Category: Oldies, But Goodies

Kat Martin’s All time favorite movies

Since Academy Awards Night is one of my favorite evenings, I thought it might be fun to talk movies.  Old favorites, new favorites, worst picks of all time.

Let’s start with the positive.  Who doesn’t love ETStar WarsGone with the WindWizard of Oz?  They’re classics, never to be forgotten.

Sometimes I look back and realize some of the books I’ve written were probably inspired by films I had seen and loved.  Gone with the Wind, at least the pre-civil war time in the South, elegant hoop skirts and Georgia mansions led to Captain’s Bride and Creole Fires.  I went on to follow Creole Fires with Savannah Heat and Natchez Flame.  Actually stayed in a gorgeous old plantation house inNatchez built in the 1840’s.

I’m a Star Trek fan, a total Trekie.  Maybe that’s how I got interested in UFO’s and wound up writing Season Of Strangers.  I did a ton of research for that one and was amazed to find myself convinced there’s a very good possibility UFOs are real.

I love Western movies.  Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck is a personal all-time favorite (if you haven’t seen Tom in a pair of chaps you are really missing out!).  There’s a scene in my book, The Secret, a modern-day Western set inMontana, that was definitely inspired by the movie.  I’m excited that the publisher is re-issuing the book next year.

I loved True Grit, both versions, love some of the great old Westerns like Wagon Master, Wagons West, Brigham Young.  My husband, who still writes Western novels, and I belong to Western Writers of America.  We love attending the conferences and plan to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico mid-June this year.

I love high action adventure movies.  Old ones like The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn, new ones like Taken, with Liam Neeson.  The plot for my new book, Against the Night, may have developed from the abduction theme of the movie.

Against the Night is Johnnie Riggs’s story, a fish out of water tale about a kindergarten teacher who braves the LA underworld to find her missing sister.  Its clear Amy needs help, and John Riggs is just the man for the job.  Unfortunately, Johnnie is more interested in Amy’s luscious little body than the money she can’t afford to pay him.

It’s a romp that starts on L.A.’s Sunset Strip and travels all the way to the tropical jungles of Belize, a fast-paced, high-action, hot-blooded adventure I’m hoping readers will enjoy half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here’s the back cover copy:

He knows what goes on in the dark.

She’s got the face of an angel and the body of…well, isn’t that what he’d expect from an exotic dancer? But there’s something about this girl that Johnnie Riggs can’t shake. The former army ranger is hot on the trail of an elusive drug lord—and suddenly very hot under the collar, as well.

Amy’s got her own agenda to pursue: her sister is missing and Amy seems to be the only one who cares. She’ll enlist Johnnie’s help and do her best to ignore her growing attraction to finally get some answers. But when the two trails begin to converge and reveal something even more sinister than they imagined, their mutual desire is the least of their problems. They’ll bring the truth to light…or die trying.

Johnnie is a hunk and the cover of the book looks just like him.  I hope you’ll watch for Against the Night and other of the books in my AGAINST series.  Out the end of May is AGAINST THE SUN, Jake Cantrell’s story, another fast-paced, heart-pounding tale.

In the meantime, have fun and happy reading.

Warmest, Kat


Miss Kat is giving away a copy of AGAINST THE NIGHT to one lucky commenter. Join the conversation to be entered to win.

The Greatest Western Song of All Time

The title for this blog is a bit of hyperbole, but I think it’s true.  El Paso by Marty Robbins has been my favorite song for years.  It came up at P&P a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. For those who haven’t heard it, I’m included a YouTube video from the 1970s. I recommend ignoring the white jumpsuits. It’s hard to believe we ever thought they were a good idea.   

Here’s El Paso.


And now for some trivia . . .

The song was written by Marty Robbins in almost less time than it takes to sing the 4-1/2 minute long version.  He said in an interview that it came to him almost like a movie and he just wrote it down.

The song is unusual in that there’s no chorus and no repeated lyrics.

El Paso was released in September 1959 and went to No. 1.  In 1961, it won the Grammy for Best Country and Western Recording.

The Grateful Dead did a cover of  El Paso.

El Paso appeared on Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs.  Today on Amazon, there are 107 review that break down like this: 5 Stars — 100.  4 Stars — 6.  3 Stars — 1. The solo 3-Star reviewer didn’t like the  change in the order of the songs on the digitally remastered CD.

The City of El Paso named a park after Marty Robbins.

The song on the flipside of the old 45 was Running Gun.

The Glaser Brothers supplied the harmony, and Grady Martin played the Tex Mex style guitar that gives the song so much character.

Marty Robbins’ real name was Shane Dawson. He was born September 26, 1925.  He passed away December 8, 1982 from a heart ailment. He had a twin sister.

And now here are the lyrics that first made me love western romance . . . 

El Paso by Marty Robbins

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring,
A drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina,
The girl that I loved.

So in anger I

Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.

Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran,
Out where the horses were tied.
I caught a good one.
It looked like it could run.
Up on its back
And away I did ride,

Just as fast as I

Could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
Everything’s gone in life; nothing is left.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death.

I saddled up and away I did go,
Riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow
A bullet may find me.
Tonight nothing’s worse than this
Pain in my heart.

And at last here I

Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
I can see Rosa’s cantina below.
My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
Down off the hill to Felina I go.

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
Shouting and shooting I can’t let them catch me.
I have to make it to Rosa’s back door.

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side.
Though I am trying
To stay in the saddle,
I’m getting weary,
Unable to ride.

But my love for

Felina is strong and I rise where I’ve fallen,
Though I am weary I can’t stop to rest.
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for,
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.  


Who Introduced You To The Joys of Reading?

 I’ll never forget a particular trip to the library. My mom heard about the summer reading program and off we went.  It was quite the adventure!  The Granada Hills Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library had just opened, and it was right next to Petit Park, another brand new facility. I walked out of the building (which at the time seemed huge) with my own library card and a stack of books that included Carolina’s Courage by Elizabeth Yates.

Carolina’s Courage is about a young girl who leaves her New Hampshire home to travel west with her family.  They’re part of a wagon train, and Carolina’s most beloved possession is her china doll. Somewhere in the story she reluctantly trades it with a little Indian girl, and it’s that trade that leads to peace and safe passage for the entire wagon train.

Carolina’s Courage was the first “western” I ever read.  I’m so glad my mom took me to the library that summer. At summer’s end I’d read 25 books, each noted in my little-girl block printing and acknowledged with a stick-on gold star. That first summer reading program led to many others, and I will be forever grateful to the librarians who made it such fun. I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder at the library.  Same with Jack London . . . Later I moved on to Willa Cather’s My Antonia and O Pioneers.

Both of my grandmothers also encouraged my love of books.  I was about ten years old when Nana Bylin bought me my first Black Stallion book.  I read it fast, and then I read it again.  Every week for the next few months, she had a new book waiting for me.  When we finished the Black Stallion series, we launched into Nancy Drew. That was good for a year of reading! 

My other grandmother played a different role in my love for books. She was a writer at heart.  She never ventured into fiction, but she wrote wonderful letters. She lived about 400 miles away when I was in middle school, and we wrote weekly.  I wish now she’d written her memories in a journal. I don’t have the details, but she and her family traveled to New Braunfels, Texas in a covered wagon. 

The other individuals who encouraged me to read were elementary school teachers.  My fifth grade teacher put Caddie Woodlawn  into my hands and I loved it.  Every week when we went to the school library, I found something new and intriguing. For a while, I was hooked on biographies. I discovered Sacajawea  on the biography shelf and read it many times.

Has this blog jogged your memory?  What books do you remember reading as a child?  Do you remember the very first chapter book you ever read?  Books have always been magical to me. They still are!

My Favorite Retro Cowboys

I’m late to the party, but I finally signed up for Facebook. Somewhere in my travels to Walls and Like buttons, I ended up on a Fan Page for my all-time favorite TV series. Did anyone else watch Paradise? It was also called Guns of Paradise. It starred Lee Horsley as Ethan Allen Cord, a gunfighter who becomes responsible for his sister’s four children, and Sigrid Thornton as Amelia Lawson, a lady banker with smarts and great clothes.

I’m a total sucker when it comes to redeemed outlaws, and Ethan was classic. He gets in plenty of trouble, but mostly because his past keeps catching up with him. He has no idea how to raise his orphaned niece and nephews, but he does his best. And the romance!  The sparks that fly between Ethan and Amelia nearly caught the TV on fire.  Without a doubt, Ethan Allen Cord is my favorite TV western hero.

No. 2 on the list would be Johnny Madrid from Lancer.  The show was set in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s. It’s definitely an oldie, but it sure caught my little-girl imagination. The premise of the show involved two brothers returning to their father’s ranch. Scott Lancer was blond, a Harvard graduate and a Boston gentleman. Johnny Madrid was a rebel, drifter and gunslinger.  The actor who played Johnny Madrid was James Stacy. His life changed dramatically in 1973 when he was struck by a drunk driver while on his motorcycle. Tragically he lost his left arm and leg and his girlfriend was killed. He continued to act and was twice nominated for Emmy awards.

My No. 3 TV cowboy is from High Chaparral. Manolito was played by Henry Darrow. He was the brother-in-law of John Cannon, the owner of a ranch called the High Chaparral. The series was set in Arizona Territory in the 1870s. What I remember most is that Manolito had a bit of rebel in him. I’m detecting a pattern here . . . my favorite TV cowboys are all bad boys, rebels, gunfighters, etc..

There’s a tie for the No. 4 slot on my list.  Does anyone remember The Quest with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson as brothers looking for their sister? The series only ran for 15 episodes, but I didn’t miss a single one.  Kurt and Tim played Morgan and Quentin Beaudine.  Morgan had lived with the Cheyenne for eight years and was also called Two Persons. Quentin was a physician from San Francisco. Together they were searching for their sister. The series ended in part because interest in westerns faded in the 1970s, but it also had the bad luck to run opposite Charlie’s Angels.

I’m giving the No. 5 slot to . . . Decisions! Decisions!  My first thought was Little Joe Cartwright from Bonanza.  It just doesn’t seem right to leave him off the list, but my real choice is Tom Hart from Broken Trail.  He’s not as retro as the first four picks, which is one of the things that appeals to me.  Broken Trail proved that westerns are still relevant. Honor, independence, courage and loyalty never go out of style.

I can think of a lot of shows I didn’t mention. Dr. Quinn is at the top of the list.  Then there’s The Virginian and Gunsmoke and The Rifleman.  I also loved pioneer-themed shows like The Monroes.

What shows would you add to the list?  Which characters were your favorites?  Westerns may be more retro than trendy, but I will always love them.

Cowboy Wisdom


My blog day sneaked up on me and I find myself short of words, so I figured this would be a great time to share some cowboy quotes that made me smile (hopefully a few you haven’t heard)…and a little visual inspiration can’t hurt 🙂

Cowboy Wisdom

  • Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.
  • Don’t squat with your spurs on.cowboy-wow
  • Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  • Behind every successful rancher is a wife who works in town.
  • When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  • Talk slowly, think quickly.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
  • Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.
  • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
  • It’s better to be a has-been that a never-was.
  • The easiest way to eat crow is while it’s still warm. The colder it gets, the harder is is to swoller.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
  • If it don’t seem like it’s worth the effort, it probably ain’t.
  • It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
  • Sometimes you get and sometimes you get got.
  • If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
  • Don’t worry about bitin’ off more’n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger’n you think.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Generally, you ain’t learnin’ nothing when your mouth’s a-jawin’.
  • Tellin’ a man to git lost and makin’ him do it are two entirely different propositions.cowboyrosery
  • If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • When you give a personal lesson in meanness to a critter or to a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.
  • When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
  • Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back.
  • Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat. It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s sure crucial to know what it was.
  • The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket.
  • You can’t tell how good a man or a watermelon is ’til they get thumped.(Character shows up best when tested.)
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen are defrocked, shouldn’t it follow that cowboys would be deranged?
  • There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode; Never was a cowboy who couldn’t be throwed.


John Wayne

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.”

“Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”

Inscription on Mr. Wayne’s headstone:
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learnt something from yesterday.”

Hard to beat The Duke for some great cowboy wisdom and inspiration…just love that inscription.

How about the rest of y’all–any favorites from the list? Have any to add?

Updated: May 7, 2010 — 6:20 am

Another Kind of Alpha Hero

victoria_bylin_bannerAlmost two years ago my husband and I adopted a dog from an organization that rescues abandoned animals. His name is Hartley and he’s a Jack Russell / Beagle mix. He’s a tad bit . . . odd. He licks furniture (gross), and he’s terrified of little girls. Little boys don’t bother him at all. The poor dog doesn’t know how to chase a ball or play “Fetch,”  but he plays  catch by pushing the ball with his nose for a distance of about a foot. We roll it back anHartley&Misc029smalld he’s happy.

More than once, my husband has looked at our beloved mutt and said, “Hartley, you’re no Rin Tin Tin.”

That got me thinking about the famed German Shepherd who starred in the 1950’s TV show, “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.” In the show, Rin Tin Tin belongs to a boy named Rusty who’s been orphaned in an Indian raid. The boy and dog are adopted by the soldiers at Fort Apache and the adventure begins.

Rin Tin Tin TV ShowThe series was only one of Rin Tin Tin’s Hollywood credits. His fame goes back to films from the 1920s when he stared in several movies, many of them with western settings.  His continued to star in movies up through the 1940s, then moved to television.

The first Rin Tin Tin has quite a story. He was born in Lorraine, France in September 1918 in the thick of World War I.  He was just five days old when Lee Duncan, an American serviceman, rescued him from a bombed out war dog kennel along with the pup’s sister.  Duncan named the dogs Rin Tin Tin and Nenette after French puppets given to WWI soldiers for luck.

Duncan was fascinated with the abilities of the new breed known as a German Shepherd, and he became acquainted with the man who’d trained the dogs. He worked regularly with the dogs to teach them to perform on command.  When the war ended, Duncan took the two dogs to Los Angeles. Sadly, Nenette didn’t make iRin Tin Tin Moviet. She died en route from distemper.

Duncan returned to his job as a clerk in a hardware store, but his interest in dogs continued and he took Rin Tin Tin to dog shows. In February 1922, Rin Tin Tin amazed the audience at the  Shepherd Dog Club by jumping a phenomenal 11 feet 9 inches. Quite by chance, a man named Charlie Jones asked if he could try out his new camera that made moving pictures by filming Rin Tin Tin. Duncan said yes, and a film company later offered Duncan $350 to film the dog in action. 

It took a while for Rin Tin Tin’s career to take off. Duncan tried to a sell movie script starring his dog, but he found no takers.  It wasn’t until he happened on a film company struggling to shoot a scene about a wolf that Rin Tin Tin got his big break.  Duncan said his dog could do the scene in a single take, and that’s what Rin Tin Tin did.  The producer hired him for the rest of “The Man From Hell’s River.”  The success of that film saved the studio making it from financial ruin.  The name of that littlle studio on the brink?  Warner Brothers Pictures.

Rin_Tin_Tin_005-01The first Rin Tin Tin made 26 movies before he died in 1932. Warner Brothers didn’t want to lose their star, so the mantle was passed to the Rin Tin Tin’s son, known as Junior. The two dogs weren’t identical in appearance, so a publicity campaign began. Junior was the first dog to fly in a commerical airplane.  Duncan and Rin Tin Tin No. 3 later particiated WWII by training 5,000 soldiers and dogs for the war effort.

Thanks to protected breeding, the legacy of Rin Tin Tin continues today.  Every dog that has ever played Rin Tin Tin is related to the original one.  The most recent is Rin Tin Tin #11, born July 8, 2009.  May the legacy of Man’s Best Friend continue!

Western Theme Songs and Cowboy Ballads


I heard a song on the radio the other day that took me way back to the days when westerns dominated the movie screen and the television airwaves.  The song was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Hearing the song immediately put me back in front of the screen reliving scenes from that great movie. 


Cowboy Ballads

Got me to thinking about other Cowboy/Western ballads I love – not all of them movie related – and I thought I’d do a list of my top ten favorites for this post.  And for those of you who want to hear them again (or for the first time), I’ll post links to videos that feature them as well.


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

High Noon

The Streets Of Laredo

El Paso

Come A Little Bit Closer

Big Bad John


Big Iron

Johnny Reb

Ballad Of The Alamo



And as a bonus, I thought I’d include my 10 favorite western TV classic theme songs as well



Have Gun, Will Travel


Bat Masterson

Wyatt Earp




Rin Tin Tin





So how about you – did I leave one of your favorites off of my lists?  If so – share!

Updated: July 16, 2014 — 1:57 pm


There are more than a dozen forms of country music.  Who knew?   When researching this, because I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC, I was amazed to learn it’s origin and how it has progressed through the decades.   Founded in the southern states, country music has its origins in the Appalachian Mountains and has roots in gospel, Celtic music, traditional folk music and old-time music.


Because “hillbilly music” was deemed too degrading, the name was changed to “country and western music” in the 1940’s.   Even the term “country and western” has been changed to simply “country” now.                                                


Think Elvis and Garth Brooks and you’ve landed on the two top selling artists OF ALL TIME.  Elvis was known as the “Hillbilly Cat” and was on the radio show Louisiana Hayride. Elvis, as you know went on to become a defining figure in rock and roll, while Garth Brooks continues to be the top-selling solo artist in US History. 


Early in music history, the Irish fiddle, German dulcimer, Italian mandolin, Spanish guitar and African banjo were the most common musical instruments. The interaction among different ethnic groups in the U.S. brought about string bands using primarily the banjo, fiddle and guitar.  


The first commercial recording of Country Music called “Sallie Gooden” by fiddler A.C. Robertson was made in 1922 for Victor Records and in 1924 Columbia Records began issuing records of “hillbilly” music.


The Grand Ole Opry aired on radio in Nashville in 1925 and continues to be a driving force today.  Their early stars were Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff and Deford Bailey. 


Singing cowboys made their mark during the 1930s and 1940s and Hollywood films popularized their songs.  Gene Autry, Sons of the Pioneers and Roy Rogers were the most famous of the singing cowboys. Roy was my personal favorite. Who could forget the ending song on the Roy Rogers Show?


Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.


Oh that brings back good memories.



By the 1950’s and 1960s a blend of western swing, honky tonk and country boogie were played across the country, but “rockabilly” soon took over with Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, Johnny Cash’s, I Walk the Line and Carl Perkins’, Blue Suede Shoes. 


The 1970’s saw stars like Tammy Wynette and Charlie Rich emerge in a pop culture that morphed into Countrypolitan aimed for more mainstream audiences.

Ray Charles turned his attention to country music with the release of his song, “I Can’t Stop Loving You.


Country Rock was established after the British Invasion with a desire for some to return to the old values of rock and roll.  Contributors to this form of music were the Byrds and the The Flying Burrito Brothers (? I don’t remember them) The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers and The Eagles. I love The Eagles!  Also, believe it or not, but the Rolling Stones got into the act with their songs “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Dead Flowers”


Some other forms of country music that emerged during the years are Outlaw Country (think Willie Nelson and Waylan Jennings), Country Pop (Glen Campbell, John Denver, Marie Osmond), Neocountry disco music (think Urban Cowboy), Alternative Country, Truck Driving Country and Bluegrass. 


Wow! Like I said before, who knew there were so many forms of country music?  I was never into the twang, I have to admit and I loved Elvis Presley.  But today my tastes are more for the pop culture of country with stars like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Brooks and Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and George Strait.  BTW- George won the 2009 Artist of the Decade Award by the Academy of Country Music.  Yay George!


I find country music reaches deep into my soul.  It tells a story, most often a romance and the ballads can be heartbreakingly sincere and the upbeat tunes, just plain ole fun.  It’s just about all I listen to on the radio. 


So, what form of music do you like?  Were you an Elvis the Pelvis fan like me?  Did you like the singing cowboys?  Who are your favorites today? 


My book, not released yet in stores, has been an Eharlequin Top 10 Bestseller for the first three weeks in August!   To celebrate, one commenter today will win an autographed copy and a beautiful Brighton key chain, from my heart to yours.

 dsc00935 for more contests and fun stuff!




Updated: August 19, 2009 — 11:09 pm

Kristie Jenner: The Great Western Drive


Our special guest today is a reader and reviewer who shares our passion for westerns–and I mean she’s passionate about them in a big way.  Kristie Jenner has made it one of her personal missions to interest readers in the genre; in fact, she came up with the idea for the Great Western Challenge this week, and the Fillies here at P&P were delighted to jump on the cowboy train with her.


Kristie says that while she loves a good historical set in England, she thinks many readers may be ready for a change from dukes and earls and other various and assorted titles. And she believes that if readers are getting a wee bit tired of vampires and shift changers and other otherworldly worlds, a good western is just the thing.


Cheryl: First off, we all thank you for providing the cowboy eye candy today! Please explain The Great Western Drive challenge to those who may not have heard about it.


outlaw-heartsKristie: The long answer: I recently put up a poll on my blog for readers to pick their favourite genre.  While I love all genres, my special fave is westerns even though I started out reading English set historicals.  When I saw how low westerns scored, I realized that probably many readers just haven’t tried the right ones.  So I rounded up my posse – Sybil and Wendy, who are just as passionate about this genre as I am and set about getting readers to at least try them – hoping that the stories capture their imaginations as much as they have me.  If I, once a dyed-in-the-wool English historical fan, can love a western, I think many a romance reader can too.


The short answer – I thought Little Joe was Hawt when I was young and just noticing the other side of the gender!


Cheryl: I confess I was a Little Joe junkie, too. So Kristie, tell us why you are such a big fan of westerns.

ecbc512Kristie: I’ve always been more a fan of blue-collar type heroes then the white-collar type. I just love a hero who works with his hands and isn’t afraid to work up a bit of sweat now and then. I love a hero who is willing to labour for everything he has rather than just inheriting it. And no one works harder than many a western hero, whether it’s being a marshal, a cowboy, a gambler, a gunslinger or even a reformed outlaw.


And a western heroine is one I can identify with so much more easily.  I don’t know if it’s my age or ’cause I’m more average myself, but while the girly girl in me likes reading about all the fabulous balls and dresses and things in historicals set in Europe, I very much prefer the realness of the conflicts a western heroine goes through. 


Another feature the western has going for it is that you won’t find one of those annoying fake rakes in a western. I find the heroes in just about every western as real as it gets, again because they are real. They don’t play games. They are what they are, whatever their profession.


And while I’ve read a few with Pinkerton agents, westerns don’t have the overabundance of spies of many English historicals.


And I’ve found that many more westerns have that certain poignancy that I find more majorly appealing than any other genre as a whole.


sweet-lullabyCheryl: Certainly none of us can understand it, but why do you suppose some readers are averse to trying a western?


Kristie:  One of the reasons I’ve heard for not trying westerns is because readers don’t find the setting attractive.  I think differently.  I find it very attractive to read a book based on our own history.  Ok — so maybe I’m making myself an honorary American for this one, but what can be better then reading about a setting that’s exciting and lawless and new?  An English historical can’t offer readers that.  And if you like a bit of down and dirty, well the Western has that too!


Another feature I find more often in a Western is the heroine saving the hero. Think about it; a bounty hunter, wounded, needing care makes it to the steps of the heroine who has control of life or death over the hero – yummers! Now that, I find sexy.


And there are none of the class distinctions that get tiresome. It doesn’t matter where the character started in life; it’s a more level playing field in a western. We aren’t pulled out of a story because the heroine is acting too friendly with the staff. We aren’t pulled out wondering if all the too-handsome dukes and earls and viscounts will ever run out. There simply couldn’t have been the abundance of them that fill up the pages of English historicals.


ecbc517Cheryl: So, it’s the cowboys that hold a place in your heart, isn’t it?


Kristie: Western heroes seem to me to be more manly man type heroes.  I think if you are a fan of the alpha hero, there would be many more alpha heroes to choose from in the Old West than there would be in other locations.  I think if you are a fan of the lone wolf hero, then the Western is your genre.  I imagine after spending that much time in the saddle, they would be looking for a little female companionship.  And who can resist a wounded outlaw type hero?


Seriously, all of you western/Lost fans, can’t you just picture Sawyer in that role, and let’s see–me as Etta Place.  And if you go for the more law abiding type hero, who better than a marshal?  No, no, get Matt Dillon out of your heads–he’s not a good example *shudder*.  He kept Miss Kitty dangling way too long!  And he just wasn’t handsome.  But Jack maybe?  With Sayiid as the mysterious bounty hunter?  Yeah, I like that.


Cheryl: There are a few favorites I’d surely love to see in a cowboy hat, too.  David Boreanaz for one.  Oh my goodness.  But back to books . . . will you share a few of your all-time favorite western romances with us?


joes_wifeKristie: Well first off – Joe’s Wife – no really!  I love this book.  Sweet Lullaby by Lorraine Heath is another one that comes oh so close to making me cry.  The only reason I didn’t mention it is because I know it’s very hard to find – I’m always seeking out copies at UBSs without luck, and I wanted to feature books that were readily available on either Amazon or UBSs or even better – still in print.  Outlaw Heats by Rosanne Bittner is another favourite.  It really has an epic flavour to it and much to Wendy’s amazement – since it is a large book, I’ve read it a number of times.


Cheryl: I was tickled pink that Jill Marie Landis is writing westerns again. She was always one of my favorites, ever since her first book, Sunflower. And Margaret Brownley has tossed her hat back into the ring. I can’t wait until her new western comes out. She’ll be blogging about it with us here at P&P. Is there an author who has turned to another genre that you would just flip over to have them write a western again?


ecbc500Kristie:  We’ve lost so many Western authors over the years, haven’t we?  Jill Marie Landis is one of my choices too!  I loved that whole series.  I love her westerns.  I’d love to see Patricia Potter out with the number she used to write.  Susan Kay Law and Alexis Harrington are authors whose westerns I miss!  And if Lorraine Heath were to return to her western roots, I’d be dancing in the street.


Cheryl: I am so there with you on Pat Potter, Alexis Harrington and Lorraine Heath. I would also add Catherine Anderson to my wish list. Coming Up Roses is an all-time favorite of mine.  And I’m still in mourning over Maggie Osborne’s retirement.


If you could pick one recently released western and send one to 500 new readers to introduce them to the genre, which one would it be?


rachel-and-the-hired-gunKristie:  Yikes!!  That’s a tough one!  My reading is down – though my buying is up *gulp* and there aren’t quite the selection there used to be, but one I read this year that I very much enjoyed is Rachel and the Hired Gun by Elaine Levine.  And one we are all looking forward to with GREAT anticipation is Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman.


Cheryl: Now that is a glowing endorsement! Hope Elaine and Jo drop by this week—they will if they have their google alerts set.


We have just celebrated two extremely successful years of blogging and promoting all things western here at P&P, so that tells us there is an interest in westerns.  Is there anything you’d like to say to the authors who’ve continued to write westerns and those just breaking in?


Kristie:  We are doing our best to spread the word.  Sybil has more of an ear to the industry and I think she has some interesting news coming up later this week.  I know it’s tough to write something that is harder to sell, and romance goes in cycles.  If a couple authors take off big time, I think publishers will be willing to go there again.  They just need something like a JR Ward of the western.  In the meantime, there still are many readers who love them, and as a spokesperson for those readers for today – thanks to all the writers who are still writing a genre we love.


Cheryl: Thank you for being our guest today at Petticoats and Pistols. We appreciate your dedication to the western romance and wish you a successful Great Western Drive!


never-love-a-lawman1You can visit Kristie at her blog, Ramblings on Romance


Read more about the challenge at The Good the Bad and the Unread and at Wendy the Super Librarian’s blog.


So, how about you, blogger friends? Are there other reasons you love romance? Is there a celebrity you’d like to see in a cowboy hat? Which author would you like to have write a western?


And…most importantly, since you’re already western lovers, will you accept the challenge and give a friend a western romance novel this week?

Victoria Bylin: City Girl on Horseback


 “Hold on!’ shouted the trail guide.

As I grabbed the saddle horn, the horse I was riding (sitting on would be more accurate) jumped over a narrow creek. Judging by the way my stomach lurched, you’d have thought we’d taken a five-foot fence. Far from it . . . I was on a trail ride in the San Emidio Mountains in southern California, doing a news story for a local newspaper.

For a western writer, I have appallingly little experience with horses. I’m not someone who grew up in the saddle.  My first horse was made of plastic and attached to sprspring-rocking-horseings.  Does anyone else remember “The Wonder Horse?”  They were made in the 1960s and graced living rooms throughout America. I rode my Wonder Horse for hours, but it was my brother who tested the limits. He managed to bounce it into the wall.

Hobby horses have been around for ages. They became popular in 17th century England, but they’re believed to have originated in ancient Egypt. Carved horses would be placed on four-wheel carts and children would take rides. A few of these toys have been found in ancient pyramids. With a son living in Cairo, I’m fascinated by the Egypt connection.

The hobbhobby-horsey horse (or broomstick horse) became popular in medieval times. A hobby horse consisted of a stick, a fake horse head and a child’s imagination. Can’t you just see a little girl naming her horse “Star” and dreaming of adventure? For a boy in medieval times, a hobby horse was more than a toy.  Pretending to ride imitated adult behavior and prepared him for a life of battle. Boys also practiced jousting with horses on wheels.


 Hobby horses eventually morphed from sticks into barrel horses. A barrel horse was made from a log mounted on four legs and had a crudely made head. They didn’t move or rock, but they gave a child the feel of sitting on a horse. As cabinet-making and carpentry skills advanced, the legs of these barrel horses became more elaborate.

The rocking horse as we picture it now came into being in the 17th century. Someone figured out that mounting a toy horse on a half barrel would create a rocking motion. Later the barrel evolved into the wide rockers we picture today. The earliest example belonged the boy who’d become King Charles I of England.  Antique Hobby Horse on wheels

It was only a matter of time before the rocking horse exploded in popularity. In the 18th century, some were elaborate works of art made by masters of the trade. Only the wealthiest of family could afford them. When the Industrial Revolution took hold, what had been a cottage industry turned into mass production and rocking horses were accessible to the general public. The dappled gray became the most popular model when Queen Victoria presented that style to her children.

Child on Hobby Horse c. 1860

 The rocking horse underwent another evolution in 1880 when J.P. Marqua, an American from Ohio, patented a safety stand. Instead of moving on rockers, the horse was mounted on springs in a frame. The safety base made rocking horses more stable than their ancestors, and the toy took up less room as a child played. They were also considered safer. Fingers and toes couldn’t be pinched under the rockers, and the horse was less likely to tip over.  (I can vouch for this. My Wonder Horse made some wild leaps in my imagination, but he never threw me off.)

Up until World War I, rocking horses grew in popularity. Unfortunately, the start of the war led to a shortage of materials and skilled craftsman. The Great Depression further lessened the interest in such toys. They never did make a strong comeback, possibly because of the advent of the automobile.  Instead of imitating their parents on horseback, children wanted toy cars they could pretend to drive.  

Even though interest has faded, rocking horses aren’t gone forever. They’re still made by artisans and loved by children with vivid imaginations.


What about you? Did you ever have a rocking horse?  Do you remember Wonder Horses and stick ponies? Or maybe you were the girl I envied . . . Maybe you had a real horse of your own.  Memory lane, here we come at a gallop!


Available at Amazon!