New Release — Wishing for a Cowboy!

I’m so excited I should be able to fly. For the first time in a long time I can say—

I have a new release!

Her Christmas Wish is part of Wishing for a Cowboy, a Christmas Anthology from Prairie Rose Publications.

Wishing for a CowbWishing for a Cowboy-smoy, an anthology packed with eight great western historical romances, is coming November 1, just in time to start your holiday reading–and shopping. Also featured in the anthology are fellow Fillies Cheryl Pierson, Tanya Hanson & Phyliss Miranda.

Her Christmas Wish is the story of Katie McConnell, a widow celebrating a milestone birthday alone. Though she feels a woman should be able to mourn the passing of her thirtieth birthday any way she wants, she won’t turn away a cowboy in need of lodging—until she sees the man she’d expected to marry thirteen years earlier. When he disappeared, her world collapsed.

Will O’Brien was born to a wealthy and influential Chicago family, where his father ruled absolutely. When he challenged his father’s prejudice against the woman he loved, he found he couldn’t stand against his father’s wealth and connections. Without a way to support his bride, Will sent a letter of explanation to Katie then struck out for the west, signing on as a cowhand determined to earn his way. After two years with no word from Katie, Will returns to Chicago to find she married someone else and moved away. Heartbroken, he vows never to love again.

When Will finds himself at the remote stagecoach station run by his Katie, he takes the chance fate has handed him, hoping he can win back the only woman he has ever loved.

But will Katie be able to trust him not to abandon her again?

And there’s a bonus—every story features a special recipe that we share in the anthology. So you get eight stories AND eight new recipes to try.

Mark your calendars – and spread the word — for November 1 and the release of Wishing for a Cowboy! I know you’re going to love it.

Karen Kay’s Winner!

bannerWe have a winner!

And the winner is …  (I put the names on paper and then do a drawing) … Susan P.

Congratulations to Susan P.  Susan, please email me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — and we’ll go over what books you have and what you might be interested in.

A hearty thanks to all those of you who came and left posts and comments.  I loved them all!

Woo-Hoo! Sherri Shackleford’s Winner!

Winning the Widow's Heart

Now we know what Texas Fever is. I tried to explain it to my mule Jasper but he started raising an almighty ruckus.

The Winner of Miss Sherri’s book and gift card is……….


Woo-Hoo! I’m dancin’ up a storm for you, Bonnie! No need for you to do anything. Someone will contact you for all the particulars. Just be thinking about if you want the book in print or e-version format.

The Fillies thank everyone who made our special week a success. This site is what you’ve made it.

Texas Fever . . . with Guest Sherri Shackelford


SherriShackelfordWhile many people assume the proliferation of railroads doomed the classic cattle drive immortalized in song and film, a much more insidious cause was also at play. In 1868 the Veterinarian Journal reported that a ‘very subtle and terribly fatal disease had broken out amongst cattle in Illinois. Called Texas Fever, the disease was traced to longhorn cattle driven from south Texas. The disease went by many names: Red Water Fever, Spanish Fever, Splenic Fever, but all these names led to the same fate for Midwestern cattle…death.

To protect their cattle, states along cattle trails began enforcing quarantines and restricting the movement of cattle to winter months–when the spread of the disease slowed. By 1885, Kansas had closed its borders altogether. This protective measure ensured the safety of Midwestern cattle, but doomed numerous cattle towns to stagnation. longhorns

For many years the cause remained unknown, therefore, complete quarantine was the only option. The Texas longhorns remained immune, but the disease was almost always fatal to Midwestern cattle. By the late 1800’s, scientists had discovered the Texas longhorns contained a pathogen that killed red blood cells. The pathogen was spread by ticks—which accounted for the slowing of the spread in the winter months.

Further research revealed that since the disease was widespread in southern Texas, the longhorn cattle had developed immunity.  All calves are born with a natural resistance and exposed during this time of protection which provided the cattle with antibodies. The Midwestern cattle, exposed as adults, lacked this immunity.

While the disease still flourishes in other countries, the United States eradicated the disease by an extensive program of ‘cattle dipping’. (Must have been a pretty big pool!) Northern cattle imported to the south were immunized.

So while droughts, blizzards, railroad expansion, barbed wire, settlements and embargos also played a factor in ending the cattle drives, Texas Fever played the dominant role. On a more productive note, the disease brought about the separate veterinarian division of the United States Department of Agriculture. Standards and regulations helped regulate the industry. When you look at Texas Fever through the lenses of history, this disease has directly affected each and every one of us.

If you have a hankering for a City Slickers experience, there are plenty of modern ranches willing to oblige—for a hefty price! I think I’ll just watch John Wayne in The Cowboys…


A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Write to Sherri at P.O. Box 116, Elkhorn, NE, 68022, email at or visit


The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family releases in February, 2014:

A Marriage of Necessity 

Gentlemen don’t court feisty straight shooters like JoBeth McCoy. Just as she’s resigned to a lifetime alone, a misunderstanding forces the spunky telegraph operator into a marriage of convenience. Wedding the town’s handsome new marshal offers JoBeth a chance at motherhood, caring for the orphaned little girl she’s come to love. 

Garrett Cain will lose guardianship of his niece, Cora, if he stays single, but he knows no woman could accept the secrets he’s hidden about his past. The lawman can’t jeopardize Cora’s future by admitting the truth. Yet when unexpected danger in the small town threatens to expose Garrett’s long-buried secret, only a leap of faith can turn a makeshift union into a real family.

I’ll preorder a copy of the Marshal’s Ready-Made Family to one commenter along with a $5 gift card to buy something to read during the wait 😉

An Extraordinary Story — An Extraordinary Life

bannerIn delving into the history of the American West, I’ve often come across some quite unusual stories…facts.   Some of these stories are  “stranger than fiction,” and so is this story I’m about to tell you.

Before we start I should mention that I”ll be giving away a free book today — ebook or hard cover, depending on the book  and the address of the winner.

This is a true story, even if highly extraordinary.  It concerns an unusual man, a man who was born on the Lewis and Clark expedition and was the youngest member of it.  That man was Baptisle Chareonneau, Sacagawea’s baby.

thumbnail[1]In 1804-1806, Sacagawea, as we might remember, accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition into the West.  She was the only woman on the journey and Baptisle was the only child.  He was born in 1805 in the Minnetaree Village on the Knife River,  just a few miles below the Mandan Village on the Missouri.   His birth was noted by Lewis as February 11, 1805.  Baptiste’s father was a French trader who had won Sacagewea in a gambling wager in a Minnetaree Village, and because he could speak the language of the Indians, he was engaged on the expedition.  His wife was also much needed on the expedition because she was Shoshone (I believe that is the correct tribe, but bear with me as it”s been almost 10 years since I did this research).  The Shoshone were an influencial tribe in the West and it was believed that having Sacagawea with them might prove to be a good thing for the expedition.  At the time Sacagawea was with child.  (For all you women who have been pregnant — can you imagine making this journey while with child?)

It is said by historians that Baptiste inherited his mother’s sunny disposition, her intelligence and attractive features.  Captain Clark was particularly fond of the boy and called him, “my little dancing boy, and also as “my boy, Pomp,” from Pomp’s tower.  Indeed, Captain Clark had become to so fond of the little boy, that he begged his parents to let him take the boy, whereupon he promised to raise him as his own.  Baptiste’s parents declined, but over the years, Clark apparently did enter both Baptiste and his older, half-brother into school.

thumbnail[5]Now, here’s where the story gets really interesting.  In 1823 (Baptiste would have been 18), he was introduced to Prince Paul of Wurtemberg, Germany.  The prince was twenty-six and he had come to America in search of scientific information.  It was at the mouth of the Kaw or Kansas River that the two were introduced and a fast friendship was struck up between the two.  Indeed, the prince declared in his pokies online written diary in 1829 that he “hunger(ed) for the vast silent places and the simple life among free unaffected children of nature.”  Prince Paul offered to bring Baptiste with him back to Germany, where he promised to educated the lad and to tour the European continent.  Captain Clark, who by now was like a father to Baptiste, agreed, and so on November 3, 1823. Baptiste began his journey to Europe with Prince Paul.

For six years, Baptiste lived the life of a prince.  He lived in a castle in a beautiful woodland setting, he learned many different languages, including  German, English, Spanish and French,   He was instructed in the arts and social graces of the court and Baptiste was the companion of Prince Paul for all those years, developing a fast, fast friendship.  Here’s where the story gets even stranger.

thumbnailCAPDU9IWTo the left is a picture of Prince Paul.  In 1829 Baptiste and Prince Paul returned to America.  Here, somewhere along the route, Prince Paul and Baptiste parted, never to see each other again.  Baptiste went on to become a mountain man and a scout for various private and governmental parties.  Why the two friends parted remains a mystery, as none of Prince Paul’s published works mention the affair.  It is, however, speculated that their separation was less than amicable.  Some have suggested that the two weren”t as close as one might think.  But I believe that highly unlikely, since Baptiste is known to have left America with Prince Paul and since it is a known fact and documented that the two became fast friends, and since Baptiste did live with Prince Paul”s family, and he was educated by that royal family.

To the right here is a painting of a man I have googled as Baptiste.  However, that is in dispute, thumbnail[10]since about a month after I posted this blog, a reader contacted me to tell me that the painting was of someone else.  I”m reproducing it here, if only because it did come up on my search through google.  Anyway, the mystery of Baptiste became highly enigmatic since he never again corresponded with Prince Paul, nor did he keep a diary.  However, because Baptiste went on to be one of the best scouts the West has ever known, we have learned of him from the writings of travelers at that time.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Baptiste’s life is that he neither married, nore produced heirs, and this in a land where a man could easily have taken more than one wife or mistress.  Again, I am told that he did have an off-spring while in Europe and then also here in the States.  But that was again given to me by a reader and is unverified by me.  My sources state conclusively that he produced no “heirs.”

What happened?  Why did he suddenly cut all ties to the prince in Europe?  Had he fallen in love with some princess, only to be dismissed out of hand because he lacked any real royal standing?  Perhaps.  My asking this question led me to write the story of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, 519WK1CHY5L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]which is still available for purchase.   The book cover is off to the side.  You can purchase it at my website at:

 Well, that”s the story as I researched it.  It’s one of the strangest tales that I uncovered in my research into the West and its many legends   What do you think?  What would be your guess?  Why did the Prince and Baptiste — who had been fast friends for six years — had toured together, learned together, hunted together — why did they separate, never to see one another again?  Come on in and tell me your ideas.

These three books below are in a series called the LAKOTA series and one of them, LAKOTA PRINCESS is, like THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, set in England.  You can purchase them here:  Come on in — I”d love to hear your thoughts.

Winnie’s Winner!!

(Don’t you love that alliteration!)

Anyway, I tossed all the names in a hat and the one I drew out was

Brittany McEuen!!

Congratulations Brittany.  Contact me via my website with your mailing info and I’ll get your tote bag and book right out to you.


15 AFFC thumbnail


And for those of you who didn’t win this time, I’ll be giving several books away every week through late October at various blog stops.  Connect with me on Facebook ( to keep up-to-date on when and where.

We Have a Winner!









And for a chance to attend a webcast I’m doing OCTOBER 8 that includes a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE HD click




Reprise: A Boat With REAL Horsepower

Photo WG2 smallHi!  Winnie Griggs here.

Below is a blog I originally posted on this site back in February 2012.  It was the result of one of those serendipitous research footnotes.

And be sure to read on down to the bottom where I have details of my giveaway.


The other day I was doing a bit of research into ferry travel in the nineteenth century and came across a little snippet of information that immediately sent me down a rabbit trail to find out more.  Did you know that ferry boats were powered by horses at one time?  I didn’t.  Of course I knew about the horses and mules that walked along the banks of the Erie canal tethered to barges that they pulled along.

But this is something entirely different.  These boats had either a turntable or treadmill type device mounted on or below the deck of the ship.  These platforms were connected to a gear which was in turn connected to the paddle wheels that propelled the boat forward.  When horses walked on the platforms of these mechanisms it set the whole thing in motion.

A number of these horse-powered boats, of several different designs, could be found on the waterways of North America starting in the late eighteenth century and continuing through the early years of the twentieth century.  They reached their heyday in the 1840s and 1850s.

horse ferry diagram1

During the early years of our country they were used on any number of rivers and lakes in the northeast, especially Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.  From there their use spread west to the Great Lakes, to the Ohio and MississippiRivers as well as other waterways that fed from these.  Of course they were generally only used for journeys of a few miles.

These boats came in various sizes.  One of the largest was powered by eight horse and could carry 200-plus passengers at about the same speed as a steamboat of its day.

There were a number of factors that led to the decline in the use of horseferrys, most notably the industrialization that occurred in America during the latter part of the nineteenth century.  With the expansion of bridge construction and railroad networks, there was less need for ferrys of any sort.  And when the internal combustion engine came along the death knell was finally sounded.

The only known surviving example of one of these horseferrys sits beneath the murky waters of BurlingtonBay on Lake Champlain.  It was discovered during an underwater archaeological expedition in 1894 and today is part of Vermont’s Underwater Historical Preserve System.  It has also been added to the national Park Service’s National Register of Historical Places.

So is this something you already knew about?  And are there other unusual ways you’ve heard of animals being used to power man-made devices that you’d like to share?


And in honor of the upcoming release of A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS, the third book in my Texas Grooms series, I’ll be giving away the small tote bag pictured below and a choice of any of my books, including the new one.

Tote and book

President John Tyler, the father of our country….or darned near

You just never know, when you’re doing research, what little tidbit is going to jump out at you and make you say, “What? Really?”

Classic Week Logo(a sneaky aside, read the post carefully for a chance to win my newest release, Fired Up.)

I read things here on P & P all the time that I’ve never heard of before. Such was my reaction to the fun fact that President John Tyler, who became president after the death of William Henry Harrison, had fifteen children.

Was the White House over crowded or WHAT?

He killed off his first wife having eight kids. (Okay, I admit that’s my spin. . .I’m sure she was thrilled every time she found out she was pregnant. . .I’m sure she’d come to John in her negligee and say, “I want another baby, darling, please.”)

Yeah right.

And she didn’t die having a baby, that’s just me being snippy.John_Tyler

President Tyler lived 72 years, was vice president and president, was the son of the governor of Virginia, served in the military during the War of 1812 (though he saw no action), was elected to the House of Representatives and later the Senate and was the first vice-president to ascend to the presidency through the president’s death, which set a whole lot of precedents we still follow today.

Out of all of that, what interested me was those 15 kids.

How many bedrooms are there in the White House anyway. Yeesh.

They were probably as crowded as I was growing up with seven brothers and sisters in a Nebraska farm house. His first wife—mother of eight—died while he was president.

Here are some quotes about Letitia Tyler:

Letitia was shy, quiet, pious, and by all accounts, utterly selfless and devoted to her family. (Mary here-they just don’t make wives like this anymore.)

1st wifeShe met John Tyler, then a law student, in 1808. Their five-year courtship was so restrained that not until three weeks before the wedding did Tyler kiss her — and even then it was on the hand. (Mary again–the man clearly came uh…uh…let’s call it…un-restrained later…thus the eight children)

The most entirely unselfish person you can imagine…Notwithstanding her very delicate health, mother attends to and regulates all the household affairs and all so quietly that you can’t tell when she does it.” (Mary with more to say–they owned slaves–it’s not like the woman was doing any heavy lifting.)

Their 29-year marriage appears to have been a singularly happy one. (Mary–I’m glad for them–except if the woman was so shy and quiet how SURE are they about her happiness. But fine, whatever, they were ecstatic)

As First Lady, she remained in the upstairs living quarters of the White House; she came down just once, to attend the wedding of her daughter (Elizabeth) in January 1842. (Me again–??? Excuse me? She only came DOWNSTAIRS ONCE???? Again with the dubious ecstacy.)

Pardon me while I wonder if she was, by chance, hiding from her husband and potential baby #9. Perhaps she was under the floorboards upstairs, waiting quietly, hoping he’d fall asleep for once in his freakin’ life.

After his first wife’s death, Tyler remarried within a year, to Julia Gardiner. You really can’t blame the guy, I mean c’mon, he had eight kids to take care of. These days, that’ll get you your own reality show. Please insert your own Jon & Kate Plus Eight jokes here. (Mary sez…Right here, folks, this is clearly identified as a P & P Classic post, because THIS JOKE clearly does NOT apply!)

Julia_TylerHere are a few words about Julia Tyler. She began seeing Tyler in January 1843, a few months after the death of the First Lady while he was president. (Mary wonders if she’d heard about the eight kids. Such things could be hushed up back then)

One of Tyler’s daughters, Letitia, never made peace with the new Mrs. Tyler. (Gotta go with Letitia here)

She was thirty years Tyler’s junior and it would be simple to make trophy wife and gold digger comments, but honestly, she had seven children with the man. No doubt she was hiding from him after a while, too. Crowded under those floor boards. In fact, that’s probably where the first Mrs. Tyler was. Alive and well and in hiding.

His second wife was YOUNGER than four of his children.

And I found this particularly fascinating. . .two of Tyler’s grandchildren are STILL ALIVE. Doesn’t that strike you as weird? Tyler lived at the same time as John Quincy Adams. He served in the War of 1812. Think of that! Tyler was the first president born after the constitution was ratified. He goes back almost all the way to the beginning and he’s still got LIVING GRANDCHILDREN!!!????

That makes me feel really strongly connected to the past. It’s still a very young country in some ways, I mean let’s face it, not a single one of Julius Caesar’s grandchildren are even CLOSE to alive. And don’t don’t get me started on Moses’ grandkids, they are DUST, baby.

Tyler also brought Texas into the union, so—as writers and lovers of western romance—we all gotta give him snaps for that.

FiredUp - CoverHere’s your chance to win Fired Up. Leave a comment telling me how you told your husband you were expecting…or if you haven’t had that particular experience, name the most interesting, intriguing, terrifying, funny ‘there’s a bun in the oven’ story you know.

I wrote a while back about a woman, still alive, who’s husband served in the Civil War. You can read that HERE.

And to add one more bit of intrigue, I will have you know that I once shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln. And that’s the truth. Unless he was lying. But Pastor Gradwald had an honest face, so I think it’s true. I’ve washed my hand since, but still…………….

All of this American history seems so distant and yet here we are with people living who’s lives were directly touched by people who go way back to the beginning, or very nearly.

I like that.

Not enough to have 15 children, but I like that.

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