Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

Heather Blanton

Hey, y’all! It’s an honor and a thrill to be back visiting you here at Petticoats and Pistols. You know, the name of this blog says it all. At least for me. Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

My new book, A Scout for Skyler, from the Mail-Order Mama series, has been described as Pride and Prejudice meets The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yes, it’s a comedy, but my heroine, Priscilla Jones, was written as a serious tribute to some of the most amazing pioneer women in American history.

Over the years, my research has introduced me to some gals who defied expectations and overcame some impossible situations. Sometimes, it was life-and-death. Other times, it was a matter of life—hers, and how she wanted to live it.

As I was writing A Scout for Skyler, I had these historical figures in my head:

Of course, when we think of rough-and-rowdy frontier women, the first one to come to mind should be Calamity Jane. She lived in a man’s world. Smoke, drank, chewed, and fought with the best of them.

Orphaned at twelve, left to care for five brothers and sisters, Calamity did not shirk her duty. Most likely she did work as a prostitute early on to provide for the family. She left the lifestyle behind, though, by learning to shoot and throw a respectable punch. Everyone who knew Calamity did respect her courage and her kindness. She rescued a runaway stage from a Cheyenne war party and nursed some Deadwood residents back to health during a smallpox epidemic. The only thing Calamity couldn’t do was win Hickock’s heart.

Susan McSween watched her husband get gunned down in the street during the Lincoln County War. Livid over his murder by a US Army colonel in cahoots with the Murphy-Dolan gang, she stayed in town and hired an attorney to fight for justice. He was soon murdered, as well. Susan still didn’t back down or leave. She changed tactics. She figured out the best way to get back at the corrupt forces in Lincoln County was to hit them in the pocketbook.

Susan McSween was a shrewd businesswoman and she put all her efforts into frustrating her nemesis, James Dolan. Eventually, she became the Cattle Queen of New Mexico, at one point running nearly 5,000 head of cattle. Best of all, she outlived all her enemies.

And I thought of Nancy Hart, a patriot on the frontier of North Georgia. The Cherokee named her War Woman because she was fearless and an accurate shot (even with crossed eyes). Her real legend came about when she killed six British soldiers with their own guns.

Six.

I could go on and on. The women who built this country were tough, stubborn, and courageous. Suffice it to say, the things my girl Priscilla Jones does in A Scout for Skyler—she’s totally capable of them. Because real heroines have gone before her.

My hero, Captain Corbett, is an arrogant Scotsman who believes women should have babies not opinions. How well do you think an attitude like that would have gone over with the rough-and-tumble Calamity Jane, or the fiery, refined Susan McSween?

In A Scout for Skyler, all these ladies have a voice, and the story was a hoot to write. Talk about fireworks and sassy dialogue.

A Scout for Skyler is part of the multi-author series, Mail-Order Mama. All the stories are stand-alones but have one thing in common: the mail-order bride is a surprise. I hope you’ll check them all out.

To buy a copy of A Scout for Skyler click here.

To visit Heather’s website click here.

GIVEAWAY!! Today, I’d like to give TWO random commenters ebooks of A Scout for Skyler. So, tell me, do you have a favorite heroine from history? Belle Starr, Amelia Earhart? Pocahontas? Or…?

Animal Rescue, Ranching, and Coming Home

Tina Dee

Thank you all for welcoming me to Petticoats & Pistols today. I’m very excited to spend time with you once again.

I would love to share about my contemporary western romance set on a Rescue Ranch in the beautiful state of Wyoming. The idea for a Rescue Ranch came from a local pet rescue in my neighboring city, near my home. This place provides foster care and finds forever homes for animals, as well as provides education and equine therapy for children and adults. The place that inspired the idea is the Helen Woodward Animal Center, where all of these wonderful things happen.

In my story, The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch, both young adult sons left the aunt who had raised them to run away from the pain of their broken past. One of the brothers (Tripp) returns, though, after receiving a letter from his aunt when she suffers a back injury—she needs his help. In The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch, the lost come to the ranch to find themselves, and the injured come for healing. This is what Tripp (our hero) finds when he returns home to the ranch—it’s no longer the old farm he left; it’s now a thriving place with vegetable crops, an heirloom orchard that’s abundant with fruit, and quirky animals—there are even activities going on there that are benefitting the families of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. All this is due to the hard work of his aunt—and Shelby, his former girlfriend.

Also, I could not resist putting my little black and silver Yorkie (Molly) in the story—her likeness is on the cover as well. Molly is a rescue herself. She sits with me, in my grandmother’s rocking chair, while I write. She’s been my own therapy pup and brings calm to me when life gets stressful. She’s such a blessing and gift from God.  It just felt right to put her in the story.

The other brother in the series, Ty (still a work in progress—both the story and Ty) will receive his own story in another series of mine. In his story, he will run into a therapeutic equestrian riding manager who, herself, has been through the therapy, as she’s a veteran who suffered injury while serving in the United States Air Force.

The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch is part of a multi-author series and each of the books in the series can be read as standalones, and read in any order. All books in the series are in—or spend time in—Wyoming on ranches, around horses and cowboys, and sometimes even cowgirls and rodeos, as the series is western romance, though some may include other locations as well. Each book brings the importance of home and heritage to the story and some of the contemporary characters even connect with other series through ancestors.

Today, I’m excited to have a giveaway where two random commenters will win an ebook of The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch. To be entered leave a comment on…If you could have a ranch in any state what one would you choose and why?

Want to read The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch? You can purchase the book here for a special price of 99 cents for the next three days only. The original price goes back to $2.99 on Monday. CLICK HERE.

It’s Picnic Time with Jodi Thomas

 

Jodi Thomas

                                                      Check below to see what Jodi is giving away!


Everyone knows writers live in other worlds inside their minds. Characters chatter, people get shot, couples fall in love, all surrounded in a make-believe world.

Then the doorbell rings or your cell chimes and the writer has to step out of one world and step into reality. The only way I can explain the fast change is it’s like changing trains while both are going 100 miles an hour.

So, as a writer for thirty years, I’ve become accustomed to jumping from racing trains. Only lately, I’ve been writing more because I’m staying home. More books, more fiction, more worlds to live in.

Right now I’m promoting one book, PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY.  I’m doing edits on DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL and writing Book 4 in the series.

Since I have about twenty-five characters in each book, that is 75 people running around in my brain.

People ask me if I’m lonely during this time. How could I be?  There is a party going on in my study.

When a writer’s brain begins to shatter, what happens?  Nothing. It’s just part of the job. I don’t need TV. I’ve already got too many channels in my head.

And, I love it. I never get my characters mixed up but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I don’t call my son by a character’s name.

Last week my agent called and asked if I had an idea for the next series. I smiled and opened another channel.

I hope you’ll grab your favorite food and drink and enjoy a picnic with your family and friends. Let me know which character from any book you would love to have a picnic with. I would love to give away a copy of PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY to one lucky winner. Giveaway rules apply.

Enjoy,  Jodi

 

 Amazon

 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

Historical Figure John Larn and a Giveaway!

Hi, I’m Andrea Downing and today I’d like to talk about the lesser known figure of John Larn.

The history of the West is littered with a glittering array of gunfighters and lawmen—sometimes both in one man. After all, the West wouldn’t have been ‘Wild’ without them; think how boring it would be if we only had pioneers and a quite ordinary workforce to write about! Like cream, certain names rise to the top in the litany of gunfighters: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their counterparts, the lawmen, were often not much better than they; think Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp and company. But there were lesser mortals who left a trail of destruction in their wake, and one such man was John Larn.


Larn was born in Alabama in 1849, well before the heady, post Civil War main migration to the West. As a teen, he moved on to Colorado to find work as a cowboy, but the hot-headed young man ended up killing his boss around 1869 in an argument over a horse. Heading to New Mexico, he notched his gun a second time when he killed a sheriff he believed to be in pursuit of him. Moving on to Texas, he next had work as trail boss for rancher Bill Hays in Fort Griffin, around 1871. This led to the deaths of 3 more victims on the trail to Trinidad, Colorado.


As we all know, ladies love a bad boy, and Mary Jane Matthews, from a prominent family, was no exception. The couple married, would eventually have two sons, and Larn managed to become a well-respected citizen—for a time at least—of Shackleford County in Texas. But by 1873, rumors started to appear of cattle rustling in which Larn was involved. Somehow, he was able to put the spotlight on his former boss, obtain a warrant charging the outfit with rustling and, keeping in mind no good deed goes unpunished, he gathered a possee and joined soldiers from Fort Griffin to ambush and kill all Bill Hays’ ranch hands.


By now, you may be getting the idea that Larn was one blood-thirsty dude. I’d agree! His next foray into law enforcement was to join a vigilante group called The Tin Hat Brigade in Griffin. Griffin had become so lawless, such a magnet for the anarchic and unruly, that it needed this group to take control and bring some law and order. Earning respect from the local townspeople for this work, Larn was elected sheriff in 1876 and was able to build a ranch on the Cedar Fork at Lambshead.
But I guess law enforcement may not have paid well because in less than a year Larn had either resigned or been pushed out, and his next post was as a deputy hides inspector. This involved keeping an eye on all cattle movement and supervising butchers as well. He also obtained a contract to supply three cattle a day to the fort. Needless to say, Larn didn’t think to supply his own beef. He practically started a range war, leading a band of men in bushwhacking and heading cattle off ranches. When a band of citizens searched the area behind Larn’s house, no prizes for guessing what they found. Six hides with other ranches’ brands were found and, at last, Larn’s game was up. For a moment at least…no charges were filed despite the arrest. Unfortunately for him, however, his bad temper led to his last assault—that of a local rancher by the name of Treadwell who had supposedly uncovered Larn’s cattle rustling. Larn was arrested and taken to Albany, where the sheriff had him shackled to his cell. When vigilantes arrived wanting to lynch Larn, they found they couldn’t remove him and shot him instead. He was twenty-nine years old. That’s about the age of my hero in Shot Through the Heart.

Here’s a little more about the book:

Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large.
Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.
When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?

So what do you think of these gunslingers and lawmen of the Old West? What made some men into killers? Mental disease? Family genes? And if you’d like to find out whether Shiloh and Sydney manage to find a middle ground, I’m happy to give away one e-book copy of Shot Through the Heart to one person who comments.

And of course, the book in both paperback and eBook is available at: 

BookBub

Astrology, a Ghost, and a Give Away!

Astrology

As far back as records show, it’s evident that Astrology has played a big part in every-day lives from the sailors who charted the seas to the mystics who used Astrology to advise kings and queens.

In the old West, cowboys often navigated by the nighttime stars. On a trail drive bestes casino deutschland, the cattle rested at night and the chuck wagon cook placed the wagon tongue toward the North Star before turning in. This aided the wranglers who would ride out to stand watch over the herd. Rotating members throughout the night allowed each to get some sleep before the next day. During the day, the trail boss navigated, and often without the use of a compass. He used a pocket watch to check his course, dividing the watch into 360 degrees or the points on a compass. The hour hand aimed at the sun, the trail boss could determine the line of direction from North to South.

It is not unusual for authors to use some form of Astrology in their stories. In Ghostly Interference, Jag Peters had been raised by a mother who incorporated all sorts of metaphysical teachings into his upbringing, Astrology being one of those.

At one point, Jag is compelled to track down any living relatives that Rena might have. She craves family as it has always just been her and her brother, Sam. Now that he is gone, she is completely alone.

But how can Jag get the information he needs from her? At his mother’s suggestion, he decides to use Astrology as an ice-breaker and to learn more about Rena.

Excerpt:

“Let’s play a game. When were you born?”

She shot him a look of panic. “Why do you want to know?”

“It’s how we play the game. I want to know you better.”

“I was born May 1, 1979.”

“I knew it! You’re a Taurus. I woulda’ bet money on it.”

“Is that bad?” Rena sucked on her bottom lip.

“Oh goodness no. Taurus people are born under the sign of the bull. Most often they are stubborn, determined, practical and down to earth, but have an eye for beauty. And they are brave.” He kneaded the arch of her foot. “And you are the bravest warrior woman I’ve ever met.”

“Hmmm, I like that phrase. And I love what you are doing to my feet.”

He continued. “I was born right here in Cedar Springs. How about you?”

“My birth certificate says I was born in Austin. I don’t remember anything except being in foster homes.”

“What was your mother’s name?”

She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t see as that has anything to do with us getting to know each other.”

“Call it curiosity. My mother is Charlotte Grace Peters.”

“Marjorie Irene Jett is the name on my birth certificate.” She spat out the words like a bitter pill.

Jag rubbed her ankle and moved up her leg. “It’s okay, Rena. I was just curious, that’s all. Any other siblings besides Sam?”

“Not that I know of. It’s always been just me and Sam. I don’t think I like this game. Your turn.”

He grinned. “Okay. I was born October 8, 1975, and that makes me a Libra.”

“And what are Libras like?” She took a sip of her wine.

“Libras are usually kind.”

Rena nodded. “What else?”

“We like peace and harmony and will walk a mile around a fight. We love all things of beauty and have a hard time saying no sometimes.”

“Those all fit you.”
Using tools like astrology is also a great way for the author to reveal more character depth to the reader in a fun way.
I’m a Leo. I was born on August 21st, the cusp of Leo/Virgo, and have some qualities from both signs.

How about you? What is your sun sign? I’ll pick two winners from the comments to receive a free e-book copy of Ghostly Interference!

BOOK BLURB:

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?


BOOK TRAILER LINK

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That’s Plum Crazy!

Hello! I’m Katrina Kyle. I’m thrilled to be here for the first time today, and even more ecstatic to give you a glimpse into my debut novel, Meg’s Motivation. Joining with like-minded readers is something special.

But first, I have a confession. When I set out to write a series about three sisters working to save the family plum orchard, I knew very little about plums. As in, practically nothing at all. The deeper I sank my teeth into the flesh of the matter, the more astounded I became. For instance, did you know that plums are the second-most cultivated fruit in the world and are grown on every continent except Antarctica? Plums are a member of the rose family with varieties that ripen in red, purple, yellow, green, and white. The average life span of cultivated plum trees is 10-30+ years.

Okay. That’s all well and good, but I needed to know about plums in California in particular. You see, that is where the Trudy family orchard called Damson Acres is situated in my series. Like many goods in California, plum production began in the mid-1800’s and really took off as the transcontinental railroad was completed. Today, the San Joaquin Valley in central California produces 95% of domestic fresh plums on 20,000 acres – not to say anything of the 50,000 acres of plums intended to dry for prunes. It takes three pounds of fresh plums to get one pound of prunes. That’s plum crazy! (Alright, that’s the last plum pun I’ll throw in here. I’d like to hear you say ‘plum pun’ ten times fast!)

What could a fictional three-generation farming family possibly do with that many plums? Most of the harvested fruit is packed up and shipped to markets around the country. The rest get processed into juice, spreads, syrup, and desserts made and sold in the Damson Acres Café.

As the eldest Trudy sister, Meg discovers that all is not well financially at the orchard. Money is draining from the accounts much faster than they can make it, and rather than worry her mother and sisters, Meg is motivated to turn things around. She quickly learns, however, that she can’t do so on her own. Enter the handsome travel blogger renting a guest bungalow on the property. Meg’s sisters dare her to kiss him while having lunch at the café, and when Meg finds out who he is, she is mortified! She and Morris are thrown together repeatedly, of course, and as they spend more time together, it’s only natural that they fall in love.

Some surprising twists tangle their relationship until neither is certain they’ll attain a happily-ever-after. But if you know me at all, you’ll understand that a happy ending for two people who are totally good together is a MUST.

I’d love to send a paperback copy of Meg’s Motivation to one lucky reader here today. To enter, tell me about a family legacy or tradition you cherish. I can’t wait to hear about your heritage. (And by the way, if you’d like to share a favorite plum recipe in the comments, I’d love to include it in a collection I’m putting together.)

Guideline rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

So next time you take a bite out of a fresh, juicy plum or open a bag of soft prunes, there’s a 95% chance you’re eating fruit straight off the truck from California. Mm.

Thanks for having me!

Pre-order Meg’s Motivation for only $0.99!
Amazon

Six Things You May Not Know About 19th Century Newspapers and a Give Away!

Hi! Amanda Cabot here. For me, one of the more enjoyable aspects of writing historical fiction is doing the research. I never fail to find at least one tidbit that intrigues me enough to include it in the book. As someone who once aspired to be a newspaper reporter, I had fun researching nineteenth century newspapers while I created a hero who owns a paper. That’s why I thought I’d share six things that might (or maybe won’t) surprise you about newspapers and printing in the mid-nineteenth century.

1. Importance – With the increase of literacy in the US, you’d think people would have had a large supply of things to read. That wasn’t always the case, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas. For them, newspapers were often the only things they had to read besides the Bible. As a result, papers included more than news. It wasn’t unusual to find poems, stories, and recipes in addition to what we would call news.

2. Prices – How much did all this cost the average subscriber? According to my research, an annual subscription to a weekly paper was $5, an amount that was often paid in goods rather than cash. I hope the editor enjoyed hams and jams as well as turnips and apples.

Advertisements frequently had a tiered cost, being priced at $1 for the first time they were run with subsequent weeks at $.50. To put this in perspective, a doctor’s office visit was also $1. Suppose you were running for office and wanted the paper to announce your candidacy. You might think that would be a simple ad at a cost of a dollar. Not so. Political announcements were priced at $10.

3. Revenue – In many cases, subscriptions and ads weren’t enough to support the newspaperman. That’s why he (and, yes, most of them were men) offered personal printing services, providing cards, posters, and stationery to residents.

4. Town Booming – This was a new term for me, but it underscored the power of the press. When towns were first established and sought new residents, they relied on papers to promote the town – sometimes through gross exaggeration – in an effort to attract settlers. One of the first towns to benefit from this practice was Oregon City in 1846 which relied on the Oregon Spectator to tout its attractions to potential residents.

5. Skullduggery – One of the more popular printing presses during the nineteenth century was the Washington Hand Press. Unlike previous presses, it was made of iron rather than wood, making it sturdy. Even more importantly, it could be easily assembled and disassembled – a real plus in the rapidly expanding American West.

For years, Samuel Rust held the patent on the Washington press and refused to sell it to his competitor, P. Hoe and Company. Hoe, however, was determined to obtain the patent and convinced one of his employees to pose as an inventor who wanted to expand on Rust’s design. Rust agreed to sell him the patent, not knowing that it was all a ruse and that the faux inventor would immediately turn the patent over to his boss.

6. Dangers – While the underhanded techniques that robbed Rust of his patent were unfortunate, they weren’t the only danger involved in the newspaper printing business. Sadly, not everything printed in newspapers was true. Many editors, following the practice of their Eastern colleagues, made little distinction between news and opinion. In some cases, diatribes and personal attacks made their way onto the printed page. You can imagine how those were received. Who would have thought that freedom of the press sometimes resulted in death?

Did any of these surprise you? More importantly, did any intrigue you enough to want to explore the world of nineteenth century newspapers? I’ll pick two people from the comments to receive a print copy of Dreams Rekindled (U.S. addresses only.) 

Giveaway Rules Apply: https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

If you’d like more information, my primary sources for this post were Red Blood and Black Ink by David Dary and Passionate Nation by James L. Haley.

About the book:

He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers—until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is.

Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new—and completely uncontroversial—start in the Hill Country.

As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood.

Bio

Amanda Cabot’s dream of selling a book before her thirtieth birthday came true, and she’s now the author of more than thirty-five novels as well as eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city. Her inspirational romances have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, have garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and have been nominated for the ACFW Carol, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers Best awards. A popular workshop presenter, Amanda takes pleasure in helping other writers achieve their dreams of publication.

Buying Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Social Media Links

http://www.amandacabot.com

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot

https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/

http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

 

Healing Hearts and Horses with Heidi Thomas

The love affair began when she was four.

Nettie’s sisters snatched her stuffed bear away and teased her, holding it just beyond her reach. Tears and shrieks did no good. They laughed and ran outside.

Papa picked her up, put her on the broad back of their plow horse, and led them in a slow walk around the corral. Toby’s warmth and the strength of his muscles spread through her body and the rocking motion soothed her baby grief.

Instantly she knew. This was home.

There’s something special about a woman and a horse and the healing, comforting bond they forge. So many western women have found special friendship with their horses. My grandmother in the 1920s was no exception.

My “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy was inspired by Grandma’s life. She was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dust mop and wrote of her horses as her “pals.”

Rescuing Samantha continues that theme of healing hearts and horses. Samantha Moser leases the Montana ranch that once belonged to her great grandparents. Like her great-grandmother, she has always felt a close kinship with horses, and city life is a track to failure.

Because she has a rescued Thoroughbred, she dreams of raising a herd of her own, but soon discovers not only financial obstacles, but also harsh, frigid winters and too many miles between the remote ranch and towns of any size. After working with her fiancé to fix up the dilapidated ranch, a disastrous, life-threatening blizzard experience sends him packing and leaves her to struggle on her own.

Samantha discovers, almost by accident, how troubled kids can come out of their shells and begin the road to healing by bonding with a horse.

Reading and watching documentaries about how horses can work miracles for children, veterans, and the disabled, I have incorporated some of these ideas into this new “Rescuing” series. As many of us have learned, never give up on your dreams, but be open to the dream changing. Like her great-grandmother before, Samantha also learns this lesson.

Excerpt from Chapter One of Rescuing Samantha:

FOR SALE OR LEASE:

360 acres prime pastureland. Ingomar, MT. Great starter ranch.

Samantha Moser’s heartbeat echoed every bump in the dusty country road. She was coming home.

Even though she’d never seen this ranch, its history was as much a part of her as the blood pulsing through her veins. Her great-grandparents had once owned this piece of Montana. Made a new beginning here. Realized a dream here. Sam could hardly breathe, and it wasn’t just the dust swirling through the open windows of the car. This might be her chance for her own new beginning.

Scrapbook pictures from the 1940s and ’50s, when Great-Grandma Nettie and Grandpa Jake lived here, conjured images. A white two-story house with a wrap-around porch.  A leafy cottonwood tree in front where a hammock swung. And a tall, classic red barn with white trim, horses in the corral. Sam rubbed her sweaty palms on her jeans. I can’t wait to see it. The Realtor said it was a “fixer-upper,” but surely a few repairs and a coat of paint would spruce the place up.

The spring-fresh prairie spread around them like an endless sea, broken only by undulating hills until it reached the low horizon, seemingly the end of the earth. This is how Sam remembered her childhood in Montana, before her family moved to Arizona. This is what had been calling to her since she was ten: Come home, come home.

Do you have a dream you’ve pursued, or want to follow?

Post your answer for a chance to win a copy of Cowgirl Dreams!

 

Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in my veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story.

Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Arizona Authors Association, is also a manuscript editor, and teaches local memoir and fiction writing classes.

She is an avid reader of all kinds of books, enjoys the sunshine and hiking in north-central Arizona, where she writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.

Heidi is also the “human” for a finicky feline, and describes herself primarily as a “cat herder.”

Her website is: https://www.heidimthomas.com

 

 

History of Bicycles with Charlene Raddon

Everyone grew up riding bicycles, right? Wrong. At least not successfully. I was a terrible rider, so nervous I kept falling into parked cars. At least, that was better than falling into the street and being run over by a car.

In my latest book, Gage (Ridge), Cupids & Cowboys Book 7, my heroine rides a bicycle in 1900 Montana. As it turned out, she didn’t do so well either. My hero, Marshal Ridge Givens (one of the triplets born in Barclay, Bachelors & Babies Book 1) went to the train station to pick her up. Instead of stepping down from a rail car as would be expected, she drove an automobile off a flatcar with a bicycle strapped to the back and wearing bloomers. No one in Cutthroat, Montana, had seen a motor car until then. She became the talk of the town.

Honora Keane came to Montana to fetch her orphaned niece, but being a dime novelist, she also hoped to get some first-hand experience in the ways of the quickly disappearing west. Of particular interest was the elder Gage Givens, Ridge’s uncle, though she soon decided Ridge would make a good hero too.

When the bank was robbed, and Ridge and Uncle Gage went after the gang, Honora begged to go along. Ridge said no. Well, being a modern woman and a suffragist, Honora ignored his decree. Not having a horse or knowing how to ride one, she did the perfectly logical thing—she rode her bicycle to follow the men into the mountains. Her experiences on that trip proved pretty hilarious.

Naturally, all this required research. I learned that several men claimed to have invented bicycles (called running machines or Draisines) as early as 1500, but Baron Karl von Drais, a German civil servant, created the first verifiable model in 1817. Being constructed almost entirely of wood, the draisine had no foot pedals, which required the rider to push it along with his feet (hence running machine).

New names came into use with later models, such as “pedestrian curricle” and “velocipede.” However, the public preferred “hobby-horse,” after the children’s toy or, worse still, “dandyhorse,” after the foppish men who often rode them. In the summer of 1819, the hobby horse became the craze in London. John Keats referred to it as “the nothing” of the day. A French metalworker, around 1863, added rotary cranks and pedals to the front-wheel hub to create the first pedal-operated “bicycle.”

From 1820 to 1850, tricycles and quadricycles appeared on the streets in a variety of designs, using pedals, treadles, and hand-cranks. Most suffered from high weight and high rolling resistance until Willard Sawyer of Dover built a range of treadle-operated 4-wheel vehicles and exported them worldwide in the 1850s.

The first mechanically propelled two-wheel vehicle is believed to have been built by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839. A nephew later claimed that his uncle developed a rear-wheel-drive design using mid-mounted treadles connected by rods to a rear crank, similar to the transmission of a steam locomotive. The first bicycle with pedals was invented in 1853.

 

Developed around 1863, a French design sparked a brief fashionable craze during 1868–70. It used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub. Pedaling made it easier for riders to propel the machine at speed, but this design’s rotational speed limitation made it unstable and uncomfortable, leading to the large front wheel of the “penny-farthing.” It wasn’t easy to pedal the wheel used for steering. The use of metal frames reduced the weight and provided sleeker, more elegant designs and mass-production. Different braking mechanisms were used depending on the manufacturer. In England, the velocipede earned the name of “bone-shaker” because of its rigid frame and iron-banded wheels that resulted in a “bone-shaking experience.” Later improvements included solid rubber tires and ball bearings.

The bicycle’s popularity grew on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1868–69, the craze was going strong in rural areas. Velocipede rinks became popular, and riding schools opened in many cities. Essentially, the velocipede proved a stepping stone, creating a market for bicycles that led to the development of more advanced and efficient machines. By 1870, the bicycle remained in favor only in the UK.

The high-bicycle was the logical extension of the boneshaker, the front wheel enlarging to enable higher speeds (limited by the inside leg measurement of the rider), the rear wheel shrinking, and the frame being made lighter. Frenchman Eugène Meyer is now regarded as the father of the high bicycle. Meyer invented the wire-spoke tension wheel in 1869 and produced a classic high bicycle design until the 1880s.

A later invention called the “ordinary bicycle” replaced this type of bicycle, eventually being nicknamed “penny-farthing” in England (a penny representing the front wheel, and a coin smaller in size and value, the farthing, meaning the rear). They were fast but unsafe. The rider sat high up in the air and traveled at great speed. If he hit a bad bit of road, he could be thrown over the front wheel and seriously injured (two broken wrists were common, in attempts to break a fall) or even killed. “Taking a header” (also known as “coming a cropper”) was not at all uncommon.

The rider’s legs could be caught under the handlebars, making it impossible to fall free of the machine. The danger limited cycling to adventurous young men. Older men preferred the more stable tricycles or quadracycles. Women’s fashion of the day made the “ordinary” bicycle inaccessible.

My neighbor owns a high bicycle, and it’s interesting to watch him climb onto it and ride off down the street. I wonder how many of you ride bikes today? They don’t seem to be as popular as when I was a kid (back in the stone age).

And to read more about Ridge and Honora, order their book today!

For a chance to win an e-book copy of Vella

or an e-book copy of Gage,

post your answer to these questions :

Did you ride a bike as a child? Do you still ride one?
Did you have any wild adventures while riding your bicycle?

 

Bestselling author Charlene Raddon began writing in 1980 after waking up from a dream she knew had to appear in a book. She dragged out a portable typewriter and began writing. That book took nine years to write, as she learned her craft at the same time. A time travel, it has not yet been published. Next, she wrote Tender Touch (Brianna), entered it into the Colorado Gold contest, historical division, and won. That victory prompted her to enter the RWA Golden Heart Contest and Tender Touch became a finalist. She acquired an agent and a year and a half later, signed a three-book contract with Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Books.

In 1999, when the historical market plummeted and western romance became almost impossible to sell, she took a hiatus from writing, but her imagination wouldn’t leave her alone. Eventually, she got back into the game. In 2011, she won back her rights to her books and had them released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. In 2012 Tirgearr released two of her books in print, Taming Jenna and Tender Touch.

In 2011, Charlene’s artistic nature prompted her to try a different path and she began designing book covers. Today, she has a long list of clients and her own cover site, silversagebookcovers.com where she specializes in historical romance covers, primarily western.

Her writing and graphic arts business keeps her mightily busy and happy. But she always has time for family, travel, and helping other authors. Connect with Charlene on her website: https://charleneraddon.com/