Tomorrow is set to be a wonderful day here in Wildflower Junction and a perfect ending to our Spring Author Round-Up. Miss Vicki Bylin is coming to call on us. And she’ll be bringing along her favorite western heroes to boot! Can’t beat a deal like that. Plus, she’s putting icing on the cake by giving away two copies of “The Bounty Hunter’s Bride.” Stop by and sit a spell and get your name in the pot. As usual we’ll have a good time.
Thanks to them I grew up on musicals. I’m talking about the love at first sight, happy ending, burst into song at the drop of a hat kind. (Oh how my sons roll their eyes at that!)
Between Rogers and Hammerstein and Walt Disney I was happy as a bee in a field of Texas blue-bonnets. The music, the lyrics, the dancing—and the touch of humor in just the right places– swept me away to a magical realm and kept me enthralled. It didn’t hurt that the heroes were easy on the eyes and the heroines beautiful too. And they always fell in love and lived happily ever after.
The first musical I remember seeing was Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke lit up the screen. I know every song by heart. Then there was The Sound of Music. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to go to Austria after seeing that! The scenery was stunning.
Oklahoma!, The Music Man, West Side Story, South Pacific, Camelot and a host of others—the music was so ingrained in me that I couldn’t believe it when I’d meet someone who’d never seen a musical—it was that incomprehensible to me. (Don’t ask me how I ever ended up marrying a “sports jock.” At least he tolerates my singing around the house!)
Watching Disney movies with my sons as they grew up kept the musical bug alive in me (not that it needed any help!) Being boys, they didn’t much care for the “princess” movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or The Little Mermaid, but there was Pete’s Dragon, Beauty and the Beast, and their favorite–The Prince of Egypt.
I enjoyed Carousel originally as a child, but when I grew up the way the story treated the aspect of battering upset me and I’ve never watched it again. Too bad—because the music was lovely. It was also the first sad ending to a musical I’d ever seen.
More recent “musicals” I’ve enjoyed are The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, and my personal favorite Beauty and the Beast (on stage.) Eventually I hope to see Wicked. And I would absolutely love it if Beauty and the Beast would be made into a movie with real actors. I do so like the extra songs added on the Broadway version.
Since this is Petticoats and Pistols—I tried to remember
My favorite would have to be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. My–could Howard Keel sing! And he was easy on the eyes too—not to mention being a bit of a rascal! Jane Powell as the feisty girl who “tamed” him was just beautiful. I smile every time I hear the song “Bless Your Beautiful Hide.” It took place in the Oregon wilderness and I was captivated by the gorgeous scenery. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned much of it had been filmed onstage.
Another good one was The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Debbie Reynolds and Harve Presnell which takes place in Colorado territory. I think Oklahoma! with Shirley Jones and Gordon McCrea could be classified in this category.
With all of this ingrained in me from an early age, it’s no wonder that I grew up believing in happy endings and the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. Perhaps I’m looking through rose-colored lenses, but it is a lovely view from here.
I wonder if my debut book could ever be turned into a musical? Hey—it’s an interesting thought!
Are there any musical lovers out there? And if so, which is your favorite? To encourage lurkers to join in, if you post and your name is drawn, I’ll send an autographed copy of my debut book The Angel and the Outlaw along with a watercolor note card of the lighthouse that figures prominently in the story.
I’d love to hear of a musical I haven’t seen yet!
Kathryn Albright had been writing for several years when she sold her first novel, The Angel and the Outlaw, to Harlequin Historicals. Her second novel, another western, The Rebel and the Lady, will be released September 2008. Stop by her website to see an excerpt!
She will draw a name for an autographed copy of The Angel and the Outlaw and a fancy notecard from the comments on her blog!
Howdy. I’m right proud to be back at the corral in Wildflower Junction. The Old West never grows “old” for me, and today I’ll jaw about a “lady,” Lottie Deno, so-called “Queen of the Pasteboard Flippers.” A gambler who learned the art at her father’s knee, so to speak.
Lottie was christened Carlotta J. Thompkins, but during her travels took many names: Laura Denbo, Faro Nell and Charlotte Thurmond…the latter name when she finally fell in love and married part-Cherokee Frank Thurmond.
Taking the nickname Lottie Deno protected her Episcopalian family in Kentucky from knowing she supported herself by gambling. Money she frequently sent home to support loved ones would have been considered shocking and gained by illicit means. She lied and told her mother she had married a wealthy Texas cattleman. Don’t you wonder, though? Would old Ma have accepted the funds, anyway?
But I get ahead of myself. Lottie’s father was an upper-class farm owner in the areas of Lexington and Louisville, and he served in the Kentucky General Assembly. Slavery was prevalent and Lottie’s nanny was seven-foot-tall Mary Poindexter, the slave who was devoted to Lottie and remained so even after the Civil War.
After Carlotta graduated from an Episcopalian convent, her father often took her along on his business trips to Detroit, New Orleans, and even to Europe. It was in New Orleans, where he raced his horses, that he loved to gamble and taught his daughter every trick he knew about card playing. Lottie was a stunning, vivacious redhead, well-educated and refined in manner. In other words, she could probably have gotten away with murder.
Her life changed dramatically when she was 17 years old, and her father, a Southerner at heart, enlisted in the Confederate army. He died in battle, and shortly thereafter her mother pined away. Relatives sent Lottie to Detroit, and instead of finding a wealthy husband, Lottie fell in love with Johnny Golden, one of her father’s former jockeys, and now a gambler. With Mary always at her mistress’s side, Lottie and Johnny became expert gamblers, working riverboats on the Mississippi River and tidewater towns.
Near War’s end, Lottie traveled west to San Antonio and continued to ply her trade. That’s where she met Frank Thurmond, and worked for him at the University Club. Even though he had murdered a bully in self defense, he left town ahead of bounty hunters, and Lottie soon followed.
Though every professional gambler was known to cheat, Lottie was much sought after by cowboys with hats in hand, and let’s not forget Doc Holliday. That’s when she crossed paths with a jealous Big Nose Kate.
Legend has it that Kate accused Lottie of trying to steal Doc’s affections. Now remember, Lottie was a well-brought-up lady and pretty as the dickens. I leave it to you to decide if she might have screeched at Kate, “Why you low down slinkin‘ slut! If I should step in soft cow manure, I would not even clean my boot on that bastard! I’ll show you a thing or two!”
She pulled a gun, and Kate also drew her weapon. Legend further says that Doc Holliday stepped between them to defuse the fight. Hmm. From what I hear tell, and if history is to be believed, Holliday had a rather short fuse. Would Lottie have dared call him “that bastard” in his presence?
The lady gambled her way across West Texas. In Fort Concho she was called “Mystic Maude.” She moved on to San Angelo, Denison, Fort Worth and Jacksboro. Eventualy she found Frank again at Fort Griffin, aka The Flat. Johnny Golden, the jockey-gambler came back into her life briefly at Fort Griffin, but he was shot dead the next day. Good-hearted Lottie paid $65 for his casket but didn’t attend the funeral.
After five years in Texas, Lottie and Thurmond pulled up stakes and moved to New Mexico where they married. Lottie became a well-respected pillar of the Deming community. Purportedly, she financed the original 1892 St. Luke’s frontier church with $40,000 she had won off Doc Holliday.
Many a later-day writer has espoused the prostitute or madam with a heart of gold. Miss Kitty of TV “Gunsmoke” fame, played so well by Amanda Blake, was based on Lottie Deno. And my schoolmarm, turned prostitute, turned back to schoolmarm in WALKS IN SHADOW, Lillibeth, was one who could have been patterned after Lottie as well.
My mom, bless her, loved to yodel, Charleston, and generally raise a bit of a ruckus in company. We affectionately called her, Honkytonk Gal. She would have gotten along famously with Lottie. How do y’all see Soiled Doves, Light Skirts and Madams of yesteryear? With hearts of gold or gold diggers?
One person will be picked from those who comment, and I’ll send a signed copy of one of my favorites. Now a collector’s item, I guess, since it’s out of print. WALKS IN SHADOW will introduce you to Lillibeth Gentry.
To those who plan to be at RWA National Conference in July in San Francisco, please stop by during the Literacy Signing event and say Howdy.
The history of the gun tells the story of America. At it’s most fundamental, the history of the gun is the history of freedom. And it illustrates why freedom is a thirst within each man and woman’s soul. Being set free unleashes the best in all of us. The story of freedom isn’t reflected by the gun itself, but by the ingeniuty behind it, the wealth to be made through it. This is why being allowed to work for our own best interests makes a better world for everyone.
All great inventions expand fastest under freedom and it’s partner capitalism. I could tell this same story about the car, the airplane, freeze dried food, oleo, Hamburger Helper, the computer, Starbucks. If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. And that goes for everything a market can produce. There is great wealth to be made by hard work and creativity. And those are unleashed to their fullest with freedom.
Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese did not use gunpowder only for fireworks. In fact, the earliest surviving recipes for gunpowder can be found in the Chinese military treatise Wujing zongyao of 1044 AD, which contains three: two for use in incendiary bombs to be thrown by siege engines and one intended as fuel for smoke bombs.
14th century China: The matchlock firearms were first mentioned. The matchlock appeared in Europe some time in the mid-1400s, although the idea of the serpentine appears some 40 years previously in an Austrian manuscript. The first dated illustration of a matchlock mechanism dates to 1475, and by the 1500s they were universally used.
The Matchlock secured a lighted wick in a moveable arm which, when the trigger was depressed, was brought down against the flash pan to ignite the powder. This allowed the musketeer to keep both hands on the gun, improving his aim drastically.
1630: Flintlock guns – the flintlock did two things mechanically, it opened the lid of the flash pan and provided an igniting spark. Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. Introduced about 1630, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock and wheellock mechanisms. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap
1825: Percussion-cap guns invented by Reverend John Forsyth – firing mechanism no longer uses flash pan, a tube lead straight into the gun barrel, the tupe had an exposive cap on it that exploded when struck The percussion cap, introduced around 1830, was the crucial invention that enabled muzzle-loading firearms to fire reliably in any weather.
The percussion cap system was made obsolete by:
1835: Colt revolver – first mass-produced, multi-shot, revolving firearms
Samuel Colt invented the first revolver, a gun named after its inventor “Colt”, and after its revolving cylinder “revolver”. In 1836, Samuel Colt was granted a U.S. patent for the Colt revolver, which was equipped with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets and an innovative cocking device.
Before the Colt revolver only one and two-barrel flintlock pistols had been invented for hand held use. Colt revolvers were all based on cap-and-ball technology until the Smith and Wesson license on the bored-through cylinder (bought from Rollin White) expired around 1869.
“Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”
1873: Winchester rifle – One of the most successful, and certainly one of the most famous Winchester rifles was the Winchester Model 1873. The Winchester ‘73 was produced in such quantities that they became a common sight in the American West, leading to the rifle being nicknamed:
“The Gun that Won the West.”
We’ve talked about inventions before, but Memorial Day has given me a desire to talk about Freedom. I sometimes wonder if people today even know what Freedom truly is.
I listened to Bill Maher, long ago, I don’t listen anymore, mocking America and extolling the virtues of Cuba.
Never mind that, in Cuba, if he called the leaders horrible, denigrating names, he’d be arrested and shot. Never mind that he makes his LIVING with Freedom of Speech. To me, he was a man who didn’t know what Freedom was. He didn’t get that people, for over 225 years have died for his right to say anything, while people are imprisoned and executed in half the countries of the world for daring to oppose their leaders.
What does Freedom mean to you? Where is the balance between guns and safety and crime and Freedom?
Ben Franklin once said:
“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
I know this:
America is the land of the Free and the home of the brave. But if we don’t start being a lot more brave we’re going to be a lot less Free.
Tell me, in the shadow of the just passed Memorial Day, the day to remember our deceased loved ones, but also to remember the price America has paid for Freedom, what Freedom means to YOU.
And the winner is….
Pamela S Thibodeaux
Whoo hoo, Pam! Send your address to me at SaintJohn@aol.com and Susan will send your gift out and you can SHOP!
I hope everyone enjoyed blogging today with Beth Ciotta. She and all of the Fillies thank you for your comments and patronage. Beth wishes she had a prize to give each person. But, she doesn’t so I’ll get right to it.
Nicole Price — signed copy of “Lasso the Moon”
Vickie Couturier — signed copy of “Romancing the West”
Jennifer Y — Wild West Messenger Bag
Ladies, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing addresses and I’ll pass the info on to Beth. Congratulations on being the lucky winners!! WaHoo!
Big news! The Fillies are gussying up and heading over to Coffee Time Romance. We’ll be in their Readers Retreat area during the whole month of May.
Of course, don’t worry, we haven’t abandoned you darlings here in Wildflower Junction. We’ll just be splitting our time between the two places. Come and visit us at Coffee Time Romance www.coffeetimeromance.com/board so we won’t feel lonesome. We need our friends. We surely do. And to show our appreciation, we’ll be giving away a ton of prizes over there. All you have to do is show up and be counted.
In a waiting room recently, I took my cell phone in my hand, not to annoy the other patrons but to re-live some fun moments. I checked through my saved pictures — my hubby and me at the Angels/Sox game at Fenway, Charlene Sands and me drooling at a Tim McGraw concert, a bazillion pix of our year old grandson — and I enjoyed everything all over again.
When I got my Kodak Instamatic for a graduation present sometime last century, I thought I was on the top of Everest. With its Magicubes, it was so state-of-the-art. In my wildest dream then, I never imagined a future where I could take pictures with a phone….and email them to a computer! Or use a digi-cam where I can delete all of my faux pas in a flash and where everything’s got a date for instant record keeping. Or scan a horde of old photos for publication on the Internet for you to see.
I wanted to share today some of the gorgeous antique photographs that inspire me. But beforehand, I’m going to make you suffer through a brief history of photography through 1900. After all, I am a retired schoolteacher and lecturing’s a hard habit to break.
Cameras existed long before J.N. Niepce produced the first permanent image, a heliograph, in 1826 – an exposure that took 8 hours with a camera obscrua! This was an image of an outside scene formed by a simple lens and sunlight shining through a small hole into a darkened room. (Camera obscura means “darkened room.”)
In 1837, his partner, Louis Daguerre, began to produce images on silver iodide-coated copper plates that took 30 minutes to develop with warmed mercury. Two years later, Fox Talbot introduced the negative from which many positive images could be produced. But paper negatives didn’t produce the detailed images of the daguerreotype. In 1841, he patented his “calotype” negative/positive process with its 5 minute exposure time.
London sculptor Frederick Scott Archer never patented his 1851 wet plate collodion process, where he spread a mixture of nitrated cotton dissolved in ether and alcohol on sheets of glass. The result: the 10-second exposure “tintype.” Much cheaper than the daguerreotype, the tintype brought photography to everyday people. The name probably comes from the tin shears or scissors needed to cut the small pictures (about 2″ x 3″), rather than the metal plates on which they were reproduced.
In 1861, Scottish physicist James Clerk-Maxwell came up with the color-separation method by using green, red, or blue filters when taking black and white photographs. And during the Civil War, Mathew Brady and his staff exposed 7,000 negatives while covering the war!
British physician Richard Leach Maddox developed the dry plate process in 1871, using an emulsion of gelatin, the protein in animal bones, and silver bromide on dry plates. (Gelatin is still used today.) Exposure time: 1/25th of a second!
When he was 24 in 1880, George Eastman set up his Eastman Dry Plate Company in Rochester, NY. By 1888, the general public had access to a simplified camera, thanks both to his “Kodak Number 1” model and his mass developing/processing service. A year later, Eastman produced the first transparent roll film. This was a vast improvement over the 20-foot roll of paper in the “Number 1” that produced 100 two-and-a-half inch circular pictures.
The next year, 1889, Thomas Edison improved the Kodak roll film to 35mm and put the perforations down each side. This became the international standard for motion picture film. Briton Eadweard Muybridge, who had changed his name from the unexciting Edward Muggridge, is credited as the “father of the motion picture” for his 1877 time-stop sequence photos of Leland Stanford’s galloping horse. He didn’t copyright his images, though, and lost a lawsuit against Stanford when he published them. Yes, that’s the same guy who named a university for his son. (Mr. Muybridge and his “flying horse” play a brief but adorable part in a work of mine that likely won’t ever emerge from my hard drive. But oh I had fun writing it!)
In 1880, the first half-tone photo appeared in a newspaper, and ten years later, Eastman introduced the Kodak Brownie box camera.
Okay, now the lesson is over. Last year, my mom moved to a beautiful retirement apartment, leaving my brother Paul and me to shovel out her old house. While the process that he and I have nicknamed The Upheaval has its ups and downs, one “Up” is the treasure trove of antique photos I’ve found. Going through them is like nirvana.
This tintype of my great-grandfather shows him handsome enough to star in his own romance novel. Agreed? Even more interesting is the tintype in the same studio of an unidentified woman. It’s not his only sister. And it definitely isn’t great-grandma. An old girlfriend? No one knows. But Great-Grandpa was happily wed for almost 55 years to my darling great-grandma.
But, I do think Tintype Woman deserves a story of her own. Especially since I borrowed Great-Grandma’s name for a character in my first book.
The next photo touches me deeply. One of my great-grandparents’ seven sons passed away as an infant, little Paul. In the nineteenth century, it was common to photograph the dead children, but my ancestors fortunately passed on that tradition and only depicted his catafalque. I just can’t help being teary-eyed just looking at it; I think this could evoke a powerful scene in a future book.
Well, their second son was my grandfather, a prim and proper minister. It seems his profession gets short shrift in romance novels because of, ahem, the love scenes. Truth to tell, the hero of my Eadweard Muybridge tale is just such a preacherman. But I think Grandpa’s a dashing hero anyway. I just imagine him on the way to woo his beloved (my grandma), as proud of that buggy and his horse Babe as any fictional hero with his Stetson and stallion.
But now’s when things get interesting and I get to let my imagination run wild. A whole ton of the old photos aren’t labeled with any specific details. Grandpa and Grandma lived in a parsonage, so no one knows who belonged to this homestead. All that’s written on the back is: “A bird’s eye view of the place taken last spring. Oklahoma.” So without a who, exactly where, or when, I can people this homestead with whomever I want.
Very poignant is the picture of “Raymond and children.” No relatives alive today remember them. No last name. No date. No hometown. Where is Mrs. “Raymond?” Did she die birthing one of the kids? Was he heartbroken? What futures, what loves, what adventures did those little kids have? Did they have a stepmother later on? Was she wicked? Since I don’t know for sure, I’ll just give them a good stepmom in some future tale. I might even let Raymond find love again.
Now, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to help me develop a story about the woman in this photo. All I know about her is the photography studio’s label, “Sedalia, Missouri.” Look into her eyes and tell me the story you see there when you comment today. In three sentences or so, give her a name, a goal. Conflicts and motivations. A future worthy of a romance novel heroine including of course, a hot hero. My family members will pick the “story line” they like best and that writer will receive a copy of my latest release, Midnight Bride, and a pair of sterling-silver cowboy hat earrings.
So get creative. Who is the pretty lady? Where does she live? On what journey would you like her to go? And most important of all, who will be the love of her life?
I can’t believe it. I’m part of the Petticoats and Pistols Spring Author Round-Up. How cool is that? I’m thrilled to be here and, best of all, I get to give stuff away. Stuff that celebrates the Wild West. A slice of American History near and dear to my heart. But before I can give stuff away, I need to blog about something of interest. Something that will entertain, educate or inspire. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll touch a bit on all three.
In publishing-land there’s a saying: Write what you know. This is advantageous for several reasons, but most importantly, in my opinion, because it infuses your story with a certain honesty that’s compelling to readers. I wasn’t familiar with this saying when I attempted my first manuscript. Good thing. Otherwise, I probably would’ve second-guessed my desire to write a historical western romance instead of diving right in. I would have grappled with my lack of qualifications. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a degree in American history. I didn’t experience that era first hand. I didn’t know anything about the American West other than what I’d learned from movies, novels, and the 1960s TV series like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and The Wild Wild West (starring Secret Service agent James T. West. Be still my heart!) Yet I was passionate and driven and, as it turned out, intuitive.
The heroine of my first western (Lasso the Moon) is a bit of an odd duck. A young woman who burns to write music and to share her compositions with the world. She’s also driven to make her papa—the man she idolized—proud. I understood this creative soul well, because my background is in entertainment. I performed live on stage as a singer and actress for thirty years. (Yes, I started young!) And I, too, was driven to impress my dad. Write what you know.
The heroine of my second western (Romancing the West) learned early on that the greatest form of escapism is though reading novels. As an adult, she works in a library and, in her private time, writes her own adventures. Like Emily, I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book, head in the clouds. After retiring from the stage, I hired on at my local library and, in my private time, I write books. I understand how Emily ticks. Her interests, her insecurities, her dreams. Write what you know.
My upcoming release—The Fall of Rome—features a heroine who made her fame and fortune as a gambler. No, I don’t gamble. But I worked in Atlantic City for several years where I was surrounded by cardsharps and games of chance. In addition, although she’s a sensitive soul, Kat developed a thick skin to survive in her chosen profession. I can relate to that. Write what you know.
Although my experiences are rooted in present day, while my heroines’ are firmly planted in the 1870s, we share common ground. Emotional aspects transcend time. The professional angle required major research and made me appreciate the advantages to be a ‘career’ woman now as opposed to then. It also provided a wealth of inspiration.
So…. I wrote what I knew and researched what I didn’t. What a fantastic ride!
As you see, there were women who bucked convention and enjoyed careers in the 19th century, although their path was rarely easy. I admire their courage and determination and strive to achieve my own dreams with equal gusto.
Now for some related trivia and websites of interest.
- “Only a few of the many women composers in America had their music published and heard during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fewer still, enjoyed the popularity that most male composers enjoyed, even though much of their music was superior to much of what some of the more celebrated men wrote.” ~ Quoted from ‘Parlor Songs’
- “May Agnes Fleming enjoyed a successful and lucrative career as a writer of dime novels. She developed a solid reputation and solid readership writing for Saturday Night, a weekly story paper which ran from 1867 to 1901. The publishers paid her $50 per segment for a total of $850 for each story. ~ Quoted from ‘American Women’s Dime Novel Project’
- A Deadwood legend, ‘Poker Alice’ made her living as a gambler, bootlegger, and madam. Nicknamed for her game of choice, she is estimated to have won over $225,000 during her 60- year career as a professional poker player in the latter half of the 1800s. ~ Information noted at ‘Outlaw Women’ and ‘Poker Player’.
What about you? What do you ‘know’ about the Wild West? Do any of your interests date back to the 19th century? What profession, if any, would you dare to pursue? Chime in and become eligible to win one of three prizes. #1 – A signed copy of Lasso the Moon. #2 – A signed copy of Romancing the West. #3 – A Wild West messenger bag. Winners to be chosen late this evening. Talk to me!