I’ve always been a girl… And then a woman/sister/mom/wife/daughter/sister-in-law/grandma….
But now I’m officially a Petticoats and Pistols filly and do you know why?
I write Westerns.
It’s not my fault.
IT’S NEVER MY FAULT! (Just had to get that out of my system.)
But this time it’s true… Love Inspired asked me to be part of a Western continuity a few years ago and I was hooked.
I am over the moon and if that sounds overdone, trust me: it’s not. It’s facts, ma’ams, simply facts. And huge thanks to the wonderful writers/cowgirls of Petticoats & Pistols for bringing me ’round the campfire. But how is writing a Western novel different from writing my typical novels?
That’s Colt Stafford on the cover. And that cover is a clue. Western heroes are larger than life, regardless of size… Because it’s not the size of the man. It’s the size of the heart.
Real cowboys are strong enough to be gentle… They’re man enough to put others needs, including the horse, the stock, the wife, the kids… before theirs. They’re tough enough to find faith, even if it’s not for the first time. They practice “Cowboy code” and they’re proud of it. Whether you’re the oldest brother Colt, pictured above…
Westerns are different in lots of ways. The obvious distinction is setting, and that’s a big difference because the West prides itself on being The West… Movies and books chronicle the push west, Ken Burns did a whole documentary about Westward expansion, Western movies and television shows abound and there are high school and college courses done on the positives and negatives of that westward push. History books cleaned up some stories, while scholars re-painted those same stories with dark intent that sometimes went to opposite extremes.
In the midst of it all, a region was built, bought, separated, fought for, fought over, divided and maintained. The heartland became the opening segue into the American We. With land spreading west, north and south, new states, cities, towns, villages and ranches were born. People moved west, moved back east, and moved west again, pushing that invisible wall of separation until they hit the Pacific Ocean.
I’ve delved into the history of it to create a fictional town set in South Dakota, one in Idaho and one… romance in a soddy!… in eastern Nebraska.
I’ve written an award-winning, bestselling series about the contemporary west, and loved it.
Whether my stories are set in modern times or historical venues, they have one thing in common: Love. And strong, strong women.
I love strong women.
I love empowering women.
Women are the unsung heroes in so many roles in life, but not in a Ruthy book. A memorable hero is a wonderful thing. But I love a book that celebrates the strong overcomer in a woman. A book that champions HER as much as it does him…
Because I believe women are blessed with an amazing strength that gets overlooked too often. Hey, I’ve been in a labor bed… and at a bedside, holding a dying hand. I’ve been in an emergency room, watching skilled professionals try to save a life… and at a graveside, mourning when life succumbs.
A great Western is a story of strength… of hope… of love.
My joy in writing gets polished in all of my books, but my cowboy books grab a piece of my heart and don’t let go… Maybe it’s the hat.
Maybe it’s the setting.
Or maybe… just maybe… it’s that pioneer-loving side of me that will never take the American West for granted.
Hey, I brought some home-made ice cream and chocolate dipped cones… and strong coffee. Join me inside and if you leave a comment, I’ll toss your cute name into a hat for the first Double S Ranch book “Back in the Saddle”. Let’s talk why we love romance
Lately I’ve wondered how an Iowa city girl ended up writing romances with cowboy heroes. Or, I’ve wondered about the reasons other than the obvious—that cowboys are incredibly sexy. For my first official blog as a filly at Petticoats and Pistols, I’m sharing what fascinates me about cowboys.
For me, a cowboy isn’t as much about the occupation as the state of mind and attitude. Sure when I think of a cowboy, I see a man in form fitting Levi’s or Wranglers. I see dusty, worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s more than that, too. There’s something about the way he moves in a slow, yet deliberate way, that says he’ll take his time with what matters in life. If you’ve seen Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride, you know what I mean. If not, watch it now. I’ll wait.
Now that we’re done drooling over Scott, back to the topic at hand. Cowboys have a connection to the land that goes deeper than most people’s. That taps into my love of my grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa. I spent hours wandering over that land spinning stories and imaging my life living on a similar place. Writing about my heroes and heroines strolling over their land or walking along Wishing’s streets fill me with the same warm affection. That intense bond with the ZSAER%^land was a big inspiration behind my Wishing, Texas series. For those heroes, their link Ty Barnett’s ranch, The Bar 7 and each other anchor their lives.
As to a cowboy’s attitude and mind-set—people see him as a loner, and he is, but I also see his strong tie to family. Family, however he defines it, is allowed past his guard. When I wrote my first novel for Harlequin, I wanted my hero so desperate for money he’d model in New York. But I wanted something different. What does a cowboy love more than his ranch and horse? His mama. That one detail told me everything I needed to know about my hero.
A cowboy has a sense of honor that factors into every decision. In my first Wishing, Texas book, To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s world is turned upside down because of a promise to a friend. One he’ll keep even if it means dealing with Cassie Reynolds. This unwavering honor paired with a good dose of Alpha male, makes writing stories with cowboy heroes fun when I turn the tables on them. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, AJ Quinn’s sick of hearing “let’s just be friends” from women. Poor cowboy. I had a blast torturing AJ giving him what he asked, but not what he bargained for, in New Yorker Grace Henry.
For me, these characteristics make cowboys fascinating, and oh so hero-worthy. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what it about cowboys makes you swoon or say that’s a hero?
I’m giving away a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a wine glass. Post a comment to enter.
I’m so excited! I have a new book out tomorrow! Actually, this is a re-release of a 2002 book but since it got no exposure back then, this is like brand new. It’s the first in a series called Texas Heroes and is about a cowboy with nothing to live for who wins a baby in a poker game. I’ll tell you more about it further down.
Some ranches have the strangest names but they must mean something to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all do. But some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in my and Phyliss’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. We thought it was perfect name for her ranch.
Here are a few of the others I’ve used:
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Each one told a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains names his ranch Aces ’n Eights later on in Book #3 of this Texas Heroes series.
The name means so much to him. It’s the hand he wins baby Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget how she comes into his life. That baby girl gives him the will to live again.
Aces ’n Eights is also called the Deadman’s Hand and is comprised of a pair of black aces, black eights and a hole card. It was called the Deadman’s hand because those were the cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed. His hole card was the Queen of Hearts.
Here’s the back blurb for this book:
Duel McClain has lost everything he’s ever loved: his wife, his son, his sense of self. But when a strange twist of fate—and a poker game he’ll never forget—leaves an innocent little girl in his care, Duel vows to defend his new family to his very last breath. If only he knew a single thing about taking care of babies…
Just as Duel swears his life can’t get any more complicated, a beautiful woman stumbles into the light of his campfire, desperate for help. Jessie Foltry is hungry, tired, and running for her life. She agrees to help Duel care for the child in exchange for his protection, even as she fights to guard her broken heart. But Duel will do whatever it takes to make Jessie see that the Texas plains have more than one kind of knight, and perhaps their salvation is closer than either of them could have dreamed…
Fighting — over insults, over ideals (as in war), or just for fun — has been a popular pastime since the first person drew the first breath. There’s a reason the American West was called “wild”: Folks on the frontier seemed ready to throw a punch or unshuck a weapon with the slightest provocation, at least if popular myth is anywhere near the truth.
At outs with: no longer on friendly terms with; from about 1826. Became “on the outs with” around 1900.
Bantam: small, aggressive person; first documented in 1837. Extension of the 1749 name for a a breed of chicken discovered on Bantam, a Dutch colony in Java. As a lightweight class in boxing, use is attested from 1884. “Banty” is a dialectical corruption of the word.
Beat the living daylights out of: thrash, punish, chastise. Americanism; arose 1880s based on the late-18th Century threat to “let daylight into” a foe. The original phrase meant intent to kill by sword, knife, bullet, or other deadly weapon, but as the force of law began to catch up with the U.S.’s western frontier, the phrase was softened to lessen the perceived risk of hanging for murder should the target of the threat be found dead.
Below the belt: unfair; arose 1889 from boxing.
Bulldozer: person who intimidates by violence. Arose during 1876 U.S. presidential election, along with related “bulldose,” meaning “a severe beating” (literally, “dose fit for a bull”). Both were slang associated with aggressive intimidation of Negro voters in the North and the former Confederate states. Bulldozer acquired its current meaning, “ground-clearing tractor,” in the 1930s based on the image of bulls shoving one another around during dominance displays.
Call [someone] out: challenge, especially to a duel or fight. Arose c. 1823.
Cold shoulder: icy reception; deliberate coldness or disregard; a snub. Arose mid-1850s, evidently as a sarcastic reference to the European elite setting out hot feasts for their guests while the poor were able to afford only a cold shoulder of mutton (not a well-regarded meal). Sir Walter Scott is credited with creating the figurative sense c. 1816 by using “cold shoulder of mutton” to convey a deliberate intention to be rid of an unwanted guest. Americans, as usual, clipped the phrase.
Come off the rimrock: back away from a discussion that has turned unfriendly. Attested from the 1860s in the American West.
Comeupance/comeuppance: Get what’s coming to you. 1859, presumably rooted in the phrase “come up,” meaning present oneself for judgment or trial.
Crotchety: irritable, contrary, grouchy. Arose c. 1825 from late-14th Century French crotchet, literally a small hook. In English, crotchet came to mean a perverse, capricious or eccentric notion c. 1800.
Dander: ire, irritation, temper, strong emotion. Entered American English c. 1831: “Don’t get your dander up.” Exact origin unclear, but may have been based on the slightly older (1825) shortening of dandruff (loose flakes of skin; mid-1500s), Spanish redundar (to overflow), or West Indies dunder (fermentation of sugar).
Dustup/dust-up: fight; brawl. Arose c. 1897; Americanism. Most likely a colorful reference to brawlers raising dust as they duked it out, but also may have roots in the late-16th Century usage of dust to mean confusion or disturbance. In the 1680s, to “dust [someone’s] coat” meant to deliver a sound thrashing.
Faceoff/face-off: disagreement (often silent, using only eye contact) that might turn physical. Arose c. 1893 as an extension of the boxing term that first appeared in 1867.
Face the music: Arose 1850 in U.S. congressional debates, probably as a reference to actors facing the orchestra pit—which sat between the audience and the stage—when delivering particularly dramatic lines or soliloquies.
Fired up: angry; arose c. 1824 in the American West. The meaning “throw someone out of a place”—a saloon, for example—arose c. 1871, probably from a play on the two meanings of “discharge”: “to dismiss from a position” and “to fire a gun, the latter of which dates to the 1520s.
Fistiana: anecdotes about pugilists; boxing lore. From 1839.
Get in [one’s] hair: persistently annoy, vex, or irk. First appeared in print in the Oregon Statesman in 1851, though the expression undoubtedly is older. Etymologists speculate the phrase originally may have compared an irritating person to head lice.
Gunfight/gun-fight: combat with handguns. American English c. 1889; combination of “gun” and “fight.”
Hold your horses: settle down; take it easy; be patient. Original usage was literal: During harness races at American county fairs, horses picked up on their drivers’ nerves, often resulting in a false start. Consequently, announcers frequently admonished participants to “hold your horses.” First appearance in print: New Orleans Times Picayune, 1844.
Hot air: unsubstantiated statements; empty, exaggerated or pretentious talk; boasting. Probably from observation of a flaccid balloon puffing up and rising as it fills with heated air. Colloquialism; may have arisen as early as 1835-40 but was in common use during the latter half of the 19th Century.
Humps and grumps: surly remarks; a fit of ill humor. Arose c. 1844 from the adjective “grumpy” (c. 1778), which most likely arose as an extension of “grum,” meaning morose or surly (also possibly related to Danish grum, meaning cruel). By 1900, the “humps and” had dropped off and “grump” had become a common term for a disagreeable person. (In this case the adjective appears to have given rise to the noun, instead of vice-versa as was more common.)
Keep your shirt on: be patient; calm down. The Americanism arose c. 1904 from prizefighting. Because organized boxing was illegal in much of the U.S. until the 1920s—not because of the violence, but because gambling and organized crime quickly attached to the sport—pugilists waited to remove their shirts and engage until they were reasonably certain a police raid would not be forthcoming. Men fighting fully clothed was considered a spontaneous brawl; men fighting half-naked indicated forethought.
Knock-down drag-out: violent fight. Arose c. 1859 in the U.S.
Knockout/knock-out: as pertains to general fighting, arose 1887 from the phrase “knock out,” meaning “to stun by a blow for a 10-count,” in boxing. Slang meaning “attractive person” is from 1892. To knock oneself out, meaning “make a great effort,” is from 1936.
Lather: state of agitation. Arose c. 1839 from the 1650s application of the Old English word for “soap suds” to the violent sweating of horses under stress.
Lock horns: Arose 1839 in the American West from observation of the way cattle butted heads during dominance displays.
Manhandle: to handle roughly. First recorded use 1865, from the earlier nautical meaning “to move by force of men” (instead of using tackle or levers). The nautical connotation arose from the mid-15th Century meaning “to wield a tool”; the 1865 connotation seems more closely related to the late-15th Century common usage meaning “to attack an enemy.”
Mexican standoff: stalemate; impasse. First documented use 1891, though the expression may be older. “Stand-off,” meaning draw or tie, arose c. 1843. Though some sources claim “Mexican standoff” is Australian in origin, a more likely source is Texas, where Mexican bandidos routinely crossed the border for nefarious purposes. Originally, the idiom referred to three mutual enemies facing each other with drawn weapons. If A shot B, C would shoot A, thereby winning the conflict. Everyone wanted to be C, so nobody fired—leaving the dispute unresolved.
Pull in your horns: calm down; back away from a fight. Mid-1800s among cowboys in the American West as a reference to cattle battling with their horns.
Pull up: check a course of action. First recorded use 1808 as a figurative reference to pulling on the reins to stop a horse.
Rough/rough up: beat up or jostle violently; first documented use 1868.
Roundhouse: blow delivered by the fist with a wide sweep of the arm. Arose latter half of the 19th Century from the 1856 use of roundhouse to describe the circular shed with a turntable at the center for repositioning locomotives.
Scrap: fight. First attested 1846, possibly as a variant of scrape, which came to mean “abrasive encounter” or “scheme, villainy, vile intention” in the 1670s.
Scrappy: inclined to fight. First documented appearance 1895, from scrap.
Sockdolager: a heavy, finishing blow; a conclusive argument. First documented appearance 1830 from the 1700s “sock,” meaning “to beat, hit hard, pitch into.” Sockdolager is assumed to have arisen from the conflation of “sock” and “doxology,” meaning finality. The word shifted meaning to “something exceptional” in 1838. “Sockdologising” (confronting with a forceful argument) likely was one of the the last words Abraham Lincoln heard. During the performance of Tom Taylor’s Our American Cousin, assassin John Wilkes Booth—an actor who had performed in the play—waited for the humorous line “Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap.” Amid the laughter that erupted from the audience, Booth fired the fatal shot.
Smack: hit with an open palm; slap. Attested from 1823; presumed to be imitative of the sound of flesh meeting flesh with force.
Spat: petty quarrel. Arose c. 1804 as American slang. Of unknown origin, but perhaps from the notion of “spitting” words.
Wild and woolly: untamed; rowdy. Americanism first documented in 1855 in The Protestant Episcopal Church Quarterly Review and Register (“wild and woolly-haired Negrillo”). In the post-Civil War years, as dime novels and newspaper accounts popularized sensational tales about Indians, outlaws, lawmen, land and gold rushes, etc. in the new territories, the alliterative phrase “wild and woolly West” became a popular way for Easterners to describe the entire region west of the Mississippi River.
Winded: tired; out of breath; rendered temporarily breathless. Arose c. 1802 as a boxing term used in reference to the effect of a punch in the stomach.
Yank: sudden blow; cuff. American English from 1818. (Also short for “Yankee” during and after the Civil War.)
I’m so excited! TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER is out and just waiting for you to read it! This is book #1 of my new Men of Legend series. It’s about a family – a father and his three sons – who live on a huge North Texas ranch called the Lone Star. For those who remember the western TV series Bonanza it’ll seem like going home. Instead of the Cartwrights this is the Legend family and they’re bigger-than-life.
Stoker Legend is a tough rancher who carved his name in blood on the Texas landscape. The ranch began as land given to him for fighting in the Texas War of Independence but now it’s grown to 480,000 acres and it’s a lot harder to hold onto.
His sons Sam, Houston, and Luke learned to have the same kind of steel in their backbone and they don’t back—from anything or anyone. Sam left the ranch as soon as he was able though which is a bone of contention between him and his father. Houston is most like Stoker and wants only to ranch. It’s in his blood. No one knows about Luke, not even Stoker, until this book. This illegitimate son turns their lives upside down. Luke is also an outlaw. Being a lawman, Sam feels a duty to arrest him and would if Stoker hadn’t stopped him.
So you see, conflict oozes from the pages of this story.
In TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER, Sam is incapacitated and can’t do his job so his captain sends him home to recover. He boards a train and is immediately launched into saving Sierra Hunt, a pretty young woman who is running from outlaws. If he can just get her to the Lone Star, she’ll be safe. But two hundred miles stand between them. A mysterious gunslinger, joins them in the mad dash and at times only seconds separate them all from death.
And of course, with this being a romance, Sam falls in love with Sierra. But he won’t give up his job and the need to keep moving. Sierra has always dreamed of having a house one day where she can put down strong roots and she won’t give it up—not even for Sam Legend.
Sierra is a schoolteacher so once she reaches the Lone Star, she teaches the ranch families’ children. On a ranch of this size, there are about 30-40 children. The Lone Star is so remote that Stoker Legend built a small town so the families wouldn’t have to travel so far to a town. They have a mercantile, telegraph, doctor, blacksmith, and a school.
Strangely enough, there were ranch schools back then. There was no excuse for ignorance so they taught them everything they needed to know in order to make it in the world. The schools consisted of one-room with the various grades all combined. The ranch owner paid the teacher a salary and furnished a place to live. It was a setup that greatly benefited everyone.
Pick up a copy of this book and ride along with Sam and the Legends. Stick your feet in the stirrups and hang on tight because if you fall off, Sam’s too busy chasing outlaws and saving Sierra to come back and get you.
Four lucky people will win a copy– choice of format. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
If you like a book brimming with juicy secrets, this one is for you. What are you most drawn to in western romance? I really like stories that contain a lot of juicy secrets.And boy do I mean juicy!
Book #2 – HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY comes out in May 2017 followed by the 3rd one in November.
Texas has seen a number of mass migrations since the Mexican government opened the territory to Anglo settlers in the 1820s, but perhaps none were as transformative as the influx that took place immediately following the Civil War. Carpetbaggers, footloose former Union soldiers, and dispossessed former Confederates all found attractive the state’s untamed rangeland brimming with feral cattle called longhorns. Many a man with nothing more than guts and grit built a fortune and a legacy by shagging longhorns from deep scrub and driving the tough, stubborn, nasty-tempered critters north to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska. Others pushed herds to Montana and Wyoming to begin new lives where the West was even wilder.
Between 1866 and 1890, cowboys drove an estimated twelve million longhorns and one million horses north. A crew of twelve to twenty men could push a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 beeves about ten to fifteen miles a day, reaching Kansas railheads in three to four months.
The development of barbed wire in the mid-1870s — along with an incursion of sheepmen and farmers — put a crimp in the cattle drives by crisscrossing Texas’s wide-open spaces with miles and miles and miles of fence. To protect themselves and their herds from the yahoos who would use Texas range for something besides Texas cattle, wealthy ranchers strung wire around the land they owned or leased, often extending their fences across public land, as well. What once had been open range across which cowboys drove enormous herds of steak on the hoof became parceled off, causing no end of frustration and unfriendly behavior.
Fence-cutting began almost as soon as the first of the wire went up. Small confrontations over “the Devil’s rope” happened frequently, with wire-nipping taking place in more than half of Texas counties.
In 1883, the conflict turned bloody. Instead of merely cutting fences that got in the way during trail drives, bands of armed cowboy vigilantes calling themselves names like Owls, Javelinas, and Blue Devils destroyed fences simply because the fences existed. Fence-cutting raids usually occurred at night, and often the vigilantes left messages warning the fence’s owner not to rebuild. Some went so far as to leave coffins nailed to fenceposts or on ranchers’ porches. During one sortie, vigilantes pulled down nineteen miles of fence, piled the wire on a stack of cedar posts, and lit a $6,000 bonfire.
In response, cattlemen hired armed men to guard their wire…with predictable results. Clashes became more violent, more frequent, and deadlier. In 1883 alone, at least three men were killed in Brown County, a hotspot of fence-cutting activity, during what came to be known as the Texas Fence-Cutter War.
The bloodiest period of the Fence-Cutter War lasted for only about a year, but in that period damages from fence-cutting and range fires totaled an estimated $20 million — $1 million in Brown County alone.
Although politicians stayed well away from the hot-button issue for about a decade, in early 1884 the Texas legislature declared fence-cutting a felony punishable by a prison term of one to five years. The following year, the U.S. Congress outlawed stringing fence across public land. Together, the new laws ended the worst of the clashes, although the occasional fracas broke out in the far western portion of Texas into the early part of the 20th Century.
The Texas Rangers were assigned to stop several fence-cutting outbreaks, and being the Texas Rangers, they proved remarkably effective…with one notable exception. In February 1885, Texas Ranger Ben Warren was shot and killed outside Sweetwater while trying to serve a warrant for three suspected fence-cutters. Two of the three were convicted of Warren’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1888, a brief resurgence of fence-cutting violence erupted in Navarro County, prompting famed Texas Ranger Ira Aten to place dynamite charges at intervals along one fence line. Aten’s method was a mite too extreme for the Texas Adjutant General, who ordered the dynamite removed. The mere rumor of the explosive’s presence brought fence-cutting to a rapid halt in the area, though.
Though Civil War battles left few scars on Texas, the war’s aftermath was devastating — and not just because barbed-wire fence appeared. Texas existed under federal martial law for five long years after the war ended, becoming the final member of the Confederacy to repatriate only under duress. During Reconstruction, lingering animosity led some of the occupation forces to plunder and terrorize their jurisdictions. Bearing their own grudges and determined to become an independent republic again, Texans demanded “the invading foreign army” remove its boots from sovereign soil. A U.S. Supreme Court decision finally ran the rebellious Lone Star State back in with the rest of the herd in 1870, at last reunifying a divided nation.
My newest story, The Trouble with Honey, takes place during Reconstruction in Texas: A marshal’s widow can escape a Union Army manhunt only with the help of an outlaw condemned to hang. The novella is part of the trilogy The Dumont Way, which begins a saga chronicling the lives and loves of a Texas ranching dynasty from before the Civil War to the turn of the 20th Century.
Boots meandered across the stone floor. The marshal’s snicker slapped Daniel between the shoulder blades. “Injun Creek hasn’t seen this much excitement in a month of Sundays. We’re planning quite a celebration for you.”
One of life’s great mysteries: Had Halverson been born arrogant, or had the skill required practice? “Always did fancy a crowd of folks looking up to me.”
Whistling, the marshal moved away. Daniel stared at the dingy clapboard across the alley. That wall wouldn’t present much challenge. This wall, on the other hand… A barrel of black powder and a lucifer would come in handy right about now.
He rested his forehead against the bars. Daisy would dig up his body and throw a second hemp party if he didn’t show up for the wedding.
The jailhouse door scraped open, and a swirl of fresh air tapped him on the shoulder. Fingering the tender crease running from his eyebrow to his hairline, he pivoted. If Halverson’s lucky shot hadn’t dropped him—
His fingertips stilled. So did his breath.
The marshal ushered in a voluptuous vision and lifted a tin plate from her hands. An abundance of golden hair, gathered in soft swirls at the crown, framed her head like a halo. Curls fell beside rounded cheeks.
“What’re you doing here?” Judging by the pucker in his tone, Halverson had eaten one too many sour apples. “Where’s that old drunk you insist on keeping around?”
“Henry hasn’t touched a drop in—”
“What? Twenty-four hours?”
The angel raised her chin. “He isn’t feeling well.”
Daniel drifted to the front of the cell and slouched onto the forearms he draped over a horizontal bar. The familiar voice… Nectar, fresh from a hive.
Gracing Halverson with a shallow smile, the buxom beauty tipped her head toward the plate. “Chicken and dumplings for your prisoner’s supper.”
Steam rising from the lump meant to be his meal carried a whiff of old socks. Daniel’s thoughts churned right along with his stomach. High point of the day: bad vittles. Now, the lady… She was downright mouthwatering.
A Kiss to Rememberis available exclusively on Amazon (free for those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited). I’ll give an e-copy to one of today’s commenters who answers this question: If you had migrated to Texas after the Civil War, would you have settled in town or on a ranch or farm? Why?
Thanks for stopping by today! I’m looking forward to your comments. 🙂
The state of Texas has 268,597 square miles so it’s no wonder we have huge ranches to match the size. Some are simply too enormous to comprehend. So I had no trouble setting a big ranch here for my latest Men of Legend series. I wanted it as big and bold as the father and sons who owned it, so Texas was perfect. (It’s rumored that the state produces people with big personalities.) Strictly rumor of course. I’m laughing here.
My fictional Lone Star Ranch is a little on the puny side at 480,000 acres. I modeled it to some degree after the Waggoner Ranch which was 510,000 acres in 1954. When it sold in 2016, it had grown. The Waggoner Ranch also fit the location of mine in North Texas.
The largest ranch in the world in 1880 was the XIT Ranch (stands for Ten in Texas) at a whopping three million acres in West Texas and the Panhandle. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly 4,687 square miles. Just think how long it would take to ride over it by horseback. All that land was owned by a syndicate of English investors. It was simply too big for words.
The mighty King Ranch down at the far end of the state was and still is one of the largest ranches in the world. It has well over a million acres. It was established in 1854 by partners Richard King and Gideon Lewis.
North Texas certainly has a lion share of ranching land. That’s mostly because the rugged, rocky, dry landscape is fit for little else. The Matador Land and Cattle Company (purchased by Scottish investors) is another large one at a million and half acres in the beginning. It has shrunk now but still going strong.
The 6666 Ranch is an interesting one that keeps on thriving. Captain Samuel Burk Burnett bought 350,000 acres in 1870 and started raising cattle. Rumors have swirled for decades that he named it this unusual name because he won it in a poker game with a hand of four sixes. Descendants swear that’s not true. It’s still a huge ranch at 275,000 acres. I always love driving past it and looking at the large herds of horses. Their buildings are always pristine and they even have an airstrip. It’s pretty.
Okay, back to my Lone Star Ranch. The patriarch, Stoker Legend, acquired 100 acres as payment for fighting in the Texas War for Independence. Everyone scoffed and said he had little chance of making the ranch thrive what with Indians, outlaws, drought, and the fact the land was extremely inhospitable. He paid them no mind and carved out the mighty ranch that serves as a legacy for his sons—Sam, Houston, and Luke.
Sam Legend joined the Texas Rangers as soon as he could because ranching just doesn’t interest him. He has restless feet and is driven with a need to see what’s over the next hill. Book #1 of this Men of Legend series is TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER. Sam runs across a desperate woman named Sierra Hunt who has been dragged from pillar to post. She burns with a dream of permanence—a little white house with a picket fence around it, flowers in front and a garden in back. She’s not going to settle for anything less…not even for Sam.
There are lots of twists and turns in this story as they seek to find common ground and protect the fragile love that forms as they run from a ruthless band of outlaws.
Think the western series Bonanza. This series is every bit as big and bold as the Cartwrights. I’m enjoying writing this so much.
Release day is October 4th! You can preorder at these links: AMAZON | B&N | iTUNES
There are still one million acre ranches today in the United States. What do you think the biggest challenge would be to owning such a huge amount of land?
By the way…Did you know July 23rd is the National Day of the Cowboy?
Miss Jamie Adams is obsessed with Texas. And Ranches. And cowboys. And cowboys on ranches in Texas. How could we not be glad to have her visit Wildflower Junction again?
By Jamie Adams
The last time I had the privilege of visiting with the gals here at Petticoats and Pistols we talked about cowboys. It’s been a while, but back then I used Toby Keith’s song “Should have been a Cowboy” to open up a discussion on our favorite men on horseback. This time I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about something different . . . like life on a ranch . . . in Texas . . . with Cowboys.
Who am I trying to kid? I have a hopeless obsession with the handsome, brave men who tamed the Wild West. Good thing for me I have friends that share that same fascination or at least they pretend they do to keep me happy.
This past year I convinced some talented writers (MidwestChristianRomanceAuthors) to join me in creating a mail-order-bride box set series set on a ranch in Texas. When a widower Texas rancher is told he has a short time to live, he decides the best way to rein in his three rambunctious sons is to find them wives. He means business too. They have to marry within three months or lose their inheritance. A very substantial inheritance.
Mesquite Gulch is a small town where the men outnumber the women tenfold. Actually that’s an exaggerated guess. The last census was taken in 1880 and they skipped our little town. Just trust me. There aren’t any marrying age women in town. But that’s not a problem, not when you have only to put an ad in the paper, or if you’re a wealthy rancher you can have your lawyer take care of things for you. Mr. Logan wants to see his sons safely hitched, but if he doesn’t live long enough, his trusted lawyer will carry out his wishes. The father hears wedding bells in the future, but it resembles a dirge to the sons.
Now take several young women fresh out of an orphanage in Chicago and put them on a ranch in Texas and you have the Texas Brides Series. The young ladies have never stepped foot outside the city, and ranch life is rougher than they’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared them for the reception their given. Their prospective grooms are as welcoming as the wicked cactus dotting the landscape. Didn’t they send for a bride? They had a strange way of showing affection. Who’d want to marry one of them?
Three rugged cowboys have no idea what is about to hit them and I have to admit it is so much fun to watch them be taken down one by one. This is a five book series. Yep that’s right, five not three. Things seldom go as planned. We’ve got twist and turns that we hope our readers will enjoy.
Just to show how excited we are to introduce ya’ll to the Logan family we’re going to give away a digital box set. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
Jamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.
A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.
The parents of three teenagers, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.
When two people share the same dog, there’s bound to be trouble
The Twelve Brides of Summer collection has just been released. My story The Dog Days of Summer Bride features a cow dog, which is just another name for a herding dog. I’ve always loved border collies so that was my breed of choice. Since the dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing every week for a couple of days, the independent nature of these dogs was a trait that served me well. His herding instincts also made him the perfect matchmaker. I mean, if a dog can herd sheep and cattle, he can bring people together, right? Here’s a short blurb:
Music teacher Marilee Davis and blacksmith Jed Colbert don’t realize they’ve been sharing the same dog until…it digs up a stash of stolen loot. The reward will go to the dog’s owner—if only that can be determined.
Border collies have an interesting history. In the 19th century a Northumberland man created the ideal herding dog by combining several breeds. This particular dog was especially suited to herding sheep along the border dividing Scotland and England, which is how it got its name. Collie is a Scottish dialect word to describe herding dogs.
Scottish sheepherders immigrating to America brought their border collies with them. Some of these same sheepherders were lured west during the California gold rush, dogs by their side. It didn’t take long for cattlemen to note the value of these black and white dogs and this led to a whole new way of herding.
A good cow dog can do the work of seven cowboys. (Today workers are replaced by machines and robots; back then it was dogs.) By the end of the nineteenth century, border collies and Australian cattle dogs were a familiar sight on every working ranch and cattle drive.
The dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing each week. Tell us about a habit (annoying or endearing) that your dog or a dog you know has, and you could win a copy of The Twelve Brides of Summer and a dog toy made by yours truly. (Note Giveaway Guidelines apply.)
Yup. The American West continues for three thousand more miles off the coast. You see, the Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii is both a modern day working ranch and a spread steeped in rich island history.
At present, 12 cowboys each wrangle eight of the Parker’s 125 Quarter horses, and the 25 mares are bred to produce the next generation. Horses go on sale each Labor Day weekend.
(Hawaiian cowboys took on the name paniolo, meaning Spaniard. Many of the original wranglers were California vaqueros who spoke Spanish…however, the Hawaiian language has no S.)
17,000 heads of Charolais/Angus cattle are pastured on the Parker’s 130,000 acres. It’s the fifth largest ranch in the United States and located in the northwest uplands of the island in Kamuela.
Culturally, the Hawaiian table featured foods from the sea. Strict laws protected species from overfishing–and it was kapu (prohibited or off-limits) to eat certain fish during certain months of the year. So how did ranching come to sea-loving Hawaiians?
In 1788–ten years after British sea Captain Cook “discovered” islands that had been there all along, his colleague Captain George Vancouver changed things up. He presented a bull and several cows to King Kamehameha I, the first king to unite the eight inhabited islands. His Majesty was so enamored of the beasts he declared them kapu and let them run free.
Within twenty years, this little unregulated herd grew into thousands of cattle that roamed the island, destroying native plants and family gardens.
A seaman from Newton, Massachusetts named John Palmer Parker (1790-1868) jumped ship in the islands in 1809 and worked for the king for a time. After a stint in the War of 1812, he returned to the islands bearing a powerful, modern musket. Kamehameha gave Parker permission to “hunt” the throngs of cattle, whose hides and salted meat became profitable for whaling ships. By 1810, the cattle industry had replaced the exporting of sandalwood as the island’s chief economy.
Parker’s love for the islands increased along with his influence and wealth. Eventually he stopped hunting cattle and domesticated them. He learned the language and in 1816, married the king’s granddaughter, Chieftess Kipikane, who took the Christian name Rachel.
On the slopes of volcano Mauna Kea (White Mountain), the happy couple bought two acres for $10 and built a homestead they named Mana Hale–mana meaning “arid” for the dryness of these upland area, hale meaning house. John and Rachel had three children–the start of the powerful Parker dynasty.
The ranch grew in size through purchase, lease, and royal gift, and was no stranger to Hawaii’s royals and nobility. The area was eventually named for their grandson Samuel Kamuela Parker (1853-1920), as Kamuela is Hawaiian for Samuel. He became a politician rather than rancher and was a chum of King David Kalakaua. In 1992, sixth-generation descendant Richard Smart turned over the ranch to the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust.
Original owner John Palmer Parker died in 1868 on neighboring Oahu, but is buried at Mana Hale.
Parker built Mana Hale in the “salt box” style of his New England homeland.
All cooking and hygiene took place outdoors as per the prevailing culture.
Although this house is the replica constructed in 1986 by Richard Smart, the interior walls and contents of the original were carefully removed and reinstalled here.
Every square inch of the interior, even the ceilings, is covered with original planks of beautiful native koa wood.
Here’s the staircase lined in koa wood.
And the underside of the staircase! What attention to detail.
Although sometimes I resent how western civilization has invaded the Hawaiian culture, I so appreciate John Palmer Parker’s efforts to kind of meld the two worlds. Soaking up western history as well as the moist tropical breeze and scent of flowers made our visit to the Parker a day I will always remember.
Please tell us about one of those magical days you won’t ever forget!