Saturday, April 30, 2011

WINCHESTERS...And The History Of Lever-Action Repeating Rifles

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Since there was such interest in my post last month about Samuel Colt and his single-action revolvers, I decided to continue with some historical information I have compiled about another type of firearm also considered one of the ‘Guns That Won The West’ . And I can think of no better introduction to this report than the following clip from one of the most popular western television series ever made.



Granted Chuck Connors was the star of The Rifleman televsion series which ran from 1958 to 1963, but any gun enthusiast will tell you his Winchester rifle was a key character in and of itself. At a time when other westerns featured quick-on-the-draw six shooters, the character Lucas McCain came out of the Old West as a highly skilled rifleman who could fire out 13 consecutive shots in the blink of an eye then twirl and spin his rifle like a drum majorette’s baton. But what many people do not realize is that the lever-action Winchester 1892 wielded so effortlessly by character Lucas McCain had been modified especially for actor Chuck Connors.

Without question, Winchester lever-action repeating rifles were fast, but there was another reason why TV’s Rifleman could fire off his first round in 3/10th of a second, and keep going. The alterations to his rifle featured a large ring which actually cocked the rifle as Lucas drew the firearm. In the early episodes of the series, a backwards round ‘D’ shaped loop was featured. In other episodes, the rifle had a saddle ring.

Eventually the large circle loop became a flattened lever that had no saddle ring. A screw had been set through the trigger guard to ensure unprecedented rapid fire. Sometimes the screw’s head was turned inward, close to the trigger. Sometimes, the screw was on the outside of the trigger guard. And in some episodes, when rapid fire action was not necessary, the screw was taken out.


(The ‘Rifleman’s” modified Winchester 1892 with screw outside trigger guard.)

To put it in modern terms, Lucas McCain’s rifle operated like a semiautomatic. When the lever was cocked, if that screw was turned inward, the trigger fired. Anyone who watched The Rifleman is sure to remember that he could also spin or swing the rifle to cock it using only one hand. Needless to say, the show (and Chuck Connors) made the rifle they used legendary, but it was also a very dangerous, unsafe firearm that was not historically accurate to the Winchester 1892 rifle.

Unlike Samuel Colt who actually invented and designed the single action revolver, Winchester rifles were inspired by several predecessors, from the 1848 Volition Repeating Rifle to the famous Henry rifle…and an 1866 rifle known as the “Yellow Boy”. In fact, if we were to look back at the genealogy of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, its legacy must begin with American mechanic Walter Hunt who -- between inventing the sewing machine in 1833 and the safety pin in 1849, managed to squeeze in an 1848 visionary design for a lever-action firearm called the Volition Repeating Rifle. Hunt’s design introduced an early, but very complicated version of the lever action repeating mechanism, as well as a tubular magazine (the storage and feeding device for ammunition) that is still used today. Only one of the few prototypes of his gun exists today and can be found in the Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming.

However, Hunt’s 1848 prototype was considered unworkable, largely due to its case-less ammunition called the Rocket Ball, in which the powder charge was contained in the bullet’s hollow base.

Enter a man named Lewis Jennings who purchased Hunt’s patent and revised it in 1849. Although still somewhat complicated, the rifle worked better. For a limited time it was produced by Vermont based Robbins & Lawrence under the direction of that company’s shop foreman, Benjamin Tyler Henry.

In 1850, New York businessman, Courtlandt Palmer purchased the Hunt and Jennings patents then contracted with Robbins & Lawrence to continue manufacturing the firearms. He also hired Horace Smith to improve the Jennings rifle; a Smith-Jennings rifle was subsequently patented in 1851. Still, sales of the guns were not successful, and Palmer stopped production in 1852.

In 1854, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson formed Smith & Wesson with Courtlandt Palmer. At this time, numerous improvements were made to the lever-action design. In 1855, Smith & Wesson, along with some other investors, established the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. Their mission: to manufacture the Volcanic lever-action pistols and rifles, basically Horace Smith’s version of the Hunt-Jennings design. As fate would have it, one of the largest stockholders of this new venture was a man named Oliver Winchester.


(Volcanic lever-action pistol – 1855)


(Jennings and Volcanic Rifles)

Unfortunately, the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company also ran into challenges and difficulties from the start. Management also faced some problems when both Horace Smith and David Wesson left the company not long after it was formed, opting to focus on Smith & Wesson Revolvers.

Consequently, Volcanic Repeating Arms Company floundered and Oliver Winchester stepped forward to buy the bankrupt company from the other stockholders. And so it was that in 1857, Volcanic became the New Haven Arms Company located in New Haven, Connecticut. A year later, Winchester hired Benjamin Tyler Henry as plant superintendent. Henry had been experimenting with rim fire cartridges and how he might adapt the ammunition for the lever-action design. By doing so, he created a rifle that would make history.

In 1862, the Henry rifle was born, manufactured by Winchester’s New Haven Arms Company.

During the Civil War, the most popular weapon to have was a Henry rifle, and most soldiers in the Union Army had them. Designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry, the Henry rifle was a .44 caliber rim fire, breech loading, lever action rifle that fired sixteen shots. Its ability to rapid fire at close range gave its owner a definite advantage in the Civil War. Pictured (left) is an authentic Civil War 1860 Henry Rifle. The Henry rifle could be fired, the empty cartridge ejected, and a fresh round chambered without taking the rifle from the shoulder. But its major competitor, the Spencer rifle, offered a more powerful cartridge. So, Winchester decided it was time to modify and enhance the Henry rifle.

In 1866, Winchester changed the name of his company from the New Haven Arms Company to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. And the first rifle produced under the Winchester brand was the 1866 Winchester or “Yellow Boy” (pictured below). This lever-action rifle was a marked improvement over the Henry rifle and it was also the first true cowboy lever-action rifle, carried in a cowboy-style saddle scabbard.

The Yellow Boy also had a side loading gate, which contributed to its improvement over the Henry rifle. Aesthetically, this design change allowed the rifle to have a satin walnut fore-end with a brass fore-end nose cap. As you can see from the photograph, it was a beautiful rifle. Mechanically, this rifle could be fired from any position (while lying, crouching, kneeling or on horseback). The shooter could easily recharge ammunition with the side loading gate. In addition, unlike the Henry, the new design prevented dust and debris from getting into the magazine. This rifle was so successful and popular it remained relatively unaltered until Winchester came out with a more powerful lever-action model in 1873.

Winchester 1873 -- The Winchester 1873 was one of the most famous rifles produced by the company. Originally available in .44-40 cartridges, it would later offer .38-40 and .32.20 cartridges. Basically, three versions of the Winchester 1873 were offered – the rifle, the carbine, and the musket. The barrel on a rifle was 24”, and the carbine had a 20” barrel. Few muskets were made, and the carbine was the best seller because it allowed the shooter more portability and they could use the same ammunition for their rifle as they did for their handgun. This model is also the Winchester popularized on the frontier. In fact, over 720,000 Winchester 1873 carbines were produced at that time in history. So, where Colt’s SAA .45 Peacemaker may have been the handgun that won the West, the same could be said about the Winchester 1873 carbine.

Winchester 1876 -- Introduced to commemorate the American Centennial, the 1876 model Winchester had a heavier frame, making it an excellent rifle for hunting. It was also the first to chamber full-powered centerfire rifle cartridges rather than the rimfire cartridges or handgun-sized centerfire ammunition. Despite the fact it looked like the Model 1873, it was based on the prototype for an 1868 lever-action rifle that had never been produced by the company. Popularized by buffalo hunters, the Winchester 1876 was also used by none other than Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter.

(Theodore Roosevelt and his engraved Winchester 1876.)

Winchester 1886 -- The Model 1886 was designed by John Moses Browning, and offered heavier rounds of ammunition and a stronger ‘locking-block action’ than the 1876’s toggle-link.

Winchester 1892 -- Like their first lever-action rifles, the Model 1892 used shorter, low pressure handgun rounds of ammunition, but featured a stronger Browning-type locking block action. Over a million of these rifles were produced by Winchester, but the model was phased out in the 1930s.

Winchester 1894 -- Another John Browning design, the Model 1894 is the best known of Winchester’s repeating rifles. It chambered new smokeless .30-30 Winchester cartridges and would eventually offer other calibers. It should be noted that Winchester was the first company to produce a rifle for civilians using the smokeless cartridges. Though very expensive, the Model 1894 was destined to be one of the best-selling hunting rifles ever manufactured.

Winchester 1895 -- The last rifle manufactured by Winchester in the 19th century was the Model 1895. This particular rifle was the first Winchester lever-action repeating rifle to load from a ‘box magazine’. This capability enabled the rifle to chamber military cartridges featuring pointed projectiles. In fact, the rifle was used by military in the United States, Great Britain, and Imperial Russia. Those rifles used by Russia also featured the ability to load charger clips, something not available on other lever-action rifles. Among the various calibers offered for this rifle was the .405 Winchester. Teddy Roosevelt added to his Winchester collection by purchasing the Winchester 1895 with the .405 caliber that he used on safari in Africa.

Winchester continued to manufacture rifles into the next century and beyond, but I think this is a necessary stopping point. I wanted to focus on the origin and history of lever-action repeating rifles manufactured during the 19th century. But since we are talking about Winchesters, I would like to add that at the beginning of John Browning’s 20-year relationship with Winchester, he also designed a single shot rifle in 1878. Although it wasn’t manufactured until 1885, and then promoted for use in sport shooting matches, the Winchester Model 1885 Single Shot rifle has been called ‘the most reliable, strongest, and altogether best single shot rifle ever produced'.

Phew! This concludes my lengthy post about Winchester and the lever-action repeating rifle. Thank you soooo much for taking the time to read it, and I hope you found it interesting. ~ AKB

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST


Today I have something kind of “unwestern-y” to blog about–it’s a short story of mine called TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST. It first appeared in an anthology put out by VICTORY TALES PRESS last summer called A SUMMER COLLECTION. All the stories in the collection took place in the summer, but they could have been during any time period. Mine, I decided, would take place in a contemporary setting.

In Oklahoma where I live is part of the area known as “tornado alley.” The story opens with a newly divorced police officer starting down the stairs of his apartment building with the tornado sirens wailing in the distance. All in a day’s work for a police officer in Oklahoma City, but the excitement is only just beginning on this very unusual day. Who would ever expect to find love in the middle of Latino gang warfare and a tornado?

I was so pleased that my story was included in one of the very first anthologies that VICTORY TALES PRESS put out, and I can’t say enough good things about Rebecca Vickery and her up-and-coming publishing company. TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST also appears now as a “stand alone” short story in one of the VTP imprint companies.

One thing that is very exciting to me about this story is that my daughter created the cover for the e-book stand alone version. I have several new releases heading your way over this summer, and wanted to start by showcasing this short story, the only non-western one of the bunch!

I will be giving away 2 copies of TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST–all you have to do is leave a comment. Please check back tomorrow evening to see who the winners are! I hope you enjoy!

The set up:

To Make the Magic Last

Police officer, Steve Cooper, heads out for work one morning just as the city’s tornado sirens blast a warning. In the stairwell he runs into a different situation—a gang war in his apartment building. Shots ring out and Steve catches a bullet. Seriously injured, he pushes the beautiful woman who has come through the door behind him back toward safety.

Christy Reed, his enchanting new neighbor, pulls him into her apartment and attempts to stop the bleeding. Recently arrived from Mississippi, Christy has no idea what the sirens and gunfire mean, but she knows enough to be terrified.

The phone lines aren’t working and the storm is bearing down. They take refuge in the bathroom as the sound of a freight train roars over the building. Through the pain, Steve finds himself drawn to Christy. There’s some sort of magic about her. Christy feels the same about Steve. He’s the man she’s always dreamed of meeting.
When the building collapses around them and they meet the gunmen once more, will Steve and Christy have what it takes to help each other through this? Can they make the magic last?

EXCERPT FROM “TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST”:

The wind was roaring outside, deafening even in the small bathroom. They were practically yelling to be heard above the storm.

Hesitantly, Christy crawled over the side of the tub, careful of where she placed her hands. Finally, his good arm came around her in a strong embrace, pulling her down flush with his body until she lay on top of him. She tried to hold herself away from his shoulder, but he drew her down, tucking her head beneath his chin, and she reached to pull the comforter around them.

Steve could feel her shaking as she lay down. She was more afraid of the storm than the gunmen, it seemed. But as soon as he thought it, she asked, “Do you think they were after you, or just anyone who came down the stairwell?”

Her breath was warm against his neck, the comforter enveloping them in a cocoon of false security. The wind roared outside, deafening in the small bathroom. There was a high-pitched sound of rending metal, the heavy clunking noise of tearing wood, and Steve knew the roof of the building was gone.

Christy gasped, pressing closer into his chest. He patted her awkwardly, his arm at an odd angle. After a moment, he answered her question. “Neither. They were after each other.” They’d been yelling at each other in Spanish, he remembered. He had just happened to walk into the middle of rival Latino gang warfare, ongoing in this neighborhood, day and night. What was a girl like Christy doing in this area? “Right now, this storm is more of a threat.”

She had stopped shaking despite the fact the storm still blew with wild strength outside. She seemed to have forgotten it, lying so close to him. But he knew they were still in terrible danger, and he might not get the chance to tell her what he needed to say if he waited.

A long moment of silence hung between them, the only sound the worsening storm outside. “Christy.” He touched her arm again, and she glanced up. “Thanks for trying to . . . help me.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

Her voice sounded muffled, he thought. Like she was crying, and trying to hide it. “Sure you did.” The comforter was soft. The bleeding was stopped. And, Steve decided, he loved the feel of Christy Reed’s body on his, warm and curvy, and more comforting than that damn piece of down-filled material ever could be.
Her fingers slowly curled into the folds of his once-starched uniform, then settled against the soft cotton tee shirt.

“You’re doing it . . . even now, sweetheart.”

Slowly, she lifted her head and met his eyes in the dark haven they’d made. “Steve—” she broke off, raking her teeth over her bottom lip quickly, nervously.

He smiled at that habit of hers, thinking how he’d like to kiss her; how he wished he knew her better; how it would seem to her if he even . . .

Hell with it. He pulled her to him slowly, her lips coming across his, warm and sweet and soft as the brush of butterfly wings. Uncertainly, she tasted his mouth, and he opened for her, letting her explore him. Her right hand moved to his jawline, her thumb skimming his cheekbone before her fingers found their way to thread through his hair.

“What’s happening to us?” she murmured, drawing back slowly to look at him.
Her voice was quiet and low, and Steve realized that they must be in the eye of the storm. There was no sound but the rain now, and far away in the distance, the wail of a siren somewhere. “Magic,” he whispered, believing it himself. He’d never felt so protective of any other woman—even Lacey. Christy needed him, but she was a giver, too.

She shook her head and lay back down against his chest. “Magic always fades away.”
Not this time, he wanted to say. But he was too exhausted to form the words. Instead, his hand drifted to her short curls, tangling gently there, finding comfort in the clean softness. She’d been hurt before, he knew; he could hear it in her voice. He wanted to know who…and why. But he couldn’t ask—not right now. He couldn’t keep himself awake. “Christy, I’m . . . so tired.”

There was a long pause. He knew she was afraid, not only of the storm and the predators, but also of what was happening—the magic they’d made so suddenly, the fire that had kindled so unexpectedly between them. He wouldn’t let it disappear, he thought fiercely. She was something special—he could feel that already. Something worth holding onto.“I know, darling,” she whispered finally. “Just rest, okay? I’ll be here when you wake up.”

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE
http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/online-store.php

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LAURI ROBINSON LOVES THE WEST AND COWBOYS!

Don’t you just love the name of this blog—Sweethearts of the West?
Lauri Robinson
I do, and I’m so honored to be a guest blogger today. I have several historical western romances on the market with The Wild Rose Press and a few with Harlequin in their Undone line, and I’m often asked why I write westerns. To me it’s simple, I love the old west. I didn’t watch Bonanza and Gunsmoke because that’s what was on. I watched them because that’s what I wanted to watch. I credit John Wayne for making the western movie an American classic, and still get excited when I hear of a new western movie in the making.

Other countries had their illustrious times, their famed heroes, and rough and wild eras, but only America can claim the ‘Old West.’ Where men were bold and women tough. The land west of the Mississippi promised change, wonder, beauty and riches, and men and women flocked to catch a piece of those promises. Gold Rushes. Land Runs. Cattle Drives. The Railroad Boom. Wagon Trains.

These were times of great changes, massive fortunes, and catastrophes. People thrived, set down roots and created communities that went well beyond kindred souls. Dreams came true and new professions were created.

Cattle Drive
 The most iconic of those is probably the American Cowboy, which came about after the Civil War, when the shortage of beef in the northern states gave some enterprising southerners, mainly Texans, the idea of moving their cattle north. Their plan was to drive their cattle to the closest railroads, namely Kansas, and from there ship beef across the nation. The plan worked. (Texas cattle drives had started before the war, but on a smaller scale and stopped completely during the war since there was no profit in it.)

The cowboy is often portrayed as a lanky, handsome, rugged, a little risky, but sexy and loveable man who didn’t need the law to tell him right from wrong. Instinct told him. He had a heart of gold, and wouldn’t allow anyone or thing to be mistreated. The six-shooter hanging off his hip was his best friend, right next to his horse, and the woman he loved was the luckiest lady around.

I, for one, am in awe of all the men and women who journeyed west. Those strong, fiery souls, full of pioneer spirit and dreams, who believed. Believed in themselves.

Can you imagine leaving everything behind to forge your way through unknown and uncivilized territory? I honestly don’t know that I have it in me. I like knowing where my next meal will come from and that I’ll have a roof over my head each night, but I love reading about these people, and writing about them. To create new characters, tell the tales of them embarking on fascinating journeys, and finding their happily-ever-after is my dream come true.
Now Available

On April 1st, the fifth book in my Quinter Brides series, WILDCAT BRIDE was released by The Wild Rose Press. Mixed Book Bag had this to say about the series: "Lauri Robinson writes wonderful romantic stories and WILDCAT BRIDE is no exception. Her well-drawn characters are people you would invite into your homes and your hearts. They face challenges with grace and humor, are loyal to a fault, admit their mistakes and act out of love. The villains get their just desserts and the good guys come out on top."


Coming May 2011
 My next release will be Nights with the Outlaw on May 1st, a Harlequin Undone. Here’s the blurb:

Nebraska, 1885Outlaw Clint Turnquist is on a mission—one that doesn’t involve falling in love. His freedom hinges on tracking down his former gang, but he can’t resist Doreena Buckman’s plea to help protect her ranch from the strangers watching her property. Bold and beautiful, she tempts Clint with both her body and her promise of a fresh start. But even with his past standing between them, denying the urge to kiss her may take more discipline than he has...

For additional information on my books and releases, feel free to stop by www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com

Thanks so much to the wonderful Sweethearts of the West for inviting me over today. They are great gals, and I’ve enjoyed many of their books.

Cheers, Ladies.

Thanks to the very gracious and writer extraordinairre, Lauri Robinson, for stepping in as guest on short notice. Lauri, we hope you'll be back soon!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter on the Kansas Prairie late 1800s by Sandra Crowley

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL

I hope you and your family are enjoying this day of rebirth.


Easter on the Kansas prairie was sparse in the late 1800s. At least it was for those members of my family who left Germany and settled on the wind swept grasslands. Like the majority of pioneers, they worked long hard hours to establish farms they hoped would shelter and feed their families. They had little time for frivolities. However, Christmas and Easter warranted trips to Bloom or Delhi, the nearest Osborne County towns, to attend church and socialize, maybe join in an Easter Egg Hunt.




Ernest, Edo, Elsie Sunday-go-to-meeting duds
 I suppose the kids back then asked the same question I asked my mom decades ago, “Why does the Easter bunny bring eggs?” Two possible answers appeal to me. The first: Rabbits symbolize fertility. Fertility is the basis of spring. And, spring coincides with Easter, the time of rebirth. The second: German legend tells of an egg-laying hare named Osterhase that youngsters made nests for, leaving them outside for the rabbit to lay her eggs in. Osterhase might have evolved from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre (or Ostara in German), who was said to have changed her pet bird into a rabbit to entertain children. The rabbit laid brightly colored eggs to the delight of the kids.

But, why eggs? Rabbits don’t lay eggs; they give live birth to bunnies. The answer could be that ancient romans believed all life came from eggs. Lent played its part, too, in Medieval Europe. The christian time of penance and fasting forbade consumption of eggs. Instead of letting the protein rich food spoil, Christians boiled their eggs or preserved them in some other manner until fasting ended on Easter. They were then the mainstay of that first meal. They were even given as presents to children or servants because many believed two yolks in an Easter egg meant the finder would soon grow rich. Christians of the time period also believed that if one kept an egg laid on Good Friday for one hundred years, its yolk would turn into a diamond. Considering how many things my family passed down through the years, I’m surprised we don’t have an egg or two among our treasures.

What we saved are adorable construction paper Easter Baskets we made as children in grade school. Do you remember those? Do you have one that your mother treasured and passed to you? Maybe you have one of your child’s tucked away in a baby book? They are the modern equivalent of the nests German children made for Osterhase centuries ago. Life continues, always changing, yet remaining the same.

Wishing you all the very best,
Sandra Crowley

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cowboy Code of Ethics

The American cowboy’s code of ethics was pretty straightforward—but each “rule” was backed up by plain ol’ common sense.  Here are some "laws of the plains” that the cowboy strictly adhered to.

v It is bad manners to ask a man his name.  He may have a reason why he can’t afford to share his name or bring attention to himself.

v Stealing a man’s horse is a crime punishable by death.  To leave a man stranded on the plains, miles from food, water or shelter is as good as killing him.

v Cheating at cards is an unpardonable offense.  The victim or one of his friends is entitled to retaliate with a six-shooter.

v Drawing on an unarmed man is strictly prohibited.  Offenders may be gunned down on the spot by the victim, if he’s able, or his kin or friends.

v Encountering a stranger on the trail, a man must approach him and speak a few words before moving off in another direction.  Greeting him establishes good intentions.

v hen two men meet, speak, and pass on, neither must look back over his shoulder.  To do so is an indication of distrust, implying that the man looking behind him expects a shot in the back.

v When a stranger dismounts to cool his horse it is not polite to remain in the saddle while carrying on a conversation with him.  The proper thing to do is dismount and speak to him face to face, so he can see what you’re up to.

v  To ride another man’s horse without asking permission is a grave insult.  A horse is private property and borrowing one without permission is equivalent to a slap in the face.

v Only in a dire emergency is it permissible to borrow a horse.  Every man has his own style of riding and a horse can easily be spoiled by the wrong rider.

v A smart rider always puts his horse’s comfort before his own.  If the horse becomes lame or disabled, the rider may find himself stranded in the middle of the desert. 


Courtesy of Cowboys Then & Now museum, Portland, OR.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE NECESSARY

Bath or bed?
 Embarrassing subject, but....yes, necessary to the health and well being of our ancestors. Western authors usually rely on the windmill, cistern, or hand-dug well for their stories. I cringe when I read a story in which the pioneer heroine, exhausted from a hard day's work, makes herself a deep tub of steaming water and bathes. Honestly, if you were so tired you could hardly struggle to bed, would you carry that much water, heat it, and bathe before bed. I doubt you would, no matter how much you longed to for a bath. My grandmother said she used a pan of warm, soapy water and washed thoroughly, face to feet. She was a fastidious lady and never went to bed without washing even the bottoms of her feet and between her toes. <g> Baths were only once a week. But I got ahead of myself.

Garderobe, Peveril Castle, Derbyshire
 Probably everyone is aware that early Romans and Greeks had ingenious indoor plumbing and heating based on water flow. Many of the early sewers built by Romans in England are still utilized. King Minos of Crete had the first recorded flushing water closet. A toilet was discovered in the tomb of a Han Dynasty Chinese king dating to 200 BC. Garderobes in medieval castles were a step down [even though they were upstairs] from the Romans. They emptied into the moat, lake, or stream, which sometimes seeped back into the drinking water’s source and caused cholera and other diseases. The dark ages swept advances in plumbing under the rug, so to speak, along with cleanliness. What about more recent history for writers whose books are set in the Regency period through the early Twentieth Century?

Chamber pot and lid
The first sewers in America were built in the early nineteenth century in New York and Boston. These were to rid the streets of refuse. At this time, no one addressed getting fresh water safely to individual homes and apartments or eliminating the smelly outhouse. Chamber pots varied from open buckets to decorative ceramic containers with tight fitting lids. The pots were emptied daily into an outhouse or, heaven forbid, into the street.

Chamber box
Offal carts made the rounds of city streets, sometimes called "the nightman" because in some cities the offal removal people came at night. The drivers used buckets and shovels to empty outhouses and cesspits and sprinkle the recesses liberally with lime. What a horrid job that must have been!

Thomas Crapper [yes, that really was the man’s name] was erroneously credited with inventing the first flushing toilet. However, he was a plumber and holds many patents for plumbing products, and had several plumbing shops. Actually, the earliest known flushing toilet in Western history is credited to Sir John Harington, godson of Queen Elizabeth I. It was crude and the Queen reportedly refused to use it.

Flushing toilet
The earliest patent for a flush toilet was issued to Alexander Cumming in 1775. The problem with early toilets was that people did not understand how germs spread or the need for venting fumes away from the toilet. There was also difficulty perfecting a system that would take away all of the refuse when flushed. In addition to smell, germs accumulated and spread disease. People became afraid to install the toilets inside their homes.

Bathing rooms were exactly that—rooms in which people could bathe. Using a cistern or a pump from the kitchen range’s water reservoir, water was piped to the bathtub. It was never more than tepid, and bathing was in only a couple inches of water. The alternative was having servants carry buckets of water to the bathing room. Usually, the tub emptied into a pipe that dumped water into the yard, street or a cesspit. These tubs were often set into elaborate wooden cabinets that matched the bathing room wainscoting—not at all suitable for long term exposure to bath water.

Bathing room with wood paneling tub enclosure

Although it was not until the 1880’s and 1890’s that American plumbing flourished, early inventors were moderately successful. In 1829, the Tremont Hotel of Boston became the first hotel to have indoor plumbing and featured eight water closets. Until 1840, indoor plumbing could be found only in the homes of the rich and in better hotels. In 1852, J. G. Jennings invented an improved flushing system, and popularized public lavatories by installing them in the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Over 800,000 people paid to use them. 

Outhouse
In 1910, toilet designs began changing to resemble those of today. However, in rural areas as in the poorer section of cities, the outhouse was used well into the twentieth century. In a recent television interview, actor Michael Caine remarked that—as a child in England—his four-story tenement had only one outhouse for use by all the building’s residents.

Authors of Georgian through modern times may determine how plumbing was utilized in their time period by seeking publications on home restoration. Books on restoring homes of various time periods detail the plumbing plans with useful illustrations. Information on earlier time periods is available on the web and in history books.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Old Manuscripts

I'm thrilled to announce that the first book in my all-new series for Harlequin American Romance, Rodeo Rebels, hits bookstores this month. Rodeo Daddy is a book dear to my heart and has seen many, many re-writes through the years. The book was written well before I sold my first manuscript to Harlequin in 2003. Unable to find a home for the book, I tossed it into a desk drawer and forgot about it.

Not long ago I was asked to write book 2, Dexter: Honorable Cowboy (July 2010), for the first ever Harlequin American Romance continuity--The Codys: First Family of Rodeo. Writing a book about a Wyoming family of rodeo stars was great fun and I was hooked on the rodeo plotline. There's something so romantic and sigh-worthy about cowboys who live to tame wild broncs and crazed bulls and the women who live to tame those cowboys. I pulled out the old manuscript, blew off the dust and went to work re-writing the story once more. This time I got lucky and my editors bought the book.

The first two books in the series, Rodeo Daddy (April 2011) and The Bull Rider's Secret (July 2011) take place in Texas while the third "untitled" book (Dec 2011) is set in New Mexico and Las Vegas. Following these three books is another group of Rodeo Rebel stories set in Arizona with plots revolving around ladies bull riding.




He's Nothing But Eight Seconds Of Heartache...

The day Hallie Sutton dreaded has finally come. Drew Rawlins has found out the secret she’s been keeping--and he’s spitting mad! But the rodeo is Drew’s whole world and Hallie needs a full-time dad for their boy. Still, how can she deny the injured bronc rider the chance to get to know his son? All Drew wants is to carve out a place in his son’s life. Sorting out his feelings for Hallie isn’t as simple. The emotion simmering between them is just as strong—so’s the red-hot desire that got them into trouble five years ago. Winning the world championship is still number-one on Drew’s list. But he figures he can have it all. The title and the chance to prove he’s the man Hallie and Nick need.

Excerpt

"The Bastrop Homecoming Rodeo must be a hell of an event. You're the third cowboy today who's fallen off his horse."

Drew Rawlins glared at the ER doctor as he sucked in a lung full of sterilized air. Not smart. A burning band of pain squeezed his injured ribs, and the words escaped his mouth in a long wheeze. "I was bucked off."

"I'm Doctor Feller." The doctor flipped on the light box mounted against the wall and studied Drew's x-ray.

Drew prayed he wouldn't draw another crazed bronc like Demon the day after tomorrow when he competed in the final round of the saddle bronc competition. He'd been lucky today to escape with a kick to the chest.

"Your ribs are badly bruised. I recommend taking a few weeks off before you ride again." In order to make the National Finals Rodeo in December, Drew needed to be among the top fifteen saddle bronc riders in the country. Today was August sixth—he was running out of time. His body broke out in a sweat that had nothing to do with pain.

"You've got callus new bone formations on five of your ribs." The doctor pointed to several spots on the x-ray.

So he'd fractured a few ribs over the years—Drew had fared better than most cowboys who'd competed at the sport as long as he had."You're lucky you didn't break a rib."

"I don't need luck, doc." Drew chuckled, then winced as a flash of fiery pain snaked around his middle.

"Rib injuries are nothing to joke about." Feller leaned against the wall. "A fractured rib can puncture a lung, liver, spleen or worse."

Worse. The word sent a shiver down Drew's spine. He'd been ten years old when the famous bull rider Lane Frost had died at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. After Frost had ridden Taking Care of Business and dismounted, the bull had turned and hit him in the side with his horn, breaking the cowboy's ribs. Frost had gotten up and headed toward the chutes, but had stumbled. When he'd hit the ground, a broken rib had severed his pulmonary artery, ending his life.

"Keep testing fate, cowboy, and you'll die with a mouthful of dirt or end up connected to a ventilator the rest of your life." The doctor waved his hand in the air. "Either way, the horse comes out the winner."

The solemn warning spawned a flashback… Drew struggled to block out today's eight-second ride, but the image of the crazed gelding's hoof coming at him while he lay unprotected in the dirt had been branded on his brain. "No worries. I don't plan to let another bronc stand on my chest." Drew was thirty-two. No longer in the prime of his life—physically. He'd been bustin' broncs for fourteen years and time was running out. If he ever had a chance at becoming a world champion, this was the year.

He needed the damned title to prove his dead father wrong—that Drew Rawlins hadn't wasted half his life chasing a crazy dream. His father had been a rising star in bareback riding when he'd gotten Drew's mother pregnant. In order to support Drew and his mother, his father had given up rodeo and helped manage his father-in-law's small-town grocery store. To this day Drew believed his father had resented him because having a family had kept the old man from achieving his dream of making it to the National Finals Rodeo. When Drew had graduated from high school and announced he intended to ride the circuit his father had scoffed, insisting Drew didn't have what it took to be a champion. Drew ignored the old man, his focus solely on winning the grand daddy of 'em all. But the big one had eluded him. Drew had made it to the NFR the year his father had died—a decade ago—but he'd placed last. Last wasn't good enough. Most cowboys with half a brain would have retired by now, but Drew had never forgotten his father's dying words before the cancer had taken him. "You ain't never gonna be as good as I was."

Angry at himself for allowing the memory to resurface, Drew inched closer to the edge of the examining table. He had plenty of experience with injured ribs. As long as he moved carefully and took shallow breaths, he could tolerate the pain.

"No rodeos for three weeks." Dr. Feller scribbled on a pad of paper.

Drew kept his mouth shut. Bruised ribs would not prevent him from competing in the final go-round on Sunday. He needed the thousand dollar jackpot to boost his earnings. The doctor handed him a prescription. "For pain."

Pain was good. If he focused on the pain, there would be no room in his head for his father's taunts. "My boots are missing," he said, after spotting his shirt thrown across the chair in the corner.

Ignoring Drew, the doctor rambled on. "You have a chance of developing pneumonia after a rib trauma. Take deep breaths and cough every hour to keep your lungs clear. An ice pack will help you feel more comfortable." He handed Drew his shirt.

"Does a nurse by the name of Hallie Sutton work here?" Drew clenched his teeth against the heat searing his side when he slipped his arm into the shirtsleeve.

"How do you know Ms. Sutton?"

Ms. Hallie hadn't married? "She put a dozen stitches in my head five years ago."

Every year Drew competed in the Bastrop Homecoming Rodeo. And each time he searched for Hallie in the stands. Once, he'd driven to the hospital to look her up but had chickened out at the last minute and left town.

Just because you never forget your one night with her doesn't mean she hasn't. He remembered walking into Cozie's bar and spotting Hallie sitting at a table with her co-workers. When their gazes met, he'd been struck by the sadness in her brown eyes and had wondered what had happened to the cheerful, talkative nurse who'd stitched his head earlier in the afternoon. The abject misery reflected in Hallie's expression had drawn him to her. Before he'd realized his actions, he'd asked her to dance. At first, she'd refused, then at the prodding of her freinds she'd allowed him to lead her onto the dance floor. Drew closed his eyes as the memory swept him away…

"Want to talk about it?" he'd whispered in Hallie's ear.

"No." She'd burrowed into him as if seeking protection from whatever had tormented her.

He'd held her close and they'd danced forever—at least eight songs. Then the band had taken a break and so had Hallie's friends—they'd left the bar. Hallie's forlorn expression had yanked Drew's heartstrings. "Need a lift home?"

"I don't want to go home." Her brown eyes had shimmered with tears.

"We could keep dancing," he'd offered.

"No."

"Hungry?"

"No."

"Wanna talk?"

"Not here."

"C'mon." He'd grabbed her hand and led her outside. The August night had been warm and muggy. "There's a coffee shop down the road." When she hadn't taken him up on the suggestion he'd thrown caution to the wind. "My camper's parked a few blocks away. We could talk there."

Hallie had stared at him for the longest time before she'd slipped her arm through his. "Okay."

The one word had sent Drew's blood thundering through his veins. They'd walked in silence—Drew preparing for anything once they reached the camper—anything except Hallie jumping his bones as soon as they'd stepped inside.

Twice, he'd attempted to take the high road and put a stop to her advances. Hallie might not have been drunk, but she hadn't been herself, either. He'd been no match for her persistence. Her touches and kisses had been edged with desperation, and her urgency fueled his desire for her. Their union had been as combustible as a four-alarm fire.

"These will hold you over until you fill the prescription." The doctor held out two pain pills and a Dixie cup of water.

"Thanks." Drew tossed back the medicine.

"If you suffer nausea, dizziness or have trouble breathing—"

"I know the routine."

The noise out of Feller's mouth sounded like the snort a bull gives when a cowboy settles onto its back. Shaking his head, the doctor left the cubicle, white coat tails flapping in his wake.

Drew closed his eyes and focused on the pain. Pain, he could handle.
Giving up rodeo, he could not.


To help kick off my Rodeo rebels series, I've written a *FREE* online read at www.eharlequin.com called The Bull Rider's Surrender. Join the discussion at the end of each chapter and your name will automatically be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of Rodeo Daddy.

Happy Reading!



www.marinthomas.com

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Education of Daughters

by Anna Kathryn Lanier

I spent last weekend in Cajun Country, Louisiana.  It was a wonderful weekend, full of fun, friendship and food. There was also a lot of sightseeing and gift shop shopping. In one shop I found a reproduction of The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, first printed in 1832. The book is full of essays and ideas on how to be frugal. One chapter is “Education of Daughters.”

“There is no subject so much connected with individual happiness and national prosperity as the education of daughters. It is a true, and therefore an old remark, that the situation and prospects of a country may be justly estimated by the character of its women….” (Well said, Mrs. Child!)

Mrs. Child, however, has strict ideas on what that education should entail. She is for the ordinary education of daughters, reading writing and arithmetic. However, she also believes, “The greatest and most universal error is, teaching girls to exaggerate the importance of getting married; and of course to place an undue importance upon the polite attention of gentlemen.” Especially when mama has not properly taught her daughter how to run a household.

Mrs. Child believes that there has been a recent absence of domestic education. And by domestic education, she does not refer to the sending of daughters into the kitchen for a day or two to be underfoot of the cook, only to brag of the experience in parlors for weeks on end. No, Mrs. Childs believes that domestic education should take place under the watchful eye of mama, over a course of years! The young girl should assist in her mother’s duties, care for younger siblings, and care for her own clothing.

Unfortunately, the childhood years are taken up by school, and when the young lady should be learning the domestic side of life, she is instead caught up in dress and flattery, balls and parties.

“What time,” asks Mrs. Child, “have they to cultivate the still and gentle affections, which must, in every situation of life, have such an important affect on a woman’s character and happiness?” It is the parents’ duty to teach their daughters not only “how to spend riches,” but how to bear poverty.

While it is nice for a daughter to know how to be accomplished in music and drawing, what good does either do a wife in the running of a household? Unless the daughter is exceptional in either, time and money would be better spent on learning duties and gaining a “solid foundation in mind and heart.” She goes on to say, “No one should be taught to consider them (music and drawing) valuable for mere parade and attraction. Making the education of girls such a series of ‘man-traps,’ makes the whole system unhealthy, by poisoning the motive.”

Mrs. Child’s expresses concerns that mamas are teaching their daughters to enjoy themselves while young, and single. They are teaching them not that “domestic life as a gathering of deepest and purest affections; as the sphere of woman’s enjoyments as well as her duties.” Instead they are projecting marriage “as a necessary sacrifice of her freedom and gaiety.”

Doing this is a disservice to daughters. They will not find domestic bliss, nor will their husbands. The wives will not know how run the home, how to manage money, nor how to cook. Her husband will become frustrated with her inabilities and, worse, her debts. Domestic bliss will be fleeting or an illusion. Marital unhappiness will ensue.

It is therefore, very important for mamas to take daughters under their wings and teach them how to run a household and how to be frugal. To teach them that life is not all gaiety and balls. Doing so will be a proper education for a young lady.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
www.aklanier.com
www.annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Real Life Cowboy


My book Bridled Heart is up for book of the week at The Romance Studio

This book was set among the rodeo crowd. Well the elite rodeo crowd the cowboys who make it to the National Finals Rodeo every year. I used four time and reigning bareback rider Bobby Mote as my go to cowboy to learn about the rodeo life and what a cowboy thinks about when riding a bucking horse.

I was impressed by the workout regime he keeps. But a fit body is harder to tear apart than a flimsy one. They use their arms and legs to balance and hold onto the animal. More of the cowboy's body that is in contact with the animal the easier it is to feel their movements. That means staying in the saddle and not being thrown in the air and keeping a tight grip on the rope to feel the tug and give on the animal's head.

Here's a blurb and excerpt for Bridled Heart.
A specialized placement schedule and self-imposed vow of celibacy keeps ER nurse, Gina Montgomery, from getting too close to anyone. Music is her only solace and release from a past laced with abuse. But when that music draws the attention of a handsome bareback rider, her chosen solitary life—not to mention her vow—gets tested to the limits.

Holt Reynolds let his younger sister down when she needed him most. With the similarities to his sister far too evident in Gina, he can’t get the woman out of his head, or her poignant music out of his heart. But how can he find a way to free her bridled heart before the past resurfaces to destroy their one chance at happiness?

Excerpt
Reaching the bleachers, she put a hand on the bench to climb back up into her seat when the announcer boomed, “Next up is Holt Reynolds, an Oregon cowboy who is well on his way to making the top fifteen and vying for the National title.”
Her breathing stopped and her heart palpitated. He was here. Did she want to see him or keep the memory of their encounter just that—a fond memory?
The announcer kept talking, and she found herself hurrying to the fence, watching through the railing. She had to see him, if for no other reason than to dispel the hold he had over her.
A horse and rider lunged out of the chute. The crowd roared. Her gaze traveled from the large, dark muscular beast to the man, waving one arm in the air and raking his spurs on the bucking, twisting horse’s shoulders. The animal leaped, twisted, and leaped again. Muscles bulged below rolled up sleeve and mounded the upper part of Holt’s shirt. Fear clenched her chest. What if he fell? What if the animal came down on top of him?
His gaze was riveted on the horse’s ears. The concentration on his face showed a fierce competitiveness she’d not witnessed at their first encounter.
The buzzer vibrated along her nerves like a cheese grater. Gina clung to the fence watching Holt relax his position on the horse, grabbing the handhold with two hands. The animal continued bucking and kicking. Her heart pounded harder with each jolt to Holt’s body.
A man on another horse rushed alongside the bucking animal. Holt gripped the other cowboy around the waist, slipped from the bucking horse, and landed on his feet.
He walked toward the fence, keeping the animal in his sight…until his gaze latched onto hers peering through the fence. He stopped, stared, and a slow, surprised grin tipped his lips.
The warmth in his eyes rolled over her like an old friend. A flash behind him drew her gaze.
The horse circled back by Holt, its legs lashing out as it bucked and kicked. Her throat clogged with fear. Not a sound emitted when she opened her mouth. Her fear registered on Holt's face at the same time the horse bucked by him. A hoof caught Holt in the chest, flinging him against the fence.
“Holt!”


Paty
www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Buy the book

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MY FAVORITE OUTLAW by ELIZABETH LANE


Elizabeth Lane, Author

Harlequin Historical author, Elizabeth Lane is a guest today at Sweethearts of the West. Elizabeth is graciously donating a copy of her March 2011 release, THE WIDOWED BRIDE, to one lucky person who leaves a comment on her post. Thank you Elizabeth!


           MY FAVORITE OUTLAW


What can you say about a guy who was played by Paul Newman in one of the best Westerns ever filmed? The real Butch Cassidy wasn’t as cute as Paul (who is?), but he had his own charms. What’s more, to this writer, Butch is practically a hometown boy!

Robert Redfore as
the Sundance Kid
and Paul Newman
as Butch Cassidy
Butch was born Robert Leroy Parker in 1866, in Beaver, Utah, the first of thirteen children. In 1879 the family moved over the mountain to Circleville, Utah. I never knew Butch (no, I’m not that old), but I grew up an hour from Circleville. My sister married a Circleville boy, and I went to school with descendants of Butch’s younger siblings. Lots of Parkers down that way.


Butch Cassidy
 Young Roy, as he was called, cut loose early and worked odd jobs. He earned the name Butch from the time he worked as a butcher. Cassidy was the name of a shady rancher who befriended him as a youth. By 1884, Butch was rustling cattle outside Parowan, Utah. From there he drifted to Telluride, Colorado where he pulled his first major crime, the robbery of the San Miguel Valley Bank. He and three cowboys got away with $20,000. They escaped along the Outlaw Trail, a meandering path that ran from Mexico to Montana.

After Telluride, Butch’s reputation grew. He liked to think of himself as a kind of Robin Hood, fighting for settlers’ rights against the railroads and cattle barons. Of course, he was really just a criminal. But what he did, he did with flair. He gathered a band of outlaw cowboys (including Harry Longbaugh, known as the Sundance Kid) and established a hideout at the Hole-In-The-Wall, in central Wyoming. The gang became known as the Wild Bunch.

Etta Place
By 1896 the Wild Bunch was robbing trains and banks all over the West. Butch was a clever strategist. His gang would strike fast and flee over a network of hidden trails. They became bold and confident, even sprucing up to pose for the famous photograph that helped lawmen identify them. But their glory days couldn’t last forever. By 1900, they were on the run. In 1902 the Wild Bunch disbanded.

Butch, Sundance, and Sundance’s girlfriend Etta Place (who was no schoolmarm) fled to Europe, then to Argentina where they bought a ranch. In 1908 the famous shootout, with Butch and Sundance supposedly gunned down by Bolivian troops, took place.

Harlequin Historical, March 2011
Now, here’s where the story gets interesting. According to Butch’s last surviving sister, Lula Parker Betenson, her brother showed up to visit the family sixteen years later. Current research suggests that Butch faked his death, sailed to Europe and got a facelift and returned to the U.S. where he married and went into business. He died of cancer in 1937. Evidence to support this includes a detailed manuscript about Cassidy’s life, which he appears to have written himself.

Nobody can call Butch a good man. But you have to admit he was entertaining. Do you have a favorite bad guy, historic or fictional? Do you find outlaw heroes appealing?

Friday, April 8, 2011

TEXAS TRUE--The Cameron Sisters: Book II

Location, location, location. When I write novels set in Texas, whether they are Western Historical or Contemporary, I use a mix of real locations with a few I created. Even with the invented places, I set them in areas that are quite real.
TEXAS TRUE
 TEXAS TRUE allows the youngest Cameron sister, True Lee, to tell her story. She had graduated from an Eastern boarding school and moved in with her older sister, Jo King. Jo had her turn in a story (Texas Promise), so she had ridden off into the sunset with her man and left True alone in Austin.
AUSTIN, TEXAS
EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Austin, Texas, 1900, the state capital, located on the Colorado River and Interstate Highway 35 in Central Texas, situated on the eastern edge of the Hill Country and the Edwards Plateau. The photo is actually a few years later than the time of this story, but you can get an idea of how Congress Avenue looked, with the state capitol on a rise at the end of the long street. The dress shop which Jo owns—and True now runs alone—is on this street in the novel.
DRISKILL HOTEL
TURN OF THE CENTURY
 The Driskill Hotel, a posh establishment then and even today, is used in the story. When True meets Sam Deleon, he wants to impress her, so he takes her to dinner in the dining room there—a very expensive affair. The hotel's 60 rooms included 12 corner rooms with attached baths, an almost unheard-of feature in any hotel of the region at that time.
EARLY OIL DERRICK
After True marries Sam, she finds herself alone once again when he returns to the oilfield.
OIL CAMP FAMILY TENT
(The old ones weren't quite this nice!)
She asks her friend, Adam Carter, to help her move out of Austin to the oilfield camp where wives and children live—a couple of miles from the oil wells. The camp consists of two facing rows of platform tents. This photo gives us a vague idea of such a tent. True learns the word "hardship" for the first time in her life. But during the hot summer she lives there, she grows up, into a determined young wife.

Later in the story, Sam finally takes over the family ranch in South Texas. The ranch home is a huge hacienda (estate) and casa (home.)
A SOUTH TEXAS/SPANISH HACIENDA
There, the story plays out. What happens at the ranch? Why does Sam need to reclaim his inheritance from his younger brother? What part does True play in the process? How and why did Sam deceive her in the beginning? Does Sam make atonement for his sins? Is True generous and loving enough to give their marriage a chance?
Read: TEXAS TRUE
BLURB:
At a Governor's Ball in Austin, Texas, True Lee Cameron meets suave Sam Deleon. Before the night is out, she transforms from the coddled and protected younger sister to a woman in love. Reality crashes down when she accidentally learns he has deceived her. Daring to disobey him, she follows Sam to the oilfields and determines to live wherever he does. Has she made a mistake? Will she give up and return home where she can make her own rules?
When Sam Deleon meets the gorgeous young woman his mother has chosen for him, he fears falling in love, because he knows nothing about love. In order to carry out his mother’s plan, he marries True and moves her to his mother's home, intending to visit enough to set the plan in motion. When True fails to obey him, he faces the possibility of losing her, thereby losing his inheritance and the family property.
Sam and True attempt a reconciliation and compromise. Together, they now face a nemesis, someone who determines to thwart every action they take, endangering not only their lives, but also those whom they love.
BUY LINKS: eBook


Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com http://www.celiayeary.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SHAMELESS BOOK PROMOTION

NEW RELEASE!

Yesterday was release day for I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME, BUT I CAN MAKE YOU LEAVE by my other persona and my sister as Dixie Cash. Hopefully, it’s on store shelves everywhere, but the way publishing is nowadays, it’s hard to say. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“The career of former Queen of Country Music Darla Denman ain’t what it used to be. No more big arenas—she’s lucky to fill a barroom—and now she’s forced to tour (by bus!) with the detestable Roxie Joe, current wife of Darla’s manager/ex-husband. So when her rattletrap tour bus gives up the ghost outside tiny Salt Lick, Texas, the faded Nashville star is thrilled to find loyal fans (and sympathetic ears) in Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin.
But when her nemesis and upstart backup singer Roxie Joe turns up dead in her dressing room—which bears an uncanny resemblance to a cleaning supply closet—Darla finds herself in more trouble than a Dixie Chick in merry old England. Luckily Debbie Due and Edwina are not only the proud owners of Salt Lick’s best beaut7y parlor but they also moonlight as private detectives! And if the Domestic Equalizers can’t get to the bottom of a murderous musical mess, then no one can!”

Thanks for reading,
Anna
www.annajeffrey.com