Congratulations to today’s winner of her choice of one of Phyliss’ anthologies, Give Me a Texan, Give Me a Cowboy, Give Me a Texas Ranger, Give Me a Texas Outlaw, A Texas Christmas or Be My Texas Valentine for coming by and visiting at Wildflower Junction.
Joy, please send me your mailing address and your choice of books to
For Christmas I was given a book about Texas, the state I was born and raised in. Although I’ve ventured away for short durations to live elsewhere, those times were little more than an extended vacation because I’ve always returned to the town where I was born. It’s been said that if you ever wear out a pair of shoes in Texas, you’ll never leave. I’m proof of that. I love Texas! And, anybody who knows me knows that I love our rich history and that’s the reason I write almost exclusively about the Texas Panhandle. I thought I’d share some little known facts about Texas… from a true, blue Texan’s point of view.
Since Spanish explorers first “claimed” us in 1519, six different national flags have flown over Texas.
From 1685 to 1690, Texas was a French territory before reverting to Spain.
Texas was part of Mexico when that country won its independence from Spain in 1821.
We adopted our own Declaration of Independence in 1836 and became a separate republic after a brief war with Mexico. Did you know that Texas had a Texas Embassy in London and Paris?
In 1845, the United States annexed Texas, making us the 28th state until we seceded to became part of the Confederate States of America. In 1870, after the Civil War, we were then readmitted to the United States.
So, the six flags of Texas belonged to Spain, France, Mexico, Texas, the United States, and the Confederacy. Now you know where “Six Flags Over Texas” amusement parks got their name.
Here’s a fact, I didn’t know and probably wouldn’t believed it if someone had just told me about it; but, during the Civil War, camels were used in our deserts. In 1855, Jefferson Davis, then the U.S. Secretary of War, convinced Congress to allocate money to field-test the beasts of burden. The animals excelled in carrying, enduring without water, and traveling long distance through miserable conditions.
By the end of the War Between the States, although camels had proven efficient for both sides, they fell out of favor. The animals smelled really bad, frightened the horses, and had horrid personalities. Let’s just say, I don’t believe I’ve seen a herd of camels ever in Texas… not that they don’t exist.
The fact that a 10-gallon hat actually holds less than a gallon of water is NOT proof of a Texas braggart. It’s simply a misunderstanding. It’s not a gallon, but a gallon, the word is Spanish for braid, the standard decoration above the brim of the iconic headgear worn by true Texans everywhere. There is also a theory that the Stetson hat company boasted that the tight weave of most Stetsons made them sufficiently waterproof and could be used as a bucket. Early print advertising by Stetson showed a cowboy giving his horse a drink of water from a hat. The truth, the Stetson company notes that a “ten gallon” hat only holds 3 quarts!
The famous Texas Rangers have a recommended dress code which states, “The Texas Ranger hat will be light-colored and shaped in a businessman’s style … commonly called the Rancher or Cattleman. Brims must not exceed 4 inches or be flat with edges rolled up. Hat excessively crushed, rolled, or dipped are not acceptable. Members of the Ranger Division (of the Texas Department of Public Safety) will own both a quality straw and quality felt hat. The appropriate hat will usually be determined by the weather or assignment.”
Throughout the history of the Republic of Texas, there were no chartered banks in the country. When the first Texas state constitution was drafted in 1845, it prohibited the incorporation of banks. Banking functions were performed by financial agents and other business firms. After the Civil War, banks began to flourish in Texas … as did bank robberies.
In the 1920’s, in order to stop a rash of bank robberies, the Texas Bankers Association established the Dead Bank Robber Reward Program. Anyone who killed a bank robber caught in the act would be paid $5,000. Capturing a bank robber alive would not be rewarded. Despite a number of cases of murders staged to look like the foiling of a bank robbery, the offer of reward was not withdrawn until 1964.
Our anthology “Give Me a Cowboy” was originally named “Rodeo” and we agreed that all four stories would take place over the 4th of July rodeo in 1890 in Amarillo, which was our setting for our first anthology,“Give Me a Texan”. But, we quickly recognized a serious problem. The first rodeo, which is the official sport of Texas, was held in 1883 in Pecos. The closest rodeo to our area wasn’t held until 1888 in Canadian, Texas, so to be historically accurate, we changed to the fictional town of Kasota Springs. You might recognize the name from our “A Texas Christmas” because we returned to the town with some recurring characters during the 1887 blizzard.
The West of the Pecos Rodeo is now an annual event; however, the shebang lays claim to being the descendant of that first rodeo. Legend has it that the whole thing came out of a contest between two ranch hands … Trav Windham and Morg Livingston. Both had good professional reputations and people challenged them to see who was best cowboy. Eventually, other talented cowboys who had originally come from all over the territory just to watch found themselves involved in contests of riding broncos and roping cattle. Bullriding was considered dangerous; therefore, there was no official bullriding event in early rodeos. But, there was a lot of money won and lost on the renegade event we now know as bullriding.
I hope you enjoyed my tour of some little known facts about Texas, and since I mentioned several of our anthologies, I will give away one commenter’s choice of an autographed copy of any of the six anthologies.
I’d love to hear about any of your favorite Texas experiences, if you’d like to share with us today?
Did you know that, without Eli Whitney, extraordinary mechanical engineer and inventor of the cotton gin, there would be no Colt “Walker” revolvers. In fact, there’d probably be no Colt firearms at all.
From a young age, Whitney showed an amazing aptitude for all things mechanical. That’s how he paid for his Yale education–by fixing machines. After graduation, he planned to teach in order to pay for law school. Instead, he ended up working for the widow of Revolutionary War general Nathanael Green, fixing things on her Georgia plantation and creating a mechanized way to remove the seeds from cotton–the cotton gin for which he is so famous.
Because of widespread pirating of his design and the costly court battles to protect his patent, Whitney never profited from his invention. Discouraged, Whitney turned his amazing mind to the manufacture of firearms, specifically muskets. Up until Whitney, muskets were hand-crafted, made one at a time, each weapon totally unique. That meant if something broke in a gun, the replacement parts had to be handmade to fit that gun. Whitney invented the method by which gun parts were so precisely made that they were interchangeable–and could be mass-produced.
In a demonstration to prove the interchangeability of the gun parts he manufactured, Whitney is said to have put the parts needed to build ten muskets into a pile. When government officials were successful, Whitney, and arms manufacturing, would never be the same. Whitney is credited with pioneering the assembly production line.
In 1841, Whitney Arms Company was placed under the control of Eli Whitney, Jr. Arms making was a competitive business in the United States in the 1840s and success required both technological efficiency and strong entrepreneurial instincts. With the rapid westward movement of the population in the 1830s, the market for firearms grew, a demand which couldn’t be supplied by gun-smiths—craftsmen–who operated on a small scale. In addition, the rise of the urban middle classes in the great eastern cities meant a market was developing for sporting arms, guns used for target-shooting and hunting.
In the 1830s, Samuel Colt had tried his hand at manufacturing, producing around 3000 of his new revolver-style handgun before creditors shut down the Patent Arms Company. Though he lost his factory, Colt still controlled his patents and, in 1846, succeeded in selling a contract for 1,000 revolvers to Captain Samuel H. Walker of the Texas Rangers. Having only six months to deliver on the contract and no factory in which to build them, Colt turned to Eli Whitney, Jr. On July 7, 1843, Colt and Whitney concluded a contract for the production of the Whitneyville Colt—a weapon that would revolutionize the handgun and become famous as the Colt “Walker.”
Listed below are the upcoming releases from our talented writers here at Wildflower Junction. To purchase any of these fine books, just click on the book covers. And to learn more about the authors, click on thier names.
San Francisco Lawman Flynn O’Rourke swore he’d bring his sister’s killer to justice. So when suspect Aaron Cragun is identified, Flynn will do anything, even rent a boat and sail to Cragun’s remote home to find him. But Flynn doesn’t anticipate the storm that wrecks his boat, the injury that erases his memory…or the beautiful woman who rescues him.
Sweet Sylvie is loving and kind—and Aaron Cragun’s daughter. As Flynn’s memory returns, will the lawman keep his vow or allow himself to fall for the one woman forbidden to him?
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: MESSAGES FROM HEAVEN Multi-author Anthology
101 Miraculous Stories of Signs from Beyond, Amazing Connections, and Love that Doesn’t Die
Since Academy Awards Night is one of my favorite evenings, I thought it might be fun to talk movies. Old favorites, new favorites, worst picks of all time.
Let’s start with the positive. Who doesn’t love ET? Star Wars? Gone with the Wind? Wizard of Oz? They’re classics, never to be forgotten.
Sometimes I look back and realize some of the books I’ve written were probably inspired by films I had seen and loved. Gone with the Wind, at least the pre-civil war time in the South, elegant hoop skirts and Georgia mansions led to Captain’s Bride and Creole Fires. I went on to follow Creole Fires with Savannah Heat and Natchez Flame. Actually stayed in a gorgeous old plantation house inNatchez built in the 1840’s.
I’m a Star Trek fan, a total Trekie. Maybe that’s how I got interested in UFO’s and wound up writing Season Of Strangers. I did a ton of research for that one and was amazed to find myself convinced there’s a very good possibility UFOs are real.
I love Western movies. Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck is a personal all-time favorite (if you haven’t seen Tom in a pair of chaps you are really missing out!). There’s a scene in my book, The Secret, a modern-day Western set inMontana, that was definitely inspired by the movie. I’m excited that the publisher is re-issuing the book next year.
I loved True Grit, both versions, love some of the great old Westerns like Wagon Master, Wagons West, Brigham Young. My husband, who still writes Western novels, and I belong to Western Writers of America. We love attending the conferences and plan to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico mid-June this year.
I love high action adventure movies. Old ones like The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn, new ones like Taken, with Liam Neeson. The plot for my new book, Against the Night, may have developed from the abduction theme of the movie.
Against the Night is Johnnie Riggs’s story, a fish out of water tale about a kindergarten teacher who braves the LA underworld to find her missing sister. Its clear Amy needs help, and John Riggs is just the man for the job. Unfortunately, Johnnie is more interested in Amy’s luscious little body than the money she can’t afford to pay him.
It’s a romp that starts on L.A.’s Sunset Strip and travels all the way to the tropical jungles of Belize, a fast-paced, high-action, hot-blooded adventure I’m hoping readers will enjoy half as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Here’s the back cover copy:
He knows what goes on in the dark.
She’s got the face of an angel and the body of…well, isn’t that what he’d expect from an exotic dancer? But there’s something about this girl that Johnnie Riggs can’t shake. The former army ranger is hot on the trail of an elusive drug lord—and suddenly very hot under the collar, as well.
Amy’s got her own agenda to pursue: her sister is missing and Amy seems to be the only one who cares. She’ll enlist Johnnie’s help and do her best to ignore her growing attraction to finally get some answers. But when the two trails begin to converge and reveal something even more sinister than they imagined, their mutual desire is the least of their problems. They’ll bring the truth to light…or die trying.
Johnnie is a hunk and the cover of the book looks just like him. I hope you’ll watch for Against the Night and other of the books in my AGAINST series. Out the end of May is AGAINST THE SUN, Jake Cantrell’s story, another fast-paced, heart-pounding tale.
In the meantime, have fun and happy reading.
Miss Kat is giving away a copy of AGAINST THE NIGHTto one lucky commenter. Join the conversation to be entered to win.
Karen here: We have a special guest with us today at Wildflower Junction. Regina Jennings is a debut novelist for Bethany House, and she’s written a fabulous western romance that features a beautiful Mexican heroine and a handsome Texas rancher. They come from two different worlds, yet both carry secret heartaches that have dictated the paths their lives have taken. Paths that suddenly cross. (By the way – I read Sixty Acres and a Bride last week and loved it!) So without further ado . . . here’s Regina!
In my new release, Sixty Acres and a Bride, a heartsick rancher returning home from the cattle trail searches for the courage to reenter society. You’d think going to church socials and attending barn dances wouldn’t be that scary, but Weston would much rather tangle with the dangers of Old Chisholm’s trail.
Today, whether you’re in Central Texas or Oklahoma the name Chisholm is as common as windstorms, oil derricks and football stars. Seeing how the cattle trails were to 1870 ranchers what the personal computer was to Silicon Valley, it’s only natural that the name is applied to everything from churches to subdivisions. The Chisholm Trail was responsible for many fortunes—and misfortunes.
Walking cattle up a trail sounds simple enough—one cowboy for every 200 cattle or so, just moseying them northwards as they ate and sunned in the mild spring temperatures.
Of course, while the spring temperatures in Oklahoma and Texas might be mild, the weather is anything but. Thunderstorms can be a weekly occurrence capable of producing hailstones the size of grapefruits, not to mention tornadoes. The cowboys had to hide in a… um… actually shelter was scarce on the Chisholm Trail. While the flat prairie was ideal for driving cattle, it left cowboys as vulnerable as a spider in a frying pan when storms struck. And if you found a tree to huddle beneath, you risked dying of a lightning strike.
When lightning did strike there was a good chance you’d get yourself a stampede (or stompede as they sometimes called it). Herds of up to 3000 cattle could run from 5 to 10 miles, trampling each other to death and anything else that stood in their way. In good times, the trail bosses paid tolls for safe passage across Indian Territory, but some stampedes were purposely started by opportunists looking to steal a few head of cattle or horses in the confusion.
Another peril our stalwart drovers faced was river crossings. Once the cattle sidestepped any quicksand they could swim across, but a branch floating downstream was all it took to turn the high-strung longhorns. Soon the herd would be swimming in circles—called milling—growing weaker and weaker until they were swept downstream or drowned. Halting a milling herd was extremely dangerous as the cowboy and his horse could easily get pulled under by the thrashing cattle before they could lead them to the riverbank.
So why risk life and limb? Because those cattle that were stripping their pastures and trampling their gardens were worth $40 a piece at the railhead in Kansas. In Texas they’d only bring $4 a head. That 700 mile trail was all that stood between a man and his fortune. Naturally the common cowboy’s pay wasn’t that good, but he had dreams of someday driving his own herd to market.
Unless a wealthy rancher like Weston wanted to make himself scarce, he most likely would’ve hired those hapless cowboys, but our protagonist needed space and there’s plenty of space available on the trail. Fortunately for all involved, Weston couldn’t hide forever. There’s a surprise waiting at home in the lovely form of a senorita who is in desperate need of a hero.
How about y’all? Do you have any stories of animals behaving badly?
Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of Sixty Acres and a Bride.
Sixty Acres and a Bride
She’s Finally Found a Place to Call Home . . .
How Far Will She Go to Save It?
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.
Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can’t help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future.
Miss Kat Martin will return to the Junction on Saturday, February 25.
And the Fillies are delighted to have her back. No two ways about it. She’s always a welcome addition to P&P.
Miss Kat has a slew of favorite movies and she’ll tell us why she likes them. It should make for some lively discussions. Reason being, she’s a sucker for westerns.
The dear lady she has a new book out called AGAINST THE NIGHT. Sure looks like a winner.
Saddle up and get ready to ride with along. Hightail it to the Junction and get your name in the hat because she just happens to be giving away a copy of her new book. The winner gets to choose from a paperback, Kindle, or Nook version.
I wanted to let you all know that I have a new release coming up in a few days with Chicken Soup for the Soul. This book is sub-titled “Messages From Heaven”, and the description reads like this: “The 101 true and miraculous stories in this book of signs and messages from beyond show that death may take away the physical presence of our loved ones, but not their spirit. This book is for everyone, religious or secular, as regular people share their amazing experiences with the other side.” It’s available now for pre-order and will be on sale on February 28.
My story in this collection is called “A TOUCH FROM HEAVEN” and is about something that happened after my mother passed away in 2008, just three weeks after my dad passed in December that let me know she was still there with me, still watching over me. On three separate occasions, I knew she was beside me by something that happened. Many months later, my sister asked me if I had experienced “anything” since Mom had passed. “Like what?” I asked her. “She called my name,” my sister said, “and it was so clear that I … I answered her!” I could tell it was hard for her to talk to me about it, because it sounded so odd. But when I told her about my experiences, we knew there was no doubt that Mom had been with us each time. This book has lots of varied stories about comforting, uplifting occurrences that have happened after a loved one has passed on.
This experience gave me an idea for another fictional western story that I started on not long after I wrote this story for the Chicken Soup collection, and I know that is another bit of encouragement from my mom.
Do you have a story to share about something similar that might have happened to you? I’d love to hear it if you do!
I also have two other stories in another Chicken Soup collection, CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE EMPTY NESTERS SOUL, an insightfull anthology of stories about those of us who are going through the period of learning to live without our kids, and not just necessarily when it’s time to go to college.
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: MESSAGES FROM HEAVEN may be ordered at: