Monday, March 31, 2014

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ENLIGHTENMENT, BUFFALO BILL CODY HISTORICAL RESEARCH, RONE AWARD NOMINATION, AND A PUPPY -- HOW I SPENT THE MONTH OF MARCH

By Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Where has the time gone? In the midst of trying to do line edits on a book scheduled for release, meet another book deadline, prepare for an intense writing class and research trip to Colorado, as well as read eight (8) novels as a judge for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA contest, I came to two daunting conclusion.

First, I had way too many irons in the fire. Secondly—and something I should have realized long before now—I am not empowered with superhuman, multi-tasking abilities. Despite my best efforts, the items on my ‘To Do’ list were taking longer than I expected to complete – and time was running out. The word ‘failure’ started flashing in my thoughts like an incessant, internal panic sign.

However, with some necessary shifting of book deadlines, I focused on fulfilling my judging commitment for the RITA contest, and then prepared for my March trip to Colorado. What started out as a hectic, stressful month soon became one of the happiest, most productive months of my life. My trip to the Rocky Mountains not only empowered me as a writer, but as a person. And I would like to share with you some of the reasons why.

Enlightenment with Margie Lawson

On March 7th, I traveled to the beautiful mountains of Colorado where I attended my second Immersion Master Class (IMC) with the remarkable Margie Lawson. For writers who haven’t had an opportunity to take classes (either online or in person) with Margie, I cannot recommend her highly enough. The insight she provides into deep editing techniques (including emotion, body language, dialogue, setting, tension, and a multitude of other strategies) is unparalleled.

Like a heat-seeking literary missile, she analyzes the writing of her Immersion students, and meticulously instructs them how and where to identify problem areas and strengthen their writing to NYT heights. Margie Lawson has worked with a multitude of aspiring authors, award-winning and published authors from a variety of genres, as well as highly respected and (okay, famous) New York Times Best-Selling authors.

Margie’s IMC classes are small, held at her mountain top log cabin home overlooking the Continental Divide. The level of instruction is intense, and prerequisite lessons are required beforehand to better prepare for the class. You will be challenged. But each day is exciting, productive, and fun. The small size of each Immersion class also creates an atmosphere of family-type camaraderie and bonding with other seekers of Margie’s wisdom. I can honestly say I have met some amazing writers in both my IMC classes, and feel that genuine, lasting friendships have been created – for which I am thankful.

I also got to see ‘snow’. And for this Texas gal, that was a wonderful surprise.

For more information about Margie Lawson and her Immersion Master Class schedule for 2014, visit her website at www.margielawson.com. Please note Margie also travels to various parts of the country (and even different countries) to teach her Immersion Class for those who may find it difficult to journey to Colorado.

In fact, I will be hosting Margie for an Immersion Master Class at my home in June. There are some openings remaining. Margie will also be presenting a workshop at RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio this July.


In Search of Buffalo Bill Cody

You may recall from previous posts that in SPIRIT OF THE WIND, the upcoming second Windswept Texas novel, the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody will play an integral role. I love incorporating real-life historical figures into my novels. Of course, putting a person from history into your book involves extensive research into that individual, as well as where they were logistically during the setting of my book.

I have been doing research on my own for quite some time, including reading William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody’s personal autobiography. However, I have longed to tour the Buffalo Bill Museum in Colorado and check out their research materials. I had planned to visit the museum during my trip to Colorado, and arrived a day early to do so. Much to my surprise, the thoughtful and very dear Mrs. Lawson and I had lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange, a National Historic Landmark restaurant and Western Museum founded in 1898 and once frequented by Buffalo Bill Cody.

Artifacts and photographs about Buffalo Bill and the founder of the restaurant, H.H. Zietz, are on display, including a beautiful display of antique firearms, assorted photographs and memorabilia, as well as a lock of Buffalo Bill Cody’s hair.

Henry 'Shorty Scout' Zietz was a famous cowboy, and one of the youngest members of Buffalo Bill Cody's band of famous scouts. He was also a big game hunter, and the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant has quite a display of over 500 animal and bird mounted trophies on display, including a rather ferocious mountain lion that looked like he wanted to pounce on me and Margie where we dined.

Afterwards, we went to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite in Golden, Colorado. I might add, a heavy snowstorm was underway at this point, making one feel as if they’d stepped inside a wondrous snow globe.

As the snow accumulated on the mountain roads, the kindness and understanding Margie had for my desire to further my research on the legendary hero of the American West touched me deeply. I will never forget how she went out of her way to help me further my research. Pictured is a pair of Buffalo Bill's buckskin riding gloves with beautiful Indian beadwork that he wore during his famous Wild West Shows.

Here is a photograph I took of Buffalo Bill Cody's western attire he wore during his Wild West Show.

The Buffalo Bill Museum documents the life and times of William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody. Located in Lookout Mountain Park, the museum features an abundance of information and personal items that belonged to Buffalo Bill, as well as memorabilia from his internationally renowned Wild West Show.

We had a great visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum, and I was able to learn more about him, view some amazing items that were part of his life and times, and obtain some terrific research books, too. I will share more information and photos about this remarkable individual next month.


The 2014 RONE Award Nomination for WHISPER IN THE WIND

While in Colorado, I received some exciting news. InD’Tale Magazine notified me that my best-selling Time Travel Romance, WHISPER IN THE WIND, has been nominated for a 2014 RONE Award – for Best Paranormal Romance of 2013. A sensuous time travel set in 1885 Texas, WHISPER IN THE WIND was my first Indy published novel. And since the RONE Award "spotlights the very best and rewarding excellence in 2013 Indie and Small Publishing", this nomination is such an honor. Finalists for each category are selected by Readers who vote for their choice online following a set weekly schedule.

If you are so inclined and enjoyed WHISPER IN THE WIND, please take a moment to vote for it as Best Paranormal Romance of 2013. Voting for Paranormal begins today -- March 31st -- and ends on April 6th, 2014.

Subscribers to InD’Tale Magazine can vote for WHISPER IN THE WIND by visiting this link: http://indtale.com/polls/paranormal-2013

If you are not a subscriber to this free, exceptional book review magazine, you can still subscribe and cast your vote. Or, if you do not want to register for a free subscription on the website, simply email your vote for favorite Paranormal to Ana Smith at anasmith@indtale.com.

Puppies and New Beginnings

Last but not least, some of you may remember that our family lost Kane, our beloved 13-year old German Shepherd in July of 2013. His little brother and best buddy, our 12-year old Scotty named Patrick passed away in his sleep two days after Christmas. The loss of these two wonderful pets (both of whom we raised since they were babies) has been so painful. We miss them every day and always will. Someone told me that when you are ready to welcome a new pet into your lives, you will know.

Well, that time came on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Permit me to introduce the newest addition to our family, a Grand Pyrenees puppy named Loki.

Through the wonderful work of a rescue organization called SPIN (Save Pyrs In Need), we found our new family member. I must add that the very talented YA author Ellie James, who is not only a sweet friend but a foster home volunteer for SPIN, played an instrumental part in helping us find Loki. Isn’t it amazing how cherished people and pets come into our lives, and help us in ways we can never express in words?

I cannot think of a better way to close the month of March 2014 than with the addition of this beautiful, lively, mischievous, loving, and joyful puppy.

So, as you can see, March has been an interesting month for me personally and professionally. Granted, it was challenging, stressful, and hectic, on many levels. But through perseverance and patience (especially with myself and my goals), it proved empowering, enlightening, and exciting.

Spring is here. A time for new beginnings. May we all continue to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be, and to pursue—as well as achieve—our dreams. Remember to take a moment each day to embrace the natural beauty of our world, and the people (and pets) whose path joins with ours on life’s journey.

I would also like to add a personal note. Just like this sign, remember it is okay to yield now and then. To take time for yourself, even if you think you don’t have time to spare. Stop worrying about that ‘To Do’ list. Stop stressing about deadlines or the mountain of work you need to finish. Stop judging your productivity by how many things you can tackle at once. Instead, focus on what challenges you and brings you joy, as well as a sense of accomplishment. Take a moment to relax. Take a deep breath. Hug a puppy. Watch a sunrise or gaze at the stars. Most of all, I hope your trail is a happy one. ~ AKB

For more information about Ashley Kath-Bilsky, visit: www.ashleykathbilsky.com
You can also follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AKathBilsky, and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashley-Kath-Bilsky/302554710513

WHISPER IN THE WIND is available for purchase in Print and Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Wind-Ashley-Kath-Bilsky-ebook/dp/B00CC6ZZJG/ref=la_B008E2ABA0_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396266314&sr=1-2 .

It is also available in Nook, Apple, and Kobo formats.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Infamous Old West Saloons


Sarah McNeal author of western, paranormal and time travel stories at Prairie Rose Press
http//www.sarahmcneal.com

Saloons of the Old West

Don't know exactly why, but I have a fascination for old west saloons. Okay, maybe I do know, but that's between me and the bartender. Just sayin'. My attraction to old saloons may also come from the fact that they seem to be the watering hole or social institution in movies and TV shows. if there was some excitement to be had, you can bet your lucky spurs it could be found in the town saloon.

The first establishment to be called a saloon was Brown's Hole near the borders of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah and catered to the trappers in the fur trading days.

But soon the west was littered with saloons. Most were hastily thrown together affairs like tents or lean-tos. As towns prospered, saloons became more like the traditional places we've become accustomed to today.


The whiskey served on those early years was mighty wicked stuff--made from raw alcohol, burnt sugar and a bit of chewing tobacco. (Yum) The clientele referred to this nasty brew by names such as Tangle Foot, Forty Rod, Tarantula Juice, Red Eye, or Coffin Varnish.

Also popular was "Cactus Wine" made from Tequila and peyote tea. Hmm, isn't peyote that weed used to get into some "visions"?

Muleskinner was another popular drink made with whiskey and blackberry liquor. Now this one doesn't sound too bad to me. But mostly, patrons of saloons drank straight whiskey like bourbon or rye. There was no such thing as cold beer. I can't imagine enjoying a tall glass of warm beer after riding a horse in the hot sun all day.

Saloons became entertainment centers over time, after a hard day of work or bank robbing a man could have a drink or several while he enjoyed a game of poker, Faro, 3-card-Monte or dice games.


Customers came from all walks of life, from miners to outlaws. But soldiers were not welcome. Western men had no respect for men who "policed the west"--nor did they welcome Civil War deserters. Women were also not welcome unless they were saloon girls.

Among these rough westerners there were codes of conduct to be maintained if a man wanted to get along well with others: only first names were used, no questions asked about anyone's past, and curiosity about anyone's personal business was considered rude. It was considered neighborly to buy the man standing beside you a drink or a man who confessed to being broke, but not a man who ordered a drink first, and then said he couldn't pay.

Saloon girls and dance hall girls were not prostitutes, although I always thought they were. These women were refugees from farms, widows without an income, and needy women down on their luck. Most of them earned $10 a week and commission on drinks--most of which were watered down. Men who mistreated saloon girls were doomed to become social outcasts.


Naturally, some saloons became famous for gunfights. Some of the more famous deaths that occurred in saloons were Wild Bill Hickok who was killed by Jack McCall while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota.  Bob Ford, the man who killed Jesse James, was shot down in his own saloon in Creede, Colorado. John Westley Hardin, sometimes referred to as the meanest man in the west, was shot from behind in a saloon in El Paso Texas.

Some of the most famous saloon owners were Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson.

Some famous saloons, some which are now converted to museums,  are The Arcade in Eldorado, Colorado, The Long Branch (Remember Kitty and Matt Dillon met there often in Gun Smoke) in Dodge City, Kansas, The Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio, Texas, Desert John's Saloon in Deer Lodge, Montana, The Bird Cage Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona, and The New Atlas Saloon in Columbus, Montana.
                                         THE ARCADE in Eldorado
                                             ANACNDA Saloon in Montana

                                         THE LONG BRANCH Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas

In my Wyoming Wildings stories I often mention The Iron slipper Hotel which was a saloon by the same name in the first book, Harmonica Joe's Reluctant bride. The name was changed from saloon to hotel after Banjo inherited it from a madam and partnered with Lola Wilding. They remodeled it and turned it into a classy hotel and restaurant, but kept the name Iron Slipper. It's the center of big parties and balls in following stories. Just a bit of personal history here: the house my parents rented before they bought the house where my sister and I were raised, was a log cabin made from a carriage house on an old plantation. My dad built a fence of oak limbs and made a wooden sign with a horse shoe on it and my dad wrote the name The Iron slipper. I thought that was a great name for a saloon and a nice way to remember my dad.

Some of my Wilding stories at Prairie Rose Press are:
FLY AWAY HEART (a novella with Painted Pony Press)
HOLLOW HEART (in the Valentine Aanthology--HEARTS AND SPURS)
A HUSBAND FIR CHRISTMAS (in the Christmas Anthology)
Coming soon is the story about Juliet Wilding and Harry O'Connor in the summer anthology, LASSOING A BRIDE.
Also in revision are the two original books that started the series, HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE and  FOR LOVE OF BANJO

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE PIONEER CABIN



Because I write western historical romances set in the latter 19th century, I am interested in everything about the period in history. Yes, I am a history geek. Whenever we travel, I visit recreated historic villages and pioneer museums. Fortunately, there are quite a few of these well preserved homes withing easy driving distance from my own home.

Imagine raising a large family in a 10 x 12 log cabin. I complain because I don't have enough storage in our home. I can't imagine how difficult just finding a place for everyone to sleep must have been. Most of the cabins had a loft for the kids. With large families, the kids must have been laid out like sardines.

Cabin and well
Palo Pinto County, Texas

One of the places my family and I have visited is Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth, Texas. Homes from several counties have been moved there. Docents stationed at each home relate the history of that cabin. Hordes of school children visit, and there are occasional festivals to draw more visitors. One of the homes there is that of Isaac Parker, related to Cynthia Ann Parker, whose life was so tragic. But she's for another post.

Isaac Parker cabin
One of my favorite places to visit is the Belding-Gibson Ranch in Palo Pinto County. This family has faithfully preserved the original cedar log cabin, smokehouse, and cold room and incorporated it into the more modern portions of their home. I'm fortunate enough to have visited this ranch on two occasions when the Gibson family opened their home to visitors.

Settlers used the resources at hand. In Palo Pinto County, cedar is abundant. The Belding Ranch house is built of those cedar logs. The abandoned cabin was discovered by Mr. Belding in 1859, and he estimated it as three or four years old then. Other residents used stone or hardwood logs. On the prairie where no trees were available, sod homes housed families until they prospered enough to haul in lumber.

Belding-Gibson Ranch, Palo Pinto County, Texas
Smokehouse is on the left, original cabin on right.
Steps lead to the kitchen in the newer part of the house.
As you can guess, in addition to the cabin, most families also had a smokehouse for meat preservation and storage. If they were fortunate enough to live near a creek, they diverted a bit of the creek to go through a cold room. There also was an outhouse. Chamber pots were used in inclement weather or at night. 

A commode chair was a luxury. Usually they were more
enclosed with a lid so it could be used as a chair and
doors and sides to conceal the chamber pot.
Inside, the walls would be chinked to prevent weather and critters from entering the cabin. In cold weather, the homemaker might hang quilts on the walls to add insulation. No space was wasted. From the rafters, there might be small utensils and drying herbs and onion hanging. A "hob" (sometimes two) were built into the fireplace to hold heavy utensils for cooking. You can see below that this fireplace is deluxe and has two hobs. The hob allowed the cook to move the utensils varying distances from the fire. 

Cabin interior at the Palo Pinto County
historic village

In times of Comanche and Kiowa troubles, families left their homes and sought a fort. I don't mean one as seen in movies and TV. Sometimes a community might come together to build a refuge from the Indians.  I have a photo of Black Springs Fort, but it always shows up on the blog sideways, so I will simply describe it. In Palo Pinto County, a stone fort with a basement and two stories housed families. The exterior dimensions were about twenty by thirty feet. Often the husband and older sons would send the women and children to the fort while they banded together with other men to fight the Indians. Although this was a tense time, I imagine it also allowed the women to visit with neighbors, children to play with friends, and took on a social atmosphere for a time.

In Lubbock, where my husband and I grew up, there is a wonderful exhibit called the Ranching Heritage Museum. This is associated with Texas Tech University, but is behind the museum. I love going there, as the university still adds to the collection. Everything from a sod house to a Victorian home. Wherever you live, there is probably a historic preservation collection of cabins and homes from the 19th century. 

Masterson Ranch Line Shack
Ranching Heritage Museum
Lubbock, Texas


Photos are my own.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cars, Women, and Whiskey


www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com

The 1920’s was a wild, changing time for America. Cars become the popular mode of transportation even for the average family. Woman came into their own in many ways, and whiskey—the selling of it—became the next big gold rush.

Although I normally write westerns, I’m currently writing a series for Harlequin about four sisters during the roaring twenties. Set in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, each sister gets her own book. The four Nightingale women, Norma Rose, Twyla, Josie, and Ginger, all embrace the freedom gained by women in the 1920’s. 

However, their father, Roger Nightingale, aka The Night, is one of the country’s largest bootleggers and is set on keeping his girls as innocent as a morning breeze. 

Not.

The first story is Ginger’s, a short e-book only tale. (The entire series will be released the summer of 2015.) Ginger, the youngest of the girls, takes her future into her own hands and runs away from home—by hiding away in the back of Brock Ness’s truck when he leaves for Chicago to perform on the radio. Brock unfortunately owes Roger Nightingale a good sum of money, so when he discovers Ginger under the tarp of his truck, snuggled up to his guitar case, Brock is anything but impressed.

The next story is Norma Rose’s. The oldest of the four sisters, Norma Rose’s story is a full length book. Working alongside her father, Norma Rose brought the family’s business, Nightingale’s, from nothing more than a dance pavilion to a sprawling resort that caters to those with money to spend. This also includes plenty of gangsters, and where you have mobsters, there’s sure to be a revenue man sniffing about. Norma Rose recognizes Ty Bradshaw as a government agent the moment she meets him, and is determined he will not bring her family down. Ty is after public enemy number one, Ray Bodine, and doesn’t care who he has to bowl over to catch the mobster, including Norma Rose Nightingale and her bootlegging father.

The third story is Twyla’s, the boldest and wildest sister. I just finished Twyla’s story, a full length book. She loves living in the largest speakeasy in the country and isn’t about to let anyone rain on her parade, including rival night club owner Forrest Reynolds. Her father sent his to prison, and she won’t let him forget it, even if he takes her flying in his airplane. Forrest had to come home and take over his family's business, and knows the bad blood between his family and the Nightingale’s could be the death of them all.  

The last story is Josie’s. Another full length book. Josie’s the quietest and most secretive sister. I’m still plotting out her story, so at the moment, all I can say is the ladies aid meetings she’s continuously going to aren’t as innocent as they appear.  

Bootlegging, as it’s known when running shine on land (rumrunning is when boats were used because they were usually transporting rum out of the Caribbean) was a money maker for some, death for others. A plethora of people, from small town farmers to famous mobsters, got involved in making, selling, and transporting moonshine.

Here in Minnesota, a corn derivative, named Minnesota 13 had been discovered by the University of Minnesota in the late 1800’s. The corn flourished in the shorter growing season and during WW1 the demand for corn escalated. Farmers put their necks out to purchase as much land as possible to grow Minnesota 13 corn. Well…the war ended and soon farmers found themselves with more corn than they could sell and more land than they could afford.

Being immigrants from Ireland and Germany, these farmers were well-versed in brewing their own alcoholic beverages, and discovered Minnesota 13 corn made a whiskey as fine as the Canadians. When Prohibition hit, the demand for their private stock grew, and these farmers soon had a commodity that was wanted world-wide. Also named Minnesota 13, a traveler in Europe (Prohibition was an American act) could request the whiskey, right down to the small towns of Avon, Holdingford, Melrose, and other central Minnesota towns, the bottle had been brewed in.

For many farmers and families, brewing and selling Minnesota 13 was what kept food on the table.

I’ve had a wonderful time researching for these stories. Here’s a picture of me and some family members at a ‘Bootlegger’s Ball’ in St. Paul last fall when the historical center brought in the “Rise and Fall of Prohibition” exhibition.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Girl Ranger!



By Peggy L Henderson

In 1872, Yellowstone became the nation’s – the world’s – first national park. The concept was so new, Congress had no idea what to do with the park once it was established. For twenty years, people continued to exploit and destroy the features that Washington tried to protect, because there was no one who would protect them. The army was finally called in in the 1880’s to protect the thermal features and the animals. In 1916, the National Park Service was established, and the army handed over control of the park in 1918.
Although women married to National Park Service personnel had assisted their husbands for years as unpaid help (like the military, it came with the territory), the first woman to be “officially” employed by a park was a California school teacher by the name of Claire Marie Hodges. She worked as a seasonal naturalist, and was soon followed by two more women, one of whom would make history in her own right.
Born on October 2, 1901 at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, Jane Marguerite Lindsley was destined to help shape the park’s history. She grew up during Yellowstone’s “old army days,” to cannons booming at sunrise and sunset, and yellow stagecoaches pulled by teams of mules taking visitors along the bumpy roads
 in the park. Always adventurous and daring, Marguerite remembered that her one of her fondest memories as a young girl was the thrill of trying to stay on a runaway Indian pony.
Because there was no school at Mammoth for the children of army officers and park employees, she was homeschooled by her mother though the eighth grade. At fourteen, she entered prep school at Montana State College, and finished high school in three years. She continued her studies there and majored in bacteriology.
Marguerite spent her school breaks in Yellowstone, but the summer between her junior and senior year in college was very different. She was going to work as a ranger and get paid for explaining the wonders of Yellowstone to park visitors. In June of 1921, newspapers around the country reported that Miss Marguerite Lindsley had been chosen to teach tourists about Yellowstone, but more importantly that she had been awarded the official title of National Park Ranger. Two other women had been awarded the title previously, but Marguerite would become the first woman, three years later, to attain a full-time ranger position in the park.
She was described as an “honest-to-goodness outdoor girl, and experienced horsewoman, and a master of the technique of camp life,” and did not fit the profile of the average American girl.  She herself once remarked that it must have been a mistake that she was not born a boy. “I love the work of the rangers, and if I were a boy, I would make the park service my life’s work. It was born in me, I know it.
After graduating college, she applied unsuccessfully to medical school in Philadelphia, but was accepted into the Masters Program in Bacteriology. She accepted a position with a research Laboratory, but soon realized that she wanted to return to Yellowstone. “I could almost smell the melting snow and growing things, and feel the thrill of an early morning horseback ride.” So, she returned to Yellowstone, riding her Harley Davidson on a 2600 mile cross-country trip, which she described as “next to the greatest escapade of my life.”
From Harleys to horses, Marguerite made the park her permanent home. One summer, she accompanied “Uncle Howard” Eaton on a three week horseback trip through Yellowstone that included 200 horses and 125 people, 75 of which were tourists. She offered to guide tourists through the Gibbon Paint Pot (now called Artists Paint Pots) area, and broke through the crust of a thermal area where she found herself in boiling clay up to her knee. This experience not only gave her third degree burns, but also the nicknames “Geyser Peg” and “Paint Pot Peg.”
In late December of 1925, she was offered her dream job: the position of permanent ranger. She would assist the park service’s newly formed educational division.
In 1926, however, her dream was nearly shattered. Chief Inspector J.F. Garland, Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior visited the park . His report stated, “We do not believe that a woman is physically suited for the arduous duties of a ranger and that the service, which is already undermanned, suffers by the loss of what a qualified man in her place could perform. It is recommended that women rangers not be employed….
 Lucky for her, Park Superintendent Horace Albright ignored the recommendation.
Ironically, among all this controversy of women rangers, an article was published about Marguerite in the Christian Science Monitor in 1927. “Lady Ranger ‘Makes Good’ in Yellowstone Park Post, Only Girl among 24 men…” While stirring up Washington, her position as “full-fledged park ranger” was making her a celebrity in the news. Obviously impressed by her qualifications as a superb horsewoman, botanist, helper to orphan antelope, elk, and bear cubs, and all-around outdoor woman, reporters wrote that she “fully deserved the commission which had been conferred to her.”
Marguerite was not only adventurous and educated, but she was attractive as well. She had many male admirers throughout the years, most of which she kept under her hat.  Literally. The inside of her wide-brimmed ranger hat held the signatures of at least a dozen hopeful suitors. A fellow ranger recalled that she “could marry anybody she wanted. She could marry any of us.” More than likely, all of her male suitors were well aware that marrying Marguerite also meant having to keep up with her.
On April 17, 1928, she did marry – Ranger Everett LeRoy (Ben) Arnold, who was stationed at Mammoth. She didn't go along with the traditional white wedding dress, but  in her own  style “dressed in a blue gown and wore a corsage of roses.”
Because she couldn’t keep her full-time position that would allow her to live in the same location in the park as her new husband, she resigned from her position in Mammoth and opted to work only seasonally.
For the next 25 years, the couple lived and worked in Yellowstone. Marguerite died on May 18, 1952. Throughout her more than fifty years of residency in the park, life in Yellowstone was never dull, and she firmly believed that the park was the “country’s greatest wilderness playground.” For her, it was a place where a person's (man, woman, and child) heart, soul, and imagination could all take wing and rise above the conventions of the day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Woman for President -- in 1872?

Victoria Woodhull

Have you heard of Victoria Woodhull? I had only a vague recollection of her being an early suffragette before coming across an article tucked inside a book purchased from a used bookstore. Who placed it there I have no idea, but this Parade Magazine article, printed in March 1998, astounded me.

Victoria Woodhull was far ahead of her time. The first woman owner of a Wall Street investment firm and founder of her own newspaper, she was an adviser to Cornelius Vanderbilt and spoke before Congress demanding women be given the vote. Most astonishing, she ran for President in 1872 against incumbent Ulysses S. Grant and newspaper mogul Horace Greely. Just think, that was 142 years ago – and we still haven’t had a woman president.

On top of all that, Victoria was a psychic, or claimed to be. Being a firm believer in such God-given gifts, when I read that about her, I had to find out more. From young childhood, she was exploited by her father in his carnival show as a clairvoyant and fortune-teller. She was able to recall past events and predict future ones, could find missing objects and people, and supposedly cured afflicted individuals. She was also said to communicate messages from the dead.

Raised in squalor, beaten and starved by her father, with little or no education, Victoria always claimed to be guided by spirits, one of whom told her she would “rise from poverty one day to become ruler of the nation.” Perhaps that’s why she ran for President. Obviously she didn’t win, but she did “set America on its ear” proclaims the 1998 article.

In her book Other Powers – The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, author Barbara Goldsmith says of Woodhull’s time, “If a married woman worked, her wages were given directly to her husband. She could not dispose of her property upon her death. If she divorced, she automatically forfeited custody of her children. Women could not enter universities, law schools or medical schools. They could not serve on juries, and they could not vote.

“Most significantly, women had no control over their own bodies: There were no laws to protect them from physical abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers, although some states stipulated the size of the objects that might be used to inflict discipline. They had no right to deny their husbands sexual access.”

Good grief! No wonder Victoria Woodhull preached for the “. . . emancipation of woman and her coming into control of her own body . . . the end of pecuniary dependence upon man . . . the abrogation of forced pregnancy . . . “ and more.

For those of us who read and write romances set in the Old West, it behooves us to keep in mind the great difference between women’s circumstances then and now. We like our heroines to be capable of standing up for themselves, but the harsh reality is that they often had little or no say in what their husbands, fathers or other men decreed. Which is not to say there weren’t women who defied convention and men who respected their opinions, even loved them for their independent ways. My kind of heroes!

Horshoe, cactus, stetson & horse divider

Speaking of heroes, let me introduce three guys who learn their women are strong enough to walk beside them, not two paces behind.New cover 2013 redo

From Darlin’ Irish:

Captain David Taylor is an obstinate Texan who’s determined not to get involved with a hot-tempered colleen. She might make his blood run hot but he’s certain she doesn’t have the stuff to make a good frontier wife. It takes almost losing her to make him admit he’s wrong.

New Cover redo 2013

 

From Dashing Irish:

Tye Devlin feels an instant attraction to a gun-toting Texas cowgirl and she to him, but he’d rather walk away than allow her to stand with him against his enemies. However, the lady has a mind of her own. If she has to hogtie him, she’ll teach him two heads, two hearts and two guns are stronger than one.

 

From Dearest Irish:WordPress Cover 2

Half-breed cowboy Choctaw Jack may need help from a timid white girl with a healing touch, but he has no intention of letting her into his heart, for he treads a dangerous line between the white and red worlds. She can’t walk it with him. Or can she?

 

Find these Texas Devlins books plus the prequel novella, White Witch, on these sites:

                               Amazon              Barnes and Noble

Also available as a boxed set: Texas Devlins 4 Book Bundle

Http://lynhorner.com