I recently moved about 20 miles away from Fort Worth. I’m excited to discover more about this epic historical town, and will, the minute it’s safe to do so.
I’m putting together a list of little known places I want to see, and I thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever visit (this may even entice you to!)
Jesus BBQ – This quaint shoebox on South Main has been in business since 1969. A sign hangs over the sidewalk – “Jesus BBQ and Mexican Food.” The reviewer loved it.
Pick Your Own Strawberries 3010 S. Bowen Road, Arlington Pay $10, get a 1-pound strawberry basket and spend a sunny day picking strawberries. Better get there early as sometimes the berries are picked over before closing.
The Blue Hole, Dinosaur Valley State Park 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose
The swimming hole in Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors a chance to cool off in 20-feet-deep clear water surrounded by 100 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur tracks. Before you go, check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife website to learn how to map nearby dinosaur tracks because some may be hard to find.
Ayres Cemetery2500 Block of Scott Avenue
A tiny, antiquated cemetery hides one block off Interstate-30 in a motel parking lot in East Fort Worth. Crumbling gravestones tell a story of one of Fort Worth’s first families. Nestled next to a few of the gravestones are markers indicating that some were citizens of the Republic of Texas, which ended in 1846. The last time someone was buried in this family lot was in 1955. The Ayres Cemetery remains as a symbol of the area’s early settlers.
Bonnie and Clyde Shooting Dove Road, Just East of Hwy. 114
This power couple frequented North Texas reportedly because relatives lived here. However, their career as robbers and gangsters slowed and halted when they played a part in killing several Texas patrolmen near Grapevine.
Northside Street Art Intersection of 21st and Roosevelt streets
An enraged gorilla sits on the side of a nondescript building in an otherwise colorless part of town at the corner of 21st Street and Roosevelt. The artist is unknown.
The Stockyards – Lots to do there:
Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive
Cowboy Hall of Fame
Filthy McNasty’s Saloon
I don’t know about you, but I love the quirky, the obscure, the unknown. I plan to visit several of these places!
I’m obsessed with mail-order bride stories. I can’t imagine what would make a young lady leave her home and head west to marry someone she’d never met, live in unfamiliar surroundings, and basically consign herself to a life of uncertainty from the moment she stepped foot on the train (or stagecoach).
But this “wondering” was what got me started on a massive writing project that I’m loving every minute of! My SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE series (and this is my first series!) was born of wondering what would happen if a gambler, Calum Ross, had won some mail-order brides for himself, his cousin Blake, and their best friends Paxton, Collin, Liam, and Jordan Taylor—four brothers who they’d grown up with.
Returning to Texas when the Civil War ends, the men are eager to get back to life as it was “before” they went off to fight. Calum has all but forgotten that odd bet he “won” in a smoky bar near the end of the war, and the others never even knew about it. Of course, marriage is the very last thing on any of their minds on their travels home.
The six brides who are traveling to Texas from “back east” are as different from one another as any people could be, but during this long journey, they have embraced one another and become as close as sisters—they are family long before they ever cross the Red River.
The brides arrive before the men, to the unsuspecting Taylor family’s spacious home—and this excerpt is about the greeting they receive.
As I said, this is slated to be a series, as each of the couples have their own problems to overcome, with issues that happened before they ever met—and also, those that any couple might face—especially since they are starting marriage on such shaky ground.
I’m hoping this first book of the series will be released by early fall—and I’ll be sharing more about this venture as time goes by—but let me introduce you to some of my characters from SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE!
“Oh…my…stars,” Noelle gasped as the coach pulled to a halt in front of the elegant Spanish-style stucco home.
“As I live and breathe…” Angelica murmured. “Things are looking up already.”
“If we’re welcomed here, that is,” Tabitha added.
“Which we might not be,” Cami said quietly.
“Only one way to find out, ladies,” Jessamyn said firmly. “We’ll ask Mr. Fielding to wait a moment and see what kind of reception we get. No need to unload the luggage until we see.”
Just then, the front door opened wide and a man emerged. At the same time, the stage driver and shotgun rider called out a greeting, and the man lowered the barrel of the rifle he carried.
“Ain’t no call to shoot us, Lowell. We’re bringin’ a bevy of beautiful brides to your door!” Arnold joshed. He stepped lively to the stage door and opened it, and the women began to emerge in the heat of the June day.
“What in the cornbread hell—Arnold, is this some kind of sorry joke you’re pulling?”
The driver gave the man a peeved look, his bushy brows furrowing sharply. “I’ve saved you a drive into town, Taylor,” he said in a low growl. “The least you can do is be respectful in front of ladies.”
“Ladies!” Taylor scoffed loudly. “Load ’em back up. Only one here needs a bride is my foreman, J.A. Decker, and I ain’t gonna tempt him with a woman.”
“What’s going on, Lowell?” A woman’s voice came from somewhere inside the open doorway.
“Nothing, Ellen, just—”
A woman with a head of dark hair and emerald green eyes peered around the door, then, a wide smile of greeting lighting her features she moved past her husband onto the porch.
“Arnold Fielding, and Joe Darwin! Oh, and some weary travelers! Is there trouble?” Her look turned anxious.
“Only just now, Mrs. Taylor,” Joe muttered darkly.
She whirled to look at her husband, who towered over her by a good ten inches. Defiantly, she turned back to the group in the front yard and graciously announced, “Please, come inside and refresh yourselves.” Looking past them, she motioned one of the stable boys forward. “Jose, please unhitch the team and take care of the horses. They’re hot and tired, too.”
The boy nodded, moving toward the horses.
“Should we unload the—” Arnold began.
“That can wait until we’ve cooled off some,” Ellen interrupted, motioning them forward. With a welcoming smile, she threw the door wide. “We have guests, Pilar,” she called.
“Si, senora,” came a muffled voice.
Lowell Taylor stood aside as the travelers climbed the front steps and entered his house. As Arnold brought up the rear, Lowell put a staying hand on his shoulder. “What the hell, Arnie?”
Arnold shook his head. “I don’t know any more’n you. They say they’re mail-order brides on their way here from back east somewheres.”
“Where back east? Hell, ever’thing’s ‘back east’ from where we are.”
“I don’t know, Lowell. It wasn’t my business. Said this is where they was headed, and I offered to bring ’em on out to save you a drive into town. It ain’t too far out of the way.”
Lowell stepped aside grudgingly. “You’ve never been one to trurn down Pilar’s lemonade and sopapillas. Reckon that’s why you offered so kindly.”
Arnold smiled. “No, sir. And I ain’t gonna make today any different.”
“Let’s go see what this is all about,” Lowell muttered. “Then I’ll decide if those women stay.”
Arnie chuckled. “Or, Miss Ellen will.”
It was impossible to remain proper and aloof, the women soon discovered, in Ellen Taylor’s home. What her husband lacked in manners, she made up for in spades, with her welcoming demeanor, the genuine friendliness of her smiles, and her God-given ability to draw them out of their awkward reserve.
“When was the last time you ladies had a proper meal?” she asked, assuming that, no matter what, their funds would be running low by the end of their journey.
Quick looks at one another darted around the room, and she turned a blind eye, as if she didn’t notice.
“Pilar, perhaps you and Luisa could make some sandwiches for everyone,” Ellen instructed. “I’ll pour the lemonade.”
“I’ve made tea, as well,” Pilar said with a quick nod as she excused herself and called to Luisa.
“Let’s move to the back porch, everyone,” Ellen said when she’d poured their glasses full of something to drink. “There’s a good breeze out there, usually.”
They’d all seated themselves except Lowell, who remained standing in the center of the porch looking around at all of the travelers, the driver, and the shotgun rider.
“Now I want some answers. Not to be rude—” he held out a hand as Ellen started to intervene, “—but I need to know what this is all about.”
Silence fell, and the others looked to the woman with blonde hair that was once curled, but now hung in tired, relaxed ringlets at the back, beneath her hat that looked as frayed and threadbare as her spirits. Her blue eyes still sparked with determination, and it was plain to see she was the one the others had come to depend on.
“Miss…” Ellen questioned, meeting the woman’s eyes.
“Thomas. Jessamyn Thomas. But I go by Jessie to my friends.”
Ellen smiled. “Jessamyn. What a lovely name. May I call you Jessie, then? Can you shed some light on this situation?”
Jessie nodded, and glanced at the others to be certain they approved of her speaking for all of them. “For various reasons, we had all ended up in Charleston, South Carolina, during the war, or at the war’s end. Also, we had all applied to the Potter Marriage Pairings Agency—”
“Mail-order brides,” Lowell muttered, raking Jessamyn with a disdainful gaze.
Seeing the fight come into her features, Ellen sent her husband a quelling look. She reached across one of the other women to touch Jessamyn’s hand. “Please, continue, my dear.”
Jessamyn turned away from Lowell’s steady glare to look at Ellen, effectively dismissing him. Ellen held back a smile.
“Yes. But we each have a reason for becoming a mail-order bride. And those reasons are for each of us to tell—our own stories—when the time is right.”
“But how did you come to be here? In Texas?” Ellen prodded.
Jessamyn lifted her chin. “We were…won. On a gamble. It-it was a card game, and Mr. Potter had nothing else to wager but part of his business holdings. Normally, he charges a fee to the—the prospective groom. And the groom would also pay travel expenses for—for the bride. So, Mr. Potter bet six brides.”
Lowell let out an indignant huff of disbelief. “And who would you have us believe would be stupid enough to wager a pot of money against six women who are desperate enough to—”
Jessamyn stood quickly as her anger got the best of her. “Mr. Taylor, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever man becomes the husband of any of us will be the winner of that game, I can promise you.” Her voice shook with fury. “We are all here of our own accord. We are here honestly. We were told that we had husbands waiting for us.” Her blue eyes narrowed, but by now, Lowell Taylor stood, slack-jawed at the young woman’s dressing down.
“As for the man who—as you say—was stupid enough to gamble on us? That would be a dear friend of your family—a Mr. Calum James Ross.”
Lowell’s eyes widened at this, but Jessamyn wasn’t finished.
“So you see, when we meet with Mr. Ross, he will be able to explain everything to your exacting satisfaction, I believe, Mr. Taylor.”
The room fell deathly quiet, and a muttered “Sandwiches are ready,” sounded from the doorway.
I don’t know if I could be a mail-order bride–could you?
We’re tickled pink to have Miss Jolene Navarro visit us again. This lady writes some of the most interesting books and posts and I think you’ll agree so make her welcome and show her some good old Wildflower Junction hospitality.
Hello, there! Jolene Navarro here, checking in from the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast.
We come down here from the Hill Country as often as we can. I love sitting on the banks of the Frio River, but every once a while I want to prop my feet up the balcony and watch the waves.
Over a year ago as I was enjoying the warm breeze and the sunlight glinting off of the waves, I spot a gorgeous pirate ship sailing across the waters. It was as exciting as it was bizarre, to see it.
There is a company in the South Padre area, called the Black Dragon Pirate Ship Cruise. They offer full experience cruises aboard their ship, which has been modeled into a 17th century galleon above water, while retaining all of the modern luxuries below water.
Seeing that pirate ship brought a single question to my mind – how could I make a modern-day pirate cowboy?
At first, I didn’t have any answers. But as I sat on the beach and mulled over this question, I came to a realization that cowboys didn’t just roam the Texas countryside, they also lived along the beaches of the Gulf. One of the largest and well-known cattle ranches runs along the coast. You might have heard of the King Ranch.
After that, it became a game to figure out how alike cowboys and pirates really are.
Their style of life. They long for adventure and pitting themselves against the elements of natures. Both a cowboy and a pirate often would spend months, or longer, away from home. Either because they were sailing the seas in search of treasure, or because they needed to herd cattle from one place to another.
The camaraderie. Both styles of life create a band of brother type of living. These men had to trust each other to watch their backs and keep them alive during the dangers of their chosen occupations. The close quarters formed bonds that could be stronger than birth family. Singing around the campfire or playing music on the deck, they have a strong camaraderie.
Hard and dangerous. Whether a pirate or cowboy, there’s no denying that their lives included a multitude of perils. Being one or the other took a certain kind of person – they had to be tough, unbreakable and sturdy. Cowboys had to ensure that they could herd thousands of longhorns to a certain destination and protect them from predators such as coyotes and rattlesnakes, and the ever-perilous possibility that the herd could go haywire. Pirates also lived a rough life, out on the sea for years during bitter squalls that threatened to break their ships to pieces and stole lives. Both have a respect for nature and a code of honor.
Buckaroos and buccaneers aren’t that different after all. And when you remember that a lot of Texas is the coastline (almost 400 miles), well… It isn’t hard to imagine stunning ranches overlooking beaches, with gorgeous vista views. Or the pirates that might have sought refuge in the area, striking deals with local ranchers, and enabling these two worlds to mix.
On our most recent trip to the beach, we came across this message in a bottle. The writer in me thought of all the stories this bottle could tell and the secrets it held.
Just like this message in a bottle, there are secret stories waiting to be told along the Texas coast where cowboys and pirates meet.
Does the meshing of those two worlds spark a story in you? Would you love to set sail on The Black Dragon pirate ship? I’m giving away two copies (Ebook or Print) of The Texan’s Secret Daughter so leave a comment to enter the drawing!
In my newest release, The Texan’s Secret Daughter, Jazmine has a secret that she knows it’s time to share. The secret rocks Elijah De La Rosa’s world.
Can this rancher make up for his past?
Cowboys of Diamondback Ranch book #1
Turning his life around was the hardest thing Elijah De La Rosa ever had to do—until his ex-wife, Jazmine Daniels, returns with their young daughter he didn’t know existed. Now this successful rancher will do anything to be a good father. But can he forgive himself for the past…and turn their second chance into a family for always?
I love historical research almost as much as I love writing historical romance—some days, depending on how the writing is going, I love research even more! One of my favorite ways to get acquainted with my setting is by finding old newspapers writing during that time and, if possible, in that location.
By the mid-1800s, nearly every Western town of any size had at least one newspaper that kept a printing press busy. Many had more than one, and press wars—while they seem to be current—really do originate way back when. In their quest to be the best, as they do now, reporters were always looking for a blockbuster story. Sometimes they made it up, but newspapermen—and newspaperwomen—who cared about their craft would go to great lengths to get the story. In a time when photographs were not so easily available, words had to do the job of showing the reader the story.
When I created the character of Madeline Latour, my intrepid reporter for the New Orleans Picayune who goes west to get her story in my novel My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas (Barbour Books, July 2018), I knew she would have to be the type of person whose editor would trust to bring in the big story. She had to have a spirit of adventure to go along with her desire to bring the truth to her readers. Since Galveston, Texas is a real location, Madeline also had to exist within the framework of what was actually happening in Galveston—and in Texas–in the spring of 1880.
And that is where the real fun began. I went to the archives of the Galveston Daily News and read everything I could get my hand—or rather eyes—on. My favorite part of putting real life into historical fiction was to read the social column and the advertisements.
I found a mention of a party that happened in the same week my characters arrived in Texas, so of course Madeline and Jonah attended. As well as this mention in the society column, a story chronicling the benefits of Dr. C. McLane’s Liver Pills and an advertisement for the Hazard Powder Company Blasting and Mining Powder actually appeared in the March 26, 1880 edition on the third page. Obviously there was no gossip about my fictional characters in that episode, although there were other interesting articles and advertisements. These included one for Jenkins’s Annihilator cure for rheumatism, gout and neuralgia, and another assuring readers that a cure for opium addiction could be found by purchasing morphine from the doctor who placed the ad. The name of the doctor in the opium cure ad is too blurry to read, which is probably just as well.
So the next time you’re curious about an area or an era, an incident or a person of historical significance in the Old West, check out the local papers. Imagine what your Old West character could do with some blasting and mining powder or a vial or two of morphine. Not only can you find out where he or she could have purchased it, but you can probably find an article or two detailing what happened afterward.
I will be giving away one copy of MY HEART BELONGS IN GALVESTON, TEXAS to one commenter from the UNITED STATES.
BIO: Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than ninety books with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. She is a member of ACFW, Novelists Inc., and the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division.
Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for her historical romantic suspense Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include 2018 CBA Bestseller The Pirate Bride and the newly released My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
Hello to everyone at Petticoats and Pistols! Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, Luckiest Cowboy of All, coming out next Tuesday.
This book has gotten rave reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and RT Reviews and from my amazing readers on Goodreads. To say I’m excited about it would be an understatement.
The Luckiest Cowboy of All is the third and final book in the Happy, Texas trilogy, following Toughest Cowboy in Texas and Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. Although it’s part of a series, it’s a stand alone book that can be read without reading the first two.
AND—I love that word because it means there’s more to come—this is a two-for-one book. After you read Luckiest Cowboy of All, you are only half finished with the book. My good friend, Sara Richardson’s book Hometown Cowboy, is included. It’s Jessa Mae and Lance Cortez’s story. She’s a small town veterinarian and he’s a big-time rodeo star.
Voices in my head….
Jace Dawson has waited patiently for his turn to tell me his story, and I loved having him sitting behind me in the recliner telling me all about his life while I wrote it. I have a plaque on the wall of my office that reads: I know the voices in my head are not real but they have really great ideas.
That saying became very real during the time I was privileged to spend with Jace. He’d fallen in love with Carlene back when they were in high school and had even entertained notions that someday they might be together forever. But after graduation her father got transferred and she went with him. She’d promised to keep in touch but she hadn’t and her old aunt, who still lived in Happy, wouldn’t give him a bit of information.
Now it’s almost a decade later and Carlene has taken a teaching job back in Happy at the elementary school. One look at her daughter and Jace knows immediately that the child is his and he’s pretty angry that Carlene didn’t even tell him that she was pregnant.
Secret Baby/Second Chance
The secret baby/second chance trope has been done so often that I knew when I started writing this story; it had to touch my readers emotions to keep their attention. I hope I’ve done that and that they travel with Jace through his battle with giving up his bachelorhood and doing what his heart is telling him. And that they experience Carlene’s reluctance in listening to her heart—when she fears that Jace is only doing “the right thing” in wanting a relationship with her. How could he love her after she deceived him?
Secondary Story Threads
There’s a secondary story thread that began in Toughest Cowboy in Texas and continued through Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. It’s about the Dawsons’ grandmother, Hope, and a past love from her youth. It wraps up in Jace and Carlene’s story as this trilogy comes to an end.
I hope that when you finish Sara and my stories that you sigh and wish for more! If so, don’t put your reading glasses away and keep your cowboy boots close by because there are more cowboys on the way. Cowboy Bold debuts the first book in the Longhorn Canyon series in May. Cowboy Honor, the second book, will arrive in September and then Cowboy Brave will finish the series in January of 2019.
I’ll give away a signed copy of Luckiest Cowboy in Texas to one person who comments on today’s post. Tell me, what makes you go from merely taking a look at a book to putting it in your cart to take home? Cover? Back blurb? Those first few sentences on page one?
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. The author of more than eighty published books, she’s also the three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a Bookseller’s Best Award, and a Montlake Diamond Award. Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her two tomcats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com.
I’m so excited! I have a new book out tomorrow! Actually, this is a re-release of a 2002 book but since it got no exposure back then, this is like brand new. It’s the first in a series called Texas Heroes and is about a cowboy with nothing to live for who wins a baby in a poker game. I’ll tell you more about it further down.
Some ranches have the strangest names but they must mean something to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all do. But some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in my and Phyliss’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. We thought it was perfect name for her ranch.
Here are a few of the others I’ve used:
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Each one told a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains names his ranch Aces ’n Eights later on in Book #3 of this Texas Heroes series.
The name means so much to him. It’s the hand he wins baby Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget how she comes into his life. That baby girl gives him the will to live again.
Aces ’n Eights is also called the Deadman’s Hand and is comprised of a pair of black aces, black eights and a hole card. It was called the Deadman’s hand because those were the cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed. His hole card was the Queen of Hearts.
Here’s the back blurb for this book:
Duel McClain has lost everything he’s ever loved: his wife, his son, his sense of self. But when a strange twist of fate—and a poker game he’ll never forget—leaves an innocent little girl in his care, Duel vows to defend his new family to his very last breath. If only he knew a single thing about taking care of babies…
Just as Duel swears his life can’t get any more complicated, a beautiful woman stumbles into the light of his campfire, desperate for help. Jessie Foltry is hungry, tired, and running for her life. She agrees to help Duel care for the child in exchange for his protection, even as she fights to guard her broken heart. But Duel will do whatever it takes to make Jessie see that the Texas plains have more than one kind of knight, and perhaps their salvation is closer than either of them could have dreamed…
I’m from dry land farmers and people who ran small ranches that never made much money. I know the movies have the stories about powerful ranchers who own more land than they can ride across in a day, but that’s not the people I’m from.
My grandparents met at a barn raising in Texas, just over the Red River from Oklahoma. They spent the day together, wrote letters for a year, then he rode back across the Red to pick her up. She had the wagon packed with her hope chest and all they’d need. They were married that day. She was fifteen and he was eighteen. They crossed back over the Red into Oklahoma Territory and started farming.
My dad was their youngest son and he said they looked old when he was born. If he was alive, my father would be a 100 this year.
All this said, sometimes I feel close to the past. Like it’s just around the corner out of reach. I might have an iPhone and an Apple computer, but their blood still flows in me. I’m from farm folks….
Or, so I thought….the blood must be thinning.
My son, who has a master’s in Criminal Justice and works in loss prevention for a national chain, was told he could work from home last month. Three weeks later he bought a farm in the middle of nowhere. My GPS told me I was 31 miles out. Two hours later I’m still circling every County Road looking for him. Who knew two ruts in the tall grass was a road?
I couldn’t wait to see his land, his farm. We traveled across Texas, 10 hours, with three ducks riding in a tub in the back of our van. Once, when Tom stopped fast one of the ducks flew out and landed just behind my sister. She didn’t seem to like the duck eating her hair.
So all tired we pulled into a beautiful, green farm.
My son, whose time outside city lights can be counted in weeks, greets us with a warning that he shot a coral snake this morning.
Coral snake. I start trying to remember that ‘black touch red or black touch yellow’ but have no idea which is a friendly fellow.
I jump out. I have to walk the land! Get back to my roots! They’ve got chickens and ducks. A stream. Not exactly The Red, but too big for me to cross.
The fire ants were not welcoming—enough said.
We let the ducks out and they loved their bath.
Tom thought he’d pet a chicken. By accident, I’m sure, the chicken put a deep scratch along Tom’s arm. This chicken was not a cuddler.
But, we were in Heaven. We were on the land. I had no idea how noisy it is at night. Or how early the sun comes up without heavy drapes.
Then about dawn the first day, I picked up my Apple, curled up in the porch swing and found Heaven.
I’m from the land, you know. I was home.
I hope you’ll feel just that way when you read my new book, INDIGO LAKE. Come along with me on this journey and when you finish maybe you’ll say “I’m from the land.”
When I began writing the Ransom Canyon series, a very dear friend gave me a Ransom Canyon T-shirt to inspire me. It sat by my desk and was never worn. I would like to give that shirt to one of my special readers who might know—How do you get rid of fire ants without killing the chickens?”
People, especially western romance authors, have actually told me that they would like to borrow my life. Why? Because my maternal grandfather as well as my father were ranch foremen—real Texas cowboys, and I spent part of my growing up years on a sixty-thousand-acre cattle ranch in South Texas.
Some of the biggest ranches in the county, if not the world, are located in South Texas where I live—the King and the Kenedy ranches to name two. When I describe ranch scenes in my western romances, I am often describing something I have actually seen. And the history part? No problem.
I’m not telling my age here, but not getting any younger either. I’ve lived through a lot of changes and historic events, and the Lord has given me a good long-term memory, making it possible for me to recall these events and write about them.
My cowboy grandfather was a man named Seth. He’s the cowboy on the horse, and I’ve always liked his name. In fact, I named the hero in one of my westerns, Seth.
In South Texas, we call a row of cowboys on horses, the line up. Here is my grandfather again in the line up, waiting to go and work cattle horseback.
Probably the best western I’ve written so far is WhentheCowboyRidesAway. It won the 2016 Texas Association of Authors contest in the Christian Western category and was a finalist in the Will Rogers Awards in the inspirational category that same year. God willing, I will continue to write novels and novellas until He takes me home.
Barbour Publishing published TheSecretAdmirerRomanceCollection in May 2017, nine novellas by nine different authors. My novella was a historical western set in the Texas hill country titled “Too Many Secrets.”
CinderellaTexas takes place on a South Texas ranch in the same location as the setting for WhentheCowboyRidesAway but in modern times. My agent published CinderellaTexas in June 2017.
Now, let’s talk about my cowgirl life. First of all, my family didn’t own the ranches I lived on. My father and grandfather worked there. But it didn’t really matter since I could ride out horseback whenever I liked, listen to the coyotes yapping a night after all the lights were out, go swimming in a water tank in the middle of a cow pasture, or pick wildflowers to my heart’s content.
But for me, dating was a problem before I met my future husband. A boy had to really like me to drive twenty or thirty miles on country roads just to go out with me when there were plenty of town girls to pick from. Once one of my dates finally arrived at the ranch where I lived, he had to—open, drive through, and then close four to seven gates just to reach our house. I remember sitting on the front porch at night waiting to see the first blink of car-lights in the distance. I knew that when I saw that first blink, my date would arrive in about twenty minutes. That’s what is meant by “living in the sticks.”
And if you would like the opportunity to borrow my cowgirl life, buy and read one of my Christian western romance novels. Better yet, read them all.
After having lived in isolated areas for much of my life, I love to talk to folks. So, stop by, chat and leave a comment.
Molly Noble Bull is a Christian author with a Texas cattle ranch background, and she has published with Zondervan, Love Inspired, Elk Lake Publishing, and Barbour Publishing. Several of her novels won contests for published authors. She has lived most of her life in South Texas or the Texas hill country, but most don’t know that she also lived in Germany for a year when her husband was in the United States military.
Molly is giving away a free paperback copy of either TheSecretAdmirerRomanceCollection or WhentheCowboyRidesAway to a contest winner with a address in the United States. She is also giving away a Kindle copy of CinderellaTexas.
Do you know who Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke was created from? If you said the lady gambler, Lottie Deno, you’d be correct. Born Carlotta Thompkins on April 21, 1844 on a Kentucky plantation, she created quite a stir everywhere she went.
Her parents were very well-to-do and Lottie didn’t want for anything. At her birth, she was assigned a nanny from among the slaves—Mary Poindexter. She was a giant of a woman—7 ft. tall—and she accompanied Lottie everywhere she went. Nobody messed with big Mary.
Lottie’s father taught her to play cards and she became an expert. When he was killed in the Civil War, Lottie played cards to support her mother and younger sister. For a while, Lottie worked on the riverboats and gambling houses along the Mississippi. She was a vivacious redhead with sparkling brown eyes and could charm the pants off any man—and his wallet too. I love this woman!
In 1865 Lottie arrived in San Antonio and a year later was offered a job dealing cards at the University Club. She fell in love several times but stayed single until later meeting a half-Cherokee gambler named Frank Thurmond. He left town very suddenly after killing a man and soon after, Lottie followed.
Lottie rode into the rough town of Fort Griffin, Texas on a stagecoach. She sat out in the open right on the very top where she could see everything. She caused quite a stir. It didn’t take long to get a job at the Bee Hive Saloon. One night she and Doc Holliday played cards all night long and by morning she’d won thousands of dollars of Doc’s money. She also played with legendary Wyatt Earp and many other notables of the old West.
It was in Fort Griffin where Lottie got the Deno part of her name. One of the gamblers who’d lost to her hollered out, “Honey, the way you play your name should be Lotta Dinero.”
Once when a gunfight broke out inside the Bee Hive Saloon all the people fled except Lottie. She got under a table and waited. When they asked her why she stayed, she said she wasn’t about to leave her money and besides, they couldn’t shoot straight.
She separated herself from the violent population of Ft. Griffin by taking a shanty in what they called The Flats on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. She only left it only to visit the local mercantile and to go to work. But Lottie lost her heart to Frank Thurmond and followed him to Silver City, New Mexico where they married and opened two saloons, a restaurant and a hotel.
Lottie got involved in charity work, feeding newly released prisoners and giving them a place to stay.
She and Frank eventually moved on to Deming, New Mexico where they got out of the gambling business and settled down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Frank became vice president of the Deming National Bank and helped found the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
In 1908, after forty years of marriage, Frank passed away. Lottie outlived him by 26 years until she, too, died and was buried next to Frank. Those who knew her said she maintained her laugh and good cheer to the end. I’d like to have met her. I’ll bet she was a lot of fun.
She and Frank became models for characters in a series of books by Alfred Henry Lewis. Miss Kitty owed everything about her characterization to Lottie Deno.
I think I would’ve been friends with her. She was bold and daring in a time when women were told what to do and how. I like her rebellious spirit, maybe because I’m a little rebellious also.
If you could sit down and talk to one of the larger-than-life characters from the old west, who would it be? I’m giving away a copy of TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER (#1 Men of Legend series.)
I’m so excited! I have a new release on February 7th–TEXAS REDEMPTION. This is a reissue of REDEMPTION (2005.) It’s set in the swamps of East Texas four years following the Civil War. Brodie Yates and Laurel James are searching for redemption for things done in their pasts. Secrets abound–all threatening to come out. It’s a tale of two brothers who love the same woman. I’ll tell lots more about this in my next blog on release day, Feb. 7th. It’s available for preorder everywhere online.
The state of Texas has 268,597 square miles so it’s no wonder we have huge ranches to match the size. Some are simply too enormous to comprehend. So I had no trouble setting a big ranch here for my latest Men of Legend series. I wanted it as big and bold as the father and sons who owned it, so Texas was perfect. (It’s rumored that the state produces people with big personalities.) Strictly rumor of course. I’m laughing here.
My fictional Lone Star Ranch is a little on the puny side at 480,000 acres. I modeled it to some degree after the Waggoner Ranch which was 510,000 acres in 1954. When it sold in 2016, it had grown. The Waggoner Ranch also fit the location of mine in North Texas.
The largest ranch in the world in 1880 was the XIT Ranch (stands for Ten in Texas) at a whopping three million acres in West Texas and the Panhandle. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly 4,687 square miles. Just think how long it would take to ride over it by horseback. All that land was owned by a syndicate of English investors. It was simply too big for words.
The mighty King Ranch down at the far end of the state was and still is one of the largest ranches in the world. It has well over a million acres. It was established in 1854 by partners Richard King and Gideon Lewis.
North Texas certainly has a lion share of ranching land. That’s mostly because the rugged, rocky, dry landscape is fit for little else. The Matador Land and Cattle Company (purchased by Scottish investors) is another large one at a million and half acres in the beginning. It has shrunk now but still going strong.
The 6666 Ranch is an interesting one that keeps on thriving. Captain Samuel Burk Burnett bought 350,000 acres in 1870 and started raising cattle. Rumors have swirled for decades that he named it this unusual name because he won it in a poker game with a hand of four sixes. Descendants swear that’s not true. It’s still a huge ranch at 275,000 acres. I always love driving past it and looking at the large herds of horses. Their buildings are always pristine and they even have an airstrip. It’s pretty.
Okay, back to my Lone Star Ranch. The patriarch, Stoker Legend, acquired 100 acres as payment for fighting in the Texas War for Independence. Everyone scoffed and said he had little chance of making the ranch thrive what with Indians, outlaws, drought, and the fact the land was extremely inhospitable. He paid them no mind and carved out the mighty ranch that serves as a legacy for his sons—Sam, Houston, and Luke.
Sam Legend joined the Texas Rangers as soon as he could because ranching just doesn’t interest him. He has restless feet and is driven with a need to see what’s over the next hill. Book #1 of this Men of Legend series is TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER. Sam runs across a desperate woman named Sierra Hunt who has been dragged from pillar to post. She burns with a dream of permanence—a little white house with a picket fence around it, flowers in front and a garden in back. She’s not going to settle for anything less…not even for Sam.
There are lots of twists and turns in this story as they seek to find common ground and protect the fragile love that forms as they run from a ruthless band of outlaws.
Think the western series Bonanza. This series is every bit as big and bold as the Cartwrights. I’m enjoying writing this so much.
Release day is October 4th! You can preorder at these links: AMAZON | B&N | iTUNES
There are still one million acre ranches today in the United States. What do you think the biggest challenge would be to owning such a huge amount of land?
By the way…Did you know July 23rd is the National Day of the Cowboy?