What’s A Little Pillow Talk?

Hi everyone, are you a picky pillow person? Ha, say that fast three times! Do you have a Mr. Pillow? I’m kinda picky and like the flatter kind, but not filled with feathers. Nope. And not one that makes a noise in my ear when I move. Good heavens! Some sell for enormous sums. I bought mine at Walmart about ten years ago and it’s beginning to go really flat but I hesitate buying a new one.

Remember how all the pillows were overstuffed and we got cricks in our necks sleeping on them until we mashed them down? Glad they aren’t that way anymore.

But choosing one now days is quite a chore. They come in every type from soft to very firm. The value of the global pillow market in sales is 17.6 billion.

I think pillows have been a problem since the beginning of time. Cowboys use their saddles and that can’t be very comfortable but it beats a rock. Did you know the first pillows were in fact curved stone bolsters that elevated your head? Those were used in Mesopotamia about 7,000 BC. Five thousand years later, the Egyptians improved on that with a flat rectangular base with a straight shaft and curved neckpiece. It was supposed to mimic the rising sun. But oh my poor aching neck! The Pharoah Tutankhamun had no fewer than 8 of these in his tomb. These pillows were thought to dispel demons and they believed they could banish evil from the dark night in both life and death. No thank you! You’d have a crick deluxe that you’d never get out. I wonder if they had chiropractors?

Compliments of the Glencairn’s Egyptian Museum
Courtesy of the British Museum

Actually, the Romans were the first to stuff a sack with reeds and straw. The wealthy used feathers. Now you’re talking.

So we’ve come a long way. The first International Pillow Fight Day was held in 2008 and is celebrated every year since on the first Saturday in April. We just missed it! 

I’m giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to a commenter who tells me what kind of pillow they use.

Kimberly Woodhouse Finds Stories in Bones

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to travel across the plains of Kansas into what is now Colorado and all of a sudden you see the Rocky Mountains ahead on the horizon?

If you’ve ever driven in this part of the country, you’ve seen it first-hand. It’s an incredible sight to behold. Especially after crossing so much… flat terrain. (Raise your hand if you’ve driven all the way across Kansas or Nebraska. Bonus points if you’ve done it multiple times.)

Out west here in Colorado, we get a lot of tourists that come to see the mountains. A lot of tourists.

One of the amazing hidden gems in our mountains and the surrounding rocky hills and landscapes is the plethora of sights where fossils have been found.

If you’ve read any of my books, you know that I love digging up some good history. And a pretty important part of our American history that a lot of people have never heard of is the Bone Wars.

Two paleontologists—Cope and Marsh—are the ones behind that intriguing title. Why? Well, let’s just say they weren’t nice to one another. Always trying to outdo each other, to be the “top dog”, to write the latest and greatest papers, to have the biggest and best skeletons displayed in museums with their name on it—these men stopped at almost nothing to win. Even going so far to use dynamite and blow up priceless, irreplaceable fossils just so the other couldn’t get to them.

Talk about the wild west.

My Treasures of the Earth series tackles the Bone Wars era while highlighting women in paleontology and the sticky subject matter of faith and science.

Set in Stone is book two in the series and it takes place in Colorado near the famous Red Rocks. Pretty close to Dinosaur Ridge actually, a place where you can see actual Dino footprints preserved in a towering wall.

One of the things I love about this area is the beautiful rock formations. In red, white, and gray. I can just imagine Martha—my heroine in this book—digging into these rock layers.

Her hopes and dreams of being recognized in the field are on the line when a fierce competition to present a complete skeleton to the museum puts her and her team in danger. Add in a good bit of suspense, a creepy villain, the thrill of digging for dinosaurs, and a dash of romance—you’ve got this second stand-alone installment in the series.

To celebrate the release of this book this week, I’m inviting you all to join with me in a little party here at Petticoats and Pistols.

I’m giving away FIVE copies of The Secrets Beneath (book one in the series), and one of those five lucky winners will also receive a copy of Set in Stone.

To enter – just leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your favorite dinosaur, your favorite piece of American History, or if you’ve ever ventured west to see my Rocky Mountains.

Until next time… enjoy the journey,



Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than forty books. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate and the promise of eighteen holes on the golf course. Married to the love of her life for more than three decades, she lives and writes in Colorado where she’s traded in her hat of “Craziest Mom” for “Nana the Great.” To find out more about Kim’s books, follow her on social media, and sign up for her newsletter/blog, go to: https://kimberleywoodhouse.com


Linda Broday: A Few of My Favorite Things


Most writers do a lot of other things that bring fulfillment and satisfaction. Some love to cook, sew, or travel. The favorite things in my post last year were my rock collection. I just love collecting rocks. But on this one I want to talk about another love of mine that’s dear to my heart–Genealogy and researching my family history.

I’m very drawn to everything on the subject. PBS public broadcasting has a program on Tuesday nights here called Finding Your Roots and I watch it every week if I’m home. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. researches and delves deep into each his guests’ history. Sometimes the results will blow your mind and often the stories his team unearths are sad. It certainly beats fiction.

In my  family, I’ve uncovered a lot of surprising things that often leave me with more questions than answers. Ancestry.com has billions of records of births, deaths, census records, and newspaper articles. Through them, I discovered that the man I was led to believe was my grandfather isn’t. When he was twenty-three years old, he ran off with my grandmother who was almost forty and she was seven months pregnant with my mother. She already had five children, the oldest of which was married herself. She looked old, tired and used up, not some gorgeous woman. I’ve asked myself why? What would tempt a young man with his life ahead of him to do something like that? She never divorced her husband John Ellis and there are no records where she ever married this young man who lived on a neighboring farm in Arkansas. My mother said Ben used to get drunk and yell to her that she wasn’t his kid.

So fast forward thirty-seven years and Ben is dying of Black Lung Disease. He’s fathered another daughter and buried my grandmother. Who does he ask to take care of him? My mom. And she does. Not sure why, but I’d like to think he begged her forgiveness. So many questions I wish I had asked Mom.

Another story was about Ben’s brother, my uncle. Or at least I was told he was. William Henry died when he was twenty-six and I had a difficult time trying to find what happened to him. Then I ran across a newspaper article published in 1917 that told how was killed in a construction accident. He fell off a roof into a large vat of fresh cement and was buried in it. He died before they could get him out.

There are so many stories that grab your heart. I love knowing about these people and finding out that I have some of the same strength as my ancestors did. I come from a long line of immigrants. A few years ago, I did my DNA and 80% was English and Scottish. I had small percentages of Norwegians, Swedes, and Irish. That surprised me because I’d always thought I was mostly Irish. But no. I love knowing that I might’ve descended from Vikings. They regularly invaded England and Scotland and must’ve married one.

Have you ever done your DNA? Or have you researched your ancestors? Or tell me about one of your favorite things. Leave a comment to get in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

Kaitlene Dee Tells About Traveling Food, Covered Wagons, and Romance!

Get ready for a fun time. This week, the Fillies are entertaining Kaitlene Dee aka Tina Dee and she’ll talk about covered wagons, the food they prepared on the trail, and some romance. She mentions a giveaway so don’t miss that.

In my new story, Grace, which is part of the Prairie Roses Collection, nineteen-year-old Grace loses her best friend and inherits her three-year-old daughter, Emma. It was her friend’s dying wish that Grace would raise Emma because the little girl is without any other family.

Adam begrudgingly comes to the rescue of Grace and Emma with a marriage of convenience proposal—and together, they set out to help an elderly couple of sisters move their tea shop business from one town to another in a covered wagon to carry the sisters’ precious bone china and heirloom cabinet. They head from northern California to southern California. What should only take two to three weeks travel time turns out to be a much longer trip, ripe with danger and disaster. In all this, Grace and Adam find out how much they must trust in God as He guides them into discovering that they truly need one another.

Personally, I love outdoor cooking, and writing this story was fun with all the cooking that goes on in it. I enjoyed researching foods pioneers packed and ate for their journeys. Guidebooks made suggestions to hopeful travelers on things to pack in their provisions.

But most interesting to me, was the spices. Some were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for flavoring. Some curatives that were packed were: Cinnamon bark for the relief of diarrhea and nausea and to aid against digestive issues, cloves for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and nutmeg or mace, which were used for tonics. (FoodTimeline.org –an awesome and fun resource! They refer to Randolph B. Marcy’s A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, a valuable resource manual for those traveling west).

Some folks also packed potable meat (cooked meat packed tightly into a jar, then covered with some sort of fat such as butter, lard, or maybe tallow and then sealed), and portable soups, desiccated dried or canned vegetables, powdered pumpkin, and dried fruits. These were a surprise to me since, prior to research, I pretty much thought their only options were beans, cornmeal mush, biscuits, bacon, flour, milk if they had a cow, and eggs.

On their journey, Adam used oxen to pull the covered wagon because they were strong, dependable, and able to do well on less abundant food sources. It was fun researching about wagons as well. I didn’t know the wagons carried a pail of pitch under the wagon bed. But discussing covered wagons is for a future post.

The story of Grace is a Christian marriage of convenience, pioneer romance set in the western frontier and is part of the multi-author Prairie Roses Collection. All books in the series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order. Not all of the stories are set on the Oregon Trail, some travel across state or from one state to another, but all of the stories are romances that occur while on their covered wagon journeys. They are in Kindle Unlimited and are also available for ebook purchase on Amazon.

Next spring, I’ll be contributing two more stories to the Prairie Rose Collection. The stories will be ripe with adventure, romance, and food and I’ll make sure they satisfy your Old West reading cravings.

What kind of food would you pack to bring on a journey like this? Anything special?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an ebook copy of GRACE

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, enjoys outings along the coast and in the nearby mountains, hiking, supporting dog rescues and outdoor cooking and camping. She also writes contemporary western Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please feel invited to join my newsletter at and receive a free story: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

Please follow me on Bookbub at Kaitlene Dee: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kaitlene-dee

Women Earning a Living in the 19th Century from Charlene Raddon

A big welcome to Charlene Raddon who is joining us today to talk about jobs women could have in the 1800s.

Women in the 1800s could not make contracts, own property or vote. A woman was seen as a servant to her husband. However, by the 1830s and 1840, that began to change when they started to champion social reforms of prisons, war, alcohol, and slavery. But life remained difficult for them. Jobs were scarce and often unbearable. 

In 1841, the census included occupations and provided some of the best information about working women, but it was more accurate for men. Women’s work was often part-time, casual, and not regarded as important enough to declare. 

It might have been illegal (as with prostitution) or performed in unregulated sweatshops (a further reason for failure to record). Women may have preferred their husbands not know they earned any income. They could earn small amounts at home by sewing, mending, knitting, canning, spinning, lacemaking, quilting, and even box-making. 

Female employment in the 1850s, 60s, and 70s appears to have been higher than any recorded until after World War II. Family budget evidence suggests that around 30-40 percent of women from working-class families contributed significantly to household incomes in the mid-Victorian years. This might have been even higher during the Industrial Revolution decades, before the rise of State and trade union policies regulating female labor and the promotion of the male as the ideal breadwinner. After the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. some women worked in factories, sometimes with their children. In 1840, 10% of women had jobs outside the home, and by 1850 that number increased to 15%. 

Domestic service was the largest employer for women, closely followed by work in clothing and textiles. Other jobs included confectioner, brewer, seamstress, laundress, maid, housekeeper, waitress, midwife, gardener, dressmaker, charwoman, clerk, and innkeeper. In some areas, they worked in mines alongside children, dirty, unhealthy, miserable labor. 

For my heroine in Maisy’s Gamble, dealing faro in saloons proved a better choice for its earning power and safety since her nemesis considered ordinary saloons beneath him. Being born in a brothel and raised in a gutter gave Gold Kingsley an exaggerated disdain for the type of life his mother lived. Maisy used this to her advantage. 

Dealing faro also allowed her to move around a lot, making her more difficult to find. She spent her adult years raising her son and finding ways to evade Gold. But time is against us all, and she knew he would find her someday. Fortunately, that day waited until the hero, The Preacher, came into her life. 

The Preacher spent his adult years allowing the vagaries of life to rule him. That ended once Maisy entered his life. Bonded by a common enemy and the need to stay alive, Maisy and Preacher joined forces to battle Gold, but only time could calculate their odds of winning the biggest gamble of their lives. 



In this scene, a patron in the saloon where Maisy works is mistreating his dog. 

On impulse, Maisy stood and said, “Play me for him, Mr. Siddens. One hand of Draw. I’ll wager twenty dollars I can beat you. If you lose, the animal is mine, and you leave Pandora.” 

Crude laughter burst out of the man, splattering her with spit. “Ya joshing me, Maisy? He ain’t worth a plugged nickel.” 

Marshal  Harker moved to her side. “What are you doing?” 

She ignored him. “Well, Mr. Siddens…?” 

The drunken bully looked from her to the marshal and shrugged. “Why not? I don’t mind takin’ money from a woman.” 

Harker leaned close and whispered, “He’s drunk and cheats.” 

“I know. Don’t worry. I can beat him.” 

Shaking his head, the marshal lifted his hands in resignation. “Fine. One hand of Draw. But win or lose, Mr. Siddens, you’re done tonight.” 

“Whatever ya say, Marshal.” With that, Siddens righted the chair he’d knocked over, sat down, and gathered up the scattered pasteboards. 

Taking the opposite seat, Maisy drew a sealed deck from her skirt pocket. “You don’t truly think I’d let you use your cards, do you? I’ve known too many gamblers who cheat.” 

“Why, you…” He raised a hand, ready once more to strike out. At the cocking of a six-gun, Siddens dropped his arm and sat back. 

Maisy looked up surprised to see Preacher slip his Colt back into its holster. He tipped his hat, and she acknowledged it with a nod. Why had he protected her? Did it mean he didn’t work for Gold, or had Gold ordered that she be kept alive until he got his hands on her? 

“Maisy?” Jake said, bringing her back to herself. 

Determined to finish what she’d started, she reached into the small drawstring purse dangling from her wrist to find a gold eagle, which she placed on the table. 

Eyeing the coin, Siddens sneered, “Want me ta put the dawg on the table, too?” 

She forced a smile. “We’ll just pretend, shall we?” She shuffled and offered him the deck to cut. After dealing, she picked up her cards. An ace, two jacks, a ten, and a five. After setting the ten and the five aside, she placed the remaining three cards face down on the table. “How many would you like, Mr. Siddens?” 

“Three shiny new ones,” he said, tossing down his discards. 

She dealt the cards. “Dealer takes two.” 

Aware of the mob gathered around the table, Maisy let her eyes roam the faces, quickly passing over Preacher’s. The spectators murmured among themselves, and money exchanged hands. 

“Well, Mr. Siddens, what do you have?” she asked. 

He grinned as he spread out three queens on the table. “Three ladies. Can’t top that, now can ya, sugar?” He laughed and swapped grins with a few men. 

She smiled and laid down her cards—three aces and two jacks—a full house. 

“What the…?” Siddens leaped to his feet. “Marshal, arrest her. She musta cheated.” 

Jake gave his head a firm shake. “No, she’s just a damned fine player.” 

Grumbles erupted from losers as bets were paid off. Maisy called for paper and a pencil. When they arrived, she set them in front of Siddens and ordered him to write out a bill of sale. 

“Bill o’ sale!” he ranted. “I didn’t sell the mutt. I got cheated out o’ ‘im.” 


Siddens did. “Damned dawg ain’t no good nohow.” 

The crowd dispersed. A deputy appeared to escort the gambler from the saloon. 

Back at her table, she settled the dog on the floor in the warmth of the stove and called for food scraps and a wet cloth to clean the animal’s wounds. “I think I’ll call you Hock,” she told him, “after the last card played in a hand of faro. When we go home, you’ll meet Soda. She’s named after the first card played.” 

He wagged his tail as if he approved. 

Jake Harker returned and took his usual seat, grinning at her. “Dammit, Maisy, I can’t believe you pulled that off. That piece of crap is a good card player, even without cheating.” 

“Yes, well, two can play at that game.” 

He stared at her a moment. “You mean what I think you mean?” Leaning forward, he gave her a stern look. “Did you cheat, Maisy?” 

Avoiding his gaze, she began arranging her faro gear on the table. “Someone had to get the poor animal away from him. He’s a brute, and you know it.” 

Charlene is giving away two prizes today!

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Maisy’s Gamble OR a $5 Amazon gift card, just share what type of work you might have done if you’d lived in the 1800s!


Charlene Raddon is a bestselling author of Western historical romance novels. Originally published by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. She grew up on old western movies and loved them, but never intended to be a writer. That part of her life just happened. Besides writing and reading, she raises orchids, designs book covers, and crochets. 


Sewing Patterns

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. In one of my books I needed to research what would have been available to my heroine in 1888 in the way of dress patterns. So I dived in and did a bit of research. Below are some notes and a timeline based on what I found out.

Tailoring as a profession emerged around the 12th century in Europe, leading to the creation of more structured and fitted garments. Tailors used measurements and cutting techniques passed down through apprenticeships to create clothing tailored to the individual. However, these techniques were closely guarded secrets, making it difficult for the average person to produce their own custom-fitted garments.

But the 19th century brought about significant changes to the world of sewing and fashion. The Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 18th century, brought about the mechanization of textile production, making fabric more affordable and accessible. This, in turn, led to an increased demand for ready-made clothing.

Amid these developments, the concept of sewing patterns as we know them today began to take shape. In the early 19th century, sewing pattern companies such as Butterick and McCall’s emerged. These companies started by offering patterns for women’s clothing, which were often published in women’s magazines. These early patterns were often simple, one-size-fits-all templates that required significant skill to adapt to individual measurements.

The 1860s saw a significant breakthrough in sewing patterns with the invention of the perforated pattern. Ebenezer Butterick, the founder of Butterick patterns, is credited with this innovation. His perforated patterns allowed for a more precise and consistent method of transferring pattern markings onto fabric. This made it easier for home sewers to create garments that closely resembled the latest fashion trends.

The Victorian era (1837-1901) saw a surge in home sewing. Sewing machines, which had been invented in the mid-19th century, began to find their way into regular households. These machines made sewing faster and more accessible, further fueling the desire for creating one’s own clothing.

Sewing patterns of this era reflected the fashionable styles of the time. Women’s clothing featured intricate designs with multiple layers, bustles, and tightly fitted bodices. Sewing patterns for these garments often included elaborate instructions, and women would spend hours perfecting their creations. The ability to sew one’s clothing became a valuable skill for women, not only for practical reasons but also as a sign of social status and accomplishment.

The 20th century saw a dramatic shift in fashion, with styles evolving rapidly. Sewing patterns played a crucial role in keeping up with these changes. The early 1900s witnessed the emergence of new pattern companies like Vogue and Simplicity, each offering a unique style and approach to pattern design.

World War I and World War II brought about rationing and a focus on practicality in fashion. Sewing patterns of this time reflected the need for simplicity and efficiency. Women sewed clothing for themselves and their families, making the most of limited resources.

In the post-war era, fashion underwent a radical transformation. The 1950s brought with it the hourglass silhouette, characterized by cinched waists and full skirts, and sewing patterns embraced this trend. Sewing became a popular hobby for women, and pattern catalogs featured a wide range of designs, from everyday dresses to elaborate evening gowns.

The 1960s marked a departure from the conservative styles of the previous decade. Youth culture and the influence of designers like Mary Quant gave rise to the mod style, characterized by bold colors, geometric shapes, and short hemlines. Sewing patterns followed suit, offering designs that captured the spirit of the era.

The 1970s brought a return to a more relaxed, bohemian style. Sewing patterns included flowy dresses, bell-bottom pants, and other free-spirited designs. Sewing became a means of self-expression, with individuals customizing patterns to create unique garments.

The late 20th century and early 21st century witnessed the digital revolution. Sewing patterns transitioned from paper to digital formats. Today, sewing enthusiasts can access and purchase patterns online, allowing for instant downloads and printing at home. Digital patterns offer greater flexibility and customization, as sewers can easily adjust sizing and fit to their preferences.

The history of sewing patterns is a testament to the evolution of fashion, technology, and society. From the early days of hand-tailored garments to the digital age of instant pattern downloads, sewing patterns have adapted to meet the changing needs of home sewers.

Today, sewing patterns continue to empower individuals to create their clothing, allowing for self-expression and customization. They bridge the gap between fashion and personal style, offering a means for anyone to participate in the creative process of clothing design


As for myself, I didn’t learn to sew until the summer after my freshman year of college. That summer I had my mom teach me. I also had a job that summer and by the time I was ready to head back to school in the fall i not only had learned the basics but had purchased a portable sewing machine to take with me. I still have that same machine, though now it is mostly used for repairs and hems. In the 70s I made a large percentage of my clothing myself. That image above is a photo of  some of those patterns that are still stuck in the back of my sewing cabinet.

After that I had four children and had no time for sewing. When the kids were older I’d lost the inclination to get back to it. Below are pictures of two garments that I made and still own. The first is a colorful (garish?) smock which was the very first garment I made. It no longer fits but I’m sentimental enough to not be able to discard it.


This next is of course my wedding dress. (my sister made the veil). I was quite proud of the fact that I was able to make such a complicated dress and it actually fit perfectly <g>

So what about you – do you sew? Or do you perform other needlecraft – weaving, crocheting, knitting, embroidery, etc. Tell me about your experiences (or lack thereof) in the comments to be entered in the drawing for one of my backlist books.


At Last! The Story, SHE PAINTS MY SOUL, 1st Draft is Done!


Welcome, Welcome to a terrific Tuesday!

Deep breath.  The first draft of SHE PAINTS MY SOUL is done!  (Another deep breath)  Now the book goes into edits, which are usually quite intense as we get the book ready to release.

Although the book won’t be on the market for another couple of months — due to edits — I’m so excited to be done with this story, I thought I’d post a short excerpt as well as a peek at the new cover.  I’m always told one shouldn’t do this because people can’t then, at once, go and get the book.  But, I’m going to break the rules for a moment and post a short excerpt.  This book ties up the 1st, 2nd and this, the 3rd book in the series.

The book is so new, I don’t even have a blurb yet.  So, forgive me all the things that should be here and at present, are not.  Am just excited to be finished with the story and am now heading straight into my own edits and then the book goes to my editor.  This first scene is a highly fictionalize story of what I’m told was an actual happening that took place perhaps thousands of years ago.  I am told the real event took place in the dog days — long before the horse ever came to America.



Karen Kay



Montana Territory

Blackfoot Country

August, 1840


From a ridge high above the four tepees, Strikes Fast looked down upon the familiar scene of the blue, yellow and red painted tepees, their entrances facing east, while the back of each of the lodges was braced by several poles to provide protection against the westerly winds.  The largest dwelling—the lodge painted with images of warriors the magician had killed—would be the tepee of Red Sky and his first wife.  Probably it also housed his newest captive, Sharon.

The second tepee would be the home of his other six wives.  Strikes Fast recognized the third and fourth tepees in the camp as belonging to the magician’s brother and his four wives.  But, the brother was not a recognized warrior with a good war record, and, during a fight, it was well known the man would be inclined to hide like the coward he was.

The tepees had been set up on an island in the middle of the Áashisee, the Big Missoui River, and Strikes Fast took a moment to admire the setting of the blue water against the backdrop of the white and gray cliffs which jutted up so grandly from the land.  In the far distance could be seen the summit of a mountain, but it was too far away to discern more than a misty image of its peak.  Because it was late morning, the sun was high in the sky, adding to the silhouette of the bright, blue-colored river and the gray and white cliffs, the azure sky seeming to paint them with all the colors given by Sun, the Creator.

It was a good day to die.  But perhaps, if his medicine were good today, his demise could be delayed.

Heaving in a deep sigh, Strikes Fast rose up to his full six foot height and stood up straight and tall, his look unafraid as he began his descent down the cliff.  He did not seek to hide the noise he made in the warm, shallow water as he trod through it toward the island.  Nor did he creep into the magician’s camp like a wolf in the night.  Rather he announced his coming with as grand an entry as possible.

After stepping up onto the shoreline of the island, Strikes Fast strode immediately to the lodge of Red Sky and, scratching on the entry flap, let himself in without awaiting a reply.

Strikes Fast scanned, without really looking, at the interior of the lodge.  Many of the comforts of home were to be seen within the lodge even though Red Sky was far from home.  The brightly painted tepee liner, the comfortable back-rest, the many robes and furs, as well as the several and assorted parfleche storage bags holding food and the family’s clothing were laid out or hung up on tepee poles for convenience. It was odd how comfortable Red Sky and his family were, being that they had set up camp within the territory of the enemy.  It only went to show the amount of faith Red Sky and his family placed upon the deadly effect of Red Sky’s magic.

As the familiar scent of the smoke from the inside fire reached out to Strikes Fast, his “host,” Red Sky, said in his deep, bass voice, “Welcome.  I have not seen you for many snows.  We had all thought you to be dead, yet here you are, alive and without proper manners…as usual.  What brings you here on such an uninviting afternoon?”

Odd, how the other man could insult, yet extend a welcome all in the same breath.  Said Strikes Fast in the Crow tongue, “I have come to bring the woman you have stolen back to the Pikuni people.  She is not Pikuni.  She is white and you may not have her.”

“I will not part with her.  She brings me…pleasure.”  Red Sky smiled, though the look possessed more of the air of an evil temperament than amusement.  “You may leave now.”

But, Strikes Fast did not leave.  Instead, he glanced quickly at Sharon, the beautiful tawny-haired white woman, if only to ensure she was alive and aware.  For a moment, she returned his gaze, but then she looked quickly away.

Finding an unoccupied place within Red Sky’s lodge, Strikes Fast sat down cross-legged, as was befitting a real man.  He said, “I think you had best give her to me.”

“Think you so?”

Strikes Fast shrugged.  “I do.  Unless you wish to war with me.  But, I advise you against it, for you will not win it.”

Red Sky seemed to enjoy a good laugh at Strikes Fast’s expense, before he replied, “You know well my magic.  You have seen it kill men much greater than you.”  Again Red Sky smiled, but the gesture was hardly cheerful.  “Go now and I will forget all about this.”

“I would like to leave at once,” said Strikes Fast.  “But she must come with me.  I will not go away from here without her.”

Again, Red Sky laughed, as though Strikes Fast were a clown intent on humoring him.  “‘She must come with me,'” Red Sky mimicked.  “I do not think so.  This is your last chance to leave and remain alive.”

Strikes Fast didn’t speak.  Instead, he looked down as he extended his mind out into the environment, preparing himself for what he knew was to come.  He had never been witness to Red Sky’s medicine.  Yet, he had heard much about it from many other Crow people and he had personally known men who had been killed by it.

Unexpectedly, he felt the power of kindness as well as a warm regard upon him, and he looked up to see its source, finding himself staring straight into the light, amber color of Sharon’s eyes.  For a moment, he gazed into the beauty of her countenance, realizing for the first time the strength and goodness of her heart.

However, her heart was not the only admirable quality about her.  She was beautiful of face and figure, as well, with light, delicate-colored skin; rose-colored cheeks and long, amber-colored hair, some of the length of it falling in waves over her shoulders and covering her breast.  She was slim and rounded in all the right places and the style of her white-man’s clothing emphasized her femininity.

The image of her, as well as the strength of her heart gladdened him.  Said Strikes Fast, returning his attention to the matter at hand, “I will do battle with you if you insist upon it.  But I warn you.  You have never had to endure the power of my medicine upon you.  And so, because you do not know who I really am or what I can do, I will give you one last chance.  Give her to me and I will leave here.”

Red Sky laughed so hard, the tepee practically shivered.  Then, reaching out to take hold of a particular parfleche bag, Red Sky looked up and grinned.  This must have been a special bag to the man, for it was decorated with red and white symbols of war; triangles, sharp-tipped arrows, spears, bows and even a red and white symbol of a white man’s long rifle were all painted upon it.

“Prepare to die,” uttered the magician, Red Sky, and, from the parfleche bag, he extracted a spider.  No more.  No less.  But what a spider it was, being perhaps the size of a man’s fist.  It was a black spider, also, and its front legs looked to be claws.  But, it was the spider’s fangs, sharp and long, which would cause its poison to enter into a man’s bloodstream, the result being a long and painful death.

So, this was the source of Red Sky’s black magic.

For a moment Strikes Fast felt a shiver of fear run down his spine.  But, instead of allowing himself to give in to the emotion, Strikes Fast grinned at the magician as though daring the man to do his worst.

And, his worst was known to be very bad.  Indeed, Strikes Fast knew there was no medicine man within the Crow Nation who possessed an herb, a tea or a special kind of mud to extract the poison or to counter the poison, once the spider had bitten a man.  Indeed, the effect of its deadly poison was legendary within the memory of his people; many warriors had perished because of it.  Strikes Fast had known a few of them.

But, Strikes Fast had not come ill-prepared.  He possessed his own power.  And, taking a parfleche bag from around his shoulder, Strikes Fast  extracted a few small, brown twigs, some bits of buckskin, a few bones and stones.

Uttered the magician, Red Sky, “You are looking for a fight with me and your only defense is an assortment of sticks?”

Strikes Fast grinned.  They certainly looked to be no more than sticks and small bones which had been glued in place.  But, these were more than what they appeared to be.  As simple as they looked, Strikes Fast knew these small sticks and bones could cause fear to flourish within even the most stout-hearted man.

Glancing up at the evil magician, Strikes Fast grinned, then waved his hand over the assembled sticks, silently asking the sticks to become a small warrior.  At once it was done, and, though the tiny figure of the man was perhaps not larger than a man’s middle finger, the small fighter looked unflinchingly at his enemy and held his small lance up into position, preparing to jab it into the spider.

The little man, however, didn’t appear to put fear into the spider.  The monster continued to move forward toward the tiny man.

Looking down at the tiny warrior, Strikes Fast beheld his man’s minuscule weapons, a bow and some arrows, as well as the sharp spear.  They might be tiny, yet he knew them to be effective.  The diminutive figure, now obviously alive, paced steadily toward the spider, the small man’s lance aimed directly at the heart of the spider.

Red Sky laughed evilly.  “This is all you have to counter my spider?  A spider who has defied men bigger than you?  My spider cannot die, you see.  Your man, there, being no more than sticks and pieces of bone, will have no effect upon my creature of magic.”  And so saying, Red Sky waved his hand over the spider, saying to the monster, “Kill the small man.  Then kill his owner.”

But, Strikes Fast also waved his hand over the small man, saying nothing at all with words, but with his mind, he spoke to the man, and said, “Drive the spider away.  Kill him so that the evil of the creature is gone from this earth.”

And, fearlessly, the small man, armed with a lance, as well as the bow and arrows, advanced toward his opponent.  The little man did not hesitate nor back away, even when the spider, who was bigger than he, showed his fangs, the poison dripping from them onto the ground.

Red Sky laughed…at first.  But, when the tiny man showed no fear and kept advancing toward the spider with his spear trained upon the creature, Red Sky frowned.

Again, Red Sky waved his hand over the spider, causing the creature’s fangs to ominously click.  The magician chuckled.

But still, the small man advanced using his spear to lunge forward, and then, with a quick movement, he propelled the spear into the creature, the spider emitting a cry and jumping back.

The small man continued to advance, however, and he jabbed his lance toward the spider, narrowing missing the creature.

Only then did Strikes Fast admit to Red Sky, “There be poison on my man’s spear.  Should he strike another blow upon your monster, it will die.  Be prepared.”

The war waged on and the spider continued to retreat, injured and in a hurry to get away.  The small man continued to advance, lunging his spear at the spider, and though he did not connect his lance with the spider again, each jab narrowly missed the unsightly monster.

Then, obviously seeking to get away from his opponent, the spider jumped up onto one of the lodge poles and quickly climbed upwards toward the top of the pole.  But, Strikes Fast’s little man did not back away; he continued to advance toward the creature, the little man appearing to be uninfluenced by gravity.

“No!  What are you doing?  Spider come back!” cried Red Sky.  But the spider didn’t listen to his owner.

“Call your man off!” cried Red Sky.  “Do you hear?  Call him off!”

“I will call my man back to me only if you will give me your promise to allow the girl to go with me.  Nor must you fight me in any way.”

The spider had now reached the top of the highest tepee pole.  And, Red Sky, looking upward at it, cried out, “You may have her.  You have my word on it.  Take her!  Now!  Hurry and go!  Take anything else of mine you wish to have, but call your man back!”

Without saying a word, Strikes Fast silently spoke to his magical man, and, opening his parfleche bag, allowed the man to jump back into it.  With the flick of his hand, the man became again no more than sticks and bone.

Arising, Strikes Fast stepped around the fire toward Sharon and, taking her by the hand, paced toward the entrance flap.  Bending, he let himself and Sharon out of Red Sky’s lodge, he, of course, being the first to exit the lodge, as was tradition.  He still grasped Sharon’s hand within his own.

Only then did he really look at the two ponies tied beside Red Sky’s lodge.  Earlier he had given them little attention, but now his gaze took in their obvious worth.

They were both black and white spotted horses and they looked to be strong.  Perhaps they were Red Sky’s best buffalo runners, the kind of horse valued more to the Indian heart than the white man’s gold.

Cutting them both from their bindings, Strikes Fast gave the reins of one of them to Sharon and kept one for himself.  And then, calmly, as though they had all the time in the world, he and Sharon walked out into the calm of a warm afternoon.

Well, that’s all for today.  I’ll be giving away the e-book of the 1st book in this series, SHE STEALS MY BREATH to one of the bloggers today.  So, please leave a message.  And, please be sure to read all the P &P rules that govern our giveaways — they are off to the right on this page.

Have a super day and a fabulous week.

Women and the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition

Today we welcome Linda Shenton Matchett to the Petticoats and Pistols Corral.

In December 1866, the American Civil War had been only been over for a little more than eighteen months. Tensions still ran high in many areas of the country. But one man was already looking toward the future. In ten years, the country would celebrate its centennial, and he had visions of a grand event, one that included nations from around the globe.

John L. Campbell, a professor at Wabash College in Indiana contacted Philadelphia Mayor Morton McMichael and suggested that his town would be the perfect place to hold the centennial. It would take four years of discussions, studies, and committee meetings, but the Philadelphia City Council finally agreed in January 1870. Another year was needed for the federal government to pass a bill to create a Centennial Commission. Oh, and by the way, the US government would not be liable for any expenses.

Douglas Shenton

A force to be reckoned with Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, great-great-granddaughter of founding father Benjamin Franklin, chaired the Women’s Centennial Exposition Committee. Tasked with selling subscriptions to raise $1 million, she “led an army of women through the neighborhoods.” They secured the pledges in a mere two days. In addition, she collected 82,000 signatures and obtained letters from all over the country that convinced Congress to lend $1.5 million to the exposition.

Building commenced, and eventually there would be 200 hundred buildings spread over the 450 acres of Fairmont Park. However, eleven months prior to the exhibition, Elizabeth was informed that the Main Hall no longer had room for women. Incensed, she once again turned to her committee who raised more $31,000 in four months to build a one-acre women’s pavilion that would eventually house seventy-four inventions patented by women, including a steam engine.

Douglas Shenton

Another woman saw the country’s one-hundred anniversary as the perfect place to present her “Declaration of the Rights of Women.” Wyoming had granted women the right to vote and hold office in 1869, followed by many other states and territories, but those rights did not carry to the federal level, and Susan B. Anthony had been criss-crossing the country for more than twenty-five years campaigning for a constitutional amendment.

Pixabay/David Mark

Prohibited from speaking at the July 4th celebration, she simply walked down the aisle of Independence Hall in the middle of Richard Henry Lee’s speech. Grandson and namesake of one of the Declaration of Independence signers, he watched as she handed the scroll tied in a navy-blue ribbon to the host, then turned and made her way out of the building, distributing copies to the clamoring crowd as she went. Outside in front of hundreds of people, she read the document in its entirety as the remaining copies were handed out. Newspapers covered the event and printed portions of the document. Word spread, and newspapers outside of Philadelphia picked up the story. Miss Anthony’s plan worked. She’d escalated visibility to the cause.

Unfortunately, she would not live to see the ratification of the 19th amendment forty-four years later.

Maeve’s Pledge

Pledges can’t be broken, can they?

Finally out from under her father’s tyrannical thumb, Maeve Wycliffe can live life on her terms. So what if everyone sees her as a spinster to be pitied. She’ll funnel her energies into what matters most: helping the less fortunate and getting women the right to vote. When she’s forced to team up with the local newspaper editor to further the cause, will her pledge to remain single get cropped?

Widower Gus Deighton sees no reason to tempt fate that he can find happiness a second time around. Well past his prime, who would want him anyway? He’ll continue to run his newspaper and cover Philadelphia’s upcoming centennial celebration. But when the local women’s suffrage group agrees that the wealthy, attractive, and very single Maeve Wycliffe act as their liaison, he finds it difficult to remain objective.

Maeve’s Pledge is part of the multi-author series Suffrage Spinsters but can be read as a standalone story. Grab your copy today and curl up with some history, hope, and happily ever after.

GIVEAWAY:  Linda attended the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee and was astonished at the displays, including technology that at the time seemed only possible in science fiction, but is now part of our everyday lives. To be entered in the random drawing fore-book copy of Maeve’s Pledge, leave a comment about a time when you attended an event (large or small) that impacted you in some way.

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry (of Star-Spangled Banner fame) and has lived in historical places all her life. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a former trustee for her local public library. She now lives in central New Hampshire where she explores the history of this great state and immerses herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

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Winning Maura’s Heart and a Giveaway!

“I lie awake and wonder what it might be like to kiss a man, to feel his arms holding me.”

At almost thirty, Maura Taggart had never been courted, been to a dance, or known a kiss. She’s lived the life of an outcast with her sister Emma due to their father’s profession as a hangman.

After tending the sick during a yellow fever epidemic, townsfolk run them out of town again but not before cutting Emma’s hair. Also unwanted are the orphans left behind when their parents died. Determined to make something worthwhile of their lives, to matter to someone, they take the orphans with them and open an orphanage in an abandoned Spanish mission.

The children name it Heaven’s Door because they believe there is a doorway from the orphanage to heaven and their parents watch over them.

Maura discovers a man near death and they take him in, unsure if he’s an outlaw or lawman. When the mysterious stranger can speak, he says his name is Calhoun, refusing to give more.

The time spent tending him draws Maura closer to him. The soft-spoken man has kind ways and loves the little orphans.

With a gentle finger, Calhoun lifted a strand of hair from her eyes. “Try to find someone else. There are hundreds of men better than me. I’m no good for you. Don’t you see? It’s better this way.”

Who is Calhoun? Who shot him? Maura tries to figure it out while keeping her heart locked. She has to keep the children safe and she knows he’s brought trouble to their door.

While writing this story, I did a lot of research and I found that not only were old West hangmen unwelcome once their job was done, but also their families. No one wanted them to live amongst them. Folks were quick to call for the hangman but once he’d dispensed of an outlaw, they wanted him gone.

In the old movies, he’s always alone. Rides in, doesn’t speak to anyone much, does his job and he rides away. I always wondered about their families. In the movies, they were never mentioned.

Even today, there is a certain distaste and even hate for those who carry out capital punishment. For that reason, the executioner is always hidden. We don’t have a name or anything.

I wrote Winning Maura’s Heart in the vein of the story Sommersby where the mystery of Richard Gere’s character is kept hidden. In my story, the identity of Calhoun isn’t revealed until the end but it draws speculation throughout the story.

Is he an outlaw or lawman?

This is a sweet romance and releases on March 7th. Click HERE for an excerpt!

Do you like stories where things aren’t straightforward? Or where certain characters’ true identities aren’t revealed until the very last? I’m giving away an autographed hardback to one person who comments.

* * * * *

Also, I have a Goodreads Giveaway going on with 50 copies of the book up for grabs! Click HERE to Enter!


Thank you for coming.

Alabastine Wall Coloring

I’ve been working on a super secret writing project, like some of the other Fillies, and the research has been so fun.

In one scene in my story, I wanted to have a character paint a room pink. Before I whipped out the paintbrush in the story, I decided I better do some research about the colors available at that time (hint: my story is historical!).

I Googled “paint colors 1890s” and one of the websites that popped up had images of old color samples. For a visual person, this was a treasure trove of detail!

But one of those samples really caught my attention.

It was from the Alabastine Company. Since the color I was searching for was this exact shade of pink, I did a search for Alabastine paint.

What I discovered was that they promoted their company as offering “Sanitary Wall Covering.”

What, now?

Alabastine claimed their product would “keep the walls sweet, fresh, pure, and healthful, — as pure as the natural rock from which Alabastine has its origin.” The health benefits touted for their “sanitary wall finish” included resisting problems associated with contagious diseases such as scarlet fever and typhoid because germs and insects would have anywhere to “set up housekeeping” on their superior finishes.


Melvin B. Church founded the Alabastine Company in New York in 1879. Something of an inventor, he tinkered with a new way to paint walls and formulated Alabastine.

The product was derived from gypsum that was mined from shale beds around Alabaster, Michigan. The paint was a base of calcined gypsum which took the place of the widely used calimine in wall coatings and finish.


During the early years of the 1900s, paint and stencils were a colorful and popular way to decorate the walls of a home. Alabastine capitalized on the trend. One of the company slogans was, “Alabastine Your Walls and Combine Healthfulness With Beauty.”



The product was a powder that was mixed with water and applied, rather like Plaster of Paris. The durable surface it created was reportedly easy to maintain and touch up. It could be applied over painted walls – or even wallpaper. One article said it could be modeled into tiles and sealed with varnish to use in kitchens and bathrooms.

The company produced a number of colorful advertisements in various magazines that included some of the most popular of the day like the Ladies Home Journal, the Delineator, and House Beautiful.

They also produced small booklets of stencil designs that were distributed to painters and decorates. Postcards with varied color schemes were printed by the thousands and distributed.  The company even maintained a staff of artists to help with color schemes and design. If you really want to see more of what they produce, an antique booklet is available at Abe Books for $75!

Sadly, the company went out of business in 1948 due to “mismanagement.”

At any rate, I thought it was neat to learn about this unique type of wall tint that I had no idea existed!

When it comes to decorating your home, do you like to paint?

Hate to paint? Fall somewhere in the middle?

Do you have a favorite room in your home?