Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
After a very long eighteen months of isolation that tried my very soul, this year I wanted to get away on July 4th. I wanted to go somewhere very special to celebrate being alive. I think many, many others had the same idea. So when a writer friend, Dee Burks, who lives in Raton, New Mexico urged me to come for their balloon festival, I didn’t hesitate.
Lord, I was glad I didn’t. It was the perfect getaway. Since this was much smaller than most of the festivals, it was very easy to get that coveted ride in a hot air balloon. There were only something like fourteen balloons—the perfect number.
The first morning, my friend and I got up around five so we’d have time to get ready and get to the pancake breakfast served by the Kiwanis Club. Cool mountain air. Lots of smiling faces.
It was after swallowing that last bite that Dee broke the news that we were going to have to crew a balloon called Any Way The Wind Blows that was piloted by Rick Moors of Albuquerque. The ground crew had to spreading the balloon out on the ground so the pilot could fill it with hot air.
Then I found out the balloon weighed 690 pounds!! It took some doing to lay it out. This is me trying my darndest. But, we made it.
The clouds went away and Pilot Rick gave my friend and I the first ride. I was excited and apprehensive and nervous but I climbed in and got a crash course in what to do if something went wrong. I had faith it wouldn’t though. We were far away from power lines and other obstructions.
Then we took off. There was no motion. I could not tell we were rising other than by looking at the ground. We were drifting higher and higher. This was our balloon.
It was quiet up there. And so beautiful. I took a picture of these horses down below. They didn’t even notice us.
We were up about twenty minutes or so then Pilot Rick set us down in a pasture. I have to say the landing was pretty rough but understandable since that thing has no brakes on it. My friend grabbed me or I would’ve fallen out of the basket.
I did it!! It was the ride of a lifetime and I had no regrets. I wasn’t a bit afraid.
After we climbed out, we discovered we had to fold the balloon up and we had already started by the time a four person chase team arrived. I saw every aspect up close and personal. Lord, I was exhausted by the time we finished for the day!!
The next day we went back, although not as excited, and after more pancakes helped out again. Thankfully, we had a little more help so it wasn’t as hard on us ladies.
But, my vacation wasn’t over. The second afternoon, we drove two thousand feet higher up to the top of Johnson Mesa and we found a little church that was built in 1879 by a small group of settlers who once lived up there. It looks like prairie land and not up almost 9,000 ft. A sense of utter desolation came over me and I wondered what lured anyone to that spot of ground. A little cemetery was across the road and inside the church was list of everyone buried there (a lot were children) as well as the names of the former residents.
It was such a lonely place I wanted to weep. Once the snows began, the people would’ve been completely cut off from the world with no way to get help or a doctor if they needed one. It sure put me in the right mindset for my next series about three sisters having to live away from everyone because of their father’s reputation.
Then, Dee drove us by the cemetery in Raton and told me that people have put solar lights on the graves and after sundown it’s all lit up. I wanted to see that but couldn’t stay awake for night. I got a picture of this little doe that was right by the cemetery. She was posing for me and not scared at all. Deer and bear wander all through town, into people’s yards and wherever else they take a notion.
Every so often we have these moments that fill us up and make us very grateful to be alive. This trip was that for me and I’m glad I could experience it.
Have you ever gone anywhere or done anything that was out of the ordinary? I’m giving away a $15.00 Amazon gift card to one commenter.
Have you ever noticed the restlessness of people? We’re rather a shiftless lot and maybe for the most part it’s due to getting bored with our surroundings. I’m not one to embrace change. I’m not spontaneous and I’m not brave. I’m a Taurus and we like deep roots that go down into the earth. The kind that takes a bulldozer to get out. But I’ve just completed a move from one city to another and I’m totally exhausted.
I envy the people in Biblical days who threw a burlap bag stuffed full of their belongings onto a camel and took off across the desert.
We humans have stuff—a lot of stuff, most of which takes five men and a boy to lift. My kids have threatened me with bodily harm if I buy another tote bag, piece of clothing or jacket. I do have a lot but I need them all
As with each move, I’ve said this is the last time. However, I mean this one. Here I will stay.
Unless something entices me.
I’ve thought a lot about women who had to whittle down a houseful of belongings to what would fit in a covered wagon. Did I mention I was not brave? I know in my heart I wouldn’t have been a wife who meekly climbed aboard and rode over some of the roughest country God ever created to settle somewhere unknown. They left family and friends. Everything they knew.
It must’ve been very hard.
A dear writer friend of mine is packing up in a few months and moving to Mexico. By herself. Far away from the life she knows here. I can’t imagine doing that.
But then a lot of people live abroad. One of my readers joined the U.S. Civil Service when she was younger and lived overseas for a good number of years working with other nationalities.
Did I mention I was a big chicken?
So I guess my point is…I have a reason for moving. I wanted to be near my children. See my grandkids. Get acquainted with my two-year-old great grandson who doesn’t know me or what to even call me. It’s time to fix that. So I am.
I’m settling in and have most everything unpacked. I’m planting my flag. This is it. I mean it.
What is the farthest you’ve ever moved? Did you lose anything? I lost an entire medicine cabinet full of essentials.
Oh, and I welcome any name suggestions my great grandson can call me. Just simple ones.
Games are such fun and keep us young. When I was growing up, a favorite time was when our family all gathered around the kitchen table and playing a board game called Aggravation. It’s similar to Sorry. We loved it so much, my dad made the board of wood. It kept us entertained for hours. I can still hear my mom’s laughter even though she’s been gone for years. Such special times.
Today, we’re going to play FILL In The Blanks. My sentences need completing. Use any words from the bottom to fill in the blanks and you can make them plural or singular. If you want to get really creative, you can insert anything of your own . Let’s make these really funny. I need to laugh.
I’m giving a $10 Amazon gift card. Everyone who comments will be entered in the drawing.
“Reach for the ___________ or I’ll blow _________ on your ___________,” Black Bart growled.
If you’ve ever read any of my books, you know I use a lot of common phrases. Some I grew up with, having heard my parents or other relatives say so I tend to use them because they’re as natural as breathing. I think they add a lot of flavor to my stories. I sure hope so anyway.
A lot of these go back a very long way. I hope you have fun learning the origins.
IN TALL COTTON – Means successful. Goes back to 1800s. Crops were good and the farmer flush
CAN’T WIN FOR LOSING – 1960s… bad luck keeps showing up to ruin plans
SLEEP TIGHT – In middle ages and later before bed springs, the mattress sat on a latticework of ropes. To keep the mattress from sagging, the sleeper had to keep tightening the ropes.
TOOTH AND NAIL – Fight like a wild beast – with teeth and nails – 1500s origin
HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD – To describe exactly what’s causing the situation or problem
BY AND LARGE – 16th century nautical term – sailing into the wind—means all things considered
RUNNING AMOK – 18th century, wild or erratic behavior
READ THE RIOT ACT – in 18th century England, the Riot Act was a very real document. It was recited to crowds of 12 people or more then the official ordered them to disperse and go home
DIEHARD – Originated in 1700s, describing condemned men struggling the longest when hung
TURN A BLIND EYE – Dates back to Horatio Nelson who held a telescope to his bad eye and proclaimed he couldn’t see a thing
GETTING OFF SCOT-FREE – Originated in Medieval England when a scot was a word for tax. A person who gets off scot free gets away with things.
BURY THE HATCHET – During peace negotiations in early America, the Puritans and Native Americans would bury all the weapons. Now it means to make peace.
BIG WIGS – In old England, the more influential people had the biggest wigs
ONE FOR THE ROAD – During the middle ages, the condemned were taken to their execution down Oxford Street. The cart would stop and they’d give the person a final drink.
GIVE THE COLD SHOULDER – During medieval times in England, the host would cut off a piece of meat from the shoulder and give to guests he wanted to leave.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR – Originated in late 1800s carnival games that used to be targeted to adults, not children. The prizes were cigars instead of stuffed toys.
WAKING UP ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE SIDE OF THE BED – Throughout history the left was considered evil. To keep guests from getting out on the left side, the bed was pushed against the wall so the sleepers had to both get out on the right side. Today it means to start the day in a bad temper.
GET ONE’S GOAT – Means to irritate someone. In horse racing, placing a goat in with a racehorse calmed it down. Rivals would steal the goat in hopes of upsetting the horse and winning the race.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these. There are tons more and probably 60 percent go back to the middle ages and earlier.
What ones surprised you the most?I think for me it’s Read the Riot Act and Get One’s Goat.
I’m filling in for Phyliss today and still talking about my new release – A Cowboy of Legend. Hope you’re not tired of it.
I just love putting kids and animals in my stories because they add whole other levels of emotion and depth. They’re such a great literary device in that you can show a lot about characters without really coming out and stating it. And they certainly entertain the reader.
Mostly, I’ve written in the normal dog, cat, horse, and mule. Although I did put a raccoon named Bandit in The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.
In this story, I added a little spider monkey named Jesse James. He’s dressed as a cowboy right down to a small gun and holster. Each time he yanks his gun out and fires, a puff of smoke comes out the barrel. I laughed so hard writing his scenes.
And then, he leaps onto the cat Sarge’s back and the war is on.
Jesse James arrives at the Three Deuces Saloon in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock is sure he’s hit on a gold mine. Folks flock in from everywhere to watch the lunch and supper shows. Just wait until he gets his hands on a real loaded pistol……
Here’s a short excerpt:
Harry muttered something that sounded like, “That little shit,” and hurried to get the monkey away from a customer’s plate where it was cramming food into its mouth. “JESSE JAMES!”
Clearly no love lost between them, the monkey chattered, shaking a finger at Harry. As the skinny bartender grew closer, Jesse James yanked a little pistol from his holster, and shot, all the while chattering and shrieking fit to wake the dead. The miniature gun gave a little pop and discharged smoke. The customers were laughing hysterically.
Deacon watched, entranced. This could have money pouring in. People would flock from all over to watch the hairy little outlaw with the perfect name.
Land. He saw his piece of land.
Just as Harry closed in to capture the monkey, Jesse James leaped from table to table then the long bar. As he reached for a full bottle of whiskey, Clyde clapped sharply, and the monkey clambered down and back onto the man’s shoulder.
* * * *
In the book I just finished that will be out early in 2022, I added a talking parrot named Casanova. He’s even funnier than Jesse James. Plus, he plays dead. Who knows what I’ll come up with next. Maybe a lion. Now there’s a thought.
What pets have you had? Anything exotic? I’m giving away a copy (ebook or autographed paperback) to someone who leaves a comment.
The turn of the century when the 1800s merged with the 1900s was called The Gilded Age among other names. It was an era of great economic growth and the world changed very rapidly, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors. Women were fighting for the right to vote and to have a say in the running of the country, to end social injustice. As they cried out for and demanded change a lot of women’s organizations sprang up.
One such organization was the American Temperance Society who advocated against liquor. They were led by women such as Carrie Nation whose first husband died of alcoholism. Carrie attracted a lot of followers who marched and carried signs decrying the evils of drink.
These women eventually became known as “Hatchettes” due to the fact they’d march into saloons carrying hatchets and destroy the place. It was a wild time and women were fed up being treated as second-class citizens and being abused (or killed) by their drunken spouses.
Grace Legend in A Cowboy of Legend joins the temperance movement and sees a hero in Carrie Nation. One of her childhood friends was beaten to death by her drunk husband so Grace sees this movement as one that will define her life.
She’s living in Fort Worth, Texas with her brother who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and not having much luck. As a baby in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy” she was a sassy little thing and as an adult she’s headstrong, passionate, and determined to make her mark.
Tempers flare and sparks fly when she descends on Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock’s Three Deuces Saloon with signs, drums, and hatchets.
Having grown up with nothing, he’s worked long and hard for something to call his own and he’s not about to let these women take it from him.
But who is Deacon Brannock? Grace’s search yields no one in the state in Texas under that name. It has to be fake. If so why? What is he hiding?
And who is the young pregnant woman living above the saloon? A wife, mother, sister? Or maybe he’s holding her against her will. Grace wouldn’t put anything past him. He has a dangerous reputation and was questioned for the murder of one man. Who knows how many others he may have killed?
Yet, Grace is keeping secrets of her own as well. Her family would be furious if they knew what she was doing.
This story has a monkey named Jesse James, orphan boys, and a mystery.
A Cowboy of Legend releases a week from today on Tuesday the 27th.
I have two copies to give away. Just leave a comment answering my question. If you had lived back then, would you have joined one of these women’s organizations? Or tell me any organizations you have joined or are still a member of?
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride (ebook only) is on sale for $1.99 until close of day on Thursday, April 22! If you missed the fourth book of Outlaw Mail Order Brides, now is your chance to get it cheap.