Yes, indeed we have a winner for my free e-book of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR.
Before I announce the winner, however, I’d like to think each and every one of you who came to the blog today to leave a message. I love hearing from you, and consider that each time I blog and read your comments, I come a little bit closer to you.
The winner of the free e-book is Pam Hillman. Pam, if you will please email me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — we’ll make the arrangements to get the book to you. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week!
This begins a series of blogs that I want to do on the Scout and the American Indian. I’ll also be giving away a free copy of the ebook, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR. All you have to do to enter into the drawing is to come in and join the discussion and leave a comment. Void where prohibited.
The first comment that I’d like to make is that the Boy Scouts and their teaching of tracking, cooking over a fire, communication in the woods, etc. come directly from the American Indian. Forgive me for forgetting exactly which tribe that was and who was responsible for first setting this up — because most of my books are in boxes (as my husband and I relocate), I’m unable to tell you exactly who set this into motion, but my gut instinct thinks that it might be Charles Eastman of the Sioux. If you know this datum, please do refresh my memory on this.
Much of my information on scouting and the American Indian comes from the book, THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache Scout, who taught him the ways of the scout.
It was a well known fact in the Old West that an Indian could come upon you from behind and you would never suspect it or know of it. But beyond using the scouts in the military — as Custer and others did — little was really known about the scout.
And so I thought in the next series of blogs that I would talk about the scout.
Boys who were to become scouts were trained by the Old Scouts of the tribe. Interestingly, other people in the tribe seldom knew who their scouts were — it was kept secret for a reason, and mostly for the safety of the scouts, themselves. Sometimes the boys didn’t even know who the men were who were the scouts, since the scouts often were in disguise.
From the book, THE SCOUT, I learned that boys were trained to follow trails at an early age. To memorize everything they saw so that they could recite it back perfectly days, weeks, months later. They were also trained to memorize everything quickly. Thus, when a real scout came into a room, his glance (which we might think was quick) would take in everything in the room instantly and memorize it. It was an ability trained in the scout early.
One of the tasks of young boys in the making to become a scout, was to follow trails — starting with larger trails and gradually becoming more and more able to follow the slightest of trails — even to tracking ants.
They were taught to memorize when the rains came and other natural forces — how many days ago — so as to determine when a particular track was made. But even beyond this — because the earth records everything about a man or woman making the track, they were able to tell from different indentations in the track the general overall make up of the person — as to what he was thinking when he made the track — whether he was happy, frustrated, scared — and also how healthy the person was who made the track. Unless one reads Tom Brown, Jr.’s book, this sounds a little far-fetched — until he describes exactly how it is done.
Another skill the scout had was the art of disguise. Using mud, a scout could make himself look wolf-like and if he also had a wolf skin, it would complete the disguise. The scouts often wore the disguise when at home with the tribe so as to protect his identity. But there were other disguises, as well. Whatever was in nature where the scout was going would become a disguise of some sort.
The ability to see all, to hear all and to witness all and report it back to the tribe made the scouts one of the most important men in the tribe. Upon their witness stood the fate and the safety of their people. They were taught to be honest to a fault and report exactly as it is/was with no embellishment. To the scout, to be discovered was the worst thing that could happen to him. He was expected to see without being seen, to hear without being heard and to draw the right conclusions from the evidence found.
Well, that’s all for today. This blog was meant to be an introduction into the realm of scouting — in further posts, I hope to go into this art in more detail. The books that I have which have a hero who is a scout is THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, THE LAST WARRIOR and to some degree RED HAWK’S WOMAN.
THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR is on sale now at http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/4964/the-angel-and-the-warrior. You can purchase it in either e-book or tradepaper.
I thought I’d have a little fun with my post today ~
It’s no secret that I love romantic movies. With a houseful of boys (actually men now) who love everything about sports, this can make for some eye-rolling and snarky comments (in a teasing kind of way) when I choose to watch something like Pride and Prejudice or Crossfire Trail for the umpteenth time on the family room TV. It’s a good thing my husband is the world’s biggest western movie buff. At least with westerns, there is often a love story and so we are both satisfied, although I sure wish they would make some new ones! (I’m looking forward to the DVD of The Longest Ride to be released!)
With the books I write, it helps to “cast” my stories to get a feel for the characters. Often I will change halfway through the writing because I realize the actor or model I’ve chosen no longer fits or portrays the mood of my character.
Here are the ones I used for my latest two stories –
The Gunslinger and the Heiress ~ I felt the Heiress should definitely have Kate Hudson’s spunk. And for the hero, I chose a model from one of Pam Crooks earlier Harlequin books ~ Her Lone Protector. (I wish I could give you his name…I have no idea what it is!)
Looking at these four now, I see that they are very similar in looks so I am glad I made a change for my next story!
For Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs ~ the story I have just finished rewrites on, my heroine and hero inspirations were Kiera Knightley for the sweet spinster mercantile owner and Dylan McDermott as the world-weary government field agent. (Next time I post, I hope to have a book cover to share with you!)
If my life were set back in western days, and the story of my life and romance were to go to the big screen (LOL) I would like a young Kate Hudson to play my part and probably Garrett Hedlund to play the part of my husband.
What about you?How many of you who are writers do this type of thing to envision your characters?Which actor/model would you chose to play your movie-star self in a western?
Before James Marshall discovered those shiny nuggets at Sutter’s Mill that sparked the Gold Rush and made the precious metal the focus of fortune-seekers around the globe, longhorn cattle were California’s primary product. Sadly they were raised for their hides and tallow. Much of the meat was left to rot on the beaches while the valued items were loaded on longboats anchored off shore.
That changed in 1849 when California was overrun by miners pouring in by the thousands. Food was scarce in the gold fields of the north, so the cattle ranchers of the south found a ready market for their beef. At that point, nearly half a million head of longhorn roamed the countryside in the sparsely populated area around Los Angeles.
Some believe the California longhorn was closely related to its Texas counterpart, with both tracing their heritage to the Andalusian Iberian longhorn of southwestern Spain. The records kept at the time didn’t document the physical appearance or attributes of the California longhorn, so one can only speculate.
A series of droughts in the mid-1800s all but obliterated the herds. The disastrous drought of 1864 brought about the loss of 50-75% of the longhorn cattle in Los Angeles County due to thirst or starvation. The remaining cattle ranches were broken up into smaller ranches, with many of the ranchers diversifying into more stable and financially beneficial agricultural ventures.
One rancher, Henry Miller, originally a butcher in San Francisco, did well despite the disastrous losses of others. He expanded his herd and his holdings. It’s thought he might have been the largest owner of private lands in the state. Miller was one of the first to bring in Durham and Hereford bulls to breed with the longhorn cows, providing the public with beef from the British breeds the rapidly increasing population preferred. And thus the end of the longhorn legacy in California came about.
Cattle ranching increased in northern California as gold became harder to find and more expensive to extract. The small town of Shingle Springs, in which my debut Love Inspired Historical, Family of Her Dreams, takes place, shifted from mining to cattle ranching. Sprawling ranches sprang up in the area, and cattle could be seen grazing there for much of the year.
During the hot, dry summers, ranchers herded their cattle up the mountain to pastures high in the Sierras. Oftentimes the womenfolk would stay with the herds while the men remained in the valley and saw to things there. Since the temperatures in the valley can top one hundred for a number of days each summer, I think the ladies got the better end of the deal.
In my story, the hero, Spencer Abbott, dreams of leaving his stationmaster duties behind and becoming a cattle rancher, as was his father back in Texas. Spencer pays to have a longhorn bull brought to him, which he intends to breed. With payment in calves, he plans to grow a herd of his own. Whether or not he succeeds shall remain a mystery—until you read the story anyhow. 🙂
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Family of Her Dreams, just leave a comment with the answer to one (or more) of the questions below by midnight EDT on Saturday, June 20.
Do you like rancher heroes in romances?
How prevalent are cattle ranches in your part of the country?
Have you ever seen a longhorn bull in person? If so, what was your impression of it?
Award-winning author Keli Gwyn, a native Californian, transports readers to the early days of the Golden State. She and her husband live in the heart of California’s Gold Country. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, historical museums and other Gold Rush-era towns. Keli loves hearing from readers and invites you to visit her Victorian-style cyber home at www.keligwyn.com, where you’ll find her contact information.
A Family to Cherish
Headstrong Tess Grimsby loves her new job caring for the children of a recently widowed man. But she never imagined that she’d fall for her handsome employer. Yet Spencer Abbott is as caring as he is attractive, and Tess can’t help but feel for him and his family. Though, for the sake of her job, she’ll keep any emotions about her boss to herself.
Between his stationmaster responsibilities in a gold-rush town and trying to put his family back together, Spencer has his hands full. He soon finds his new hire’s kind personality warming his frosty exterior. But could he ever admit to seeing her as more than just an employee?
Leave a comment to enter her drawing on here for an autographed copy of Family of Her Dreams.
Other formats, too, but I don’t know much about other formats!!!! If you don’t have a Kindle or Nook you can download an APP to your phone, iPad or PC or MAC and get the book there.
And the other two books in this series, Fired Up and Stuck Together are on sale. Not free but about half their regular price.
Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing,
Ruthy MacNeil isn’t terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her.
All they’ve ever done is work her to the bone.
Alive but disoriented, she’s rescued by Luke Stone…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.
STAY TUNED BECAUSE THERE ARE TWO MORE GIVEAWAYS TODAY!!!!
Now that I’ve given every reader a FREE BOOK! Let me got to my topic.
There’s More Than One Way to Settle the West
My newest release…NOW & FOREVER is a clash between three different western people.
Shannon Wilde, my heroine and a homesteader.
Matt Tucker, the hero, a mountain man who thinks the mountains belong to no one and everyone, who lives in harmony with the mountains as they are.
Gage Coulter the biggest rancher in the area. He’s turned scrub brush into lush pastures, he’s widened trails into roads, he’d dug trenches from streams to irrigate grass . He’s done it all himself with the strength of his back and the brains of his head, trying to build something and tame a wild land.
These three have a problem, because Shannon just homesteaded over one of the best water sources on Gage’s land. He owns a lot of land but he didn’t realize homesteaders would come to such a rugged place. And they all grabbed up land he’d worked his heart out to turn into rich grassland, and his best streams and ponds. Now he’s got a bunch of hungry, thirsty cattle and a woman who knew something great when she saw it but she didn’t know how hard Gage had worked to make it great.
His solution, ‘Get out.’
Hers, ‘It’s mine, forget it.’
Tucker’s solution, ‘cut your herd, Coulter. You have enough and you should’ve left the land alone to begin with.’
Shannon kept her back to the men while she washed up a cup for Gage and poured him coffee. She considered dumping it over his head but it was wasteful, besides she’d have to mop the floor.
“Have you decided when you’re gonna head up the mountain yet? My cattle need water and you know you’re leaving sooner or later. While you’re lying around healing, with a hand full of sheep living on a whole river, the grass is wearing out on one of the last pieces of land on this side of my ranch that’s got a good water source.”
“Have a seat, Coulter.” Tucker sounded tired.
Gage sat down, dragged his Stetson off his head and tossed it on the table beside him.
Shannon slapped the cup in front of him hard enough to earn herself a look. “This is not your ranch. This land is mine.”
“I was here when no one else wanted it, Mrs. Tucker.” Somehow Gage made her name sound like an insult. “Any roads or trails you ride on out here, I built. I came here before anyone knew if the Shoshone were going to be friendly or lift my scalp.”
“Don’t talk to me like you’re an old timer,” Tucker broke in. “I was here when you were still sittin’ on your daddy’s knee back in Texas.”
Eyes that shifted from light gray to pure ice when he got mad turned the color of a storm cloud bringing a Rocky Mountain blizzard. “I know you got here first, but you lived in the hills. You didn’t build anything.”
“A man don’t always have to change the land. He can find a way to fit in.”
“He can, or he can put his mark on it and I did. I blasted rocks to widen a trail. I drove cattle over a thousand miles on land no white man had every trod. I had wolves at my heels and outlaws were the worst varmints of all. Go look at that river, Mrs. Tucker.”
“I’ve seen the river plenty of times.”
“Have you noticed that there are spreader dams on it? I dug them. They water fifty acres of grass. All that grass was wasteland, thick with underbrush and scrub pines when I first came into this country. Now there’s a wide lush meadow on the east side of the water that’ll feed a herd of cattle for months, and you’re running a dozen sheep on it. I did the same for the smaller pasture on the west side. None of that was there before I came. I built the ford you take every time you cross the river, too. You think those big stone just happened to fall in a line like that?”
Shannon had thought they were conveniently located.
“I’ve done work in dozens of places, all to turn my land into a place that’ll support a herd. Your sheep are getting fat on land I cleared. You say this homestead is yours? Your pa says you’ve come to build an empire? Well, you’re walking in and setting up your empire after I’ve done years of hard work to make that easy.”
All of the things he’d listed were a big part of the reason she’d homesteaded here. And she hadn’t noticed that the water feeding her grass didn’t flow there naturally. But just from Coulter saying it did, she recognized the truth of it.
“It’s not easy to tear civilization out of wilderness, Shannon.”
“It’s not always good, either,” Tucker interjected. “I like the mountains the way they are. Shannon hasn’t taken that much from you. Her sheep run on her homestead and drink from her stream, there’s still plenty of land left for you.”
These three all look at their efforts to settle the west differently and all of them have a point. They bicker and clash and learn how to live together in the wild west in Now and Forever.
Besides the FREE FREE FREE book, I’m also giving away a signed copy of Now and Forever and another winner with get a copy of Old West Summer Brides, a novella collection containing 4 books. This book is available ONLY at Walmart. So you’re going to have to use shoe leather to find it.
My novella in this is called A Bride Rides Herd the romance of Matt Reeves, first born son of Grace and Daniel Reeves in Calico Canyon, and Betsy Harden, fourth daughter of Belle Tanner from The Husband Tree. Betsy was Belle’s child with her third worthless husband, before he mercifully died and Belle married Silas Harden.
One of the wild Reeves boys and one of the tough, no-nonsense Harden girls. Belle and Silas and a few others from my older books, make an appearance.
Also if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, go HERE(I’m not going to flood your inbox, in fact, there’s a good chance I’ll never even get around to sending you a newsletter!)
And I updated my website so the Series Guide is snazzier. Have a look HERE.
The years following the American Civil War were particularly difficult for Texas. The state fought reunification for five long years, insisting it had the right to become an independent republic once again. While the U.S. Army attempted to enforce martial law and the feds dragged the battered would-be empire before the Supreme Court, outlaws, freedmen, and carpetbaggers flooded the wild and wooly, wide-open spaces.
The era produced some hard men. None were harder than Wild Bill Longley.
The sixth of ten children, William Prescott Longley was born October 6, 1851, on a farm along Mill Creek in Austin County, Texas. His father had fought with Sam Houston at San Jacinto. Little is known about Wild Bill’s youth until December 1868, when, at the age of sixteen, he killed his first man — an unarmed former slave he claimed was cursing his father.
The episode set Longley on a path he would follow for the rest of life.
After the black man’s murder, Longley and a cousin lit out for southern Texas. They spent 1869 robbing settlers, stealing horses, and killing freed slaves and Mexicans — men and women. A virulent racist with a hair-trigger temper and a fast gun hand, Longley quickly gained a reputation for picking fights with any whites he suspected of harboring Yankee sympathies or carpetbagging. In early 1870, the Union occupation force in Texas placed a $1,000 price on the cousins’ heads. Longley was not yet nineteen.
Not that he saw the bounty as a cause for concern. Standing a little over six feet tall with a lean, lithe build and a gaze described as fierce and penetrating, Longley “carried himself like a prince” and had “a set of teeth like pearls.” One newspaper writer called him “one of the handsomest men I have ever met” and “the model of the roving desperado of Texas.” The same writer called Longley “the most dreaded man north of the Rio Grande”: What his looks couldn’t get him, the brace of fourteen-inch, six-shot Dance .44 revolvers he carried could.
As news of the reward spread, Longley and his cousin separated, and Longley took up with a cattle drive headed for Kansas. By May 1870 he was in Cheyenne, Wyoming; by June, he was in South Dakota, where for unknown reasons he enlisted in the army. Within two weeks he deserted. Capture, court-martial, and prison time followed, but evidently none of that make a big impression. After his release from the stockade, Longley was sent back to his unit. In May 1872, he deserted again and lit a shuck for Texas, gambling, scraping — and killing — along the way. Folks as far east as Missouri and Arkansas learned not to get in his way, not to disagree with him, and for heaven’s sake not to insult Texas. Longley was rumored to have shot white men over card games, Indians for target practice, and black folks just for fun.
By the time he killed another freedman in Bastrop County, Texas, in 1873, Longley was well beyond notorious. The murder jogged a local lawman’s memory about the federal bounty still outstanding from 1870. The sheriff arrested Longley, but when the army wasn’t quick to hand over the reward, he let the surly gunman go.
Longley visited his family, worked a few odd jobs, and fended off several reckless sorts who hoped to make a name by besting a gunman known as one of the deadliest quick-draw artists in the west. In March 1875, he ambushed and killed a boyhood friend, Wilson Anderson, whom Longley’s family blamed for a relative’s death. That same year, Longley shot to death a hunting buddy with whom he’d had a fistfight. A few months later, in January 1876, he killed an outlaw when a quarrel-turned-ambush became a gunfight.
On the run, using at least eight different names to avoid the multiple rewards for his capture plastered all over East Texas, Longley hid out as a sharecropper on a preacher’s cotton farm, only to fall for a woman on whom his landlord’s nephew had staked a prior claim. Longley killed the nephew, then took off across the Sabine River into De Soto Parish, Louisiana. Reportedly turned in by someone he trusted, the law caught up with him on June 6, 1877, while he was hoeing a Louisiana cotton field, unarmed.
Though historians dispute the figures, Longley confessed to killing 32 men, six to ten of them white. Later, he retracted that account and claimed eight kills. A court in Giddings, Texas, convicted him of only one murder, Anderson’s, and sentenced him to hang. While awaiting execution, “the worst man in Texas” wrote his memoirs, embraced Catholicism, and filed a wagonload of appeals. All of them were denied.
Facing an ignominious end, Longley seems to have had a change of heart. On the day of his execution, October 11, 1878, the 27-year-old sang hymns and prayed in his cell before mounting the gallows “with a smile on his face and a lighted cigar in his mouth.” After the noose was placed around his neck, the man the Decatur [Illinois] Daily Review described as “the most atrocious criminal in the country” held up a hand and addressed the crowd:
“I see a good many enemies around me and mighty few friends. I hope to God you will forgive me. I will you. I hate to die, of course; any man hates to die. But I have earned this by taking the lives of men who loved life as well as I do.
“If I have any friends here, I hope they will do nothing to avenge my death. If they want to help me, let them pray for me. I deserve this fate. It is a debt I owe for my wild, reckless life. When it is paid, it will be all over with. May God forgive me.”
I love wallpaper. Always have. I still remember the flowered kind that covered the walls in the bedroom I shared with my little sister in the 1950s. The image on the right is similar to it.
Back then, everyone used wallpaper and it must not have been something only for the privileged because our parents didn’t have squat. That paper had to be awfully cheap and my mama and daddy pasted it on themselves.
To me wallpaper is like clothes for the walls.
Here are some that you’ve probably seen.
It can set a mood. Fun? Whimsical? Sassy? Daring? Elegant?
Bordello? Funeral parlor? The first sample is from Downton Abbey.
In Twice a Texas Bride, Rand Sinclair buys a rundown ranch. Everything needs tons of work and the house is no exception.
After he finds Callie Quinn hiding in one of his outbuildings in the dead of winter and hires her to cook for him, he talks her into sitting in the parlor with him. One night after a long cold day while relaxing by the fire, he asks her opinion about how to fix up the house.
Callie tells him she had once gone into a fancy hotel in Kansas City and fell in love with the wallpaper in the lobby. It was gold and a very elegant design. Rand decides then and there that he’s going to put that in the parlor. If he gets the house fixed up real nice, maybe she’ll stay. Except for his brothers, everyone else always leaves.
I think this sample is closest to what she describes.
Now, what about you. Are you a wallpaper or paint person? Do you have any favorites of the above?
By the way, I’ve seen the cover for FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE – the third book and final book in the Bachelors of Battle Creek – and you’re gonna love it. Keep watching for it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the portrayal of Brett Liberty.