How I love the American West and how I love the stories that came out of that long ago West. This is one that I thought I’d share today — the story of a tame coyote, Smoky.
This story comes to us from James Willard Schultz (Apikuni), who wrote the book BLACKFEET AND BUFFALO. It’s a true story of himself and his son who found a coyote pup and regardless of how others kept telling him that the animal couldn’t be tamed, he decided to keep the pup and try to tame it.
There was a saying in the old buffalo days, and both whites and Indians agreed that wolves could sometimes be tamed, but not a coyote…never. An old man named Bill Weaver once said, “plumb wild an’ trech’r’us no matter how careful you was in tryin’ to gentle ‘em.” Now, this all happened in the White Mountains in Arizona. Schultz’s son, Hart, found the pup…a male, who had been separated from its mother and was on the verge of starving. Taking pity on it, he fed the animal, making its first meal a big stack of pancakes and bacon.
At last, Smoky had found a home. The first thing Schultz and his son did was make a shed for him and tie him to a thirty foot chain. The chain was to keep him from running away.
Luckily they had a dog — a female — Zora, and so Smoky at least had company. Now here begins some things I didn’t know about coyotes. They eat more than dogs and they are extremely fast. (I guess they have to be.) Darting here and there, Schultz often described him a a streak of grey. He was also a joy, according to Schultz. He loved being petted, he greeted his “family” with happiness, and he often licked their faces, showing them his love.
Eventually Schultz determined to set Smoky free, afraid he would leave. But Smoky didn’t stray. He kept with his friend, Zora, and they roamed the forest together. But unfortunately some things can’t be helped and when Schultz’s neighbor bought some chickens, and when Smoky caught five of them, including a prize rooster, Smoky found himself again chained. But oh, how he enjoyed his outings.
He was swifter than Zora, Schultz’s dog and when they took him hunting, Schultz again describes him as a gray flash — he was everywhere at once, exploring everything. Once he caught himself a skunk and promptly ate him, then went about trying to get rid of the stinch. He never again caught a skunk.
Smoky soon became the best hunter and retriever that Schultz ever had. He would corner prey, then wait for Schultz to come and make the kill. He loved the crack of the gun, rushing to seize the prey and bringing it to plop at Schultz’s feet. No one starved while Smoky was on duty.
Interestingly, Smoky got along well with women — he loved them all. But he took an instant dislike to many of Schultz’s men friends and he would not let any man except for Schultz and his son near him and certainly not one of those men would think of petting him.
Now here’s the part I really didn’t know and found very interesting. Did you know that coyotes(and wolves too) only mate in the month of February and the early part of March? That’s it. Any other time, forget it. Schultz tried to mate Smoky with their dog Zora, but it was summer time and Smoky wouldn’t have anything to do with her. Can you imagine if humans were that way?
Thank goodness we are not.
What happened to Smoky? One day while Schultz and his son were out hunting, they happened upon 3 other coyotes. Smokey took after them and didn’t return for minutes, then hours. Schultz and his son were worried. Were they going to lose him? Had he deserted them to return to his own kind? Filled with loss, Schultz and son stopped hunting and turned back for home. But then, they hadn’t gone too far when suddenly in a flash of gray fur Smoky dashed upon them and commensed to licking their faces, whining and whining and running around them in joy.
Then suddenly, he went off a distance, looking back at them as though to say, “Well are we going to hunt or what?” It was a beautiful moment. Schultz writes that he realized that Smoky loved them even more than his own kind. Or perhaps Schultz and his son had become his own kind.
So in this same vein, I thought it would be fun to talk about our pets. I absolutely love my animals. I have cats and dogs and when my kids were young we had a parakeet. And to me, these animals are family. How about you? Do you have a pet? Someone you love very dearly?
Come on in and let’s talk. Leave a post. I’ll be giving away a free ebook or mass market to some lucky blogger. And I’d love to trade stories about our “babies.” Maybe I’ll tell you the story of how one of my sister-in-law’s cats saved her life… True story. So come on in. Leave a post.
NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE, on sale now at bookstores everywhere and here at Samhain Publishing — buy it today!
I write pretty short books, so there’s not always a lot of room for a supporting cast. Big families can get troublesome when you’re supposed to be focusing on the central romance. Because of that, my characters are sometimes only children, or they live away from their family, that sort of thing.
In my next book that’s coming out in March, the hero has 2 siblings (and yay – you get those stories in November
and next January) who both live far away. The heroine had a sister, but her sister died suddenly, leaving Avery to care for her baby niece.
Just because I “get rid of the family” doesn’t mean they aren’t important. And in many ways, LITTLE COWGIRL ON HIS DOORSTEP is very much about MY sisters.
My eldest sister Janet was the first person to give me the kick in the butt I needed to write my first manuscript. She always believed I could do it and told me that the years and rejections I put in was my form of “internship”. The second book I ever sold starred a veterinarian (and so does my novella in May!) – just like my big sis.
This book is definitely a bit of a hat tip for the middle of us three, though (and we do have a brother, who is the oldest). My sis Janell has taken on a huge role in the care of my mom and stepdad this year. When someone needs driving to appointments or running errands, she’s on it. When my stepdad had surgery out of town this fall, it was Janell who went with my mom, stayed with her in bed and breakfasts that week, and made sure things were groovy. I half-joked that she was working on a fast track to sainthood. Her patience and compassion have been amazing. She is a far better daughter than I have been.
Over the holidays my family made the 5-hour trip and descended on her house for the better part of five days. We ate and played cards and she cooked a boatload of food for the potluck we held for our mom for her 80th birthday. I told her I felt like I’d been a total slacker and she’d done so much, and she laughed and told me she was thinking the same thing about me, so I guess we were even.
Anyway, the dedication and Dear Reader letters in this book are to my sisters, and I named the mini-heroine, baby Nell, after Janell. As I say in the letter, I wonder if she will grow up to have the same twinkle in her eye and wicked sense of humour that my sister has?
It’s lovely to be back at Petticoats and Pistols, one of my favorite watering holes on the web. Today, I want to talk about mixing fiction and history.
How do you feel about real-life historical figures in romance? I occasionally like to use them as minor characters—possibly because I’m a research junkie and can’t resist including some of the most interesting bits I come across in my reading. I had great fun brushing shoulders with Jesse James in my first book, Harvest of Dreams. He only appeared in one scene and had few lines of dialogue, but his presence added a nice sinister touch.
My current novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, is set in Wyoming in 1879, during the fascinating period known as the Bone Wars. In 1877, enormous deposits of fossils were discovered in the barren hillsides of Como Bluff, about one hundred miles northwest of Cheyenne near Medicine Bow. Two eastern professors, O. C. Marsh of Yale (photo on the right) and Edward D. Cope of the University of Pennsylvania, waged war on each other (largely through surrogates) in a decades-long campaign. They instructed their hired bone hunters to do everything in their power to gain the upper hand, from misdirecting shipments of fossils to dynamiting the rival’s dig site.
It might seem an unconventional choice of setting for a romance, but I had wanted to write a story about the Bone Wars for several years before starting The Treasure of Como Bluff. I love feisty, independent heroines, and a female paleontologist in the American West seemed just the ticket. I also wanted to capture the excitement of the blossoming of scientific discovery in this country in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
My search for source material took me to Mark Jaffe’s terrific book, The Gilded Dinosaur. It’s a detailed account of the long rivalry, complete with original documents such as a letter to Marsh from a pair of bone hunters using the aliases of Harlow and Edwards describing their initial finds and asking for financial support.That letter painted such a vivid portrait of the two railroad workers-turned-dinosaur hunters that I included them in a scene but had them working for Cope (a valid choice since they changed sides depending on whichever sponsor paid the best at the moment).
I gave Professor O. C. Marsh a more prominent role, although he, too, has limited page time. My heroine, Caroline Hubbard, is excavating at Como Bluff, having tricked Marsh into hiring her, believing her to be a man. When the professor arrives unexpectedly to check on her progress, she has to persuade Nick Bancroft (the hero) to play the part of her husband, the paleontologist Marsh believes he hired. As you can imagine, mayhem ensues.
I don’t always include historical characters in my books, but when I do they mingle happily with the fictional ones. How about you? Do you enjoy real-life historical figures popping in to visit your make-believe world, or do you prefer that they confine their activities to sedate non-fiction? Let me know, and I’ll send a pdf of The Treasure of Como Bluff to one lucky commenter. Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:
In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she’s not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
Nick has come to Wyoming in search of silver but, after a blow to the head, finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he’s just passing through, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline’s husband to help save her job. Once their deception plays out, they face a crucial decision. Will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?
Thanks so much to the lovely fillies at Petticoats and Pistols for hosting me today, and thank all of you for stopping by to visit. You can read more about me and my books at www.alisonhenderson.com.
Howdy to all and happy new year, too. We celebrated the holidays with a pretty major present: three newly remodeled bathrooms. Starting the Monday after Thanksgiving indeed added to holiday stress and frantic-ness, but at least’s it’s all over now. Sheesh.
With only one working commode downstairs for almost a month, we sure felt like pioneers, especially if nature called in the middle of a cold winter’s night.
Well, not exactly LOL. We didn’t have to brave the elements. But I sure got curious and decided to flush out some facts about the modern “necessary.” The idea of a room inside the home dedicated solely to personal needs only started in the late 1800’s. In fact my next hero Jed Jones seriously hopes to afford the luxury of a “bathing room” for his reluctant new wife (circa 1880) in my upcoming release, Midnight Bride.
An Englishman bearing the name (LOL) of Thomas Crapper is often given credit for the flushing toilet via his valve-and siphon design patented in 1891. But the idea didn’t just pop into his head while using an outdoor privy one day or anything like that. His device was a refinement of a design that puzzled yet tantalized Victorian England–how to build a flushing “water closet” without sewer gases entering the home.
Such a mechanism had actually existed during Elizabethan times. The queen’s godson, Sir John Harrington, designed one for her use about 1596. But the idea never caught on, mostly because municipal sewer lines hadn’t yet been developed. The Victorians, who made the connection between unsanitary conditions and disease, understood the need for cleaner cities–a concept that had escaped the first Queen Elizabeth and her ilk–and began to construct sewer systems.
However, without water to remove wastes, portable commodes and chamber pots, and the classic outhouse, remained the standards in many areas for many more years.
As for bathing itself, the ancient Romans mastered that art with their aqueducts and bathhouses. But the culture’s excesses had early Christians deem the practice hedonistic, an attitude that prevailed through the Middle Ages. The body, a vessel of sin, deserved to be conquered by the spirit, not a bath. Personal hygiene became considered a sinful indulgence. In the New World, the attitude persisted in seriously religious colonies, and along the frontier, there was simply too much else to do. Building sewers and designing indoor plumbing were the last thing on anybody’s mind when there were fields to plant and game to hunt and cabins to build.
Between 1875 and 1925, indoor plumbing began to be widely available and universally desired. Privacy attitudes changed, too. From a time when many families shared one bathroom in an apartment house, many of today’s homes have bathroom facilities in each bedroom.
The modern bathroom developed in response to essential human needs as well as improved norms of culture and technology.
Thankfully. I definitely an indoor plumbing girl. How about you? Anybody else lived through a remodel or have one planned for the near future?
Thanks to Bryan Nowak Photography for the generous use of his gorgeous photos. www.gadoodles.com
Western romance author Miss Alison Henderson has saddled up and will arrive at the Junction on Saturday, January 5.
Miss Alison loves her cowboys and her stories show it. The dear lady has a passion for the old west and has in mind to talk a little about that. It won’t bother us a bit. Matter of fact, she can share all she wants to about that subject. We’re all in agreement here.
She’ll also tell us a thing or two about her new book that’s available in e-format.
Come Saturday, shake the wrinkles out of your bustle and hitch up the wagon.
The great thing about doing anthologies is spending time with the other author or authors. Sometimes there are stories to coordinate, but there’s always promotion to do together. I was glad for this opportunity to connect with Debra Ullrick. Hopefully you will catch our other blogs around the blogosphere this month as well as pick up a copy of our anthology.
For something different we thought it would be fun to interview each other. So here you have it.
Debra: When did you decide you wanted to be writer?
Cheryl: I used to read horror, true crime and westerns—primarily those by Louis L’Amour. Through a book club, I discovered gothic mystery-type romance and had my first peek into the possibilities of great storytelling plus a romance. Wow, I was hooked and started reading romances.
Up until then I’d been dabbling at writing, but I‘d never gotten serious. The defining year for me was when my youngest daughter went to first grade. I had been at home raising four children spread out over several years and felt the void of sending the youngest to school all day. Until then I’d been playing at writing, keeping handwritten notebooks and dallying with the stories like a hobby. Then and there I decided I was actually going to do what I’d always dreamed of doing and write an entire book. I started the manuscript in October and finished it during that school year.
I had the time of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, so it had no plot or conflict, but the characters were fun and I enjoyed creating a romance. I even submitted the manuscript to every publisher and agent I could find. Only years later did I understand how embarrassing that was. I did everything you’re not supposed to do. I chose an unmarketable time period, and I even bound my submissions in pretty folders. The story is still in a box where it deserves to be.
The thrill of creating those first stories is a good memory. The job suits me perfectly. I set my own hours; I’m my own boss, and I don’t have to get out of my jammies or put on makeup if I don’t want to. Romance is what I love to read, and one of the first things we hear in writing classes is “write what you love” or “write what you know” — well I don’t know all that much, but I know what I love.
Debra: Do you have a favorite out of all the books you’ve written? If so, why?
Cheryl: SAINT OR SINNER and JOE’S WIFE have a couple of my all-time favorite heroes, and SWEET ANNIE and HIS SECONDHAND WIFE are two of my favorite heroines. THE DOCTOR’S WIFE and PRAIRIE WIFE are favorites because of the depth of emotion and healing.
Debra: What do you like to write about most?
Cheryl: Anything with deep emotion. My critique group says I love angst, and I guess I do. I enjoy taking a character out of a familiar setting and placing him somewhere completely foreign. I also like stories of false pretense or masquerade, where a person is pretending to be someone he or she is not. I love to put a character in a place where he or she has to feel strongly and react. I write about underdogs who deserve better, people who get second chances, those who need redemption or forgiveness. Love might make the world go around, but these things keep it on its axis.
Debra: What is one myth you think people have about authors?
Cheryl: That anyone could do it.
Debra: What inspired you to write Winter of Dreams?
Cheryl: I had been wanting to write a story about an undertaker for a while, and when this opportunity for a novella came along, that was the first think that popped into my head. Novellas are great for writing that story that doesn’t have enough plot for a full-length novel. Once I had my undertaker, the rest was easy: Create a heroine with built-in conflict.
Debra: What do you want people to take away from Winter of Dreams?
Cheryl: Just as people come in all shapes and sizes and colors, love happens in many shapes and forms as well. We are faced with situations every day, not romantic situations necessarily, but circumstances in which we can recognize love and share kindness. In my Love Inspired books I hope readers recognize God’s limitless love for us.
Debra: What is your favorite quote?
Cheryl: “I do not sit down to work because I am inspired. I become inspired because I sit down to work.” – Oscar Hammerstein
Debra: If you could sit down and talk to any author, even one from the past, who it be and why?
Cheryl: There are two authors I’d like to talk with:
LaVyrle Spencer, because, even though I always wanted to write and dabbled at it here and there, her books inspired me to get serious and go for it. She wrote some of my favorite books of all time. Rye Dalton from Twice Loved remains my ultimate hero.
Stephen King, because, well, he’s Stephen King. I’m in awe of his brilliant ability to create characters and scenarios that engage readers on an astonishing level. I know it seems odd for a romance writer, but before I read romance, I read western and horror, and he was my go-to author. When my kids were young we had a pool, and every summer I read The Stand while lying on the deck. I enjoyed both mini-series versions too. I really like his book On Writing, and I’d love to pick his brain.
Debra: What does your writing cave look like?
Cheryl: Messy. Papers everywhere. Books all over. I’m known far and wide as a collector and my office reflects that particular gene as much as any room in my house. In my office have a curio full of old and new dolls: Barbies, My Scene, Ginnys, Disneys, Madame Alexanders, and any others I can’t resist.
There are framed writing awards on the few visible walls—most of the wall space is taken up by bookcases. The color of the walls is called Strawberry Pot, it’s a soothing and inspiring teal, my favorite color. I have a comfy rocking chair piled with pillows, a TV on an upper shelf, a counter full of office machines like copiers and printers and two computers. My book covers are thumb tacked to the bulletin boards that back my desk area on three walls, along with pics that readers have sent. I have half a dozen oil lamps, a row of Angel Cheeks, framed photographs of the cutest kids ever, a jeweled tiara and paperweights. A vintage globe that belonged to my grandmothers sits atop one of my cabinets. There are many things I love about my space, and one of them is that it’s sound proof. You can actually hear the difference when you come into the room—the effect created by four walls of books.
Debra: When you are not writing what do you do?
Cheryl: Probably not sleeping, LOL My husband and I like to garden together, so many of our weekends are spent creating arbors and gardens and ponds. We love to shop flea markets and browse antique malls. More often than not you could find me selecting paint, then watching him roll it on or arranging a spot in the house just so. I like to make interesting displays of vintage collections and have so many I have to change them out to enjoy them. I’m a movie junkie, so late at night I watch movies (and take plotting notes—it makes me feel like I’m working). December found me watching every Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movie there was.
Cheryl: What was your first novel and what do you remember most about it?
Debra: My first novel was The Bride Wore Coveralls. I love the heroine because if I could be like anyone, it would be like her. She’s tiny, petite, feminine, yet rugged, she’s feisty and spirited, a woman who doesn’t let people bully her around. Plus, she’s a great mechanic who repairs autos and builds and races mud-boggers as well, if not better, than any man.
Cheryl: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written so far?
Debra: Yes! Selena Farleigh Bowen, the heroine in The Unlikely Wife. I fell in love with this heroine because what you see if what you get. She’s not out to change who she is for anyone or to put on a show for anyone. She’s real and genuine. Despite her Kentucky hills upbringing and those who think less of her for it, she’s content with who she is and where she comes from. She’s kind, caring, and yet she doesn’t let people walk all over her. She’s a woman who can take care of herself, and I admire that. She’s also a woman who loves deeply and enjoys the simple little things in life.
Cheryl: What can your readers expect from you in 2013?
Debra: Well, I’m working on a three-book proposal and a contemporary single Christmas heroes novel. Plus, The Unintended Groom, the last in the Bowen series, is coming out in June and, of course, our novella anthology Colorado Courtship is coming out in January.
Cheryl: What is your favorite thing to do during a relaxing evening at home?
Debra: Watch a good movie or TV show with my sweet hubby. Boring, I know, but just being in the room with my husband is a joy to me, no matter what I’m doing.
Cheryl: Do you enjoy hobbies or creative pastimes?
Debra: I used to love to draw western art, using acrylics, charcoal, and pastels, but not anymore. (You can see some of my drawings on my website at www.debraullrick.com) I also used to crochet dolls, but I don’t do that anymore either. I do love to go to classic car shows as often as I can. Not sure that’s creative or not, but it is to me. hehe Actually, writing has taken over all of those creative pastime activities. Shame on me. Tee hee.
Cheryl: What book is on your desk right now?
Debra: None. If I had one on my desk I wouldn’t get anything done. However, I have a ton of them on my headboard, my bookshelves, and my two Kindles.
Cheryl: List your top five favorite movies of all time:
Debra: All of Jane Austen novel movies – every version of them, Wives and Daughters, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle.
Cheryl: What is your favorite quote?
Debra: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” By Eleanor Roosevelt.
Cheryl: Do you make New Year’s resolutions or set goals in January? If so, will you share one or two?
Debra: Yes, to get better organized, to completely read through another devotional, and to pray more, especially since I have a better understanding of what prayer really is all about – connecting with God.
Cheryl: What is your guilty pleasure?
Debra: Hidden Object and Match 3 computer games. I’m addicted to them and find them very relaxing. I have almost 300 pc games. Talk about guilt. Yikes!
Love Inspired Historical 2-in-1
January 1, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0373829484 ASIN: B009NEEV1I
Winter of Dreams by Cheryl St.John
If Violet Kristofferson had known that her new employer was the town undertaker, she might never have come to Carson Springs as his cook. Yet she needs a fresh start away from scandal. And Ben Charles’s unflinching faith could be her path to something truly precious—a new family.
The Rancher’s Sweetheart by Debra Ullrick
The cowboys on her uncle’s ranch show Sunny Weston no respect—except for foreman Jed Cooper. A riding and roping contest is Sunny’s chance to prove herself. But now that she’s falling for Jed, will she find courage to take the biggest risk of all, and trust her heart?
Cheryl and Debra are each giving away a copy of COLORADO COURTSHIP signed by BOTH of them! LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING.
Share this post on Facebook and Twitter while you’re here for an additional chance.