Free State of Van Zandt and Belinda Blurb


I love research and love to walk-the-walk when it comes to research.  As my friends know, if I could do what I’d really love  it’d be researching and outlining novels, while someone else writes the book.  I came across two interesting tidbits that I want to share with you all.

                                                                                 The Free State of Van Zandt

Van Zandt County in east Texas was once known as the Free State of Van Zandt, an independent state once in conflict with the United States.  Following the Civil War, federal troops were stationed in many Texas towns. Fed up with martial law, the citizens of Van Zandt voted to secede not just from Texas, but from the United States as well.  The government wasn’t going to stand for any shenanigans, so United States Army soldiers led by General Sheridan were sent to put down the uprising.

Fortunately, the Van Zandt army had celebrated their new freedom a little too heartily and the drunks were rounded up without too much hassle.  Later, many of the men escaped custody. Seceding from the U.S. was no longer in the cards, though the resolution made by the county to separate from Texas and the U.S. was never formally withdrawn.

Where did the word “blurb” come from?

This second little tidbit is for the writers out there, and we have plenty of readers who are also writers!  I found it so interesting and had not heard of this before.

Ever wonder where we got the term “blurb” to indicate a short summary or promotional piece accompanying a creative work?  At a trade association dinner in 1907, author Gelett Burgess presented attendees with a limited edition of one of his books.  It was customary to have a brief summary included on the front of the dust jacket of such books, along with a picture of an attractive woman.  Notice I said woman, not author!  Burgess followed this custom — with a twist. On the front of his book was an image of a woman with her hand held to her mouth, as if shouting. The caption for this image was “Belinda Blurb, in the act of blurbing,” and bold letters at the top of the dust jacket declared, “Yes, this is a Blurb!”  The name stuck.

I found this tidbit about the time, Kensington sent me the back blurb on my newest Kasota Springs Romance story Out of a Texas Night,  so I thought I’d share the tidbit with you all.

For an autographed copy of Give Me a Texas Ranger, referred to in  the Publisher’s Weekly review, or any one of the six anthologies by Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, the late DeWanna Pace and myself, give me your thoughts on Van Zandt County, Texas, withdrawing not just from Texas but the United States.

How many of you have ever heard of “Belinda Blurb”?

                                 Everything’s bigger in Texas…including love.

A deputy sheriff in Houston, Avery Humphrey is ready for some hometown comfort when she heads back to Kasota Springs, but one kiss from Brody VanZant is enough to make her trade “soothing” for “sizzling.” When it turns out hot, hard-headed Brody is another Bonita County deputy, sizzling gets complicated, especially after Avery is made the interim sheriff. Brody knows romancing the boss isn’t on the duty roster, but to him it’s a state of emergency to prove to Avery that he’s the partner she needs—in her life and in her bed—and he’s ready to give her as many kisses as there are stars in the Texas sky to convince her.

Praise for Phyliss Miranda

“Outlaw Savannah Parker finds hope for justice—and redemption—in the arms of Texas Ranger Ethan Kimble in Miranda’s ‘Texas Flame,’ which deftly weaves layers of secrets into a narrative that keeps readers guessing.”

Publishers Weekly

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

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24 thoughts on “Free State of Van Zandt and Belinda Blurb”

  1. Good morning Phyliss, what an interesting blog. I had no ideas that Van Zandt county was thinking I’d seceding from the US, must less Texas. I’m sure they are glad they did not go through with this, as it would be nearly impossible to be a nation on your own without backing from an even larger populas.
    I love hearing how the blurb came to be. Very interesting. Some books the blurbs give me an indication as to whether I’d love the book or not. But for my favorite authors, you, Linda, Jodi, & DeWanna (God rest her soul), I don’t need to read yall’s, as I know I’ll be getting all of your books, no matter what. You all are dear to my heart.
    Love you and have a great week.

    • Hi Tonya, glad you dropped by. I thought the info on Van Zandt county was interesting, so am glad you did too. Yes, it’d be very difficult not to have any of the monies from state and federal sources. I’d ever thought about where blurb came from, so it was really a fun fact. Thank you so much, precious friend of ours, for the compliment about our books. You are dear to our heart too, and I hope you and yours have a great week. A big Texas hug, Phyliss

    • Thank you, DebraG, for taking the time to read my blog. I think all of the Fillies try to write blogs that have interesting tidbits for everyone. As I said, I love research, so something I might find out is likely not known by everyone. Have a great day, friend. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Estella, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad I wrote about something you enjoyed. We all learn things every day, don’t we? Have a great week. Hugs, Phyliss

  2. I have no idea Van Zandt County was once known as a free state or where the word blurb came from (though I always thought it was an odd word). Thanks for sharing today.

    • Thanks, Janine. Blurb is an odd word, and I knew it was a publishing term but figured it was like STAT. Good to hear from you. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Mary, I think all of the Fillies love historical tidbits. Sure glad to know I’m not the only one who loves to research. Have a great week, my friend. Hugs, Phyliss

  3. Excellent blog, Phyliss! I didn’t know that about Van Zandt County. How funny but sad. Whiskey might just have saved their lives. There’s a story there. I’d never heard that about Belinda Blurb either. Very interesting. Congrats on your new blurb! I love it. Can’t wait for your new release.

    • Thanks, my precious friend. I guess Van Zandt County wanted to stay neutral but what a mess they would have had if the whiskey hadn’t flowed! I really just figured Belinda Blurb was a publishing term and probably didn’t have a background. What a surprise I got when I checked Google and found the image! Thank you…I’m happy with my blurb for my new book. Since I have a new editor, I’m biting my nails waiting to see what he wants changed and what his “likes” and “doesn’t like” in the MS. I hope you got a lot of work done today. Love, P

  4. I haven’t heard about Van Zandt – but I know there were a few things like that going on back in the day! Kind of funny to know that because they celebrated too early that it all fizzled! History is so interesting to me because of these tidbits like this. Thanks for sharing! I never heard of Belinda Blurb either – kind of crazy to think that is where the word “blurb” came from. Huh, now I will probably picture her when I read a book blurb. 😉

    • Hi Susan. Glad you stopped by. I love history and wanted to be a teacher, so I think I might have ended up trying to be a History Teacher. One of my biggest problems is simply me trying to use as much of my research as possible when I write my book. If I found it interesting, I guess I think everyone should. I’m glad I located the picture of Belinda Blurb, so you’ll have a face to go with the work, too! Have a great week, my friend. Hugs, Phyliss

  5. I have lived in Texas my whole life and never knew this info about Van Zandt county. I love coming here and learning. Thank you for sharing, Phyliss!

    • Hi Melanie, glad to see you here. On behalf of all of the Fillies, I think I can speak for everyone by thanking you for the compliment about sharing. That certainly is one of our objectives, give everybody new ideas and info. I was born and raised in Texas and never knew about Van Zandt County; however, I live up on the Caprock in the Panhandle not East Texas (which is so beautiful). I hope you have a great weekend.

  6. Never heard of Belinda Blurb but love finding out words came to be. Am really surprised that they put a picture of a pretty girl on the cover although I shouldn’t be lol. Every once in a while some try to secede but I can’t imagine it ever happening.

    • Hi catslady, glad you stopped by. I love words, too. I said earlier that I wanted to be a teacher and it was mainly because I come from a long line of teachers on both sides of my family. But again, during the time my grandmother and great-grandmother grew up there wasn’t a lot of vocations for women. Linda Broday recently wrote a fantastic article about a woman rancher and trail boss in the mid-1800’s, which dispels the whole theory of women being limited in what they could do. Watch for “Saddlebag Dispatches” Summer edition. And, I’d rather see a good lookin’ man on the cover, instead of a woman!! LOL Have a great week. Phyliss

  7. Hi Colleen, thanks for dropping by. Isn’t it interesting what’s out there in the way of tidbits we didn’t know. Sometimes I hate the computer, but other times (when it comes to research) I love what all there’s to learn out there. I’m glad you enjoyed my little bits of info. I now have a “tidbit” folder to put stuff in, so when I’m against the wall on a blog, I can use them as a starting point! Have a great week. Hugs, Phyliss

  8. Interesting post. I find it interesting that the “Blurbs” were accompanied by an attractive woman’s photo, someone that had nothing to do with the book. Always good for window dressing if not accepted seriously as contributors in their own right. Burgess had a good idea. I wonder how long after he initiated the term blurb, they stopped including women’s pictures.
    No need to include my name in the drawing. I think I have all the anthologies. They are firmly on my Keeper Shelf and are revisited whenever I can.

  9. Those are both interesting tidbits I didn’t know. I also like stumbling upon these little random bits of trivia. Interestingly, there was a county in Tennessee (Scott) that seceded from Tennessee in protest of the states decision to join the Confederacy and proclaimed itself the Free and Independent State of Scott.

  10. Hi Phyliss – Didn’t know about the Blurbs, Thanks for the blog. Those people in Van Zandt County, Texas; must have had a burr under their saddle to secede from their State of Texas & the United States. Looks like our fore Fathers had more common sense to put a stop to it fast. Celebrating with whiskey before they had a good handle on their secession was their downfall. The Old West info is always amazing.

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