Sherri Shackleford Here Thursday

 

Brand spanking new author Sherri Shackleford has set her sights on the Junction and will arrive here Thursday, February 2nd.

Miss Sherri is overjoyed to be able to share her good fortune with us.  Getting a book published is pretty exciting stuff.

Her book is called WINNING THE WIDOW’S HEART and it’ll be in bookstores and online in June.

The Fillies would like for everyone to come and help us give Miss Sherri a warm welcome.

Don’t forget now…..the Junction is the place and Thursday is the day.

We’ll have oodles of fun.

Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day …

I had so much fun with my last blog about Valentine’s customs and traditions that I thought it’d be enjoyable to look at some of the interesting facts surrounding the holiday.

The first one I found made me feel so much better about the times I’ve bought the cute little candy “conversation hearts” on sale after the holiday, saved them, and given them to my girls and now my grandchildren the following year. I figured they are already hard, so could they get any harder?  Well, I got my answer … they have a shelf life of five years.  Don’t know about you guys, but I do feel better about my frugality.

Then I found out something that made me feel not so good about my deception. They introduce about ten new candy “conversation heart” sayings each year. Recent additions have included “Yeah Right,” “Puppy Love,” and “Call Home.”

I love chocolate, but then who doesn’t?  Richard Cadbury produced the first box of Valentine chocolates in the late 1800’s.

Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends. In fact, it is the only day of the year many single women will reveal their crush on a man by giving him chocolate. The men don’t return the favor until White Day, a type of “answer day” to Valentine’s Day, which is on March 14th.

The symbol of the ribbon, which often adorns modern-day Valentines, is rooted in the Middle Ages. When knights competed in tournaments, their sweethearts often gave them ribbons for good luck.

The rose has historically been a symbol of love, and on Valentine’s Day, nearly 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S.  The red rose was the flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The most popular flower is a single red rose surrounded with baby’s breath.

Different colored roses have special meanings. Red means love, yellow means friendship, and pink means friendship or sweetheart. Red carnations mean admiration, white carnations mean pure love, red chrysanthemums mean love, forget-me-nots mean true love, primrose means young love, and larkspur means an open heart.

In 2010, 25% of adults bought flowers or plants as a Valentine’s gift. Of these, 60% were men and 40% were women. Men mainly bought flowers for romantic reasons, while women bought flowers for their mothers and friends as well as their sweethearts.

A True Love Knot, or Endless Knot of Love, was a very popular Valentine in England and the U.S. in the seventeenth century. As their name implies, these Valentines were drawn as a knot and could be read from any line and still make sense.

According to Welsh tradition, a child born on Valentine’s Day would have many lovers. A calf born on Valentine’s Day, however, would be of no use for breeding purposes. If hens were to hatch eggs on Valentine’s Day, they would all turn out rotten.

Some events that happened on Valentine’s Day, as well as famous people born include John Barrymore (1882), Jimmy Hoffa (1913), Jack Benny (1894), Carl Bernstein (1944), Renée Fleming (1959), and Florence Henderson (1934).

Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14th.  On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss. Oregon and Arizona were admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk became the first president photographed while in office (1848),UPS (United Parcel Service) was formed (1919), the League of Women Voters was established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971), the U.S. performed a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site (1976), and Voyager I took a picture of the entire solar system (1990).

Americans spend around $277 million on Valentine cards every year, second only to Christmas. Approximately one billion Valentine’s are sent each year around the world. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, and wives. Children between the ages of 6-10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine cards a year.

The first American Valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton, and Esther Howland (1828-1904) was the first person to create Valentines to sell in the United States. She first patented a lacy Valentine in 1844—and by 1860 her factory was selling thousands of valentines, earning over $100,000.

Each year 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado, to get a special heart stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day. By the way, my mother and father were married in Loveland in August of 1945. There is also a Valentine, Texas, but not for any romantic reason. The first train to arrive there happened to do so on February 14th… it’s just one of our Texas things.

A common symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid (“desire”), the Roman god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant, though now he is commonly presented as a pudgy baby. This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children.

Valentine Writers” were booklets written in 1823 by Peter Quizumall to help those who couldn’t think up Valentine verses on their own.

Picking out my favorite piece of information was easy.  If anyone wants to know if I’ve given them this year’s box of conversation hearts or one I picked up on sale the year before, they’ll have to read each one and compare them to a newly purchased box.  Okay, if they have “Right on Man”, “Flower Power”, “Peace” or “Make Love, Not War” then I’d strongly suggest you not eat them.

May each of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  I will give away a copy of fellow filly, Linda Broday’s and my newest anthology Be My Texas Valentine to one lucky commenter today.

The Duck’s Foot Pistol


Those of you who have followed Petticoats & Pistols for a while know how much I love discovering old weapons. A couple of weeks ago I was watching a program on the Outdoor Channel where one of the experts displayed a Duck’s Foot pistol.

 

 

The duck’s foot pistol was named for obvious reasons: the multiple barrels are arranged in a configuration that resembles a duck’s foot. It falls into the category of volley weapons, meaning it fires multiple bullets from multiple barrels either in sequence or simultaneously with the pull of only one trigger. They were designed for maximum coverage with one firing. [The one to the right is from the 11th or 12th century.]

The duck’s foot pistol was designed to be used by one person against multiple assailants. Because of the coverage, it was favored by bank guards, prison warders and sea captains in the 19th century and early 20th century. Sea captains were said to carry a brace of these pistols to discourage mutiny and quell potential riots. The sound of three 50-caliber shots going off simultaneously would make even the most committed mutineer stop and question his course of action.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Royal Navy used a volley gun made by gunsmith Henry Nock of London, a seven-barreled gun capable of firing seven .50 caliber pistol balls at the same time, intended for use in repelling boarders or to clear an enemy deck in advance of friendly boarding parties. I’ve fired a 50 caliber rifle. One bullet. The recoil slid me backwards down the shooting bench more than a foot. And I was braced for it. And that was a long barrel—the shorter the barrel the harder the kick. I can’t imagine standing and pulling a trigger and having seven barrels fire off at once. It could make for quite a comedic moment, I suppose. Embarrassing and potentially painful, too.

It wasn’t a practical weapon, though. Besides the immense recoil which only a very strong person could handle, it took nearly two minutes to reload—and eternity in a fire-fight.

The Duck’s foot pistols were made in many combinations, most of large caliber (the diameter of the cartridge) like .45 or .50. Sometimes the middle barrels were tipped up or down, changing the angle of fire and the field of coverage.

All in all, an odd little gun—but could be an interesting plot device.

 

Troy Smith’s Winner

What a shoot-from-the-hip guy.  I sure enjoyed riding the range with him.

And now what you’re all waiting for………..

CAROLYN

is the winner of CALEB’S PRICE!

I’m kicking up my heels for you, Carolyn. Someone will contact you for your mailing address so Mr. Troy can mail the book to you.

Mr. Troy thanks everyone who stopped by this weekend and hopes you never get tired of a good western.

TROY D. SMITH IS WITH US TODAY!

Hi Everyone,

I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Troy Smith, who writes some of the best western fiction you’ll ever lay eyes on. I’ve had the privilege of editing some of Troy’s work, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Not only is Troy a fantastic writer, he’s also a wonderful person, and I’m excited to introduce him to y’all here today at Petticoats and Pistols. He’ll be giving away a copy of CALEB’S PRICE at the end of the day, so be sure and leave a comment along with your contact information!

Now here’s a bit about Troy Smith:

Troy D. Smith was born in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee in 1968. He has waxed floors, moved furniture, been a lay preacher, and taught high school and college. He writes in a variety of genres, achieving his earliest successes with westerns. His first published short story appeared in 1995 in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, and he won the Spur Award in 2001 for the novel Bound for the Promise-Land (being a finalist on two other occasions.) He is currently teaching American history at Tennessee Tech, and serving as president of Western Fictioneers -the first national writing organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the Old West.

Tell us about your current release.

Caleb’s Price is a very serious story –about the longing that echoes in all of us –that is told in a humorous and sometimes bittersweet way. My goal when I started it was to take all the standard themes, even stereotypes, of the western story and give them a surprising twist. The plot is reminiscent of Shane, Pale Rider, and dozens of B Westerns: an orphaned boy named Joey, raised by his aunt and uncle, is befriended by a mysterious stranger while the whole area is caught up in a range war. Romance seems to develop between the stranger, Caleb, and Joey’s sad and lonely, neglected Aunt Sally. But there are major twists. The “evil cattle baron” is not quite what he seems to be, and Joey (as well as the reader) begins to wonder if Caleb really is there to save them, or if he is there to destroy them. Pretty heavy plot. Yet while I was writing it, the characters took on a life of their own –even the villains (and sometimes it’s hard to tell who they really are) –and the story was imbued with a simultaneous mixture of comedy and tragedy. The only way I could explain it is: imagine if Shane had been written by Thomas Berger, the guy who wrote Little Big Man. It’s at the top of my list of favorites among the things I’ve written. 

How did you start your writing career?

Totally by accident! I have always told stories, even as a kid, but it never occurred to me to be a professional writer. When I was in my early 20s I had a job buffing floors at K-mart and Wal-mart stores- in those days the stores were closed from 9pm till 9am, and I was locked in there alone for 12 hours to do a 4 or 5 hour job. I filled the empty hours by reading everything I could get my hands on (including a whole lot of westerns.) While I was buffing, my mind wandered to the stories I was reading- how would I do them differently? So for my own entertainment I started writing those stories down. I was on my 3rd or 4th novel before it dawned on me that I could try to get them published. I started taking the writing seriously, reading every how-to book I could find, and developed my craft.

What was your first sale as an author?

A western short story called “Mourning Glory.” It was in the Nov. 1995 issue of Louis L’Amour Western Magazine. I remember looking at that first paycheck -328 bucks –and thinking that, no matter what happened for the rest of my life, nothing could change the fact that I was a professional, published author. The magazine took several more of my stories –but unfortunately it folded not long after that.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

From about 1998 to 2003, there were a number of people I met through Western Writers of America and online Western forums who helped me enormously. Robert J. Randisi included me in several anthologies he edited in that time, and was very encouraging. The list is very long, and I’m bound to slip up and leave someone out… but it included Jim Crutchfield, Dale Walker, Peter Brandvold, John Nesbitt, and more. Some of them introduced me to agents or editors, or read my manuscripts. Jory Sherman and Frank Roderus were especially helpful and encouraging when I was at the bottom of the barrel, devastated both emotionally and financially by a bad divorce. One veteran writer, whom  I won’t embarrass by naming, sent me a computer and printer when he learned I no longer had such things, and the only repayment he would ever accept was a promise to do the same for another struggling writer someday (I did just that eventually, when I no longer needed that equipment.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people I named above don’t even remember helping me, it was such second nature to them –but I remember, and I always will. 

Tell us about a favorite character from a book. How did you develop that character?

My favorite character I have ever created was Lonnie Blake, a supporting character in Bound for the Promise-Land. I wanted my hero, an escaped slave-turned-Union soldier named Alfred Mann, to have two army comrades who could play the roles of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to his everyman. Blake was the MLK character- tormented by his human frailties, yet saintly in his love. I grew quite attached to him –he was the sort of man I’d like to be.

What do you think makes a good story?

Conflict. You can’t have a story without conflict –not much of a story, anyhow. And the best stories have both inner and outer conflict; something is challenging the character in the outside, physical world, and that is mirrored by some inner challenge that the hero must overcome in order to defeat the physical obstacle. I also believe that the hero must be changed inside somehow, if only a little, at the end of the story or else you (and the reader) have just been passing time.

Where do you research for your books?

I used to do a lot of research in actual libraries, but nowadays it is possible to find even the most obscure items and documents online. Five years ago I spent an entire summer going from archive to archive in Oklahoma and Arkansas; everything I looked at then can now be accessed digitally. Of course, it’s still good to get a feel for the landscape, and you can’t do that in your computer chair looking at j-pegs. A lot of the western stuff I’ve written lately, and most of what I have planned, has been set in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Arkansas, and Kansas –the area I researched intensely for my history dissertation, so I’m already pretty familiar with it.

Who are your books published with?

A crime novel I am very proud of, and which I hope grows into a series –Cross Road Blues –was published last year by Perfect Crime Books. My whole Western backlist is in the middle of being re-issued in both paper and e-book format by Western Trail Blazer, with new stuff upcoming as well. So far they’ve done four of my western novels, with four more in the chute, as well as several short stories- I hope to be with WTB for a long time to come. Rebecca J. Vickery is a treasure for our genre, and hopping on her WTB bandwagon when it was first rolling out was one of the smarter things I have done. 

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they? 

Read a lot. Read to gain factual information, to stir your muse, to examine how other people construct plots and characters. If you want to write good prose, in addition to telling good stories, also practice writing and reading poetry- notice meter and rhythm, and imagery. 

And stick with it. Be persistent. Most “overnight successes” had been trying for years –and no one had heard of the ones who quit just before their big break came along. 

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I sure do. My official website is www.troyduanesmith.com –there’s info there about my books, and some biographical material. I also blog at http://tnwordsmith.blogspot.com –sometimes about writing, or about westerns, pop culture, history or politics (as a historian, I don’t separate history and politics into different compartments, it’s all part of the same beast!)

How about an excerpt from the book you’re giving to some lucky commenter today,  Caleb’s Price?

Glad you asked! Here it is. 

EXCERPT FROM CALEB’S PRICE: 

“You homesteaders are a stubborn breed,” Caleb said.

            “We’re not stubborn,” said Burt. “Our dreams are. Some dreams die hard, and others don’t die at all –so long as they have a bit of rich soil to sink into. Surely you can understand that, Caleb. Even you can’t be as hard as you sound. We all have dreams.”

            “I manage to sleep pretty sound, myself. If I have any dreams I don’t remember ’em.”

            “You’re an unfortunate man, then. A man who never dreams is a sad thing.”

            “How about women?” Caleb asked.

            “What do you mean?”

            “How about women? Do they have dreams?”

            Burt laughed. “Not bein’ one myself, it’s hard to say.”

            “Have you ever asked one?”

            “Asked one what?”

            “About her dreams.”

            “No, Caleb, I haven’t. What are you gettin’ at?”    

            “Nothin’ in particular. I was just wonderin’. You bein’ so big on dreams, I just wondered if you ever noticed anybody else’s.”

            Burt frowned. “At least I notice my own.”

            “What about your wife, Burt? Does she have any dreams?”   

            “What do you think?”

            “I think that if she does, they’re not about land. Or sheep.”

            “Perhaps you’d be good enough to tell me what you think my wife dreams about.” Burt’s voice had taken on a rough edge.

            “Oh, I don’t know. The sea, maybe.”

            Burt laughed again. I think his laugh was beginning to irritate Caleb. It had been irritating me for years.

            “So that’s it,” Burt said. “Sally’s been entertainin’ you with those fairy tales of hers. It’s getting’ plain to me that you have no experience with women. If we had stayed in New Bedford she would have dreamed about the West, and complained about never havin’ seen it. That’s just the way women are. They don’t know what they want. They only know that it’s always somethin’ they’ll never have. It’s different with a man, he dreams about somethin’ simple and sets about gettin’ it. Like me. I know exactly what I want.”

            “Then your dreams are important enough to risk your family’s lives over.”

            “Yes,” Burt said, in a voice that was softer than normal for him. “That’s how great nations are built. I’m only sorry that you don’t understand any of the things I’ve been tellin’ you.”

            “I probably understand more than you give me credit for.”

            “I was right about you, wasn’t I, Caleb?”

            “What do you mean?”

            “About what I said earlier. That you’re a wanderer.”

            “I’ve never denied it.”

            Burt’s face took on a cold expression. “Then I think that it’s only fair I warn you now, Johnson. Don’t try to include my wife in your wanderin’.”

            Caleb chuckled. “What on earth brought that on? The last I knew, we were talkin’ about sheep.”

            “All that fancy talk about what her dreams are,” Burt said, his tone hot. “They’ll not come true from the likes of you, I’ll warrant.”

            Caleb shook his head. “You sure take a lot out of a little polite conversation.”

            “Just don’t fawn over my wife, that’s all.”

            “I wasn’t fawnin’ over her, I was just tryin’ to make a point. The point being, you’re risking her life over something she doesn’t even want.”

            “I’ll be the judge of what my wife wants, not you. Women are like sheep. All they really want is to be directed. Anything else that comes from ’em is just mindless bleating. And besides, it’s none of your bloody business to start with.”

            “I can’t argue with that,” Caleb said. “I was just offerin’ some friendly advice, that’s all.”

            “Save your advice for the polar bears. The way you talk, I’d almost believe Ike Majors sent you here as a spy.”

            Caleb stared at him for a moment, silent, then said, “If Ike Majors had sent me here, somebody would be usin’ this little wagon as a coffin, and you’d be a lot closer to God’s green earth than you ever wanted to be.”

            “Aye. Or else you’d be.”

 Troy, thank you so much for being our guest today here at Petticoats and Pistols.  We hope you’ll come back  and join us again sometime! You’ve  got a lot of wonderful work out there and some beautiful covers, for sure!

Ann Shorey’s Winner

 

Wasn’t Miss Ann fun and so full of interesting things? I certainly enjoyed her.

I put all the names in my ten gallon hat and shuffled them all around.

The winner is………………

JUDY B.

I’m dancing on my tippy toes for you, Judy B! Someone will contact you for your mailing particulars and Miss Ann will get to you on the next stage out.

Everyone come back tomorrow for Mr. Troy Smith. It’ll be fun!

Guest – Ann Shorey . . . Is There a Nurse In the House?

Many thanks to Karen Witemeyer for inviting me to be a guest blogger today to spread the word about my newest novel for Revell, Where Wildflowers Bloom.

Wildflowers is the first in the Sisters at Heart series and is set in Missouri shortly after the end of the War Between the States. When I worked up the proposal for this series, I had my characters and their occupations set in my mind. I planned that one of the characters, Rosemary Saxon, would be a nurse during the war, and then would follow the same occupation afterward. 

Well, surprise, surprise. When I began to research nurses in the Civil War, I learned that very few of them were women, and the ones who were female were generally older and/or widows. For a young unmarried woman to touch men’s bodies, even to tend to wounds, was considered vulgar. Throughout the war, male nurses outnumbered female nurses 4 to 1. The general public believed women would only be a nuisance and get in the way of the doctors.

Where female nurses were allowed, they were required to be plain-looking women. Their dresses were to be brown or black, no bows, no curls, no jewelry, and no hoop-skirts. The last prohibition made sense, since the hospital aisles were narrow. 

So, where did this leave Rosemary, who was to be a continuing character in the series? Using my artistic license, she’s attractive, not plain, but I did make her “old.” She’s twenty-seven. J In addition to her God-given gift of mercy, she’s also determined to the point of being headstrong. She needs to be to stand up to the prejudice she encounters.

In Where Wildflowers Bloom, Rosemary is the best friend of the story’s protagonist, Faith Lindberg. Oh, and did I mention Rosemary has a brother, Curt? How many of us remember having girlfriends with handsome brothers? I’ll just say that through Rosemary, Faith and Curt end up spending quite a bit of time together.

So, like Rosemary, have any of you taken a job in what is considered a man’s field? Did you encounter prejudice? On a more romantic note, did any of you ever fall in love with the brother of your best friend? How did it work out?

 I hope you’ll look for Where Wildflowers Bloom at your local bookstore, or through an online retailer. Please visit my website at www.annshorey.com for more information about Where Wildflowers Bloom, as well as my other books.

Where Wildflowers Bloom

How far will she go to follow her dreams?

 The War Between the States stole a father and brother from Faith Lindberg—as well as Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry. With only her grandfather left, she dreams of leaving Noble Springs, Missouri, and traveling west to Oregon to start a new life, away from the memories that haunt her. But first she must convince her grandfather to sell the family’s mercantile and leave a town their family has called home for generations.

When Royal Baxter suddenly returns, Faith allows herself to hope that she and Royal will finally wed. But does he truly love her? Or will another man claim her heart?

 

Ann has graciously agreed to give away a copy of Where Wildflowers Bloom today, so be sure to leave a comment in order to be entered in the drawing!

Troy Smith Visits the Junction

 

Hello Darlings,

Western writer Mr. Troy Smith has strapped on his spurs and will gallop into the Junction on Saturday, January 28th.

Mr. Troy has written a slew of western fiction so he knows a thing or two about what life in the old West must’ve been like. He’ll tell us how he came to write and a lot about his books.  He’ll share the good times and the bad as he progresses through life.

And that’s not all. Mr. Troy is toting a book to give away to one lucky person. All you have to do is leave a comment. As easy as falling off a slippery log. 

So, hitch up your wagon or climb on your horse and ride along with him.

Saturday’s the day and the Junction is the place.

My Kindle and Me: Our One-Year Anniversary

I’ve owned my Kindle for just over a year now. I use it every day, though not quite like I expected when I found it under the Christmas tree.  I thought I’d buy lots of ebooks, and that my paperback shelves would be a thing of the past.  I’m sure my husband had that thought when he bought it for me. When we moved from Virginia to Kentucky, he loaded dozens of heavy boxes of books into the storage pod. By volume, the only thing outnumbering my book-boxes were the Christmas decorations.  By weight, the books won.

The Kindle was supposed to eliminate some of those books, but it hasn’t. Six months into owning it, I gravitated to buying paper again because I like to loan books.  I know you can loan Kindle-to-Kindle, but that’s not same as just handing someone a book and saying, “Here, take your time.”

Here’s what most surprises me . . . About 80% of the stuff on my Kindle consists of freebies.  I check out the Amazon giveaways almost every day, and definitely at the first of the month. I’ve downloaded tried-and-true authors, new-to-me authors, and self published authors.  Most recently I started reading a history of Alcatraz Island.  What a wild place!  I also read Water for Elephants, a book I’ve wanted to read for ages but  just never did.  Then there’s the Young Adult fiction that got my attention.  What fun to revisit the past with stories about girls and horses!

Those freebies have a strong appeal. I can’t say I’m as enamored with the price of regular ebooks. There are bargains to be had, but I get a little miffed when a bestseller in e-format costs almost as much as a hardcover at Sam’s Club. I thought ebooks were supposed to cost less…maybe not. The market’s still finding its footing.

Here’s another cool Kindle feature: I’ve used it to store and read unpublished mss, both my own and those from fellow authors. It’s handy for the last read-through. Typos show up, especially missing words. I tend to miss that stuff on the computer screen.

Right now, I have 105 items on my Kindle organized in Collections labeled: Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Mainstream, Series, YA, Non Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Classics, Reference, Book Club, and Hubby’s Books.  The romance categories have the most titles, of course. And that number is growing . . . One-click shopping is the easiest thing in the world.  

I also have a couple of games. Is anyone else hooked on Every Word?  My high score playing the timed version is 34,930. Just 70 points shy of 35K!  I like Scrabble, too.

Anyone else have thoughts on e-readers? Kindle vs. Nook?  They’re here to stay for sure.  

 

The Women of Swan’s Nest Series…Available in the Amazon Kindle store…