Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I started to write a short story several months back that turned into a novella. I wrote the novella and realized I wasn’t done with the story…so I wrote two more. These were my “Kane” trilogy—Kane’s Redemption, Kane’s Promise and Kane’s Destiny. These stories really wouldn’t be classified as a “romance” story. There’s no sex, not really even any spoken words of love between Jacobi Kane and his love interest, Laura, who later becomes his wife.

I did this on purpose, since the stories are told from the point of view of a young boy. That stuff would be too mushy for him to think about for too long. No, these stories are more action oriented, and being told from the first person viewpoint, it’s necessary to keep a high level of feeling to the forefront.

Will Green is the young boy who tells the stories. In KANE’S REDEMPTION, we meet him at the age of 9, almost 10. His parents and older sister have just been murdered by the Apache, and he has been kidnapped as they torch his home. But a few days later, just as he’s given up hope, a mysterious man walks right into the Apache camp and rescues him. Jacobi Kane has a mysterious past that he isn’t too keen on discussing with Will, though Will senses a kind of kinship between the two of them as they travel toward Fort Worth and safety. Kane harbors a terrible secret that might force Will’s hero worship of him to turn quickly to hatred…or of understanding, that Kane is a man who does what he must. But will that realization be enough, and is Will mature enough to come to grips with what Kane had to do?

In KANE’S PROMISE, Will continues to learn more about Jacobi Kane’s past when a group of law officers seek Kane’s help in capturing some of the same Apache Indian band that killed Will’s family. Kane resists going because he is now re-married, with a new baby on the way and tells the lawmen he’s turned in his badge for good—years ago. But a promise he made in the past keeps him hungry for vengeance, and his new wife urges him to go and see an end to it all. Of course, Will is not going to be left behind. Jacobi might need him!

KANE’S DESTINY wraps up the trilogy with a surprise visit from a man Will had never expected to see—his ship building magnate grandfather, from Boston, Robert Green. His grandfather first tries to intimidate him into returning to Boston with him, then falls back on honesty only when he must to convince Will to come back. Will vehemently refuses, but when he hears two of his grandfather’s men planning to murder his grandfather, he knows he has to go at least part of the way—to the first stop, back where it all started—the little burned out cabin where his family was murdered over two years past. Jacobi is out there, trailing them for protection, unseen and silent, but then Will learns a secret that makes his blood run cold. A man that Jacobi thought of as a friend is also caught up in the plot—but Jacobi doesn’t know the tide has turned. He’s in as much danger as Will and his grandfather are.

This is just a short bit about each story, but the big news is, now you can get all three stories under one cover, KANE’S CHANCE! With a little bit of editing and changing here and there for “flow”, these stories are all combined into one novel now. This book is loved by young and old alike, a great YA novel for boys (and girls!), but also something adults enjoy as well. I loved every minute of writing these adventures of Will Green and Jacobi Kane, and I have a feeling I’m not done yet.

Karen M. Nutt did all my wonderful covers, and she came through again for KANE’S CHANCE. I’m giving away one digital copy of KANE’S CHANCE today to a commenter, so please comment and remember to leave your contact info!

Here’s an excerpt from KANE’S CHANCE. Thirteen-year-old Will and his grandfather are having a meeting of the minds as they travel up to Indian Territory from Fort Worth. Surrounded by men who want to kill both of them, they find themselves at odds in this conversation where Will tells his grandfather some things about himself that his grandfather didn’t know.

I had learned a lot from Jacobi. And by the way my grandfather looked away and fell silent, I knew there was a mighty big hole in the story somewhere.

“What is it you’re not tellin’ me, old man?” My voice was strong but quiet. I wasn’t sure if this was some kind of family secret or somethin’ he didn’t want Jack Wheeler, riding a few paces behind us, to hear.

He gave me a sharp look. “You may call me Grandfather, William. There’s no need for disrespect.”

“No need to tell half the story, either.”

At first, he looked at me from under his eyebrows like he’d like to take a strap to me. But I looked right back at him. Finally, he nodded and glanced away.

“I’ve been so desperate to find you because…you’re my only living heir. I built a ship building dynasty for my family, Will, and there’s no one left but you.” He cursed as the wagon hit a hole and jolted him sharply.

“My sister married a man, Josiah Compton, whose wife had died. He brought two sons to the marriage, but he and Margaret never had any children together. The boys are men, now, of course. George, the eldest, is a pastor. But Ben, the younger of them, is quite a wastrel. He has squandered his inheritance and is looking for more. If you weren’t…alive….well—everything would fall to the two of them. And though George is not the type to seek gain, Ben is quite a different story.

“Ben knows I won’t be around much longer. But you will always be a threat, Will. I’m afraid this is going to end badly for one of you.”

I thought about what he’d told me. It seemed like maybe he needed me to say somethin’. It bolstered my confidence to know that somewhere out there, Jacobi was ridin’ along easy, keepin’ a eye out on us. Especially, now that I’d learned this part of the story.

I looked at him straight in the face. “I’ll tell you one thing. It ain’t gonna be me that ends up dead.”

“I didn’t say that—”

“It’s what you meant though, ain’t it? When there’s a pile of money to be had, somebody’s always worried it’ll get taken away from ‘em. Even if he knows I don’t want it, he’ll be worried about it. I’ve killed before. I’ll do it again, if need be.”

His expression turned to one of shock. I went on with what I was saying. “Ain’t nobody gonna take my life over somethin’ I don’t even want.”

He studied me openly, as if he were trying to decide what he should say. I saved him the trouble.

“I know you’re wonderin’ about it, so I’ll tell you.” And I did just that, from start to finish, from the day Papa and I had been out working together and seen the Apaches ride up all the way through when Jacobi had rescued me and we’d ridden out of the Apache camp together.

“We rode as long as we could, until I fell off the horse. Then Jacobi picked me up and we rode some more. When Red Eagle caught up to us, Jacobi and him fought.” My throat dried up just thinkin’ about how I’d felt to see Red Eagle and Jacobi locked close together, fighting with everything they had, and knowin’ one of ‘em was gonna end up dead.

“I killed Red Eagle. Shot him dead.”

Grandfather was quiet.

“I ain’t sorry for it, either. It felt good. Every time I think about what he did to Papa and Mama, I know it was the right thing. But mainly it was right because he was so dang pure evil.”

FOR KANE’S CHANCE and all my other work, check BARNES & NOBLE and AMAZON. Here’s the AMAZON link to my author page.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


How many times have you heard the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas?” Since I grew up in and still live in Texas, that term “yellow rose” did not sink in until I was an adult and learned it referred to a woman who was a quadroon, a term I always thought silly. Quadroon means a person who has one Negro grandparent and three Caucasian grandparents. In our society of blended ethnic and racial bloodlines, these sorts of racial descriptions should have long ago lost their usage and meaning. But I digress.

The Yellow Rose of Texas was an attractive woman supposedly named Emily Morgan. In reality, her name was Emily West. Many assumed, due to her being a quadroon, that she was James Morgan’s slave and called her Emily Morgan. She helped win the Battle of San Jacinto, which resulted in the Texas army’s victory over Santa Anna. This created the Republic of Texas, a separate nation until it joined the United States in 1845. I think she was a heroine, a woman who turned forced servitude/prostitution into an opportunity to fight her oppressor and defend her adopted family.

She was born Emily West around 1816 in New Haven, Connecticut, but moved to New York. She was a free woman and signed a contract with agent James Morgan in New York City on October 25, 1835, to work a year as housekeeper at the New Washington Association's hotel, Morgan's Point, Texas. Morgan was to pay her $100 a year and provide her transportation to Galveston Bay on board the company's schooner, scheduled to leave with thirteen artisans and laborers in November. She arrived in Texas in December on board the same vessel as Emily de Zavala and her children. At the mouth of the San Jacinto River, Morgan laid out the town of New Washington. Morgan was away building a fortification to defend Galveston from Santa Anna when the dictator arrived at New Washington.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
The Little Napoleon
Due to lack of records, there is a lot of speculation on the actual facts. Here’s the consensus: General Santa Anna saw a beautiful mulatto woman helping load supplies at the dock to help Colonel Morgan’s family join him at Galveston. Santa Anna, the “little Napoleon” womanizing dictator, decided that Emily Morgan was to become his new “personal maid.” Soon twenty-year-old Emily occupied his three-room, candy-striped tent. But the Mexican dictator had chosen/forced the wrong woman. Emily was a Texian sympathizer.

Santa Anna ordered a slave named Turner, whom he had taken at the same time he acquired Emily, to perform a reconnaissance of the Texian army. Before Turner and his escort of soldiers left on their mission, Emily secretly had a word with him. Since Morgan kept his family apprised of Texian activity, Emily knew where Houston was camped. She also knew Turner would be sympathetic to the Texians. She disclosed Houston’s location and instructed Turner to let him know the Mexican army was in pursuit. Through guile and good horsemanship, Turner was able to pass on Emily’s warning. In addition, he fed Santa Anna false information about Houston’s location.

On April 21, 1836, all was quiet in the Mexican camp. Santa Anna was at his tent. Inside were a piano, silverware, china, food, and chests of opium to feed the dictator’s addiction. The soldiers were having a siesta with limited guards on duty. By the time the Texian soldiers arrived, Santa Anna had retired into his tent with Emily. At the first sign of gunfire, the dictator rushed out and stumbled over cases of champagne stacked at the entrance. Clad only in silk drawers and red slippers, Santa Anna could not restore order among his troops. He wrapped himself in a bed sheet, grabbed a box of chocolates and a gourd of water, and jumped on a horse to escape. He was caught the next day.

Santa Anna's surrender

After the Battle of San Jacinto, a member of the victorious Texian army escorted Emily Morgan back to New Washington. She told Colonel Morgan of the victory. He later learned of the importance she had played in the event. He immediately released her from indenture and it is rumored he bought her a house in a community of free blacks in Houston. Later, she returned to New York and faded into oblivion. (I wonder what happened to Mr. Turner, the slave who helped.)

Folklore picked up on Emily’s heroics. Eventually, Mexican historians admitted to Santa Anna’s “quadroon mistress” during the Texas campaign. William Bollaert, an Englishman who visited Texas several times and was an acquaintance of the Morgans, kept a diary of his travels and recorded Emily’s actions. The diary was not made public until 1902. By then the Yellow Rose of Texas had already become established in Texas lore.

Emily’s story inspired “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” one of the best known songs about Texas. In 1861, Texas Confederates marched off to war singing this song. In 1936 a concert arrangement was offered by David W. Guion for the Texas Centennial (and dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ordered a White House performance). In 1955 Mitch Miller recorded an arrangement for Columbia Records that made the song popular with Americans. The lyrics were altered from the original Negro spiritual to the more politically correct version of today. A 1949 movie “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” starred John Wayne and Joanne Dru. As long as there is a Texas, and as long as the melody of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” lingers, Emily Morgan and her part in the short-lived battle on April 21, 1836 will be remembered.

There’s a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see,
Nobody else could miss her, not half as much as me
She cried so when I left her it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.
She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only one for me.

When the Rio Grande is flowing, the starry skies are bright,
She walks along the river in the quiet summer night:
She thinks if I remember, when we parted long ago,
I promised to come back again, and not to leave her so.

Oh now I’m going to find her, for my heart is full of woe,
And we’ll sing the songs together, that we sung so long ago
We’ll play the banjo gaily, and we’ll sing the songs of yore,
And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine forevermore.

Thanks to FROM ANGELS TO HELLCATS: LEGENDARY TEXAS WOMEN 1836 TO 1880 by Don Blevins for part of the above information.
Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas online.   

Would you become a mail-order bride?

Tabitha Masterson is certain whatever awaits her in Radford Springs, Texas will be better than what her brother and that awful William have in mind in Boston. After her father’s death, her brother has become a tyrant. She escapes to start her new life in Texas, but trouble can’t be far behind. She believes if she’s married when trouble arrives, she’ll be safe. But her fiancé is reluctant to accept her as a substitute for the mail-order bride he’d courted.

Bear Baldwin is crushed when he receives a wire notifying him that the woman with whom he has corresponded for almost a year has passed him off to her friend.  Do the two women think he’s like an old shirt to be handed down? His mother urges him to give the substitute fiancée a chance, but his pride is stung and he hasn’t decided.

Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0C3MNC

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 24, 2013


By Celia Yeary


Judge Roy Bean, the self-appointed “Law West of the Pecos”, became a saloonkeeper and Justice of the Peace on the Rio Grande in a desolate stretch of the Chihuahua Desert of SW Texas. When the Texas Rangers weren’t around to stop him, he brazenly held court.
Roy Bean found himself in trouble most of his life from Texas to California. He killed, stole, cheated, swindled, and abused his wife.

Young women considered Bean handsome, and often competed for his attention. In San Diego, a Scotsman named Collins challenged Bean to a pistol shooting match on horseback. He allowed Bean to choose the target, and Roy Bean decided they would shoot at each other. Bean shot Collins in the arm. The sheriff arrested both men and charged them with attempted murder. During the two months in jail, Bean received many gifts of flowers, food, wine, and cigars from the ladies of San Diego. The last gift included knives encased in tamales. He used the knives to dig through the cell wall.   

In Southwest Texas by the Rio Grande, the small town of Langtry was established as a construction junction from east and west during the building of the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway. Two origins of the town’s name are under dispute. One claim says the town was named for a civil engineer named Langtry who directed a group of Chinese laborers in the railroad construction.
The other more popular and accepted claim is that Judge Roy Bean,
an eccentric, colorful character, insisted he named the town after his idol,
English actress Lillie Langtry, the “Jersey Lily.”
Today, a Texas Visitor’s Center sits next to the preserved
150-year-old-saloon  in Langtry, Texas.
The center is well maintained, with clean restrooms,
a snack area, landscaping, and a gift shop.
NEWEST RELEASE-contemporary Western novella-TRUCK STOP PARADISE

He stood near the door next to the rack that held beef jerky and salted peanuts. He wore the same faded, ragged-at-the-heels, worn-at-the-knees Levis, and the familiar black felt Resistol with the braided leather around the hatband. Oh, yeah, and beat-up, cowhide leather boots. Black longish hair hung down his neck and mirrored sunglasses sat firmly in place on his narrow chiseled nose. Uh-huh. That was him, all right, as gorgeous as ever.

"Hey, Chad. Who told you I was here?"


Shrugging, she stopped one foot in front of him, deliberately holding him against the wall. She remembered he was claustrophobic and didn't like to be crowded, but he was fine if he was the one doing the crowding.

She laughed a little and studied her nails. When she looked up, he'd clenched his right jaw so hard, he had a little red spot there. "Oh, I think someone did. You're looking for me. Why don't you just own up to it and quit beatin' around the bush?"

Shaking his head, he cleared his throat and tried to move sideways, but the rack of beef jerky was in his way. "Okay, Miss-Know-It-All, what do you think?"

Deciding to free him from the wall, she stepped toward the door but stopped with her forearm on the door handle. "Want to move outside? I have a question or two."

He made a grunting sound in his throat. "So do I."
99CENTS on Amazon:

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WELCOME GUEST-Linda Carroll-Bradd!

By Linda Carroll-Bradd
I appreciate the opportunity to share some background about my historical romance novella, Dreams of Gold, a release from The Wild Rose Press.

One of the reasons I chose Wyoming for the setting of Dreams of Gold is because it became known as the equality state. Even before the territory became a state, legislation was passed in 1869 that granted women the right to vote, serve on juries, and hold elected office. This was the first time a government had granted “female suffrage” and became law upon Governor A.J. Campbell’s signature on December 10, 1869. Within three months, Ester Hobart Morris had been appointed justice of the peace in South Pass City (a site of gold strikes). In September 1870 in Laramie, Mrs. Louisa Swain was the first woman to cast a vote for equal suffrage.

These facts were important because my heroine, Ciara Morrissey, was raised in the east, Massachusetts in particular. Living in an area of higher population gave her access to a wider number of opportunities—ways to support herself, as well as gatherings and meetings that educated and informed. Raised by a liberal-minded mother, Ciara had attended both anti-slavery and suffrage meetings since she was a child. Therefore, she arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1871 with expectations on how to conduct her business that were a bit more open-minded than the hometown sheriff, Quinn Riley, was used to. And the sparks flew…

In 1871, Easterner Ciara Morrissey travels west to honor a sacred promise to her mother and locate her fortune-seeking father. Caretaker to her grandparents and mother until their deaths has created a thirst in Ciara to see the wider world.
Sheriff Quinn Riley hunts the Irish charlatan who swindled half of Bull City, Wyoming’s residents. He’ll stick close to the newly arrived opinionated woman. Within only hours, easterner Ciara Morrissey upsets the townspeople by making inquires about his prime suspect. He’s duty-bound to keep her safe but being near the green-eyed beauty sets off a stampede in his heart.

Amazon    http://amzn.to/VcKxbp
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TWRP   http://bit.ly/12TzIzf

More evidence she was a stranger to the wild circumstances of the western frontier. Anticipation of organizing the chase flitted through him. “Did they use names? Or speak to their horses?” At her head shake, he fought back the urgency rising in his chest. “Anything that might provide a clue?”

“We heard shots, Sheriff, and Mr. McGinnis shouted for us to do what we were told. A man rode up to the window on each side, demanding our money and jewels.” A dainty shoulder lifted in a shrug. “That’s when Miss Fairchild screamed her virtue was about to be stolen and swooned, landing in my lap.” Green eyes danced, and a high-pitched giggle escaped. “Frankly, I doubt the robbers planned on lifting anyone’s skirts.” Eyes widening, she clapped a hand over her mouth and shook her head.

Damn. Quinn had seen witnesses suddenly realize the danger they’d been in and that’s when hysterics set in. Lord, he could not abide a crying woman. “Did you notice any detail about their saddles or markings on their faces that stood out?”

Her brows scrunched low, and she squared her shoulders, pulling her jacket snug across her breasts. “I feared for my very life, sir, and you think I should have noticed their saddles?” She inhaled deeply, and then her whole body stilled. “Yes, I do remember something about the saddles.”

He watched the movement of her chest—in particular, how the buttons strained their closures. The rhythm of his heartbeat kicked up and a bead of sweat trickled on his forehead. Lifting his gaze to her face, he leaned forward, forcing himself to concentrate on what she might share. “What’s that?”

“Each man sat in one.” Her body rigid, she raised the mug to her lips and waited, an eyebrow arched high.

As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.

Places to find Linda on the web:

Those who leave a comment here or on my blog (http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com) by May 24th will be eligible for a drawing of a title from my backlist. Be sure to include your email address so I have a way to contact you.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Panthers in Texas?

Cougar (panther, painter)
Fort Worth, Texas, where I live, is often called the Panther City. This nickname traces back to the Civil War. When army troops were called away to fight in the war, settlers became vulnerable to attack by Comanche and Kiowa raiders. As a result, many Fort Worth residents fled eastward. In their absence, panthers supposedly slept in the deserted streets. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a good yarn.

When I say panthers, I don’t mean the big black cats native to South American jungles. I mean cougars, also known as pumas, mountain lions or catamounts. In the old days they were often called panthers or painters, and they roamed all over Texas. Now, they’re found mainly in the mountainous deserts, including Big Ben National Park, and on the brushy Rio Grande Planes bordering the southwestern part of the state.

Leopard (el tigre)
In centuries past, Texas was home to the jaguar, the third largest cat in the world. Called el tigre in Mexico, this beautiful spotted cat inhabited the southern and eastern portions of Texas, but there have been no proven sightings since the turn of the 20th century.

Ocelots also once ranged all over the dense brush thickets of south Texas and were occasionally seen in the north and central parts of the state. Now they’re found only in a few brushy patches on the Rio Grande Plains. Likewise the small, dark gray or brown jaguarundi. Margays, small spotted cats, are extinct in Texas, but fossil evidence shows they once roamed within our southern borders. They’re now found only in tropical forests.

Bobcats are the most common wild felines in Texas. Short-tailed, rusty-brown or gray, with dark splotches and bars, they are as large as a medium-sized dog. Preferring rocky areas or brushy thickets for cover, bobcats have adapted to human intrusion in their habitat and still range all over the state. Like most cats, they are shy of humans and do their hunting mainly at night. They eat mostly ground squirrels, wood rats, mice and rabbits, but will sometimes prey upon domestic sheep, goats and poultry. Bobcats are occasionally seen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I live, mainly on the outskirts. My daughter has a cat that's an offspring of a bobcat and a domestic cat. He's very shy and eats like a little pig!

Now, let’s get back to cougars, aka panthers. These shy, solitary cats are nocturnal hunters of deer, wild hogs, rabbits and other small prey. However, they do occasionally kill livestock. In Dashing Irish, book two in my Texas Devlins series, Tye Devlin tangles with an angry panther while on a cattle drive to Kansas. Delayed by the flooded Red River, the herd is being held, waiting for the river to go down before crossing into Indian Territory (Oklahoma.) Nearby flows a small stream called Panther Creek (a real place) where panthers are said to lurk. Tye is riding night guard.
 Here’s an excerpt from his encounter:

The panther had screamed a couple times earlier, but he’d sounded farther away. He was getting too close for comfort now. Along with the other night guards, Tye attempted to calm the cattle, not an easy task when he was on edge himself.

Glancing at the stars, he judged it nearly time to head for his bedroll. Three nights of double guard duty had left him dog tired, but the panther’s presence overrode his need for sleep.

He stiffened in his saddle when another blood-curdling cry rang out, sounding dangerously close. Dozens of cattle scrambled to their feet, almost ready to run.

“Stop your racket, ye devil,” Tye muttered. Figuring he was closer to the troublemaker than anyone else, he made a quick decision. Not giving himself time to reconsider, he swung the grulla toward where he thought the shriek had come from, certain the panther wouldn’t attack him. He’d seen the creatures down along the Nueces and back in Colorado. They must roam all over the West. Lions, some miners called them. Despite their fearsome cry, they usually ran off when a man approached.

He’d drawn near to a rocky outcrop when a long, shadowy shape detached itself from the rocks and took off running with a snarl. Startled for a second, Tye kneed his horse after the predator to make sure it kept going. Oddly, the cat appeared to limp, but it still outran them for a good ways. Then it stumbled to a halt, whirled around and shrieked.

The grulla stopped so short, Tye nearly catapulted over its head. Before he could regain his balance, the horse neighed in terror and reared. Losing his grip, Tye tumbled from the saddle and hit the ground hard, knocking the breath out of him. He lay there for a few seconds, fighting to breathe while the horse galloped off. Then he started to sit up . . . and froze.

Not ten feet away, he saw the dark form of the panther. Ears laid back, fangs bared and eyes glittering in the moonlight, the cat crouched, ready to spring. Tye grabbed for his gun, but stopped, remembering the nearby herd. A gunshot might start a stampede. Reaching for his knife instead, he barely had time to draw it from his boot before the panther was on him.

The snarling brute instantly went for his throat. Tye clamped his free hand around the beast’s own throat to hold it off. As he did, razor-sharp claws raked his shoulders. Hissing in pain, he attempted to plunge his knife into the cat’s heart, but oaken ribs deflected the blow. All he did was make the demon madder.

Growling, the panther tried to twist free of his hold on its neck. A hind foot clawed his right thigh; front talons flayed his chest. Crying out, Tye shifted his grip and desperately forced the animal’s head back.

Learn how this life and death battle ends in Dashing Irish.

Amazon: Dashing Irish                                Barnes & Noble: Dashing Irish

Other books in this series available on Amazon and B&N:

Darlin' Irish -- Texas Devlins, Jessie's Story
Dearest Irish -- Texas Devlins, Rose's Story

White Witch -- Texas Devlins Origins (a prequel novella)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sarah McNeal, author of  westerns, paranormal & time travel and contemporary romances

The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp
All Pictures from Wickapedia

Although I didn’t get to see it often, I remember a TV western about Wyatt Earp. In the series, Earp was always a hero, unattached and handsome. I believe the theme song included the words “Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave, courageous and true.” But was he all those things? Later, there were several movies about him and my favorite was Tombstone. In the movie he fought against a gang known as the ‘cowboys’, had a famous friend named Doc Holliday, a wife who died, Urilla Sutherland, a girlfriend named Mattie who reportedly was a drug addict and then met his true love, Josephine Sarah Marcus who was a beautiful Jewish actress. He also worked as a buffalo skinner, owned a mine, owned a saloon and worked as a lawman. At the end of the movie, we saw his visit to Alaska in his later years and his connection to cowboy actor, William S. Hart. So, how much of the movie was fiction and how much was fact? Well, here are the facts:
Wyatt and his mother (wickapedia)
Wyatt at age 19  He was quite the handsome hunk

Wyatt Earp only married once and that was his wife, Urilla Sutherland. She died in childbirth and Wyatt never had any other children. Both Mattie and Josephine were common law wives. Mattie was addicted to laudanum and later, committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum in Arizona supposedly pinning for Wyatt. Josie really was Wyatt’s true love. They lived for a time in San Francisco so Josie could live close to her family. Josie stayed by his side for 43 years. Why they didn’t officially marry, I don’t know.

Wyatt's second wife, Mattie
Wyatt's True Love, Josephine

Wyatt’s jobs and adventures are so numerous it’s difficult to list them all. He had a reputation as a gun fighter, but did work as a lawman off and on for most of his life. Tombstone and the showdown at the OK Corral really happened. He had many friendships with well known people including Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, and William Hart who was a famous cowboy actor. Over his lifetime, Wyatt owned several saloons and the Golden Poppy Brothel above one of his saloons. He gambled and loved horse racing. He also was a buffalo skinner in his early years and, like so many in the gold rush era, mined for gold. He looked for gold while in Nome, Alaska with Josie. While in San Francisco he worked for law enforcement secretly chasing down criminals in Mexico. What a life.

He was an imposing figure at six foot tall and 170 pounds in a time when most men were about five foot six. One truth about his character surfaced about him frequently, that he was fearless. Although he owned several saloons, he rarely drank liquor. He sounds like a hero, even though he had his dark side.
Wyatt at age 75

Suffice it to say, Wyatt Earp lived a long and active life with many varied pursuits and adventures. He and Josie lived together for 43 years. Wyatt died of chronic cystitis which was most likely prostate cancer at the age of 85 in Los Angeles on January 13, 1929. He is buried in a Jewish cemetery beside his common law wife, Josie. His legacy is that we will always remember him for the fantastic and sometimes outrageous life he led and that he did it all so courageously.
Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California
Sarah McNeal may be found at the following places:
Fantasy and Dreams
also at Facebook and Twitter
time travel, paranormal, 1910 western
A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. 
Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?
WWI era western
Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.
Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.
Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.
Will either of them find happiness?  
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/136814

Thursday, May 16, 2013

America's Breed--The Morgan! ~Tanya Hanson

available now
When I needed a breed for the stolen horses in Christmas for Ransom, the first novella in my Lawmen and Outlaws series, I discovered the Morgan. (Book Two, Outlaw Bride, will be out later this year. Oh, and the white horses on both covers are not the stolen Morgans LOL.

This historic American breed started up about the same time as the United States itself, when legendary stallion Figure was born in 1789 in southern New England. He is the origin of our country’s first breed of light horse.

This bay horse had many talents, and he quickly gained fame. Not as big as colonial workhorses nor as tall and long-legged as race horses, he nonetheless consistently outperformed both. He became widely known for his ability to pull stumps and logs for settlers, and was also used as a saddle and driving horse. But he had fun, too, winning races and pulling contests, and was a favorite mount at militia parades. He even carried President James Monroe on a muster-day parade.

All Morgans today trace back to Figure, the “foundation sire.” Since Figure was at one time owned by a man named Justin Morgan, the horse later came to be identified by that name. Subsequently, the entire breed as well. “Justin Morgan” became famed for his prepotency –the passing on all of his distinctive looks, conformation, temperament and athleticism no matter if the mare breeding with him was a large draft horse or an elegant racing type. The “prince of steeds” died at the age of 32 from a kick in his flank by another horse.

His offspring and descendents didn’t disappoint. Blessed with ground-covering gaits, Morgans covered many miles day after day at a steady rate of speed. They were dependable and determined to get the job done, making them a favorite horse in all lines of work. Earning a reputation as “horses of all work,” they were the preferred teams for stagecoach lines, for fieldwork on farms, and for transportation to town by the 1820’s. In the 1840’s, the breed’s trotting ability made it a favorite for harness racing, and its strength found Morgans headed for the California goldfields.

Justin Morgan’s grandson, Black Hawk and great grandson Hale’s Green Mountain Morgan dominated the sires by mid-century. Black Hawk, beloved for his speed and elegant style, sired a world champion trotter, and in the 1850’s, these two stallions charmed visitors to Midwestern state fairs and heightened the demand for Morgans in the west.

They were taken to California as ranch and harness racers, and helped run the Pony Express. Several units of cavalry in the Civil War were comprised of Morgans, including the Vermont Cavalry. U.S. General Philip Sheridan’s charger Winchester (a.k.a. Rienzi), a noble horse immortalized after the war, was a descendant of Black Hawk.

The only survivor of Custer’s regiment at the Battle of Little Bighorn was his Morgan-mustang, Comanche.

Bred to be taller today, the Morgan’s deep body, lovely head, and straight-clean boned legs make it still a hit from cowhands in Montana to show-rings and dressage. The Morgan is at home mounted by tourists on America’s trails and by-ways as well as mounted police in the city. Its gentleness and soundness makes this horse beloved as a therapeutic riding horse for those with various disabilities.

When you’re in Shelburne Vermont, you can visit the Morgan Museum.

What horses "ride” through your favorite books? Ever ridden a Morgan?

Coming late 2013

~Tanya Hanson

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sod Houses

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

When we think of the pioneer, we usually imagine a log cabin, but what was a pioneer to do when they lived in a place with few, if any, trees…such as the plains of Kansas or Nebraska? The alternative was sod houses, built by sodbusters, a name given the first farmers to break virgin soil on the grasslands of the Great Prairie.  The houses were often built into banks or hillsides, “dug in like coyotes,” as one woman described it.  Other sod houses were free standing. 

The houses were literally made of sod…soil.  They settlers would look for densely packed grass, such as buffalo grass, wire grass, Indian grass and wheat grass. Once found, the sod would be cut into strips between twelve and eighteen inches wide and eighteen inches long and were usually three inches deep.  When building the house, the bricks would be placed lengthwise, side by side to make the walls two feet thick. Every few layers, this process would be reversed, so that the bricks were laid crosswise to bind the walls and make them solid.  The bricks were laid with the grass side down.

Wood was used for door and window frames, with the door frame set into place before construction began.  Once the walls reached the proper height, window frames were put in.  Sod was laid around the sides and boards were place above the window frame. A gap, left at the top above the frame was filled with rags or grass. This allowed the sod to settle without crushing the glass window panes. Pegs were then driven into the sod through holes in the frame to hold it in place.

Often the roof was made of sod, but if the sodbuster could afford it, lumber would be bought. A combination of 2x6’s for a ridge post, 2x4’s for rafters and wood sheathing nailed over the rafters was used to build the roof.  When lumber was too expensive for a roof, sod bricks, usually thinner than those used for the walls, was used. Tar paper could be used to help stop the leaks, but a sod roof wasn’t the best for keeping out the rain.

Chicken coops and ‘caves’ for keeping provisions cool in the summer and to keep them from freezing in the winter were also made of sod bricks.  The temperature on the plains could fluctuate between -10° and 110° Fahrenheit.  Because of the thickness of the walls and insulating ability of the material, sod houses did an excellent job of keeping the houses warm via the stove during the winter and cool during the heat of the summer.

A solidly built sod house could last seven or more years.  Whitewashing or putting stucco on the exterior could improve the longevity of the house.  Most sod houses were simple in design, but Isadore Haumont built a two-story sod house north of Broken Bow, Nebraska in 1884-85.  The house stood until the mid-1960s when it was demolished.

For the most part, people seemed satisfied with their sod homes, though certainly some people found the dirt floors and leaking roofs unbearable. Still, given the lack of lumber in the region, a sod house had to be better than no home at all.

Works Cited and for further reading:


Never let your memories be greater than your dreams. ~Doug Ivester 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


by Jacquie Rogers

Author Jacquie Rogers

Tobacco is a plant native to Central and South America, migrating north with traders, eventually making its way to eastern Canada. Until Christopher Columbus and his crew introduced tobacco to Europe, the rest of the world was relatively nicotine-free. Nicotine (probably from belladonna or nicotiana africana) had ceremonial uses in Arabia and northern Africa, but wasn't a commonly consumed substance.
Leap ahead to 1492.

Christopher Columbus had no idea what the dried leaves were that the Arawaks gave him as one of the prized gifts, so he threw it overboard. A while later, crew members Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres described the method used for wrapping dried tobacco leaves, lighting the end, and sucking air through the roll. Jerez enjoyed smoking and is documented as Europe's first smoker.

Problem was, when he got home and the Spaniards saw him blow smoke from his mouth, they threw him in the slammer for seven years. When he finally gained his freedom, tobacco use was accepted and ubiquitous.
de Medici

For the next hundred years, the most popular forms of tobacco use were chew and snuff, although some did smoke cigars. Its use was considered medicinal and when Jean Nicot de Villemain sent snuff to Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, to treat her migraine headaches, she decreed tobacco Herba Regina. Withing the next twenty years, tobacco was thought to cure everything from worms to cancer.

So is everyone smoking? Not quite. Chew and snuff still held most of the tobacco market share, with cigars holding their own at #3. Ah, but you knew someone would be using the pipe soon. England had sent a few people to Virginia Colony they returned smoking pipes, which everyone thought was cool. Pipes caught on quicker than hula-hoops.

In the late 1500s, Spain monopolized the tobacco market and it upset the balance of trade in Europe. Britain needed a variety of natural resources and, well, a little gold wouldn't hurt, either. Solution: the New World. They sent ships to what is now Virginia (and to New England, too) and Jamestown was born. Problem was, the colony was more expensive to support, not to mention the 80% fatality rate, than England got back. Just when the surviving colonists had boarded ship for home, John Rolfe showed up with some teensy little seeds in his pocket.

John Rolfe and 
Within a decade, tobacco plantations were all over the place, worked mostly by indentured servants and African slaves. John Rolfe died in 1622 but the industry he established lived on, and even today the tobacco industry is important to the economy in the region. Tobacco subsidized the Revolutionary War, used as collateral for the loan from France.

When Charles II took the throne in 1660, he brought his snuff habit with him. Snuff was the drug of choice of the French aristocracy and soon spread through the English aristocracy as well, and this trend held through the next century and more. Charlotte, King George III's wife, was especially fond of it and Napolean used 7 pounds of snuff a month. Achoo!

Back to the American colonies: Pierre Lorillard's processing plant in New York City packaged snuff, pipe tobacco, and rolled cigars. P. Lorillard is still in business. From Lorillard, About Us:
Lorillard, Inc., through its Lorillard Tobacco Company subsidiary, is the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. Founded in 1760, Lorillard is the oldest continuously operating tobacco company in the United States.
Bull Durham 
loose tobacco
During the 1700s, several surgeons reported health risks. John Hill said snuff could cause cancer of the nose, Benjamin Rush said that smoking or chewing tobacco leads to drunkenness. Not many paid heed to these warnings. From Historian.org:
1762: General Israel Putnam introduces cigar-smoking to the US. After a British campaign in Cuba, "Old Put" returns with three donkey-loads of Havana cigars; introduces the customers of his Connecticut brewery and tavern to cigar smoking.
In the 1800s, cigar use prevailed. When cigars weren't available, the roll-your-own cigarettes had to make do. When you think of the Old West, you think of Stetson hats, Arbuckles Coffee, and Bull Durham tobacco [Delbert Trew]. But when the cowhands got to town, they still wanted a fine cigar. Chewing was still popular, too, and in 1890 US residents chewed three pounds of tobacco per capita a year.

Pall Mall ad, 1926
It should be mentioned that the Women's Temperance Movement had tobacco on their hit list because it dried the mouth and made men crave alcohol.

For the sake a brevity, we'll skip ahead. Cigarettes had never been the most popular form of tobacco use. But in World War I, the soldiers received cigarette rations, and when they came home, a huge percentage were addicted. Bull Durham advertises, "When our boys light up, the Huns will light out." [Historian.org]

Joan Crawford
Cigarette smoking became prevalent, and, in the Roaring Twenties, even women started smoking. The flappers delighted in long-stemmed cigarette holders, considered quite chic. "I'd Walk a Mile for a Camel" successfully advertised Camel cigarettes, a slogan used for decades. To compete, Marlboro was introduced as a woman's cigarette, "Mild as May." Lucky Strikes targetted women, also, using female stars of the day as spokeswomen. Many other brands that still exist today were introduced in the 1920s.

By 1939, 66% of the men under age 40 smoked. In World War II, the troops were again provided with cigarettes in their rations. Everyone puffed happily away, but the health risks were piling up. Many of the most popular television shows were sponsored by tobacco companies. Magazine ads showed doctors testifying that the advertised brand was the healthiest. In 1954, the Marlboro Cowboy was introduced. Marlboro cigarettes had a .25% market share at the time, probably one of the most successful ad campaigns ever.

Marlboro Man
But in the 1950s, the lawsuits from those adversely affected by tobacco started rolling in. Scientific evidence against smoking piled up. In the 1960s, reports of cigarettes causing lung cancer came from everywhere, including the US Surgeon General. Still, tobacco companies denied the risks and battled in the courts to deny culpability in tobacco user's ills. In 1969, cigarette ads were banned from the airwaves.

Just when you think cigarette-smoking might abate, Virginia Slims comes out for women, advertising, "You've come a long way, baby." At the same time, health warnings had to be printed prominently on cigarette packages. And Joe Camel swept on the scene. At one time, Joe Camel was the second-most recognized animated character by schoolchildren, right behind #1, Mickey Mouse.

Currently, smoking is prohibited in public buildings in nearly all states, and where I live, smoking is very politically-incorrect, even in private. The cost is steep, both in cigarette prices and in health risks. John Rolfe made it possible to finance the Revolutionary War, but it sure would have been healthier for all of us if he could've done it with maize instead of tobacco.

Sources American Tobacco CNN.com Healthliteracy Historian.org Lorillard, Inc. North Carolina State University Tobacco.org

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Find Jacquie Rogers at http://www.jacquierogers.com. For a real treat, read her bio and you'll see why her books are so popular. Other places to find Jacquie are:
She's also on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Thanks for stopping by!