to look after you?”

“Yes, this is correct.”

“No father whom I should gift with many skins and blankets and other treasures?”

“No.  Both my mother and father are dead.”

Hau, hau.  Then, come, let us marry.”

She looked up, smiled at him and whispered, “Yes.”

“I must retrieve the buffalo robe which is on the lower bunk, if you will excuse my reaching past you.”

As she stepped aside, he bent to take hold of the buffalo robe and another bag which contained a strip of rawhide, cured and painted red.  Digging into another bag, he brought out his pipe.  Then, standing up again, he took her hand in his and escorted her to the tiny porthole in their room; the window was still open and the morning sun shone into their little compartment.

Bringing her to stand next to him, he threw the robe around both their shoulders.  And, holding out the strip of rawhide, he bound her wrist to his.  As she looked up to him, he smiled, then bending again, picked up his pipe.  Next, he held the pipe out to her, inviting her with gestures to grasp it, and, when she did so, he moved his hand over hers, firmly clasping it with his around the pipe’s stem.

He smiled at her again and spoke to her softly, saying, “It has been told to me by the elders of my tribe that there may be times when a man and his woman might wish to say bad words to one another.  I have been warned against doing this.  It was said to me, also, that it is best to go away for a day or so until a man or a woman knows he or she might speak to one another with kindness.  It has also been said to me by my father that a man shows his affection for his wife and his children by being productive, by ensuring there is food to eat and skins for making clothing and a lodge to protect them against the elements.  My father also told me that a husband must make certain that those things a woman believes she needs, she has.  And, by doing all this, he becomes a good husband.  Above all else, my father told me a husband must be kind, tolerant, faithful and must give his ear to his wife when she has concerns.  I say to you now that this which has been said to me, I will do.  And now, as we stand here next to each other, do you wish to give voice to what you have been told by others that makes a good marriage?”

“Yes, I think I do,” she responded.  “Although I do not remember my parents or what they might have said to me about marriage, I have come to believe a woman should give her talents to her husband and family.  She must take charge of the household and keep it in good order.  She must be faithful to her husband and give her love only to him.  She must love her children and must teach them well.  All this, I will do.”

He sighed.  “It is good.  And now, Mitáwicu, I believe we should kiss.”

“That word you said, what does it mean?”



“’Wife.’  My wife.  We are now married.”

He watched her full lips turn upward in a smile..   And, when she said in a whisper, “What a beautiful word,” he felt as if his heart expanded, at least a little.

Mitáwicu,” he said, “It is a beautiful word for an equally beautiful ceremony that joins together two people.  From this day forward we will be as one in body.”

“Yes,” she said softly, but then she frowned suddenly  “I have another question, though, and it is this: in my world, when two people become married, they are required to perform the marriage act at once.  If they do not do so, they are not considered married.  Is this also a custom amongst your people?”

“No.  It is not in the Lakota way that a marriage must be consummated at any certain time.  A woman may take as long as she wishes before a man might”—he smiled at her—”shower her with his affection.”

She nodded, and he murmured, “Mitáwicu.”   Then, bending, he brought his lips to hers and was surprised to feel the blood rushing to his loins.  He was stunned even further when she sighed and shifted her weight inward toward him, as though she, too, were filled with pleasure.

Hau, it was good, if unexpected.  Yes, he thought she was beautiful and that she needed a man’s care, yet, he knew he didn’t love her—at least, not like a husband should.

But, there was more to the ceremony, and he reached down to take the pipe out of her hand.  Setting it aside, he threw off the buffalo robe.  Next, he raised their bound hands up toward the little porthole, where the sun still shone beams of light into the room, and said, “Creator, do you see that we are now married?”

He didn’t expect an answer, and there was none forthcoming at this time.

Bringing her in closely to him, Blue Thunder took Marci in his arms, then dropped to his knees, carrying her with him.  And, he kissed her again, holding her slightly away from him, for already his body was making its needs known to him, and it was in the most natural way a man might regard a woman who was now his wife.

But, he wasn’t ready to carry this into lovemaking and he knew she wasn’t either.  It wasn’t the right time, for they had not committed themselves to one another because they were in love.  So he resumed the ceremony, taking her free wrist up to his lips and placing a kiss upon the pressure point there. When he looked up at her again and beheld the passion within her gaze, he felt oddly, since he knew he wasn’t marrying her because of a sexual need for her; rather, he was doing what was necessary to ensure her safety and because she required someone to care for her.  He had decided he would be that man.  Yet even now, he felt himself on the verge of “convincing” her to make love with him.

But he didn’t.  He wouldn’t.  Hadn’t he already told her that he would be spending most of his time with the horses on this trip, and so she needn’t worry about the physical aspects of marriage?

However, he would tell her one important fact, and, holding her closely to him, he said, “I do believe I am going to enjoy our marriage.  It is my hope you will, also.”

When she grinned up at him, he took advantage of her open mouth and kissed her again.  This time, he let his tongue trace over her lips.  That she sighed in surrender to him caused the need in his loins to press in on him; indeed, it almost undid his resolve against making love to her now.  But again, he cautioned himself to respond to her in a reserved fashion, since neither of them was yet emotionally ready to carry it further.  So he said simply, “Come, wife, we should see that your trunk is properly loaded onto the ship.”

And, her response was a beautiful, if simple, smile.

Well, that’s it.  I hope you enjoyed the excerpt, along with a little history at the same time.

Again, the e-book is on sale for $3.99 for a short time.  I’ll leave the link for you also.

I hope you’ll come on in and leave a comment.  Do you like the cover?  I’m in love with this cover, I think.  Let me know your thoughts.



It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Linda Broday


I’m so excited. I just love the holiday feel to it. So Christmasy and romantic.

A cowboy learning how to start over…A fiery young woman with the heart to save him.

A past neither can escape and a future worthy of a Christmas miracle.


*****Also, this cover is in a contest over at Books and Benches. Please Vote HERE!

Laura Drake

My March Women’s Fiction release is up for Pre-order!

(click the photo to be taken to a retail site)

Jacqueline Oliver is an indie perfumer, trying to bury her ravaged childhood by shoveling ground under her own feet. Then she gets a call she dreads—the hippie grandmother she bitterly resents was apprehended when police busted a charlatan shaman’s sweat lodge. Others scattered, but Nellie was slowed by her walker, and the fact that she was wearing nothing but a few Mardi-Gras beads. Jacqueline is her only kin, so like it or not, she’s responsible.

Despite being late developing next year’s scent, she drops everything to travel to Arizona and pick up her free-range grandma. But the Universe conspires to set them on a Route 66 road trip together. What Jacqueline discovers out there could not only heal the scars of her childhood but open her to a brighter future.

Cathy McDavid

I got the call last week (yes, an actual phone call!) that my book, Her Cowboy Sweetheart, is a finalist in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Awards! I’m really thrilled. This is one of my favorite stories, and I couldn’t be happier. JD isn’t your typical romance book hero. He suffers from Meniere’s Disease and had to leave his successful rodeo career behind. While he learns to cope with this life-style changing condition, he takes a job at Powell Ranch where he meets Carly, a single mom who recently ended her marriage from an abusive man. Despite their immediate attraction, neither of them believes they’re marriage material.

This is the book I mentioned in an earlier post where my heroine designs and sells jewelry for horses. Another reason I like this book so much. Thanks for letting me share my exciting news!


Her Cowboy Sweetheart  

Shanna Hatfield

I’m excited to give you a peek at my September release – Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing.

This book is part of the Regional Romance Series I write with Kari Trumbo, Peggy L. Henderson, and our own Kit Morgan. You can pre-order the book today for the special price of $2.99!
This sweet romance includes three individual stories, as do all the books. Mine is linked together by the three King siblings and the story takes place in a town right on the Oregon Trail where you can still see the wagon ruts!
I’ll be sharing more about this book next month.

Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing

Pam Crooks

My Amazon bestselling book is now on KINDLE UNLIMITED!


Hannah’s Vow



She grew up on the wrong side of the law, daughter of a master thief and student to his trade. But when he dies at the hands of an angry mob, she flees to a monastery to escape the world and her sins.


He is betrayed by his brother and sentenced to a life in prison. Only the thirst for revenge keeps him alive. He will do anything to escape . . .

Together . . .

They must run for their lives to survive their pasts. And in the journey, they find truth . . . and an unlikely love in their hearts.


AMAZON Kindle Unlimited

Karen Kay’s New Release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, Pre-Sale — Save 20%

Regular price:  $4.99  Pre-Sale price:  $3.99


He rescued her from danger.  Then she stole his heart.

Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?


Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.


But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people.  Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed?  And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?


Warning:  A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.

Pick up your copy today and save 20%.


Audrey Wick Has a Winner!

Thank you so much for visiting, Miss Audrey, and making us drool over the jewelry!

Now for the drawing…………….

One lucky person will get the CD of romance stories! Yippee!

The winner is………..


Woo-Hoo! Congratulations, Jess!! Watch for Miss Audrey’s email.

Thank you all for coming to join in the conversation!


Turquoise, sterling silver, mother of pearl—oh my! When it comes to jewelry, I love artisan pieces with a pop of the unexpected. In particular, I like pieces that I can mix and match and ones that can be layered with all types of clothes, from casual to dressy.

For instance, I think these turquoise hoop earrings could go with so many outfits.

Click photo for more information.

So when the heroine in my latest novel needed a profession, it was fun to make her a jewelry designer. Readers can get lost in this world through my latest novel, ISLAND CHARM. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Jewelry designer Anna Worthington takes the Key West honeymoon intended for her identical twin, leading to island surprises and tropical romance but with an expiration date.

In the novel, readers get to travel with Anna (who hails from Texas) as she explores western/southwestern elements and then uses them to add her own twists to jewelry making.

Click photo for more information.

Jewelry is a passion for a lot of individuals, and it’s easy to see why. There are so many options for creating and accessorizing!

My hometown has its own artisan named Richard Schmidt, and his craftsmanship is what I used as inspiration for the types of pieces Anna Worthington designs in ISLAND CHARM. And, yes, even though Richard does not live near the coast, he still uses some coastal elements in his jewelry.

This starfish ring reminds me of something Anna would wear:

Click photo for more information.

The last cuff in this photo uses spiny oyster, a material that Anna decides to use after discovering it in Key West during ISLAND CHARM.

Click photo for more information.

Now the storyline isn’t just about jewelry. There’s more to explore in ISLAND CHARM. Here’s a full synopsis:

When Anna Worthington’s twin sister gets jilted by her fiancé, Anna steps in with a plan for a girls’ Key West getaway instead of a honeymoon trip. Yet when her twin has her own crisis of commitment and doesn’t board the plane, Anna finds herself on a romantic getaway that she’s forced to navigate alone.

Gunnar Lockhart, whose specialty is island tourism, is the perfect match for helping Anna complete her vacation bucket list, but time together forges a connection more personal than either anticipate. As they make island memories, Anna has to untangle her mixed emotions. Are her feelings toward Gunnar real? Or like her sister’s wedding day, has this connection been doomed from the start?

So whether you are a jewelry lover or a book lover, there is something for everyone in ISLAND CHARM.

Thank you to all the writers and readers at Petticoats & Pistols for chatting today. To celebrate the book’s release, I’d like everyone to think about memorable jewelry in their own lives. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF JEWELRY AND WHY? Share it in the comments below.

One randomly selected commenter is going to win a lovely summer prize: A CD that includes over a dozen e-books (including ISLAND CHARM!) that can be read in virtually any format. ARV= over $50. Learn more about the CD HERE.


Note: all photographs of jewelry in this blog post are used with permission of Richard Schmidt.

Bio: Audrey Wick is a full-time English professor at Blinn College and author of women’s fiction/romance. Her writing has also appeared in college textbooks, and she is a guest blog columnist with Writer’s Digest. Wick believes the secret to happiness includes lifelong learning and good stories. But travel and coffee help. She has journeyed to over twenty countries—and sipped coffee at every one. See photos on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @WickWrites.

Buy Links:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  Apple/iTunes  |  KOBO  |  Google  | Pelican Book Group



Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to read, comment, and wish me a happy birthday! I loved reading y’all’s comments and learning about everyone’s favorite cakes and birthday memories!

My winner for the print copy of FIRE EYES today is…..



Crystal, if you will e-mail me at with your home address, I will be glad to get your copy of FIRE EYES in the mail SOON!

Thanks again to everyone for stopping by and participating! We love you all here at Petticoats & Pistols!



I love July for so many reasons, but when I was growing up, I have to confess, I loved it because I had a birthday on the 28th day of the month!

Of course, the 4th of July was always a great holiday, back then, too. We’d gather up and go to “Bryan County” (as my dad always called it) where both sets of my grandparents lived and almost every single one of my cousins on both sides of the family. That was what I was interested in—being surrounded by a slew of cousins who were all close to my age!

We had fireworks, home-made ice cream (the kids had the job of sitting on the top of the ice cream freezer while the men cranked the handle) and so much food. If it was hot (and it usually was, being July in Oklahoma) we’d just make a huge pallet on the floor of the living room and the kids would all sleep there, with the box fans blowing on us and the front door standing open for the least bit of breeze.

When my birthday rolled around on the 28th, I always had a party of some kind. From the parties of the early days—early-mid 1960’s—where all the little girls dressed in their Sunday best, complete with anklets and white patent leather shoes and party dresses, to the later teen years when slumber parties were the thing. What a time we had!


I bet you figured it out–I’m the 2nd from the end on the left. This was my 8th birthday–here we are, all in our party-dress finery!





This is my 12th birthday. I was surrounded by friends as we celebrated, ate, and just had a wonderful time. I’m on the end in the striped outfit, and my dear friend and cousin, Julie is just to my left–so this birthday, I got the best of everything–a COUSIN and friends, along with cake and great memories!


Remember those birthday party games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Drop the clothespins into the bottle while standing on a stepstool? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have fun like that today?


Mom always baked her “famous” chocolate “jelly roll” cake from scratch, and made her own thick, creamy, chocolate frosting. She’d let it cool, but it had to be rolled up while it was warm from the oven so it wouldn’t break later on. After she gently unrolled it and frosted it, she sprinkled chopped pecans on top of it. Then,  it went into the fridge. OH, MY GOODNESS.

I’ve often thought about making that jelly roll cake—my sister has the recipe—but I don’t know if I’m talented enough to keep it from breaking!

I’m including a link to a cake that looks a lot like Mom’s but hers had frosting on the inside AND the outside, too. If you make this, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

truffle cake roll


Do you have a favorite birthday cake? What is it? I have to admit, I’m a cake fanatic. I love them all, but that chocolate one my mom made…I wish I had some of that today!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES today—there’s a scene in it where one of the very young deputies, Frank Hayes, has made a terrible mistake that could have resulted in the death of our hero, Kaed Turner. In this scene, Kaed tries to find familiar ground to bring two young deputies Frank Hayes and Travis Morgan, to an understanding. Here’s what happens:





Frank whirled at Kaed’s voice, his hand at his Colt instinctively. Kaed and Travis stood behind him, holding their horses’ reins. Kaed stepped forward. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

Frank nodded, standing stiffly awkward in front of them.

“Relax, Frank,” Kaed said. His gaze dropped to where Frank’s hand still hovered above the butt of his gun. Frank looked down, as if he didn’t recognize the hand was attached to his body.

“What’re you doin’ out here?” Travis asked.

Hayes shrugged. “Thinkin’ ’bout everything.” He turned to lean against the boulder, away from them. “‘Bout how I almost got you killed, Mr. Turner.” His voice was low.

Kaed glanced at Travis, and Travis looked away.

“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.

“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”

Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.

“How old are you, Frank?”

“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”

Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”

Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.

Kaed went on. “When you became a deputy marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”

Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”

When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”

Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”

Travis nodded.

Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.

Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”

“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.

Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”

“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.

I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter today! Do you have a favorite birthday memory? What about a favorite birthday cake? Please share! I love memories of parties, cake, ice cream, presents—and GOOD TIMES!


Audrey Wick Will Visit on Friday!

Contemporary author Audrey Wick will arrive on Friday, July 30, 2021 to talk about jewelry as an inspiration.

Do you have favorite pieces you keep close at hand? Be thinking about this.

Miss Audrey is giving away a CD that contains a collection of stories.

So there you have it. Head over on Friday and get ready to have some fun.

Romance is in the air and life is good at Petticoats and Pistols!

A Sydney Duck Doesn’t Quack

Question: What is a Sydney Duck?

Answer: Someone you wanted to avoid if you lived in San Francisco in the late 1840s.

In 1848, word of the California gold discoveries reached Sydney, Australia, and merchants there, recognizing an opportunity, began loading ships with goods to sell to the booming California population. A voyage took three to four months, which was considered a reasonable length of time to provide a return on their investment—particularly if the stories they heard were true.

The stories were true and by mid-1849 the rush from Sydney to the gold fields of California, to search for gold rather than sell goods, began. By the end of 1849, forty-eight ships had left Sydney for California. The people who traveled to California gold country tended to be older and Irish, and, of course, some were ex-convicts of the Australian penal colonies.

Gold mining, it turned out, was harder work than expected, and many of the Australian immigrants ended up becoming service people or tradesmen, such as dressmakers, washer women, shipwrights, longshoremen, sailors, bartenders or saloon keepers. Others became, or reverted to being, criminals.

Many Australians settled in Sydney Town, at the foot of Telegraph Hill, and the more criminally oriented residents formed a gang known as the Sydney Ducks. The Sydney Ducks specialized in arson and were allegedly responsible for several devastating fires between 1849 and 1851. They would light fires, then loot stores and warehouses while everyone was busy fighting the fire. They organized protection rackets in which business owners paid to not have their store burned or looted. They also engaged in robberies, murder and general mayhem, to the point that law enforcement officials refused to enter Sydney Town. The law-abiding Australian residents resented being linked to The Sydney Ducks by virtue of nationality, but there wasn’t much they—or anyone, it seemed—could do about the lawlessness. The fact that many of the city officials were either corrupt or incompetent did not help matters.

In 1851, that changed. In June of that year, the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance was formed with the specific intention of ending the Sydney Ducks’ reign of terror. The first “victim” of the vigilante committee was a man caught stealing a safe. He was chased down, caught, tried and hung within five hours. The vigilantes continued to conduct secret trials, followed by lynchings, or in some cases, deportations.

Eventually the Sydney Ducks had enough and faded away. There was a new gold rush going on—this one in Australia—and many of the surviving members of the Sydney Ducks returned home. By the 1880’s, Sydney Town had acquired a new name and another fierce reputation—it was now called The Barbary Coast.