What a Beautiful Month! Give-Away, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Yummmmm…  Autumn — crisp air, scented delicately with falling leaves and the smoke from wood stoves;  Cinnamon and fresh apple cider, pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce, apple pie, the last of the corn on the cob…

And what about the “feels” of autumn? Traipsing through leaves, racking them up and jumping in them; picking up a leaf and tracing its pattern; warm days, cool nights, the pleasure of feeling Mother Earth prepare for a few months’ sleep.

And how about the sounds of autumn?  Cold nights and warm blankets, football games announcing the players; the sounds of cheerleaders and marching bands; long practices — even the quiet sound of leaves falling to the ground.  How I love it.

thanksgivingOf course, to the people who lived close to the earth, these were all the beauties of autumn, also.  So much was this the case that an entire festival of fun and merriment was devoted to autumn — and that festival was called the Harvest Festival.

Of course we are all pretty much aware that our Thanksgiving comes from the Eastern Indians, and in particular Squanto — and if you didn’t know about Squanto, I would highly recommend the movie, Squanto, starring a young and dreamy Adam Beach.  Sigh…

But what was this festival called Thanksgiving?  Did it happen just this one time?  Or was this Thanksgiving part of an ancient celebration of the American Indians to give Thanks to He who is known as the Creator.

Thanksgiving was one of several festivals amongst the Eastern Indians — in particular I’m talking about the Iroquois.  However, these ceremonies were common to all the Eastern tribes.  There were many festivals throughout the year, and they tended to follow the seasons.

The Iroquois celebrated six festivals, wherein they gave thanks to the Creator for all they had.  These festivals would open with speeches by leaders, teachers, and elders.  And of course there was much dancing, which was done not only for the fun of simply dancing, but it was also a sense of worship.  It was thought that because the Creator needed some sort of amusement, He gave the people dancing.  Let me tell you a little about some of these celebrations.

In spring — early March — it was time to collect together tree bark and sap – this was needed to repair houses and other things, such as canoes, bowls, etc.   Spring was also the time for planting.  This was the maple festival.  Next was the Planting festival.  Here prayers were sent to the Creator to bless their seed.

The Iroquois’ main food source was corn, beans and squash (the three sisters), and of course deer meat or other meat when available.  Family gardens were separated by borders that were broad and grassy — they would even camp on these borders and sometimes they were raise watch towers.

The next festival of the Iroquois was the Strawberry Festival.  This is where the people gave thanks to the Creator for their many fruits (like strawberries).  It was summertime.  The women gathered wild nuts and other foods, while the men hunted, fished and provided various meats for cooking.  Again, each festival was greeted with much dancing and merriment.  Did you know that the some Iroquois believed the way to the Creator was paved with strawberries?

The festival after that was the Green Corn Fesitval.  Again, the people thanked the Creator for the bounty of food that had been raised all through the summer.  Dancers danced to please the Creator and musicians sang and beat the drum.  Again there were many speeches to honor the people and the Creator.  There were team sports.  Lacrosse was the game that was most admired and it was played with great abandon by the men.  Women played games, too and often their games were as competitive as the men’s.

The season festival following that was…are you ready?  You’re right — The Harvest Festival.  By this time the women had harvested the corn, beans and squash.  Much of it would be dried.  Much went to feed families.  Husks were made into many different items.  Dolls, rugs, mats.  Did you know that the dolls didn’t have faces?  Now was the time to gather more nuts and berries.  Men were busy, too, hunting far away.  Bear, moose, beaver were all sought after and hunted.  Again, there was much celebration.  Dancing, speeches, prayer.  And of course — food.  It was this particular festival that was shared with the newcomers to this continent.

Can you guess what the next festival was?  Although this is a Christmas tree, it was not a celebration of Christmas — but if you guessed this, you were very close.  The next and last festival of the year was New Year’s.  At this time, a white dog was sacrificed as a gift to the Creator.  This was also a time for renewing the mind and body.  (Does that not remind you of our New Year’s resolutions?)  At this time, the False Face Society members would wear masks to help others to cleanse themselves of their bad minds and restore only their good minds.  There was again much celebration, much dancing, much merriment and enjoyment as each person would settle in for the long winter ahead of them.

The First Americans indeed did give this country very much, not only its festivals which we still remember to this day, but also it gave to this nation a fighting spirit for freedom.  In these times when there seems to be a forgetfulness about our American roots, it is wonderful to remember that the American Indian and the Love of Freedom went hand-in-hand.  What seems interesting to me is that our Thanksgiving festival still honors the custom of giving thanks for those gifts that He, The Creator, has given us.  To the American Indian all of these festivals contained this special element — that of giving Thanks to our Maker.

Perhaps it’s only because this one festival was shared by American Indian and Colonist alike that set the tone of Thanksgiving for future generations.  And I do believe that the love of autumn and giving thanks for that which belongs to us has its roots in The Harvest Festival, so beloved to the Eastern Indian Tribes.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this.

Now, with this said, I’d like to mention that I do have a new release which can be puirchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play.  And, I’ll be giving away a free copy of this book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER to one of you bloggers today.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment.

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered into the free give-away.  Giveaway Guidelines are off to the right here on this page.

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Jodi Thomas Returns!

Ancient Chinese Curse: “May you live in a time of change.”

I’m hopeful change will come. Soon. But for now, welcome to the past year. I’ve been waking up lately thinking I must be stuck in Groundhog Day. Just when I thought we were beginning to win the fight against Covid, everything is right back where we started. Again. We’re all adjusting to a new not-so-normal. Still not much shopping. The shelves are pretty bare anyway. Not much eating out with friends. No arguments over politics. (I’m being delusional.) No traveling to exotic places to have wild affairs. (Sorry, that one was my imagination talking.)

I’ve been hibernating. Again:

  • Waking up and putting yesterday’s clothes back on.
  • Having to ask my phone what day it is.
  • Talking to myself and sometimes getting in an argument.
  • Watching movies that don’t have plots.
  • Waiting for the mailman then reading the junk mail
  • Driving around for no reason at all.

Same as the first time around, for a few months I did nothing productive. I binged series on Netflix and cooked. My favorite saying, if I’d had anyone to say it to, was:

“I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.”

Yep, I’m living the crazy loop of Groundhog Day! Then, one day it occurred to me that I had imaginary friends to play with. I spent a week reading a book a day. Then, characters started lining up in my mind. They all wanted to me to write their story. Fiction was suddenly my place to go.

Last month I visited a quilter’s meeting as a guest. I gave my little talk about writing about quilting, then they all gave me a dear gift. Each one had brought a quilt passed down in the family, and each quilt had a story. We might have been 10 feet apart, but we were sharing.

One lady ended her talk by looking straight at me and said, “I’ve got to tell you that your books were my joy this year. When I got down, I could step into a Jodi Thomas book.”

Writing is a lonely career sometimes, just as Covid is a very lonely time, but I realized I can help in a small way. This crazy imagination I’ve been blessed with, and sometimes haunted by, can take readers on a journey.

So, I’d better get to work creating a world anyone reading can step into. A place for a time, you can relax, sit among friends, and talk about living.

And always remember, you are the main character of your life, and your story isn’t finished.

Three lucky winners will win one of my new releases. To enter, leave a comment about something that brings you joy during the hard seasons of life.

As an added bonus…your name will be entered twice if you can tell me where I got the title of my story “Father Goose” in The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas!

Enjoy some time to read,

Jodi

BUY The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

PREORDER Dinner on Primrose Hill

PREORDER One Night at the St. Nicholas

Christmas in September?

The release of A Cowboy Christmas Legend still has a week to go but I won’t blog again until October. And I do have a few early copies. It sounds odd talking about Christmas this soon but when writing A Cowboy Christmas Legend, I had to put myself in the right mindset because it was blazing hot outside.

The holiday has always so special to me. I grew up very poor and us kids didn’t get much in the way of gifts, but I loved the warmth of my parents’ love that wrapped around me. An apple, orange, and a few pieces of candy were a treat. Then sometimes if things were good, we got a doll or maybe a book. Christmas meant so much more than gifts. We were together, cared for, our stomachs full, and we had no complaints. My younger sister and I shared a bed, and we would talk (giggle mostly) until we fell asleep. She was and still is my best friend.

In this story, Sam Legend has gone to the northernmost reaches of the Texas Panhandle and settled on a barren piece of land. Once a Texas Ranger, he’s now a bladesmith and makes knives. He wants to forget all about Christmas, forget about the events that forced him away from family and friends. He drapes himself in solitude, content to let his hair and beard grow long until looks more like a mountain man than a member of the famed Legend family.

But when his nearest neighbor’s daughter finds out he’s there, she won’t leave him alone. Cheyenne Ronan can’t imagine anyone hating Christmas and she’s not going to let him spend it working if she can help it. So she begins to plot. Hiding beneath all that hair, is a man worth saving.

Then when a half-frozen little boy appears at his door saying his mama is dying, Sam rushes to find her wagon broken down in the snow. He and Cheyenne work to save the woman and offer comfort to the frightened boy and his little sister. As they care for the desperate travelers, Sam and Cheyenne grow closer together and he wonders about the dark secrets lurking beneath her calm veneer. There’s much more to her than he first thought. Slowly, they begin to know each other.

Christmas is a time of miracles and Sam and Cheyenne get more than one. Together, they discover that love can be the stuff of Legend.

In one scene, she’s singing Christmas carols with the children to soothe them. One very old one is Away in a Manger. It was sung long before it published in 1884. Silent Night is even older. The text was written in 1816, the music put to it in 1818. It’s not a carol, but The Twelve Days of Christmas was written during the Puritan days in England. These have been around for a very long time. So there’s a bit of history to go along with the story.

To preorder or to save when it goes on sale Sept. 28th, CLICK HERE.

The siblings in this story, Aaron and Ellen, are best friends and cling to each other during this tremendous trial. My sister was/is mine. Did you have a best friend growing up? Maybe one you could tell anything to. I’m giving away an autographed copy of A Cowboy Christmas Legend to two people who comment.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER — Another Excerpt and Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!  Hope y’all are doing well today.

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER today.  You only have to leave a thought on the post in order to enter into the drawing.

And I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt from the book.  Hope you’ll enjoy it!

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER Excerpt

by

Karen Kay

PROLOGUE

Summer, 1879

The Season of Festivals

The Forks of the Big and Little Piney Creeks

Wyoming

 

As he stood within the great circle of the many camps, the boy, Maká Cí?ala, Little Skunk, squared his shoulders and raised his head, ready to receive the honors that were due him.  As was tradition, all the tribes of the Lakota people were gathered together for the summer races, games and festivals.  Although it was only midday, all of his family surrounded him in the center of the circle, and, as was also tradition, his band’s highest chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, Good Fight, held the two eagle feathers that Little Skunk was to receive.

Little Skunk was proud both of himself and his nation, the ?kpap?a, which he represented.  Although he was only twelve winters old, he was already acting as a man—he’d been a scout for several of the war parties this summer and had brought many honors to his family.  But this…  This was an accomplishment a boy of his age had never before won: for the past two days, he had competed with adults in his tribe’s foot races, and he’d won every event.

It was a bright day, and a warm one, with the afternoon sun shining upon him as though to touch him with the care and respect of a father.  He felt the tender sunlight on the top of his head and shoulders, and he held his head high.  Then, the drums began to beat, and the singers commenced to chant the honoring song.

Holding up the two feathers to the wind, the chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, said, “Today, Maká Cí?ala becomes a man.  He has gained the highest achievement in our foot races, and, because he has bested even the greatest men amongst us, he has won the right to earn himself a new name.  In honor of this great occasion, Maká Cí?ala’s grandfather, Waki?ya? Paza Tosa?, Blue Thunder Striking, has given his name to his grandson, who shall bear his name with great honor.”

The old chief paused as Little Skunk’s mother stepped forward to offer the chief a newly-made blanket, which the chief accepted.  He nodded and, opening the blanket, threw it around Little Skunk’s shoulders before offering the two eagle feathers to him.  “Blue Thunder Striking,” the chief said, “we of the ?kpap?a know that, from this day forward, we will look to you for many good deeds.  I give you these feathers to forever tell of your accomplishments.”  The old chief smiled at Little Skunk, then said in closing, “The honoring ceremony is now done.”

Blue Thunder’s mother and aunties stepped forward to give him the hand-stitched quilts that had been several months in the making.  Blue Thunder smiled and accepted the many gifts from them.  Traditionally, these blankets were not his to keep; rather, he was to give them to the people to honor his deeds this summer.  Stepping lively toward the side of the circle where people were sitting, he paced around it, offering the gifts to as many people as he could reach until all but one of the gifts was left.  This present was special, for he had made it himself.  This gift was for her.

Ci?cá Wací, Dancing Child, was about two winters younger than he.  But, though the distance between their ages might have been great for their young hearts, Blue Thunder couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t loved her.

Her mother came from the Brulé band of the Lakota.  However, because her mother didn’t live with the Brulé, he saw Ci?cá Wací only during the summer when she was visiting her grandmother.

He still remembered the first time he had seen her.  He had been seven winters that summer and she, five, and he remembered it as a great occasion, for her grandmother had made a miniature lodge and given it to Ci?cá Wací:

 

She had invited him to play with her in the miniature tepee, and he’d accepted his role in her game as being her pretend husband.  That day, as soon as he’d ducked down to enter the lodge, he had seen that she had placed two different dolls upon small, buckskin blankets within the little tepee.

She had cautioned him to remain silent, since the dolls were “sleeping.”  Then, she’d gone to the women’s side of the tepee and had made a “soup” consisting of water and berries which she had served him in a large turtle shell.  From her tanned skin to her nearly-black eyes and the two dark-haired braids which fell down her back, she had captivated him, and his young heart had rejoiced.

They had played then, pretending to be married, and had continued their game into the coming days of summer.  Indeed, at summer’s close, he had begun to think of her as his wife in reality.  And, on that late summer day when she had told him she was to leave the next day, he had been so distressed, he’d said to her, “Since you are my wife, I would like to give you a gift before you go.”

She giggled and looked away.

“Well, what do you say?”

She stared up at him, her black eyes round and big, and smiled at him.  “I would like that.”

He didn’t know what to give her and, in the end, handed her the only possession that was truly his—a single strand of white deerskin with an image of a lone, blue prairie flower upon it.  He had, himself, painted the picture of the flower on the slender string.

Taking hold of the deerskin from her, he tied it as a necklace at the back of her neck, then said, “It is yours now.  I will never ask for it back.”

As she smoothed her hand over the necklace, she said, “I will love this and treasure it all my life.”

“Wa?cá Skúya, Sweet Flower; it is your new name in honor of this gift.  I give it to you.  It is a good name and is a better name than Dancing Child.  Tell your people.  It is your new name.”

“You give me great honor, and I will tell my people.”

From that day forward he had addressed her as Sweet Flower.  That her own people had still called her Dancing Child hadn’t caused him any worry, for he’d always known someday he would make her his wife, and, when that day came, she would become known as Sweet Flower.

 

At last, he found her in the crowd of people and, stepping near her, grinned at her.

She smiled while looking down, then said, “I am very proud of you.”

He laughed.  “As well you should be.”

Once again, she smiled.

Taking her hand in his, he led her toward the side of the crowd, out of view from most of the people.  As soon as they reached a private spot, he turned to her and said, “I have a special gift for you.”

Her smile widened, and she looked down as a proper, young Lakota maiden was expected to do, her demeanor shy.

“Hold out your hand,” he said, reaching into a bag and extracting something from it.

She did so, and he placed two strings of blue, white and pink-beaded earrings in her hand.

“For me?”

Hau, hau.  There is a woman from the Oglala tribe who makes the owi?la like these.  When I saw the earrings she was creating, I knew I had to make a pair for you.  She taught me how to do it.”

“They are very beautiful, and I love them,” she said. “I will always love them because they are so pretty and because you made them for me.  But, since I thought you might win today, I made something special for you, too.  If we go to my lodge, I will show you what I crafted for you this day.”

Hau, hau,” he said.  Then, because a man must always lead a girl and never walk behind her, he added, “Follow me.”

She did as he instructed.  As soon as they entered her little tepee, she stepped to the back of the lodge, and, turning so she faced him, she presented him with a recently-picked bouquet of flowers.  They were prairie violets and were very pretty.

As was the Indian way, she stared down at the floor of the tepee, which was little more than grass and dirt.  When he took the flowers from her and their hands touched, he felt so good inside, he knew he would love Sweet Flower always.

He said, “Have you any water, for I would keep them alive so they will always remind me of you.”

She laughed, then said, “I do have water, and it is in a pouch.  It will be perfect for them.  I give you not only the flowers, but my own parfleche bag.”  She giggled a little and looked away from him.

Carefully, he placed a finger under her chin and turned her face toward his own.  “Tell me, when we get older, will you marry me?”

Still not looking up at him, she said, “I will, if you would still want me to.”

He brought her chin up so she was forced to look into his eyes and said, “I will always want you to be my wife, for I would spend my life with you.  You are first in my heart, and I swear it will always be so.”

Ha?, ha?. I feel the same as you.”

He grinned at her. “Then let us commit ourselves to one another.  I wish we could marry now, but we are still too young.  Our parents would never allow it.”

“I know what we might do.”

“Hmm…”  He frowned.

“Let us tattoo one another with our own design,” she suggested.  “In this way we will always know we belong together.”

“This is a fine idea.”  He smiled.

She grinned back at him, then said, “I have a sharp bone that I use for sewing.  My grandmother gave it to me.  We might use it to prick our skin.”

“This is good,” he replied.  “And the violets you have given me will make a blue color for the tattoo.  But what design should we make?”

She shook her head.

“It should be simple, perhaps four small dots,” he said.  “One dot would show that we are of one mind; another could say we are of one heart.  The third dot might be one to indicate we will be of one body when we are older, and the fourth dot should be to signify that we have met soul to soul.”

She laughed and said, “What you say is pleasing to me.”

“Do you agree?”

“Oh yes,” she laughed.  “Always I will love you.”

“And I, you.”

“Stay here,” she said, “while I go to my grandmother and ask her to give me the sharp bone I use to sew.”

“I will.  But where should we put the tattoo?”

“Perhaps on the neck?”

“Maybe.  But, wherever we decide it should be, it must be in a place on our bodies that will be hard for others to see, for it is to be our secret…at least until we marry.”

Ha?.”

“I know where we could put it: we will place this tattoo on the upper back, close to and within the hairline, so it will not be seen by others.  Yours will be on the right side, and mine will be on the left.”

She smiled up at him shyly.  “I will go at once to my grandmother and ask for my sharpened bone.  Will you wait here for me?”

Hau, I will.”  He looked at her longingly.  “I would wait a lifetime for you.”

She giggled and bent to leave the little lodge to run to her grandmother’s tepee.  Soon, she returned with the prized bone she used for sewing.

As the afternoon turned to evening, they etched their tattoos onto each other, the small dots hidden by their hairlines.  When, at last, it was done, he reached out to take her hand in his own.

“It is done,” he said.  “We are married now, and someday soon we will be old enough to live together so others will know we two are of one heart.”

Shyly, she smiled at him and said, “Ha?, it is done, and I am glad of it.  With all my heart, I will always love you.”

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER is now on sale at Google Play for 20% off with the coupon:  GUGZUW22LH4U1

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER:  Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

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The Thermos that Saved the Day

First, this is my inaugural post. I’m so glad to be here. I’ve posted as a guest a few times, but to be included as a Filly has been humbling and I’m grateful and thankful.

In case we’ve never met, I write a whole host of things including historical Christian westerns, contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and women’s fiction under the name Teri Blake. I look forward to getting to know you all better.

Great Lakes Light book cover

On Friday, my new book Great Lakes Light will release in the same series as 2 other Fillies, Kit Morgan and Shanna Hatfield. I don’t want to give away too much of this story, but this is a fictionalized account of how the Split Rock Lighthouse came to be. Some aspects of the story are complete fiction, others are drawn from resources (and I offer a complete source list in the back of the book). You’ll want to preorder it before Friday, as the preorder price will go away when it publishes. I just LOVE that my designer was able to use a real image of the lighthouse.

Have you ever read a bit of history and been completely blown away? Such was the case for me. I love my insulated water and coffee tumblers, those metal mugs used to keep drinks warm or cold for hours. Did you know that the first one was created in 1892!! I didn’t either! Even though this is the period I write most often, I’m always blown away by their inventiveness and ingenuity.

Because I was so amazed, I absolutely had to include a Thermos (though it went by various names before settling on that one, as things often do) in this story. And it was perfect because at the time of my story, there was only one store that sold the illustrious thermos and it was in New York. Since the entire middle of the book actually takes place in Washington D.C… a congressman would certainly have access to one…and it just might save him. But you’ll have to read the story to find out how.

Image of original thermos

Interestingly, these containers didn’t come into existence to keep coffee warm for the men working on the huge skyscrapers being built at the time in New York. They were originally created by a mortician who realized he needed to keep chemicals at a stable temperature. The original (used for embalming) thermos, was glass with a vacuum between the two layers. It was his glassblower who realized the commercial prospects, created a patent, and sold it to three US companies.

Do you use a thermos? I have two different one, one for the water I drink all day and one I bought on my last trip to Deadwood, SD that keeps my morning coffee hot. Drop your answer below and I’ll ship out a print copy of Great Lakes Light to one lucky commenter.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, New Release & E-book Giveaway

Howdy!

Hope your weekend was great!  I must admit that with a new release, there is so much to do, I feel slightly scatterbrained.  So please bear with me, if you please.

I will be giving a free e-book of my new release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, to one of the bloggers here today.  I hope you’ll leave me your thoughts on the excerpt I’m about to give.

So, without too much fanfare, let me leave you the short blurb of the book and an excerpt.

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

By

Karen Kay

He rescued her from danger. Then she stole his heart.

Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?

Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.

But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people. Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed? And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?

Warning: A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.

 

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

An Excerpt

It was around ten o’clock in the evening, and the show’s last performance of the day was over for the night, although the arena was still lit.  It was interesting to see how the new electric lightbulbs could throw such a glow over the performance area.  Looking outward and up, Marci could barely see any stars, for the reflection of the light dimmed the brilliance of the stars and moon.

It was a cool, clear evening, though it was also humid, and, as Marci sat on the bleaching boards which were sheltered under the canvas tarp, she thought back to their performance this evening.  Her own and Blue Thunder’s performance had, once again, gone over well with the audience.  And, this time both she and Blue Thunder had stayed behind after the others in order to accept the applause from the crowd.

At present, however, Marci was looking out upon the arena, and she was not pleased.  She was seated in the southeastern section of the stands, in the third row up, watching as Blue Thunder and his friends performed an American Indian–style song.  Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing while Iron Wolf accompanied them with his flute.  Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder also appeared to be the ones who were setting the rhythm for the song, Wind Eagle utilizing a handheld drum and Blue Thunder shaking rattles.

But, it wasn’t their singing that bothered Marci.  Indeed not.  Rather, it was the usual crowd of women surrounding them who were causing her displeasure.  Was the young lady whom Blue Thunder had “rescued” last night one of those girls?

Soon their song ended, and the young ladies stepped into the arena and flocked toward the three young men.  Holding up their programs for an autograph, the women’s giggling and laughter sounded gay and free and could be heard all the way up to where Marci sat.  However, their enthusiasm was causing the opposite sentiment within her.  Worse, Blue Thunder and his two friends looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying the feminine attention.

As Marci sat on the sidelines frowning at them, she was engrossed in her own thoughts.  Neither Luci nor Jane was here with her.  Both of them were attending to and watching their children, and, although Luci also performed with the show, since she had given birth to her son, she had taken to hurrying home as soon as the show ended, leaving her husband to attend to their horses.

“They are most popular, are they not?”

So engrossed was Marci in her thoughts, she jumped at the sound of Shooting Star’s voice.  She had almost forgotten that the pretty, young maiden had come to sit down beside her.

Glancing to the side, Marci smiled at the girl who had already become a good friend.  Marci answered her question, saying, “Yes, they are quite popular.”

Astutely, Shooting Star stated, “But, it is easy to see they love their wives, and so there should not be jealousy.”

“No, there shouldn’t be,” agreed Marci as she glanced away from her friend.  “But, sometimes I simply can’t help it.”

“I think it would be difficult for me to see all the girls around them, too, if it were my husband down there.”

“Yes, and look at the blonde woman.”  Marci’s voice sounded hard, even to her own ears.  “Do you see she is putting her hands all over my husband’s chest?  She’s touching him everywhere as though she were making love to him in front of everyone.”

“Yet, he does not seem to like it.”

“Doesn’t he?  I don’t see him shooing her away, and he is, after all, a man.”

“But, he knows he is your husband, and he has been brought up traditionally, and in the old ways.  He loves you very much.  A woman has only to witness the way he looks at you to know you are in his heart.”

Marci was silent.  Yes, she was in his heart…in second place.  True, he had confessed this almost from the beginning and without much fanfare, but this didn’t mean her heart was not now a little grieved over it.

But, she wasn’t about to tell this story to another person, even if Shooting Star might understand.  He wasn’t to blame for feeling the way he did about Sweet Flower, anyway.  He had loved and lost her, and it had happened in as terrible a manner as possible.  She understood why he would still love the young girl from his past.

What she still didn’t understand was why he had escorted another woman home last night.  Although he claimed his action was innocent and that he was only helping the woman and her escort, Marci still didn’t know what she was going to do about it…or about him.

As she glanced down into the arena, she could see the young lady—a pretty blonde—still touching Blue Thunder, and, although he wasn’t acting in a return fashion, he also wasn’t putting her away from him or turning his back upon her.

Marci could no longer watch this without feeling a seed of revolt rising up within her.  And, when the blonde began to touch him in a downward fashion, her fingers moving toward his breechcloth, Marci stood up, ready to leave.  She couldn’t stay here and watch this; she also couldn’t interfere down there without causing a scene.

Or could she?  Why shouldn’t she create a stir?  Indeed, why shouldn’t she let all these women know she had a rightful claim upon this man?  She wouldn’t be spiteful or mean about it.  She would simply let it be known.

“Are you going somewhere?” asked Shooting Star, looking up at her.

“I am,” answered Marci.  “I’m going down there to stand next to my husband.”

Shooting Star giggled.  “This is an excellent idea.  If I were the one having to endure this, I think I would do the same.  Indeed, I think I will sit here and watch.  I might learn something.”

Marci laughed.  “Unless you’d like to come with me.”

“Thank you, but no.  I will enjoy looking on as the other girls come to understand he is not free to give his love.”

Marci grinned at her friend, then, looking forward, she stepped toward the stairs which led down into the main arena.


It didn’t take Marci long to find her way onto the field and become part of the crowd of girls surrounding the three men.  Threading her way through the throng toward Blue Thunder, she eventually came to his side, and, with the blonde on one side of him and she on his other, Marci stepped in toward him as closely as possible and said loudly, “Do you see how they ooze all over you?”

He looked down at her and grinned.  “I am glad you have come here, my wife.”

“Wife?”  The word echoed on the air around these young women.

Marci placed her hand upon Blue Thunder’s arm and murmured in as husky a voice as she could manage, “I am tired of hearing these people talk about how handsome you are, and oh-so strong.”  Marci looked up at him, fluttered her eyelashes and frowned.  “And the gifts they bring you.  ‘I will have to bake you a cake so you will notice me…or maybe I’ll make you an apple pie.’  And then they hug you like this.”  She cuddled up to him.

Although Blue Thunder was still signing the programs from the young women around him, he broke out with laughter.  “How could I not notice you, my wife?”

“I don’t know,” she replied in a smooth voice.  Looking toward the other side of him, she noticed the young and pretty blonde had ceased to caress him and had even backed away.  “You seem to be able to do it well, my husband.”

“Indeed, this is not so.”  He was still laughing, although, after a moment, his chuckling turned to a smile.

“It is how I see it,” said Marci.

“Then let me show you how I see it.”

These words, however, did not prepare her for what happened next.  After Blue Thunder finished signing a program, he turned to Marci, took her in his arms and swung her around and around, even within the crowded space.

Settling her down in front of him, he murmured, “Tell me now that I take no notice of you.”

“I cannot do it now, my husband.”

“I am glad to hear it,” he said.  “But”—he smiled at her suggestively—”I think we should leave here at once and attend to other ‘things.'”

“No,” she replied easily as she scooted out of his arms.  “Not tonight.  Maybe not tomorrow night, either.  But, there are others here who seek your attention, if you dare to challenge the convictions of my Faith again this night and accompany one of these women home….”

Again, her comment was met with a round of Blue Thunder’s laughter, which appeared to be contagious, for she heard other masculine hilarity, as well.  Marci looked quickly around the crowd and could see that both Wind Eagle and Iron Wolf were trying without much success to contain their own good humor.

“Do not bother coming home,” she warned Blue Thunder, “unless you intend to sleep outside our lodge…again.”

Although she knew she was teasing him relentlessly, she was yet surprised when he gave her highly-padded rear end a quick whack with one of the programs he held.  When she turned around to scold him, she was met with his much-too-handsome and crooked smile.  Indeed, so caught up was she with his good looks, she forgot what she had been about to say, and, instead of speaking at all, she turned her back on him and gave her long hair a quick shake as she walked away, ensuring her hips were properly wiggling.

His laughter was like music to her ears.

Well, that’s it.  Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  Please do leave me your thoughts and please do come on back tomorrow evening to see if you have won the free e-book.

On sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play.

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

KOBO: https://tinyurl.com/3abxfuh

B & N: https://tinyurl.com/exadvx7n

Google:  https://tinyurl.com/uavkxz4

ITUNES: https://tinyurl.com/w2z7adxk

 

 

Natalie Bright: The Legacy of Ranching Traditions

We’re very thrilled to have author and rancher Natalie Bright visit and tell us of her observations about the cowboys of yesterday and today. There’s little difference it seems. She has a new cookbook out full of recipes they serve to the men on the Sanford Ranch. Nobody appreciates good food like cowboys! She’s also giving away a copy.

Thank you all for having me. It’s great to be back. Over a year and a half of research went into my most recent book about the history of the cattle driving era and the food of the chuck wagon. As I searched through countless archived images, I realized that the work cowboys did over 150 years ago continues today. My photos of the Sanford Ranch cowboys are almost identical. The traditions established then are still practiced.

In the early days, fences did not block the route from pastures to the railheads north. Neighboring outfits drove their combined herds to central locations and the trail drives usually consisted of thousands of head. Livestock was rounded up in early spring and branded to establish ownership. Charles Goodnight is credited as inventor of the chuck wagon used to feed cowboys during the months long drive to market.

On the Sanford Ranch we hold spring branding and the tradition of feeding the branding crews continues. These crews consist of seasonal dayworkers, skilled cowboys who travel from ranch to ranch providing extra labor during the busy times of spring and fall workings. A rope, a saddle, and a good ‘cowey’ horse remain the primary tools of the trade. Some ranches treat the cowboys at a local café, while others utilize an SUV or cook trailer to carry food to the pasture. We have an actual cookhouse on our ranch, and we employ a cook who relies on friends and volunteers who enjoy being a part of branding every year. Here are some pictures I took of our cookhouse and branding season.

   

After breakfast, everyone is saddled and ready to go before first light. Instead of the grit and grime of a trail drive over thousands of miles, horses and riders are transported by pickup truck and trailer. The Ranch foreman makes assignments and explains the route, just as the trail boss did long ago.

A cow’s way of thinking hasn’t changed much in 150 years, and the necessary work of a cowboy remains. The most efficient positioning of driving a herd of cattle is still in practice today. The point man rides in front of the few older cows who naturally become leaders, flankers are on either side and the drag riders follow behind in ‘the dust of the drag’, as it’s called.

Ownership of livestock and land was respected and held in high esteem then as it is now. Our pastures are large, several sections in size (a section equals 640 acres) and the fence line neighbor is notified when we gather. If we have any of their strays, then they can pick them up or we deliver them back home.

I’m the photographer on the ranch and you’ll see me with a camera when I’m out. I love this ranch life and the way I see it I’m recording history and trying to make sure it doesn’t get lost.

My newest book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, is classified as cookbook but it contains so much more. Along with history and photos, the book includes over 100 recipes from authentic cow camp meals to modern recipes from our own cookhouse. You don’t need a fire pit or a chuck wagon. You can prepare these dishes in your own kitchen…and you can bet they’re all cowboy approved. (Click on the cover to go to Amazon.)

In my new western romance series, THE WILD COW RANCH, my co-author Denise and I include some of these long-held traditions of cattle ranching as well as the small-town sense of community and faith. Elements that are very much alive today. (Click on the picture and it’ll take you to Amazon.)

What interests you the most about the American cowboy and the cattle ranching legacy?

For a chance to win a FREE copy of my cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, please leave a comment below. And if you enjoy pictures of cows and the Texas sky, follow me on Instagram @natsgrams #sanfordranch and Pinterest.

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Lacy Williams Talks About Bucket Lists

The Fillies are happy to welcome Lacy Williams and her latest historical western romance. She’s giving away a gift card to someone who leaves a comment about their bucket list.

Do you have a bucket list?

Google says a bucket list is “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to accomplish during their lifetime”. I’ve always thought of it as a list of goals or places I want to go before I get to the end of my life.

I almost always have a list of written goals. January first is a great time to renew that list. I look at my goals frequently. But a bucket list is a little different. Like, I want to visit Europe someday. I’d like to have a book on the New York Times bestseller list. I want to see my children give their lives to Jesus.

Right now it feels like I have plenty of time to complete my bucket list.

But what would it feel like if you knew your time was almost up?

In THE WRANGLER’S READY-MADE FAMILY, hero Gil has been diagnosed with consumption and doctors have told him he only has months to live. Gil feels restless and unmoored. He doesn’t really have a bucket list, he just feels as if his life isn’t over yet.

And when he meets heroine Susie in a stagecoach accident, he feels like he’s gotten a second chance. When he begins to fall for her, he wants to use his limited time left to help her reconnect with her estranged family.

But it turns out one “bucket list” wish isn’t enough.

About the book:

Susie is a desperate young mother with another baby on the way. Her late husband left her nothing but his bad reputation. She has no money and is too ashamed to return home to her family. When she is trapped alone during a snowstorm with a stranger and the baby coming, her only choice is to rely on him.

Boone came west to find healing for his tuberculosis. He never expected to find himself trapped with a lost young widow. Or how fast he could fall for her and her two little ones. But it doesn’t take long for his secrets to come to light.

After everything she’s suffered in the past, can Susie ever trust another gambler?

AMAZON  |  OVERDRIVE

 

I’d love to give away a $10 Amazon gift card to one commenter who tells me something on your bucket list. Good luck!

Thank you for hosting me on the Petticoats blog today!

Lacy Williams

Author bio:

Lacy Williams wishes her writing career was more like what you see on Hallmark movies: dreamy brainstorming from a French chateau or a few minutes at the computer in a million-dollar New York City penthouse. In reality, she’s up before the sun, putting words on the page before her kids wake up for the day. Those early-morning and late-night writing sessions add up, and Lacy has published fifty books in almost a decade, first with a big five publisher and then as an indie author. When she needs to refill the well, you can find Lacy birdwatching, gardening, biking with the kiddos, or walking the dog. Find tons of bonus scenes and reader extras by becoming a VIP reader at http://www.lacywilliams.net/vip

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Charlene Raddon: Sheep and Cattle Wars

The Fillies welcome the return of Charlene Raddon. Her series are much in demand for their unusual storylines. She’s giving away two copies of CONNOR so leave a comment to be entered. 

 

Cattle ranchers are notorious for hating sheep. The hero in my new book, Connor, Cupids & Cowboys Book 12, is no exception but doesn’t believe violence is the answer, and so, Connor sets about finding a solution.

There were many armed battles in western states, particularly Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado, between cattlemen and sheepmen over grazing rights. Cattlemen saw the sheepherders as invaders who destroyed the public grazing lands, which they had to share on a first-come, first-served basis. Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 120 engagements occurred in eight different states or territories, resulting in the deaths of over 50 men and the slaughter of 50,000 to over 100,000 sheep.

 

One of the most famous cattlemen/sheepmen battles occurred in Pleasant Valley, Arizona, resulting in the near annihilation of the men of three families. In 1884, angry Arizona cattlemen rounded up wild horses, strapped cowbells to their necks, rawhide to their tails, and drove them into a series of sheep herds numbering more than 25,000, yelling and firing guns in the process. The sheep scattered in all directions, many killed or wounded. That same year, cowboys drove over 4,000 sheep into the Little Colorado River, many of which died in quicksand.

     

The sheep wars in Wyoming and Colorado were exceptionally violent and lasted well into the 1900s. Wyoming saw about twenty-four attacks and at least six deaths between 1879 and 1909. In Garfield County, Colorado, 3,800 sheep were driven over cliffs into Parachute Creek. About 1,500 more sheep were massacred there in the same year. In November 1899, forty masked men attacked a sheep camp located on the lower Snake River. Over 3,000 sheep were “clubbed and scattered,” the shepherds robbed, and their wagon burned.

In Wyoming, 1896, about 12,000 sheep were slaughtered in a single night by being driven off a cliff near North Rock Springs. In 1905, ten masked men attacked a sheep camp on Shell Creek in the Big Horn Basin. The cowboys clubbed about 4,000 sheep and burned the wagons with two live sheepdogs tied to the wheels. The owner of the flock lost about $40,000. Similar events took place up until about 1912.

Near Ten Sleep, Wyoming, three sheepherders were killed, along with many of their sheep and dogs. No one expected anything to come of it, but seven men were arrested, five of them sent to prison, and cattlemen became reluctant to attack sheepmen.

In Montana, where my story, Connor, Cupids & Cowboys Book 12, is set, similar proceedings took place, few as severe and deadly as those in other states.

According to Robert Elman, author of Badmen of the West, the sheep wars ended because of the decline of open rangeland and changes in ranching practices, which removed the causes for hostilities.

How did Connor resolve the cattle/sheep war in my story? Here’s an excerpt:

“Folks,” Connor began (addressing the members of the Cutthroat, Montana Stockgrowers Association), “this is Mr. Dean Rivers. He has a ranch near Hawksville where he raises cattle and sheep and kindly consented to tell us of his experiences. I hope you’ll do him the courtesy of listening as you would with any other speaker.”

Rivers cleared his throat. “As Connor said, I have a ranch about forty miles east of here. I know how you feel. That’s how I saw the matter at first. Never intended to raise sheep. It was my wife who went out and bought fifty of ’em and herded them home.” He chuckled. “We had quite a row about it, I can tell you. Before coming here tonight at Connor’s request, I sat down and calculated the monetary differences between raising sheep and cattle. The results surprised even me. I think they’ll come as a bit of a shock to you.”

Before continuing, he laid his hat on his chair and moved behind the podium. “Hope you don’t mind if I rest my weary bones on this here Bible stand.”

A few in the audience chuckled. The others sat stone-faced, determined not to listen.

“Now, these figures are only as accurate as my mathematics, which my old schoolteacher will tell you ain’t much.”

More laughter. Connor glanced around. The ranchers had settled down and appeared to like Dean Rivers. No doubt because of his friendly, down-home looks and manner of speaking.

“For the purposes of this here talk,” Rivers went on, “we’ll say an animal unit is a one-thousand-pound cow with a five-hundred-pound calf pulling on her teat. And we’ll say six sheep equal that cow. Now, my figures can differ somewhat with grass/forb ratios, terrain, and grazing management, but I’d call it whisker close. That cow and calf, or animal unit, should be worth about sixteen dollars. Am I right?”

Several men shouted, “Close.”

“All right. Now, those six sheep, or animal unit, should produce ten lambs worth three dollars and twenty cents apiece. That comes out to thirty-two dollars per animal unit compared to sixteen dollars for the cow and calf. See where I’m going here?”

Heads nodded.

“That’s a fairly noticeable difference,” Rivers said. “Should I lose a cow, I’m out sixteen dollars. If I lose a sheep, I’m out three-fifty. But we’re talking animal units, so losing those six sheep would cost me thirty-two dollars.

“There’re costs to raising these critters, of course.” Rivers continued. “Deworming, de-licing, de-ticking, salt, ear tags if you use ’em, hiring extra hands for roundup and branding. That’s just for cows. To herd a hundred cows, you need at least two hired hands on horseback. Three would be better. To bring in a hundred sheep, you send out a couple of sheepdogs. They don’t ask for wages, just a bone and a pat on the head. Try that with your hired hands.”

Some laughter broke out.

“We never make it through a season of handling cows without our share of physical injuries,” Rivers said. “Stomped-on toes, crushed ribs, broken arms. Had a hand once got his eye poked out by a steer’s horn. Ain’t had no injuries with sheep. Another thing; sheep’ll eat ‘most anything. Weeds, thistles, and plants poisonous to cows. Cows gotta have grass.”

“That’s the trouble,” someone yelled. “The damned sheep don’t leave nothing left for the cows to eat.”

Rivers held up a hand. “Not if you move them often enough. Just takes some monitoring. Plus, you can put your sheep higher up the mountain where not much grass grows, but there’s plenty of weeds. So far, I’ve had no problems with cows refusing to graze where sheep have been.”

“Aw, bull-cracky,” a man spat. “You genuinely expect us to believe that?”

Chatter broke out among the men, and several booed.

Rivers shrugged. “I’m only telling you my experiences, friend. You can believe what you want. When you get right down to the facts—and you can figger ’em yourself from what I’ve told you—three hundred cows will give you a profit of four thousand, eight hundred dollars at the end of the year.”

He waited a moment while murmurs of agreement and approval circulated through the audience.

“The same number of animal units in sheep,” he added with a pause, “will bring you nine-thousand, six hundred.”

A stunned silence followed.


Not all the ranchers were convinced, but enough to defuse the hostilities. The fact that Rosalina Camila Antonella DeLeon, the beautiful owner of the sheep in question, also spoke and won the ranchers’ respect helped. It also worked to move the romance between Connor and Rosalina along, and, after all, that’s what the book is truly about.

If you had been a sheepherder back then, would you have stayed and fought (possibly dying) or packed up and gone someplace else?

Leave a comment to get in the drawing for two copies of CONNOR!

About Charlene:

Charlene Raddon is an Amazon bestselling author with twenty-two western historical romance books to her credit. She never intended to become a writer, however. Charlene was an artist until she discovered romance novels and had a vivid dream that begged to be put into a book. So, she dragged out a typewriter and went to work. She’s been writing ever since. Her other interests are crocheting, genealogy, travel, Ukranian egg dying, and graphic design. Charlene has her own book cover website offering premade covers. She specializes in western historical covers.

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Where Did the Settlers Go?

Just where did those settlers go you ask?

They made their way to Missouri to join a wagon train company. Hopeful Americans and immigrants alike longing for a better life. The free land in the West, and especially in Oregon, seemed the stepping stone to that life of plenty.

Just imagine that first day of walking the hundred miles to the other side of the continent. Here’s how I pictured it for my latest heroine in Beau’s Elegant Bride:

The oxen slowed even more than their typical crawling speed. One even tried to snatch a mouthful of grass from beside the road. Using the small whip in his hand. Beau carefully snapped it above their heads. At the same time, he crooned a command.

“Giddup now. Day’s not done.”

The cattle resumed their walk, pulling slightly faster. It seemed they were no happier to be on this trail than Francy was. Never in her life had she imagined to feel any kinship to stupid beasts.

While more than an estimated 400,000 people left from Missouri on wagon trains for Oregon, very few made it to that spot. Only about 80,000 actually settled in Oregon.

If you’ve played the popular Oregon Trail game, you might think these overlanders simply died. That works for a game, but is historically untrue. Very few actually passed away.

The trail ended some pioneers’ dreams merely because of broken wagons. If a traveler didn’t bring an extra axel, he had to settle near where he was stuck. That is, if someone couldn’t help repair the wagon.

Even then, discouragement might have been enough to make the man decide to stay on the plains. After all, land for farming could be claimed there and if a man had served in the Union Army during the war between the states, he could stake a claim for little or nothing.

As wagons reached the Rocky Mountains, travelers could see distant towering shapes growing daily larger. Imagine how intimidated those people felt. Already tired from crossing the plains, they saw those distant peaks and knew they needed the energy to get over the mountains. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oregon-Trail

At the junction of the Raft and Snake Rivers, trails verged to other parts of the country. These promised a bit easier going or even the chance to settle and leave the trail behind.

Denver had a boom of miners. The young city, not much more than a collection of tents as you can see by this picture, desperately needed the produce from farmers.

Many settlers veered toward the land available there. Word had been passed to these travelers that the soil was good. The promised of building a home and even planting a late summer garden lured some from their goal of Oregon.

My characters in Beau’s Elegant Bride consider this very thing:

Panic flashed through her. “Do you think we might farm near the Crooks? Are they going all the way to Oregon?”

“Might be we could change plans. The Crooks are leavin’ the company and followin’ the South Platte in a few days.”

“Are there mountains that way?”

Beau squeezed her tighter and rested his chin on her head, not something easily done as they were similar in height. With her head bent against him, he managed it. “I’d need to study my map or ask William Crook ‘bout it. He says the people in and around Denver need farmers bringin’ in vegetables.”

News from California circulated in the East about the rich soil and crops that could be grown. California, with its warmer temperatures or even the promise of gold, also had some separating from the wagon trains to make up a smaller train as they headed away from the company to take a southern trail.

Where did all the settlers go? The easy answer is they simply settled, lived, and helped change the face of our nation.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think you’d have had the strength needed to stay on the path to Oregon? Or would you have stopped or veered off course long before? I’m giving away an ebook copy of Beau’s Elegant Bride to three (3) lucky commenters.

The Sweepstakes Rules posted on P&P apply.

About Marisa…………

A retired high school English teacher, she and her husband reside in Saginaw, Michigan. Her sweet historical romances focus on her home state of Wisconsin. Inspiration to write came in part from hearing family stories about her pioneering Wisconsin ancestors.