Guest Blogger: Joyce Henderson

joyce-henderson.jpgI’m thrilled to be here on Petticoat & Pistols. The fillies milling around in this corral are some of my favorite writers. J

For those who don’t know me or my work, I wrote for 20 years prior to first publication in 2005. You can get a little insight into me if you go to my web site, which I constructed myself, ugh, and keep up after a fashion, www.joycehendersonauthor.com That said, what comes to mind out of my long years of experience to talk about here? Family, I guess, and some of the stories behind why I write Historical Native American Westerns. My maternal great-grandparents migrated to Central Texas in 1900, from Tennessee and Georgia.

I don’t know much about my biological father’s relatives. Although, his family is rumored to have some Native American blood mixed in somewhere back in history, but I’ve never been able to pin down anything definitive in that regard. Mother escaped a bad marriage by hauling me out a window, literally, when I was three years old, and packing me off to Southern California where I grew up.

My roots are firmly planted in the 60-acres of rocky Texas soil my maternal great-grandparents farmed. Not having a lot of money, they couldn’t hire much help. So what did folks do in those days to get cheap labor to clear trees and stumps, dislodge those rocks, and build a house that stood until 1980?

William Lamar Yancy Bond, March 26, 1861 – August 8, 1931
Bethana Ada Morgan Bond, October 18, 1887 – August 19, 1962
Nuptials photo August 16, 1885
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In the case of my intrepid ancestors, William Lamar Yancy Bond and Bethany Ada Morgan Bond proceeded to grow their own farm workers—twelve youngin’s. I marveled at my great-grandma, who was in a wheelchair the last 25 years of her life because a broken foot wouldn’t heal (diabetes), and wondered how she managed to birth strapping children. She was all of 4′ 10 or 11″ and weighed maybe 90 pounds soaking wet.

On the other hand, my great-grandpa was a barrel-chested six-footer—and answered to that little squirt he married. Yessiree, he sure did! I think most women who migrated west were tough little ladies, or they never would have made the journey. So many survived and even flourished with few amenities, and most certainly fought the miseries of dirt, rain, biting wind and snow.

The Bonds built a three-room house, with outhouse, a small barn for the plow horse and milk cow, and a chicken pen right next to the barn. They had a few pigs, and the kids tended a small herd of cattle that was mostly raised for beef.

I don’t know how, or from whom they got to help them dig a well, maybe grandpa and the boys did it themselves. But water was piped into the side of the kitchen, and a hand pump was situated over a sink. Voila, indoor plumbing! 

The third room in the house was like a barracks along the side of the kitchen and the room with the fireplace that served as the living room. In those days, grandma and her daughters made all their clothes and bedding. And that meant, a quilt frame was forever part of the main room, suspended from the ceiling with ropes, and could be lowered to accommodate the women sitting on either side to quilt. Woe be to the girl who failed to sew tiny, neat stitches in those quilts!  

People of today think cigarettes are disgusting. Um, my great-grandma and my grandma both dipped snuff. Now there’s a disgusting habit! And you know, my great-grandma never owned a toothbrush. Eeww! It’s true. She used the burnt end of a wooden match stick to clean her teeth. I think she had every tooth in her head the day she died.

There was a narrow stream not too far from the house where the kids and grandpa, more often than not, bathed. Winter forced them all inside to the round tin tub that grandma used year-round.

They had one luxury, or what might be considered a luxury. A chiming wall clock hung just inside the front door. It was great-grandpa’s pride and joy, I guess. Interestingly, he died at, as I recall, 6:10 in the evening. The clock stopped at the precise moment of his death and never ran again.

You may now understand why I write about farm life. For me, the mid 1800’s to early 1900 hold a never-ending fascination and, specifically, my family’s history. How many of you have tales about your family history to tell?  

the-edge-of-the-stars.jpgFrom those who leave a comment, I will draw a name and send that person signed copies of  my two 2005 releases, WALKS IN SHADOW and WRITTEN ON THE WIND, both now out of stock. A second name drawn will receive a signed copy of TO THE EDGE OF THE STARS.

Check back here to see who won, and then email jhenderson2@comcast.net your address so I can send out the books right away.   

Bobbi Smith Celebrates 25 Years!

bobbi.JPGsmith_bobbi.jpgHi Everybody! 

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be ‘blogging’ with you.  I am honored to be here and look forward to a fun weekend.

 

This year marks my 25th year as a published author.  So much has changed since 1982 when I sold my first book Rapture’s Rage to Zebra.  Back in those days, manuscripts were 550-600 pages long – typed on a manual typewriter and using a lot of white out, and everybody was reading.  As a romance fan myself, I used to go to three or four different stores every month just to make sure I saw all the titles that were available. 

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And cover art!  What about the changes we’ve seen there?  The Flame And The Flower was the first ‘romance’ I ever bought, and I remember being a little embarrassed to check it out because there was a couple embracing on the cover.  (Granted they were only about 2 inches tall and very modest, but that was back in the mid to late 70s and Fabio hadn’t shown up yet.) 

texas-splendor.jpgDo you remember the Fabio cover in the 80s – I think it was a Johanna Lindsey – where he was naked with the girl pressed against him?  My Kmart store went around and put stickers over his rear so no one would be offended.  I was very blessed to have David Alan Johnson on the cover of my book Heaven.  He was the first hunk winner from RT, and we got to tour together.  He’s a real gentleman and a lot of fun.

My covers from Leisure have been awesome.  Lately, they’ve gone to the ‘guy only’ look, and I think they’re terrific.  Take a look at the cover art for ‘Wanted! The Half-Breed’ my June ’08 release from Leisure.  It’s gorgeous!

wanted-cover.jpgSpeaking of Wanted! The Half-Breed, Walker Stevenson is our hero.  He’s framed for murder and sent to the penitentiary.  While he’s working on a chain gang, he manages to escape and returns home to track down the real killer with the help of our heroine Roni.  Roni is a doctor, and it was fun doing the research of women doctors back then.  There was a lot of prejudice against them, that’s for sure.  The story is set in Texas and hopefully a page-turner for everybody!

Thanks to Cheryl St.John and the rest of the ladies for inviting me on!  Feel free to ask me anything!  We’re going to have a fun weekend!

 ANNOUNCEMENT!

Bobbi will be sending two autographed copies of her newest book to two lucky winners, drawn from the names of those who post comments on her blog.  Good luck, ladies!

Our Guest Kathryn Albright: Dolls in the 1800s

kathyrn-albright.jpgThanks for having me here!  This is such a fun website.

I often tease my mother that she never grew up—she still plays with dolls. My mother is a collector and also a doll restoration artist. Years ago she apprenticed to a woman who later retired and sold the business and tools to her. People brought in their broken dolls, modern or antique, and she knew just what to do to fix them–whether it involved restringing, a new wig, gluing in eyes, or adding a new limb.

I remember returning home late at night after a babysitting job or date and feel eyes staring at me from every corner of the house–rather disconcerting, if not down-right frightening. (And don’t even get me started on the boxes of eyes and limbs in the basement!)

frenchdolldress.jpgIn my debut book, The Angel and the Outlaw, two dolls play a part in getting the hero and heroine together. A china doll from 1860 and a paper mache doll from 1850.  I am fortunate that my mother happens to have two dolls that fit my story to a “T”, even to the point of a lovely green dress on the French doll which matches a description in my story!

Manufactured dolls of this era were generally paper mache or china or bisque. They had an adult face rather than a baby face. (Dolls with a baby face weren’t available until 1910.) The soft cloth bodies were filled with sawdust, horsehair or cotton. The hairstyles reflected the current styles of the day. Both of these dolls have “flat-top” hairdos that were popular during the Civil War. The heads were often sold by themselves, and a mother would then make the body of the doll and sew the clothes. 

frenchdollclose.jpgThe French china doll was popular from 1860 to 1900. It cost approximately one dollar at that time. The head and shoulder plate, along with the hands and feet are china (with painted-on shoes) and the body is made of cloth. This doll has a painted garter on the left leg.

germandolldress.jpgThe German-made paper mache doll is older with cracks along the bust line. She has soft leather arms and hands (with separate fingers!) and leather shoes that can be taken off. As sedate as she looks here, she has lovely undergarments so I thought she’d like to show off her fancy corset *g*.

Growing up, the doll I remember playing with the most was a Barbie doll (along with her boyfriend Ken and her younger sister Skipper). Usually, there was a ranch involved because I loved horses and had several Breyer horse figurines. When my sons came along, I remember the craze for Cabbage Patch Kids (which thankfully I never had to stand in line for since my boys were into sports.) I’d love to hear about your favorite doll—now or when you were younger.  

If you post today, I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a signed copy of my debut book. And since it is December, I’ll also include a special tree ornament of the lighthouse where my story takes place.

For more information, please visit my website at www.kathrynalbright.com.

Thanks to all the great gals at Petticoats and Pistols for having me here. It’s been fun!  

Welcome Cathy Greenfeder: My Writing Muse, My Friend, My Dog Maxi

wildflowers.jpgI’m sorry for getting this out late, but on November 15, 2007 I had to put my beloved Labrador retriever, Maxine, to sleep. She’d been in our family for twelve years. The cancer she had returned with a vengeance over six months, and the past week had been too much of a strain on the poor girl. On the advice of her vet, we decided to end her suffering.Maxi had been my loyal friend, an inspiration for my writing, and a constant companion when I sat down to write. She reminded me to take time out to play, to take walks, and to dream.

When I wrote my first book, Angels Among Us, a paranormal romance, I based my heroine’s canine companion Baxter, a yellow Labrador retriever, on Maxi. Her loyalty, protectiveness, and zaniness provided material for Baxter’s personality. He added a touch of humor to the suspense created for the heroine, Kay Lassiter, and her guardian angel, Eviance Angelique, who helped her solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths as well as the threats presented by a former murderer. Baxter also helped Eviance to rekindle the romance between Kay and her brother’s best friend, Jake O’Malley, the proverbial “boy next door”.

Wildflowers, a western historical romance published in June 2007, animals are part of the cast of characters.  Ryan Majors, the book’s reluctant hero, a mountain man turned trail guide, has a close friendship with his faithful horse, Daisy. His half Native American background provided him with the skills and talents useful for leading a wagon party to the Oregon Territory. Respect for the natural world and living creatures echoed through the novel along with the romance between Ryan and the minister’s daughter Johanna Wade.

My interest in the pioneer era, the Native Americans, a love of horses (I’ve ridden out West –Oklahoma and the Canadian Rockies and here in the East), added to the plot and the characters of the book. Having Maxi in the family made me realize the special role of pets in our lives. Consciously or unconsciously I’ve included animals in some way in all my books. They provide a touch of humor, add to the suspense, or show us how to be better characters ourselves. You can read more about Angels Among Us or Wildflowers at the publisher’s web site, www.wings-press.com or at my web site www.cag06angel.com 

Paty Jager: Perfectly Good Nanny

paty.jpgHello Everyone!  Thank you, ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for letting authors of western romance be guest bloggers.  I’ve been scarce making comments this week because my two daughters and their combined four children – all under the age of four – have been at my house since last Saturday. While it’s fun having them- it puts a crimp in my usual daily activities. Such as blogging and writing.  

My newest release is a contemporary western set on a cattle ranch in SE Oregon. This book was the easiest to write because I didn’t have to do as much research as I do with a historical. My husband and I raise cattle, so the day-to-day worries and work were easy to write. Our little “hobby ranch” is nothing like the one in my story.

perfectlygoodnanny_wrp308_680.jpgPerfectly Good Nanny is set in a remote area of sagebrush, rabbit brush, and bunch grass. It is harsh land that requires diligence on the part of the rancher during calving season.  It is a part of the country where the cattle had to scrounge to find feed all year round until the invention of irrigation pipes.  The hero and heroine are thrown together by a 12-year-old girl, tired of taking care of her 2 year-old brother, and a meddling Klamath Indian neighbor. The two hire a nanny without the father knowing. When the woman shows up knowing everything about his family, Brock Hughes is not the least bit hospitable. But between the nanny and the girl they manage to get him to agree to the one month the neighbor paid for. Sparks fly and two people who’d given up on love learn to love again.   

My story depicts the daily lives of remote ranchers. To some extent though they have the newer equipment a lot of the day-to-day chores are the same as a hundred years ago.  Before haying and equipment, herds were moved to the higher range in the summer to eat the grass, saving the lower, taller grass in the meadows to feed the cattle during the winter. They also hayed, but would not reap as much feed from their hard work as they can now with the modern equipment.   

Grass was cut, usually from a meadow that was watered from a creek or a spring. A hand-held scythe was used to cut the grass. And later on in the 20th century a ground driven sickle was pulled behind a horse to cut the hay. By the late 1800’s they used a dump rake pulled by a horse to “rake” the hay into piles.  Those piles were then forked onto wagons or sleds.  The hay was then either forked into a barn or loft or a large outside pile. In the winter, this pile was pulled onto low sleds and dragged by a team of horses. These piles were then towed to the pasture where the cattle were wintering and forked off to feed. 

dscf0190.JPGIn the 1800’s just feeding the cattle could take half a day or longer if they were scattered among several fields. Of course, if it was a large enough operation, they would have several feeding sleds.  Being from a ranching family, I find the historical aspects of ranch living more interesting than the day-to-day lives of people living in the cities in the 1800’s  

What is something you have always wondered about? What kind of bathroom facilities people living in apartments in large cities in the 1800’s had? How long did it take to make soap or actually weave enough cloth to make a garment, or even how long did it take to sew by hand a dress or shirt?  That is what I find so fascinating about writing historical stories, the research that answers these questions. Why do you write or read historical romance?  

Thank you for participating today.  Leave your comments and I’ll pick one person to win an autographed copy or their choice of either my current contemporary western “Perfectly Good Nanny” or one of my previously published historical westerns.  

Also check out my website www.patyjager.com to enter my November contest and read my reviews.  

Guest Blogger Janette Kenny: Genuine Western Hospitality

onerealcowboy2.jpgonerealman2.jpgAn unwritten code of the west was that any cowboy caught on the trail at dusk could pretty much count on finding a hot meal and a bunk at any ranch.  Being a research junkie and nosy to boot, I decided to look into this open-door policy a bit deeper.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that some ranchers welcomed American and European sportsman to use their ranch as a base while they hunted big game.  In fact, they courted these guests to come to the West.  The reasons were varied and yet practical. Even with the railroad going coast-to-coast soon after the Civil War, news tended to travel slow.  Having “big city” or foreign guests was especially welcome in an area where newsworthy items were, for the most part, spread by word of mouth. 

Of course, there was another benefit to these visiting sportsmen, or “dudes,” and was that they could help control the wild game that preyed on their herds, thus saving ranchers time and resources.  I suppose that constituted just another way to “pay one’s way.” 

eatonranchcabin.jpgIt’s said that paying guest ranches came about in the early 1880s when a visitor at the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Territory was enjoying himself so that he offered to pay the Eatons to extend his stay there and also grant him the use of a horse.  Word of such an arrangement spread, and other ranchers began providing guest quarters. 

By the 1890s, more visitors ventured west to partake of the western hospitality and thrill of the hunt on the ranches that welcomed guests.    

Being raised on a farm, I know full well that some years farmers barely eek out a living.  Running a guest ranch quickly became more lucrative than raising cattle, especially in light of the devastating winter of 1885-86 when hundreds of thousands of cattle died in the blizzards and ranchers were facing bankruptcy.  For years after that devastation, many ranchers held on to their land simply by opening up their ranch to paying strangers.   The guest ranches were fairly split on what they offered visitors.  Some, like the Gros Ventre Lodge in the late 1890s, was noted for their big game hunts that attracted sportsmen from the U.S. and abroad.  Others, like the Custer Trail Ranch, maintained a working ranch so visitors could get a taste of authentic ranch life, from the mundane activities of ranching to the cowboy exhibitions held on ranches, which were the forerunner of the rodeo before it was an organized and recognized sport.   

newprairiecabinnexttooriginal.jpgBy the turn of the century, the railroad and ranchers teamed up to advertise guest ranches.  It was a lucrative deal for both parties, and today dude ranches are going strong all over the U.S. The Eaton brothers knew a good thing when they saw it back in the 1890s when the started the first guest ranch.  They moved their operation from North Dakota to Wolf, Wyoming in 1904, and soon provided extensive guided trails into the Yellowstone region for men – and women.  It’s the latter that snared my attention.  

After seeing a picture that included lady “dudes” sitting before their tents knitting in the wild, I knew I had to include this bit of history in a novel.  Of course, I took free license and made my guest ranch exclusively for woman – a surprise that my cowboy hero Gil Yancy was none to happy to be involved in.   I choose Wyoming as the setting for One Real Man, my April 08 release, partly because I love Wyoming, and partly because it offered women far more freedoms in the 1890s, starting with being the first state where women could vote. 

custertrailranchcourtesyosbornstudios.jpgMy heroine Josie desperately needed freedom, and Gil had his mind set on taking control of her ranch – and her.  Ah, both had a lot to learn and a lot to give up in order to have a happily ever after.  But oh, the rewards.    

To get the comments going, have you stayed on a guest ranch before?  If you had your preference, would you rather stay at a working ranch, or a resort ranch?  Me?  I’ll take the real cowboy any day.   

I’ll give away an autographed copy of my March debut, One Real Cowboy to one of the commenters.  You’re welcome to stop by my website (www.jankenny.com) to read more about my books, and me. 

Guest: Mary Connealy!

What I tried to do in Petticoat Ranch is get inside a man’s head.cover_petticoatranch_sm.jpg

I’m lucky I got out alive.

The comedy in Petticoat Ranch comes largely from my heroine Sophie thinking like a woman and my hero Clay thinking like a man. They have even less exposure to the opposite sex than is usual.

Well, Sophie’s had exposure, she’s just come away with a very dim view. Clay grew up around men in the Rocky Mountains. He’s completely lost.

All Clay knows about women he’s heard or made up. He expects quiet, polite little women folk to stay clean, stay inside, cook his dinner. He doesn’t quite get it that they’ve been living on their own on a Texas ranch for years.

All Sophie knows about men is from her worthless husband. She had to do most of the work when he was alive and keeping him happy—a hopeless task—was just one chore she didn’t have to do after he was dead. She expects little or nothing from her new husband.

I suppose it’s risky to ever believe you know what a man is thinking but I feel like I had a little better chance than a lot of people because of my husband.

Ivan comes from a family of seven sons. His mother is a saint. That woman can tell stories of blood and destruction and mayhem that would make Stephen King run screaming.

Now Ivan and I have four daughters. Watching the mystified way he reacts to the girls is funny.

If you’ve got sons and daughters both you know how brothers are. They torment their sisters for entertainment.
“Yay! I made her scream!”
“Yay! I made her cry!”
“Yay! I embarrassed her in front of her friends!”

Little brothers learn to not only accept those crying, screaming moments from sisters, they revel in them.  But to a man who’s never had a sister to torture, females remain very much a mystery. I’ve decided it’s one of those things you learn as part of your childhood development…or you never learn it at all.

So, once when one of the girls was crying over some trauma…I think she got called out in a softball game…or maybe benched…or scolded by the coach, I can’t remember. I was hugging her and listening to her cry it out and just generally doing this, “Oh, honey, oh sweet baby, you poor thing”…routine until the tears stopped. That’s what they seem to need.

Ivan came in and he saw her crying and he was furious. Injustice! Who made you cry? Why I oughta….

When his growling didn’t make her stop crying—shocker—he pulled out his billfold and offered her twenty dollars.
Well, my daughter is a bright little thing and after all, it’s not like she’d never lost a ball game before. She snatched the twenty and cheered right up.

Later, I had a little talk with him about the wisdom of teaching the girls that crying in front of a boy earns you money.
Hello emotional blackmail!
Hello romantic comedy novel.
Hello ‘Petticoat Ranch’.

img_6416.jpgI did research for the place—Texas. The history, the flora and fauna, the clothing, the ranching, the lingo. But the kernel of the story comes from my real life Petticoat Ranch.

What do you think? Are heroes harder for women authors to write? Do we really know what’s going on inside a man’s head? Are our heroes all romanticized? Are they doing what we wish they’d do instead of what a man really does?

I’m going to have a drawing for an autographed copy of Petticoat Ranch today. Everyone who leaves a comment has their name thrown in the hat.

Guest: Cindy Holby

Where have all the cowboys gone?

I was raised on Westerns. Bonanza, Rawhide, High Chaparral, The Virginian, The Big Valley and Lancer just to name a few. For me as a child, the Wild West was as close as my TV and my imagination. My favorite toys were my Johnny West, Jane West, Chief Cherokee and their horses, Thunderbolt, Thundercolt and Flame. I even had the cardboard bunkhouse and all the accessories. It’s really too bad a basement flood destroyed all that.

My fantasies were about Heath Barkley, Little Joe and oh my gosh, Johnny Lancer. Does anyone remember the scene were he jumped his palomino over the fence when the opening credits came on? My heart broke when the actor, whose name escapes me at the moment, lost his arm and leg in a motorcycle accident.

Then came a more modern western. Alias Smith and Jones. Both guys were hot and some fancy camera work made Kid Curry the fastest gun in the west. Yummy. And I was so in love with Pete Duel who tragically killed himself.

John Wayne movies could always be counted on for a great mud-slinging, name calling fight, usually with Maureen O’Hara winding up in the mud. And one movie was so good they made it twice, the Rio movies, one with a young hot James Caan and the other with a young hot Ricky Nelson.

Then suddenly westerns disappeared. Occasionally, you could catch one on a Saturday matinee on some random cable channel but they were hard to find until the Hallmark channel came along.

Thank goodness for Silverado. And while I’m not a big fan of Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting abilities, the cast was awesome. Brian Dennehy, who was so good, Scott Glenn, a young, hot Kevin Costner, Jeff Fahey as bad guy personified and James Gammon as the leader of the outlaws who had the best line in the movie. “I think there’s only a couple of guys up there and this asshole is one of them.” Loved it!

Young Riders. Young Riders fulfilled my Western needs. With a cast full of hunky guys who knew how to shoot and ride I was hooked. It also got me to thinking about my childhood western fantasies. The one about a girl named Jenny and her brother…

And Chase The Wind became a story. A six book series about cowboys and Indians and the joys and desperations of living and building a nation. I was inspired by Cowboys.

But inspiration is hard to find these days. Open Range was pretty good. I loved the scene were Kevin Costner didn’t waste any time and just killed the bad guy.

Outsider. Tim Daly. Enough said. Nope. Sigh…….Was he great in that movie or what? And somehow my copy is missing. I’ll just have to buy a new one.

And just recently, 3:10 to Yuma. If anything revived the Western, this movie was it. Everything you could want. Well it would have been nice if Christian Bale lived but still, a great, great film. I haven’t seen the new Brad Pitt movie with the impossibly long name but hey, it’s a western and Brad Pitt is in it so it’s got to be good.

In my books I have several cowboys. Jamie, Chase, Ty, Caleb, Jake and Zane. These guys are based on some real life heroes. My sons and their friends. If we lived a hundred and twenty years ago, I’m pretty sure this is how they’d act.

Cowboys. You just gotta love them. I’m pretty sure there’s still several of them around. I even know a few, which is kind of strange considering I live in North Carolina.

Now if I could just find my copy of Outsider….

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Cindy Holby author of
Chase The Wind
Wind Of The Wolf
Crosswinds
Windfall
Forgive The Wind
Whirlwind

windofwolfthumb.jpgforgivethewind.jpgwhirlwindcvr1.jpgcindy-holby.jpg

And her newest release, Rising Wind, which is not about cowboys but frontiersmen who have their own stories to tell.