Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE INFLUENCE OF FAIRY TALES AND FOLKTALES ON TODAY'S FICTION, AND HOW HEROES BECOME LEGENDS

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

For centuries, fairy tales and folktales have existed, most all of which feature larger than life characters (including a hero and heroine, as well as witches, evil queens, faeries, fairy godmothers, goblins, giants, mermaids, monsters, dragons, sorcerers, and wizards). The theme is good against evil, and no matter how dark and hopeless a situation might be, good always wins and love always triumphs.

Most of us have read these unforgettable stories since childhood, published in beautifully printed and even illustrated books written from the imagination of wonderful writers like Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Frank Baum, and even J.R.R. Tolkien. Many of these type stories also have mysterious origins where it is believed they were based on fact and passed from generation to generation by word of mouth, or written by an author who remains anonymous to this day. One such anonymous classic is the epic poem, Beowulf.

[Pictured: Written in the West Saxon language, the first page of Beowulf in Cotton Vitellius A.xv (one of four major Anglo-Saxon literary codices that contains the earliest copy of the poem), located at The British Museum]

The epic poem tells the tale of the brave and (rather supernaturally) strong hero Beowulf from Geatland in Scandinavia, who journeys to help the Danes fight a monster attacking their people, then years later fights and destroys a dragon.

There are scholars who believe the epic poem, Beowulf -- one of the oldest written works of fantasy -- originated in the oral tradition and became so popular it was transcribed into written form between circa 975-1025 AD.

One of my favorite folktales since childhood remains Pecos Bill. Everything about him was larger than life -- like the American West -- and his adventures definitely triggered my young imagination.

What child wouldn’t be fascinated by his story? I mean, he fell out of a covered wagon as a baby—and was adopted by a pack of coyotes. His name came from the Pecos River in Texas, the location where his orphan journey began. Not much is said about his childhood, only that it took a lot of convincing years later for Pecos Bill to understand being raised by a pack of coyotes did not make him a coyote.

As a little girl, I remember my soft-spoken grandfather telling me the story of Pecos Bill. I listened with wide-eyed fascination about Pecos Bill’s adventures, and how no one else could ride his beautiful, wild horse, Widow Maker. Bill was not only an excellent rider, but the best skilled cowboy with a lasso. Who else could lasso a deadly tornado then ride the twister as if it were a wild bronco?

And lest you’ve ever wondered how Texas came to be called the Lone Star State, legend has it that while courting Slue-Foot Sue (a feisty gal who rode a giant catfish), Bill shot out all the stars in the Texas sky, except one. Well, he supposedly also invented the six-shooter so he must have been a sure shot. Granted, as a small child, I had my doubts about the lone star legend, but more difficult to swallow was when my grandfather said Bill’s favorite food was dynamite. After all, grandpa also told me spaghetti was worms and spinach was seaweed. But I digress…

Ironically, like Beowulf, many believe the adventures of Pecos Bill were not credited to any author but originated by oral tradition. Even Edward O’Reilly (who published the first Pecos Bill story back in 1917 and then did a collection of the stories in 1923), stated Pecos Bill came from tales told by cowboys during the settlement of the American West.

One thing is certain. No matter their origins, both Beowulf and Pecos Bill have stayed with us. In addition to the print version, digital, audio and film versions of these works are now available. They have become treasures of our literary culture, as well as deep rooted in our memories.

So, what is it that makes a character unforgettable? That elevates them to the status of legendary hero? For that matter, how many books and films today are inspired by fairy tales and folk tales? How many Cinderella stories have you read? How many fantasy elements that originated in fairy tales and folktales are now incorporated into various genres of fiction, including westerns?

The romance genre, in particular, isn’t just about creating wonderful characters and compelling plotlines, but also about helping the hero and heroine overcome barriers and achieve that fairy tale ‘happily ever after’.

Believe it or not, while writing the next ‘Windswept Texas Romance’ novel titled Spirit of the Wind — and, in particular digging deep into the hero, Ethan Blake — the more I thought about legends like Beowulf and Pecos Bill. I’ll be honest, Ethan Blake is the most difficult, complicated hero I have ever written, but he is a hero who deserves a happy ending more than any other character I have written, or read about in another book. In truth, this guy breaks my heart.

I finally realized in order to get him from Point A to Point B, he needed a mentor. I needed something or someone to light a fire under Ethan. And since I love to blend history with fiction, I recruited someone from real life. Otherwise, putting him in the path of the heroine wouldn't make sense and be disastrous.

Many times historical figures (especially in the Old West) became legends. Fact and fiction about them became blurred over time. Some have been incorporated into my writing before. Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson are just two legends of the Old West who were featured in my best-selling time travel romance, Whisper in the Wind.

For Spirit of the Wind, I needed someone of the time period to play an intriguing role. The one person (in my mind) who could step out of the history books and help me and the mysterious and emotionally distant Ethan Blake. And since he would risk alienating his friendship with Ethan in the process, I needed a legend who would resonate with the reader. Much as I still love Pecos Bill, he didn’t fit the “Bill” I needed.

[Pictured: Buffalo Bill Cody by Rosa Bonheur, 1889]

For months I have researched William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, especially in his own words, and although given to self-promotion and sometime grandiose embellishment of his experiences, he was a decent, caring man. He understood the American West like no one else—and its effect on the people who fought for survival there. As a result, he would not only understand Ethan’s scarred past, but risk even their friendship to help his troubled friend.

Thanks so much for visiting today, and hearing my take on how folktales and fairy tales can inspire works of fiction today, and how recruiting a real legend from history can help a fictional hero become a legend in his own right. At least that is my hope for Ethan Blake, so say tuned.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and whether you like a traditional western or find it interesting when other elements are added into the mix. ~ AKB

WHISPER IN THE WIND, the best-selling first book of the Windswept Texas Romance novels by Ashley Kath-Bilsky is available now in print, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBook formats. Coming Soon: SPIRIT OF THE WIND For more information about Ashley and her writing, visit: www.ashleykathbilsky.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HEARTS AND SPURS--JUST IN TIME FOR VALENTINE'S DAY! by Cheryl Pierson



Hi everyone! I wanted to shout the news about Prairie Rose Publications' latest anthology, Hearts and Spurs, now available! We've had incredible luck with these anthologies and have put a call out for short stories for some summer anthologies we've got in the works right now. If any one is interested in submitting a story for "Lassoing a Mail Order Bride" (Sweet/sensual) or "Lassoing a Groom" (Sweet/Sensual) we still have some openings, but they're filling fast. Email me at prairierosepublications@yahoo.com

Now, here's a peek into HEARTS AND SPURS!



How do you capture a cowboy's heart? Hearts and Spurs is a collection of nine stories by some of western romance’s best—just in time for Valentine's Day! Following up their Christmas collection Wishing for a Cowboy, these ladies have done it again with new stories of handsome cowboys and the women who captivate them in Hearts and Spurs.

The Widow's Heart by Linda Broday

Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when she sees a man emerge from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.

Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe…

Guarding Her Heart by Livia J. Washburn

Julia Courtland was on her way west to marry a man she had never met. Henry Everett, the marshal of Flat Rock, Texas, was the grandson of her uncle's best friend. It seemed like a good match for both of them, and the wedding was scheduled to take place on Valentine's Day.

Grant Stafford thought the young woman who got on the stagecoach at Buffalo Springs was the prettiest thing he had seen in a long time. She wasn't too friendly, mind you, but she was sure easy on the eyes. Not that Grant had time to worry much about such things. He was the shotgun guard on this run, but more than that, he was an undercover Texas Ranger on the trail of the vicious outlaw gang responsible for a string of stagecoach robberies.

Fate threw Julia Courtland and Grant Stafford together on a cold February day in West Texas, but it also threw deadly obstacles in their path. A runaway team, a terrible crash, and bullets flying through the air threaten to steal not only their lives but also any chance they have for happiness. If they're going to survive, they will have to learn to trust each other...and maybe steal their hearts back from fate.

HERE ARE THE NINE OF US IN A COLLAGE THAT LIVIA MADE!

Found Hearts by Cheryl Pierson

Southern belle Evie Fremont has lost everything — except hope. When she answers an advertisement for marriage to Alex Cameron who lives in the wilds of Indian Territory, she has few illusions that he could be a man she might fall in love with — especially as his secrets begin to unfold.

Ex-Confederate soldier Alex Cameron needs a mother for his two young half-Cherokee sons more than he needs a wife — or so he tells himself. But when his past threatens his future on his wedding day, he and Evie are both forced to acknowledge their new love has come to stay — along with their Found Hearts.

Open Hearts by Tanya Hanson

To honor her brother’s last request, Barbara Audiss takes on his identity. Letting loose her secret will land get her arrested. But keeping it prevents her from giving her heart to handsome sheriff Keith Rakestraw.

Furious at “Judge Audiss’s” latest verdict, Keith discovers she’s a fake and consequences seem easy: toss her in jail. Instead, he finds himself eager to give her his heart.


Hollow Heart by Sarah J. McNeal

Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities. But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

A Flare of the Heart by Jacquie Rogers

Celia Valentine Yancey has no illusions she’ll ever enjoy wedded bliss, so chooses marriage over spinsterhood even if she has to marry a man her father picked. On the way to meet her groom, she endures armed robbery, a stagecoach wreck, a dozen hungry baby pigs — and an incorrigible farmer.

Ross Flaherty retired from bounty hunting to become a farmer but now Celia has brought his worst fear to his door — in more ways than one. A ferocious wolf-dog and a dozen piglets are no match for this determined lady.

Which is more dangerous — the Sully Gang or Miss Celia Yancey?


Coming Home by Tracy Garrett

Sometimes it takes two to make dreams come true.

When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family…

Former U.S. Marshal Jericho Hawken should have been shepherding a wagon train to new territory, but he unwillingly left them vulnerable to a vicious raider. The murder of the settlers he was supposed to be guarding is the hardest thing he’s ever had to face…until he meets the sister of one of the settlers.

…finds a woman who has lost everything…

Instead of a joyous reunion with her brother, Maryland Henry has come to River’s Bend to take responsibility for her three orphaned nieces. Fired from her teaching position and with no other family on whom to rely, Mary believes Jericho Hawken is responsible for all her woes. Or is he what she’s been searching for all along?

It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together their dreams can come true.

Tumbleweeds and Valentines by Phyliss Miranda

When Amanda Love finds a tumbleweed lodged against her fence with an invitation to a Valentine Day dance stuck to it she thinks someone must be playing a joke. No one would invite her. No one ever had. Besides, she has no time for such things. She has a candy store to run. Curiosity gets the best of her though. Finding her name scrawled on it as bold as can be sends ripples of surprise through her. As she embarks on a quest to find the sender’s identity, she examines herself and the secret dream she harbors of having a husband and children.

Maybe, just maybe, someone had seen the yearning in her heart. But who?

The Second-Best Ranger in Texas by Kathleen Rice Adams

His partner’s grisly death destroyed Texas Ranger Quinn Barclay. Cashiered for drunkenness and refusal to follow orders, he sets out to fulfill his partner’s dying request, armed only with a saloon girl’s name.

Sister María Tomás thought she wanted to become a nun, but five years as a postulant have convinced her childhood dreams aren’t always meant to be. At last ready to relinquish the temporary vows she never should have made, she begs the only man she trusts to collect her from a mission in the middle of nowhere.

When the ex-Ranger’s quest collides with the ex-nun’s plea in a burned-out border town, unexpected love blooms among shared memories of the dead man who was a brother to them both.

Too bad he was also the only man who could have warned them about the carnage to come.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek into HEARTS AND SPURS today! I'm giving away a digital copy of the book to one lucky commenter. If you can't wait to see if you won, hustle on over to Amazon and pick up a print or Kindle copy there. (Or any retailer of your choice.)

KINDLE LINK:
http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Spurs-Linda-Broday-ebook/dp/B00HU5SCYE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1391016868&sr=1-1&keywords=Hearts+and+Spurs 

PRINT LINK:
http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Spurs-Linda-Broday/dp/1494990407/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1391016868&sr=1-1

Sunday, January 26, 2014

RIDIN' AND ROPIN' - TWO SISTERS ON THE WYOMING RANGE


People think only men rode on cattle roundups, but the two Cooksley sister in Wyoming prove that theory wrong.

Elsie and Amy Cooksley were born in England in 1900 and 1903 respectively to a father who rode with the hounds. From the age of four, they learned to ride bareback. Their father fixed little jumps for them and they rode with reins in one hand and a pail of water in the other. When they mastered the jumps without spilling water, they had good balance. I'd say so, wouldn't you?  

They were crazy about horses and rode every chance they could. In 1906, they moved to Pennsylvania. Mr. Cooksley delivered milk, then invested in a dairy herd. Elsie and Amy helped milk and feed the cows but still rode whenever they had a chance.. 

Looking for a less populated area, the family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming in 1914. They all took jobs until they could study the way of the land. Mr. Cooksley worked on a ranch, Mrs. Cooksley cooked, and the sisters worked as domestics. After a year or more, Mr. Cooksley bought two adjoining ranches. Elsie and Amy’s brother worked had been working in Parkman, got married, and didn’t join the rest of the family, so Elsie and Amy had to work as sons. And they did everything from driving farm teams to plow, rake, harrow, and all the other farm chores as well as riding watch over the cattle.



The girls wore simple trousers tucked into their tall boots, long sleeved shirts, and wide hats. Mr. Cooksley and his neighbors turned their cattle and horses out onto open range and everyone kept watch on his own stock. Because a couple of neighbors had been picked up for rustling, Elsie and Amy kept close guard on their cattle and knew where they were all the time. They always carried a branding ring and whenever they found a calf from one of their cows without a brand, they would brand it. They’d leave home after breakfast and ride all day.

Elsie said, “We were the only girls that ever rode with the roundup. I don’t know why unless due to the fact that Dad sent us out to take care of our own stock and we got started doing it.”

They took their own little teepee for sleeping. The cowboys accepted them as equals because they were good at their jobs. In fact, once the wagon boss came and asked their father if he could borrow the girls. Their father said no, he needed them to shuck grain, a job they hated. The wagon boss said he was cursed with a crew of green youngsters. He offered to send two of them to work the grain if he could borrow the girls to help him. Their father agreed, and the girls were delighted to be out riding.

To earn extra money in hard times, the girls once skinned cattle that had died in the harsh winter and sold the hides. They also broke horses. 

The sisters said on a roundup they ate breakfast at four am, lunch/dinner at ten am, supper at four pm, and moved camp before they went to bed. Half would hold the herd while the other half ate. Then they’d change horses and go to work. They rode with the roundup wagon for four or five years, two roundups a year. Elsie said that none of the cowboys ever swore or said anything off color where they could hear.   

Amy said there were a lot of dances in those days and people often rode ten or fifteen miles even in subzero weather to attend a dance. They’d dance all night then change horses and work all the next day. If they left from home, they’d tie their dresses, stockings, and shoes behind the saddle and change when they arrived at the dance. If they were riding from a roundup, they’d wear their trousers. Sometimes the hostess would provide dresses for them, but they had to wear their boots.



Elsie married John Lloyd and Amy married True Chubb. True died in 1971 and John in 1981 after a lengthy illness. The sisters continued to work their adjoining ranches as widows. They raised sheep (quite a change from cattle) and also guided hunters—only once unless they liked them. Lloyd and Chubb, as they were called by the hunters, would not let a bad sport or bad hunter return a second year.

Sheep Ranch
Amy said, “You know, everyone says we’ve led such an interesting life. But it wasn’t unusual to us. We just did it. That’s what we had to do, so we did it.”

The book from which this information was taken, COWGIRLS: WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST, AN ORAL HISTORY by Teresa Jordan, was first printed in 1984. At that time, widows Elsie and Amy were still operating their ranches in Wyoming. 

What amazing women!

The book mentioned above is a great book for those of us who love the history of the Old West. I hope each of you will have the opportunity to read the entire story as well as the others, and to see the amazing photos. Since I had no permission to use them, I didn't, but there are fabulous photos of many women of the American West.


Sources:
COWGIRLS: WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST, AN ORAL HISTORY, by Teresa Jordan, 1984, Anchor Books, Doubleday, New York, pp 2-10.
Wikipedia
Google commons for cattle and sheep photos 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Advice for the newly married....


www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com 

A few years ago while stumbling around the internet, researching for my WIP, I came across the below article by Ruth Smythers.

Instruction and advice
for the young bride.


On the Conduct and Procedure
Of the Intimate and Personal Relationships
Of the Marriage State
For the Greater Spiritual Sanctity
Of this Blessed Sacrament
And the Glory of God
by Ruth Smythers
Beloved wife of The Reverend L.D. Smythers,
Pastor of the Arcadian Methodist Church
of the Eastern Regional Conference
Published in the year of our Lord 1894
Spiritual Guidance Press, New York City

Instruction and advice for the young bride

To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.

At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth.Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.

On the other hand, the bride's terror need not be extreme. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it. It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.

Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency.

Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among the wife's best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective, if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.

Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.

By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband. By this time she can depend upon his love for the children and social pressures to hold the husband in the home. Just as she should be ever alert to keep the quantity of sex as low as possible, the wise bride will pay equal attention to limiting the kind and degree of sexual contacts. Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices. These practices include among others performing the normal act in abnormal positions; mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.

Nudity, talking about sex, reading stories about sex, viewing photographs and drawings depicting or suggesting sex are the obnoxious habits the male is likely to acquire if permitted.

A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. Many women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pajamas for their husbands. These should be donned in separate rooms. They need not be removed during the sex act. Thus, a minimum of flesh is exposed.

Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights, she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.

When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband.

If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand, she should make a fist. If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her anyplace else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet. This will generally dampen his desire to kiss in the forbidden territory.

If the husband attempts to seduce her with lascivious talk, the wise wife will suddenly remember some trivial non-sexual question to ask him. Once he answers she should keep the conversation going, no matter how frivolous it may seem at the time.

Eventually, the husband will learn that if he insists on having sexual contact, he must get on with it without amorous embellishment. The wise wife will allow him to pull the gown up no farther than the waist, and only permit him to open the front of his pajamas to thus make connection.

She should be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while he is huffing and puffing away. Above all, she should lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress. As soon as the husband has completed the act, the wise wife will start nagging him about various minor tasks she wishes him to perform on the morrow. Many men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must insure that there is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise, he might be encouraged to soon try for more.

One heartening factor for which the wife can be grateful is the fact that the husband's home, school, church, and social environment have been working together all through his life to instill in him a deep sense of guilt in regards to his sexual feelings, so that he comes to the marriage couch apologetically and filled with shame, already half cowed and subdued. The wise wife seizes upon this advantage and relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband's desire for sexual expression.

Copyright 1894 The Madison Institute.

This article is posted on many sites. I copied it from this site

Various resources (
here and here) have confirmed the article couldn’t have been written in 1894 for numerous reason (lucky for Mr. Smythers) and was most likely written during the ‘sexual revolution’ (1960’s-1970’s).

HOWEVER, it made me wonder if such an article could have appeared, especially since periodicals, magazines, newspapers, as well as books were coveted by pioneer women. (These pieces of paper were not just a connection to the outside world, a pioneer woman found thousands of uses for every page.)


On January 27th Harlequin will release the first chapter of The Stolen Kiss, a free read on their website. Each day for the next twenty days, another chapter will be released. The heroine is Cassandra Halverson, a recent arrival in the Oklahoma Indian Territory, where she encounters Micah Bollinger.

The Stolen Kiss is related to my February 1st release, The Major’s Wife.

WILL THE TRUTH SET THEM FREE?

Major Seth Parker knows his wife, and the woman standing before him isn't her. The manipulative vixen who tricked his hand in marriage could never possess such innocence—nor get his heart racing like this!

Millie St. Clair has traveled halfway across the country to pull off one of the greatest deceptions ever. But with everything at stake it soon becomes clear that the hardest part might be walking away from the Major when it's all over….

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Look of The Old West


     In spite of television and movie westerns, do we really know today how cowboys truly looked? Movies and old westerns certainly weren't very accurate. That's why we turn to books.
     The trail drivers--the first cowpunchers--began down in Texas in the brasada, the brush country between the Nueces (deadline for sheriffs) and the Rio Grande. According to the book, The Look of The Old West, the only way you can really know what that area was like is to go there yourself and get good and scratched up by those thorns. I'll take the author's word for that.
     The Spanish and Mexicans, and later, the Anglo-Saxon Texans, had chivvied their longhorns and thorn-scarred caballos into those thickets, so that, by the end of the Civil War, the place was busting with beef, some as old as 10-12 years. Most had never been branded. All a man needed was rope and a running iron, often improvised using a cinch ring and a couple of sticks to hold it. Although no law to speak of existed in them there parts, there was no guarantee someone wouldn't show up and hang you, claiming to won the beeves you were making off with. Prices in Texas ran around $5-10 a head, and the cost of moving them north only about a dollar a mile, so a man could make some money selling them up north for $20-30 a head.
Cowboy gear
     That's how men, many of them ex-Confederates, began going "cow hunting." They drove or "choused" their string of cowponies and hunted the beeves down, wearing a brasadero rig.
     What did that consist of? Well, the hat or sombrero was small enough not to get torn apart by branches and thorns. It generally had a barbiquejo or bonnet string (chin strap) worn neither too loose nor too tight. A man couldn't risk getting accidentally hung or dragged from his horse by the briars.

     They wore bandannas around their necks, close wrapped so the fabric wouldn't get caught on those thorny bushes. But these weren't worn to be romantic. Most collars back then looked like hell and left a lot of neck exposed. The bandanna helped dress up the shirt and protect the skin.
     Shirts were hickory or linsey-woolsey, maybe wool in winter. Over this was worn a tough leather or duck brush jacket. Because of these jackets, the wearers were sometimes called "brush poppers." They also wore "pants," quite likely Levis, never overalls. Over the pants they wore chaps. 
     Boots were no doubt calfskin, knee-high, either square topped or mule eared. Toes were square. Tops might have had a decorated band, maybe blue or red on black boots, yellow on brown ones. High, curved arches, wooden-pegged. Two-inch heel, straight or under-slung, meaning they sloped inward. Spurs were a financial investment, $10 and up in price. Likely Texas-style, hand-forged with rowels not more than three inches across, plain and heavy. Add janglers, little bell-clapper bits to clink against the rowels, making cheerful noises, and our cowboys were "well heeled." Spanish and Mexican spurs, "Chihuahuas" as they were called, had huge sharp rowels, with heelbands and shanks more Texan than Californian.
Chaps
     Let's talk chaps, pronounced "shaps," American short for chaparrejos or chaprreras, meaning leather breeches in Spanish-American. Chaps resembled Indian leggings, with no seat. Each leg was separate, laced together in front or held together with a whang. These started in Mexico as a sort of skirt or apron, big flaps of tough leather called armas that fastened over the front of the saddle and hung down on each side. Mounted, a man would tuck them over his legs like a robe. Unmounted, the armas stayed on the horse.
     The first chaps to be put on the man himself were armitas, little arms, like leather aprons hanging from a belt around the waist. Over time, these were made longer, nearly touching the toes. They were clumsy and difficult to get in and out of. By trail-driving days, cowboys had adopted the chaps we're more familiar with now--leather legs reaching from the waist to the spurs in front, open in back over the seat. There were also wrap-around, open-leg chaps, which hooked or buckled together like armitas.. Later, chap makers cut away the lower part of the inside leg, curving it so it didn't catch on stirrups. These were called the Cheyenne leg. Cowboys up north preferred the warmer, stovepipe type.
     So that, briefly, is what a cowboy would have looked like, back in the day. Of course, you could always find a pack of cigarette makings in his shirt pocket, and maybe a gunbelt and six-shooter at his waist. In in-climate weather, he'd don a slicker, usually yellow, which he kept strapped to the cantle when not in use. Slickers were voluminous, with wide, long skirts, and a slit and gores in the back to allow for riding horseback. It covered the saddle as well as the man and cost about $4. Stiff  as rawhide in cold weather, but sticky when it warm. Usually, it closed with big buttons and a fly front. A few men from the Southwest preferred ponchos instead.
Charlene Raddon’s first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. She’s been writing ever since. Because of a love for romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. At present, she has five out of print books published in paperback by Kensington Books, and more recently published as e-Books by Tirgearr Publishing.
Find her at:
http://wwwcharleneraddon.com
http://www.charleneraddon.blogspot.com
http://www.twitter.com/CRaddon

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fort Concho and the Concho Pearl

Concho PearlBy Lyn Horner The Concho River was named after mussels found in the river and lakes surrounding the town of San Angelo in west Texas. Called “Concha” by early Spanish explorers, the large gray mussels produce “Concho Pearls” in purple, lavender, pink and orange. The Spanish were enthralled by the lustrous pearls and enlisted local Indians to help harvest them. There may even be Concho Pearls in the Spanish Crown Jewels. Centuries later, Fort Concho was also named after the mussels, or more likely the river. The fort was established as a frontier U.S. Army post in 1867, with five companies of the Fourth Cavalry commanded by Col. John P. Hatch. Situated beside the North Concho River, the fort replaced the earlier Fort Chadbourne north of San Angelo.  Although built on flat, treeless prairie, Concho was described as “one of the most beautiful and best ordered posts in Texas.” Fort Concho cropped The fort was vital to settlement because five major trails crossed the area. An active post for twenty-two years, Fort Concho protected settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and the United States mail, and kept trade routes open. The Army launched campaigns against the Comanche and Kiowa from Fort Concho, as well as actions against the Comancheros who traded illegally with the Indians. Pecan wood was first tried as a building material for the fort, but it proved too hard to work with. Next, the soldiers tried adobe bricks but they didn’t know how to properly make adobe. Consequently, when heavy rain came, it dissolved the bricks. Finally, it was decided to build the fort out of native limestone, and the Army hired German stonemasons from Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country to the south. Construction went on throughout the fort’s active period and was never completed. Today Fort Concho is a National Historic Landmark owned and operated since 1935 by the city of San Angelo. Over time several buildings have crumbled into ruins, but the remaining buildings are repaired and preserved by the city, assisted by the Fort Concho Foundation. While attending a conference in San Angelo several years ago, my husband and I visited Fort Concho and snapped a number of photos. Below are the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, I neglected to add captions after hubby loaded the pics to our old computer, and now I can’t recall what all the buildings are. I’ve labeled the ones I know. For more historical information and photos from the fort’s active period, visit http://www.fortconcho.com/index.htm 2
Officers Row 13
Officer’s Quarters 3
Enlisted Men’s Mess Hall 4
  5











Enlisted Man’s Space (I think) 11
Reconstructed Hospital Building 6
 7
Doctor’s Room & Supplies 8




 
Um, this one explains itself. 10
Mysterious Little Building 12
Ruins of Fallen Building The Kiowa and Comanche Indians were the most feared raiders on the southern plains. Subdued for the most part by the mid 1870s, by soldiers from Fort Concho and other posts, the tribes were confined to a reservation in tNew Cover 2013he Indian Territory.
Can romance blossom between a timid Irish colleen with a healing touch and a half-breed cowboy in a time when such a love drew violent hatred? Find out in Dearest Irish, recognized as a Reviewers Choice Award winner by the Paranormal Romance Guild.

3rd lace 2013 sm

Dearest Irish (Texas Devlins, Rose’s Story)http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CK9LGA2 (Kindle)               http://tinyurl.com/l64ctss (Nook)



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Annie Oakley, A Real Western Heroiine


Sarah McNeal is a multipublished author in several genres including her western stories based around the Wilding family of Wyoming.





I heard about Annie Oakley when I was a kid. I thought she was a fictional character and not a real person, but all the same, it made me feel pretty dang good to be a girl because I could have my own lady hero. Still, I thought she was just a story book person. So while I strapped on my toy six shooters, put on my cowgirl hat and scarf and pretended to be Annie Oakley I had no idea she was a real person.

So who was Annie Oakley and how did she come to wield her gun with the skill of a sharpshooter? Well, let me share with you what I found about her.

She was born Phoebe Ann Moses on August 13, 1860 to Susan Wise Moses and Jacob Moses or Mozee as Annie later claimed. She was born in a log cabin in North Star, Ohio. Her parents were Quakers from Pennsylvania who rented a farm in Ohio until they purchased the property. She had a younger sister, Sarah Ellen, and five older siblings. Her father, who fought in the War of 1812, died of pneumonia and exposure to freezing weather at age 65 in 1866. Her mother remarried sometime later to Daniel Brambough and had one more child.

On March 15, 1870 at age 9, Annie was admitted to an infirmary along with her sister, Sarah Ellen and was cared for by the infirmary’s superintendent, Samuel Crawford Edington and his wife, Nancy who taught her to sew and decorate. I don’t know what her illness was, but obviously she recovered. From there she was “bound out” to a local family to help them care for their infant son. It was not clear what happened to Annie’s parents when this occurred or if they had any authority in making the decision. She was promised 50 cents a week and an education, but the promise turned out to be false and she spent two years in near slavery to this family. She did work usually carried out by boys and suffered physical and mental abuse. Once, as punishment for dozing off while darning, she was turned out into the freezing cold and snow without shoes. Can you imagine what would have happened to these horrible people in our world today? She referred to them as “the wolves”, but graciously never told anyone their real names. She returned to her family and her mother who had married for the third time to Joseph Shaw. After her father died, the family had fallen into poverty and Annie was unable to attend school regularly.

By the time Annie was eight, she was trapping and shooting to help support her siblings. She made money by selling her hunted game to hotels and restaurants  and eventually made enough money to pay off the family’s mortgage. I was so impressed by this astounding information. While I read this biography I kept thinking what the heck was her mother doing and all those older siblings—what were they doing to contribute to their own welfare? It still amazes me. I can even imagine a kid her age doing that today. She certainly had some skills and an iron will.

In 1876, An Irishman named Francis E. Butler came to town with a traveling show marksman and dog trainer  came to town and made a $100.00 bet (worth about $2,126 today) that no one could surpass his shooting skill. Well, lo and behold, little five foot, fifteen year old Annie took up the challenge. I sure would have liked to have seen the look on Butler’s face when she stepped up with her gun to take his challenge. After he missed on his 25th shot, he lost his bet to Annie. She must have really impressed him because he began to court her and they married on August 23, 1876. They never had any children.







Frank and Annie began to perform marksman shows and Annie adopted the stage name of Annie Oakley. It is believed the name originated from the city’s neighborhood of Oakley  where they lived. The couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show where the famous Sitting Bull also performed. Because of her diminutive height, Sitting Bull nicknamed her  "Watanya Cicilla", which meant “little miss sharp shooter. Apparently, there was some intense rivalry with a rifle sharp shooter, Lillian Smith. Annie left the show and only returned after Lillian departed.

Annie traveled all over Europe performing and once, at his request, she successfully shot the ashes off the cigarette of newly crowned German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Later, when World War I began, she wrote Wilhelm requesting a second shot. He did not reply. Some said later that she may have prevented World War I if she had missed that first shot.

Annie supported women in the service of the armed forces of the United States. She even wrote a letter to President William McKinley offering the service of 50 female sharp shooters who would provide their own guns and ammunition in the event that the United States might go to war with Spain. McKinley was assassinated in office later that year in 1901. We did go to war with Spain—the Spanish-American War, but President Theodor Roosevelt did not accept her offer. He named his volunteer cavalry the “Rough Riders” in honor of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World" where Oakley was a major star.

Just before Annie’s train accident, The Athens Messenger ran a story about a local 9 year old girl who was goaded into challenging Annie at shooting and won. Years later that little girl, Ethel Bell Nice, went on to marry Thomas Gilbraith and taught soldiers at her husband’s military base to shoot rifles.

Annie suffered temporary paralysis and had five back surgeries following a train accident in 1901. Although she never returned to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, she did act on stage in a play written especially for her, The Western Girl. Her legend continued to grow into her 60s. It is said that she taught 15,000 women how to shoot a gun. Annie believed that women should learn to defend themselves by shooting a gun as naturally as holding a baby. She supported women’s rights and was a philanthropist for women’s rights and other women’s causes. At age 65 Annie went to Pinehurst, North Carolina and successfully shot 100 clay pigeons.
 

Annie and Frank suffered debilitating injuries in an automobile accident in 1922. Even so, she recovered and continued shooting, setting records in 1924. Unfortunately, her health declined in 1925 and she died of pernicious anemia at age 66 on November 3, 1926 in Michigan. She was buried in Brock Cemetery in Greenville, Ohio. Frank was so grieved at her death that he stopped eating and died just 18 days later. He is buried beside his beloved Annie.

Fred Stone wrote her biography and discovered that all Annie’s entire fortune had been spent on her family and charities. Annie was inducted into the National Museum and Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. I wish I had known about the museum when I was there because I would have loved seeing it. I loved the cow girl, Annie Oakley, when I was a child, but now that I know what a wonderful person she truly was, I hold her in the highest regard. She was a great American.
 
You can find me at the following places:
My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahmcneal
My regular blogs
Smashwords Author Page:
I hope you'll check out HEARTS AND SPURS the Valentine anthology by Prairie Rose Publications in which I have another Wilding story about Sam Wilding, Banjo's oldest son and an orphan of the Great Depression. The anthology includes 9 veteran authors with great western stories to tell.


 
 
How do you capture a cowboy's heart? HEARTS AND SPURS is a collection of nine stories by some of western romance’s best—just in time for Valentine's Day! Following up their Christmas collection WISHING FOR A COWBOY, these ladies have done it again with new stories of handsome cowboys and the women who captivate them in HEARTS AND SPURS.

HEARTS AND SPURS features nine sensual Valentine's Day love stories of the old west that will leave no doubt--Cupid is a cowboy, and he's playing for keeps!

THE WIDOW’S HEART by Linda Broday
Desperate and alone, Skye O’Rourke finds courage and a love she thought she’d lost when a man from her past emerges from the shimmering desert heat.

GUARDING HER HEART by Livia J. Washburn
Outlaws threaten a Valentine's Day wedding!

FOUND HEARTS by Cheryl Pierson
An enemy from the past threatens Alex Cameron’s future on the day he’s set to wed mail-order bride Evie Fremont. Can they survive their wedding day?

OPEN HEARTS by Tanya Hanson
A woman living as a man to practice the law she loves must guard her identity--and her heart--from a handsome sheriff, who discovers her secret and must decide whether to turn her in or fall in love.

HOLLOW HEART by Sarah J. McNeal
Lost love and the hope for possibilities…

A FLARE OF THE HEART by Jacquie Rogers
Celia Yancey heads west to marry a preacher her father picked for her. Bounty hunter Ross Flaherty has traded his guns for a pitchfork and is content to be a farmer, but Celia brings his nemesis right to his door. Can Celia and Ross shed the past and forge a new beginning?

COMING HOME by Tracy Garrett
Sometimes it takes two to make dreams come true. When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family finds a woman who has lost everything…It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together, their dreams can come true.

TUMBLEWEEDS AND VALENTINES by Phyliss Miranda
The wildness of a tumbleweed and the sweetness of chocolate bring Amanda Love the love of a lifetime.

THE SECOND-BEST RANGER IN TEXAS by Kathleen Rice Adams
A washed-up Texas Ranger. A failed nun with a violent past. A love that will redeem them both.
HOLLOW HEART
Excerpt:
Madeline folded the letter and slipped it back into its envelope. Her heart ached as she put the envelope back into the box. Reverently, she placed it on her dresser beside the picture of Sam and her, laughing into the sun on that beautiful summer day, years ago. She twisted the gold ring with the little heart-shaped ruby around her left ring finger. Sam had given it to her the day he left for deployment to Europe. He said it was a promise ring. The ring would remind her of his love, his promise to return, and his pledge to wed her when the war ended. A sigh escaped her. None of his promises had come true.
BUY LINKS:
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And to be released in the very near future is my story about Robin Pierpont and Lilith Wilding in the days of Prohibition in the Great Depression, FLY AWAY HEART, under the Painted Pony imprint for Prairie Rose Press. 


 
The Great Depression…Rum Runners and Old Fears…Love Against the Odds
Lilith Wilding can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the English born Robin Pierpont, but she knows he loves another so she hides her feelings beneath a hard veneer of self-protection.
Robin Pierpont dreams of flying airplanes and winning the heart of the one he loves, but when he gets involved in illegal rum running to help a friend, those dreams seem to turn into just a fantasy. When he is called upon to face his worst fear to save Lilith’s life, his fate may be sealed in death.