A True Texas Medicine Woman

Hi! Lorraine couldn’t be here today so I’m filling in. I hope you’re not too disappointed, but she’ll be back on October 10th. Meantime, I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

gun-and-holster.jpgAt a time when strapping on a gun was as commonplace and as necessary as breathing, you can imagine that the odds of getting shot were fairly high. Treatments for gunshot were basic—dig the lead out if you could and if you couldn’t you were likely a goner. Not a good scenario when doctors were hard to come by.

When we’re crafting our western romances, we usually have to do a lot of research about various things and sometimes we run across truly amazing stories. Here’s one I stumbled upon when I was researching gunshot wounds and treatment. I thought you might like to know about one of the most unique women who lived in Texas.

sophie-herzog.jpgDr. Sofie Herzog who came from back East to Brazoria, Texas in the late 1800’s was quite colorful. The lady doctor’s arrival in the small coastal community of Brazoria created quite a stir. She was attractive, energetic and a highly skilled physician. Though not Texas’ first woman doctor, in 1895 she was definitely a pioneer in a male-dominated field of the Victorian era. Not only was Dr. Sofie out of place in her chosen profession, but her appearance shocked a good many. She wore her hair cropped short, rode a horse astride instead of sidesaddle, and shaded her face with a man’s hat. Needless to say, she set tongues wagging. But the doctor had obvious medical skill and little competition, so when someone needed assistance, they weren’t too picky about the gender. Soon folks were calling her simply Doctor Sofie. 

She became particularly adept at removing bullets from gunshot victims. One of her techniques was elevating a gunshot patient so that gravity would aid in getting the lead out. Only twice in her career was she unsuccessful in recovering a bullet. When she had accumulated 24 extracted pieces of lead from gunfighters, she had a jeweler fashion a necklace with a gold bead threaded between each slug. She wore it constantly as a good luck charm the rest of her life.

 

Word of her medical skills and pleasing bedside manner soon spread. Dr. Sofie made calls in her buggy or traveled astride a horse. Often, she rode on handcars or trains to get to someone along the rail line in need of a doctor. In 1906, the railroad formalized its relationship with Dr. Sofie, appointing her chief surgeon of the S.L.B. & M Railroad. But, when headquarters learned that a female doctor had been hired, Dr. Sofie received a polite letter asking her to relinquish her position. She stubbornly refused and remained on the line’s payroll the rest of her life.  

In addition to her medical practice, Dr. Sofie operated her own pharmacy, built and operated a hotel, and became wealthy by investing in real estate. She was very enterprising.

In 1913, the 65-year-old doctor married Marion Huntington—a 70-year-old widower—and moved to his plantation seven miles outside Brazoria. Having reached an age when many would have retired, Dr. Sofie continued her practice, commuting each day from the plantation to town in a new Ford—the first automobile in the county.Fourteen years later, Dr. Sofie died of a stroke at a Houston hospital on July 21, 1925. At her request, they buried her with her lucky bullet necklace, evidence of her surgical skills and charming eccentricity. 

Here are a few prices for medical procedures and assistance in the 1800’s: 

A visit within one mile    $1.00

Each succeeding mile — .50

Simple case of midwifery — $5.00

For bleeding — .50

Bullet Wounds — Between $1.00 to 10.00

For setting fracture — $5.00 to 10.00

Amputating Arm — $10.00

Amputating Leg — $20.00

For advice and prescription in office — $1.00

For difficult cases, fee based in proportion to difficulty.

But as was often the case, the doctor accepted goods in lieu of money. I haven’t heard of one doctor who refused to treat someone because they couldn’t pay.

Have you read about or know an interesting person with an unusual story?                                       Or maybe you’d like to comment on the cheaper cost of medical treatment in relation to today’s prices?

Also. . .If you haven’t registered yet for the Big Fall Bonanza Contest, better get your name in the hat. The contest ends on November 30th.

“This your first time, honey?”

color.jpg“I could not make a demonstration of affection over men nor any pretense at response to their caresses.  For the life of me, I could not understand why they should expect it.  They had only bought my body.  I could not see why they should want more.”–Madeleine, An Autobiography

While visiting my brother several years ago and browsing through a

Seattle gift shop, I found a fascinating book on early western prostitution.  Inspired by those haunting stories, I wrote my fourth (and last) book for Leisure Books.  Entitled “BROKEN BLOSSOMS”, the heroine is fiercely protected by her father, an influentiasoileddoves.jpgl but corrupt judge in the 1890s.  When she discovers she is the daughter of a beautiful prostitute, we learn with her the degradation her mother endured to survive.

In 1849, when the West was at its most rugged, it’s estimated there were only 2 women for every 100 men.  Many of these females were illiterate and inexperienced but hoping to get married.  Others came for wealth and adventure.  Most had their dreams dashed and were forced to survive by the only thing they had to sell–their bodies. As their numbers grew, so did prostitution.  It wasn’t long before a class system fell into place, starting from the most elite: 

Courtesan or mistress–These women were sophisticated, beautiful and intelligent.  Their services were given solely to gentlemen of great wealth and power who paid them well for the privilege.  Because of the gentleman’s prominence, society inbed.jpggenerally accepted the courtesan/mistress, giving her a degree of respectability.

Parlor House Ladies–Ranging in age from 18-30 years old, they lived in well-furnished homes, dressed in elegant gowns and expensive lingerie, wore makeup and perfume, and charged everything to their madam’s accounts–which kept them in continual debt to her. 

To keep her business flourishing, the madam would parade her girls throughout the community in leisurely strolls or open carriage rides.  Often the girls carried cuddly poodles, a breed no decent woman would ever own.  poodle.jpg

This higher class of prostitute spent her days in the garden, doing needlework or reading.  She ate well–nourishing meals of steak, roast and lots of milk to keep up her stamina.  In the evening, her work began, and once a gentleman entered her bedroom, she was bound to service him as he wished, no matter how humiliating or painful it became.  Her fee would be about $25 (more if the man spent the night).  The madam received half. 

Brothel ‘Boarders’–Lower in the chain was the prostitute who worked in brothels located in the town’s red-light district.  She was both younger and older than her higher-class sister–about 16-35 years of age.  She earned less, too, roughly $10/customer. pros.jpgThe brothels were not as elegant as parlor houses, yet they were warm and welcoming.  The girls enjoyed care and protection from their madams–most of the time.

Crib Prostitute–In larger cities, she worked in ‘hog ranches’ or cribs, a string of miserable frame buildings comprised of two rooms each, a parlor in front and a bedroom in the back.  Or she lived in camps or mining towns.  Either way, she was beholden to a pimp.  On payday, it was standing room only, and a fast prostitute could service as many as 80 men a night, at 50 cents each. 

Streetwalker–the lowest class of all.  She was a desperate woman, ravaged by age, disease, alcohol and drugs.  She hovered on the brink of suicide and spent her days in shadowy doorways, waiting, hoping, for any man to take her.  

For propriety’s sake, newspapers were forced to fashion creative terms for ‘prostitute.’  Here’s a few: 

Calico Queen
Ceiling Expert
“Fair but Frail”
Girl of the line
Margarita
Nymph du pave
Painted Cat
Horizontal Worker

No matter what she was called, or at what level she plied her trade, the prostitute played an integral part in settling the West.  By the very nature of her gender, she provided warmth, comfort and pleasure to the men who craved it. 

It was a life few of us can imagine.  A job most of us will never have.  Thank goodness, eh? In future blogs, I’ll share some of their gripping stories with you. 

But for now, I’d love to know:  What was the worst job you ever had?  The strangest?  The most lucrative or lowest-paid? Let us know!  Share your story, and I’ll put you in a drawing to win a B & N gift certificate! 

Speaking of–don’t forget to enter our BIG FALL BONANZA contest.  Just go to our Primrose News Office Page!

My worst job?  I must’ve been about 13 years old.  Back then, babysitting netted 50 cents/hour, so when I was offered $1 to babysit on Saturdays, I jumped at the opportunity.  Little did I know, the lady of the house wanted me to clean it, too!  

 I swear, she stored up the mess all week long, just for me.  Talk about a pit! So for 8 hours, I cleaned every room in the place, washed her dishes, did her laundry, ironing, made beds, etc, etc, etc.  for $1/hour.  Sheesh!  Talk about slave wages!   

How about you?

Traveling Then and Now . . .

Confession time: I am the probably among the world’s worse travelers when it comes to packing.

When I go on a trip, even a weekend trip, I have a tendency to over pack. This is particularly true when I’m driving. I will take at least two suitcases, an ice chest, a minimum of five books and quite possibly the kitchen sink.

I think it goes back to my childhood. I was a Campfire Girl. Like Girl Scouts, we were taught to always be prepared. You never know, for instance, whether there will be a freak ice storm in August, or a heat wave in January. You never know whether you’ll be tempted to go to a formal restaurant or a Kentucky Fried Chicken window. And I must have at least two bathing suits and at least one coverup for frequent trips to a pool.

I know. Excuses. Excuses. But I can’t help myself. I’m a packaholic.

Everyone has their most admired person. My most admired person is Libby Hall, president of RWA when I first went on the board. We had ten day meetings in July – three to four days of board meetings and six days of conference. Most of us dragged huge oversized suitcases, book bags, carry-ons and purses large enough for a Great Dane. Libby carried one carry-on for all ten days. Ten days! Ten days of parties and formal events and presiding over luncheons and dinners, etc. Wonder of all wonders.

I was shamed but, unfortunately, not shamed enough to change my profligate packing.

So I was bemused — while researching a new western series – to find a recommended wardrobe for one man embarking on a three-month journey across the western plains. It comes from “The Prairie Traveler,” the Best-Selling Handbook for American Pioneers (published 1859).

Here it is:

2 blue or red flannel overshirts, open in front, with buttons.
2 woolen undershirts.
2 pairs thick cotton drawers.
4 pairs woollen socks
2 pairs cotton socks.
4 colored silk handkerchiefs.
2 pair stout shoes, for footmen.
1 pair boots, for horsemen.
1 pair shoes, for horsemen.
3 towels.
1 gutta percha poncho.
1 broad-brimmed hat of soft felt.
1 comb and brush.
2 tooth-brushes.
1 pound Castile soap.
3 pounds bar soap for washing clothes (for three months?)
1 belt-knife and small whet-stone.
Stout linen thread, large needles, a bit of beeswax, a few buttons, paper of pins and a thimble, all contained in a small buckskin or stout cloth bag.

Being written by a man, it doesn’t deign to offer advice on women’s wear, but I would guess it would be two dresses, two pair of cotton drawers, etc.

I fear I would make a terrible pioneer, but the above information provides some inspiration. Perhaps on the next weekend trip, I can leave the kitchen sink at home.

That Long River of Brown

        There are few things that smack of the Old West as much as a cattle drive and all that one entailed–cowboys, drovers, rowdy cowtowns.  Remudas of horses and thousands of head of longhorn cattle.  Dust and sweat–and fortunes made at the end of the line.

        One lesser known facet of the era is the cattle queen, a rare and intriguing breed of woman who owned her own ranch and untamed-cowboy-email.jpgherd. A hard life made harder without a man at her side. 

         I had long wanted to build a story combining those parts of America’s history, and UNTAMED COWBOY was born.

         But once I had the plot in mind, my creativity stalled.  What did I know about cattle drives–besides almost nothing?  So I hit the Internet and found some lovely rare book sites.   Along the way, I uncovered some intriguing tidbits of information.  Here’s a few I’ll share with you:

1.  The horns on longhorn cattle had a spread of up to seven feet wide and were strong enough to rip bark off a tree.

2.  The average size herd during the peak of the cattle drive era was 3,000 head.  It took a remuda of 75 horses and 7 – 10 cowboys to drive the herds.  Trail bosses were paid $100/month, the cook $50/month and each cowboy, $30/month.  These were minimal cattle-drive.jpgexpenses for herds that when sold netted their owners $100,000 for a trip that took anywhere from several weeks to several months.  Do the math.  That’s a hefty profit for the time.

3.  The usual fare for cowboys was beans, bacon, hard biscuits and strong coffee.  Ironically, though they were surrounded by beef, the outfits rarely killed a beef on the trail because only a smart part of the meat could be eaten before it spoiled.

4.  In dry country, thirsty cattle could smell water ten miles away.

5.  Lightning was the most common cause of death on the trail.  During a storm, the cowboys would hide their silver (metal spurs, knives, even six-shooters) to avoid being struck.

For those rare times when beef was available, the camp cook would make his own version of “Sonofabitch Stew.”   (Sorry–I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this is what they called it.  Honest!  Variations were SOB Stew, or Son-of-a-gun Stew.)

Here’s one yummy-sounding recipe:

2 lbs. lean beef
Half a calf heart
1 ½ pounds calf liver
1 set sweetbreads (thymus gland)
1 set brains
1 set marrow gut
Salt, Pepper
Louisiana hot sauce

Kill off a young steer and cut up beef, liver and heart into 1 inch eating-sob-stew.jpgcubes.  Slice the marrow gut into small rings.  Place in a Dutch oven or deep casserole.  Cover meat with water and simmer 2 – 3 hours. 

Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.  Take sweetbreads and brains and cut in small pieces.  Add to stew.  Simmer another hour, never boiling.

       Eww!  <gag, choke!>  Can you imagine eating this? 

       (By the way, this picture is one an old-time photographer took of cowboys eating the stew out on the range.)

       What are some of the strangest foods you’ve eaten?  Where were you when you ate it?  How did it taste?

       Let us know, and you’ll be eligible to win an autographed copy of UNTAMED COWBOY and a couple of sparkly Harlequin pens!

       Okay.  I’ll go first.  My Sicilian grandmother used to fry zucchini blossoms, and they were the best!  She’d go out into her garden first thing in the morning when the bright yellow blossoms were open zucchini-blossom.jpg(during the hottest part of the day, they’d close).  Now, maybe you didn’t know there were female and male blossoms, but there are.  The female part bears the fruit, so if you pick those, you won’t have any zucchini.  She’d pick the male blossoms, dip them into beaten eggs, dredge them in seasoned bread crumbs, romano cheese, salt and pepper and fried them.  Mmm.  I can almost smell them now.  A wonderful Italian treat and a treasured memory!

     I look forward to hearing from you!

     And don’t forget to enter our FALL BONANZA CONTEST–just go to the Primrose News Office page, and we’ll tell you how!

HUNKY COWBOYS, INSPIRING LYRICS, SONGS THAT REACH DEEP INTO YOUR SOUL

Yes, I’m talking about country music! Who’d have thunk that this New York born, Motown-loving, transplanted Californian would be moved by the rockabilly twang, the slow easy ballads, the humor, the honesty that is now the country music phenomenon.

The truth is my venture into writing began about the same time I found country music on the radio. Tired of the oldies, unable to relate to the new hip-hop sounds blasting the stations nationwide and feeling a little lost — musically and professionally, I knew I needed more of something in my life. I recall hearing Faith Hill on a pop music stationimages-tim-and-faith.jpg. But it wasn’t just Faith who intrigued me, but the man singing the duet with her, her new husband, Tim McGraw.  I knew little of both of them, but thought to investigate this “country music” thing.  

I bought a Tim McGraw CD, watched him perform on Jay Leno one night, and as they say, I was a goner. Being a western romance writer,  I fell in love with country music from that day on.  Tim’s tight jeans, black hat and amazing smile, helped just a little. 🙂     (Met him once and never miss his concerts) 

Seriously, the music called to me, beckoning with tunes of lost loves, of heroes found, of sweet smiles and first crushes.  The songs tell a complete story in three minutes, painting vivid pictures with impressions that stick in your head, long after the tunes are gone.   

I found the music inspiring, the lyrics fresh and honest, the images real. Sometimes humorous and fun, sometimes  heart-breakingly sad, sometimes soulful and  deep.  Those heart-tugging emotions evoked a longing for something else in my life.   They inspired me. They moved me. They made me feel. 

I can’t say that music solely played a role to help me find my lifelong passion of writing, but those short musical bursts of true life told beautifuly through rhythm and lyrics, with fiddles and drums and guitars and keyboards surely inspired me at a time when I truly needed inspiration.

bradpaisley46-426×135.jpgThe same holds true today.  Often I’m asked the timeless question writers are asked- where do I get my ideas?  My silent answer : From Tim and Faith and Toby and Kenny. From Martina and Brad and Shania.  From  Rascal Flatts and Brooks and Dunn, to name a few of my favorites.

LYRICS THAT PAINT IMAGES:

 untitled-toby-keith.bmpShould Have Been A Cowboy…Toby Keith

I bet you’ve never heard ol’ Marshall Dillion say, Miss Kitty have you ever thought of running away
Settling down would you marry me?
If I asked you twice and begged you pretty please.  She’d have said yes in a New York minute
They never tied the knot
His heart wasn’t in it
He just stole a kiss as he rode away
He never hung his hat up at Kitty’s place

I should’ve been a cowboy
I should’ve learned to rope and ride
Wearing my six-shooter riding my pony on a cattle drive
Stealing the young girl’s hearts
Just like Gene and Roy
Singing those campfire songs
Oh I should’ve been a cowboy

I might of had a sidekick with a funny name
Running wild through the hills chasing Jesse James
Ending up on the brink of danger
Riding shotgun for the Texas Rangers
Go west young man, haven’t you been told
California’s full of whiskey, women and gold
Sleeping out all night beneath the desert stars
With a dream in my eye and a prayer…
In my heart

LYRICS THAT INSPIRE

AnywayMartina McBride

imagesmartina-best.jpg

You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ’em anyway

LYRICS THAT REACH INTO YOUR SOUL:

2812106-280×336.jpgLive Like You Were Dying …Tim McGraw (10 weeks at #1)

He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout’ the options and talking bout’ sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
He said

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

He said I was finally the husband, that most the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend, a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden goin’ fishin, wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
Well I finally read the good book, and I took a good long hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again
And then

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Shu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

My Top 10 Favorite Country Artists

Tim McGraw

Faith Hill

Martina McBride

Carrie Underwood

Reba

Brooks and Dunn

Josh Turner

Toby Keith

George Strait

So Much More

I could go on and on about country  songs that inspire me.  The ones that make me laugh out  loud. (Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off)  The ones that are almost too heartbreaking to listen to (Concrete Angel). The ones that pull at your parental heartstrings(There Goes My Life) and the ones that speak about love and romance. (I Need You)   

The stories they tell and  rich emotions they evoke all help me develop my characters, create my plots and put those words on the page.

There are too many songs to name and too many artists I enjoy to post here.  But I’d love to know if you’re a fan of country music?  Are there songs that help inspire you whatever your profession?  Who are your favorites? 

Post a comment and be entered into a drawing for Harlequin Coupons and a book from my backlist of available titles!

Happy Trails !

UP TOMORROW – GUEST BLOGGER KIM LOUISE !

Out With The Books!

I’m delighted to join the Petticoats and Pistols team and have the opportunity to say howdy to fellow western lovers.   I started writing westerns at the beginning of my career and plan to return there. They’ve always been the love of my writing life, but I kinda got sidetracked with Scotland, early America and suspense.

Now it’s time to return to my roots.  A proposal for a five-book series is in the works, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I’ve just finished a suspense novel, which means it’s time for a bit of housecleaning. Conveniently, it’s also time for my neighborhood’s giant garage sale which draws thousands of bargain hunters.  Since it usually occurs during deadline time, I’ve only participated three times during the twelve years I’ve lived in Memphis. But lately I’ve been receiving hints from my extended family. “If you ever move,” they claim, “your house will rise four feet.”   Comments are getting downright rude.This is in reference to the more than 4,000 books in my house. I have a lifetime of books. I do not believe in getting rid of a book. Any kind of book. But predictions that my house might collapse under their weight indicate a mild withdrawal might be in order. 

Too many books.  A notice of the giant garage sale. A sign?

I found a cardboard box and started the search for possible rejects in my office. I have eight floor-to- ceiling bookcases in my office alone. Those are my, ahem, research books. There’s one wall devoted to American western history; one to Scottish history and English history; one to murder, general mayhem, and various ways of tormenting people (for my suspense novels). The last area includes the general resource materials: costumes through the ages, guns through the ages, underclothes through the ages, ships through the ages, etc. Then there’s the one essential book for all writers: Baby Names. I have four of those, each one absolutely essential.

Okay, Pat, you can do this. You really can. After all, most of these books are no longer necessary because of the internet. Instead of using all that space, you need only a computer and mouse these days.

Yeah, and the heart isn’t essential for life.

Still, I start with the books under my desk. Surely I don’t need four Thesauruses. And four dictionaries.

I’ll start with the Dictionaries.   Dictionaries do well in garage sales.  (Well, since I never sold one, I don’t really know, but I suspect this is true).  Now this one has the dates of when each word came into common use. Can’t dump that. The second one has nice large print.  Invaluable for midnight hours. The third, well it’s a paperback and light. Easy to hold. The last, well . . . I never know when I’ll lose the other three under piles of books.

Maybe I’ll have better luck with the Thesauruses. No one needs four. Or maybe they do. This one is big. Lots of words. But the second is better organized. And then the third is the Synonym Finder. Paperback again. Bright red cover. Easier to find when reams of paper cover my desk as I finish my final draft. Can’t give up that one. The fourth? Well, I can’t find it right now. But I know it’s there. Somewhere.

On to the western shelves.

Do I really need “Diary of a Cattle Drive Cook.” Yep, absolutely necessary to my well-being.   Just listen to the call for breakfast:

“Wake up Jacob!

Day’s a-breaking

Beans in the pot,

An’ sourdoughs a’breakin’!”

Now where can you find that on the internet?

Then there’s “Apache Days and Tombstone Nights,” the autobiography of John Clum who was mayor of Tombstone during the Earp-Clanton battle at the OK Corral and founder of the “Tombstone Epitaph.” He was also an Indian fighter who took Geronimo prisoner. This is the real deal. Great stuff, especially since my dad grew up in the area and had met him (please don’t add up those years).

What about “Soiled Doves, Prostitution in the Early West,” and “Mollie,” the journal of a city woman who homesteads with her husband in the Nebraska Territory? Or the multitude of other diaries of participants in the building of the west? Miners, army wives, cowboys, gamblers, boatmen, and one of my very favorites: the journey by an English woman across the Rockies on horseback. Alone (“A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.”)

Ah,  here’s “The Prairie Traveler,” the 1859  best selling handbook for American Pioneers.   A must for any wagon train tale.

Can’t give up any of the above. Each was carefully collected on trips west, usually at state and national historical sites, and my proposed western series would include all the characters above.

Oops. Don’t remember that one about the Apaches. I’ll just read a page or two . . .

How late is it? Can barely see. Where did the daylight go?

On to the Scottish shelves. Maybe I’ll have better luck there.

“The Laird’s Table?” Now how easy is it to find meals from the 15th Century in Scotland on the internet? Better keep that one. “The Steel Bonnets?” Nope, love that book. Fascinating history of the English/Scottish border in the 1500’s. Okay, do I really need twenty books on clan names and castles and Scottish ghosts?

Aye, I do. Never know when I’ll return to Scottish historicals, just as I now intend to turn back to my original love, westerns. There’s a lot in common between the two, particularly rugged individualism and strong women. I indulged my love for both when writing, “The Marshal and the Heiress,” when a western marshal goes to Scotland, and its successor, “The Scotsman Wore Spurs,” when a Scot goes west. 

But I digress.  I take my empty box downstairs. Lots of books there. Twelve more bookcases. And piles. Piles everywhere. Fiction and non-fiction of all kinds. Surely I can find a reject here and there.

Ahhhh, there’s my Elswyth Thane Williamsburg series. You would have to pry those from my cold dead hands. Along with Celeste De Blasis’s “The Proud Breed, ” my all-time favorite western. If you haven’t read it, find it. It’s long, very long, but every page is a treasure. “Lonesome Dove” rests next to it as my second favorite.

That box is kinda light. I look inside. An “AAA Tour Book” about Texas. Well, I have an updated one. But I smile. Progress.

Enough for now. It’s two in the morning.

As for my getting-rid-of -books project, well, tomorrow is another day.

In the meantime, I would appreciate any suggestions on how to tear away a few of the volumes clutched tightly against my heart.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys … and Their Trusted Companions!

94792fd94pgt1xm.gifWhen I heard the song by Big and RichSave a Horse, Ride a Cowboy, I had to chuckle.  It did bring about some very, uh, provocative images in my head.  Cowboys are fantasized, romanticized and idolized by women around the world.

  Let’s face it, romance writers and readers have a glorified image of the Cowboy. Rugged, bold and sexy as all get-out. I won’t disagree. Nobody likes to write a great cowboy more than I do.  So I won’t go there today… there’s time for that later.  Today, I’m talking about the their beautiful accomplices, companions and first loves.  No, not the heroine … but our hero’s trusted horse!  

Through my years as a western romance author I’ve had to research horses as often time they played a very essential role in my stories.  The gorgeous one-year old palomino is J.R.   He’s a quarter horse img_0059.JPGstraight from Wayne Newton’s Ranch, now living at my cousin’s stables in North Las Vegas.  It was a joy to meet him, feed him and make friends with him.   There’s nothing like hands-on training. And J.R. sure received a lot of attention that day!  

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J.R was new at the stables and in the corral.  Two other geldings didn’t accept him into their fold and they pranced and snorted and annoyed J.R. until the  geldings were separated from him.  The interaction between the three horses was fascinating to img_0055.JPGwatch.  Then the palomino simply took off, all long streaming golden mane and sleek, smooth lines, circling the corral over and over again, displaying his temper and  prowess. 

Inspired by J.R. I wrote a wild palomino stallion into my March 2008 release, Taming the Texan.  It’s amazing how the wild horse and man both needed to be tamed and they came to terms with their own natures at the same time.

cax82xhzcover.jpgIn my upcoming November 2007 release, Bodine’s Bounty, my hero’s faithful mare Lola, played a vital role as well. I’m so glad my cover included Lola along with Bodine and Emma.

TV MOVIE HEROES AND THEIR FAITHFUL HORSES

 Who could forget these two TV shows? I used to watch them over and over, and I remember telling my dad once, “I love you the most, except for Roy Rogers.” 

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Roy’s radio show ran for 9 years before hitting the TV screens from 1951 through 1957. He and his trusty golden palomino were featured in the show and over 100 movies. You don’t think of Roy Rogers without Trigger by his side.  daleevans_buttermilk.jpgAnd remember Dale Evans and her ride, Buttermilk?

The same holds true for The Lone Ranger – Clayton Moore portrayed the masked250px-loneranger.jpg  Texas Ranger who rides about righting injustices on his horse Silver.  Who could forget that opening announcement. “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-yo, Silver.”

HORSE TRIVIA 

Did you know:

  • Camargue horses are completely white as adults. Their babies are pure black when they are born.
  • There is a breed of horse from Russia called Akhal-Teke. It can go for days without food or water.
  • You measure a horse’s height in hands. Each hand equals four inches. If you say a horse is 16.2 hands high, the 2 stands for 2 fingers.
  • You can tell how old a horse is by how many teeth it has. A horse gets all of its teeth by the time it is five years old. After that, they just get longer.
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  • A female horse is called a mare. In the wild it is the mare that decides when the herd moves on to another spot to find food.
  • A male horse is called a stallion. Usually only one stallion will stay with a herd.
  • Any marking on a horse’s forehead is called a star, even if it is not shaped like a star.
  • Horses and ponies feel safer when they are in a herd.
  • Mustangs are one of the few breeds of horses that live wild in North America. They are related to the horses that the Spanish explorers brought to North America 400 years ago.
  • Horses can communicate how they are feeling by their facial expressions. They use their ears, nostrils, and eyes to show their moods. Beware of a horse that has flared nostrils and their ears back. That means it might attack!
  •  A hoof is like a fingernail. It is always growing and needs to be clipped so that it won’t be uncomfortable for the horse.
  • A farrier is a person who makes horse shoes and fits them on your horse. They also clip hooves to keep them from getting overgrown.
  • A horse can move in four ways: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. A gallop is the fastest gait

Are there any horse lovers out there?  Do you have a favorite hero/horse combo from movies or TV?

Real Cowboys

0192-0605-2418-2133_tn.jpg            For many of us, the American cowboy is the ultimate fantasy hero—a strong, handsome hunk in a big hat and tight jeans—a hero who makes our hearts gallop.  But the mythic hero is based on real men who played a major role in taming the west.  And most of them were even tougher than the fantasy model.  They had to be.  Let’s take a look at them.           

The heyday of the real American cowboy lasted from the end of the Civil War to the mid-1880s.   The men who rode the cattle trails numbered about 40,000 in all.  The average age was 24.  They came from many walks of life.  Most were dirt poor.  Most—though not all—were uneducated.  Among them were mustered-out soldiers from the war, farm boys looking for adventure, outlaws on the run, black-sheep sons of European families, and even a future U.S. President—Teddy Roosevelt, who took up cowboying as an adventure.           

 The work they did—driving herds of longhorn cattle across rough country, sometimes for more than a thousand miles—was murderous.  Cattle were mean-tempered and dumber than fence posts.  They got lost and had to be found.  They got worms, mange and sickness and had to be doctored. They got mired and had to be pulled out.  They got stolen and had to be rescued.  They stampeded and had to be stopped.  And they demanded 24-7 care with no time off.  Being a cowboy was hard, filthy, dangerous work, all for a wage of about $30 a month plus meals.  This excerpt from a trail boss’s journal will give you an idea of what the life was like.  Upset our wagon in River & lost many cooking utencils…was on my Horse the whole night & it raining hard…Lost my Knife…There was one of our party Drowned today & several narrow escapes, I among them…Many men in trouble…Horses all give out & Men refused to do anything…Awful night…not having had a bite to eat for 60 hours…Flies terrible…Found a human skeleton today…”           

By the 1890s the great trail drives had ended and a new generation of cowboys had emerged, living and working on ranches, dressed in blue jeans and Stetsons.  But all of us who write about the West, owe a debt to those first tough, courageous REAL cowboys!           

 We’ll learn more about cowboys in future blogs.  Meanwhile, does anybody know some good cowboy stories?  Do you have a favorite cowboy movie?  A favorite cowboy character?           

For the research-minded, I’d like to mention my source—THE COWBOYS  from the Time-Life Books Old West Collection.  Happy Trails!

For Thursday

Cowboys!  You’ve gotta love ’em!  But who were the real cowboys of the Old West?  What were their lives really like?  Check out my Thursday blog to learn about Real Cowboys and add your own comments.  See you then!

Elizabeth

Welcome to the West!

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I’m Elizabeth Lane, and I’ll be posting on Thursday.  Since we’ve started with cowboys and horses, I plan to tell you more about cowboy gear and what their work was like.  The picture is the cover of my latest book, THE STRANGER.  The hero is a cowboy with a troubled past.  Looking forward to telling you more!