Feisty Women Fascinate Peter Leavell

The Fillies are happy to have Mr. Peter Leavell. He’s a western author with a love of history. Women’s voting rights greatly interests him. This is his first time to visit and we hope you make him welcome. He’s giving away a book so leave a comment.

Peter Leavell

 

My novels feature feisty women who change the world. Why? They’ve made our world a better place using methods that seem, to our Internet savvy minds, impossible. Take this snapshot of history loosely based on Colorado’s suffrage movement.

Pretend you’re a woman who wants to vote, but you live in the American frontier about 1910. And you, being feisty, aren’t about to let another day go by without making some progress toward this obvious (not to the men who are in charge) form of equality. You have no social media. No support. Nothing but your wits and a world that frowns on women making a stand for what’s right.

Where to start? Few care about women voting. Your husband is your mouthpiece, and his vote is your vote. With a male dominated society, you’re in for a battle.

Women Voting SignMy recommendation is to start a society. So you write a pamphlet with a list of rules and aims. You have a recognizable mission and direction. If people join, you can pool resources. It’s best to find a partner. Do you have a sister or a best friend? Working together on this is vital. There’s a lot of work to do.

She agrees. You both knock on friends’ doors and chat. Only half agree to attend a meeting you plan on Thursday. When Thursday arrives, you’re nervous, but explain your hope to garner support for women’s suffrage. Because you’ve educated yourself, you know the senate must approve items on the ballot. It comes down to getting enough people to sign a petition so you can have your say before the legislature. All twelve women who attend the meeting join the society.

For next month’s meeting, you take out an ad in the paper. The editor won’t run the story, so you use your own money. You go door to door during the day while husbands are working. The wives seem receptive.

Ratification of BillWhen meeting starts, too many people cram into the barn. You take initiative and move to the park. As you speak, they hang on your every word. They clap and cheer and are eager to help. Your next step is to gather signatures.

Eighty women go door to door, and while many turn you away, those in the society don’t lose hope. In just a few weeks, you have thousands of signatures. You’re tired, but you march straight to the senate headquarters and slap down the pages you’ve collected.

Senators listen respectfully months later, then quickly vote not to entertain the amendment.

You leave with broken heart. Except you receive word they held another vote. They will allow women to vote in school elections. The victory is so thrilling that women flock to your society. The next suffrage meeting is attended by so many women, the newspaper reports the event.

Susan B. Anthony notices, and sends a telegram that says if you can provide a small stipend, she will come speak. You cannot sleep that night. The thrill of the moment is too much to take in.

West For the Back HillsWhen she arrives, she tells women why they should care to vote.

Spurred by the speech, the women and few men work harder. The measure makes the ballot. The vote fails.

Many leave the society, and you’re discouraged, but your sister wonders why you couldn’t start your own magazine? You do, and the first edition sells 2,500 copies. You find open meetings less popular than reading about the movement at home.

You keep writing. Halfhearted support turns to firm dedication, and for years, you keep looking at the world through women’s rights. You’ve showed staying power, and other clubs join your society, such as Ladies Aid and Monday Literary Club.

One of your society members is voted onto the school board.

Ten years later, you have enough votes to make the state senate put the vote on the ballot.

You’ve been doing this for ten years. You know what to do. Meetings grow again, leaflets are passed out, house-to-house canvasses get the word out.

And you win. You’ve done it. You step into the voters booth, and it’s not just the ballot in front of you that gives you a thrill. Your voice has been heard. And the voice of thousands of your gender will be heard.

Why do I make my female protagonists feisty? Because the world needs to hear their stories.

Now I’d like to hear yours. What does having the right to vote mean to you? Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of WEST FOR THE BLACK HILLS!

Taking a Chance—a Big Chance—on Love & Book Giveaway

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“Did you ever wonder why we use the word engagement
to describe both a promise of marriage and a war battle?”-Undercover Bride

My June release Undercover Bride is a mail order bride story with a twist. Maggie Michaels is a Pinkerton detective working undercover to nab the Whistle-Stop Bandit. To do this she is posing as his mail order bride. The clock is ticking; if she doesn’t find the proof she needs to put him in jail, she could end up as his wife!

My heroine has a good reason for doing what she’s doing, but what about the thousands of other women during the 1800s who left family and friends to travel west and into the arms of strangers?

Shortage of Men

mailThe original mail order bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war created thousands of widows and a shortage of men.

As a result, marriage brokers and “Heart and Hand” catalogues popped up all around the country. Ads averaged five to fifteen cents and letters were exchanged along with photographs. It took ten days for a letter to travel by Pony Express and often the wax seals would melt in the desert heat, causing letters to be thrown away before reaching their destinations.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade a lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalogue company asking for brides (the latest such letter received was from a lonely Marine during the Vietnam War).

                                      Cultural Attitudes

wife

Marriage was thought to be the only path to female respectability. Anyone not conforming to society’s expectations was often subjected to public scorn. Women who had reached the “age” of spinsterhood with no promising prospects were more likely to take a chance on answering a mail order bride ad than younger women.

Not Always Love at First Sight

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail order bride were so enamored with each other they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Christ Enss tells the story of mail order bride Eleanor Berry. En route to her wedding her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. Shortly after saying “I do,” and while signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her. The marriage lasted less than an hour.

Men: Do Not Be Deceivedmail2

Women weren’t the only ones who could be duped. Ads popped up warning men not to be seduced by artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, padded limbs, cosmetic paints and false hair.

Despite occasional pitfalls, historians say that most matches were successful. That’s because the ads were generally honest, painfully so in some cases. If a woman was fat and ugly she often said so. If not, photographs didn’t lie (at least not before Photoshop came along).

There may have been another reason for so much married bliss. A groom often signed a paper in front of three upstanding citizens promising not to abuse or mistreat his bride. She in turn promised not to nag or try to change him.

No one seems to know how many mail order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey who, by the turn of the century, had married off 5000 Harvey girls.

Okay, since it’s almost June and I’ve got brides on my mind how about sharing a wedding memory, either your own or someone else’s?  It can be funny, sweet, nightmarish or just plain special.  Fair warning: anything you say could be used in a book!  If all else fails just stop by and say hello and I’ll put your name in the old Stetson.

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Wild West Guns and Grins or How the West Was Fun

 Another Pinkerton Lady Detective is on the case. This time the female operative masquerades as a mail-order bride. Pretty funny overall plot to begin with, so expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.

                                                           -Harold Wolf on Amazon

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Peter Leavell Heads For the Junction!

West For the Back HillsWestern writer Peter Leavell has put his feet in the stirrups and riding toward us. He’ll arrive on Friday, May 29.

Mr. Peter is fascinated by feisty women, women who change the world. He’s going to talk about how a few managed the impossible.

He’s giving away a print copy of West For the Black Hills!

So mark your calendar. Friday, May 29th!

Don’t forget now, you hear!

It’s My Birthday…But YOU Get The Presents!

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Photo Credit: pyza* via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: pyza* via Compfight cc

Yes, today is the big double 4. But since I’ve always been a fan of the 11’s times table (who doesn’t love the fun of 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, etc.?), I’m embracing the additional tally on my age column with good humor.

And since I’m in such a good mood, I thought – Why not give away 2 copies of my brand new release? Couldn’t think of any reason not to, so here we go.

I will choose two winners at random from those who leave comments below. (US addresses only.) And since it’s my birthday, let’s go with a theme question.

  • What is the craziest birthday gift you ever received? (It can be crazy good, crazy awful, crazy funny, or just crazy bizarre.)

And in the meantime, I thought I’d give you all a taste of A Worthy Pursuit. So here’s a excerpt from Charlotte and Stone’s story. In this scene, Stone Hammond has been knocked out, trussed up, and is being dragged to Charlotte Atherton’s doorstep. Having regained consciousness on the way, Stone decides to feign insensibility to covertly learn more about his target – the woman who abducted three children from their school in the dead of night. Only she’s not the cold-hearted kidnapper he expected to find.

A Worthy Pursuit

“Mr. Dobson? What on earth . . .?”

Fabric snapped back and forth in a rapid staccato as Miss Atherton hurried to see what her guard dog had drug in.

“He was up on the ridge, miss. Spying on you and the young’uns. With these.”

Ah. Well, at least Stone knew where his field glasses had ended up. The evidence they presented was rather damning, though. He could practically feel her gaze wandering over him, assessing the threat.

Then she was touching him. Her cool hand skimmed over his face until her fingertips rested against the pulse point at his neck. His blood surged at the contact.

“He has a vigorous pulse. I suppose we should be thankful for that.”

Too vigorous for an unconscious man. She didn’t say the words, but Stone heard the suspicion in her tone. The woman was no fool. He willed his breathing to slow, hoping to compensate for his unplanned reaction to her touch.

“I don’t see any blood. You didn’t shoot him, did you?”

“No, miss. Just knocked him a good one. He’ll rouse afore long. What do you want me to do with him?”

An excellent question, Stone thought. Time to see just how far the teacher was willing to go to keep her ill-gotten gains.

“You’ll have to help me get him into the house. I can’t tend to him properly out here in the yard.”

“Get him into the . . .” Dobson sputtered. “Have you lost your mind, woman? You can’t take him into your house. That ain’t what I was askin’. I was askin’ if you wanted me to cart him into Madisonville to the sheriff or take him out back and work out a more permanent solution. Sure as manure stinks, he’s Dorchester’s man.”

“Probably. But we don’t know that for certain. Perhaps he’s simply a cow hand with a penchant for bird watching.”

Bird watching? Stone nearly jumped to his feet to defend his manhood against the foul slur. Only sissified dandies wasted time on—

Her palm pressed against his chest.

As if signaling him to stay down. Had she read his mind?

“Bird watching?” Dobson’s incredulous voice soothed Stone’s pride. “What a load of bunkum. Look at him. He ain’t no bird watcher. He’s a mercenary.”

Retriever, Stone silently corrected. Not mercenary. His brain was for hire, not his gun.

“Even so,” the teacher said, “I can’t condone violence against him. The Bible instructs us to love both our neighbor and our enemy, so no matter which category this man falls into, it is our place to offer assistance. Now, help me carry him into the house.” Her hand finally slid from his chest, but Stone was too stunned to move a muscle.

We Have a Couple of Winners for Karen Kay’s Free E-Book Give-Away

bannerYes, indeed, we do have a couple of winners for the free e-book of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH.  Those winners are:  Karen Krack and Michelle Bauer.

Karen and Michelle, please email me personally at karenkay.author@earthlink.net — I’ll need to know what e-reader you have because these come from my private stock.

Congratulations to you both!

Memorial Day — An American Indian Tribute

bannerGood Morning or Afternoon or Evening and Happy Tuesday!

Hope you’ll bear with me today as I re-post this blog from two weeks ago.  It’s all about Memorial Day and an American Indian Tribute to it.  Because at the time, it didn’t get much response, and because the holiday was just celebrated yesterday, I thought I’d “do it again.”

I will be giving away a free e-book of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH to some lucky blogger.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is to leave a comment.  So come on in and tell me your thoughts on this blog today.

crow-fair-2007-017 Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays — if only because it reminds me of all those who gave their lives that we might live in freedom and prosper.  Because of this, I thought I’d take you on a tour through early Native America, and those who gave this country some precious gifts.

 

abenaki-indians What are some of those gifts?  We are all pretty well aware of the contributions from Native America in terms of food. There was corn and squash, pumpkins, potatoes, tobacco, maple syrup and hundreds of herbs.  In fact the first Europeans who arrived here would not have made it had it not been for the Native Americans helping them — bringing them food and showing them how to plant the various foods for this part of the world.

But what about some other gifts?  According to John Smith’s writings, the American wilderness was not a wilderness at all, as we have been led to believe.  Forests were purposely kept trimmed, using fire and other means to keep the grass short and weeds at a minimum, creating park-like conditions — he writes of being able to ride through the Forests easily and without worry because they were kept neat.  There were villages that kept crops cultivated close to their villages.  Children and women were responsible for the crops and there were scarecrows and as well as other means to scare away animals from the fields.  Men hunted for meat, thus the necessity to keep the forests easy to traverse.  Brings to mind to me the fact that the “wilderness” was really not a wilderness after all — at least not when the American Indians were in charge of those forests.

sacagaweaBut the gift I’m thinking about now, due to Memorial Day, is the gift of a particular kind of mind-set.  What was that mind-set?  I forget when I first noticed it, maybe 20 years ago.  I was talking to and getting to know several people from Germany, England and other European countries.  I noticed then that their idea of freedom was quite different from mine.  They thought nothing of another telling them what to do, what to think, what to wear, how you should run your life, etc.  More times than I care to count, they would bow to the “wiser” authority without so much as a comment.  Whereas I objected and would argue with someone who thought they had a “right” to tell me what to do.  At the time, I didn’t know what it was — all I knew was that my ideas of freedom and the Europeans were amazingly different.

So let’s have a look at this.  I think the mind-set that I’m talking about is this: That all men are loved equally in the eyes of the Creator.  That all men are independent and are entitled to think as they see fit and argue their viewpoints with others if they feel so inclined because we are, after all, made in the image of our Creator.  I think that our Founding Fathers were right when they argued that one is not ruled or subject to another man’s whim, and that leaders of a people are responsible not to themselves or a “special few,” but to those people.  And how about this mind-set that was found to be flourishing in Native America?  What was it?  That women have the right to reverse anything the men agree upon if they feel it adversely affects the tribe.  Interesting that in most American Indian tribes (not all, but most) it is the women who held the balance of power.

images15Dr. William B. Newell, an anthropologist, as well as an historian writes: “Indian political theories as embraced in the League of the Iroquois are important and stand out in marked contrast to the European theory of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ which flourished in Europe at the time of the discovery of America.  The individual rights of man were recognized in America long before the Europeans awakened to this political philosophy.  Ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality existed and were engraved in the hearts of the Iroquois when Europeans were boiled or roasted alive for daring to speak against the state or church.”

adam-beach.jpgAlso, this author writes:  “One of the outstanding differences between the European and the American Indian was the fact that in America the the American Indian was permitted freedom of thought while in Europe an individual’s thinking was done for him by autocratic ad dogmatic leaders….”Among the Iroquois, dictators were unknown.  No man could tell another what he must do.  Every man and every woman was allowed freedom of expression.  Every person was allowed to decide for himself what he should do…’We counsel together’ was a famous phrase of the Iroquois.”

mohawkAnother writer, Felix S. Cohen, says this:  “American Democracy, freedom, and tolerance are more American than European and have deep aboriginal roots in our land.”

And another writer, even yet, writes this:  “Under the influence of modern theories of race and climate, it has been fashionable to trace the roots of American freedom to the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of dark German forests, most of whom were serfs.  These historians forget that there were free men in America before the first white settlers arrived with their slaves and indentured servants.  There is more truth in a popular account of America widely circulated in Great Britain in 1776: ‘The daring passion of the American is liberty and that in its fullest extent; nor is it the original natives only to whom this passion is confined, our colonists sent thither seem to have imbibed the same principles.  Truly the passion for liberty as practiced by the Iroquois was a contagious thing.”

quanahAnd so ends a mystery that I’ve carried for several years.  The  urge to be free, to think our own thoughts, to go our own way is embedded deep in our roots, I think.  It’s in the air that we breathe.  It’s as much a part of this land as the giant cottonwoods and gentle weeping willows.  It’s a wish from our ancestors — a wish given to us by Haiwatha and the person they call the Peacemaker  so long ago that people to this day argue over when it really took place.  All I know is that they set into motion a wish that all men would be free, that all men would come to be friends, and that the land they called Turtle Island (North America) would lead the way to freedom and a land free of war…forever.

Okay, so now that we’ve talked about this a little, let me ask you this?  Can you feel it?  Can you feel that wish that is still alive to this very day? 250px-Joseph_Brant_by_Gilbert_Stuart,_1786 I think that our Veterans felt it.  I think that those who gave their lives for their country understood how very precious freedom is and how much it is our heritage.  I think it’s still alive and well to this very day.  And perhaps this is what makes a man great — to set into motion an idea that leads others to envision a way of life that is free from tyranny, where another is free to say what he thinks, to believe what he thinks and to live his life as he sees fit, so long as he realizes that others also have this right.

Well, that’s all for today. So tell me, what do you think?  Did you know this?  Or is it coming from out of the blue?  Let me know your thoughts.

AngelAndTheWarrior-The-CoverAlso, please note that THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR is on sale here: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/4964/the-angel-and-the-warrior in either e-book format or Tradepaper.  Pick up your copy today.