Another Chance to Win

Recently, I gave away two copies of my novella collection With This Ring? right here on Petticoats & Pistols, but I’m doing a large Facebook promotion this week, and I didn’t want my loyal P&P readers to be left out. So here’s another chance to win.

Fill out the entry form below and follow the instructions. Leaving a comment on the blog will not enter you in the contest.

I wish you the best!

Click here to view this promotion.

Welcome a New Guest to the Junction – Pamela Howell!

HowellChilly, winter nights, a blanket of stars and a crackling campfire conjure up stories of the American West and its quintessential icon — the cowboy — better for me than almost any setting I know. Throw in some great camp cooking over an open flame and it’s possible to almost smell the smoke from the fire as it tinges the night air with a distinctive smell of mesquite or coals. Ah, nothing quite like it.

Growing up in the wide, open spaces of West Texas, I’ve stood around my share of campfires with bubbling pots of venison chili or homemade peach cobbler, but I’ve never been the pot stirrer, always just the pot partaker, so I thought it was interesting to learn that there is an organization devoted to the art of black pot, or Dutch oven, cooking.chuck wagon

The Lone Star Dutch Oven Society (LSDOS) has chapters throughout Texas who work to preserve the historical aspects of black pot cooking, a way of preparing food that dates back several hundred years. LSDOS members provide classes for greenhorns like me who want to learn how to cook in a Dutch oven. Members also participate in historical re-enactment events, recreational expositions and education activities in their communities.

To whet your appetite for cooking the black pot way, the LSDOS offers many recipes on its website at Here’s a tasty sample:

Spicy Black-eyed Pea Soup
Mary & Gale Merriwether
SALTGRASS  CHAPTER of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society

12 inch well-seasoned Dutch Oven                Serves 6 to 8


4        cups Black-eyed peas (dried)

1        cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

4        tablespoons bacon drippings

2        can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (10 oz.)

2        cup beef broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

1        large onion, chopped

Tortilla chips


  1. Rinse and cook black-eyed peas according to package directions.  When tender, drain off most of the water and retain in case you need more liquid for soup broth.
  2. Sauté onion in bacon drippings until soft.  Mash the peas with potato masher and add to onions in the pan.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beef broth and cheese.  Simmer until the cheese has melted.  Salted and pepper to taste.
  4. If needed, add retained water from cooking black-eyed peas to make soup the desired consistency.
  5. Serve hot and garnish with tortilla chips.

Note:  You may substitute 2 small, peeled fresh tomatoes and a minced jalapeno pepper (seeds, stems and ribs removed) for the Ro-Tel tomatoes, if desired.


Until next time, here are a few photos of West Texas which were taken by my husband on a recent day trip around Ft. Stockton. These photos really speak to my heart as a writer and I hope you enjoy them, too.


FtStocktonBOQ DSC_0313










**Giveaway Alert: Pamela will give away one free, autographed, paperback version of her novel A RIDE HOME. One reader’s name will be drawn at random. You can connect with her at or on her Facebook fan page Pamela Roberts Howell.ARideHome_BookCover

Pamela Howell is an author, teacher, and freelance journalist. She has won numerous state, national and international awards for her writing as well as her marketing leadership skills. A native Texan, she lives in San Antonio with her husband of 26 years where she enjoys writing Christian fiction, scrapbooking, reading and crafting.


Her novel, A RIDE HOME, is set in West Texas and tells the story of college student Kayla Hartley who accepts a ride from a stranger, a handsome cowboy named Mark Lawson, who charms his way into her heart. But, is it the best decision? It’s 800 miles across an unforgiving, barren landscape from San Angelo, Texas, to her hometown in Arizona, and as night falls and the road becomes more desolate, Kayla begins to wonder if she’s made a mistake, a terrible one that might cost her dearly.

A RIDE HOME Book Trailer —


This is Pamela’s first blog on Petticoats & Pistols. We’re happy you joined us, Pamela!



Taming the West One Meal at a Time


Nothing changed America as much as the iron horse. People were finally able to travel across country in relative comfort and not have to worry about the weather, Indians, or some of the other mishaps that plagued early travelers. A train passenger’s greatest fear was food poisoning. That’s how bad meals were along the rails.

It took one efrednterprising Englishman to change the way travelers ate. His name was Fred Harvey and his Harvey House restaurants eventually stretched along the Santa Fe railroad tracks from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles and San Francisco—one every hundred miles.

Hear That Whistle Blow

Fred Harvey invented the “fast-food” concept long before Ray Kroc. Passengers were allowed only thirty minutes to get off the train, eat and board again, so time was of the essence. He devised a system in which train conductors would telegraph passenger food orders to the restaurant in advance. This allowed the restaurant staff to prepare the food before the train pulled into the station.

From Dishwasher to Household Name

Harvey learned the business the hard way. After traveling to America at the age of seventeen, he landed a job as a dishwasher at a famed New York restaurant, working his way through the ranks from dishwasher to line-cook. He eventually landed in St. Louis where he took over the Merchants Dining Room Saloon. His success lasted only a short time. The winds of war could not be ignored and after his partner joined the secessionist army, taking all the money the two men had saved, Harvey’s restaurant was doomed.

After a series of jobs and personal losses, he eventually took over an eating house at the Santa Fe depot in Topeka. He arranged for fresh fruit and meat to be railed in from Chicago and other states. His food was so good that railroad officials worried that no one would want to travel past Topeka.

First Female Workforce

As the number of his depot restaurants increased, so did his troubles. Black men were hired as waiters, but this often created conflict with cowboys. After one unpleasant midnight brawl at the Raton Harvey eating house, Harvey’s friend Tom Gables suggested a radical idea; why not replace black male waiters with women? Harvey decided to give Tom’s idea a try.

Harvey ran ads in newspapers for “young women of good character, attractive and intelligent, 18 to 30, to work in the Harvey Eating Houses.” He offered a salary of $17.50 a month, a tidy sum for a young woman. Soon he had all the help he needed.

This Harvey House is in Barstow, CA. It’s now a museum. I used it as a model for my story.

The women lived in dormitories above the restaurants under the watchful eye of a house mother. Their uniforms consisted of a black dress, black shoes and stockings, and a crisp white apron. The women had to adhere to strict rules and were not allowed to marry for six months.

His new female staff was a great success and helped ease racial tensions. Even the roughest of cowboys and railroad workers were willing to don the required (and dreaded) dinner jacket just for the pleasure of being served a good steak by a pretty girl.

He Kept the West in Food—and Wives

That quote from Will Rogers says it all; Among his other talents, Fred Harvey not only “civilized the west” he was indirectly responsible for more than 5000 marriages. That’s enough to make you want to forgive him for inventing fast-food. Almost….  

What’s the best or worse meal you had while traveling?



Calico SpySomeone is killing off the Harvey Girls. Undercover Pinkerton detective Katie Madison hopes to find the killer before the killer finds her—or before she burns down the restaurant trying.









We Have Two Winners for Karen Kay’s Free E-Book Give Away


Yes, indeedy, we have two winners for a free e-book give-away.

The first winner is:  Gwen I — Gwen, you have won a free copy of the e-book, THE LAST WARRIOR.

And the second winner is Connie J — Connie, you have won the free e-book BLACK EAGLE.


Again, this time in more cap letters, the winners are:

Gwen I

Connie J

Please email me privately at to claim your prize.  And my hearty thanks to all those who came to the blog yesterday and left a message.  I loved each and every post.

The Copper Queen

Women weren’t supposed to prospect for precious metals in the 1800s. They were considered too delicate to travel across wilderness and deserts, collecting ore samples and chasing veins while carrying everything they needed to survive in a backpack. Ferminia Sarras did it anyway.

A small, compact woman, she identified herself as Spanish—not Mexican—and appeared on the Esmeralda, Nevada tax records as Ferminia Sarras, Spanish lady, in 1881. Eventually she would become known as Ferminia Sarras, the Copper Queen.

There’s no clear record as to why Ferminia, who was born in Nicaragua in 1840, came to the United States with her three young daughters in 1876. One theory is that she came

Esmeralda, Nevada

to join up with her husband in the Nevada mining camps. She placed two of her daughters in a Virginia City orphanage, quite possibly for their safety, before embarking on her journey to the camps with her oldest daughter, who married a miner a few years later.

Ferminia started prospecting in 1883, wearing pants and tramping the hills alone. She prospected in several Nevada mining districts, including the Candelaria, Silver Peak and Santa Fe Districts and recorded numerous copper claims.

Candaleria, Nevada

After the Comstock Lode petered out, Nevada went into a depression, however the discovery of gold in the central part of the state revitalized the mining economy and Ferminia’s copper claims increased in value. Her first sale came in 1901, with several more to follow, and eventually she made a fortune on her copper claims, thus earning the name the Copper Queen. She kept the gold coins from the sales in her chicken coop, which she considered safer than a bank.

gold fields
Goldfields, Nevada


Ferminia married at least five times to men younger than herself. One husband died in a gunfight protecting her claims and according to a newspaper account, all of her husbands died violent deaths. Historians theorize that she may have married younger men to help protect her claims, however one of the last men she was involved with robbed her and used the money to flee to South America.

Ferminia died in 1915. The town of Mina, Nevada, which currently boasts a population of 155,  was named in her honor.

For further information on Ferminia Sarras and other women who dared to prospect in the American West, check out A Mine of Her Own by Sally Zanjani. Much of the information I have on Ferminia came from that resource.

Our American Indian Heritage


I’ll be giving away a couple of free e-books to a couple of lucky bloggers today.  It might be you.  So come on in, join the discussion and leave a comment.  A word about winning.  Here at the Junction (as we call it) we have a few rules on our give-aways.  One is that you must be 18 to participate in the drawing, another is that you must live within the United States.  You can read about these rules here:  One thing that makes our give-aways different is that we depend on you to come back either tomorrow or in a few days to see if you have won or not.  Unlike many other sites, we don’t contact you — if you win, we give you instructions on how to claim your prize.  That said, it breaks my heart sometimes to draw names and then never hear from the people who actually do win.  So please do check back tomorrow (Wednesday) evening to see if you have won.  Okay?

Okay, so that said, let’s get on with the discussion.  Perhaps it’s the times in which we live.  Or maybe it’s something else that joggles my memory to recall  things I’ve read, things I’ve experienced.  And my mind turns over and over again to America before the advent of its exploration — to all the things that are a part of our heritage as Americans, each and every one of us, regardless of whether or not we have a drop of American Indian blood running through our veins or not.

But what exactly did the Indians give us.  If you’re at all like me, I don’t recall learning any of these things in school.  This all comes from research.  Yes, we hear of Thanksgiving and of other Indian ceremonies.  But what else did the American Indian contribute to our society — the society that we live in right this very moment?  Can you guess?

Okay, so what did Native America give to our society?  Well, probably the most obvious gift is that of names…Mississippi…Iroquois…Illinois…Kansas…Dakota…Iowa, Ohio, Missouri — how about phrases like “bury the hatchet,” we council together,” or organizations like “boy scouts,” “girl scouts.”  Their names for places, their ideas and many of their ideas on government remain with us to this day.

It was the Iroquois who gifted us with the game of LaCrosse — the Indians of the plains who taught us our most common swimming stroke — the Indians who gave us corn, beans, squash.  Even some of our ceremonies date to the American Indian (Thanksgiving was one of the seasonal celebrations of the Iroquois and Eastern Indians.)

Probably one of the most important accomplishments that the American Indian gave to our culture was the idea of the liberty of the individual and the sovereignty of the individual.  Remember that the European who came to this continent was escaping oppression and tyranny.  But here in America he met a new being.  A man who considered himself free of all government ties.

In fact, not too many people are aware that the Iroquois had probably the longest running “republic” on this planet.  Yes, the Greeks strived for it, wrote about republics,  so did the Romans.  But these attempts were relatively short lived.  How many people are aware that the Iroquois founded and enjoyed a true “Of the People, By the People, For the People” government (1140 A.D. — dated by the elders of the Iroquois — to around 1778 — when they lost their Independence just as we gained ours).

Interesting, too, that after the Iroquois Confederation was formed in 1142, it lasted in a peaceful fashion up until the European invasion.  Europe was at war — often Native Americans were recruited to fight those wars on behalf of the European powers.  But even more important than war — that changed the face of the continent — was that was trade.  Europe had gadgets and things that Native America couldn’t manufacture on their own.  Gadgets that made life easier.

Tribes went to war to secure that trade because whoever had the best trade with the European powers, could control the continent and keep their people free…and most of all, enjoy the comforts that Europe brought.

Personally, I think it was a high price to pay.  Some trinkets, pots, pans, material for clothes.  All, in the end, bought for the price of enslavement…or if not enslavement, then at least banishment from one’s home grounds.  As a result, the Iroquois who so grandly postulated the peaceful end of war forever in this part of the world (America) were scattered all over the American Continent after the Revolutionary war, their land bought up by the large corporations that were already starting to spring up on the Eastern seaboard.

To my mind it was way, way too high a price to pay.  But then, aren’t we involved in a similar situation today?  Is the price of gadgets and “things to make life easier or more enjoyable” to be paid by the surrender of one’s sovereignty?  Perhaps it’s a mute question — perhaps many have already paid this price already.  But there are still some — maybe us romantics — who remember their history, who remember a time when we were truly free, free to choose our own way, free to speak and to be heard, free to think as one sees fit.  As Nathanial says in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, — “I don’t call myself subject to much at all.”  Indeed, there were no subjects to be found on the American continent.  At least not at this time period in history.

Perhaps this is the greatest gift that the American Indian gave to us:  the memory of a truly free, independent, and happy people.  But more than that, perhaps the idea that America would lead the world to peace — to a world without war, a world where grief was ended forever, and a world where nations could live with one another without the need to try to “change” them into the image of oneself.

These are true gifts.  We carry that heritage in our bones, each one of us.  And it’s in the West, the cowboys and Indians, where that tradition is carried on to this day.  Ah, how I love the Indians … and cowboys.




Karen Kay

A woman on the run…a warrior’s vow…an assassin on their trail.

The Warriors of the Iroquois, Book 1

With the English and the French at each others throats, struggling for control of the North American continent, the battle lines have been drawn. But Marisa Jameson is witness to treachery closer to home.

After she overhears her uncle’s plot to destroy a Dutch town for his own gain, she threatens to expose him—and is forced to run for her life.

When the mesmerizing beauty says she needs a guide to visit a friend, Mohawk warrior Black Eagle volunteers. He knows the wild forests of New England like the back of his hand, but soon senses danger is dogging their heels and suspects there’s more to Marisa’s anxiety to move swiftly than her eagerness to “visit a friend”.

Caught in the crossfire of a war and with a deadly assassin hot on their trail, Marisa and Black Eagle discover that trusting each other is the only way to outrun the enemy—and that love may be the only way to survive.

Kathryn’s Winner!

Thank you to all who stopped by and commented yesterday!

I really enjoyed reading of the road trips you’ve taken and the ones you hope to take!

The winner of my giveaway is none other than

Quilt Lady!

Please contact me at with your mail address and I will send you a (free) copy of

Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs!

Road trip!


I  just returned home to the Midwest from my folks place in San Diego.

Road trip
One of my sons’ came to visit me!

When my boys were young we would enjoy road trip s, picking out different routes so that we could see the country. We had some amazing trips but we always ended up in San Diego so that they could visit with my side of the family. On these drives, my mind would always wander and I would try to envision what it must have been like for the early pioneers, settlers and Native Americans. All of it became inspiration for the stories that I write.

Road trip Arkansas B&N
A young Arkansas fan in Barnes & Noble (Actually it is nice to have strategically placed relatives)

For many years now I’ve flown. It is just not the same as driving. There is something lost in not being able to roll down my window and smell the sage, or pines, or ocean and feel the wind on my face. When my husband agreed to make the drive this year I was thrilled. I flew out to have a long visit and then he drove out later to spend Christmas with me. My sons also came for a shorter visit. Then together we drove back to the Midwest. It took some planning. We had to dodge El Nino effects and so we stayed SOUTH! Oklahoma roads were completely shut down with ice, Denver was a blizzard, a tornado tore through Texas. and the Mississippi River was flooding all over the place at the time we planned to cross. Never a dull moment. I was glad to get home safely.

How did the pioneers handle this!


I cannot imagine what it must have been like for women in the 1800s. Mail-order brides and those who traveled to a new destination looking for free land to farm or ranch often would never see their loved ones again. They must have experienced terrible bouts of homesickness. It’s no wonder that church and social gatherings played such an important place in their lives. And traveling, they couldn’t check for bad weather on their phone and adjust their route to avoid it the way I could on this trip. I’m so glad I live today and not in the 1800s!


Road Trip
A bit strange to see this site getting closer in front of me! We were both going the same direction–EAST!

How do you like to travel and where would you choose to go in the
continental United States given the opportunity? 

Familiar Stranger in Clear SpringsComment for a chance to win a print copy of my newest release!
(See P&P sweepstake rules here.)

Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs


I am holding a contest on my website for the month of January to celebrate my current release.

You can check it out here.