Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by today to share your thoughts and comments!
Be sure to come by tomorrow — Kathryn Albright will be here! Kathryn and I were Golden Heart finalists together and I’m super excited about her debut novel THE ANGEL AND THE OUTLAW — officially released tomorrow!
I absolutely LOVE research. I had a blast digging into the history of Sierra Mountain lumber camps for the setting of my July Harlequin western recently titled THE GUNSLINGER’S BRIDE. I had an interest in logging camps long before I ever started writing. There’s quite a few old camp towns and even an old working logging camp railroad in our area. Every year we take our boys for a train ride through the tall timbers and glean new tidbits on the lives of the men who felled those giant trees–a hard and hazardous occupation.
The lumberjack lifestyle required two sets of clothes – a set of work cloths he put on in the morning and a set of dry clothes he put on in the evening, because no matter the time of year, a logger always came in from the job dripping wet. He was either wet with sweat, rain, snow–or a combination of all three. Timber crews were a rough-and-tumble lot and employed crew foreman’s called bull heads — men with fists heavy-hitting enough to enforce strict sets of rules every man was expected to follow for their safety and the safety of others. A slip of an ax or the wrong move with a saw blade could easily lead to a man’s death, as he’d often bleed out before any kind of medical attention could be sought. Check out the picture below–see the planks of wood these tree-fellers are standing on?
These thin, springy platforms were shimmed into the trees, sometimes ten to fifteen feet or MORE up a tree, creating a precarious perch as fellers swung axes, chopping away at the trunk. Many a timberman fell to their deaths, giving these planks the nickname “widow-makers“.
Most lumber camp crews were made up largely of immigrant workers–vagabonds and scamps as many were called, men without any real roots and lumber camps offered something other jobs didn’t — loggers could always count on a warm dry bed and a hot hearty meal after a grueling day of work. Mealtime was the main event in any camp. It was often said that a lumber camp was only as good as its chef.A meager crew was a sure sign of a bad cook. If a logger didn’t like the food, he’d move on to the next camp.
With camps scattered all over the Sierra’s, camps competed with one another by trying to hire the best chefs, often recruiting well-known chefs from San Francisco and other major cities. While the men were well fed and could eat until they were full, meal-time also had strict sets of rules–usually requiring the men have assigned seating, and no talking allowed–this allowed for faster service, and the last thing a man wanted was to tick off the cook and get tossed from the cook house.
As often happens, much of the research absorbed during the planning stages of a book doesn’t make it into the final version. Juniper and Lily seemed far too busy chasing bandits all over the mountain to really stop and smell the wood chips.While readers will get a glimpse into the life of a timberman,there wasn’t a ton of room to detail all the goings-on of a lumber camp that I find fascinating. But research is never wasted—and who knows, maybe there will be a lumberjack hero in my future. Although, for now, I have moved on from the Sierra’s and am knee-deep in research and snowdrift from the Wyoming blizzard of 1886 🙂
To celebrate the arrival of my author copies for my third western (woohoo), one of today’s comment posters will win a copy of MAVERICK WILD!
My, oh my! I do declare, y’all are gonna get a treat. Kathryn Albright is saddling up and riding over to visit. She’s all fired up about her new Harlequin historical, “The Angel and the Outlaw.” Mosey on over Saturday and we’ll have more fun than the law allows or my name isn’t Felicia Filly.
Remember Gunsmoke? The intro music with Matt Dillon on his galloping horse?Miss Kitty and Doc and Chester and Festus and all the fine folks in Dodge?
Unless you’re a lot younger than I am, chances are this show was part of your life.Not only was Gunsmoke (1955-1975) TV’s longest running Western, it was also television’s longest running prime-time series with continuing characters. In total, 233 half-hour episodes and 400 hour episodes were filmed.
Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City, Kansas, between 1872, when the Santa Fe Railroad reached town, and 1885, when local farmers forced the end of the Texas cattle drives along the Western Trail. Dodge City, known as the “Queen of the Cow Towns,” the “Wicked Little City,” the “Gomorrah of the Plains,” had a reputation as a hostile, lawless town where the “fastest gun” ruled. As the opening of the show proclaimed: “Around Dodge City and in the territory on west, there’s just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers and that’s with a U.S. Marshal and the smell of gunsmoke.”
The fictional marshall, Matt Dillon, was modeled after the real lawmen who “tamed” (or at least kept a lid on) Dodge City: US Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp (1848-1929), Sheriff Bat Masterson (1856-1921), Sheriff Bill Tilghman (1854-1924), and Sheriff Charlie Bassett.Gunsmoke began on radio in 1952 with William Conrad reading the part of Matt Dillon (I actually remember this great radio version).The series was so successful that it was adapted for TV in 1955.Conrad, who had a fine radio voice, was a portly man who didn’t fit the visual image of Matt Dillon, so another actor had to be found.There is some dispute as to whether John Wayne was offered the role of Marshal Dillon, but he is certainly the one who recommended the quiet, six-foot-seven James Arness, brother of Peter Graves.Arness proved to be the perfect choice.Wow, what a man!
Other actors rounded out the cast.Remember them?
Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) ran the Longbranch Saloon where Sam (Glenn Strange) was the bartender; Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver) and Festus Hagen (Ken Curtis) were the deputies. Does anybody remember who played Doc?
The romance between Matt and Miss Kitty was clearly evident, but they didn’t so much as hold hands (hey, this was the Fifties).And the likely goings on upstairs in the Longbranch weren’t even mentioned.All in all, Gunsmoke was a sanitized version of what the real West must have been like.But who’s complaining?It was so much fun.And so romantic.
Do you have a favorite Gunsmoke episode?What was your favorite TV Western series?I’d love to hear.
Wow! What incredibly wise people we have on this blog. If only we could influence leaders of our different countries. I think the world might be a better place. My thanks go out to Nance Miller, Bethlynn Hanley, Taryn Raye, Devon Matthews and to fellow Western Romance Authors, Elizabeth Lane, Mary Connealy, linda Broday and Charlene Sands.
Recently a friend shared a “nightmare” homecoming date story that her daughter endured. The boy didn’t bring her a corsage, though she was ready with a buttonaire. He didn’t drive in the limo to the Pre-Party hosted at a parent’s house – to take pictures. The girl had to take pics without her date. When he showed up at the dance, he wasn’t around for the professional photos taken there and as he danced with his date for two pathetic dances, he was texting another girl. Then he informed her he wouldn’t be driving in their limo, since he was invited to a different party and he’d go in that limo. At lastly, the poor girl lost her shoes! Someone had moved them while she was dancing – they were later found. So she returned home, without her date and no shoes. As a parent I was appalled to hear this story. Don’t worry, the gal’s mother called the boy’s parents and gave them a piece of her mind. The boy eventually called with an apology – too little, too late.
Since we love romance, we often fantastize about today’s man and how he behaves. Which brought up the question about this generation of men and are women demanding less of men these days?
Here’s a list from AskMen.com that I came upon.
What Women Want from Men:
Return her messages
Many women gauge a man’s interest level by how long it takes him to respond when she contacts him. If his response time is poor, she might assume he’s just not that into her. Now, it’s no secret that women and men have differing opinions on what constitutes good communication, and we’re not saying you need to drop everything the minute she calls. She knows you’re a busy man; she’s busy too. What women want from men is a call back as soon as they’re able, as opposed to sometime the following day. This doesn’t mean you have to send an e-mail or a text of epic proportions if you don’t have time; a sentence or two will suffice to make her feel like you care — which is all she really wants to know.
Kiss her for no reason
As much as they love sex, women also enjoy a nice, deep kiss that doesn’t have any strings attached. This serves two purposes: It lets her indulge in kissing for the sheer pleasure of it, and it also tells her you want her, and not just sex. Yes, you’re charming and sexy and she loves being naughty for you, but sometimes she needs a different type of connection. To really do what women want from men, try a surprise kiss for no reason at all; she’ll love you for it. Combine this with a little hand-holding and she’ll be smiling for days.
Dance with her
Simply put, dancing with a woman makes her feel special. Unfortunately, most men are reluctant to put their dancing shoes on, especially in a public setting. Guess what? While she’d probably welcome the idea, you don’t need to visit a nightclub to dance with your woman. She’ll be just as thrilled if you slipped a little Marvin Gaye on and danced with her in the living room. This would actually be to your advantage, as you have total control over the music. You’re also conveniently located if the dancing starts to get dirty…
Dress up for her
Dressing up to take your woman out is an excellent way to impress her. It’s not about the clothes; it’s about the fact that you find her worth dressing up for. It lets her know that you think she’s worth that kind of effort. Besides, a nice shirt and dress pants can increase your sex appeal by leaps and bounds; you may feel overdressed, but your hotness factor will have magnified exponentially. It’s true what they say: Women really do love a sharp-dressed man.
Remember random milestones
As a rule, birthdays and anniversaries should always be remembered; forgetting something of this magnitude will send the message that you don’t find her terribly important. After all, she probably memorized yours early on in the relationship, so if hers goes unnoticed, she’ll be utterly heartbroken. Here’s how to do what women want from men: To truly impress her, aim to remember the insignificant dates, as well as the big ones. The first time you told her you loved her, the first time you kissed, the first place you vacationed together, what she was wearing the first time you met — any one of these will turn her to jelly and score you more bonus points than you can shake a stick at.
Take on an activity with her
What women want from men is to spend time with their man outside of the bedroom. They want to experience life with their man, and this is one of the best ways to develop a three-dimensional relationship. Don’t worry; we’re not recommending you join her yoga class; rock-climbing, hiking, tennis or cycling are activities both of you can enjoy. If neither of you are the sporty type, try something else that you already excel at. Teach her how to swing a 9-iron or to shoot pool — she’ll love the personalized attention.
Propose a visit to her family
Women love it when a man gets along with her friends, but she simply adores it when he gets along with her family. Even if you’re not particularly fond of her busybody mother and father, suggesting a visit (even just a yearly one) can really make your woman’s day. It lets her know you recognize the importance of family. This is truly the kind of suggestion that leads to a warm and fuzzy feeling, so don’t be afraid to suggest it.
So, is this what women really want from men? Do you agree with this list. What’s on your list? What would you add or change on this list?