Saturday, April 28, 2012


In the category of “dreams come true”, here is one of my best ones so far. I became

a member of the WESTERN FICTIONEER group a couple of years ago with the help of one of my friends, Kit Prate. Kit’s a fantastic western writer who’s been doing this a lot longer than I have, with many more “notches in her belt”—figuratively speaking—in the writing world. She put my name before the group and I was accepted—a greenhorn in the truest sense of the word.

I’m still totally in awe. Robert Randisi, Jory Sherman, Peter Brandvold, Kit Prate, Kerry Newcomb, Troy Smith, Larry Martin, James Reasoner, Livia Washburn Reasoner…the list goes on—these are the members of the WESTERN FICTIONEERS.

A few months after I joined up, they decided to put together their first anthology. Livia and James Reasoner worked tirelessly on it—collecting the stories from those of us who wanted to submit, editing, formatting, writing the introduction to the book, and even deciding the order of the stories. One of the other contributors, Pete Peterson, provided the gorgeous artwork for the cover of the book.

This book is not, by any means, a romance offering. But there are stories from 24 different authors with many different “takes” on the west. It’s the largest anthology of original western short stories ever put together, and though every one of them might not be to your liking, you’re sure to find some different authors you might want to try out for further reading pleasure from this fantastic collection.

My story is called THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. It has a LOT of paranormal twist to it, but it’s one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on.

I’ll leave you with a blurb and an excerpt.

Jericho Dean is on a one-man mission: to track down the outlaw gang that murdered his wife and daughters. When Freeman Hart joins forces with him, Jericho isn’t sure which side this peculiar stranger is on. Determined to gain his revenge no matter the cost, Jericho finds redemption in a most unlikely circumstance. Will he take that fork in the road, or will his thirst for revenge end his chance for a new start?


Jericho gave Dan one final pat. “Ain’t many men lost as much as I did on that day, Freeman. My wife, my daughters, and my desire to exist in this world without them.” He pointed at the growing pile of wood. “No fire.”

Hart gave a sage nod. “I see. You’re expecting to be reunited once you complete your mission—kill the Comancheros. Once you die, you think you and Elena will be together again, along with Maria and Ana.”

Jericho stood completely still. How did this stranger know the names of his family? How did he know Jericho’s own heart and purpose so clearly?

Hart dropped the last two pieces of wood on top of the pile, then dusted his hands. “We need to have a talk, Jericho. A good long visit about things. I don’t aim to do it in the cold. And make no mistake, this night’ll be an icy one—way too cold to spend without a fire. Trust me, boy. They ain’t gonna know—or care—if you spend it warm or freezin’. Got a match on you?”

Jericho sized up the other man once more, a shiver running up his spine. No, things were not what they seemed, but whether for good or evil, he didn’t know. He cursed his luck, either way. He didn’t want to be burdened with whatever it was this Freeman Hart brought to the table. He hadn’t asked for it, either way. He remembered that he had deliberately not prayed, carefully refrained from asking God for any favors, so he wouldn’t have to be in His debt. Well, he still didn’t plan on owing Him anything, no matter how this all worked out.

He finally forced his legs to move, walking stiffly to his saddlebags. He put the brush away, and drew out the box of matches wrapped in oilskin.

Hart caught them when Jericho tossed them over, opened the box and struck one of them on the bottom of his boot. The match head flared in the gathering semi-darkness and Hart hunkered down, cupping his hand around the flame as it caught the base kindling of the pyre and the wood above it began to burn.

Jericho stood watching as the fire flared to life, remembering how he’d burned the cabin. After he’d buried Elena, Maria and little Ana, he’d poured kerosene throughout their home. The smell of it had made his stomach twist and roll over. He’d poured it over the cabinetry he’d built so lovingly for Elena, remembering how proud she’d been to have a pantry in her kitchen. He’d poured it across the bed where they’d made love. Made children. Made a family together.

He’d opened up the old trunk that had been Elena’s, full of her keepsake treasures. He had taken only one thing from the chest before he’d saturated the rest of the contents with the kerosene remaining in the can. He’d stood at the door and tossed in the match, watching as the trail of fire raced across the dirt floor of the cabin and began to eat the furniture, the woodwork, and finally the walls.

Then, he had turned his back on the entire dream he’d created and then destroyed, riding away from it as it burned. It maybe burning still, he mused. That entire northern part of Indian Territory could be nothing but acres of smoldering blackness destroyed by his hand. Right now, if he could, he’d set the entire world ablaze.

Yes. A fire would be good to have tonight.

“Say, Jericho. You hungry? Me, I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut. I’ve got some tins of beans and peaches we can open up.” Hart rose and crossed to where his saddlebags lay, rummaging for the tins of food. He pulled them out and came back toward Jericho, who stood rooted to the spot where he’d gone moments earlier to get the matches.

Hart nodded toward the fire. “C’mon. Let’s get some grub. Talk a spell. I can see you’ve got some questions.”

“Who are you?” Jericho’s voice was hoarse.

Hart laughed. “I knew that’d be the first one.”

THE TRADITIONAL WEST is available at Amazon for Kindle
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

and here at Barnes and Noble for Nook.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


By Callie Hutton
Guest Author Callie Hutton

Have you ever been in love with a place? Maybe love is not the right word, but I have a deep fascination for Guthrie, Oklahoma. To prove my love, I will give away one copy of A RUN FOR LOVE and one copy of A WIFE BY CHRISTMAS to two lucky commenters.
Although I was a history major in college in New Jersey, somehow I missed the story of the Oklahoma Land Run. In most of my classes, my professors seemed more interested in bouncing from one war to the next. I guess that’s what happens when you have mostly males teaching history.
A little over four years ago, when we settled in Oklahoma, I took a job in the Archives Division of the Oklahoma State Library. It was there I learned about the Land Run. I researched it, and read everything I could get my hands on. The story of these brave men and women who left places they were familiar with, to race with thousands of others to get a piece of land, captivated me.

Oklahoma Land Run

In my research, I discovered two main cities resulted from the Run. One was Oklahoma City—the present capital of Oklahoma, and the other was Guthrie, which was the Territorial Capital. Once Oklahoma became a state, the capital was moved.
While I researched this amazing piece of Americana, the idea for a romance novel grew. Eventually, I had to find a way to stop the voices in my head, so my fingers hit the keyboard, and the story of Tori and Jesse ensued. Once A RUN FOR LOVE was completed, I decided to write a story about another character in that book, and A WIFE BY CHRISTMAS told the tale of the youngest niece, Ellie.

Before I started A WIFE BY CHRISTMAS, I took the forty minute ride from my house to Guthrie−camera, pen, and paper in hand. I was enthralled. You can see from the pictures that Guthrie has kept a lot of the old buildings. Some of them date back to the year of the Land Run.

On April 22nd, 1889−a bright, sunny day−thousands of men, women and children circled Oklahoma Territory (formerly Unassigned Lands), and waited for the bugles to blow, and the cannons to roar. Precisely at noon, the race began. The land-hungry pioneers raced on horseback, in wagons, on bicycle, and some even on foot. The area was so immense that not too long after the race began, the runners had disappeared. Some never saw another soul until they claimed their land.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and the race had its cheaters−dubbed “Sooners.” These claimants snuck into the territory before the official start of the race. Some uncaught Sooners waited until the homesteaders nearly arrived, and jumped onto their horses and rode until the animals were sweating and out of breath, making it seem as though they had just arrived. Another Sooner was already living there with a plowed garden and onions sprouting several inches high!
Years of lawsuits followed the Run, straightening out titles to land that had been illegally claimed.

Guthrie, Oklahoma after land run 1889

Guthrie started that day with zero population and a tiny train station, and ended with more than ten thousand people living in tents. By the end of the first week, buildings had already been erected, and a thriving town established.

Guthrie retains early aura

Guthrie today has kept its small town flavor. I recently attended the 89er Celebration−the anniversary of the Land Run. Lots of activities were scheduled−a rodeo, chuck wagon feast, old time baseball game, and a parade. People from all over the state descended on Guthrie to honor the men and women of the Land Run. The many antique stores did a booming business.

Guthrie utilizes early buildings

A couple of weeks ago, I typed the words “The End” on the manuscript for A PRESCRIPTION FOR LOVE, the story of the oldest nephew (Michael) in A RUN FOR LOVE. At least two more stories are planned. Writing about Michael, a pharmacist, drew me to the drug store museum in Guthrie. Another trip to that town produced the pictures indicating the early nineteenth century pharmacy was well stocked with medicines, some good, some questionable.

Old-fashioned drug store still in Guthrie

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of history that I find so fascinating, and the pictures showcasing the town one hundred and twenty-three years after horses thundered over the plains, carrying riders full of hope and dreams.
Buy link for A RUN FOR LOVE:

My website:

Readers, remember to leave a comment to take part in the drawing for a free copy of either A RUN FOR LOVE or A WIFE BY CHRISTMAS.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ante Up

Contributed by Lauri Robinson

The Western Romance genre is strictly American, nowhere else in the world can lay a claim to the “Old West”. Other countries had their wild and rowdy times, but no one else had the vast open land west of the Mississippi—land of promise, change, beauty, wonder and riches. Of course there was also pain, hardship, broken dreams and death. Men had to be bold, women tough. But above all, they had to be willing to gamble. Ante up. 

People of all walks of life went west. Rich and poor alike. Single men and women and families. Those with trades and those with nothing more than dreams. And it was one big gamble. Not just with their lives, but with their money and possessions. 

Though it’s somewhat of a slapstick movie concerning gambling in the old west, I love the move Maverick with James Garner and Mel Gibson. It portrays how acceptable gambling was. 

As communities formed, some local laws were put into place, but ultimately, gambling wasn’t illegal. It was a much sought after activity and in some instances, the only hope people had. Prostitution was illegal either, and very few, if any, laws governed guns, alcohol, or drugs. 

Just like those who set up other businesses—trading posts, hotels, bath houses, blacksmith shops and general stores—those setting up gaming halls were welcomed, especially by groups building churches and schools. Many gambling entrepreneurs were known for their generosity, and community leaders recognized that. 

Gambling wasn’t any more taboo than riding a horse or wearing a gun. It was a part of life. Not even churches preached against gambling until after the temperament movement. Ultimately, gambling played a huge role in winning the west.

In my May 1st release from Harlequin, The Sheriff’s Last Gamble, the heroine, Stacy Blackwell is a gambler. (Yes, many, many women gambled.) She’s not a ‘soiled dove’, gambling to survive. Raised by her gambling grandfather, Stacy’s a thoroughbred gambler who excels in her chosen profession. Trouble happens when she encounters Sheriff Jake McCrery, a faro gambler turned lawman. The sparks fly between these two and Stacy recognizes she’s in the game of a lifetime. 

Here’s a short excerpt:
It was the man astride the animal that held her attention. Tall, broad, and with hair as golden brown as the horse’s, Sheriff Jake McCrery had to be the most handsome man in these entire United States, based on her experience leastwise, which was considerable.  Pappy had hauled her to most every state and all the territories in their twenty-three years of living together. The past three months in Founder’s Creek Township was the longest span of time she’d ever spent in one place.
Stopping on the bottom step, she pushed open the parasol that matched the mint-green linen dress, tailored just for her without the prominent bustle some women found so stylish. All that extra material made sitting much too difficult.
“Hello, Sheriff.”
Jake McCrery swung one leg over the saddle horn and landed on the ground as smoothly as an eagle swoops into its nest.
“Miss Blackwell.” He greeted her with a slight nod.
With her insides tingling, and without a doubt he’d follow, Stacy started walking along the road. “Tell me, how is dear Uncle Edward today?”        
“Fine,” Jake answered. “He’d like you to visit soon.”
“I’ll bet,” she said flatly. There was no sense getting riled over Edward Blackwell. She’d told him exactly what she thought of him three months ago, shortly after arriving. Her heart, not always in agreement with her mind, stung strongly enough to make her tighten her hold on her parasol.
“Speaking of bets,” Jake said, “how much did you win today?”
Stacy pretended to glance over her shoulder at the palomino at their heels; in reality she wanted Jake to see the smile on her face. “Now, Sheriff McCrery, this morning you specifically forbade me from gambling.”
“That hasn’t stopped you before.”
“Tsk, tsk.” She shook her head so the hair she’d spent an hour curling this morning fluttered around her shoulders. She’d learned years ago to style its mousy brown color to catch attention, therefore keeping people from watching her face too closely during an intense point in a game. Lately, though, thoughts of the handsome sheriff filled her head while curling the tresses—actually, while she did most everything. “We both know I never gamble while you’re in town.”
“How much was it?”
At times Jake seemed immune to her charms, and that had her wondering if she’d missed a lesson or two of Pappy’s teachings along the way—not that Pappy had taught her about men, but he’d taught her about life and the two went hand in hand.
Shrugging, mainly to keep a sigh from slipping out, she answered. “A few hundred.”
Jake caught her arm, and though the heat of his touch had her toes curling, fury flashed in his mahogany-brown eyes.
“Gambling’s a dangerous game, Stacy. You’re going to get yourself shot.”
His concern was genuine, and that warmed her heart, but not even Jake McCrery would stop her from playing. “I’ve played in far worse places than Founder’s Creek.”
“Then go there to play.”
An unreadable poker face was one of her most prized accomplishments, but keeping it on right now was a struggle. Not only did Jake sound exasperated, he said the words like he meant them. Wrenching her arm from his hold, she started up the street. Anger snapped inside her, but more painful was the possibility he wanted her to leave. “I can’t,” she said.

Friday, April 20, 2012


By Lyn Horner

Did you know there are two rivers called "Red River" in the U.S? Yup, there’s a Red River of the North, which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. This stream flows northward into Manitoba, Canada.

The Red River of the South separates Texas from Oklahoma, formerly known as the Indian Territory. This river gave its name to my favorite old time movie, Red River, starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. It’s a fictional account of the first cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail. I love that movie so much that I decided to include a trail drive in DASHING DRUID, book two in my Texas Druids trilogy.

Crossing "Big Red" was a dangerous business. During dry periods, sand bars with treacherous patches of quicksand posed deadly traps. When heavy rains flooded the river, it became a raging torrent capable of sweeping away cattle, horses and men. Three different crossing points were used over the years. Doan’s crossing lay on the Western Trail, used during the later years of the trail drive era.

Crossing The Red River

Andy Adams described Doan's Crossing this way:
"Red River, this boundary river on the northern border of Texas, was a terror to trail drivers. The majestic grandeur of the river was apparent on every hand, with its red bluff banks, the sediment of its red waters marking the timber along its course, while the driftwood, lodged in trees and high on the banks, indicated what might be expected when she became sportive or angry. The crossing had been in use only a year or two when we forded, yet five graves, one of which was less than ten days made, attested her disregard for human life. It can safely be asserted that at this and lower trail crossings on Red River, the lives of more trail men were lost by drowning than on all other rivers together."

The trail drive in DASHING DRUID follows the Chisholm Trail, crossing at Red River Station, where the current helped the drovers shepherd their longhorn charges toward the north bank. I came by this information from an elderly gentleman named Glenn Wilson, whose father lived during the trail drive era. A good friend, who loves helping me research, accompanied me to Nocona, a town of some 3,000 residents near where the town of Red River Station once stood. There, we met with Mr. Wilson, and I’m grateful for the honor of meeting him.

Acting as our guide despite being legally blind, this kindly man directed us to the exact place where Texas herds crossed the Red. He told us why this bend in the river was so popular as a crossing point, describing how the river current carried cattle toward the north bank as it rounded the bend, and pointing out the low, accessible banks on both sides of the river. I used these facts for staging the cattle crossing in DASHING DRUID.

Red River between Texas and Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of

Here are two excerpts from the scene:
Ahead, Lil spotted her father riding back from the river. He’d escorted the wagons to Pegleg Dave’s ferry. Noting his wet duds as he rode up, she surmised he’d also helped Luis and Jubal take the remuda across.

"Chic made it all right, the horses too," he shouted over the commotion.

"Pegleg’s fightin’ his way back now. Then he’ll haul the other wagon across. I’d feel better if you’d go with him."

"Pa, I’m not some frilly pink pretty in corsets and lace," she shouted back, slapping her rope against her saddle to keep the cattle moving. "I’ve never taken the raft across and I ain’t doing it now."

He glowered at her. "Sometimes you’ve got too much spunk for your own good, girl. The river’s come down a lot, but she’s still boiling."

"Yeah, and you’re gonna need every hand you’ve got to get these steers across. We both know that."

The creases around his mouth deepened. She thought he’d argue, but he didn’t. Tugging on his hat, he snapped, "Missy, you watch out for yourself, you hear?"

"I will. Quit worrying."

"Easy for you to say," he grumbled, kneeing his horse ahead.

Lil knew how he felt. She couldn’t stop worrying about Tye. Dang man! He was loony as a jay bird to take on the river all tore up like he was. She hoped he wouldn’t drown or be gored by a panicky longhorn.

He’d cornered her at the picket line a while ago and had apologized for the other night. One look at his pleading blue eyes, and she’d found it impossible to stay mad. Not that anything had really changed between them. She still needed him to leave her be. No matter how much she longed for him, she’d be loco to give herself to him. She had no future with him. He’d made that plain, hadn’t he?

Big Red’s ominous rumble drew her attention. A moment later the river came into view. It was lower all right, and the water was less choked with debris than the last time she’d seen it, but it was still moving plenty fast.

"I’ll take the lead," Pa called from the bank.

"We’ll be right behind ye," Neil replied for them both. He sent Lil a wry grin. "Time ta get wet, Lassie."

"Oh well, I need a bath," she joked, making a face.

He grinned but didn’t reply as they ran the lead steers down the cut toward the water. Her father rode his powerful sorrel into the flood and Jefe plunged in after him. The other leaders followed, prodded by the crowd behind them. Bellows of protest trumpeted over the water.

Neil urged his horse into the torrent. Having sent her boots, carbine and six-gun across in the hoodlum wagon, Lil tapped Major’s flanks with her stocking-footed heels. The chestnut splashed in, snorting, and Lil caught her breath as cold water engulfed her nearly to her armpits. Small geysers showered her throat and face.

"Good gravy, it’s cold enough to freeze your teeth!" she cried, clutching a handful of Major’s mane as he struck out from shore. He was a strong swimmer, or she might have needed to slide off and hang on to his girth strap to avoid weighing him down.

"Aye, and a few places farther down," Neil called from the opposite side of the herd.

Mildly shocked, Lil glanced over at him and laughed. Then she got down to business. Guiding Major against the strong current, she nudged a confused longhorn back into line.

Her father was almost halfway to the north bank, with the lead steers at his back. They were carried along by the current as the river rounded a bend and tumbled toward the far shore. That helpful bend in the current was the reason they crossed here year after year.

Shouts rang out behind Lil as the other hands drove more steers into the river. Alongside her, the swimming cattle formed a mass of heads and horns. Nothing else showed above water, but beneath the surface, their powerful legs churned. They could handle the rough water if they didn’t panic. It was up to her and the other drovers to make sure they didn’t.

Available on Amazon

Excerpt Two:
At least half the herd was across now, and most of the men were in the water, Tye included. Minutes ago, Lil had seen him driving cattle into the river. He was supposed to bring up the rear with Kirby, but he must have traded places with Dewey, because the black cowboy wasn’t in sight. She knew why Tye had done it; he wanted to keep an eye on her. She was certain of it because she’d caught him watching her with a worried look on his face.

He was as bad as her father. She wanted to shake him. All cut up like he was, he was the one who had no business in a raging river, not her.

She spotted him near the south bank. From the way he moved as he swatted a wayward longhorn into line, you’d think there wasn’t a thing wrong with him. The dumb galoot! Chic would likely have to stitch him up all over again. She shook her head in exasperation and turned her attention to the cattle. A moment later, she was nudging a steer back in the right direction when all hell broke loose.

"Lil, look out! Tree comin’!" Tye shouted.

Jerking her head around, Lil saw an uprooted stump headed straight for her. She gasped and kicked Major hard. He plunged forward just in time to avoid being rammed by the snag.

Several longhorns weren’t so lucky. The tree stump barreled into them with a sickening crunch of horn and bone. A few sank and were carried away along with the stump; others bawled in terror as they collided with their neighbors. Panicked animals milled in all directions. More went under, and some didn’t resurface.

It was move fast or lose dozens of cattle. Unmindful of danger, Lil headed Major into the tangle of bovine bodies. Neil, Jack, and the others did likewise, yelling and lashing out with their ropes as they fought to stop the mêlée. Luckily, they were over the sandbar; that made things a little easier. After several moments, all the steers were finally headed north again.

Lil glanced around for Tye. He’d swum the big roan he rode out to help. Bobbing in the water about twenty yards away, he met her gaze, and a relieved look spread across his face. She was just as relieved to see him safe. He smiled and waved, and she returned the gesture. Then she noticed how sluggishly Major was moving.

"Sorry, boy, I should’ve cut you loose to rest," she said, patting his neck. "Let’s head for shore."

They’d just left the sandbar behind when a wild-eyed sabina steer swerved out of line toward them. Lil tried to guide Major out of the way again, but he couldn’t react fast enough. The longhorn hooked him in the shoulder with a sharp horn. Screaming in pain, the chestnut pitched over sideways.

Lil cried out and heard Tye shout her name; then her head went under. Water filled her nose and throat. She kicked frantically, managing to break free of the thrashing horse and propel herself upward. She broke the surface coughing, fighting for air.

Major managed to right himself, and Lil grabbed for him. She missed as the tricky current carried him away. He kicked feebly; she was terrified neither of them would make it.

"Lil, I’m coming!" Tye cried, her terror slamming into him, doubling his fear for her as he forced his horse between two thrashing steers that blocked his way.

Lil twisted in the water to look at him. Then a wave slapped her in the face, dragging her under again. Tye held his breath the instant she did, experiencing her fear and desperate will to live as she fought her way upward amid the thrashing longhorns. She surfaced and he gulped air along with her, then silently cheered when she grabbed onto the horn of a passing steer. Its owner bellowed and tried to shake her off, but she clamped an arm around his thick neck and clung to him.

"Hang on, Lily!" Tye shouted, heart beating like a drum.

Lyn Horner resides in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and four cats. After a career as a fashion illustrator and art instructor, she quit work to raise her children and took up writing. A member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts online RWA chapter, and Yellow Rose RWA chapter, she enjoys crafting passionate historical romances. The first book in her epic Texas Druids saga, DARLIN' DRUID, features a clairvoyant heroine, inspired by Lyn's own prophetic dreams. That book won the Paranormal Romance Guild 2011 Award. Lyn has also published a memoir, SIX CATS IN MY KITCHEN. To learn more about Lyn and her books, go to or find her on her Amazon page at She is also on Facebook and Goodreads

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1835 Journal Entry--Who is Elmina Ingram?

Journal Entry: Fall, 1835, Brazoria, Texas
Today is my 16th birthday. Mama and I have prepared for this most wondrous occasion for two months. She wanted a beautiful, grown-up dress for me to wear to my party, so she sought the services of Miss Emilie Milam to create a very special gown. No longer shall I wear calico, nor style my hair in braids, nor run and play with my brothers. Ladies do not act in such a manner in our household, for each member is born to a role, and best we carry out our duties or most likely face the wrath of Papa.

Secretly, I shall miss the days of riding my pony bareback across the coastal plains, through our plantation, chasing my brothers, for all four of them can out-race me every time. Ah, well, such is the lot of the female persuasion. Now, my brothers believe they have become my protectors, especially when young gentlemen look my way. Brazoria County fairly bursts with bachelors, young men, some wealthy, some poor, but each one seeking a bride to ensconce in his home.

One young man, Mr. Randolph Long, nears my person at every opportunity, at church services, all-day dinners, and when Mama and I shop in town. Papa forbids me to speak with him alone; as a result, our conversations become awkward, as each of us stumbles on words we know perfectly well. After my party—of which he will attend!—I plan to speak with him as any grown woman may do with any gentleman she wishes.
Worrisome events have surfaced over this part of Texas. Papa hears tales in town, at the saloon, the community hall, and the warehouse, and he brings the stories home to share with Mama and my brothers. Of course, they all believe they have protected my delicate ears, but I listen and they do not know. It seems a crisis of some sort has arisen in Anahuac, a small place not far from our home. I am uncertain of its exact location, but the news is that General Santa Anna sent a small detachment of soldiers to Anahuac to enforce the collection of customs there and in Galveston. The merchants and the wealthy landowners—such as my papa—object to this unfair treatment, and when Papa speaks of the Santa Anna’s army and their ways, he becomes red in the face and begins to pound on the table!

Now, just before my party, he tells of a gathering of Mexican troops, more as the days go by. But the most frightening news comes from Gonzales, where Papa said a Colonel Domingo de Ugartecha, commander of troops in San Antonio, sent five cavalrymen to Gonzales to retrieve the six-pound canon that had been provided four years earlier for defense against the Indians. The Texan officer in charge hid the canon, telling the military he had no authority to give it up. He sent out dispatches calling for military aid.
Four hundred Texans, who worked in a loosely formed military troop, heard the call, turned from their original destination, Goliad, and marched to Gonzales. One hundred Mexican soldiers were already there to seize the canon. But a Colonel Moore and one-hundred and sixty Texans loaded the canon with chains and scrap iron, and strung a banner across it inscribed “Come and Take It.” Then the Colonel and his men attacked the Mexican troops, forcing them to retreat to San Antonio. I wanted to cheer! However, I did not wish to reveal my hiding place from which I listened avidly of the exciting battles.

Dread fills my heart, now that I understand what is to come. Papa says we must prepare, put away our frivolous desires for the present, and do our part to secure Texas for ourselves. I can only pray the war does not last too long.

My party will go on, however, and I must end this writing to don my beautiful dark blue silk gown, adorned with a lovely inset of lace, and an ivory brooch at my throat. Handsome coils of braid divide the lace from the silk. Underneath, my pantalets are of the finest linen, and my petticoat is of a fine silk. Mama will arrange my hair atop my head in a manner befitting a grown young woman. I do hope I look beautiful, or at least pretty, for a photographer will capture me in my new gown.
Would it not be magical if someone two hundred years hence finds my photograph and wonders about me?

Signed--Elmina Ingram

!!Special Note from author Celia Yeary: The sixteen-year-old young woman in the photo is one of my real Texas ancestors, but I did not use her real name. I have no idea where she grew up or lived in Texas. I took the date from the photo, 1835, and used historical events of the beginning of the Texas Revolution. The story about my ancestor is fiction, however, a figment of my imagination.

***In TEXAS TRUE, I opened the book with a young lady dressed for a grown-up ball, and she meets an older man, Sam Deleon who steals her heart away very quickly. The young lady is True Lee Cameron, the younger daughter of Buck and Marilee Cameron. Raised in a protected atmosphere and educated in a girl's school in the East, True's world comes crashing down when she learns more about her new husband. But she is a "Cameron" and refuses to allow Sam and his mother to ruin her life. She takes control. Sam? The man has a real awakening when he learns exactly of what that this sweet pretty thing he married is truly made. ~*~*~
AMAZON: all my books

 Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Monday, April 16, 2012

Read Bury My Heart...and Yours Will Break! ~Tanya Hanson

My copy of the powerful book,  Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown,  sits beside me now, dog-eared to death, pages browned with time and coffee spills. Dates and names highlighted including such beautiful and poetic terms as Time of the Big Leaves, Yellow Leaves Moon, and Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe. This American classic from 1970, subtitled "An Indian History of the American West, was described by the Washington Post, "not how the West was won, but how it was lost."

Such beauty aside, this is not a book for the faint-hearted. There are chapters I can’t bear to re-read, and many of today’s words have been hard to write. But since we at Sweethearts of the West, whether authors, readers, guests and commenters, love the American West, this book is not to be missed. The title comes from the last “Indian War” in December 1890, against Minneconjou (Sioux) chief Big Foot at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in The Moon When the Deer Shed. (This “battle” deserves its own blog post sometime.)

The TV and movie Westerns of my childhood often presented Indians as bloodcurdling enemies out to massacre innocent settlers. The occasional good “brave” was a mono-syllabic caricature, often a doofus.  No American history class I’d ever taken explained the truth about “Manifest Destiny.”  Maybe because we couldn’t handle it. Brown’s book documents America’s westward expansion through the eyes and words of the great chiefs, vividly explaining four hundred years of injustice, broken treaties, and betrayal.

I hope things are different in classrooms now. During my career teaching American Lit, I spent a whole unit on the history and plight of the Native Americans because no teacher or prof ever told me the complete truth about, say, Christopher “Kit” Carson (1809-1868). His expeditions through the Rockies made him a national hero, and his first two wives were Indian. Yet in 1864, he relentlessly hunted down a group of Navajo. Not content with destroying their hogans (homes) and livestock, he chopped down their carefully tended grove of peach trees.

No one ever told me about the horrors of Sand Creek. Or of the Cavalry at Fort Robinson sending good-will blankets to the Oglala Sioux--—blankets infected with smallpox.

Or of Palo Duro Canyon, The Place of Chinaberry Trees. Only a few white men knew of this well-hidden canyon in the late summer of 1874. Without fear and stocked with food to last until spring, Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne sought sanctuary from the whites. Almost two thousand horses shared rich grass with the buffalo.  On September 26, the Bluecoats descended upon them, the warriors holding off long enough for their women and children to escape. But by days’ end, General Ranald “Three Fingers” Mackenzie rounded up the tribes’ treasured horses and had more than a thousand shot to death. (In a subsequent book, I learned that the horse-loving Cavalry greatly resisted these orders, and that the slaughter of the terrified beasts took more than eight hours to complete.)

From the Nez Perce of the Pacific Northwest, I learned their poignant history in a personal way because my husband’s relatives hail from this area. I know Paty Jager hails from here, too and her expertise on the Nez Perce far exceeds mine. But of the many massacres and heart-rending betrayals in the book, the Nez Perce tragedy really speaks to me.

As with Squanto who helped the Pilgrims in 1620 and the Taino who treated Christopher Columbus like a god in 1492, the Nez Perce tribe met the white man in peace. In 1805, the tribe saved the Lewis and Clark expedition from starvation and dysentery, fed and welcomed them, and tended their horses for months while the party explored the Pacific shore. For the next seven decades of friendship, the Nez Perce proudly declared they had never shed white blood.

Their home turf was Oregon’s Wallowa Valley, the Valley of Winding Waters. By the 1870’s, simply put, settlers and gold-seekers wanted the valley. Negotiations failed. In May 1877, the young Nez Perce peace chief Heinmot Tooyalaket (1840-1904) chose to lead the tribe to refuge in Canada, the “Grandmother’s Land” (referring to Queen Victoria), following in the footsteps of Sitting Bull. The whites called this young chief, Joseph. By all accounts, he was a highly respected peace chief among Indians and whites alike.

The fleeing Nez Perce consisted of 800: 450 “noncombatants” and 250 warriors, and 2,000 horses. Outsmarting the U.S. Cavalry for 1,700 miles through the Bitterroot Mountains and Yellowstone country, the Nez Perce journey has been called the most brilliant retreat in American military history. Newspaper accounts of the day had Americans cheering them on.

However, the Nez Perce were severely weakened by the capture of many of their horses. In October, the weary Joseph and his band stopped to rest only 30 miles from their destination. By that time, U.S. reinforcements and sharpshooters had arrived. After five days in bitter snow, Joseph surrendered.

Then he delivered the most quoted of all the great chiefs’ speeches, of which I include a few lines.

“…I am tired of fighting… it is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. ..I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I will find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where he sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Lieutenant Charles Erskine Scott Wood, who translated Joseph’s heart-rending speech, resigned his commission not long after and became a powerful attorney who fought for the rights of the dispossessed.

When Joseph died September 21, 1905, exiled at the Colville Reservation in Washington State, his physician claimed “a broken heart” was the cause of death.

His name, Heinmot Tooyalaket, translates as Thunder Rolling in the Mountains.

Listen for him. Read this book. Try to keep your eyes dry and your heart from cracking while you read.

~by Tanya Hanson
My next book, Soul Food, # five in the Hearts Crossing Series, comes out May 4. To start the series and tempt you, I'm giving away a pdf copy today of book one, Hearts Crossing Ranch, to one commenter. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Frontier Medicine

by Anna Kathryn Lanier

In my novella SALVATION BRIDE, the heroine Laura Slade, is a trained doctor.  Set in the 1870’s, this was not common, but possible.  By the end of the Civil War, several medical schools admitted women.  Laura, however, didn’t.  Instead, she apprenticed under her Uncle John, who had been to medical school and served as a doctor in the Civil War.

More common in the 19th Century, women were home-trained healers and midwives, who learned the art of healing from their mothers and grandmothers.  My current work in progress takes place in the 1860’s shortly after the Civil War.  The hero, Garrison and the heroine, Sammie, are on a wagon train heading West.  Sammie has been trained as a healer by her mother.  She takes with her on the trip her medicine chest.

The chest would contain such items as those listed in BLEED, BLISTER, AND PURGE by Volney Steele, M.D.  Common household remedies would be “feverfew, fleabane, boneset, rhubarb, oak of Jerusalem, thyme [and] marjoram,” (page 138). A few store-bought items would also be included:  Opium tincture or laudanum and whiskey for pain and surgeon’s plaster to bind broken limbs.

Sammie would know how to make poultices to relieve pain, help heal burns and possibly, even, to prevent pregnancy.  She’d make plaster of mustard to “ease the ache of bruises, arthritis, and pleurisy.” She might even apply sugar to wounds, once commonly known to dry out a fresh wound and inhibit the growth of bacteria. (page 143).

Cholera was the most common and the deadliest disease to sweep through a wagon train or settlement.  It wasn't understood at the time that cholera was caused by contaminated drinking water.  The best way to fight the disease was to replace fluids "volume to volume” as the patient suffered from severe diarrhea. However, this treatment was not well known.  Opium, if available, was also given to “relieve the pain and slow down the increased bowel action and cramps,” (page 80).

Diphtheria, measles, small pox and scarlet fever were all deadly diseases, especially among children, with no cures but to wait it out.  Diphtheria, in particular, was the most dreaded.  Highly contagious, a single case could start an epidemic, resulting in a high number of children dying when a “pseudo-membrane in the throat and pharynx…obstructed the windpipe and shut off air to the lungs.”  If the child survived this, she might still die from heart failure, caused when a potent toxin was secreted that effected the heart, (page 264).

One often overlooked disease on the frontier was scurvy, which was almost as deadly to the immigrants as cholera. With a common diet of corn meal, flour, beans and boiled or salted beef and few fresh vegetables and fruit, scurvy ran rampant in the West. Scurvy affects the overall health of the patient, causing extreme fatigue, nausea, pain in the muscles and joints of the body, bleeding of the gums (oftentimes resulting in the loss of teeth) and hair and skin become dry.  The simple cure for scurvy is the intake of Vitamin C, but the correlation between diet and scurvy was not discovered until the late 1800’s. Ironically, a common native plant along the trail, watercress, was full of Vitamin C and would have been a simple cure to this disease, if the immigrants had only known.

Many an immigrant’s diary is filled with entries of sickness and death on the journey.  In COVERED WAGON WOMEN by Kenneth Holmes, two journalists note such occurrences.  Anna King, on page 42, relates, “I wrote to you at Fort Larim that the whooping cough and measles went through our camp, and after we took the new route a slow, lingering fever prevailed….Eight of our two families have gone to their long home. Upwards to fifty died on the new route.”

Sallie Hester reports “We had two deaths in our train within the past week of cholera – young men going West to seek their fortune.  We buried them on the banks of the Blue River, far from home and friends,” (page 237).

By today’s standards, medicine in the 19th Century was crude in the best of hospitals. On the frontier, it was downright rudimentary.  As much as I’d love to give my heroines insight to the knowledge we have now, I shall have to resist and let them heal their patients with the remedies tired and true at the times, no matter how wrong we see them to be today. 

I’ll give away a copy of SALVATION BRIDE, a best-seller from The Wild Rose Press to one lucky commenter.  So, just leave a comment by Tuesday, April 17th....I'll draw a winner on Wednesday, April 18th (or there abouts, as I usually forget to do the drawing for a few days!)

This post first appeared at the Seduced by History Blog on April 19, 2010.

Anna Kathryn Lanier