Petticoats and Pistols Sweet Sixteen Birthday!


We can’t believe it, but another year has flown by, and we’re having another birthday here at Petticoats and Pistols. Thank you to all of you who have been here with us not only this last year, but for so many previous ones. You’ve made the journey fun and memorable.

Since we’re turning 16, a lot of us mentioned what a turning point that was in life because it meant we could drive. The next thing we knew we were sharing personal driving mishaps, discussing if we’d used them in our books, and we decided to share those musings with you. Most of the stories are personal, but a couple fillies didn’t have ones to share. Instead they talked about transportation mishaps in their stories.

We hope you enjoy our thoughts, and they help you get to know each of us a little better.

When I took my learner’s permit test, I missed only one question. At sixteen, I aced my driver’s test and got my license. Apparently, however, I didn’t quite understand the concept of looking around or behind me when I reversed. As a result, during the next six months, I was in a total of three fender benders, all of them my fault. The worst one was when I backed my mom’s new Rivera into the side of my brother’s Bronco. Yeah, I was grounded. And no one in the family talked to me for weeks after that.

My husband and I own a trucking company and sometimes I ride along with him. A few years ago, we were heading eastbound on the interstate, hauling eggs back from Ohio, going about 75 mph. My door jiggled open. At that speed some people might wonder if their door will actually open. I can’t say about a car, but in a 379 long-nose Pete? Yes. Yes, it will.

It was kind of interesting, watching the pavement fly by from a new and rather distressing perspective, as I leaned out, grabbing for the latch. I got the door shut and sat in my seat, panting. I hadn’t quite made it to the euphoria-from-having-cheated-death stage, when my husband, who never left off the throttle, because, you know, he’s a man, and we have to GET THERE FAST, looked over at me. “Wow. Wasn’t expecting that,” he said. With one hand on the wheel, he dug under his seat and handed me a wrench and screwdriver. “You mind checking the latch? I’d hate to lose that door.”

As a perfectionist, I hate trying new things when I don’t think I will be very good at them. So, when my dad determined to teach me to drive a stick shift when I was 15, I was a mess. Between the whiplash and the uncontrollable sobbing, my dad gave up.

Fast forward five years, and my fiancé owns a stick shift that will be our only car after we marry. Insecurities battle the need to impress my man, and after a few patient lessons, I manage to semi-master the necessary skills. Today, I’m a proficient stick shift driver, which just goes to show that true love really does conquer all.

Back in  the days when large families drove station wagons the size of gunboats, my dad took all nine of us into the country so I could get some driving practice. He sat next to me on the bench seat, with my mom by the passenger side door. I approached a Stop sign at a fair amount of speed, with no sign of slowing down.  Maybe I forgot where the brake pedal was, I don’t know. But as we careened closer to that sign, perched on the edge of a ditch, it seemed inevitable I was going to hit it and dive headlights first into that ditch. Only after screaming STOP! STOP! STOP! from the remaining eight family members, did I somehow find the brake pedal with only inches to spare from a collision. I burst into tears, and my dad had had enough. I got out, he moved over, and he drove us all much more safely home.

I learned to drive as a high school junior in 1964. Back then it was offered as a class on driving simulators and credit given. I ran over every person crossing the street and after a few weeks, my instructor told the class that some of us should never be allowed behind the wheel. Thank goodness, he didn’t mention any names, but I knew he was talking about me. Still I kept trying hard. On weekends, my dad took me out to a country road and let me practice. The only thing was our car was a stick-shift and I gave Daddy a whiplash. Thankfully he let me keep at it and I eventually got the hang of it. I passed my state written driving test with a hundred. And even though I was really nervous, I was able to pass the driving part without killing any pedestrians.

The last person my heroine Crystal Jones wants to run into is Sheriff John Turner. Unfortunately, she not only runs into him, she does it with her car! She didn’t mean to give his cruiser a tap and hoped all he gave her was a citation. But she wonders, would she ever be the same seeing him again? After all, her life was nothing but a series of mishaps. Would this be one more thing? She hoped not. She was trying for a fresh start. She didn’t need another broken heart. John broke it well enough the first time. What was he going to do now that she’d smacked his bumper a good one?

I started driving really young as drivers in rural areas sometimes do. My grandma lived about one mile from me on gravel roads, with a single crossing of a paved highway.

I drove over there whenever we needed to pick up anything from her or take anything to her. Or sometimes I made up an excuse because driving was fun! It was all very accepted, and we had neighbors whose fairly young kids were driving around, too.

So, I was driving to grandma’s house and knew I was going too fast. And suddenly, as if I hadn’t driven over to Grandma’s a hundred times before, the stop sign just snuck up on me and I slammed on the brakes….and the car spun completely around in a circle on that gravel road 180 degrees and with STEEP ditches on both sides.

Rather than go plunging off the road into a ditch, or flying out onto the highway, the car stayed right on the road and when I was done sliding and spinning…I was facing the wrong direction, back the way I just came.

I sat there just shaking for long minutes. Finally, I gathered myself enough, I just drove back home the way I came and never told anyone it happened.

The second book I ever published, waaaay back in 2001, was originally titled Something More and has since been reissued as The Unexpected Bride. In the first chapter the heroine, Elthia, has traveled from Massachusetts to Texas to become a governess to a young family. The last leg of her trip takes place via stagecoach, and I open the scene when she arrives at a lonely staging post where the hero is supposed to meet her and transport her to his farm.

To my surprise, my then-agent and two friends who agreed to read and critique the story all referred to that opening scene as taking place at a train station. Puzzled, I went back and reread it. The very first sentence of the scene referenced opening the stagecoach door and there are numerous other references sprinkled throughout to the stagecoach and to working on a change of horses. It was a real head scratcher for me. The only thing I could figure was that because this was a long book (just over 100,000 words) and this was in chapter one and the only scene that referred to the stagecoach, that that ‘minor’ detail had somehow gotten lost. Which only goes to show how our minds can sometimes play tricks on us, filling in gaps with familiar images. I’d like to think that these readers of my early draft were so engrossed in the story that their minds simply replaced the stagecoach with a more familiar mode of transport, the train.  🙂

At sixteen, I lived in Dubuque, Iowa, a town known for its hills. One day I came out of school to find it had snowed a few inches. Without thinking, I drove home via my usual route. Everything was fine until I found myself on a street with a huge hill with a stop sign at the bottom. Knowing there were no other options and cursing myself for not having thought about this awful hill, I set off as slowly as possible. Of course, stopping at the stop sign was impossible, and of course there was another driver foolish enough to think he could make it up this hill. Trying to stop at the sign, my wheels locked, I swerved, and sideswiped his car. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and my dad was understanding even though the car I hit was a new dealer one driven by a car salesman.

I am a GenXer, so I don’t really remember learning to drive. I know I took a driver’s ed course, then I was expected to just know how everything worked. I remember my aunt being the first one to hand me the keys and feeling sick to my stomach at the idea of driving someone else’s car. I had no idea how to keep it in the center of the lane, nor how to hold my foot steady (I think that’s because at the time I was 4′ 6″ and no one told me you could move the seat…) We all lived and apparently the GenX method works because I’ve never had a driving incident. At least, not that I can remember…

Growing up on a farm, I learned to drive years before I could legally do so. By the time I was twelve, I’d progressed from driving the small Ford 9N tractor to being allowed to drive our farm pickup all by myself. I thought I was queen of the world, until I accidentally backed into a section of fence. No one was watching, the fence was unharmed (my dad knows how to set a sturdy fence post), and I couldn’t see any new dents or scratches in the pickup. I was home free! Except for the guilt. It ate at me for several days before I had to tell Dad what I’d done. My punishment was something tragic and dreadful — not getting to drive the pickup for one whole week!

In Idaho you could get a daylight license at 14, which meant that we had students driving to junior high. The much-coveted nighttime license came at age 16. Just a few days before my brother turned 16, I had to make an emergency trip after dark, but I’d just had dental surgery and was on painkillers. My brother offered to drive me even though he wasn’t quite legal. We passed through a very small rural town and there was a sheriff’s vehicle parked in front of a cafe. As we went by, the reds and blues came on. My brother and I desperately tried to figure out how to trade places so it appeared I was driving, but there was no way. He was toast. No night license for another six months. But the guy that approached the car wore logging clothes—Frisco jeans cut short, suspenders, logging boots. It was a logging town, but usually law enforcement wore a uniform. He checked my brother’s obviously daylight-only license, then nodded knowingly. We were about to start our garbled explanation, when to our amazement, he sent us on our way. As near as we could figure, a local good old boy was entertaining himself while the sheriff ate dinner at the café. We still talk about the time we got pulled over by a logger.

Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I was used to driving on gravel as well as dirt roads.  And then, I moved to Los Angeles where I simply couldn’t drive — those freeways literally scared me silly (6-10 lanes on one side of the freeway).

Didn’t last long, though, before I was not only driving on them, but speeding along them, too.  Much later, my godson — who had grown up in a rural area in South Dakota — came to visit and my role reversed; I’m afraid I scared him with my high speed on those multi-lane freeways.

But, I noticed it didn’t take him long before he was racing along those highways, too.  I realized then that a learning curve could be pretty fast when there was a need.

Oh, boy, do I have a memorable event about my early driving years! Born and raised in Oklahoma, the summer I turned 17, my dad was transferred from Oklahoma to Charleston, West Virginia. Um, yes, it was very different! Oklahoma was flat, not many curves, and my husband has teased me for years that we just “wired the steering wheel straight ahead out here because we never needed to turn it.”

One day, I set out to drive to college on a very straight, non-curvy section of the interstate, and a state highway maintenance truck merged on the entrance ramp two lanes over. I thought nothing of it until…his back axle broke right in two. Half of it, with the tire still attached–and rolling along at 60 mph–barreled across two lanes of traffic and headed right for my front passenger-side tire! Yep, it stuck in the tire, but I managed to get the car off the road.

I had a very unlikely guardian angel that day. Our next-door neighbor left for work just after I did and saw it happen. He pulled over and helped me get the info I needed from the other driver, loaded me up, and took me home. I was VERY shaken, but not hurt. It scared me but it made me realize that I’d kept my wits and gotten through it!

GIVEAWAY: Today we’ll be picking 5 winners. To be entered in our random drawing, leave a comment about one of your driving mishaps or one you’ve enjoyed reading in a book scene or watching in a movie. One responder will receive our grand prize of a 12-month subscription to Audible. Four others will win either a drink sleeve and car coasters or the wrist purse and car coasters.

Thank you for being here to share our Sweet Sixteenth Birthday!

 The Fillies

13 Fun Filly Facts to Celebrate our 13th Birthday!

Yep! 13 years ago on August 13, 2007, we launched our very first blog, amateurs that we were. In that time, 35 bestselling western romance authors have called themselves fillies. Of those, 10 were founding fillies, and of those, 3 of us still remain. 

Linda Broday   ~   Pam Crooks  ~   Karen Kay

Want some more stats? In 13 years, we’ve had:

6,743 Posts



That’s ALOT of activity on Petticoats & Pistols, and you, our dear readers, have shared yourself with us over and over again. We’ve become friends. Sisters, almost.

And that got us to thinking.


Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 

#1 – I was born in a tent to homeless parents and have twice seen that same situation since. My husband and I rode out an F-5 tornado inside our Texas home, lying flat in a hallway over our three little ones then shifted from place to place for nine months trying to survive. With only a high school education and pure grit, I will reach a publishing milestone in April 2021 with my 30th book that kicks off a new series.

#2 – I skydived when I was younger. Yep, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I highly recommend it (if you’re not afraid of heights). The thrill is stupendous, the view is amazing, and the accomplishment lasts forever. I quit after my 5th jump, when my chute didn’t open, and I had to throw the reserve. Oh, and you have great stories to tell your grandbabies!

#3 – My life is a musical. My husband and I were both band nerds in high school, but after one semester of band in college, he convinced me to join choir. We sang all through undergrad and graduate school and even with an adult chorus that took a European tour. Our children grew up singing Disney, Wiggles, and VeggieTales songs, playing in the band in school, and on any given Sunday our pew sports all four parts in acapella style. Once, when my kids were little, we had a lady from church babysit for us. She said it was like watching the Von Trapps.

#4 – I worked in the deepest mine in North America at the time. My level was 6900 feet underground. My pard and I loaded muck from ore chutes into mine cars and hauled it to where it was dumped in a larger chute to be hauled up out of the mine during the graveyard shift. I know what the blackest of black looks like. I’ve also been underground in the Arctic. The most amazing ice crystals grew in the mine there—giant snowflakes about 6 inches across.

#5 – I was in my 40’s when I was adopted into the Blackfeet Tribe in Northern Montana. Chief Old Person adopted me into the tribe in July of 2001 in a ceremony during the Indian Day’s Pow-wow.  The Chief gave me an Indian name that I won’t share here because one doesn’t speak their own Indian name. (It’s considered boasting.)  I was adopted into the Tribe because of my work with them on literacy, and my life was changed forever…always yearning to be in Montana on the reservation.

#6 – While I was hunkered down in a London air raid shelter during the war, someone gave me a teddy bear and said, “May God protect you.”  Thinking “God” was the name of the teddy bear, I took him everywhere.  One night, while my mother and I were racing through the streets to the shelter, I realized I’d forgotten God. Doing what any self-respecting four-year-old would do under the circumstances, I threw myself on the ground and had a full-fledged temper tantrum.  Not knowing what else to do, my poor mother took me back to the house to retrieve the teddy bear.  As we were leaving the house, a bomb went off at the end of the street where we would have been had we not gone back. So,  just as the stranger promised, God had protected me. 

#7 – When I was about six, I was at my cousins’ house and they had a horse! Everyone was getting a ride but my mom said I couldn’t, I was too little, unless a grown up was out leading the horse. Well, the grownups went inside and left me with some terribly irresponsible children. So I begged and whined and finally convinced them it’d be okay if one of them led the horse. And I got up on what now seems to have been a huge animal, and walked along, and whoever was leading the horse let it slip out of their hands and the horse went trotting toward the barn and I fell off and broke my arm.

The only good part of that was, my two big sisters and my cousins got in Terrible Trouble.

#8 – I worked full time in the legal field, while co-owning two antique shops. With a business partner, I purchased the oldest barbeque cafe in town. That had me not only working full time in a demanding profession, having a wonderful husband and two teenagers, but owning three businesses. Then came along the acquisition of an ol’ timey Texas honky-tonk. I learned the bass guitar. Strange fact, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and couldn’t play that well; however, only at closing time my partner allowed me to join the band … most likely to clear out the customers before closing time. Thinking back, it was during that period I took my first writing course.  Fun, sweet memories!

#9 – While working as a newspaper reporter, I used to get sent out to do many agriculture related stories. One day, I went out to interview a couple that had sold their herd of beef cattle so they could turn their place into a “buffalo ranch” and sell the meat commercially. The husband was busy when I arrived, so the wife and I climbed in their big pickup and drove out to the pasture so I could get an up-close look at the animals. We reached the bison but they soon went from docilely grazing to agitated in seconds. The wife realized her husband had left a butchered carcass in the back of the pickup. The smell of that drove the bison wild and they stampeded. The wife swung the pickup around, hit the gas, and we bounced and jostled our way for the gate we’d left open, hoping to beat the bison there before they could escape. It was summer, the windows were rolled down, and one big ol’ boy stuck his head right up in my window. I could have counted his eyelashes if I hadn’t been scared witless. Then the wife said, “When we get to the gate, jump out and throw up your arms. I think they’ll stop.” I looked at her and told her she was crazy if she thought I was jumping in front of a few dozen beasts thundering straight at me. Thankfully, her husband appeared just in time to head off the bison and we made it safely out of the pasture. If I ever decide to include a stampede in story, I have first-hand experience! 

#10 – Have you ever been an unwitting participant in an FBI bust? I was! A lowly secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, it was my job from time to time to man the front desk and screen guests. Imagine my surprise when, one day, a man came in, and when I asked, “May I help you?” he flashed his FBI shield at me with an “official” glare. “Quiet,” he said.  At that point, he went right on back to his intended target, a claims examiner who was taking money under the table to process black lung claims more expeditiously–and the black lung claimant, who was wearing a wire as the money was changing hands! Four of the six claims examiners were led out in cuffs that day and placed in a nondescript white cargo van, and Mr. FBI told me, “Don’t leave town. You may have to testify.” That was probably my most exciting day at work–ever.

#11 – I was lucky to have some fabulous and very interesting summer jobs during high school and college.  They included working as a data entry clerk for the local water works company (great first job with an interesting cast of characters), as an assistant at a library for two summers (Best. Summer. Job. Ever!),  schlepping backstage and ushering at the New Orleans Repertory Theater during their production of Three Penny Opera (Mack The Knife anyone?) and working as a computer science intern at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (awesome place with some incredibly smart and dedicated people).

#12 – I was an opera major with a flute minor in college and belonged to the top 15% of musicians in my age group on the west coast. I played my way into college (quite literally, winning a scholarship to a conservatory of music with Mozart’s Concerto in G). I have taught flute over the years, helped with my local high school music and drama departments, and was getting ready to join my local concert band (just to keep in practice) when the pandemic hit. As soon as the chaos is over, I’ll sign up!

#13 – As a young girl, I wanted to be a nun. Being from a devout Catholic family, my uncle was a priest, and my aunt was a nun. I remember going to visit her at the convent while she and the other nuns roller-skated in the basement, their habits and veils trailing behind them. They were laughing and having such a good time while they went around and around that small room. It made me think it would be fun to be a nun, too, and my aunt, who was only fifteen years older than me, did her best to convince me I should be one. 

Obviously, she failed.

#14 – BONUS FILLY FACT! – I turned to fostering dogs four years ago when faced with an empty nest. After seeing a post about an adorable female black pup (my weakness) needing a foster, I responded. While that pup had already found a foster, I took a tri-colored male mix puppy named Rowdy about to be euthanized, and a crusader was born. Since then, my family and I have fostered over 25 dogs or puppies. We’ve dealt with mange (zombie dogs are the best!), heart worm treatment for HW positive dogs, Parvo, and have loved every animal we’ve fostered. When I’m asked how I can let them go, I respond “Every one we let go makes room to save another.”


It’s our birthday, but you get the gifts!

  • Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 
  • Be sure to number your guesses in the comments.
  • You’ll be eligible to win a $13 Amazon Gift Card.
  • Check back on Sunday to see how many fillies you guessed right.
  • And if there’s any fun fact about YOU you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear it!

Happy Birthday to us!



WOW! Twelve years! We’re almost a teenager. Exciting! 2007 seems like such a long time ago and yet, for me, it feels like it was only yesterday that I received an email from Pam Crooks one day in June. She asked me to embark on this wonderful journey with her and nine other authors.

My memory is a little fuzzy but if I recall in the email Pam outlined her vision of a website designed solely for western romance – both historical and contemporary—and devoted to promoting and talking about this genre. There were no sites out there like this.

Blogging itself was in the early stages and few were doing it. Hard to believe huh? It seems like the internet has always burst at the seams with these posts yet social media was just taking off.

Pam had to explain what a blog was. I felt like such a dummy! Totally clueless. I had never even seen a blog, even the word was foreign, but I did want to be in on this exciting adventure. We never expected to last long. Not one of us thought we’d be here TWELVE YEARS later.

I always wondered who gave Pam my name because I was an unknown back then. Hmmm.

Pam talks about forming in her own words: Long about May, 2007, Cheryl St.John and I got together over lunch and brainstormed the possibility of launching a site dedicated to western romance. Blogging was relatively new back then, and there wasn’t a site like we envisioned anywhere in the blogging world. We came up with a ton of ideas, more than we could even implement. We brainstormed names to call ourselves, discussed pages on the site, authors who might want to join us, possible guests to invite. Later, after a gazillion emails back and forth with our fellow western romance authors, the idea not only took off, but has proudly endured.

Here are the original group of Fillies:

  • Pam Crooks
  • Karen Kay
  • Charlene Sands
  • Cheryl St. John
  • Elizabeth Lane
  • Stacey Kane
  • Pat Potter
  • Geralyn Dawson
  • Lorraine Heath
  • Linda Broday

We became a family of sorts and a group of Fillies. 

We blogged twice a month back then which was pretty grueling. We were all so busy.

Charlene Sands kicked us off with her blog – Love Westerns? Welcome to the Club! I remember how scared I was. My fingers were shaking so bad that I kept hitting all the wrong keys in my comment and had to keep correcting the typos. I think it took about 45 minutes to type a three or four sentence comment! I kept erasing and starting over because there was that fear of sounding ignorant sitting in the back of my mind. So funny.

I didn’t know what I’d gotten into. It was terrifying. The thought hit me that if I couldn’t write a simple comment how was I going to write a blog post. Oh man!! Lots of sweating in those days. My main goal was not to look totally stupid. If I could manage that, I was happy.

My first post was Love Those Cowboys! It only consisted of two paragraphs. HaHaHa! But, I didn’t look back and eventually got the hang of it and they didn’t kick me out.

Now, here we are still going strong. How long will our run last? You, dear followers, will decide that. As long as you keep coming, we’ll keep writing blogs.

I know what they are now!!!!

What do we have planned next? Who knows. You’ll just have to stay tuned.

Tell me what you enjoy, what keeps you coming back, or tell me when you first learned of blogs and began following some, and I’ll put you in a drawing for one of three $10 Amazon gift cards.