WOW!Twelve years! We’re almost a teenager. Exciting! 2007 seems like such a long time ago and yet, for me, it feels like it was only yesterday that I received an email from Pam Crooks one day in June. She asked me to embark on this wonderful journey with her and nine other authors.
My memory is a little fuzzy but if I recall in the email Pam outlined her vision of a website designed solely for western romance – both historical and contemporary—and devoted to promoting and talking about this genre. There were no sites out there like this.
Blogging itself was in the early stages and few were doing it. Hard to believe huh? It seems like the internet has always burst at the seams with these posts yet social media was just taking off.
Pam had to explain what a blog was. I felt like such a dummy! Totally clueless. I had never even seen a blog, even the word was foreign, but I did want to be in on this exciting adventure. We never expected to last long. Not one of us thought we’d be here TWELVE YEARS later.
I always wondered who gave Pam my name because I was an unknown back then. Hmmm.
Pam talks about forming in her own words: Long about May, 2007, Cheryl St.John and I got together over lunch and brainstormed the possibility of launching a site dedicated to western romance. Blogging was relatively new back then, and there wasn’t a site like we envisioned anywhere in the blogging world. We came up with a ton of ideas, more than we could even implement. We brainstormed names to call ourselves, discussed pages on the site, authors who might want to join us, possible guests to invite. Later, after a gazillion emails back and forth with our fellow western romance authors, the idea not only took off, but has proudly endured.
Here are the original group of Fillies:
Cheryl St. John
We became a family of sorts and a group of Fillies.
We blogged twice a month back then which was pretty grueling. We were all so busy.
Charlene Sands kicked us off with her blog – Love Westerns? Welcome to the Club! I remember how scared I was. My fingers were shaking so bad that I kept hitting all the wrong keys in my comment and had to keep correcting the typos. I think it took about 45 minutes to type a three or four sentence comment! I kept erasing and starting over because there was that fear of sounding ignorant sitting in the back of my mind. So funny.
I didn’t know what I’d gotten into. It was terrifying. The thought hit me that if I couldn’t write a simple comment how was I going to write a blog post. Oh man!! Lots of sweating in those days. My main goal was not to look totally stupid. If I could manage that, I was happy.
My first post was Love Those Cowboys! It only consisted of two paragraphs. HaHaHa! But, I didn’t look back and eventually got the hang of it and they didn’t kick me out.
Now, here we are still going strong. How long will our run last? You, dear followers, will decide that. As long as you keep coming, we’ll keep writing blogs.
I know what they are now!!!!
What do we have planned next? Who knows. You’ll just have to stay tuned.
Tell me what you enjoy, what keeps you coming back, or tell me when you first learned of blogs and began following some, and I’ll put you in a drawing for one of three $10 Amazon gift cards.
In the early years of 2000, this new thing called blogging was the rage. All the big-name authors were doing it, and lots of lesser-known ones were, too. I, for one, was more than a bit intimidated by the idea of having to come up with something interesting to say every day, and besides, who had the time? Certainly not me. I was writing and raising four daughters and taking care of a husband and juggling a parttime job, and well, darn it, I could just about care less.
Until it occurred to me there were no bloggers dedicated solely to western romance.
That was in the winter of 2007. The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. I discussed it with Cheryl St.John, who happens to live within walking distance of me. We met for lunch, discussed lots of fun ideas, tossed around names of western authors we could invite, hammered out a schedule, and by the time I paid the bill, the whole thing had turned absolutely brilliant.
A few short months later, we had a corral full of talented authors, whom I lovingly dubbed the fillies. They were:
and me – Pam Crooks
Four of the original Fillies remain — Charlene, Linda, Karen Kay, and me.
A gazillion emails later, we decided to call ourselves Petticoats and Pistols. I bought the domain, hired a webmistress, and on August 13, 2007, I wrote the very first post announcing our arrival upon the blogosphere.
I was so proud.
Until Cheryl St.John emailed me in a panic. “YOU NEED IMAGES!” she practically shouted through her keyboard.
Clearly, I had no idea what I was doing.
You can bet I found some images in a hurry, and evidently, any and all who noticed how green I was forgave me.
Eight years and 4,341 blogs later, we’re still here, and Petticoats and Pistols will forever have a special place in my heart.
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I remember how terrified I was, but I knew when Pam and company invited me to join them that it was too big a thing to pass up. I didn’t know a blessed thing about blogging, had never even heard of it, but I wanted to do it. What would I talk about? And who would read them? But those questions were a little premature. First I had to learn the program we use and still use today. For two weeks, we practiced writing blogs, inserting images and scheduling them to post. I just couldn’t get the scheduling part through my brain so Pam called and we talked. Things were a little clearer by the time we hung up. Cheryl St. John emailed all of us a list of topics and gave tips in case we needed them. Then we went live. I was terror-stricken.
I remember my hands shaking so badly I could barely type when I tried to write a comment on someone’s blog. I was so afraid I’d say something wrong and they’d kick me off. Then came the time for my first post. Lord, was I scared! The title of my very first blog was Sagebrush, Songbirds and Socializin’. It was about a bunch of us Amarillo writers spending the night in nearby Palo Duro Canyon with New York editor Hilary Sares. I was so afraid it wouldn’t post at midnight so I sat up to make sure. And it did. To date, I’ve written approx 175 blogs and made thousands of comments.
Wildflower Junction is my home. I love this place and am so very proud of what we’ve done in eight years. Big thanks to all our loyal followers many of whom have been with us since the first year. You have made us what we are. Thank you!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!!
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Happy Birthday to us! I remember well the day I was invited to be a part of the blog. How honored I was. Actually, (knock on wood) I didn’t worry about having material to blog about – mostly because my research into the American Indian culture has so much to say — so much we didn’t know about the people who gave this country so much. But I remember struggling with a new program and then the pictures — it took me probably 3-4 months before I stopped using others’ pictures for my blogs. I believe it was Charlene who taught me how to download my own pictures — and that opened up a whole new aspect to my blogs. Even today, I often post pictures of long-ago paintings, century old photos and do my best to try to present the often incredible and deeply educational history that I run across so often in my research.
Over time, we have all had to decide whether or not we wanted to continue on with blogging. I still haven’t said all there is to be said about the first people who were here, and so I continue on.
No blog about our beginnings would be complete without a deep, heart-felt thank you to all those who have helped over the years. Although I haven’t ever met each filly in person (some I have met, glad to say), I feel as though each and every one of us are fast friends. And that’s really saying something. May it always be so.
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It’s hard to believe that Petticoats and Pistols has been going strong for eight years. I remember back in the day not even knowing what a blog was and I had an author try to explain it to me. Even after her attempts to clarify, I still didn’t get it until I actually saw one in action. Back then, authors ran blogs on their own sites and some still do, but for me, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do it all. When fabulous Pam Crooks, Cheryl St. John and Linda Broday herded me into this group, it was the best of both worlds and has continued to be. I’m honored to be a Founding Filly. So with that in mind, here are 8 reasons why we should celebrate the 8th birthday of Petticoats and Pistols!!
Daily thoughtful posts that never fail to entertain
Captivating reminders of yesteryear- How The West Was Written!
Photos and personal shared life experiences from the authors
Glimpses into what the writing world is all about
Keeping up to date on new releases, new covers and freebies
Generosity of spirit and prizes galore
A wide array of author’s styles and writing genres
And best of all –the friendship and camaraderie we’ve garnered with our bloggers! We couldn’t do it without you
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FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF THE PRIZE GIVEAWAYS, LOOK RIGHT BELOW THIS.
I’ve got a new release that hit the shelves last week just before Valentine’s Day! Hidden Trails is my latest western historical novella. This was a fun little novella to work on because it was something I hadn’t dealt with before. Though I write a lot of stories with heroes who are of mixed heritage–half white/half Indian, or half white/half Hispanic, I’ve never written a story with a heroine quite like Valentine Reneau.
Valentine’s mother was a slave, a beautiful octoroon, whose cruel master sold her off in a fit of drunken pique–luckily for her! She is able to marry and make a new life for herself, but there is always the uneasy fear that her former owner might find her–even though the Civil War has ended, and she is free. When Valentine is old enough to understand, her stepfather explains it to her, and so begins her burden of constantly looking over her shoulder, as well.
Now that Valentine’s on her own, she has to protect herself. The old fear is there, and it’s very real. But Valentine isn’t alone any longer.
Levi Connor rides into her life with a bullet in his leg, half dead from cold, hunger and blood loss. Once Valentine saves him, will he ride on, or will he stay and help her face her nightmare-turned-reality–the man she must acknowledge as her father?
Valentine intrigues me because I don’t know where she came from in my imagination. I “met” her walking along the road in the blizzard, carrying a wounded collie pup. I just knew she was the one for Levi. Have you ever read a story with an unlikely love match that stuck in your mind? I always am curious about what makes one person fall madly in love with another–especially when the odds are stacked against them.
There’s lots of excitement and action—and a Valentine’s Day hope for new love in this novella! Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of HIDDEN TRAILS today!
Levi Connor has never run from anything in his life, and he doesn’t intend to start now. After killing the two bandits who’d followed him into Indian Territory, he finds himself wounded and riding through a blinding February snowstorm. With no purpose ahead of him and no past to guide him, he discovers a reason to exist—the beautiful mixed-blood girl who takes him in and heals him. Valentine Reneau lives in fear that her father will find her someday in the heart of Indian Territory and force her to return to Mississippi to take her mother’s place—in every way. She knows her time has run out when a stranger shows up on her land with two hired guns—and the devil in his plans. With some unlikely help, Valentine must try to escape the slave’s fate that her mother left behind so many years before. Will Levi kill for a woman he barely knows? The chips are down, the guns blaze, and everything finally comes clear along these HIDDEN TRAILS…but who’ll be left alive?
She pulled the covers away so she could see his leg. Without saying anything more, she took the lantern from the nightstand and turned up the wick, holding it close to the wound.
“I better get to this,” she said under her breath. Then, she glanced up to meet his gaze. “How long have you been carrying this bullet? And what are you running from?”
Levi grimaced as she turned her attention back to the wound and prodded at it.
“Three days. And I ain’t runnin’, ma’am. A Connor don’t run.”
“And you are a Connor, I take it?”
“Levi Connor. Didn’t get a chance to introduce myself earlier,” he muttered, letting go a sharp breath as she laid a warm, wet cloth over the wound.
“Need to get it cleaned up,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt you, but it can’t be helped. Taking out a bullet is always painful, but when it’s been in there for three days—”
“I know.” He waved a hand dismissively. “I’m just obliged to you—and I’ll make it up to you—for bein’ such a bother.”
She shook her head. “No bother. Truly. My father was a doctor, so I do know a little about what I’m doing.”
Levi breathed a slow sigh of relief. This wasn’t his first bullet hole. But thank God, he’d ended up here, with a beautiful young woman who seemed capable of treating him. There had been times before when he would have prayed to be in this circumstance, rather than some of the ones he’d found himself in.
Gentle hands ministered to him, but he suddenly remembered the very delicate location of the bullet hole and tried to re-cover himself.
“Mr. Connor, I’ve seen everything you have—and many others just like it,” Valentine said matter-of-factly. “I can’t very well remove a bullet from a wound I can’t see.” She snatched the covers from his hand and threw them back to his side. “You’re making it harder for me to be able to do what I need to.”
“In a week or two, I’d pay money for you to flip those covers away like that,” Levi answered.
She bent a long, hard look on him. “I’m not for sale, Mr. Connor. Not at any price. You want to keep riding?”
Levi shook his head. “Forget I said that, Valentine. Just the pain and the…damn humiliation talkin’. I didn’t mean it.”
A slow smile quirked her lips. “I can’t imagine you ever being embarrassed.”
“Believe it or not, I was raised a gentleman, ma’am.”
“I believe it, Mr. Connor. I do believe it.” Her voice was soft and sincere, and full of loss for things Levi didn’t understand.
But just then, she pulled the wound open and probed for the bullet, and the pain stripped everything else away from him. There was nothing in Levi’s consciousness but Valentine and her tweezers, delving into the bloody hole in his leg. He swallowed back the cry that threatened to bring the roof down, forcing it away.
If you just can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the Amazon buy link:
I know authors who really don’t like the research involved in making historical novels authentic to the time period. I am not one of those authors.
While writing my McKenna’s Daughters series, I found out a lot of things I didn’t know. And I love the minute details of life that I discover. I try to work them into the story. Here are a few of the things I found and used. Of course, there were a large number of other things, and this blog post couldn’t possibly hold them all.
In the prologues in both book one and book two, I had to research the Oregon Trail wagon trains, then choose the route that would work best for my story.
With Maggie’s Journey, book one, I researched the transcontinental railroad system, especially the part that was in the western United States. I had to figure out how long it would take to travel in 1885 from Seattle,Washington Territory, to Little Rock, Arkansas. The characters stayed in actual hotels of the time period in Denver,Colorado, and St. Louis, Missouri. They had to go east to St. Louis, then travel south-southwest from there to Little Rock.
I also had a hard time picturing Seattle in that time period. The adult reference librarian in the Seattle Public Library helped me find
websites that were gold mines of information that I needed. So almost all the streets, stores, hotels, schools, hospital, etc., were all part of the city in 1885.
For Mary’s Blessing, book two, I spent quite awhile researching Oregon City and Portland. There were a number of interesting things in the books I read. In that time period, some people trained goats to pull sleds. I found a picture of one such goat team. They were planning on using them to pull sleds to the gold fields in Alaska. I didn’t find any information about how successful they were with that endeavor.
I also had to research medical practices of the time period, farming practices around Oregon City, and transportation between Oregon City and Portland. I had the hero and heroine go from Oregon City and Portland by trolley. My editor questioned that, because the information she had said that the electric trolley wasn’t built until 1890. I found pictures of the trolley station and actual trolleys in 1885. The trolleys were pulled by horses or mules along the right-of-way where the tracks were later laid for the electric trolley cars.
With Catherine’s Pursuit, the book that released earlier this month, I found equally interesting details in San Francisco, which I used in the book. I also researched steamship lines of the day. There’s one on the cover, and the hero is a steamship captain. San Francisco had electricity and telephones in 1885, but Portland and Oregon City didn’t.
If you want to see what life was like in 1885 in Seattle, Portland, Oregon City, and
San Francisco, travel with my characters through these places and see how they lived.
As a child, I remember how my mom used to shake her head every year as the stores put their Christmas decorations out earlier and earlier, each trying to get the jump on the others. If she were here today, she and I would both be shaking our heads together. Last week, I went into Wal Mart and noted that they had nearly completed their Christmas decorations in the lawn and garden center. Christmas trees were lighted and fully decorated. A mechanical Santa waved and said, “HO HO HO.”
That very day, when I came home, I had a notice from Amazon in my inbox with my short story, WHITE CHRISTMAS at the top of it along with many other Christmas short stories by other authors. It declared that Christmas was almost here and this would be a great time to pick up some holiday reading. My sales for that story rose overnight. I e-mailed my publisher and asked if we might hurry up the release of two more .99 Christmas stories that were nearly ready to go, and yes, I was shaking my head.
Christmas has always been a miraculous time for me. It still is. When I was younger, it was because of the presents, and the anticipation that came with the season. My parents were not wealthy, but we had the necessities and a few of the luxuries. My mom was a great manager. She could make the smallest thing seem of the greatest value. She could transform our house into a marvelous Christmas haven with her decorations, wonderful cooking and a few well-wrapped packages. When I became an adult, the torch was passed, but the anticipation merely shifted. The excitement I felt was not for myself, but for my children–the joy I could bring to them.
Once I had written A Night for Miracles, I began to think about my heroine, Angela Bentley, and how I might have reacted had I been in her place. I would like to think that I would have done what she did–transformed her small cabin into a memorable Christmas castle that none of the children would ever forget, simply through a good meal, a warm fire, and a gift. But it was all of these things that made Angela’s “gift” — the gift of her heart — special. She put herself out on a limb, having been emotionally wounded before.
I thought about the old legend–that Christmas Eve is a “night for miracles” to happen. Angela was not a rich person by any means, but she gave what she had, freely. She took in the stranger and the three children from the cold, gave them warm beds and fed them. But then she went even further. She gave her heart to them, although it was a huge risk. She comes through with physical gifts, but the true giving was in her spirit. And that leads to a miracle.
A Night For Miracles is one of those short stories that I didn’t want to end. I love a happy ending, and this is one of the happiest of all, for everyone in the story. This story was previously released with another publisher a few years back, but I have to say, I love it in its newly-edited format and the cover by Karen M. Nutt is just gorgeous. I WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO COPIES OF A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES TODAY! Just leave a comment about one of your own very special Christmases.
Blurb for A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES by CHERYL PIERSON
Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER PUBLISHING!
EXCERPT FROM A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:
Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.
He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.
“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”
He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”
She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”
“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”
A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary.What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the “back fence.” Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.
She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”
He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”
She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”
He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, shefound herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”
He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”
A Night For Miracles is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other fine e-book retail outlets for only .99!
I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Troy Smith, who writes some of the best western fiction you’ll ever lay eyes on. I’ve had the privilege of editing some of Troy’s work, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Not only is Troy a fantastic writer, he’s also a wonderful person, and I’m excited to introduce him to y’all here today at Petticoats and Pistols. He’ll be giving away a copy of CALEB’S PRICE at the end of the day, so be sure and leave a comment along with your contact information!
Now here’s a bit about Troy Smith:
Troy D. Smith was born in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee in 1968. He has waxed floors, moved furniture, been a lay preacher, and taught high school and college. He writes in a variety of genres, achieving his earliest successes with westerns. His first published short story appeared in 1995 in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, and he won the Spur Award in 2001 for the novel Bound for the Promise-Land (being a finalist on two other occasions.) He is currently teaching American history at Tennessee Tech, and serving as president of Western Fictioneers -the first national writing organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the Old West.
Tell us about your current release.
Caleb’s Price is a very serious story –about the longing that echoes in all of us –that is told in a humorous and sometimes bittersweet way. My goal when I started it was to take all the standard themes, even stereotypes, of the western story and give them a surprising twist. The plot is reminiscent of Shane, Pale Rider, and dozens of B Westerns: an orphaned boy named Joey, raised by his aunt and uncle, is befriended by a mysterious stranger while the whole area is caught up in a range war. Romance seems to develop between the stranger, Caleb, and Joey’s sad and lonely, neglected Aunt Sally. But there are major twists. The “evil cattle baron” is not quite what he seems to be, and Joey (as well as the reader) begins to wonder if Caleb really is there to save them, or if he is there to destroy them. Pretty heavy plot. Yet while I was writing it, the characters took on a life of their own –even the villains (and sometimes it’s hard to tell who they really are) –and the story was imbued with a simultaneous mixture of comedy and tragedy. The only way I could explain it is: imagine if Shane had been written by Thomas Berger, the guy who wrote Little Big Man. It’s at the top of my list of favorites among the things I’ve written.
How did you start your writing career?
Totally by accident! I have always told stories, even as a kid, but it never occurred to me to be a professional writer. When I was in my early 20s I had a job buffing floors at K-mart and Wal-mart stores- in those days the stores were closed from 9pm till 9am, and I was locked in there alone for 12 hours to do a 4 or 5 hour job. I filled the empty hours by reading everything I could get my hands on (including a whole lot of westerns.) While I was buffing, my mind wandered to the stories I was reading- how would I do them differently? So for my own entertainment I started writing those stories down. I was on my 3rd or 4th novel before it dawned on me that I could try to get them published. I started taking the writing seriously, reading every how-to book I could find, and developed my craft.
What was your first sale as an author?
A western short story called “Mourning Glory.” It was in the Nov. 1995 issue of Louis L’Amour Western Magazine. I remember looking at that first paycheck -328 bucks –and thinking that, no matter what happened for the rest of my life, nothing could change the fact that I was a professional, published author. The magazine took several more of my stories –but unfortunately it folded not long after that.
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
From about 1998 to 2003, there were a number of people I met through Western Writers of America and online Western forums who helped me enormously. Robert J. Randisi included me in several anthologies he edited in that time, and was very encouraging. The list is very long, and I’m bound to slip up and leave someone out… but it included Jim Crutchfield, Dale Walker, Peter Brandvold, John Nesbitt, and more. Some of them introduced me to agents or editors, or read my manuscripts. Jory Sherman and Frank Roderus were especially helpful and encouraging when I was at the bottom of the barrel, devastated both emotionally and financially by a bad divorce. One veteran writer, whom I won’t embarrass by naming, sent me a computer and printer when he learned I no longer had such things, and the only repayment he would ever accept was a promise to do the same for another struggling writer someday (I did just that eventually, when I no longer needed that equipment.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people I named above don’t even remember helping me, it was such second nature to them –but I remember, and I always will.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. How did you develop that character?
My favorite character I have ever created was Lonnie Blake, a supporting character in Bound for the Promise-Land. I wanted my hero, an escaped slave-turned-Union soldier named Alfred Mann, to have two army comrades who could play the roles of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to his everyman. Blake was the MLK character- tormented by his human frailties, yet saintly in his love. I grew quite attached to him –he was the sort of man I’d like to be.
What do you think makes a good story?
Conflict. You can’t have a story without conflict –not much of a story, anyhow. And the best stories have both inner and outer conflict; something is challenging the character in the outside, physical world, and that is mirrored by some inner challenge that the hero must overcome in order to defeat the physical obstacle. I also believe that the hero must be changed inside somehow, if only a little, at the end of the story or else you (and the reader) have just been passing time.
Where do you research for your books?
I used to do a lot of research in actual libraries, but nowadays it is possible to find even the most obscure items and documents online. Five years ago I spent an entire summer going from archive to archive in Oklahoma and Arkansas; everything I looked at then can now be accessed digitally. Of course, it’s still good to get a feel for the landscape, and you can’t do that in your computer chair looking at j-pegs. A lot of the western stuff I’ve written lately, and most of what I have planned, has been set in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Arkansas, and Kansas –the area I researched intensely for my history dissertation, so I’m already pretty familiar with it.
Who are your books published with?
A crime novel I am very proud of, and which I hope grows into a series –Cross Road Blues –was published last year by Perfect Crime Books. My whole Western backlist is in the middle of being re-issued in both paper and e-book format by Western Trail Blazer, with new stuff upcoming as well. So far they’ve done four of my western novels, with four more in the chute, as well as several short stories- I hope to be with WTB for a long time to come. Rebecca J. Vickery is a treasure for our genre, and hopping on her WTB bandwagon when it was first rolling out was one of the smarter things I have done.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Read a lot. Read to gain factual information, to stir your muse, to examine how other people construct plots and characters. If you want to write good prose, in addition to telling good stories, also practice writing and reading poetry- notice meter and rhythm, and imagery.
And stick with it. Be persistent. Most “overnight successes” had been trying for years –and no one had heard of the ones who quit just before their big break came along.
Do you have a Website or Blog?
I sure do. My official website is www.troyduanesmith.com –there’s info there about my books, and some biographical material. I also blog at http://tnwordsmith.blogspot.com –sometimes about writing, or about westerns, pop culture, history or politics (as a historian, I don’t separate history and politics into different compartments, it’s all part of the same beast!)
How about an excerpt from the book you’re giving to some lucky commenter today, Caleb’s Price?
Glad you asked! Here it is.
EXCERPT FROM CALEB’S PRICE:
“You homesteaders are a stubborn breed,” Caleb said.
“We’re not stubborn,” said Burt. “Our dreams are. Some dreams die hard, and others don’t die at all –so long as they have a bit of rich soil to sink into. Surely you can understand that, Caleb. Even you can’t be as hard as you sound. We all have dreams.”
“I manage to sleep pretty sound, myself. If I have any dreams I don’t remember ’em.”
“You’re an unfortunate man, then. A man who never dreams is a sad thing.”
“How about women?” Caleb asked.
“What do you mean?”
“How about women? Do they have dreams?”
Burt laughed. “Not bein’ one myself, it’s hard to say.”
“Have you ever asked one?”
“Asked one what?”
“About her dreams.”
“No, Caleb, I haven’t. What are you gettin’ at?”
“Nothin’ in particular. I was just wonderin’. You bein’ so big on dreams, I just wondered if you ever noticed anybody else’s.”
Burt frowned. “At least I notice my own.”
“What about your wife, Burt? Does she have any dreams?”
“What do you think?”
“I think that if she does, they’re not about land. Or sheep.”
“Perhaps you’d be good enough to tell me what you think my wife dreams about.” Burt’s voice had taken on a rough edge.
“Oh, I don’t know. The sea, maybe.”
Burt laughed again. I think his laugh was beginning to irritate Caleb. It had been irritating me for years.
“So that’s it,” Burt said. “Sally’s been entertainin’ you with those fairy tales of hers. It’s getting’ plain to me that you have no experience with women. If we had stayed in New Bedford she would have dreamed about the West, and complained about never havin’ seen it. That’s just the way women are. They don’t know what they want. They only know that it’s always somethin’ they’ll never have. It’s different with a man, he dreams about somethin’ simple and sets about gettin’ it. Like me. I know exactly what I want.”
“Then your dreams are important enough to risk your family’s lives over.”
“Yes,” Burt said, in a voice that was softer than normal for him. “That’s how great nations are built. I’m only sorry that you don’t understand any of the things I’ve been tellin’ you.”
“I probably understand more than you give me credit for.”
“I was right about you, wasn’t I, Caleb?”
“What do you mean?”
“About what I said earlier. That you’re a wanderer.”
“I’ve never denied it.”
Burt’s face took on a cold expression. “Then I think that it’s only fair I warn you now, Johnson. Don’t try to include my wife in your wanderin’.”
Caleb chuckled. “What on earth brought that on? The last I knew, we were talkin’ about sheep.”
“All that fancy talk about what her dreams are,” Burt said, his tone hot. “They’ll not come true from the likes of you, I’ll warrant.”
Caleb shook his head. “You sure take a lot out of a little polite conversation.”
“Just don’t fawn over my wife, that’s all.”
“I wasn’t fawnin’ over her, I was just tryin’ to make a point. The point being, you’re risking her life over something she doesn’t even want.”
“I’ll be the judge of what my wife wants, not you. Women are like sheep. All they really want is to be directed. Anything else that comes from ’em is just mindless bleating. And besides, it’s none of your bloody business to start with.”
“I can’t argue with that,” Caleb said. “I was just offerin’ some friendly advice, that’s all.”
“Save your advice for the polar bears. The way you talk, I’d almost believe Ike Majors sent you here as a spy.”
Caleb stared at him for a moment, silent, then said, “If Ike Majors had sent me here, somebody would be usin’ this little wagon as a coffin, and you’d be a lot closer to God’s green earth than you ever wanted to be.”
“Aye. Or else you’d be.”
Troy, thank you so much for being our guest today here at Petticoats and Pistols. We hope you’ll come back and join us again sometime! You’ve got a lot of wonderful work out there and some beautiful covers, for sure!
Celia Yeary is with us today with a great post on dime novels. Celia is a dear friend of mine and an excellent writer, with a slew of wonderful books and short stories to her credit. A fifth-generation Texan, she’s understandably proud of her heritage and most of her stories take place in her home state of Texas. Now here’s Celia to give us a bit of insight into where western writing all began–the DIME NOVEL. (And y’all be sure and leave a comment with contact info, cause Celia plans to give away two of her “dime novels”!)
A “dime novel” was an inexpensive and generally sensational tale of adventure sold as popular entertainment in the 1800s. Dime novels can be considered the paperback books of their day, and they often featured tales of mountain men, explorers, soldiers, detectives, or Indian fighters. Despite their name, the dime novels generally cost less than ten cents, with many actually selling for a nickel. The most popular publisher was the firm of Beadle and Adams of New York City.
The heyday of the dime novel was from the 1860s to the 1890s, when their popularity was eclipsed by pulp magazines featuring similar tales of adventure. Later, comic books had a part in the trend.
Critics of dime novels often denounced them as immoral, perhaps because of violent content. But the books themselves actually tended to reinforce conventional values of the time, such as patriotism, bravery, self-reliance, and American nationalism.
Today, Western Historical novels and Western Historical Romance novels hold to the same standards: Truth, Justice, and The American Way.ie, treat women and children with respect, as well as your neighbor, protect the downtrodden, and carry out justice within the law…if at all possible.
Today, Western Historical Romance novels and true Westerns are published as Dime Novels at “Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery” through the imprint Western Trail Blazers. The Dime Novels are shorter stories, perhaps novellas, priced at 99Cents.
The idea intrigued me. Since I had nine full-length novels published traditionally, along with two novellas and three anthologies, I found myself writing 22,000 word stories with catchy titles. As of this moment, I have two as WTB Dime Novels:
He needs a wife…
Because the sheriff summons him, U.S. Marshal Max Garrison rides to town. He resents learning he must supervise a young man just out of prison who will work at his ranch for a time. But when he meets the beautiful young woman who owns the teashop, he knows his trip is not wasted. Max decides she’s the one for him.
She faces more loneliness …
Daniella Sommers lives alone above the book and teashop her English parents left her. When U.S. Marshal Max Garrison walks in and asks for tea, she almost laughs. Soon, her merriment turns to hope. Then Daniella learns a shocking truth about herself. If she reveals her past, will Max still love her? Is it time for miracles and hope?
Ex-gunslinger Jude Morgan lands in jail in a far-flung West Texas town. On the fourth day in his cell, the sheriff arrives with a beautiful woman dressed in men’s pants and toting her own six-shooter. Adriana Jones claims he is her worthless husband who married her but never came home.
She need a stand-in for a husband.
The young woman makes a bargain with Jude in front of the sheriff. Jude is to come home where he belongs, and she will have him released. When they’re alone, she explains his job is to pose as her husband to thwart the marriage advances of her neighbor, wealthy rancher Horace Caruthers. The older man wants her ranch to join his, because the Pecos River runs through her property.
To seal the bargain, Jude wants a kiss. During the next few weeks, however, Jude and Addie learn that the kiss meant more than they meant it to be. Then, Addie’s life is in danger.
Will Jude rescue his Addie? Or will Addie save herself and her gunslinger?
Future Dime Novel releases are:
Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
Kat and the US Marshal
Thank you Petticoats! This site has been one of my Favorites since I found it two years ago. I appreciate the opportunity to post among so many successful authors.
Cheryl Pierson here! I want to introduce you to a very special guest, a good friend of mine who writes some fantastic western adventures, Peter Brandvold! Pete has been gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to answer a few interview questions for us and will be poking his head in every once in a while today to read and answer comments and questions. He’s got a couple of new releases to tell us about today as well as some insight as to how he got started writing and a few of his pet peeves.
How did you start your writing career?
I hated teaching so much so it was either writing or suicide the way Yukio Mishima did it–seppuku.
Tell us about your current release.
I have two current releases–a paranormal or “weird” western, DUST OF THE DAMNED, and a traditional western under my pen name Frank Leslie–THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE. DUST is a werewolf western in which two ghoul-hunting bounty hunters, Uriah Zane and Angel Coffin, go after the Hell’s Angels–a pack of werewolves brought into the U.S. by Abe Lincoln to win the Civil War at Gettysburg. The Angels were supposed to go home when the job was done, but it seems you can’t trust a werewolf farther than you could throw your fattest aunt uphill against a cyclone. They came west and caused all kinds of trouble. A beautiful Mexican witch and necromancer is leading them across the Arizona desert in search of the werewolf-equivalent of the holy grail. (Jesse James makes an appearance as a ghoul-hunter, as well, because in my messed-up West there’s more money in hunting down vampires, aka, “swillers,” and hobgobbies and werewolves than there is in train robbing!)
JED STRANGE is about one of my series characters, young Colter Farrow, who wears the ‘S’ mark of Sapinero on his cheek–branded there by the vile Bill Rondo. In this one, he’s on the run in Mexico with a young girl, Bethel Strange, who’s looking for her outlaw father who was last seen running guns in the Sonora Desert.
Who is your favorite author?
I have tons of favorite authors, and the list moves around a lot. I like Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore a lot–sci-fi writers from the pulp days. And I also like the fantasy novels of Jack Vance. For western writers I like Gordon D. Shirreffs, Richard Jessup, Luke Short, Lewis B. Patten, and H.A. DeRosso.
Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?
The students I hated teaching.
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
My dogs have always been here for me. (Actually, my ex-wife taught me a lot by her incredibly gifted editing, but if you tell her I said that I’ll deny it and call you a raving lunatic!)
What was your first sale as an author?
ONCE A MARSHAL back in ’98. It was about the aging lawman Ben Stillman, whose career was cut short when a drunk whore shot him in the back by accident. Sigh. But Ben got himself dusted off and went back to work to solve the murder of his old hide-hunting pard, Milk River Bill Harmon. I really like that book. I wish someone would reprint it.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Editing. I really hate editing. I like to just keep moving forward. Going back to polish is like when you’re a little kid out playing cavalry and you got dead Injuns all around and only a few more to go and your mom calls you in for supper.
What are your pet peeves as a writer? As a reader?
As a writer, it’s editing. As a reader, it’s dull writing. Writers today seem more preoccupied with telling back stories than front stories–i.e, keeping things rolling. I mean, they’ll start a book off with, “Jessica gripped the gun in her fist and walked into the saloon. She’d just ridden into Dodge City that morning and found her father hanging from a gallows. That really miffed her, so the first thing she did was…” Know what I mean? The art of bringing all that stuff in through action and dialogue is an art and most writers today do it about as well as I can dance. Omniscient narrators should be killed en masse all over the writing world. There, I said it, and I don’t care if I hang for it!
Who are your books published with?
Berkley and Signet. At one time, Forge. They’ve been good to me.
Pete, thank you so much for being our guest today and giving us these personal glimpses into your career and how you got started writing. You’ve written so many wonderful action packed westerns, my new kindle is going to be loaded down. These latest two additions to your credits look absolutely wonderful. Again, thanks for being our guest today, and we hope you’ll come back again in the future!
The son of a Norwegian immigrant, Jack Nelson grew up in California. As a youth he danced the Squaw Dance with Navajos on the Reservation at the prodding of his cousins who ran the Denehotso Trading Post. In college he became a heartfelt Utahn after discovering the wild places of that lonely land. A former reporter, he taught journalism, then settled in to teach writing for 25 years at Brigham Young University. He has published four previous novels with New York publishers. His most recent book, Flashes in the Night: The Sinking of the Estonia, has been named as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Non-Fiction Narrative category of the 2011 International Book Awards Competition. He lives with his wife, Patrice, in Provo, Utah.
It is a wild place– beautiful, mysterious and deadly all at the same time.
This is the red-rock wilderness of Southern Utah–so gorgeous that practically every major Western movie was set among the soaring red cliffs, deep-cut canyons and mesas that rise to stare at the sky. From John Wayne to Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan, hundreds of cinema cowboys set up camp in Kanab, Utah near the Arizona border and just north of the Grand Canyon, where cinema goers could experience the most scenic West ever imagined.
It was here in this land that Everett Ruess, the charismatic teenaged adventurer/ wanderer/ poet from Los Angeles, turned his back on civilization and sought out the beauty and majestic solitude of the desert. From here he wrote lyrical descriptions of the lonely land in his journals and letters that– when published after his disappearance three quarters of a century ago– have made him a cult hero to wilderness lovers ever since. “I am roaring drunk with the lust for life and adventure!” he wrote his brother. The charismatic young artist—barely 20 years old in 1934— left the canyon-lands town of Escalante with his burros and was never seen again.
After seven decades, the name Everett Ruess still resonates across the Southwest. In 1999, Escalante recently held its third annual Everett Ruess Days, and the Museum of Northern Arizona in 2006 held a month-long exhibit of his drawings.
I first became intrigued with the Everett Ruess drama when the inaugural issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine published a 12-page article about the youth who spent years roaming the desert with his two burros painting watercolors and making friends with anyone who crossed his path. He would walk into any Navajo hogan and would be fed. The Navajos figured he was some sort of a witch.
So intriguing was his story that I decided there needed to be a fictional version that solved the Everett Ruess mystery. The result was my novel TO DIE IN KANAB: THE EVERETT RUESS AFFAIR.
A year or so after its publication, Adventure followed up its earlier story with another 10-page offering: “Finding Everett Ruess,” (April/May 2009) which claimed a witness had seen him killed by Ute Indians and his grave had been found. Even verified by DNA evidence. I was sad, because I wanted his legend to live. I had been skeptical about the story from the first, because the old Navajo who had seen the Utes do the killing then said he carried the body to a crevice on Comb Ridge.
Now I know a bit about Navajos, and even have an adopted Navajo son. It is chindee or cursed to touch a dead body, so that didn’t make sense. In addition, Navajos and Utes are traditional enemies so it seemed likely a Navajo might find them handy to blame for the killing.
Then, lo and behold, last summer further DNA testing showed the bones were definitely NOT those of Everett Ruess–much to the chagrin of National Geographic Adventure..
To find what really might have happened to the lyrical young romantic, you might like to check out this novel:
When Sheriff Jared Buck of Kanab sees a Hollywood company arrive to do a movie about Ruess—and the possibility that he was murdered by local people—he expects trouble. And it is not long in arriving—one of the movie company ends up murdered. In addition, information comes to light about the vanished wanderer—that the young artist may have been done in—so the sheriff finds himself faced with a double problem.
The search for answers brings him face to face with reluctant families who want nothing to do with this investigation, ranchers angry about their cattle being kicked off the new National Monument, someone shooting at the movie company at the movie company in a lonely canyon, an old Navajo who knows more than he cares to tell, and a face-off with the mafia in San Francisco. As a bonus, this is a slice of Southern Utah Americana.
Sweet Danger is my first contemporary romantic suspense novel. Up until this point, I have stuck with writing western historicals, though my third book, Time Plains Drifter, which is due to be released next month, is also a bit of a departure from that as it ventures into the paranormal/time travel aspect, as well as historical.
Sweet Danger is the story of Jesse Nightwalker, an undercover cop, and Lindy Oliver, his beautiful next-door neighbor. They’ve been very much aware of one another for the past year or so, but have never formally met, until one fateful Friday morning when they both come into the local deli and end up next to each other in line.
But things turn deadly as a gang of criminals takes over the deli in what seems to be a robbery. Unfortunately for Jesse, the leader of the pack is Tabor Hardin, a vicious cop killer that Jesse helped put behind bars. Hardin’s purpose changes instantly. The robbery was only a façade for a much more heinous crime—kidnapping the governor’s children from the adjoining daycare. Now, Hardin swears to make Jesse pay for his part in Hardin’s imprisonment before anything else takes place.
As if things couldn’t get worse, one of the other children in the daycare is Jesse’s own son, Nash. Jesse has to walk a fine line to figure out what he can do to save his son and Lindy, as well as the other hostages—even though it means certain death for himself.
When his wife died four years earlier, Jesse cut off all romantic feelings, immersing himself in his undercover work. Now, Lindy Oliver has reawakened those feelings at a most inopportune time, and Jesse is incredulous at what’s happening between them, now that he stands to lose it all at Hardin’s bloody hands.
I loved the premise of this book, and especially loved figuring out how to make it all “come around” so that Jesse and Lindy could have the HEA they so richly deserved.
Sweet Danger became available through the Wild Rose Press on October 1, 2010. It’s also available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, among other distributors. I’ve posted the blurb and an excerpt below for your reading pleasure! Please leave a comment. Visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com
When undercover cop Jesse Nightwalker enters Silverman’s Deli, he doesn’t expect to find himself at the mercy of Tabor Hardin, a sadistic murderer he helped put in prison five years earlier. Now, Hardin’s escaped, and he’s out for more blood—Jesse’s.
Lindy Oliver has had her eye on her handsome neighbor for several months. Fate provides the opportunity for them to finally meet when they both choose the same deli for breakfast. Becoming a hostage was not in Lindy’s plans when she sat down to share a pastry with Jesse, but neither was the hot kiss he gave her when bullets began to fly. That kiss seals both their fates, binding them to one another with the certainty of a vow.
But Jesse’s got some hard-hitting secrets. With both their lives at stake, Lindy has a plan that just might save them—if Hardin takes the bait. Will they find unending love in the midst of Sweet Danger?
EXCERPT FROM SWEET DANGER:
This excerpt takes place in the first chapter. Jesse Nightwalker, an undercover cop, runs into his neighbor, Lindy Oliver, in the local deli. Though they’ve never met, they are very aware of one another. The deli owner introduces them officially and points them toward the only available booth. But their Friday morning takes a quick nosedive in the next few minutes. Here’s what happens.
Jesse looked past her, his smile fading rapidly. As the flash of worry entered his expression, Lindy became aware of a sudden lull in the noisy racket of the deli. Jesse’s dark gaze was locked on the front door, a scowl twisting his features.
“Damn it,” he swore, reaching for her hand. “Get down! Under the table, Lindy…”
But she hesitated a second too long, not understanding what was happening. In the next instant, the sound of semi-automatic gunfire and shattering glass filled the air.
Lindy reflexively ducked, covering her head. The breath of a bullet fanned her cheek as Jesse dragged her down beneath the sparse cover of the small table. He shielded her, his hard body crushing against her, on top of her, pushing her to the floor. The breath rushed out of her, and she felt the hard bulge of the shoulder holster he wore beneath the denim jacket as it pressed against her back.
Her heart pounded wildly, realization of their situation flooding through her. A robbery! But why, at this hour of the morning when the take would be so low? The gunfire stopped as abruptly as it had started. From somewhere near the counter, a man shouted, “Come out and you won’t be hurt! Come out—now!”
Lindy looked up into Jesse’s face, scant inches from her own. What would he do? They were somewhat concealed here at the back of the deli, but these men were sporting semi-automatic weapons.
“There’s a back door,” Jesse whispered raggedly. “Get the hell out of here. I’m gonna be your diversion.” She didn’t answer; couldn’t answer. He was likely to be killed, helping her go free. He gave her a slight shake. “Okay?”
An interminable moment passed between them before she finally nodded. “Get going as soon as I get their attention.” He reached to brush a strand of hair out of her eyes, his own gaze softening as he leaned toward her and closed the gap between them. “Take care of yourself, Lindy,” he whispered, just before his mouth closed over hers.
The instant their lips met shook her solidly. Every coherent thought fled, leaving nothing but the smoldering touch of his lips on hers, burning like wildfire through her mind. Soft, yet firm. Insistent and insolent. His teeth skimmed her lower lip, followed by his tongue, as he tasted her. Then, he pulled away from her, their eyes connecting for a heart-wrenching second.
“Safe passage,” he whispered.
Lindy didn’t answer, more stunned by the sudden sweet kiss than by the madness surrounding them. Jesse pushed himself out from under the table and stood up, directly in front of where Lindy crouched. Only then did she hear his muted groan of pain, his sharp, hissing intake of breath. The blossoming red stain of crimson contrasted starkly with the pale blue of his faded denim jacket as his blood sprang from the bullet wound, soaking the material.
He’d been shot!
Lindy gasped softly at the realization. How could she leave him now?