Some ranches have the strangest names but probably all mean something personal to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all reflect the owner’s state of mind or what they value. Some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head though. Like the Dime Box and Hoof Prints ranches.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in mine and Phyliss Miranda’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. I thought it was perfect.
Here are others I’ve used:
Sullivan – A Texas Christmas
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Aces ’n Eights – Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star
Each one tells a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star named his ranch for the poker hand he won Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget the miracle of how she changed his life.
To Catch a Texas Star is a story of hope, forgiveness, self-discovery, and vanquishing evil. Marley Rose is on her way into town when she finds a man bleeding and unconscious by the side of the road. Roan Penny has seen the worst of humanity, but Marley and the McClain family restores his faith. As he recovers he falls in love with the dark beauty he calls his Texas Star and longs to make a life with her. But evil from the past finds them. Will it destroy the happiness Roan and Marley have found?
The book released on July 3 and is available everywhere in bookstores and online.
Here are a few of the old Texas ranches still in operation not far from me:
Tongue River Ranch
Matador Land and Cattle
Yellow House Ranch
How about you? Can you name a ranch either in books/TV shows/movies, or that you’ve seen or heard about? I’m giving away one copy (winner’s choice of format.) Comment to enter the drawing to be held on Saturday, August 4. Giveaway Guidelines.
I just returned from my first trip to the West in four years – two weeks of mountains, lakes, seeing friends and family, and experiencing a bit of local history. Today I’d like to share with you a bit of that history.
On one of the days of my trip, my nieces and I visited the oldest building in Idaho, the Mission of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Cataldo Mission, located in Old Mission State Park located 28 miles east of the city of Couer d’Alene. The mission, located on a picturesque hill overlooking the Couer d’Alene River, was built between 1850 and 1853 by Catholic missionaries and members of the Couer d’Alene tribe. Next door to the mission is the restored parish house where the Jesuit missionaries lived. Also located on the park property are a cemetery and a visitor center where you can visit an exhibit titled Sacred Encounters: Father De Smet and the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West. The exhibit details the history of the Jesuits’ interactions with the Couer d’Alene and Salish tribes of the area. The site’s historical significance led to it being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
The establishment of the mission came about in a different way than many such structures. It was actually the Nez Perce and Flathead people, who had heard about the white man’s “Book of Heaven,” who sent representatives to St. Louis to find out more. Eleven years later, Father Pierre Jean De Smet responded by traveling to the area. Other brothers and friars picked an original location for the mission, but it was later moved due to the first’s tendency to flood. In 1850, the mission was taken over by Italian Jesuit missionary Antonio Ravalli, who oversaw the building of the current building. He had the local tribes build the structure so they would feel a part of the church. Not a single nail was used in the construction. Visitors today can see some of the exposed wattle and daub that was used instead.
Because of the mission’s remote location, decoration of the structure required some creativity. Newspapers were painted and put on the walls. Tin cans were fashioned into chandeliers. And local huckleberries were used to create the blue used to stain the interior wood.
It’s a lovely, peaceful place to just sit and admire the surrounding landscape as well. If you’re ever in Northern Idaho, it’s well worth a visit.
(Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Photo Archives.)
I can’t honestly explain why, but the concept of “mail-order brides” has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, wanting every lonely heart to find its true love. Maybe it’s the adventurous side, seeking the challenge of conquering the unknown. Whatever the reason, the concept has crept into two of my historical novels (A Hopeful Heart in 2010; and Beneath a Prairie Moon earlier this year), and in both I had a rip-roarin’ good time writing the stories.
The thing is, God created man and woman and designed the two to complement each other. So it shouldn’t be surprising that men in the West who were all alone wanted wives. Nor should it make us shake our heads in wonder that unmarried women would be interested in securing a husband. There were several “matchmaker” businesses in operation during the mid-to-late 1800s, and there were also a number of private individuals who posted ads—either men requesting a wife or women offering themselves for marriage. Historians differ on how many of these unions were truly happy, but when one is writing fiction, of course we shoot for the “happily ever after.”
I actually wrote Beneath a Prairie Moon to satisfy readers’ requests for another mail-order bride story similar to A Hopeful Heart. In A Hopeful Heart, a woman rancher brings inept Eastern women to her ranch and teaches them how to be ranchers’ wives before matching them up with local single ranchers. I twisted that around in Beneath a Prairie Moon and instead made the group of men seeking brides the inept ones when it came to courtship, and Mrs. Helena Bingham, owner of Bingham’s Bevy of Brides, would not send her girls to louts! So she sent one of her girls—one who’d been rejected by several matches already due to her hoity-toity attitude—to teach these men to be tender, attentive husbands.
Oh, such fun to place this young woman who’d been cast from high society (through no fault of her own) into a rough and rugged Kansas town and watch her interact with these goodhearted but very lacking-in-social-niceties men. Throw in a no-nonsense bow-legged sheriff (think Festus from “Gunsmoke”), good ol’ unpredictable Kansas weather, a storekeeper determined to find his bride the old-fashioned way, and a desperate man who’ll steal a wife if he can’t buy one, and— Well, let’s just say I had a good time. I’m not exactly a humor writer, but humor developed naturally as Abigail tried so hard to tame these untamable fellows, and I laughed out loud more during the writing of this book than any other.
Yes, there’s something intriguing about placing two strangers together and watching them find a way to mesh their lives and maybe, just maybe, discover their one true love.
(Btw, if I were a wife seeking a husband and had to pick from the fellows in the photograph at the beginning of this post, I’d take the second from the left. Can you guess why? Answer that question and your name will go into a drawing to win a copy of either of my mail-order brides books—your choice!)
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!
BIO: In 1966, Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in libraries. That little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Since then, Kim has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With almost 50 titles on library shelves and more than a 1.5 million copies of her books in print worldwide, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, live in small-town Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels. When she isn’t writing, Kim stays active serving in her church’s women’s and music ministries, traveling with “The Hubs,” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. You can learn more about Kim’s writing or find purchasing links for all of her books at http://www.KimVogelSawyer.com.
I goofed. As you might know, we at Petticoats and Pistols, draw names so that each person who posts has a chance to win the book. The rules are off to the right side here of the page, here. So I did a drawing and then saw that one name hadn’t made it into the “hat,” and so I did another drawing, as well. Thus we have two winners, and they are:
Arlene Jones and Linda Orr
Congratulations to you both. And to those who didn’t win today, my sincere thanks for coming to the blog today and commenting.
To Arlene and Linda, I would ask that you email me privately, so that the e-book can be sent to you. My address is: karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.
I so love these opportunities (the blog) to get to know you all a little better. Come back soon.
My first Harlequin Heartwarming–HER MONTANA COWBOY–will be released on August 1st and I’m very excited. I’m also excited by the fact that the cowboy on my cover looks very much like Prince Harry!
HER MONTANA COWBOY is a city-girl country-guy story and was a lot of fun to write. Here’s an excerpt from a scene where Gus helps Lillie Jean get her car out of a mud hole in the long driveway leading to the ranch. It opens with them riding in the tractor:
Lillie Jean smelled like lilacs, a scent Gus knew well, due to the thick hedge near the ranch house that burst into blossom each spring, filling the air with perfume and sending old Sal’s allergies into high gear.
He hated that he noticed that Lillie Jean smelled good. Hated the way the delicate floral scent made him feel like leaning closer and taking a deeper breath. In fact, it was really annoying to find himself feeling that way, so he was very glad to finally arrive at the car.
Lillie Jean put her hand on the door handle before he’d rolled to a stop, and he automatically reached past her to keep her from opening the door. She shot him a startled look, which he met with a frown, once again doing his best to ignore the lilacs and the incredible color of her eyes.
“Never open the door until the tractor is out of gear.” He made a show of moving the gear lever. “Big tires,” he said in a clipped voice. “Very unforgiving.”
“Is it okay now?” Lillie Jean asked as she eyed the giant rear wheels.
“Yeah.” He put on the hand brake and set a hand on the back of her seat to maneuver himself out of the cab. Lillie Jean took the hint and climbed down the stairs and jumped to the ground, quickly moving out of range of those big tires. Gus followed her and then reached up to drag the chain off the floorboards under the seat.
The mud was deep and water soaked into his jeans as he crouched down to attach the chain to the frame of the big car. Once done, he motioned for Lillie Jean to get into the driver’s seat.
“What do I do?”
“You start the engine and steer. Do not step on the gas.”
“Because it’ll annoy me if you ram that big car into the tractor.”
“Oh.” She moistened her lips—a mistake in the cool weather—and then said, “You don’t have much faith in my driving ability.”
All he did was point a finger at the car in the mud then turn and walk back to the tractor. “Just put it in neutral,” he said, “and let me do the rest.”
“Why even start it?”
“So that the steering wheel works.
From the way her jaw muscles tightened, Gus deduced that she was starting to hate him a little.
“I knew that.” She abruptly turned and headed toward the car, mincing her way across the lumpy half-frozen mud next to the door.
Gus climbed into the cab and, once Lillie Jean was situated behind the wheel, he gently eased the tractor back until the chain was taut. He continued inching backward until the car jerked, then moved forward. Lillie Jean kept the wheels straight until finally the car was free, and he swore he could see her biting her full bottom lip as she concentrated, even though they were separated by twenty feet and two windshields. Once he was certain Lillie Jean wasn’t going to throw the car in gear or anything unexpected, he moved the tractor forward so that the chain sagged.
“There are no more puddles between here and the ranch house, so you should be okay,” he said as he unhooked the chain. “You should be equally okay when you leave, which will be in short order, right?”
Lillie Jean propped a hand on her hip and stuck her chin out. “Enough, okay?”
He stowed the chain back in the cab of the tractor and then turned to her. “Enough what?”
“Enough passive-aggressive stuff. And enough insinuating that I’m not who I say I am, and that I’m here to try to take advantage of your uncle. I’m not.”
“I have no way of knowing that.”
“And you have nothing to do with this situation. It’s between me and Thaddeus.”
“Thaddeus is getting up there in years. I’m his nephew, his ranch manager.”
He gave her a small, not particularly friendly smile. “Meaning that, until Thad tells me otherwise, it’ll be you and Thaddeus and me.”
HER MONTANA COWBOY is available for pre-order right now and will be officially available on August 1st.
Welcome to another terrific Tuesday. Did I mention that the new book — Brave Wolf and the Lady — is also available in paperback? The cover is so gorgeous, that it’s thrilling to see it in a book that reminds me of the olden days when one held the book in your hand.
Thought I’d post another excerpt from the book today. This excerpt happens early in the story and is the first time the hero and heroine interact. The hero has in fact saved the heroine from a fate that would have taken her life, but they don’t really interact then, and she’s not even sure that he’s the one who saved her from a gang of nasty murderers.
The pictures below are from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and were pictures taken about 10 years apart from this story. Thought you might like to see them.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, an excerpt
Hunger caused Mia to return to the world of the living. She breathed in deeply, if only to ensure she was still alive. As the sweet taste of oxygen filled her lungs, she realized that it was not in her destiny to die here today. Was she happy with that fact?
She wasn’t certain. Perhaps there was merit in dying alongside her husband, yet the welcome scent of oxygen taken into her body made her glad for a reason she could not quite define.
Was that wrong? Truth was, had death come to her this day, she knew she would have welcomed it. And yet…
She sat up as her stomach growled. Being alive meant she would require food to eat, and there should be provision enough in her wagon. But on the tail end of this thought came another: such nourishment would require a fire, and the good Lord help her, she didn’t have the energy or the will to start one right now.
But there would be water in the wagon. That would have to be enough, she decided, at least for the time being.
Apparently she was alone, for there was little more than the stirring of the wind in the trees to hear. Rising up, she glanced down at her dress. The fact that the material was blood-soaked didn’t bother her. It was Jeffrey’s blood, and therefore, sacred to her. Indeed, she might never wash this dress. But she would change out of it. It smelled bad.
As she quickly surveyed the valley around her, the gradual stench of the dead was starting to permeate the air. She put her hands over her nose, as if the action might make the smell go away. But it didn’t work.
Perhaps she possessed a scarf that she might tie around her face. It was either that or suffer it, since her only option was to stay here and await the other wagon train, which, if she remembered correctly, would be coming here soon.
She stepped toward her wagon.
Mia stopped deadly still. Someone had spoken. She wasn’t imagining it. She knew she wasn’t. Was it Jeffrey? Was he alive after all?
Slowly, she turned around. It was dusk, which made it difficult to see clearly.
“Hau. Yahíacipe manke.” A man rose up from his position atop a rock.
“Wan ka wan! Yahíacipe manke.” The man stepped toward her, his hands outstretched as if he were speaking with his hands alone. In broken English, he said, “I…no harm…mean you.”
It was that Indian! The young one with white and black paint over his eyes and a red band tied around his head! She screamed again, and, spinning around, fled to her wagon.
She clambered into the back of it, toward the spot where she and Jeffrey had kept their weapons. There it was. A rifle. Was it loaded? Quickly she checked it.
It wasn’t. With trembling fingers, she put a cartridge into it, and, clicking it closed, she pushed its muzzle through a bullet crack in the white canvas tarp. She breathed in deeply.
No! This wasn’t right. The Indian might come through the back, or even use the front of the wagon to get at her. Worse, he was probably a better shot than she was.
Not knowing what to do, she sat back on her heels and cried. Had she lived through the worst of the day only to have to endure more? Was her future to be torture at the hands of Indians? Rape?
At last, not knowing what else to do, she called out, “I have a gun and I know how to use it. Don’t come any closer.”
“Don’t come any closer to me.”
“You stay there. I’ll stay here.”
“Hau, hau. Yes.”
His voice sounded as if it came from a distance farther away. Had she frightened him?
Not likely. Well, she thought, there was nothing else for it. She would have to stay here on guard the night through. Drat! The water was in a keg outside the wagon.
Biting down hard on her lip, she sat back against her legs, shifting her body into a position that she might be able to defend, regardless of what direction he might choose to stage his attack. And an attack was brewing. She was certain of it.
But she would catch him before he could harm her. This she promised herself.
The smell of food awakened her. Mia jerked herself into alertness. Oh, dear Lord, she had slept! How could she? And why was she still alive?
The aroma from outside the wagon smelled wonderful, though. She recognized the scents of bacon and eggs and her stomach growled. Did Indians eat bacon and eggs? She had heard that they subsisted on nothing but buffalo.
Her stomach spoke to her again, this time with hunger pangs. Guardedly, she sat forward so that she could look out through the crack in the wagon’s canvas. There he was! That Indian. His countenance around his eyes was still painted in a mask-like design, as though he were adorning himself for war, but at least he had laid his weapons far away from him. They weren’t even within easy reach for him. Had he done this in order to tell her without words that it was safe for her to come out?
No, she couldn’t go out there. He might kill her.
Ah, but the scent of those bacon and eggs… Her mouth watered.
The Indian suddenly glanced up toward the wagon, as though he could see her through the crack. Could he?
He didn’t say a word, however. Instead, he smiled and gestured toward her where she kept watch in the wagon. Then using his hands, he indicated a spot next to him. He held out a cup of water toward her.
His actions spoke for themselves, and Mia gulped. Could she trust him?
However, she reasoned, he hadn’t attacked her last night, when she had been at her most vulnerable. Slowly, with rifle clutched firmly in front of her, she stood to her feet and stepped out from under the canvas covering.
As she glanced toward him, the wind wafted toward her, bringing with it that fragrance of the bacon. Perhaps it was this which was her undoing, and she found herself speaking up, saying to him, “Do you have any extra food?”
Again, he smiled at her. “Hau. U wo.” Then in English. “Come…sit…eat. I have…plenty.”
Mia swallowed hard. She glanced toward his weapons that still remained far away from him, then at the fire and the food cooking. Her stomach rumbled.
That decided it.
Slowly, with the rifle held in a ready position, she climbed down from the wagon, keeping the Indian always within her view. Looking downward, she grimaced at the bloodstains on her dress, for she had been unable to change out of it.
But he did nothing more than grin at her, and, despite her misgivings, she noted that he was handsome in a savage sort of way—at least she thought he might be beneath all that white and black paint, as well as that red headband he wore. And he was young, perhaps only a little older than she was.
The observation gave her a sense of ease…at least a little. She said, “I would like a bit of that, if you have some to spare.”
He nodded, and again motioned toward her, picking up the cup of water and holding it out to her. One slow step followed upon another until she stood within a few feet of him. With her right hand, she held the rifle, not pointed at him, but in an ever-ready position. With her left, she reached toward the water.
She didn’t wish to appear greedy, but as soon as the liquid came close to her lips, instinct took over, and she gulped down every last drop of it. Glancing up, she returned the cup to him, then wiped her mouth. Glancing up, she saw that he was studying her.
Once more he nodded, and he looked amusedly at her.
“It’s good,” she said, and not knowing what else to do, she returned his smile. There was a plate filled with bacon and eggs, and he gestured toward her, obviously asking her to sit. She wouldn’t. She didn’t dare.
But when he held the plate out to her, she found her hand stretching forward toward it. However, she couldn’t hold the plate, eat and keep her weapon in a position where she could use it, if that were to become necessary.
He solved the problem by holding the plate for her. Tentatively at first, she reached for a piece of bacon. It took no more than bringing it close to her face for her to practically stuff the food in her mouth.
She didn’t stop at one piece. She ate everything on the plate, including the eggs. Her body thanked her for her wisdom in not refusing the food. And, prayer-like, Mia silently thanked this young man.
Only when she had appeased her appetite did she see that he withdrew the plate. Then he offered her the water again.
Gladly, she accepted. “Thank you.”
He started to rise. Alarmed, she stepped back and held up the rifle.
Holding up his hands, he brought himself into a position on his knees before he stood to his feet. He was a tall man, she noted once again, tall and slim with the firm muscles of an athlete. He wore no shirt this morning, she observed reluctantly, and her gaze lingered on the beaded necklace that hung down over his chest. A large claw hung there, and she could only surmise that it might be the claw from some huge beast. A bear?
She had once seen a bear at her home back in Virginia. The incident had so frightened her that she had never again ventured into the heavy woods that surrounded her home. Had this boy/man killed a bear?
The thought had her setting her rifle in a ready position, but he simply reached out away from her, to grab hold of another slab of bacon, whereupon he placed it on the skillet that sat atop a smoke-less fire. As soon as he had accomplished the task, he sat down again and looked up at her.
Pointing at himself, he said, “Lak??”. Then he motioned toward her.
“That is your name? Lakota?”
“Hiyá, no. Lak??…my…” He frowned and muttered, “Oyáte…tribe.”
“Oh. Then what is your name?”
“I…,” he pointed to himself, “speak it…cannot. Manners…bad.”
“I see. Well then, since I don’t wish to cause you bad manners, I suppose I’ll have to address you as Mr. Lakota.”
When he didn’t speak or protest in any other way, she bowed her head slightly in acknowledgement, and said, “But I should tell you my name so you’ll know what to call me. Mia. My name is Mia.”
He nodded. “Hau, Mi-a.”
“Hau? Does that mean hello.”
“Hau, hello. Also means…yes,” he affirmed, then he gestured around their camp. “Your…husband…die?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “Yes. He died.” She swallowed back the gulp in her voice.
“Why? Why would you help me?”
“Woman…” he gestured toward her, “…die…” He frowned as he obviously searched his memory for the right word. “…Die,” he continued, “…if…if no help.”
She came down onto her haunches and sat, her calves pulled into a position under her. She laid the rifle on her lap. “I think I understand what you’re trying to say. That I might die if you don’t help me.”
“It is kind of you to be concerned about me,” she said, “but there is another wagon train coming this way—it is behind us. I can wait here for them.”
He frowned. Then training his gaze on her, he replied, “No…sea…of…white…” He shook his head. “None. Wagons…no.”
“Perhaps you didn’t see it. The guide said it was a few days behind us.”
Again, the young man shook his head. “Wagon…train…none. Not…behind. Not…in front.”
Mia furrowed her brow. Surely this wasn’t right. Hadn’t that trail guide told them that there was a wagon at their rear? It was the only reason they’d stopped here.
Then another thought crossed her mind. Had the man been lying? She blinked a few times. Then she looked up at Mr. Lakota. She asked, “Are you telling me the truth? That there is no wagon train near here? None at all?”
“Hau. Train…none.” He nodded.
“I can’t believe that. Why…” It came to her then. The scout—the man they had all trusted—might have been one of the murderers. He had left their small party to return to his own wagon train. But if there were no train, if he had done this only to—
She caught her breath. If he had been one of their attackers, then he would be here amongst the dead, dressed in Indian garb like the rest of his fellows. She hated to do it, to search over the dead, but she would have to do it. If that man were here, it meant that she and this small wagon train had been utterly betrayed.
She didn’t say a word. Instead, she rose up to her feet, and turning her back on the Indian, she stepped out amongst the dead. She found the man after some little search. He was, indeed, dressed as an Indian, but he was also easily recognized.
She swayed. The truth was a hard matter to come face-to-face with.
That man had utterly deceived them. But why? Had someone in their midst cheated one of these murderers? Cheated all of them? Try as she might, Mia could think of no reasonable explanation for the slaughter, outside of— What was that they’d said about a woman with red hair? She couldn’t quite recall what had been said now, but it seemed to her that it might have something to do with her.
Perhaps it was her lack of understanding of the motives involved in this slaughter, or maybe it was fear or anger that caused her to teeter on her feet. She felt oddly weak. She ran a hand over her eyes, realizing she was going to be sick to her stomach. Her knees buckled under her, and despite her best efforts, she fell to the ground at the same time that the contents of her stomach spilled up. But she didn’t reach the ground.
Sturdy arms came around her to catch hold of her, and she was brought up firmly against the chest of her rescuer. Oddly, before she lost consciousness altogether, she was aware that his arms felt good around her.
What an unusual thought, she decided before the all-consuming blackness of unconsciousness engulfed her once again.
Well that’s all for now. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away a free e-book of this story. So do come on in and leave a comment.