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Monday, June 29, 2015

#NewRelease--July's Bride by Gail L. Jenner--#Giveaway


July Chandler doesn’t need another wife, but when Amanda Hoffman comes west as a “mail order bride” to marry him, sparks fly when she is hired to nurse his young son after an accident. It isn’t long before the confusion over the arrangement becomes clear to all...but is it too late for them to find love amid the chaos? Amanda suddenly finds she has other choices, but she only wants to become JULY'S BRIDE.


    “You can’t be serious,” grumbled Abe. He pulled off the apron he always wore when cooking for the boys on the ranch and dropped to the chair next to the plank table that filled the narrow kitchen. The apron had been Emma’s, and it always gave him a sense of her whenever he wore it. He folded it and set it on his lap.
    “I am serious,” returned Gabriel, pulling up a chair on the other side of the table. “We need to find a bride for July. Someone who will make him happy again.”
    “Again?” Abe mumbled. “I don’t think his marriage was a happy affair. That two-timing female only made him miserable.”
    “Maybe, but she was beautiful—” Gabriel began.
    “Beauty as thin as the ribbons on Emma’s old apron.” Abe fingered the remnant of a faded red ribbon that hung from the corner of his late wife’s well-worn apron.
    Gabriel smiled. “Mrs. Harrison was a lovely woman. Not many men can be as blessed as you, Boss. But we can hope.”
    Abe nodded. “Hope is what we live for, isn’t it?”
    “Back to July,” said Gabriel. “He needs a bride. And Davie needs a mother.”
    “But you can’t just order one up like you would a new piece of furniture. Love takes time—and opportunity,” said Abe.
    Gabriel nodded. “Well, the opportunity has arrived. And the time is now. I ordered July a bride from Illinois. Pastor Edmonds has a list of eligible women needing husbands. She’s arriving in less than a week.”

Be sure and leave a comment to enter a drawing for a free ecopy of Gail L. Jenner's summer romance, July's Bride.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

CALLS FOR SUBMISSION: Christmas Anthologies!

In keeping with tradition, Prairie Rose Publications is gearing up for its annual Christmas madn…er, celebration. Yes, that’s it! Celebration!

The 2013 Christmas anthology Wishing for a Cowboy marked PRP’s debut as a publishing company. That anthology and the two 2014 short story collections—Present for a Cowboy and Wild Texas Christmas—proved popular with authors, and all three continue to deliver heartwarming stories to readers of western historical romance.

So, guess what? We’re publishing two Christmas anthologies again this year!

Here’s the scoop:

A Mail-Order Christmas Bride: western historical romance
Christmas is the season of good cheer, family, and tradition. Imagine leaving the familiar comforts behind to marry a man you don’t know. Would that bring a bride long-awaited happiness or sorrow? Why would a man send for a bride during the season of joy? Perhaps one or both of them have never known the spirit of Christmas, and they’re eager to discover what they’ve been missing. Maybe they’re desperate to escape the pain Christmas evokes. Did her family disown her? Is he isolated...or alone in a crowd? Whether they’re running to or from all that makes the holiday season special, it’s up to you to give them the most memorable Christmas ever with the best gift of all: love that will last a lifetime.

Send us your tale about a happily-ever-after Christmas in the old west. Manuscripts should be 10,000 to 15,000 words long and may have a heat level of sweet to spicy. No erotica, please. Attach the completed story to an email addressed to Cheryl Pierson at, and include a brief synopsis in the body of the email. All manuscripts should be in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced. Deadline: September 15, 2015.

One Christmas Knight: medieval tales of love
Many of today’s Christmas traditions saw their genesis during the Middle Ages, when kings, knights, lords, and ladies lived in splendor while serfs and vassals endured squalid conditions. What would make Christmas special for medieval heroes and heroines? Whether they’re fighting to retain all they own or battling to change their personal circumstances—or maybe the world at large—it’s up to you to unite a hero and heroine with the lifetime love of their dreams.

Prairie Rose Publications wants to see your story about Christmas love in a medieval land. Send your completed manuscript of 10,000 to 15,000 words to Cheryl Pierson at Include a brief synopsis in the body of the email. Tales may be sweet to spicy, but no erotica, please. Deadline: September 15, 2015.

Memories from Maple Street, USA—The Best Christmas Ever: memoir
Christmas is a time of wonder and joy—especially for children. Can you remember one special Christmas that stood out from all the rest when you were growing up? Maybe you got a present you’d wanted more than anything else—or perhaps a loved one came home unexpectedly. Amidst all the excitement and fond memories of family and loved ones, maybe you had a quiet moment or two to think about the true meaning of Christmas…and that was the best Christmas of all.

We’re looking for these stories at Sundown Press for the second volume in our Maple Street series: Memories from Maple Street, USA—The Best Christmas Ever. So wander back down Memory Lane, and put your pen to paper to recount the very best childhood Christmas you remember. We’d love for you to share it with us.

Please remember, we are looking for TRUE, first-person stories of 1,500 to 3,000 words. No “as told to by” accounts. Attach the completed manuscript to an email addressed to Cheryl Pierson at, and include a brief synopsis in the body of the email. Deadline: October 15, 2015.

PRP enjoys working with both new and established storytellers. We look forward to seeing your holiday tales!

Other calls for submission remain open, as well: Nine Deadly Lives, the six duet volumes in the A Song to Remember series, and the first Memories from Maple Street, USA. Information about all of them is available on our website,

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#NewRelease--COWBOY CELEBRATION--4th of July Anthology--Giveaway!

When the Fourth of July rolls around, it’s time for a good, old-fashioned, rip-roaring COWBOY CELEBRATION! And what could be better on this steaming hot holiday than to relax with a book bursting with stories about —AHEM —even hotter cowboys and their feisty ladies? A COWBOY CELEBRATION pops and sizzles with seven colorful, sensuous stories by some of PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS — best authors. As an added bonus, each story mentions a tasty picnic dish (with recipes included!) for your next COWBOY CELEBRATION!

Lily Harmon’s heart was captured when she adopted little Maddie Cullinan, an orphan whose father was presumed killed in battle. But former Union Army Major Luke Cullinan is very much alive, and he’s determined to reclaim his cherished daughter in Lorrie Farrelly’s “The Longest Way Home.”

Ivey Treadwell, cook at her family’s boarding house, wants to accomplish something big. For now, she satisfies herself with improving on the traditional recipes for the boarders by adding herbs and spices she gathers. An incident with a broken pan causes her to see Berg Spengler, the town’s blacksmith, in a new light.

Stigmatized for his huge size and blamed for his brother’s injury, Berg has discovered being alone is safer for his heart. But when he sees interest spark in Ivey’s eyes, he decides to take a chance and approach her. The pair discovers an attraction that heats up each time they are alone together. Will Ivey convince Berg his wandering days are over and home is here with her in Comfort?

Dr. Miles Kerry and his nurse, Cora Hilliard, have both given up on finding love again. But when Cora is asked to move out of the boarding house where she and her ten-year-old son Koby live, they have nowhere to go.  Miles insists they move into the spare rooms in his house—an arrangement with no complications.  But when Cora falls ill with a raging fever, she must rely on Miles as she never has before. Will Koby get the father he wants so badly? Will Miles and Cora get their SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE?

Five years ago, Callie Lynch fell in love, only to have her dreams shattered when she realized she’d been played the fool and used like a puppet. Bitter and shamed, trusting no man and determined to stand alone, she leaves Virginia to find new roots in Wyoming.

Three years ago, Marshal Chase Matlock lost the love of his life during a bank robbery and was left riddled with guilt for failing to protect her. For three years, he’s tracked the scum of the earth—and this time, by God, he’ll get his man.
Scars from the past run deep, but when these two bruised hearts and lost souls meet and desire runs strong, can they overcome their doubts as well as the madman who holds Callie’s life in his hands?

Thomas Heath’s sister, Clara, abandoned him to the cruelties of the people who were raising them. As a young man, he finally finds her—but she is on her way to getting married.  Tom leaves in search of something to give him the stability he yearns for…but what?

Maria Berñal, pampered and coddled by her wealthy father, is on the verge of becoming a woman as her eighteenth birthday approaches.  When a stranger shows up at their door and is wounded as he tries to protect her, she finds him more than a passing attraction—she’s falling in love.

But Tom is the victim of a deadly trick, and can’t remember who he is or why he’s at the Berñal home. Will he regain his memory in time to prevent a second attack?

Poppy Stanton tracks down her mentally handicapped sister, Gracie, who has run off to become a mail-order bride. In the family way, Grace refuses to leave the dusty Wyoming town of Hope Springs, though she is married to an abusive husband.

Bachelor Reed Ridgeley and his mother live nearby, and invite Poppy to stay at their spacious ranch while she sorts out what to do about Gracie. Can Poppy convince her sister to come back home to Chicago with her before Reed can show her what a new future could look like for them in Hope Springs?

Cora Peterson is dead set on winning the Fourth of July Barrel Auction with her Mile High Apple Pie. She expects her rival might best her once again, but what she doesn't expect is a bid for love from the handsome newcomer to Cady Corners...

Be sure and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free ecopy of A COWBOY CELEBRATION.

BUY LINKS                   Barnes and Noble    Smashwords

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


by Shayna Matthews

Opening Day – May 10th, 1876 Heedless of rain, crowds pour
through the gates to see President Grant open the Centennial.
(Photo from the book The Way it Was – 1876 by Suzanne Hilton.)
We as a nation celebrate many, many successes, and throw parties for an infinite number of reasons...and, sometimes, for no reason at all. People love a good party, but there's something... Well, special about the celebration of a birth.

Now, imagine you're holding such a birthday party for a rather large crowd. It's going to take some planning to get off the ground, so you need a little time to prepare for this gathering. A few years ought to do it, provided you can convince your neighbors to grant the permits to do so.

Of course, you can't very well host such a grand affair on your own property, so you look to the one place that does: the nearest park. They give you 256 acres to play with - that should do nicely, don't you think? After all, you want your celebration to go down in history. Help is needed in the construction of elaborate buildings with which to delight the masses, and then it hits you...halfway through completion, you're out of money. Months away from the date, building and plans are halted…leaning dangerously toward abandonment for lack of funds. Do you give up? Of course not - you present your problem to Congress. A vote is taken, and the results are close.

Victory! You have been granted $1,500,000 to complete the preparations! Exhibition Halls rise above the grounds, new and shimmering like the crowned jewels they were. The surrounding city is bustling with anticipation! As the halls are completed, jobs are created for a staff of the 10,000 needed to accommodate the millions expected.  By now the birthday party has an official name, something simple and easy to remember: The International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? What else might you call the one-hundredth birth-date of the Nation?

Held on what is still the largest landscaped park in the United States, Philadelphia's Centennial was a crucial celebration, one the country needed to propel itself forward. The War Between the States had left Americans in a spiral of depression, both physically and financially. We needed an uplift, something to spur us into another revolution. A revolution of spirit. Some 30,000 exhibitors filled 190 buildings to celebrate a nation's birth by the signing of the Declaration of Independence 100 years earlier. This was just the ticket to heal old wounds and spur new ideas.

These new ideas would stem from the displays of nearly forty countries, everything from new hand-tools to the invention of a strange contraption which enabled two people to communicate across a wire. In 1876, the invention was nameless, and met with an equally vague interest amidst the crowd. After all, the crowds were so thick, no one could hear whether the invention even worked. Alexander Graham Bell invited the Emperor of Brazil to come out on a Sunday, when the grounds were closed to the public, to listen to his invention. Without the roar of thousands buzzing in his ear, The Emperor was astounded: Bell's invention really worked! If he had only known then what an impact it would have.

Other curiosities displayed at the Centennial included the typewriter, an electric light, the mechanical calculator, (which weighed 2,000 pounds, and included 15,000 components), Hires Root Beer, and a delightful plant which was initially used as decorative shade. This miracle plant was soon abandoned as decoration and adopted for the control of erosion. Miraculous, indeed! The name of this plant exhibited in Centennial's Horticultural Hall? Kudzu. Contemporary reports also marveled at a "extraordinary" new fire-proof material, of which large deposits of the mineral were just discovered in Quebec. Visitors were excited about the possibilities of this new material called 'asbestos'.

The inventions and ideas presented in the lavish Main Hall (covering 21 acres), and the slightly smaller Machinery Hall, were well-met inspirations. Only four years after the celebrations, more than 10,000 United States patents had been issued for a variety of machines and innovations.

Would this hand and torch ever become a grand
statue in New York Harbor? (Photo from the book
The Way it Was – 1876 by Suzanne Hilton.)
About mid-August, a large parcel arrived from France...spectators watched the large crates unpacked, revealing several pieces of a giant statue cast in virgin metal. Watching the statue come to life by the sweat of workers became a main attraction. Soon, a forearm, wrist and hand emerged, holding a torch and flame. Upon completion, workers found an extra thumb, and merely packed it back up in a crate. A stairway was built to admit visitors into the top of the hand to walk around the torch. Rumors, from reliable sources, promised the hand was to be but a small portion of a grand statue to be erected over the harbor of New York. While the hand was a fun attraction to visit, many people laughed at such an absurd rumor...such a colossal monument could not be done. Could it?

And what of the crowds? The people who explored these wondrous exhibits? I'm a bit envious, I must say. I believe, given the chance, the Centennial is the place I would travel back to see...provided I had sufficient time to see it all. The opening ceremonies began with a hard-to-hear speech from President Grant. It was a rainy day, but that didn't stop crowds from bolting through the ticket stands, neglecting proper admittance with their 50 cent tokens. They surged through the staff, vaulted over ropes and walls, and entered the grand celebration. From 10th of May through the 10th of November, Philadelphia suffered the ramifications of another entire city within its midst. Citizens soon found that by attending the Centennial every day, for those six months, they could not possibly see it's entirety. One local woman discovered from experience, the formula for taking in the exhibition halls. Walk the grounds every third day, leaving two days for sufficient recovery. The official count was 8,004,325 paid admissions, but the total tally estimated between 8,200,000 - 10,000,000 including those who achieved admission without pay.

With the staggering numbers in attendance, Philadelphians began coming down with severe stomach aches and illnesses reminiscent of typhoid fever. The Centennial planners had constructed sewage systems, but they were not adequate. Mixed with the brutal heat of summer, the recipe was nothing to celebrate. 'Centennial fever' was blamed on overeating and sitting on doorsteps on hot summer days. Soon, Philadelphia newspapers were urging locals to abandon the drinking of water. 'Chew bits of leather or shingle nails to allay your thirst!' Regardless, people flocked to the Centennial, and as temperatures began to cool with the promise of autumn, attendance tripled. Specific days were given to cater toward certain crowds. Ladies' Day meant token prices for men rose significantly, deterring them from attending. Children were granted days, as well as each state. A group of thieves and pickpockets began to cry out for a day of their own, in which they promised to cease their "talents" for the full day, so they might enjoy the festivities without fear of being thrown in prison.

Devoid of brown dusters, spectators enjoy a
bird's-eye view of the Centennial. (Photo from
The Way it Was – 1876 by Suzanne Hilton.)
At the time, Americans were quite conscious of 'class'. Before the opening of the Centennial, many had never before rubbed elbows with the 'flip side' of society. People were roaming the streets of Philadelphia wearing leather moccasins, fringed coats with holes in the sleeves, or worn out linen dusters and dirty britches. This was a new and sobering experience for the upper-crust; ladies who donned their latest frocks and plumage from the Centennial line of Godey's Lady's fashions were outraged. Gradually, however, fancy dress became less and less frequent. Tromping through hundreds of acres in the sweltering heat, battered about by a daily crowd of thousands, often won out over tasteful fashion sense. Sensible dress with brown linen dusters became the norm, to the dismay of the fashion-oriented catalogs, who threw their hands in the air as the sale of Centennial gowns plummeted. 'Other countries will believe the duster is our National costume!'

With so many inspired ideas and inventions paired with the awakening of new and fresh ideas influenced from other countries, one must wonder…what would our world be like today, if Congress had not donated the extra funds toward the completion of the Centennial? Without the fair with which to showcase his invention to the President and the Emperor of Brazil, would Alexander Graham Bell have gone forth with the telephone? Would we still have Hires root beer, calculators or even exotics such as popcorn and bananas so readily available? The International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine truly was a celebration for the ages...brown dusters and kudzu not withstanding.

Fairmount Park, Philadelphia exists today, boasting 4,180 landscaped acres. While we cannot *sadly* travel back in time to visit the Centennial, remnants still remain in the park, including Memorial Hall, where you can find a scale model of the entire Centennial Exposition.

In case you haven't read it yet, here's the link to Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico, Vol. 1, containing my first published story, "The Legend of Venture Canyon."

AMAZON REVIEW: "A great compilation of stories. I especially liked 'Legend of Venture Canyon' by Shayna Matthews. A great story for a first time published writer!"

Friday, June 19, 2015

And the Horse You Rode in On

Horses are a staple of western fiction. When writing or reading about them, it’s helpful to understand common terms about the way they move. Whether or not experienced horsemen can see the horse, he or she can tell how fast the critter is moving by the distinctive sound of hooves striking the earth.

Draft horse moving at a walk.


A walk is a four-beat gait, meaning three hooves remain on the ground while the fourth moves. The walk is a very comfortable gait for riders. It’s smooth, producing only a slight swaying motion. At a walk, riders have no trouble keeping their butts in the saddle.

Horses can walk all day, even under saddle, but they don’t move very far very fast. The average horse will cover three to four miles an hour at a walk; some move as slowly as two miles per hour.

Trot and jog

Technically, a jog is slower than a trot, but practically—at least in western riding—both gaits are referred to as jogging. Jogging is a two-beat gait in which diagonal pairs of legs move together: left rear with right front; right rear with left front.

Jog (western) or trot. This woman knows what she's doing,
but her bones are still taking a beating.
See how much her legs bounce?
Trotting primarily is associated with horse shows (during which judges want to see that a horse can move at variety of speeds on command) and harness racing. Racing trotters often cover as much ground as quickly as other horses gallop. Some harness races require horses to pace, in which the legs on each side move together while the legs on the other remain on the ground.

The jog is a horse’s natural working gait. If left to his own devices (and not escaping a threat), a horse will move at a jog when he wants to cover distance quickly. Horses can jog for a long time without tiring, but many riders can’t take the pace. With a few notable exceptions, a jog can be extremely jarring, because it puts enormous strain on the muscles in a rider’s legs, back, and abdomen. Working cowboys who spend a good deal of time in the saddle may move their horses at a jog, but pleasure riders generally try to avoid the gait if they value their butts, which slap the saddle with each step until the rider learns to “move with the horse.”

At a jog, horses cover an average of about eight miles an hour. So-called “gaited horses” like the Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Saddlebred don’t jog or trot. Instead, their natural middle gait, a “running walk,” can cover as many as fifteen miles in an hour. Because all four hooves move independently, a running walk is a comfortable gait for riders. Both breeds are primarily pleasure, not working, horses, although one rescued Tennessee Walker of my acquaintance pulled a carriage in Galveston.

Lope. Note how the rider's "seat" differs from the jog, above.

Lope or canter

Lope and canter are essentially the same gait, a three-beat movement in which three hooves are off the ground while a rear leg supports the horse’s weight. At a lope, horses can cover about 10-15 miles in an hour; some can reach speeds of up to twenty-seven miles per hour.

Note: Horses under western saddle lope. Canter is an English-riding term, possibly derived from Canterbury.


The gallop, a four-beat gait, is the horsey equivalent of run and averages about thirty miles per hour. Horses bred for speed, like Thoroughbreds and racing Quarter Horses, can gallop as fast as fifty miles per hour.

In the wild, horses gallop in order to escape a threat. Most horses can gallop for only a mile or two without risking serious injury or death. (Yes, some horses will run themselves to death at the urging of a rider.)

Gallop. Note the moment of suspension, when
all four hooves are off the ground at once
as they converge beneath the horse's body.

How far can a horse travel?

How far a horse can travel in a day depends on the horse’s condition, the availability of food and water, and the terrain he is asked to cover. At a combination of lope and walk, a young horse in optimal condition can travel fifty to sixty miles a day in good weather over flat terrain, as long as he is allowed to drink and graze every couple of hours. The faster a horse moves, the more often he will need to rest, eat, and drink.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the longer a horse moves fast, the shorter the distance the animal can cover in a day. Pony Express riders galloped about 10 miles (or about half an hour) before changing horses and usually covered 60-70 miles a day, but that was an exceptionally grueling pace for the rider. A good average pace is about 40 miles per day, which is the speed the U.S. Cavalry aimed for during the nineteenth century. Over uneven terrain or in bad weather, a horse and rider would do well to cover twenty miles per day. In the mountains, ten miles per day would be a good pace.

Many cowboys carried grain—usually corn or oats—in order to get more out of their horses. Grain provides increased carbohydrate-based energy. Sweet feed, which contains molasses, was not as common unless a horse was stabled. Horses love sweet feed, but it’s not good for them except as a treat.

Remember, too, that most working cowboys preferred—and still prefer—to ride geldings over mares or stallions. As a rule, geldings are much more tractable than either stallions (which can be a handful at best and a nightmare if a mare anywhere in the vicinity is in season) or mares (who naturally establish a pecking order within a herd and can be cranky). In the wild, a mare runs the herd; stallions are tolerated only for breeding and protection.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Buckey Owens & the Grand Canyon

William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill

Twenty-five years after my first visit to the Grand Canyon and my husband's declaration made on the way home, "Next year, we need to come back and take the train up to the Grand Canyon," we finally made it. This train ride introduced me to William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill, the "mover and shaker" behind getting this rail line built between Williams and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Buckey O'Neill cabin today
William Owen O'Neill was born on February 2, 1860 in Missouri. During the Civil War, his father, John, served as a captain in the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Irish Brigade and was severely wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Buckey O'Neill moved out west in 1879 at the age of 19 and settled in Tombstone, Arizona during the era of the Earp brothers and the Clanton-McLaury Gang. It is claimed Mr. O'Neill earned his nickname "Buckey" for his ability to buck the odds in the card game of faro. There he started a career as a journalist when he joined the Tombstone Epitaph which was a pro-Earp newspaper. Although he might have reported on it, he did not stay in Tombstone long after the O.K. Corral shoot-out.
Buckey O'Neill cabin today

Buckey next went to Prescott, Arizona in the spring of 1882 where he continued his career in journalism and founded his own newspaper about the livestock industry, the Hoof and Horn. he also became captain of the Prescott Grays in 1886, the local unit of the Arizona Militia. In April of 1886, he married Pauline Schindler. They had a son who died shortly after being born prematurely.

In 1888, while serving as a judge for Yavapai County, he was elected as the county sheriff. He was noted as being part of a four man posse that chased four masked robbers of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The posse captured the four men who eventually were convicted and sent to the prison in Yuma. The only casualty was O'Neill's horse. After his term as sheriff was up, Buckey O'Neill was unanimously elected as the mayor of Prescott.
Photo of plaque in front of Buckey O'Neill Cabin, Grand Canyon Village

In 1890 he built a cabin for himself in the small Grand Canyon Village. Today it is part of the Bright Angle Lodge, functioning as a two room suite for guests. It has the distinction of being the oldest continuously standing structure on the South Rim. 

Buckey O'Neill owned several mining claims along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Although his claims promised wealth, because of the distance and terrain involved, he did not have a cost-effective way to transport the ore out of the area. For five years he lobbied for funding to build a rail system to connect the South Rim with the rest of Arizona. It was his vision of building a railroad to accomplish this that led to the September 17, 1901 completion of the first steam engine train between Williams, Arizona and Grand Canyon Village to carry passengers and supplies.

Engine GCR No. 29 purchased 1989 when service restarted.
The Railway revolutionized the Canyon by making the Grand Canyon Railway accessible to the general public. It was part of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company. It started with two scheduled arrivals each day at the South Rim, plus special trains might be added to the schedule. The train ran until 1968 when it shut down due to more people visiting the Grand Canyon by automobile. However, twenty years later, the train Buckey O'Neill envisioned and set in motion was started up again and offers daily service between the two communities.

Unfortunately, Buckey O'Neill did not live long enough to see the completion of his dream for the railway. In 1898, war broke out between the United States and Spain. O'Neill joined the Rough Riders organized by Teddy Roosevelt. He became Captain of Troop A, which he did his best to organize into a regiment of Arizona cowboys. He died on July 1, 1898, one day before the charge on San Juan Hill. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Part of plaque outside Buckey O'Neill Cabin, Grand Canyon Village


 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press in October 2014 and her novelette, A Christmas Promise, was published by Prairie Rose Publications in November 2014. The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available.
The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys family history and any kind of history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Some interesting English place names

By 'The English Rose.'

Have you ever wondered how some places got their names? I have. I do know that many places in USA were named by Scottish, English and Irish immigrants to your shores wanting to have some memory of the places they had left behind so that many of your place names will be familiar to us. Here though I can only talk for certain about names in the UK.
It is a very interesting task, trying to discover the true origins of particular places, although some of them are lost in time. Strangely, the name London cannot be accurately dated. It is true the Romans called it Londinium, but it existed there long before the Romans ‘conquered’ the British Isles. It has been said that the meaning comes from ‘the place belonging to a man called Londinius’ from a Celtic name, but really the true meaning is very obscure now. 

The name Eton comes from ‘village on the river’, and Everton, from ‘wild boar village’, (or farm). There are many more names whose origins are obscure, for instance what about Stoke Poges, or Great Snoring (yes they really exist!)
Many place names were originally used to describe the topographical features of the area, Nettlebed leaves you in no doubt as to what was prevalent in that area, Marshwood too! We also have a mix of topographical and man-made features such as in – ham = small village + tun = water meadow = ‘the small village by the water meadow’ or Hamton, later to be known as Hampton, later still, Southhampton. 
Some places come from the name of the people who first settled the area, so we have – Matfield –‘the open land of the man called Matta’ and Hepscott – ‘the cottages of a man called Hebbi’.

A strange sounding place name near to me, which I often wondered about is Ramsbottom! Apart from the obvious, (and why would anyone call a place after a sheep’s backside?) I have discovered that ramsons are a type of wild garlic, and the ‘bottom’ means ‘valley’ therefore it is ‘the valley of the wild garlic’ a lovely name, but you’d be hard pushed to find any wild garlic anywhere near the very industrialised area that is the delightfully named Ramsbottom today.

Of course, many place names came from the settlement of certain areas by the various conquerors of the British Isles, Vikings, Anglo Saxons and Romans all had an input and many places still carry the mark of their original settlers. The Saxons gave us Stow = ‘Holy place’, as in Stow on the Wold – ‘the Holy place on the river Wold’. They also gave us Bury = ‘fortified place’. There is a town called Bury near me, but these days there are none of the original fortifications left of course. 
The Saxons also gave us Caester = ‘fort or town’ which the Romans changed to Chester. Close by me, we have Ribchester, = ‘the fort on the river Ribble’, which contains the remains of Roman settlement and a Roman museum displaying the many finds from the area.

We have a couple of Washingtons over here, and the name is supposed to mean ‘Estate of the family of a man called Wassa’. I don’t suppose it means quite the same over in USA? One I really like and which is shared by both countries, is Brumby in the North East of England, No it doesn’t come from the horse, it actually means ‘the farmstead of a man called Bruni’.

I do hope you have enjoyed this brief look at a fascinating subject. See you all again soon!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Anthology Submission Deadlines are Looming

Anthologies are popular with Prairie Rose Publications readers. That’s why the company publishes several each year. As one reviewer noted, “It’s nice to find so many good stories all in one place.” Readers frequently mention how Prairie Rose anthologies have introduced them to new favorite authors.

Right now, four calls for submission are open at two of PRP’s imprints: Fire Star Press and Sundown Press. More anthologies are planned for 2015, so keep an eye out for those calls for submission, as well.

For the time being, get your stories in for these. Email completed manuscripts, attached as a Word document, to Editor-in-Chief Cheryl Pierson at Please put the title of the anthology in the subject line.

Nine Deadly Lives: An Anthology of Feline Felonies
Imprint: Fire Star Press
Theme: cats and mystery
Length: 6,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: August 1, 2015

Cats...charming, lovable creatures or deadly, razor-clawed predators? This mixture of the sweet and the dangerous is one of the things that makes cats endlessly fascinating and appealing. Got a story featuring one or more feline fiends? Send it in!

No graphic violence, sex, or excessive cursing, please.

Memories from Maple Street, USA
Imprint: Sundown Press
Theme: childhood memories
Length: 1,500 to 3,000 words
Deadline: September 1, 2015

Growing up is a miraculous time. The journey from the freedom of childhood to the workaday life of modern adults is filled with both poignancy and wonder, but everyone experiences a turning point when he or she knows the world has shifted and nothing will ever be the same.

From the touching to the humorous, the inspirational to the adventurous, if you have a childhood memory you’ll never forget, now is the time to put pen to paper and recount that special moment.

Memories from Maple Street, USA: The Best Christmas Ever
Imprint: Sundown Press
Theme: childhood Christmas memories
Length: 1,500 to 3,000 words
Deadline: November 1, 2015

Christmas is a time of wonder and joy, especially for children. Can you remember one special childhood Christmas that stood out from all the rest? Maybe you received a present you’d wanted more than anything else...or perhaps a loved one came home unexpectedly. Amidst all the excitement and fond memories of family and loved ones, maybe you had a quiet moment or two to think about the true meaning of Christmas...and that was the best Christmas of all.

Wander back down Memory Lane and put your pen to paper. We look forward to helping you share the best Christmas ever.

A Song to Remember
Imprint: Fire Star Press
Theme: the music of life and love
Length: 15,000 to 25,000 words
Heat: sweet to spicy (no erotica, please)
Deadline: January 1, 2016

Some song titles evoke memories not only of the song, but also of the time…the era…the place. They call for stories all their own. At Prairie Rose Publications imprint Fire Star Press, evocative songs from days gone by inspired a new line of novella-length stories: A Song to Remember. Each book in the series will be what we call a “duet,” because each will contain two romantic tales. The two stories in each volume will be set in the same decade and share a common theme.

Someone to Watch Over Me: 1940s—Paranormal
This novella duet lends itself to all kinds of intrigue. Stories should be set in the 1940s. We’re not looking for graphic horror or sex—just an “aha” moment and the inevitable decision: What will your hero or heroine do when they discover exactly who—or what—watches over them?

If I Loved You: 1950s—Misunderstood love
Lovers misunderstand one another in so many ways and for so many reasons. Events, people, places, things…any and all of them can get in the way of a happily-ever-after ending. The possibilities are endless. How will your hero and heroine meet and surmount the challenge?

This Magic Moment: 1960s—A revealing moment changes everything
The 1960s was one of the most turbulent decades in American history. “Free love,” rock-and-roll, and the civil rights movement changed society daily. In these stories, a revelation changes everything. What magic moment will drive your story?

Wonderful Tonight: 1970s—Can true love happen in just one night?
As impossible as it seems, some couples do find love at first sight…or at least in one night. We’re looking for tales about couples who may be barely acquainted or perhaps just met. What kind of wonderful—or maybe not so wonderful—night brings your characters to the brink of true love? These stories should be no hotter than spicy.

I’m On Fire: 1980s—Unlikely love blossoms
What would make your hero or heroine fall so in love with his or her polar opposite as to say “I’m on Fire”? If you have a story set in the 1980s about any unlikely pair, we’d love to see it. Make the story sizzle: This duet will be spicy to hot.

Wicked Game: 1990s—Circumstances aren’t always what they seem
In these two stories, love or desire drives characters to do things they otherwise would not have considered. Friends, family, or life itself might conspire against the couple, trapping them in a web of deceit, forcing them to work together to survive a threat...or simply reevaluate the way they view the world. It’s up to you to determine the reasoning and rules for love’s wicked game.

More information about these and all other submission opportunities at the Prairie Rose Publications family of imprints may be found on the Calls for Submission page at the website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

THE Kiss by Kaye Spencer

I've written couple dozen romance short stories, books, and novellas. Some have been published or will be re-released in second edition, some are yet to be published, but many, for a variety of reasons, will remain unpublished and tucked away in the File Dungeon deep inside my computer. Regardless of their published status, they all have one attribute in common.


Not just any kiss, but THE kissthe first kiss.

I've written stories with simple plots to plots that take an Excel spreadsheet to keep all the details straight. I have a gunfight that includes a herd of phantom cowboys chasing a phantom herd across the sky. I can write a scorching love scene that will make your toes curl or a romance so sweet you'll sigh and murmur, ahhh. I've written a tragic love triangle that will have you grabbing for the tissues at the end. There's a 150k family saga languishing on my computer, because I love revisiting and rewriting the story so much, I can't bear to part with it (I know, it's one of those idiosyncratic author hang-ups.) Then let's throw in a steamy contemporary vampire/cowboy story for good measure.

But the kissing scenethe kiss that clinches the romance between the Hero and Heroineholds me up every. single. time.

Writing The kiss can't be too detailed in the physical mechanics or it loses the romance of the moment, but neither can it just be "...and they kissed", at least, not for the first kiss. In whose point of view should it be? What is that character thinking, feeling, wishing or yearning for? Which one instigates the kiss? What's going on around them? What do they hear, smell, see? Where are their hands? Are they standing body-pressed-to-body or is there distance between them? Are they completely embracing or just 'holding' onto each other? Are the characters close to the same height or is one significantly taller than the other? It makes a huge difference where they put their arms and how they have to bend their necks to make that kiss happen. Are they standing? Lying on a bed? Leaning across a fence or side-by-side on horseback? And of course, the debate of tongue or no tongue, which can easily become an ewww factor, and yank the reader from the moment.

Here is the Hero and Heroine's first kiss from my forthcoming Prairie Rose Publications release, The Comanchero's Bride.

Ultimately, my goal in crafting THE kiss is to get as close to perfection as I can, because we all know since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.

Until next month,

Twitter - @kayespencer

Note: The Princess Bride gifs from

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Martha Summerhayes

By Kristy McCaffrey

Martha Dunham Summerhayes
Martha “Mattie” Summerhayes is best known for her memoir, Vanished Arizona, which recounts her life as an army wife in the 1870’s. Today, it’s considered a literary masterpiece and one of the finest accounts of 19th century Arizona.

Born Martha Dunham in 1846 in Nantucket, she was raised by a prosperous New England family. She lived in Germany for two years as a young woman, studying the language and living with the family of a high ranking German officer. She mixed socially with many Prussian officers, gaining a romantic view of military life. Not long after, she returned to the United States and fell in love and married John “Jack” Summerhayes, an officer in the U.S. Army.

In August 1874, Mattie traveled with the 8th Infantry Regiment to Arizona. Since the railroad hadn’t yet arrived, they journeyed to San Francisco and boarded a steamship for a 13-day voyage around Baja California to Port Isabel at the mouth of the Colorado River. They then embarked on a flat-bottomed paddle-wheeler upriver to Fort Yuma. By the time they reached the fort, three men had died from the heat. Mattie was five months pregnant.

Fort Apache 1877
Eighteen days later, they arrived at Fort Mohave, then traveled north to Fort Whipple, near Prescott. When they finally arrived at their destination—Fort Apache—Mattie was seven months pregnant. Over time, she developed a deep respect for the young men in the military. “I was getting to learn,” she wrote, “about the indomitable pluck of our soldiers. They did not seem to be afraid of anything. At Camp Apache my opinion of the American soldier was formed and it has never changed.”

Mattie and Jack spent the next several months living in a primitive log cabin at Fort Apache. In January, she gave birth to the first white child born at the fort, a son named Harry. The blue-eyed, blond-haired baby drew ranchers, settlers, and even friendly Apache to pay their respects. By April, Jack was assigned to Fort McDowell, in the desert foothills north of the Salt River Valley (near present-day Phoenix), but at the last minute the orders were changed to Ehrenberg, an uninspired settlement along the Colorado River. Mattie wasn’t happy.

She spent one year in Ehrenberg, but returned to New England with the baby to avoid a second summer in the blistering heat. She returned to the Arizona Territory in December 1876. Jack was now stationed at Fort McDowell. She brought many furnishings along to make her life more comfortable, but unfortunately the steamer caught fire and all her goods were lost. Thanks to charitable women at Yuma, her wardrobe was stocked with ill-fitting dresses.

Fort McDowell in the 1870's.
Mattie was one of five women at Fort McDowell. She set up housekeeping in a flat-roofed adobe house on officers’ row. Soldiers built her a couch and covered it with cotton cloth purchased at the trading post. During the long summers, everyone slept outdoors. To deter the ants, empty tomato cans filled with water were placed under the legs of each cot.

After two years at Fort McDowell, Jack’s regiment was transferred out of Arizona. In 1886, during the last days of the Geronimo campaign, Mattie returned with Jack to Fort Lowell, near Tucson. This time, just eight years later, Mattie was able to make the journey via a Pullman since the railroad had arrived.

Mattie’s ambivalence toward Arizona is apparent in her writing, and yet, she admired and longed for it years later. She writes, “...I did not see much to admire in the desolate wastelands through which we were traveling. I did not dream of the power of the desert, nor that I should ever long to see it again. But as I write, the longing possesses me, and the pictures then indelibly printed upon my mind, long forgotten, amidst the scenes and events of half a lifetime, unfold themselves like a panorama before my vision and call me to come back, to look upon them once more.”

After the Spanish-American War in 1898, Jack retired and he and Mattie returned to Nantucket. At the urging of family and friends, Mattie wrote Vanished Arizona, which was published in 1908. She wrote it primarily for her children, believing there would be little public interest. But she was wrong. The book was popular among women and, most especially, ex-soldiers. The first edition sold out within a year, so a second was released in 1911.

A few weeks after the release of the second edition, Jack and Mattie died within two months of each other. Both were buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. “I had cast my lot with a soldier,” she wrote, “and where he was, was home to me.”