I seem to be doing a lot of falling lately, except not in the physical sfall-leaves.jpgense, thank the dear Lord and all his angels! Although falling in any fashion sometimes isn’t the best thing.

clock.jpgSunday, we had to fall back and change our clocks. And with that one simple thing I fell into a tizzy, especially when I woke up shivering and had to get a blanket. It reminded me that I needed to prepare for chilly weather ahead. So I flew into my closet like a madwoman off of her prozac to put away or move my summer clothes and dig out the fall and winter ones. I have no idea why I wait for the time to change before it hits me. I can look out my window and see the falling leaves piling up in drifts like snow in the Rockies. It’s a real pretty sight, but all I’m seeing is the work involved. closet.jpgI hate raking leaves! In fact, I hate exercise in general. I’ve gotten real attached to my growing behind.   But back to my closet cleaning and the clock falling back. . .it’s like the two are a matched set. I seem to not have one without the other.

But, I did get my long sleeve shirts, sweaters, and what-not now where I can slip into ’em. Oh, and I also got all my clocks adjusted, all fifteen of them. I have clocks everywhere–on the microwave, in the car, by the bed, in the drawer. They’re all fixed and I can say that I’ve successfully fallen back an hour. Which is nice because it gave me an extra hour of sleep. Maybe I won’t fall into disrepair!

I’ve also fallen into debt, although not too awfully bad.  I’ve definitely fallen out of favor in certain circles if you know what I mean. I have a habit of falling into deep thought at times and people look at me like I’ve sprouted five heads. Especially if they were talking to me as I was doing the falling. Ha, maybe they just thought I was falling into some kind of trance!  Could be possible.

Falling in with a good crowd (that’s the P&P Fillies,) falling between the cracks might get me into trouble, falling smack dab in love I’ve done twice and don’t plan on doing it again, and I don’t plan on falling on a sword for anyone, friend or not so forget it. Once though I fell over my own two feet and broke my nose. Not good.

leaves.jpgSo, you get the picture. I’ve done a fair amount of falling in my life–over, under, across, down, into–every direction you can imagine. Just don’t ask me to fall under the bus, unless I’m raking leaves! I’d rather take a beating then rake up those little suckers

But, the burning question really is, did you fall back?  Tell me your “falling” stories.

Love And Marriage On The Trail

As promised, we continue on our journey via wagon train from Missouri to Oregon. And this time the subject is love and marriage on the trail.

Marriages on the frontier were often made before a girl was half through her adolescent year. According to one young woman mentioned in the “Women’s Diaries of Westward Journey,” “she was married at fifteen . . .those days the young men wondering why a girl was not married if she was still single when she was sixteen. That summer Judge Deady . . . came by . . . we all rode horseback . . . We met occasionally at weddings and other social doings,” and soon they were married.

There’s instance after instance of girls of fifteen or less marrying along the trail and soon finding themselves with child despite the painful lack of privacy for people “to whom the taboos of sex and other bodily functions were completely controlling.” Some women, for instance, could not even mention in their private diaries that they were pregnant. They merely noted the arrival of a baby.

Despite the lack of privacy, there was also a new freedom. Although most girls and women continued to ride sidesaddle and wear dresses, there were opportunities for romance not present in their previous lives.   An escape to a wooded river,  trips to replenish firewood,  close proximity over thousands of miles and through any number of hardships, evenings  sitting by fires while young men played a guitar, mouth organ or fiddles all promoted romance.

Once a wedding took place, the other members of a wagon train often held a Chivarie for the couple. One such description, again from the “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey”: ” Such a Chivarie as they got that night was enough to awaken the Seven Sleepers. The newly married couple occupied a wagon for sleeping apartments. The first notice that they had of any disturbance was when the most of the men and women in the company took hold of the wagon, the men at the tongue pulling, the women at the back pushing and ran the wagon a half mile out of the prairie. Then the fun began. Such banging of cans, shooting of guns, etc. and every noise conceivable was resorted to. The disturbance was kept up until midnight when the crowd dispersed, leaving the happy couple out on the prairie to rest undisturbed until morning when they came walking into camp amid cheers and congratulations.”

When babies came, as they often did on journeys lasting six to eight months, there was little time to rest or celebrate.  The train had to continue on and usually did the same day or the next morning birthing. And, remember, these wagons had no springs.

And the prospect of birth along the trail must have been terrorizing.   I imagine these women watched the horizon anxiously in the last days of pregnancy, trying to learn whether the weather would be calm or threatening, if the wagons were near or far from water, and, most important of all, if another woman was at hand.

And often there was not. If a wagon broke down, it was left. Families were separated along the way. One huge family of some ten wagons separated into three different groups along the way. No one could wait on a damaged or overloaded wagon for fear of being caught in the mountains during early winter. Some women were seen walking along the way by themselves, their wagon and man gone through some disaster.

The danger involved in pregnancy during these years on the trail — and the early years on the frontier — is most readily evident by one pioneer daughter. She grew up with four stepmothers in succession, each one dying in childbirth.

And so it was with love and marriage on the trail.


Guest Blogger Janette Kenny: Genuine Western Hospitality

onerealcowboy2.jpgonerealman2.jpgAn unwritten code of the west was that any cowboy caught on the trail at dusk could pretty much count on finding a hot meal and a bunk at any ranch.  Being a research junkie and nosy to boot, I decided to look into this open-door policy a bit deeper.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that some ranchers welcomed American and European sportsman to use their ranch as a base while they hunted big game.  In fact, they courted these guests to come to the West.  The reasons were varied and yet practical. Even with the railroad going coast-to-coast soon after the Civil War, news tended to travel slow.  Having “big city” or foreign guests was especially welcome in an area where newsworthy items were, for the most part, spread by word of mouth. 

Of course, there was another benefit to these visiting sportsmen, or “dudes,” and was that they could help control the wild game that preyed on their herds, thus saving ranchers time and resources.  I suppose that constituted just another way to “pay one’s way.” 

eatonranchcabin.jpgIt’s said that paying guest ranches came about in the early 1880s when a visitor at the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Territory was enjoying himself so that he offered to pay the Eatons to extend his stay there and also grant him the use of a horse.  Word of such an arrangement spread, and other ranchers began providing guest quarters. 

By the 1890s, more visitors ventured west to partake of the western hospitality and thrill of the hunt on the ranches that welcomed guests.    

Being raised on a farm, I know full well that some years farmers barely eek out a living.  Running a guest ranch quickly became more lucrative than raising cattle, especially in light of the devastating winter of 1885-86 when hundreds of thousands of cattle died in the blizzards and ranchers were facing bankruptcy.  For years after that devastation, many ranchers held on to their land simply by opening up their ranch to paying strangers.   The guest ranches were fairly split on what they offered visitors.  Some, like the Gros Ventre Lodge in the late 1890s, was noted for their big game hunts that attracted sportsmen from the U.S. and abroad.  Others, like the Custer Trail Ranch, maintained a working ranch so visitors could get a taste of authentic ranch life, from the mundane activities of ranching to the cowboy exhibitions held on ranches, which were the forerunner of the rodeo before it was an organized and recognized sport.   

newprairiecabinnexttooriginal.jpgBy the turn of the century, the railroad and ranchers teamed up to advertise guest ranches.  It was a lucrative deal for both parties, and today dude ranches are going strong all over the U.S. The Eaton brothers knew a good thing when they saw it back in the 1890s when the started the first guest ranch.  They moved their operation from North Dakota to Wolf, Wyoming in 1904, and soon provided extensive guided trails into the Yellowstone region for men – and women.  It’s the latter that snared my attention.  

After seeing a picture that included lady “dudes” sitting before their tents knitting in the wild, I knew I had to include this bit of history in a novel.  Of course, I took free license and made my guest ranch exclusively for woman – a surprise that my cowboy hero Gil Yancy was none to happy to be involved in.   I choose Wyoming as the setting for One Real Man, my April 08 release, partly because I love Wyoming, and partly because it offered women far more freedoms in the 1890s, starting with being the first state where women could vote. 

custertrailranchcourtesyosbornstudios.jpgMy heroine Josie desperately needed freedom, and Gil had his mind set on taking control of her ranch – and her.  Ah, both had a lot to learn and a lot to give up in order to have a happily ever after.  But oh, the rewards.    

To get the comments going, have you stayed on a guest ranch before?  If you had your preference, would you rather stay at a working ranch, or a resort ranch?  Me?  I’ll take the real cowboy any day.   

I’ll give away an autographed copy of my March debut, One Real Cowboy to one of the commenters.  You’re welcome to stop by my website (www.jankenny.com) to read more about my books, and me. 

November and Birthdays!

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning Western Romance Lovers!

 Strange topic for discussion, isn’t it?  But November means more to me than just Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season.  For me, it spells birthdays.  And today I’d love to hear about your birthday and anything special that you would like to share with us about them.

Okay, so why November and birthdays?  Well, it begins with my own, I supppose.  I’m a November baby.  Now, I must make mention here that I do not like my sign, never have.  And though some friends of mine might say that it fits me (somewhat at least) — to my way of thinking, it does not.

That aside, when I was young I always thought that my birthday was special, because in southern Illinois (where I grew up), November was probably the most beautiful month of the year.  Smells of leaves and the crisp air, combining with the scent of smoke from the leaves being burned (yes, in southern IL at that time, we burned our leaves) all made the month special for me.  However, never, not once in all my growing up, did I ever have an actual birthday party — not until I was older and with a family of my own did that ever occur.

2000-11.jpgMy children say that November is a tough time for them because of all the birthdays in the month.  To start off, there’s mine, then there’s my brother-in-law’s and my favorite cousin’s, then there’s my ex-hubby’s wife’s birthday toward the end of the month and then right at the end of the month is my ex-hubby’s birthday.   There’s also a good friend’s birthday in there, as well.  The above picture to the left by the way, is of a birthday party for my kids a few years ago.

 roadtr71.jpgThis is Sammy, enjoying a birthday, as well.  Now, let’s also take a look at the traditional Native American style birthdays.  In the Lakota nation — or as I have been told — it was once customary for the person with the birthday to give gifts, not get them.  Note that in Native America, sharing with others was natural and one of the highest honors accorded to an individual.  No man could hold office who squandered his riches to himself.  But don’t think that this was a form of socialism, as I have read others to envision.  Definitely not, since socialism denotes the action of force in taking away the assets of another to give to someone else (and not necessarily to someone else who is more in need — often that asset goes directly into the pockets of the already rich and not-so-famous).

In Native America, sharing was an act of kindness and an act of selflessness.  It was considered one of the highest actions a human being could bestow upon another, and nothing was ever taken from one by force (as in our income tax system).  Things were given to others to show respect and to show one’s love of one’s fellows.

tour99111.jpgSo please come and share your stories with me and with others today.  I and our wonderful audience of romance lovers, would very much delight in hearing from you.  But most of all, have a truly super November!

Mary’s winner is . . .


Congrats!  Mary will send you an autographed copy of PETTICOAT RANCH!  She’ll be in touch with you soon.

What a fun day!  Thank you, everyone!  But most of all, thank you, Mary, for sharing your stories, your wit, and your time!  This has been one for the record books!

Guest: Mary Connealy!

What I tried to do in Petticoat Ranch is get inside a man’s head.cover_petticoatranch_sm.jpg

I’m lucky I got out alive.

The comedy in Petticoat Ranch comes largely from my heroine Sophie thinking like a woman and my hero Clay thinking like a man. They have even less exposure to the opposite sex than is usual.

Well, Sophie’s had exposure, she’s just come away with a very dim view. Clay grew up around men in the Rocky Mountains. He’s completely lost.

All Clay knows about women he’s heard or made up. He expects quiet, polite little women folk to stay clean, stay inside, cook his dinner. He doesn’t quite get it that they’ve been living on their own on a Texas ranch for years.

All Sophie knows about men is from her worthless husband. She had to do most of the work when he was alive and keeping him happy—a hopeless task—was just one chore she didn’t have to do after he was dead. She expects little or nothing from her new husband.

I suppose it’s risky to ever believe you know what a man is thinking but I feel like I had a little better chance than a lot of people because of my husband.

Ivan comes from a family of seven sons. His mother is a saint. That woman can tell stories of blood and destruction and mayhem that would make Stephen King run screaming.

Now Ivan and I have four daughters. Watching the mystified way he reacts to the girls is funny.

If you’ve got sons and daughters both you know how brothers are. They torment their sisters for entertainment.
“Yay! I made her scream!”
“Yay! I made her cry!”
“Yay! I embarrassed her in front of her friends!”

Little brothers learn to not only accept those crying, screaming moments from sisters, they revel in them.  But to a man who’s never had a sister to torture, females remain very much a mystery. I’ve decided it’s one of those things you learn as part of your childhood development…or you never learn it at all.

So, once when one of the girls was crying over some trauma…I think she got called out in a softball game…or maybe benched…or scolded by the coach, I can’t remember. I was hugging her and listening to her cry it out and just generally doing this, “Oh, honey, oh sweet baby, you poor thing”…routine until the tears stopped. That’s what they seem to need.

Ivan came in and he saw her crying and he was furious. Injustice! Who made you cry? Why I oughta….

When his growling didn’t make her stop crying—shocker—he pulled out his billfold and offered her twenty dollars.
Well, my daughter is a bright little thing and after all, it’s not like she’d never lost a ball game before. She snatched the twenty and cheered right up.

Later, I had a little talk with him about the wisdom of teaching the girls that crying in front of a boy earns you money.
Hello emotional blackmail!
Hello romantic comedy novel.
Hello ‘Petticoat Ranch’.

img_6416.jpgI did research for the place—Texas. The history, the flora and fauna, the clothing, the ranching, the lingo. But the kernel of the story comes from my real life Petticoat Ranch.

What do you think? Are heroes harder for women authors to write? Do we really know what’s going on inside a man’s head? Are our heroes all romanticized? Are they doing what we wish they’d do instead of what a man really does?

I’m going to have a drawing for an autographed copy of Petticoat Ranch today. Everyone who leaves a comment has their name thrown in the hat.

Happy Halloween!


Those of us here at Petticoats & Pistols want to wish you all a spook-tacular Halloween!

To show how much we appreciate all the fun we have with you, we’ll be posting throughout the day.

So keep checking back!  And keep scrolling down!



horseheader1.jpeHAPPY HALLOWEEN!

For all of you die-hard nutritionalists — or just for all those who want to eat cleanly, here’s my recipe for Halloween Brownie Protein Bars.


1 3/4 cups Egg White protein powder — I use Jay Robb

1-4 cup Rice Protein Powder — organic if possible

2 Tblsp. edible vegetable glycerin — or maple syrup if you can’t find the vegetable glycerin at your health food store

7-8 teasp. pure stevia — get at a health food store

3 tblsp. cocoa powder — organic if possible

4 tblsp. butter

5 – 6 tblsp. coconut oil — get at a health food store, please — the kind you find in most grocery stores is not a good source

If too gooey, add more protein powder.  Pat flat and cut into pumpkin shapes, adding pecans as decoration.

Okay, it’s not like this is as good as a cookie, but it’s healthy — gives you the protein the body so needs and tastes better than any other protein bar out there on the market.  HAVE FUN!