SHE STEALS MY BREATH — Why Montana? And Why a Snow Storm?


Welcome!  Welcome!

This is one of our fun days here at the P & P Blog, where we get to talk about things we don’t usually blog about.  Now, interestingly,, Linda Broday asked me recently (when we were talking about the blog) how I decide on the places I write about — the locations.

It was a question I’d never given much thought to until she suggested it and then decided it would be great to talk about it.  Particularly this most recent story.

Usually, the story itself sets the location, as well as the tribe I’m writing about.  The Wild West Series was a fun series to write because it was a Western set in both England and New York, which I found to be exciting.

This new story, She Steals My Breath, was inspired by the passing of a good friend of mine and my husband’s — Native American Actor, Steve Reevis.  Because he is Blackfeet, this took my story line to Montana, of course.  But, a couple of years ago, I had visited my Blackfeet sister on the reservation and she mentioned they’d had eight feet of snow that winter.

Eight feet!  Wow!

And then I realized that, although I’ve written books about the Blackfeet before, they were always set in the summer, and yet where the Blackfeet are in Montana, they have long winters and often there are blizzards and squalls, much snow and below zero temperatures.  There is a book I was reading recently entitled, “Yellow Wolf, His Own Story,” by L. V. McWhorter and in that story Yellow Wolf makes the point that even hardy men, used to the weather changes in the northern regions could freeze in a matter of minutes if they weren’t prepared for it.

And so, I decided to set a Blackfeet tale in the winter months in Montana.  By the way, the picture here to the left is Steve Reevis in the Movie, The Last of the Dogmen.

This recent book, She Steals my Breath, is book #1 in the Medicine Man series.  This is a bit of a different kind of story for me since this series lends itself into going a little deeper into the customs and mores of the Blackfeet and in particular the medicine men.  I have to admit that I have a lot to learn about these men, who were trusted by their people to help them through hard times.  And, one of the things I found that has fascinated me is that they realized their ethics had to be without fault, because if they were to go down the path of darkness even a little or black magic (so to speak), they would lose their ability to help and perhaps to heal the people who came to them for help.  Their code of ethics was strict.  It had to be and they felt such an obligation to their people, few ever stepped off this moral and ethical high ground.

Here is a fact I had little knowledge of prior to my study:  The Medicine Men had many rituals that weren’t really about magic, but were rituals to enable them to become like a “hollow bone,” so the Creator (God) could work through them.  This comes to me from the book, Fools Crow by Thomas E. Mails.  In writing about the medicine men, I am realizing more and more that I’ve had a rather false idea of them due to Hollywood movies.  I have always realized Hollywood’s depiction of the Indian warrior was not a true image, but I hadn’t taken into account that their depiction of the medicine man might also be one which is very far from the truth.  I am still learning.

I’m going to leave you with an interview recently done with me about this book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH, and then I thought I’d share an excerpt of the book with you.  Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this, about the interview, the medicine men or the excerpt or anything else you’d like to say or ask.  So, without further ado, here at the start is this short interview:

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write She Steals My Breath?

Lately, I’ve been at a point in my life where I really wanted a story where the hero was, indeed, a very muscular and handsome hero, but also a very kind hero. The Native American Medicine Man could be such a person. If the man were to be a true medicine man, he understood his power came from God, or whatever it was in his own language that he called God. Because of this, they had to adhere to a very strict code of ethics, and part of that code was kindness.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of She Steals My Breath, what would they be?

“You Raise Me Up.”

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Romance to both questions. I enjoy all sub-genres of Romance. But, my heart is particularly drawn to Historical, Native American, Romance.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Adolf Hungry Wolf; and “Blackfeet Tales of Glacier National Park,” by James Willard Schultz

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I think the very beginning scene in chapter one, where the hero and heroine first meet each other and speak to each other in sign language.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Not really, although I might take this as a suggestion and try to adopt some training pattern of one kind or another.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Upon thinking about this, perhaps it might be that the real path to spiritual enlightenment is a very narrow path. One would do well to read about the philosophy of the Lakota Medicine Man, Fools Crow, and that one has to be strong to resist the temptation to commit an evil act.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Again, I had to ponder this for a bit. And I think it might be this: that there was, and still is, a lot to be learned about these ways of life that might be passing away under the thrust of “civilization.”



Karen Kay is the author of the new book She Steals My Breath

Connect with Karen Kay

Author Site


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B09TNDS67H cover image

And now, I’d like to leave this post with an excerpt from the book:


Eagle Heart was honestly worried, and, to counter this, he reached out into the environment, looking for She-steals-my-breath in the age-old manner of communication known and practiced by and between medicine men, as well as the Indian scout.  Was she still alive?

He could no longer check his path for accuracy.  The snow was too thick and spinning about the ground, and he could not see even a few hand lengths in front of him.  There was now danger of losing his direction, as well.  But, he wouldn’t be turned away.  No woman as beautiful as she should be made to die because her man did not understand the dangers of this land.

He reached out to her with his mind until he thought he’d found her, then said to her in the ancient way of medicine men, “I am coming for you.  You must talk back to me with your mind so I can locate where you are.  The snow is too dense, and I could lose my way.  Can you speak to me with your mind so I can find you?”

“Yes,” came her response.

With relief, he let out a deep breath.  She had heard him and had even spoken back.  He reached out again with his mind and said, “It is I, Eagle Heart, from the Pikuni tribe.  Are you cold?”

“Yes.  My fingers are frozen, I fear.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Yes,” she answered with her mind.  “I can’t move my right leg and my right arm.  I fell upon them.  My spine is hurt, too, I think.  Maybe it’s broken, for the agony in my spine when I try to move is very painful.”

“I understand.  You must remain warm, for the blizzard is coming upon us fast.  I am going to see if there are wolves close to you who might come and surround you to keep you warm until I can get to you.”

“Wolves?  I’m afraid of wolves.”

“You will not be afraid of these.  I will try to find them and speak to them so they can come to you.  If I locate them, they will help you and keep you from freezing.  Do not be afraid of them.”

“But, how can you do this?” she asked.  “Talk to wolves?”

“I am speaking to you this way.  I can also speak thusly to the wolves.  I will send them to you.  Do not be afraid of them.”

The communication between them stopped, and, quickly, he reached out to her again and said, using the same ancient manner of communication, “You must keep talking to me with your mind even if I do not answer, for I am also seeking to find the wolves.  Wait!  I have found them.  They are close and will come to help you.  Let them keep you warm.”

“I will try,” she silently spoke back to him.  “If I am to continue talking to you, as you say, what shall I tell you?  I know not how to help you find me, and I am afraid for my life because I am so cold.  Is there something else I could talk to you about to keep my mind off my fear?”

“Tell me about yourself.  Why are you here?  Are you in love with the man you are to marry?”

He sensed she might have found a little humor in his question.  This was good.  If she could laugh—even a little—perhaps she wouldn’t center all her attention on her fear.

She silently spoke again in the mind-to-mind speak and said, “My name is Laylah McIntosh, and I have come here to help my father and also to marry the man I am engaged to.”

“Do you love him?”

“Why do you ask?”

“It matters.”

“Then I will tell you honestly,” she told him, “that I don’t know if I love him or not.  I have believed I am in love with him, but recently I am beginning to experience doubts.”

“How old are you?”

“I am eighteen years old.  How old are you?”

“I am twenty and four snows.”

“Snows?  Do you mean years?”


“Mr. Eagle Heart, the wolves are here.  I am afraid of them.”

“Do not be.  Let them lie next to you.  They have answered my plea and are there to help you.  You are close to me now.  I have found the coulee, for I almost fell into it when I dismounted from my horse.”

“Are you certain it is the coulee I am in?”

“Yes.  The snow here is already deep.  I do not wish my horses to lose their footing, so they and I must climb down to you slowly, one step after another.”

“I understand.  Should I keep talking to you with my mind?”


It was a slow, tortuous climb down the incline.  But, at last, he and his ponies managed to step onto a more level ground and he found her lying there before him.  Indeed, he almost stepped on one of the wolves who had come to surround her.  He then said to her with his mind only, “I am here, but you must continue to speak to me silently and with your mind, for I must construct a shelter for us.  Do not let yourself sleep.  Stay awake.”

“Very well.  Should I continue to talk, then?”

“Yes.  Can you see me?”

“No.  The swirling of the snow is too thick.”

“I am going to bend down toward you.  Do not fear me.  I am going to feel your body for injury.  I shall try to touch your arm, your leg and your spine.”

So saying, he bent toward her while the wind blew the snow around them.  Reaching out to her, he felt underneath the blankets placed over her and ran his hands along her right arm and right leg.  He said in Blackfeet, “I believe both your arm and your leg might be broken.  I cannot feel your spine at this moment.  I will need to move you carefully into a shelter, where I can determine if you have broken bones or if your muscles are merely strained.”

“I don’t understand you,” she said in English, but he was aware of the concept of what she said anyway.

He nodded, then realized the snow was so thick, she couldn’t see the movement.  He repeated his words, but with the mind-to-mind talk only.  Then he told her, “I must make us a shelter and a travois so I can move you without further injury.  Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“I have a warm buffalo robe to place over you to keep you as warm as possible.  Stay close to the wolves and allow them to share the robe while I make a shelter and a travois to carry you. You have only to reach out to me with your mind if you need me.  Thank you, my friends.  My family.  Please stay with her a little while longer.  And, even when the storm passes, please stay close to me if you can.  I might need your help again.”

Only then did he rise to his feet, and he soon left to build a shelter that might keep them warm against the storm.  And, it had to be quickly done.


Laylah felt a little warmer, but she was still very cold.  It seemed as if the temperature had dipped even further, causing her to wonder if the air in the canyon was well below freezing.  She couldn’t feel her fingers anymore and her toes were now following the same pattern as her fingers.

With her mind, she reached out to Eagle Heart and said, “I believe I am freezing to death.”

He didn’t answer.  Was he still there?  She panicked.  “Eagle Heart, are you still here?” she yelled out in English.

“I have not left you,” he answered without words.  “I must secure a shelter.  Keep awake.  Do not freeze.  It will be ready soon.  Instead of the cold and snow, think of a fire and how warm you are as you sit beside it.”

“I will try.”

The communication dropped then between them, and she felt so sleepy of a sudden, she could barely keep her eyes open.  But, she tried to envision a fire and its warmth.

She wasn’t aware how long it was before she felt him beside her again.  Carefully, and yet with manly strength, she could feel him lifting her onto some contraption that she thought must be made out of wood, for she could feel some of its branches beneath her.  Then, she was aware they were moving through the spinning, heavily-falling snow.

But soon, a particular kind of tiredness closed in upon her.

“Do not sleep,” he said, using his mind only.

“I must.”

“No, do not do it.  We are almost at the shelter.  Keep awake.  Speak to me, either with your mind or words.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“I tried thinking of the fire.  But, I was so cold, I couldn’t do it any longer.”

“Then, tell me of things you find joy in.”

“Christmas, new clothes.  Fashion.  Strips of cloth I use to curl my hair.  And you.  I am suddenly thinking you bring me joy.”

“You flatter me.  We are here at the shelter at last.  Do not leave me.”

“It’s so hard to keep from sleeping.”

Suddenly, his arms were around her, and she was so cold she didn’t feel the pain when he picked her up.  Soon, he was carrying her into a place of warmth.

He deposited her onto something soft, and, without pausing a moment, he began to rub her hands and then her feet.  It went on and on.  She felt his hands all over her.

Suddenly he was speaking to her in concepts only again.  “Do not be alarmed.  I must remove your clothing, for it is wet and frozen.  I have a warm robe that is not wet, and I will wrap you in it.  I will have to move you a little to remove the clothing from you.  I might have to cut some of your clothing from you.”

She didn’t answer.  It was beyond her.

Again, with his mind alone, he said, “Talk to me.”  When she didn’t answer, she heard him speak to her in his own language.  She tried to communicate back to him, but found she couldn’t and so remained silent.

However, she held on to the sound of his voice, afraid to sleep for fear she might not wake up.  There was a quality about his words she found beautiful, and she responded to his voice and to him, refusing to give in to the darkness.  Indeed, it was as though with his touch and his voice alone, he was keeping her alive and conscious.

She felt him pick her up and wrap her in something very warm, and, as she settled back into its heat and against her bed, sleep claimed her at last.

Well, that’s all for today.  Don’t forget to come on in and leave a comment.


The Wild Horses of Arizona’s Salt River Valley

So, this happened a couple weeks ago. I was working on a new book idea for my publisher and wound up researching the the wild horses of the Salt River Valley. In my story, the heroine and heroine are part of a small group of people being chased by the bad guys through the Superstition Mountains (here in Arizona) during a horrendous downpour. FYI, the Superstition Mountains are where the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Mine is supposedly located. Several times during my characters’ dangerous trek through the mountains (am I doing a good job building suspense?) they encounter a small herd of free roaming horses. The horses are former ranching stock that were set free years earlier during a fire in an attempt to save them. The ranch horses then joined a herd of wild horses and were never recaptured. Still with me?

Where am I going with all this, you may ask. Well, I wound up reading quite a bit about the wild horse of the Salt River Valley, which I’ve been fortunate enough to see myself several times over the years. The Salt River runs from east to west through central Arizona, first junctioning with the Verde River and then the Gila River. It’s also very near where I’m setting my story, and there are lots of ranches in the area — which is good because this all makes sense for my book.


According to local history, horses have been living wild in the Salt River Valley since at least the early 1900s, but probably for much, much longer than that. In 1687, Missionary Father Eusebio Keno (or Kino, I’ve found both spellings) traveled the southern part of Arizona and is supposed to have left hundreds of horses and cattle at the many missions founded by the Spaniards. Horses aren’t native to American, so every single one living here now, or has ever lived here, was either brought to this country or descended from a horse brought to this country. According to some DNA studies being done on the Salt River Valley wild horses, they are approximately three-percent Spanish colonial descent. Not bad. According to Embark, my dog is two-percent wolf 🙂

Like in a lot of states, there’s controversy surrounding the wild horses if the Salt River Valley. The value of preserving wildlife versus impact on the land is hotly debated. Currently, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, and others, are working diligently to protect Arizona’s “mustangs” and, as of now, their efforts are paying off. If you kayak or tube down the Salt River, like I have (okay, I was younger and a little fitter), you have a good chance of spotting wild horses. This sight is pretty inspiring and makes for a great plot element in a western romance book!

My Southwestern Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I’ve just recently returned from a week long family vacation to Arizona where we had an absolute blast.  There were twelve members in our group, though we didn’t all travel together. Me, my husband and two of our kids flew together into Flagstaff.  My oldest daughter and her husband flew into with plans to drive to the Grand Canyon from there.  And my youngest daughter and her extended family (a group of 6) decided to drive and make several stops along the way.  All through the week our groups came together in a very fluid way, different combinations breaking off on different days to do things of particular interest to them. But by mid-week we were all together at Bright Angel Lodge on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  For about half the group it was their first time to view this awesome wonder in person and they were blown away by the views.  For the rest of us, revisiting the place had almost as big an impact as seeing it for the first time.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what we experienced by sharing just some of the many pictures we took.

Flagstaff was our home base for this trip. Our first full day there, we took the scenic drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, stopping at several points along the way to admire the scenery and take pictures.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to take a trip out to the nearby Lowell Observatory. We were lucky in that there was a cloudless sky and we were able to get clear views of the sun, moon, Saturn and  Jupiter through the many telescopes they had set out.  Seeing the actual rings of Saturn as well as the pencil dot moons was VERY cool.

The next day we all headed out to the Grand Canyon Notional Park.  Six of us decided to take the two hour train ride out of nearby Williams to get there. Williams is a fun place right on Route 66. They are set up to entertain tourists and there are fun little Wild West shows at the train station you can watch while waiting on departure time.  The train ride itself was fun (it was my first time on a train) and as you can see from the photo below it was quite comfy 🙂

We spent two days at the park itself, staying in cabins at the wonderful Bright Angel Lodge which is located right on the south rim itself.

Our first day there we  just enjoyed the area around the lodge and got the lay of the land. Our second day, we all headed in different directions.  Four of our group decided to hike down into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail (it goes without saying I wasn’t one of their number!).

The rest of us went on various exploration trips. Hubby and I saw both the Desert View Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest, two structures designed in the early twentieth century by Mary Colter, one of the few females architects of her time.

We also stopped at a lot of the viewing sights along the way. At one particular spot hubby spotted a rock formation that resembled a human profile. I took a photo of it – can you make it out? We also spotted several elk along the roadside and folks in our group managed to get photos of two of them.

After two days at the Grand Canyon, we headed out, again splitting into two groups, those that were driving the whole way started home, the rest of us headed back to Flagstaff. Along the way, though, we visited a wildlife park called Bearizona.  There were lots of different kinds of animals there – mountain goats, buffalo, wolves and more – but my favorites were the bears. And we got photos of two especially enterprising ones that found a way to cool off.

Our last day out we revisited Sedona for a jeep tour of the area.  It was a teeth-rattling bumpy ride but so worth it for the views.  Here is a picture our driver took of the four of us.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to cap off our vacation with a trip to the Snowbowl. It’s a ski lift that operates in the off season to take tourists up to the top of the peak. It’s a thirty minute ride that carries you up to an ear-popping elevation of 11,500 feet.

And then it was time to head home.

As I said it was a wonderful vacation, one that will make me smile whenever I remember it.

What about you? Have you ever visited this part of our country? And do you have a favorite vacation you look back on fondly?




Honey Bees and The Westward Expansion (Again)

WG Logo 2015-04

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m currently bogged down trying to whittle away at a massive to-do list so I hope you’ll forgive me for recycling an older article, one I originally posted about 5 years ago. I drafted this one right before my book The Proper Wife released because it tied to a scene in that book.

Hope you enjoy the revisit!


This book (The Proper Wife) was a lot of fun to write – the characters of Eli and Sadie were such seeming opposites that getting them to their Happily-ever-after took quite some doing.

One of the scenes in this book hinged on Sadie deciding she needed to harvest honey from a beehive whose location was a carefully guarded secret.  Since I had no experience with or knowledge of bees and honey gathering, especially from a nineteenth century perspective, this meant I had to dig in and do a bit of research.  And, as usual, my research took me down an unexpected but fascinating trail.


One of the intriguing little tidbits I stumbled across was that, while there are many species of bees that are indigenous to the Americas, honey bees are not.  This took me completely by surprise – I’d always assumed they were a native species.  It is not known exactly when they first arrived here, but it is certain they came over with the early colonists as they were considered essential for both the wax and honey they produced.  Honey bee hives were mentioned in journals and shipping records as early as 1622.  However, it would take another 231 years for these highly prized insects to reach the west coast.

One could actually say that the journey of the honeybee across America mirrored that of the settlers.  They faced some of the same barriers – disease, harsh climates, predators, resource competitors, and geographical roadblocks – that hindered their advance.  But the human and apian settlers had a very symbiotic relationship during this westward push.  The honey bees not only provided honey and wax for the settlers, they often arrived in advance and helped to spread the white clover and other European grasses that the imported livestock favored.  In return, the humans planted countless acres of land with crops that were favorable to honey bee populations, built hives, and more importantly transported them over terrains such as treeless plains and mountain ranges that would have been difficult for the honey bees to cross on their own.

In fact, it is doubtful the honey bees could have crossed the Rocky Mountains without the help of humans.  Some settlers transported hives during their own overland travels, others had them shipped around the horn of South America.  But it was no easy task.  There is a story that tells of an 1846 attempt to bring honey bees to Oregon.  A settler who was planning a trip using the Applegate Trail was offered $500 to deliver a hive of live honey bees.  The tale goes that he loaded up two hives just to make certain he arrived with at least one intact.  Unfortunately all the bees in both hives perished of cold and disease before they made it across the mountains.


It is reported that the first honey bees arrived in California in 1853.  These originated when 12 hives were purchased in Panama, transported across the Isthmus and then sent via ship to San Francisco.  Only one hive survived the trip but once there it flourished and eventually produced a number of swarms.

Of course, none of this history played a part in my  book.  The bee harvesting scene is quite short (but pivotal) and I really just needed to find out what a rustic hive might have looked like in the late nineteenth century and how one would go about collecting the honey.

How about you folks out there?  Any of you have experience with honey bees, either in the wild or in a man-made hive? If not, just let me know your favorite way to use honey (mine is in tea!)


And because I cheated a bit and recycled an older post, I’m going to make it up to you all with a giveaway. I’m going to select one name from all of those who answer the above question by noon tomorrow and that person can have their choice of any book from my backlist. Just check back to discover the name of the winner.

The Legend of the Geese

Phyliss sig horse and sunset

Sometimes I like to veer from my regular format for a blog. Today is one of those days. Since many of the P&P followers are writers, thus business folks just like our regular readers, I thought I’d share with you the legend of the Geese flying in the “V” formation. Whether you are writing, in a office setting, a Scout leader or the monarch of the family you have to work together. I believe this is just a great example of what we can learn from nature.


I certainly want to thank Grace Ford for sharing this wisdom from our feathered friends about the importance of good team work.

I. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for others behind him. This is 71 percent more flying range in V-Flying Geeseformation than flying alone. People who share a common direction and sense of common purpose can get there quicker.

II. Whenever a goose flies out of formation, it quickly feels the drag and tries to get back in position. It’s harder to do something alone than together.

III. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the head. Shared leadership and interdependence give us each a chance to lead as well as opportunities to rest.

IV. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.

V.  When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese fall out and stay with it until it revives or dies.  Stand by your colleagues in difficult times as well as in good.

Geese 2Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if every group who worked together lived by the lesson of the geese?

My question to you all is simply have you ever used a lesson of nature to help you through your life’s path or an others?


Out of the Texas NightHere’s a sneak preview of the cover of my newest book in the Kasota Springs Series Out of a Texas Night which will be out late this summer or early fall.

To one lucky winner today who leaves a comment, I will give you an eBook of the  first Kasota Springs Romance series, The Troubled Texan.

The Troubled Texan Good

Rue Allyn: The Spirit inside ONE NIGHT’S DESIRE

one nightLadies thank you very much for having me back to visit at Pistols and Petticoats. On my last visit I wrote about what traits define a book as being a western historical romance. Today, I want to discuss the spirit inside my newest book One Night’s Desire.

Since One Night’s Desire is a romance a huge claim could be made that the spirit of the book is love. However, there’s more to this book than romance. The words of Chief Ranger Don Sholly, speaking about Yellowstone National Park as a resource also define the spirit of One Night’s Desire. Ranger Sholly said, “The resource is not twenty thousand elk, or a million lodgpole pines, or a grizzly bear. The resource is wildness. The interplay of all the parts of the wilderness. . . .” I would paraphrase that the spirit of One Night’s Desire is not the love that grows between Ev and Kiera, nor the fires, trials, and plots that endanger and unite them, nor the time period, nor the western setting, the spirit of One Night’s Desire is wildness. A union of all the parts of the story that creates an intensity so special no limits can contain it. Hundreds of examples of this wildness exist in the novel but none illustrates my point better than the wolves. The pair of wolves appears only briefly in the story but the appearances are pivotal. They appear at the moment when Ev and Kiera first make love. The pair appears again at the moment of greatest shared danger when it looks like Ev and Kiera won’t survive a forest fire. The pair appears once more when Kiera is forced to leave a badly injured Ev in order to save another life.

Why wolves? A number of reasons, beginning with the fact that these animals are true representations of the wild—you don’t tame wolves. They do mate for life. ”These creatures do mate for life in the social sense of living together in pairs but they rarely stay strictly faithful.”* Most important for One Night’s Desire the wolf is regarded by the Shoshone (who are Kiera’s friends) as very wise. Thus the wolf is a significant representation of the wild spirit embodied in One Night’s Desire.

Here are some interesting Wolf factoids drawn from the Yellowstone Trivia book:

Wolves once had the widest distribution of any land mammal in North America.

Wolves were completely absent from Yellowstone for 70 years until they were re-introduced in 1995.

Coyotes howl more than Wolves.

Wolves do not howl at the moon. They howl to attract a mate and they never howl while hunting.



Two Chances to Win a Free E-Download of One Night’s Desire.

Leave a comment here about this post, wolves, the national parks, or any topic you prefer AND/OR 

Leave a review of one of my currently available books at Amazon. Just check my author page for book details

I’ll be collecting entries throughout the entire One Night’s Desire release tour (June 13 – July 29—find the schedule of appearances at The winner will be announced July 31st on my blog

If you’d like to know more about One Night’s Desire here’s the blurb followed by a link to an excerpt.

A WOMAN ON THE RUN: Rustlers, claim jumpers and fire, nothing will stop Kiera Alden from reuniting her family.  But an accusation of murder threatens her dreams and sets Marshall Evrett Quinn on her trail.  She may be able to escape prison bars and eventually prove her innocence, but she can’t escape Quinn’s love.

A LAWMAN IN HOT PURSUIT:  Marshall Evrett Quinn is relentless in pursuit of law-breakers, and pretty Kiera Alden is no exception.  Clever and courageous, she evades him until a chance encounter turns the tables.  Finally he has this elusive desperado under arrest, but success is bittersweet when she captures his heart.


BUY LINKS: One Night’s Desire and its sister book One Moment’s Pleasure are heavily discounted at Amazon for the entire month of July

ABOUT RUE: Author of historical, contemporary, and erotic romances, Rue Allyn fell in love with happily ever after the day she heard her first story. She is deliriously married to her sweetheart of many years and loves to hear from readers about their favorite books and real life adventures.  Learn more about Rue and her books at









For Love of the Wolf


Wolves have always played a fascinating roll in western novels.  There is a mystique about the animals that stems as much from misinformation as information. This week I visited the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary in Montgomery, Texas. It is less than a twenty minute drive from my house, but I felt as if I were a world away.


We parked at the end of a country road and then walked up a gravel path to the place where the mostly rescued animals were held. While caged, they were being tended by a host of volunteers who were also petting and playing with the animals as one would a familiar pet. My fourteen-year-old grandson was with me and he was quickly as intrigued by the animals as I.


The first woman we met was Reverend Jean LeFevre, the founder and the heart behind the sanctuary. As she told us a little about herself and the animals, we could feel her love for them. She has truly led a fascinating life. One of the things she didn’t tell us but which I read on the website explained a lot about her knowledge and respect for the wolves.


“My first hands-on experience with a wolf was White Tornado, in 1976. She was a white wolf living with Grandmother Twylah Nitsch of the Seneca -Wolf Clan- Iroquois Nation, my friend, and a mentor who has blessed my life. White Tornado was an amazing animal, full of energy and love. She showed me the gentleness of her kind and the love and spiritual learning that they can give to us. I have always been fascinated with the Indian lore of the Wolf and their mysticism and feel myself privileged to be able to experience it first hand.”




While we were at the site, two volunteer handlers who obviously loved the wolfdogs (a mix of wolf and dog) had us sit still while they led the wolf dogs past us so that they could get used to our smell. Then we were allowed to pet the wolves that seemed to love the attention.  It was easy to tell from the feel of the coats which ones were predominantly wolf. Their hair was sticky, almost scratchy.


The mission of the sanctuary as stated on their website is: “Saint Francis Wolf Sanctuary (SFWS) is dedicated to the care of rescued, non-releasable wolves and wolfdogs. We do not breed, buy, sell, or trade them. They have often been rescued from dire circumstances. Many have suffered much at the hands of humans; others were simply discarded by their caretakers. We believe they deserve a stable home for the rest of their natural lives, with an abundance of loving and compassionate care.”


They also help educate the public and try to dispel the myths about wolves.  To learn more about the sanctuary, visit their website at




And don’t forget that Trumped Up Charges is on the shelves now. When a mother’s love meets a father’s instinct. Read an excerpt at:







Wildflowers of Texas

When most people think about wildflowers of Texas they immediately go to our beautiful state flower the bluebonnet; which I must agree are absolutely one of the most beautiful wildflowers that exist.  But they don’t grow wild or even from seed very well in all parts of the state. You’ll find them in early spring in fields and along the roadsides through central and south Texas and are in abundance in the Hill Country around San Antonio. They were named for their color and resemblance of their petals to a woman’s sunbonnet. Of interest, it is against the state law for any state employee or contractor to mow down any wildflower when they are in bloom. 

Where I live in the Texas Panhandle which is also referred to as the High Plains because we’re up on “the caprock” you don’t see the bluebonnet other than in well maintained private gardens.  But we have some very beautiful wildflowers that are conducive to our weather and soil. 

The beautiful and impressive Indian blanket grows along roadsides and in pastures, covering large areas, sometimes up to forty acres or more, like the bluebonnet.  They are also good garden flowers.  Each has ten to twenty ray flowers, sometimes all red but usually marked with brilliant yellow on the ends of the rays, forming a band along the outside.  The disk, or center, is brownish.  

In West Texas they have Gyp Indian Blanket, which although they share a similar name, they are totally different.  I get them confused easily.  The Gyp Indian Blanket stands very tall at twelve to eighteen inches, has bare flower stems with leaves at the base of the plant.  The ray flowers are yellow and deeply cut into three lobes.  They have a large brown center that remains once the ray flowers fall off making it very striking in appearance. 

The yucca of the agava family, also known as Spanish dagger, flourishes over much of Texas, but is more common in our area.  It attains heights of eighteen feet or more.  A huge mass of white blossoms appears in spring and sometimes after the fall rains.  When I was in grade school, one of my favorite things to do was to draw dried yucca pods in art class.  When the blooms fall the heads turn to some of the most beautiful hues of browns, oranges, and sometimes they are tinged with purples and reds.

Last year was one of the biggest invasions of moths that we’ve had in years.  Thanks to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, I can share with you how the yucca was involved with the huge crop of moths; sometimes we call them miller bugs.

Yuccas are a wonderful illustration of how interconnected everything in nature is. Each species of yucca has a specific species of moth that pollinates it. Each depends on the other. The yucca depends on the moth to pollinate it, and the month depends on the yucca to provide food and shelter for its young.  Neither would survive without the other.

After being fertilized by the male, a female yucca moth spends her life making sure there will be enough food for her young.  When the yucca flowers open in the evening, she gathers pollen and rolls it into a ball. She lays her eggs on the pistil of the flower and rubs the pollen on the stigma. In this way, the yucca flower is pollinated and the moth makes sure that her young will have seeds to feed on when they hatch. After repeating this process several times, the yucca moth dies.

Seeds and moth larvae develop together in the ovary of the yucca flower, with the moth caterpillars eating the seeds. Since there are only two or three yucca moth caterpillars in each ovary and hundreds of seeds, there are enough seeds to feed the caterpillars and produce yucca offspring. When it is ready to form a chrysalis, the yucca caterpillar chews its way through the ovary, crawls through the hole and lowers itself to the ground on a thread it spins itself. Once on the ground, the caterpillar burrows into the soil, completes its metamorphosis, and emerges as an adult moth the following year as the yuccas begin to bloom. And, the cycle begins again. Since we had an invasion of moths last year, this circle of life seems very interesting! Perhaps just signs of God restoring our lands?

The genus name of the yucca moth is Pronuba. According to Roman mythology, Pronuba was the foundress of marriage, and a woman

who arranged marriages became known as pronuba. Yuccas were used by Native Americans medicinally. Yucca juice was used as diuretics and laxatives, and mashed and boiled roots were used to treat diabetes. Yucca roots can be used to make a good soap. Yucca is an important fiber plant and it has been used to make rope, sandals, and cloth. In my research for “Give Me a Texas Ranger” I learned that they used to make bootleg liquor from yucca.

What is your favorite wildflower?

To one lucky person who leaves a comment, I will send you a copy of our anthology, Give Me a Texas Ranger autographed by all four authors, Jodi Thomas, fellow Filly Linda Broday, DeWanna Pace and Phyliss Miranda.


A special thanks to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for their information on the correlation between the yucca and the moth; and to my friend Natalie Bright for sending it to me.

Wild Wonderful West Virginia!

Hi everyone! I wanted to share some beautiful pictures of my “second home” — the state of West Virginia. My dad got transferred out there with his company when I was a senior in high school. I met my husband there (and have now made an “Okie” out of him!) These pictures were taken by a friend who is a native West Virginian, Rick Burgess. These are just a sample of all the beautiful pictures he has taken all over the state. Rick has a fantastic eye for color and composition, and although I believe these pictures belong in a book devoted to his photography, he has graciously  allowed me to show you West Virginia through his eyes. Let’s have a look!


This is a picture of the New River Gorge Bridge. It is beautiful and I’ve been there myself–this picture really does it justice! Yes, I drove over it–it’s 3030 feet long.  876 feet high.  70 feet wide.  88 million pounds of U.S. Cor Ten steel and American cement.  Opened and dedicated on October 22, 1977, the span has since become the symbol of West Virginia.










Look at this beautiful church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia.


Of course, there are horse lovers everywhere throughout the USA–and these beauties conjure up images of cowboys no matter where they might be!

Cooper’s Rock State Forest, at dusk… I’ve never been here, but next time we go back for a visit, I’d love to see it.

Misty morning in Pocahontas County…

I wonder where this road leads? Beautiful countryside, no matter where it goes. Thanks for joining me on this trip through West Virginia. And thanks to Rick Burgess for allowing me to show you his state through his camera lens!

Wildflowers of Texas

I had the opportunity to spend a few quiet days at a writer friend’s ranch established in 1895 here in the Texas Panhandle.  We began the day drinking coffee and watching the sunrise from the back porch and ended each day sitting on the front porch taking in the fantastic sunsets. We’ve had a lot of rain, so the wildflowers are really pretty right now.

In 1971 the bluebonnet of Texas was declared our official flower.  They aren’t native to our region of Texas, but I couldn’t start to describe any wildflower of Texas without beginning with the bluebonnet. They grow extensively over the state, primarily from the northeast to the southwest, but their greatest displays are on the limestone hillsides of Central Texas, creating large fields resembling a sea of blue. 

It’s not uncommon to see bluebonnets in fields of  impressive Indian blanket. To me they are one of the most beautiful wild flowers of Texas, especially mixed with bluebonnets.  Each has ten to twenty ray flowers, sometimes all red but usually marked with brilliant yellow on the ends of the rays, forming a yellow band along the outside.

A flower that typically gets confused with Indian blanket is Scarlet Paintbrush or Indian Paintbrush, as it’s more commonly known.  They represent one of  Texas’ most beautiful landscape displays. In the Hill Country around Austin and San Antonio large fields of red and blue, sometimes sprinkled with white prickly poppy are impressive sights.  The paintbrush plant grows between six and fifteen inches tall. Flowers with the attending floral leaves, called bracts, grow around the upper three or four inches of the stem.  The intense red-orange color is due to the bracts, which almost hide the inconspicuous cream-colored flowers. 

But the Whole Leaf Indian Paintbrush typically found in the Panhandle is about the same size as the Scarlet Paintbrush but it bears several leafy stems from a woody root.  The leaves are narrow, unlobed, and undivided.  The bracts are usually scarlet or cerise, sometimes yellow, mostly rounded on the outer edge.  Mixed with other wild flowers, it is easy to mix up the Indian blanket and the Indian Paintbrush because of the similarity in color.

To me one of the prettiest, yet oddest and deadly, plants found in Texas is the Jimsonweed.  You’ve probably heard it called devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, thorn apple, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, devil’s cucumber, Hell’s Bells, or moonflower, just to name a few.  The large, white, trumpet-shaped flower can be found from one end of the state to the other and is always a refreshing surprise. It is a spreading, busy plant, often three feet tall and between five and eight feet across.  The branches are mainly on the upper half.  The board leaves are four to ten inches long with fine hair, especially along the vein.  The flowers somestimes have a pale pinkish cast.  The petals are united to form a funnel.  But the surprise … they open in the evening and close by mid-morning.  On still evenings, hawk moths are apt to dart from flower to flower.  The plant is poisonous, but because of its bad odor and taste, thank goodness, livestock seldom eat it.

What is your favorite wildflower?