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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Endings Are Important, too...aren't they?

I began keeping a list of every book I read--or tried to. Already, my list is long. For my own private notes, I use a check mark for books I liked very much, a check mark plus for an outstanding read, and a question mark for books that bewildered me in some way, or did not have a good ending. Most of the books have check marks. Very few have a question mark or a plus.

Something about each Check Mark Plus story made an impression on me, which made me think about it after I read the last page. Notice I didn't say "a happy impression." Not all the books had the same kind of ending, but all the story lines were good. They held my attention. I turned the pages...digitally...anticipating the next scene. And…I liked the ending, and maybe even remembered it for some time.

Remember "Gone With the Wind?" Who could not remember the story and especially—the ending. "I'll worry about that later. After all. Tomorrow is another day." It did not end happily, at least for Scarlet and Rhett, but it left us hanging a little. What would Scarlet do? We felt certain she would survive and move on, so we weren't very distressed. What would Rhett do? Probably he would return to his old habits and continue being the rogue that he was—with a broken heart, of course. The ending gave us a rare opportunity to imagine the next phase of their lives.

What does a reader wait for at the end? Satisfaction is the key word. The novel must have an ending that satisfies the reader. If not, the reader most likely will not return to that particular author. Just what does "satisfy" mean?

1. To answer or discharge a claim in full.
2. To make happy.
3. To pay what is due.
4. Convince.
5. To meet the requirements.

Surprised? A satisfactory ending does not always mean the same as "A Happy Ending." Nor does "a happy ending" hold the same meaning for everyone. For faithful romance authors and readers, a HEA is a requirement. Ninety percent of the books I read fall into this category. Even though I do read others that I know won't end happily, I look for some satisfaction for my protagonist—and myself.

~*~Did the author leave a glimmer of hope for happiness for my protagonist?
~*~Did the author make me believe wholeheartedly that the story was worth the time and emotional commitment I put into it?
~*~Did the author leave me with a lasting impression that her next book will be just as good?
~*~Did the author conclude the story with enough emotion to make me cry, laugh, or say "Yessss."

If none of these happen, you can bet I won't buy her next book.
What was the last book you read that did not have a perfect HEA, but you liked it because of the ending?

What is the best kind of ending for you to recommend a book?

A few good endings:

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have even done" it is a far, far better rest that I do to than I have ever known."-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

"God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world," whispered Anne, softly, softly.-Anne of Green Gables.

"I showed them," he was saying. "It was a hard fight, but I didn't give up and I came through." The Beautiful and the Damned.-F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Well, girls, that's the best part of this whole crazy adventure. Her name was Annie."-Kay Bratt-Red Skies: Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters.
I'd love to include some of the good endings found in PRP books, but I feared leaving someone out or seeming to play favorites. Since the PRP books are generally a bit different from the run-of-the-mill romances, you may assume many, if not most, had good lines at the ending.

From my own PRP short titled Starr Bright, the last line:
She laughed. "I have no idea, but maybe it'll be all the sweeter for it."

Care to share the last line of one of your own favorite stories?
If you're not an author, care to share the last line you loved in a story?
Thanks so much for visiting the PRP blog, today.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Kid in Black and the Talking Blues

By C. Marie Bowen 


I grew up in a musical household. My mother and grandmother played the piano. My parents started me on accordion lessons when I was six. My dad refurbished player pianos as a hobby. All of those subjects might be good for a future blog, but today, I want to talk about Dad and the talking blues.

Like I said, Dad didn’t play an instrument, instead he sang. He sang along with the player piano, and to my accordion music. He even sang to The Lawrence Welk Show. Dad had an outstanding voice, whether he was singing or talking the blues. Of course, this all took place long before anyone had heard of Rap music. Woodie Guthrie popularized this particular mix of folk and country music in the early 40s. Although, Christopher Allen Bouchillon is credited with creating the talking blues. He recorded the song, “Talking Blues” in 1926. Even Bob Dylan used this style of spoken lyrics.

Dad had a number of “go-to” songs he would rap at family gatherings and parties. The only one I’ve been able to identify is “Talking Dust Bowl,” recorded by Woody Guthrie in the early 40s. Of course, Dad changed the words he’d forgotten, filled in, and made a different ending (which I’ve yet to find anywhere).  

Trivia time: Woody wrote and recorded the iconic song “This Land is Your Land.” Originally spoken, the music was added later and “This Land,” is now the patriotic song we all know. Woodie is Arlo’s father. Arlo Guthrie recorded “The City of New Orleans,” and “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Back to Dad. My favorite lyric was a poem he called “Denver Dan.” It’s a tale about a gun fight in The Silver Star Saloon. The Kid in Black confronts Denver Dan and his gang after tracking them across the country. Apparently, Denver Dan had killed a friend of the Kid in Black, and The Kid set out for revenge. I’ve searched the internet looking for the author of “Denver Dan,” and have never found an inkling of who wrote this blues rhyme or where dad may have heard it. I, however, still loved the story and wanted to bring the song to life.

My short story, The Kid in Black, is based on the poem I heard so often from my dad. I’ve included the song in my novella, and credited it to “Author Unknown – as retold by Eugene. N. Pixler.”
Eugene Pixler: June 30, 1923 – April 9, 2002.

The Kid in Black is a Christmas in July Single Sell release from Prairie Rose Publications.

Nell Grant lost everything and watched her family homestead burn. Her desire for vengeance keeps her moving during the day. At night, dreams of a passionate stranger fill her empty heart.

Disguised as a man, Nell tracks the outlaw who killed her sweetheart to Beaumont, Texas, and swears his day of reckoning is at hand. When the man in her dreams turns out to be real, and a US Marshal, her plan for revenge collides with her dreams of passion.

Marshal Samuel Kline hoped to spend a quiet Christmas reunion with his sister in New Orleans, but an urgent assignment sends him to Beaumont, Texas to capture a murder. The local sheriff warns Sam of another criminal, a kid in black, who was spotted in the Silver Star Saloon. Determined to complete his assignment, and return to his sister, Sam confronts the mysterious kid in black, and discovers Nell's secret identity. Sam is swept up in her passion for the man in her dreams. 
How can he protect Nell when her need for revenge threatens to destroy her? Can Marshal Sam Kline tame her wild beauty and make her dream of love come true?

Sam yanked open the door, hurried down the stairs and then raced to the backdoor of the saloon. He shook the locked door, jarring the hinges. Damn it.” He raced around the side of the saloon, his heart in his throat.
When he stepped through the swinging barroom doors, the piano player still played a ragtime tune. In the time it took to walk around the first gaming table, the piano had fallen silent. He wove between the tables. The crowded barroom hushed as he pushed past saloon girls and patrons, all straining to see what transpired near the bar.
His perception of the room became clear and focused. Every movement caught his eye. A man to his left scribbled frantically on a piece of paper with a broken pencil. To his right, the dealer dropped his cards face up on the table, two kings and an eight, then rose to better his view.
Sam could see Dan Gregor, his elbows resting on the bar. Gregor shook his head and stepped back to face someone just out of sight. Sam took another step forward and spotted Gregor's target. Sam's heart dropped to his stomach. Dear God, Nell! Where was Sheriff Clairborne?
Nell faced Gregor from across the barroom. No one but Sam knew the short man dressed in black was a woman. She hid her face behind a black handkerchief. Between the face cloth and the black felt hat, her hazel eyes glittered with rage. 

Buy Links           Amazon         Barnes and Noble Nook        Smashwords  


Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy Fandango Day from a Bank Robber's granddaughter!

Hello everybody! I have a question for you to ponder this fine Monday.

Writers, why do you write what you write? Readers, why do you read what you read?

I have found in my own daily dates with the keyboard (and more recently, pen and spiral notebook -- old school, I know) I seem to be trying to right some unrecognized wrong that time forgot to fix. 

For instance, did you know that in addition to being just .99 and part of PRP's Christmas in July, The Bank Robber's Lament is based loosely upon the tale of my very own biological gun-toting and bank-robbing grandpa? 

That's right. Funny how I now make my forever home in the same state, Oklahoma, where he skillfully relieved several banks of over $27,000 in the 1960's . . . quite a haul for that day. In addition, he led the Feds on quite a chase and stirred up a fracas, both at home and on the run. But those are stories for another time. My grandfather was eventually caught and did some time at Fort Leavenworth and after his release, took his own life. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot tolerate unhappy endings and I also don't like that I never had the opportunity to meet a man who spoke Classical Greek, was an Army veteran, painted beautiful pictures, wrote glorious letters, and robbed banks. 

In The Bank Robber's Lament, I try to right the wrongs that my grandfather will never let be righted, at least not in this lifetime. Like I said, I try. I know I can never do his actual story justice, but this one has it all -- bank robberies, jail, romance, realization, a little girl who needs him, and the final showdown between good and evil . . . 

Now that you know the backstory, here is the blurb! You may find just a bit more meaning in it than most do now that you know, well, everything. 

With his troubled past never far from his mind, the once-handsome Smith heads out to lose himself in the anonymity offered by the American West. When he arrives in Gabriel's Settlement, Texas he succumbs to the lifestyle of quick money and adventuresome living offered by a gang of wily bank robbers. It isn't until he crosses paths with Johanna Johannsen and her daughter Sadie that Smith discovers he isn't the only person in Texas with a looming past, and some people's devils are much closer to home than his own. When he learns of the Dalton Gang's plans to stick up the bank in Gabriel's Settlement, Smith must make a choice. But is he strong enough to face his past and be the man his own father couldn't be?

Happy Fandango Day! I hope everyone is having a high old time, kicking up their heels, meeting new and amazing authors and scooping up awesome works at incredible prices. In case you haven't found the link to the PRP Fandango, here it is again :-)

Thanks again for stopping by!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Christmas in July at Prairie Rose Publications!
Yee-haw! It’s finally here: Prairie Rose Publications’ second-annual Christmas in July. All of the Roses have been a mite excited for weeks now. The event stirred up the corral something fierce, not least because twenty of us wrote the short stories, novellas, and novels that are part of the event. We were sworn to secrecy until yesterday, when the corral gate opened and the herd spilled out a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a secret like that? PRP founders Cheryl Pierson and Livia Washburn Reasoner had their hands full muzzling the herd.

The first Christmas in July around these parts contained only six Christmas short stories written by the six original Prairie Roses. This year’s special sale contains a total of twenty-five heart-warming volumes overflowing with tales about love all year round, plus two additional collections of traditional westerns. Most are priced at 99 cents; five of the ebooks are $1.99 because they contain two stories each.

Is that a deal, or what?

Here’s a quick look at the twenty-one ebooks that released today. Aren’t the covers fantastic? After creating every single one of them all by her lonesome, Livia deserves a break, don’t you think?

Many of this year’s Christmas in July short stories were published last year in one of PRP’s popular anthologies. If you’ve been waiting to try a story by a writer whose work you haven’t read, now is a great time to curl up with a heart-melting tale that will sweep you away to the Wild West. At 99 cents, how can you go wrong? And who knows? You may discover a new favorite author.

Six of the novels on sale for 99 cents have been available for a few months and are some of PRP’s most popular offerings.

More than a few of the Christmas in July stories were written by award-winning and best-selling authors, including James Reasoner and Livia Washburn Reasoner, two of the western genre’s enduring favorites. Some of the ebooks made Amazon’s Top 100 lists during the pre-sale period. (Thank you, early birds!)

You can find more information about all of these extra-special releases on a special page at the PRP website. Take a look. We bet you’ll find something you like.

Because we’re always looking for an excuse to kick up our heels with readers and friends, the Prairie Rose family will host one of our infamous Facebook Fandangos on July 27 and 28. Twenty-one authors will be there to stir things up. RSVP by clicking on the image.

Come join the festivities! The Roses will be giving away lots and lots of prizes, including ebooks and autographed print books, jewelry, Amazon gift cards, cowboy gift bags, and other western gear anyone would love to win.

As a heartfelt thank you for joining us in this celebration of PRP authors and their work, we’ll gift an ebook to several of today’s blog visitors. Simply comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winners will be picked at random and will get to choose their prize from the list of today’s twenty-one new releases.

Thanks for stopping by, and merry Christmas in July!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#NewRelease--TIES THAT BIND by Keena Kincaid--#Giveaway

Meet Aedan ap Owen from TIES THAT BIND: Mad, bad and dangerous to know (with apologies to Lord Byron)
When I first started working on ANAM CARA, the prequel to TIES THAT BIND, Aedan wasn’t part of the story. Then one day he popped into a scene, complaining about the heat and the stink. After I got over my surprise that the hero had a younger brother, I decided Aedan would be accused of murder and sent to the dungeon, which would force the hero to stay in Carlisle long enough to fall in love with the heroine.

  That is so not how the story went.

  Aedan not only refused to follow my plot, but also talked his way into being a major character. Nor would he let “The End” be the end. Instead, he began stalking me, demanding I write his story. As a descendant of druids, one of his magical abilities is the gift of words. He can talk anyone into anything—including this author.

Having been left in a monastery by his father (most likely sold to the canons), Aedan learned early how to get what he needed to survive, and then to get what he wanted. By the time we meet him, manipulating others is so ingrained into his nature he never once considers the moral implications. He also is minstrel born. Music is both his curse and his salvation. He must play, but when he does, his regrets, hopes, joys, sorrows and anger are reflected in the music for anyone to hear. Fortunately, most people don’t pay close enough attention to understand what they hear.

Unfortunately for Aedan, Tess listens and wants nothing to do with his magic—and she’s determined that not even love will change her mind.

TIES THAT BIND isn't the easiest book I've ever written, but it's one of my favorites. I loved the challenge of taking a self-centered character who always gets what he wants, thwarting him at every turn, and then using the power of love to make him a better man.

Five years have passed since young lovers Aeden ap Owen and Tess, Lady of Bridswell, parted—ripped apart by Tess’s mother. Now they are reunited in a twist of fate that could bring ruin upon both their families, far worse than the illicit love they shared in the past.

Sent north by the Plantagenet king to investigate rumors of treason and dispatch the troublemakers, Aedan discovers someone is murdering monks and stealing saints’ relics. And all clues point to the Earl of Carlisle. But Tess is present, posing yet another problem for Aedan—her uncle has promised her to Carlisle, a man she despises—and she has agreed. Aedan must discover what sway forces her to marry a man she loathes—and learn the desperate secret she hides at all costs.

A would-be usurper to the throne uses the stolen relics to amplify his power, wielding it like a weapon against his king, his country—and anyone who seeks to thwart his ambition. Meeting the traitor's black magic with magic of his own will prevent war, but will it also destroy Aedan’s chance to protect Tess and their last chance at lost love?

The evil at work is strong, and in the final climax of his battle against the dark forces, Aedan must make a choice between the two people who are dearest to him. There are some things even his Sidhe gifts can’t change—but TIES THAT BIND are forever…

    The man stepped closer, peering into the coffin. After a moment, the nobleman’s anger eased, but his frown deepened. “Damn monk lied to me.”
    Jasper glanced past the feretory door to the mound of brown fabric draped over the prayer stool, and then back to the remains at his feet. “How do ye ken that, m’lord? This man died hundreds o’ years ago. He should be less than bones and bits.”
    The nobleman breathed out his impatience and worried a pair of gloves in his right hand. “This is supposed to be the crypt of Saint Cuthbert.”
    “Aye, but…”
    The nobleman sighed. “I suppose a man who kills a monk cannot be expected to remember his catechism.” He paced outside the candles’ light. “Saints do not wither and rot. That is the first sign of sainthood. If this were Cuthbert, he would be fresh as the moment he last drew breath.”
Jasper scratched at the stubby remainder of his ear. Why would a saint no’ go to dust like the rest o’ Adam’s spawn? With a shrug, he dismissed the question and reached for the gold and coins at his feet.
    “Stop. We are not here as thieves.”
    “We came to steal the saint’s cup.”
    Anger flared into the nobleman’s eyes and dimmed the glow of the tallow candles. “You have already lost one ear to thievery, do not risk your whole head. Push the slab back into place. ’Tis time for lauds, and I do not want to kill the entire brotherhood. We need the hermit’s prayer book to find Cuthbert’s true resting place, or at least learn which house pried the cup from his cold hands.”
    “I know Godric, m’lord. He is a holy man.”
    “Then we need not worry over his soul if he refuses to tell us.”
    The man’s smile would frost the sun. Turning away, Jasper reset the slab, although only the blind wouldn’t know the saint’s grave had been disturbed.
    “After we retrieve the prayer book we go to Carlisle.”
    “There is no saint in Carl—” Jasper stopped himself.
    “No, there is no saint in Carlisle, but there is someone of equal value. My bride.”

Be sure and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a free ecopy of Keena Kincaid's TIES THAT BIND.

Buy Links                    Barnes and Noble Nook        Smashwords

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Texas "groanin' cart"
"Wake up, snakes, an' bite a biscuit!"

Not exactly the most heart-warming call to dinner, is it? Hopefully, you won't be invited to your next meal with such biting enthusiasm. (If you are, I want to hear about it!) But to a cowpuncher runnin' on four hours sleep, this was just one of the dough wrangler's many colorful calls to the grub-pile.

The groanin' cart, or the chuckwagon, was the center spoke of a cowboy's harsh and lonesome world. While the wagon meant dry bedrolls and warbags, the chuckwagon meant grub.

Grubwagons housed barrels, sacks and air-tights, or canned goods. It was the belly-cheater's job to cook for ornery cowboys bent on breaking the monotony of trailin' cattle with playful tricks and jokes. Belly-achin' wasn't tolerated around the cook's camp, for his sensitivities were easily tramped upon. Swearing around or at the cook was generally avoided, (no matter that he could exercise his own tongue at will), an offended dough-roller made for lousy eats.

Cooks were often older men, those who had been thrown by a bone-crunchin' bronc one too many times. Stoved up and surly, "coosies" were often rough in rough as the backside of sandpaper. Quick to take offense and slow to forgive, spite often reared its ugly head around a cowpuncher's meal. Grudges meant succulent morsels would be shaved off a roast to be fed to cook himself, the leavings going toward the men. Syrups would be hidden, and an exhausted cowpuncher, eager for a good dose of Arbuckles, might find his coffee sweetened with molasses instead of sugar, meager portions or "altered" foodstuffs.

fine dining
A cowboy trailed herds from two to three months at a time, usually twice a year. Loving the open range, they rode for low pay, averaging $3.00 a day. Long as they didn't anger Cookie, the job was worth it. To keep that ole' biscuit shooter appeased, cowboys followed the "Wreckpan Code". It was a rule not to be violated - each man scraped his own plate and rinsed it out in the communal wreckpan. No cook ever collected dishes from the cowmen. Cowboys, or camp volunteers if they had any, coddled "Miss Sally" (yet another intriguing label for the trail cook) by chopping wood, peeling 'taters, drying dishes and packin' the man's personal bedroll.

The cowhand's day started 30 minutes before daybreak, regardless of how late they had stayed up nighthawkin' the herd. If grub was slim, a call of humiliation might be heard: "Here's hell, boys!" Chants, songs and diddies might be sung if the outfit's grubline was well funded. Either way, most of those calls are worth hearin', but probably not printin'.

Coffee, probably Arbuckles, awaited the cowman. But before you nod your head in agreement, here's a gem you may not have thought of. Cowboy coffee, on the trail, was often brewed with bog water...a bog being a stream dammed off to collect rain for range stock. This water, more often than not, was tainted by the bloated bodies of cows that had staggered into the mud, got stuck and died. A volunteer, (never the cook, for that would make him surly) would "pull bog" and yank out the offendin' critter. Later, the boys would straddle their haunches, drinkin' a stout cup of Arbuckles without battin' an eye.
Coffee, anyone?

Arbuckles on the boil at a cowboy camp
No cowboy ever went without his coffee, and he rarely drank it plain. Course brown sugar had to be chipped free from the barrel and run through a meat grinder to soften.

A lean outfit's menu consisted of arbuckles, (with or without the bloated cow and meat grinder brown sugar), beans, bacon and hoecakes. Wealthier outfits afforded a much more satisfying spread, consisting of anything between beans and barbeque. Frijoles, also called whistleberries, were a cowhand's staple. Sour-doughs or hot rocks, were a close second. Air-tights, maybe canned peaches or other canned goodies would be pulled out - if that dough-roller was in a good mood.

Ever one for a good wollop of sarcasm, the cowboy's "fried chicken" was actually fried bacon. Canned cow held the stamp of the Eagle Brand", and sow bosom or chuckwagon chicken was salt pork. 

In discussing an outfit where the cook fed salt pork exclusively instead of beef, one cowboy stated that he "lived on hog side 'til he near starved to death." He further stated that his system was "so saturated with hog fat that he sweated straight leaf lard and his hide got so slick he could hardly keep his clothes on." His friend added that he "et so much hog belly that he grunted in his sleep an' was afraid to look for fear he'd sprouted a curly tail."
(from Cowboy Lingo by Ramon F. Adams)

In the spirit of fine dining, family gatherings and "fluff-duffs" - cowboy terminology for fancy, throat-ticklin' grub - I urge you to remember the wreckpan code of the west...and perhaps, your guests at the next gathering will even hear the call of the coosie:

"Boneheads, boneheads, take it away...wake up, snakes, an' bite a biscuit!"

Monday, July 20, 2015

Columbia's Provisions, Miner's Supplies & Dry Goods Store

 Today I'm featuring one of the stores found in Columbia, the Provisions, Miner's Supplies and Dry Goods store.

In the Sierra-Nevada foothills on the other side of the mountains from Lundy and Bridgeport, miners flocked to Columbia, known as the queen of the southern mines, founded on March 27, 1850 when Dr. Thaddeus Hildreth, his brother George and a handful of other prospectors made camp nearby and discovered gold. Originally known as Hildreth's Diggings, it's name was later changed to Columbia. Today it is a California historical state park in which every effort has been made to preserve the buildings, furnishings and artifacts of the times.

As was typical back then, the store was not very large. The storefront was maybe twelve feet wide, but deep. The inside was packed with all the available supplies, dry goods and provisions needed by the miners and their families. 

Like most towns in the gold mining regions, major fires swept through Columbia, one in 1854 and a second in 1857, which prompted the construction of brick buildings with tall, narrow iron shutters that could be closed to prevent the spread of fire. After 1860, when the placer gold was gone, the town began to decline. In the 1870s and ’80s many of the vacated buildings were torn down and their sites mined using hydraulic mining technology. Columbia’s population dropped from a peak of perhaps six thousand to about five hundred.

However, this little building sits a block away from several of the preserved brick structures on Main Street. It is a reproduction intended to represent a typical mercantile of the early placer mining era. Although not one hundred percent authentic, seeing the collection can help modern visitors visualize what was available to the miners, businessmen and families that lived back then.

For starters, I'm not going to vouch that the period wallpaper behind the merchandise shelves is representative of the typical mercantile of the day. I suspect that was a nice feminine touch added to make the display more appealing to tourists. However, the dry goods on the shelves may be typical of the times. I can vouch that if the fabric selection displayed was usually found in the frontier dry goods stores of the late 1800s, it is no match for the fabric stores where we shop today.

I did find the selection of tools, food tins, dishes, medicines and other goods interesting. I especially enjoyed seeing the wooden boxes, which along with wooden barrels, were often used to ship items during that time before the development of cardboard.

No store in the mining region would have been complete without its assay equipment since many of the customers paid, not with coin which was often scare, or with paper money which did not become widely used until after the Civil War, but with gold and silver. 


Also typical of the time, the owners of the store lived on the premises either above or behind the public area.

Notice the dressing table with the pitcher and bowl for personal care. Also, the bed has a tick mattress over a foundation of ropes and leather straps. In that era, in the days before the use of chest of drawers became prevalent, many people were fortunate if they had a chest in which they could store their clothes and belongings.

The stove in the living area is small, but adequate to heat the approximately 10 foot by 12 foot room.
Then there was the tin hip bath. In spite of the well over six foot tall hunky heroes often described in today's historical western romance novels, due to diet and other factors, most North Americans and Europeans a century and a half ago tended to be shorter and thinner than most of their descendants living today. Still, considering this hip bath is about the size of a medium to large laundry basket, I don't think back then many people sank into the hot water in one of these for a long, relaxing soak. Most of us today would probably consider it about the right size for a foot bath, but not much else.

 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 is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family 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.

Friday, July 17, 2015


In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true. They rode across two states on horseback. Alone.

It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.

Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime. The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.

They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”

Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills. Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.

Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony. There were four rules the boys had to agree to: Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.

The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks. Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage. The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal. But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”

One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous. At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari. They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.

Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.

Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo. While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.

They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.

It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own. They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout. After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.

They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.

But their adventures weren’t over. The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco. If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000. Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days. Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, nearly one hundred years later.

The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City. They returned to Oklahoma by train.

As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer. There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Winslow, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Located in northeastern Arizona lies the town of Winslow. In 1880, Winslow became a division point for the Santa Fe Railway and in 1881 became a regular terminal. A post office was established in 1882. The town, originally just a tent settlement, was named for General Edward F. Winslow, president of the railroad.

Winslow, Arizona ~ 1890

Long before Flagstaff and Sedona became popular vacation towns in Arizona, everyone visited Winslow and the La Posada Hotel for special occasions. Built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway, it was the work of esteemed architect Mary Jane Colter, known for the design of many structures at the Grand Canyon. La Posada, however, was her masterpiece and favorite project.

La Posada Hotel

La Posada is one of the last of a series of hotel-depot complexes built across the Southwestern United States in a collaboration between Fred Harvey and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Designed for a railroad traveling public, the original front door faced the tracks to the south. It was thought that most guests would arrive by train and stay for several days, so day tours to the Petrified Forest and Indian sites were made available. For a fee you could get a driver, a guide, a picnic, and a custom Packard or Cadillac touring car.

The Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport was designed by Charles Lindbergh and is the last remaining airfield in the world drafted by the famed pilot. Currently there are no commercial flights, but in the 1920’s and ‘30’s TWA ran eight flights a day. Howard Hughes, the owner of TWA, was a frequent visitor.

Winslow ~ 1921

Winslow was the biggest city in the region through the 1950’s. Fred Harvey thought that it would grow to be like Santa Fe and become the cultural and money capital of northern Arizona. Downtown Winslow was so busy that Route 66—originally routed through the town—became the first divided highway in Arizona, and hosted department stores like Sears, Pennys and Wards, a 400-seat theater, and over a hundred local businesses. Unfortunately, the town declined as train travel became less prevalent and Interstate-40 bypassed the area.

Winslow was made famous in the Eagles’ 1972 song “Take It Easy”, written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and a monument on a street corner in town commemorates the reference.

Me at the monument to 'Take It Easy'.

“...standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

Today, La Posada Hotel has been restored and tourism benefits the town, which lies in close proximity to the Navajo Reservation, the Painted Desert, and Meteor Crater.

Inside La Posada today.

Monday, July 13, 2015


EQUUS CABALLUS (female horse) + EQUUS ASINUS (male donkey) = 


Mules have been bred and used for centuries as draft, pack, and riding animals. Mules are mentioned in the Bible and appear in Assyrian bas-relief.

Here in Missouri, we consider the mule ours. The first mention of mules in Missouri can be found in newspaper articles printed during the early Santa Fe trading expedition. Between 1870 and 1900, Missouri was the leading breeder in number and quality. In 1889, there were 34,500 mules foaled in the state of Missouri alone out of a total 117,000 in the United States. Of the 330,000 sold, Missouri alone supplied 68,300.

The Missouri Mule was adopted as the state animal of Missouri on May 31, 1995. Nearly two hundred years before, the mule was already making a huge impact on the state. From the early 1800s to the early 1900s the mule played a central role in farming and land development. In 1870, Missouri was the largest mule-holding state in the nation, a position it held until 1900.

The typical Missouri Mule is a cross between a mare of a draft breed and a mammoth jack. This produces a stout, strong animal that is more easily managed and more agile than his draft horse cousins. [The picture to the right shows 19 hands and 1,900 pounds of MULE.]

With its short thick head, long ears, thin limbs, small narrow hooves, and short mane, the mule shares characteristics of a donkey. In height and body, shape of neck and rump, uniformity of coat, and teeth, it appears horse-like. The mule comes in all shapes and sizes, from those that look like huge draft horses and sturdy quarter horses, to shaggy ponies and race horses.

From it's donkey sire, the mule gets intelligence, sure-footedness, toughness, endurance, disposition, and natural cautiousness. From its horse dam it inherits speed, shape and structure, and agility. Mules are known to have a higher cognitive intelligence than their parents.

A mule doesn't sound like a donkey or a horse. Instead, it makes a sound that is more like a whinny ending in a "hee-haw." Mules have been known to whimper.

Mules are preferable to horses because they have more patience with heavy loads, their skin is less sensitive so they are better in sun and rain. Their hooves are harder and they aren't as susceptible to insects and disease.  And farmers working in clay soil found mules to be better plow animals.

Mules come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, from miniatures weighing less than 50 pounds to maxis over half a ton. Their coats come in the all the varieties as those of horses—sorrel, bay, black and grey, white, roans (both blue and red) palomino, dun and buckskin, even paint, though they’re much less common. And appaloosa mares produce mules with even wilder colors than their horse cousins.

Mules have been a favorite of our nation's leaders as well. George Washington was an excellent horseman, but felt horses "ate too much, worked too little, and died too young." Washington imported jackstock from Spain and France and began breeding his own mules.

And Missouri native, President Harry S. Truman, often bragged about the amazing Missouri Mules. As the proud son of a horse and mule dealer, Truman invited a four-mule hitch from his hometown of Lamar to drive in his 1948 inaugural parade up Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here are a few terms I think you might find interesting:
Draft Mule = mule offspring from a draft horse mare
Hinny = hybrid of a stallion and a jenny
Horse Mule = proper term for a male mule
Jack = intact male donkey
Jenny = female donkey
John = informal term for a male mule
Mammoth Jack = jack at least 56" tall at the withers
Mare Mule = proper term for a female mule
Molly = informal term for a female mule
Mule = hybrid of jack and a mare
Muleskinner = driver of a hitch of mules


I hope you'll join us at CHRISTMAS IN JULY, July 24-31. Two of my River's Bend stories, WANTED:  THE SHERIFF & NO LESS THAN FOREVER, will be release in one duo volume. Watch Facebook for the big announcements!

Tracy Garrett