Search This Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#NewRelease -- ART OF LOVE by Keena Kincaid -- #Giveaway!

Abigail d'Alene has been sinfully in love with learning all her life, and she now  has the means and freedom to indulge in her passion. Disguised as a boy, she heads to the Latin Quarter of Paris and the abbey schools that will one day change the world.

Shocked by the ineptitude of her masquerade, Alain of Huntly Woods takes Abigail under his protection until she recovers her sense and goes home. But her audacity and intelligence spark enough friction between them to burn through his cold logic and carefully laid plans.

In 1159 Paris as a spy for Henry II, Alain has sold his soul to the Angevin devil in exchange for the king's promise of an heiress, land and power. As his good intentions bring him unexpected passion, he struggles to find a way to have it all. Then he discovers Abigail's uncle, confessor to King Louis VII of France, plots against the English king, and Alain must choose between protecting his king or the woman he loves.


     Watching her, Alain realized he knew two facts about her: one, she was well educated; two, whatever her name was, it was not Abelard.
     Well, maybe three facts, he decided when she pushed a curl out of her eyes for the third time.      Her haircut was new. The repeated gesture indicated she hadn’t known which way it grew.      Otherwise, she would have cut it shorter or not at all. That meant this charade was new, no more than a day or two old.
     On the morrow, he would seek out rumors of robbery or maybe murder in the finer neighborhoods. He could imagine nothing less than murder would drive a woman like her to don a scholar’s robe and come to the Quarter. Abelard didn’t look like a murderer, although he knew better than most that looks meant nothing.
     Everyone was capable of murder.
     And women were rarely what they seemed.

Be sure and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a free ebook.

BUY LINKS   Barnes and Noble     Smashwords     Kobo     iBooks


Thursday, April 21, 2016

#NewRelease -- Margarita and the Hired Gun by Patti Sherry-Crews -- #Giveaway

Pampered Margarita McIntosh is not used to being forced to do things she doesn’t want to do—but when her father, Jock, sends her away for her own safety, she has no choice. The long journey from Flagstaff to Durango tests her personal strength of will as never before, and the secret she carries in her saddlebag could be the death of her.

A rough Irish gunman, known to her only as “Rafferty”, is entrusted with getting her to her destination “safe and intact”—something he fully intends to do to claim the reward he’s been promised by Jock McIntosh. With a price on his head, the promised money is Rafferty’s ticket to a new life, and he’s not going to jeopardize that for anything—not even love.

But there are steamy nights and dangers all along the arduous trail for MARGARITA AND THE HIRED GUN, with deadly secrets between them that passion cannot erase. With her father’s enemies after her and the secret she conceals, will Rafferty’s protection be enough to save their lives? And will the heat of their passionate love be enough to seal their future together—if they do survive?


     It was the pounding in his head waking him. Not daring to open his eyes yet, he pressed the heel of his hand to the spot between his eyes where the pain was most intense. He was perspiring a cold sweat, emitting the odor of alcohol.
     Sometimes, the pillar of ice in his chest began to melt, and the jagged edges it left hurt. At those times, he’d go on a bender and lose the memories tormenting him somewhere between a whore’s legs, holing up in a saloon for days.
     Now sober, the pain was coming back—and not only the pain in his head.
For a confusing moment, the pounding in his head was making an awful racket. Then, he sourced the noise to the door. Someone was rapping away. Without having to look, he reached for his gun, which was always kept within reach. He opened his eyes—or rather, he cracked open one eye tentatively to gauge the damage. The whore next to him wasn’t even stirring. He leveled the barrel of the gun toward the center of the door.
     “Rafferty?” someone called from out in the hall.
     “I hear ya. For the love of God, stop making such a racket. Christ,” he called back.
     “Rafferty. It’s Homer Jenkins. I have a job for you, if you want it.”
     He set the gun back in its holster on the bedside table. “Give me a moment, here,” he said, swinging his legs out of bed, testing his stability, which wasn’t as good as he hoped. Homer Jenkins. Jock MacIntosh’s man. He didn’t like MacIntosh, but he paid better than most. He had to pay better, because his jobs were dirtier. That Scots devil was a cold-hearted, conniving sonofabitch.

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ecopy of MARGARITA AND THE HIRED GUN.

BUY LINKS   Barnes and Noble    Smashwords     Kobo     iBooks


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#NewRelease -- TO LOVE A KNIGHT by Lindsay Townsend

MISTRESS ANGEL—Isabella has been promised as a pawn to stop a blood feud from the time she was a child, but now her husband is dead, and she is at the mercy of his cruel family. When her young son, Matthew, is ripped from her arms and hidden away, she vows to do whatever it takes to save him—even though it might cost her everything. Stephen Fletcher, a handsome armorer, assures her that he will help her regain Matthew. Neither Isabella nor Stephen had thought to ever love again, but Fate has other plans for them...and by a chance meeting, their destinies are changed forever.

AMICE AND THE MERCENARY—Beautiful Amice, a spice seller, vows to avenge her brother’s death on a Crusades battlefield, while at the same time, trying to survive the English king’s court. When she meets charming Henry Swynford, she is reluctant to give her heart away until she can determine whose side he’s on in the deadly game of court intrigue—one false step could mean her life. Though Henry has secrets, Amice begins to trust him. Can their happiness last, or will their enemies tear them apart? What price revenge against true love?


I must do this, for Matthew.

Not in so extreme a way, her mind scolded, but it was as if her body no longer obeyed her reason. Stephen's smile was a welcome and in truth what time had she? In another moment he would be gone, passed, and her family would blame her. If she did not do this now they might never allow her to see her son.

It was the work of a single step and then done. As she forced her stiffened limbs to stir, Isabella glimpsed the rich tapestries, captured in France and hung from the first floors as trophies. She saw the shields, taken from the battlefield of Poitiers and ranged along the street in a triumphant display, glinting back at her. She thought of Matthew in his brave blue coat and fell out of the cage, a desperate launch, wondering if the cobbles would hurt.

Catch me, please catch me.

In a slow fall, slow as a snail, she saw Stephen's smile falter, heard Amice's desperate, “Issa!” and then she was floating, down and down.

Catch me, please catch me.

This collection is now available at Amazon in a boxed set (free if you have Kindle Unlimited) and trade paperback.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Early Gold Mining Methods

Many people equate the early history of California as it became part of the United States with the Forty-nine Gold Rush. They quickly envision miners at the edges of streams panning for gold. Like gold strikes throughout history, the easy gold resting near the surface of streams and riverbeds was soon mined out. Gold-seekers soon turned to other methods. Here is a short primer of basic gold-mining methods used in California and other states in the mountain west.

Placer mining:  This is the basic panning method along rivers and streams. Water is a necessary component. Early placer miners used metal pans or tightly-women Indian baskets to scoop up dirt and, using motion and water, separating the gold from the soil. More efficient means of placer mining using rocker boxes and sluice boxes were also developed.

Hydraulic mining:  Once the easy gold was separated from the soil near water sources, a hydraulic system using pressure to direct a powerful stream of water at soil and gold-embedded rock was used. In the foothills of California, this method was used as early as the 1850’s.
Courtesy of the Columbia State Park CA Museum
Dredging:  Riverbeds too deep for manual panning were scraped and lifted into a boat platform where water was used to separate the gold from the dirt before the water and soil was discarded.
1913- Bear Creek Canadian Klondike Dredge
Hard Rock or Quartz Mining:  Holes were dug or blasted deep into mountains and hillsides to reach veins of ore. The quartz-bearing rock was brought out of the mine where it was crushed and subjected to various processes that separated out the precious metals.

By the time mining activities had moved to the eastern slope of the Sierra-Nevada mountains with its relative lack of water, most mining activities in the late 1870’s on were in the form of hard rock or quartz mining. The mining towns such as Lundy that is featured in my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series were built around hard rock mines.

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. The first three novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine,  A Resurrected Heart, and Her Independent Spirit, are now available. He Is a Good Man was published as part of the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#NewRelease -- A HEART ON HOLD (Everlasting Heart Series 1) -- #Giveaway

Charlotte Adamsland is separated from her husband, Sanderson Redding, the day after their marriage. A captain in the Confederate Army, Sanderson must return to his unit, leaving Charlotte alone on their Arkansas homestead to fend for herself. Yankees camp around the town of Altrose, bringing their own kind of lawless danger. And then, one dark day, a Southern soldier arrives with terrible news…Sanderson has been killed trying to escape a Yankee prison.

Sanderson has found salvation and hell in a single turn of events he could never have imagined—his much-younger brother, Jackson, is his Yankee guard. When Jackson’s cruel commanding officer learns of the brothers’ family ties, he devises a wicked plan to see them both dead. Jackson is determined to get his brother to safety—but a last-minute betrayal by another prisoner could be the death of both brothers.

Charlotte can’t accept the news of Sanderson’s death—he promised to come back to her. She heads north armed with only her faith in God and her beloved horse to bring her love home—one way or the other. Will she be able to rescue him? Or will her love remained locked forever in A HEART ON HOLD…


     I’ll come back Charlotte, I promise. The words of Sanderson’s first promise to return echoed with familiarity in the words he spoke now.
     Seemingly satisfied with his spiel, Sanderson took Charlotte’s face in his hands. He leaned down slowly until she could feel his warm, moist breath. A fiery sensation sparked to life within her as their lips met for the very first time.
     The swirling hullabaloo that churned about them melted away, leaving only them, so in love, with just a taste of what their future held.
     All of her senses were heightened as her body ached to soak up as much of Sanderson as it could.
     Their moment was cut short by the stagecoach driver’s intolerant voice slicing through their first kiss.
     “Last call, Lieutenant. Get on the stage now, or we’re leavin’ without ya.” 

BUY LINKS    Barnes and Noble     Smashwords     Kobo 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

81 years ago – April 14, 1935 – Black Sunday – Dust Bowl by Kaye Spencer

April 14th, 1935, went down in American history as “Black Sunday”. A dust storm that people later described as a black blizzard swept over the Oklahoma Panhandle area in the afternoon and made it to Amarillo, Texas that same evening. People who left the region later gained the name, 'exodusters'. That the dust bowl years coincided with the Great Depression made the entire decade one of extreme hardship for a large population (estimates of upwards of 2.5 million people) of the United States.

Ken Burns made a PBS documentary in 2012 about the Black Sunday storm, and author Timothy Eagan compiled a book of memories from people living in the dust bowl region. His book, The Worst Hard Time, is an interesting read of anecdotal stories told by people who lived through the Dust Bowl years or who had heard stories handed down to them by family members.

The dust bowl years were roughly 1931 through 1939 with the worst of the drought between the years 1934 to 1937. The map shows the general area of the United States that was affected the most and labeled the ‘dust bowl’ region. I added the green arrow to show where I live, which is smack dab in the bowl itself in the far southeastern corner of the state (30 miles from Oklahoma to the south and 30 miles from Kansas to the east).

 (Google maps/Creative Commons):

For people who lived through the "Dirty ‘30s", dust and dirt became a nearly permanent yellow-brown haze in the atmosphere or it was a series of rolling walls of black dirt depending upon your location. People breathed dust and dirt. It sifted through walls. It found its way into the ice boxes (pre-refrigerators). It settled in bedding. It garnished your meal. People walked in it. Livestock died from dust pneumonia. Children wore dust masks when playing outside and when they walked to and from school. Even when you were inside your house, when the dirt blew, you wore a wet bandana tied over your mouth and nose to keep from choking on the dust. Crops blew away, and farmers were helpless to do anything to intervene. Women hung set sheets and blankets over windows and doorways in futile attempts to stop the dirt and dust from coming into the house. In some areas, dirt that was fine as sifted powdered sugar would pile in drifts just like snow drifts. The constant presence of dust literally drove people mad.

Author James A. Michener depicted a woman's dust madness in his book, Centennial. Here is the television mini series of Centennial, Episode 11, The Winds of Death. The dust storm shows up toward the end of this episode. You can watch it here. Skip to 1:19:25.

The dirt blew from a combination of prolonged drought and that grasslands had been plowed and planted to wheat and/or over-grazed, which proved to be a poor agricultural endeavor for the particular time and place. So because of this, the top soil was unprotected and vegetation roots were so shallow, that the winds simply scooped up the dirt as it blew along.

In May 2014, this article appeared in Forbes: Drought Worse Than Dust Bowl In Some States: "Three years of relentless and severe drought has made large parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Texas are drier than they were during Dust Bowl in the 1930s. In the Texas panhandle, Amarillo is about 10% drier now than the 42 months that ended April 30, 1936 and drier than the state’s record drought in the 1950s, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor…" (

Another article, Dust Bowl Revisited, was published in November 2012 ( ): On October 18, 2012, the Associated Press reported that "a massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma triggered a multi-vehicle accident along a major interstate…forcing police to shut down the heavily traveled roadway amid near blackout conditions.” Farmers in the region had recently plowed fields to plant winter wheat. The bare soil—desiccated by the relentless drought that smothered nearly two-thirds of the continental United States during the summer and still persists over the Great Plains—was easily lifted by the passing strong winds, darkening skies from southern Nebraska, through Kansas, and into Oklahoma."

Time has passed since both of those articles were published, and though the drought conditions here in southeastern Colorado are improving at a snail's pace, we still have a long ways to go to leave our ongoing/current drought conditions. We still experience several ‘dirty’ days every year, and the spring season is typically the dirtiest.

Back in 2013, I encountered the first of the several dust storms that hit our area that year. 2014 and 2015 were tumbling tumbleweed years more than dust. I'll take the tumbleweeds over dust. Burning tumbleweeds is a lot more entertaining than vacuuming, sweeping, and shoveling dust and dirt. :-)

To show you a comparison of dust clouds Then and Now, here is a collage I made of ‘history repeating itself’.

So just in case you don’t have enough grit in your craw from reading about dirt and dust, I’ll leave you with the dust storm scene from the movie, Hidalgo.

Until next time,


Writing the West one romance at a time

The Comanchero's Bride is available on Amazon and where other fine books are sold.


Links to resources and further reading:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Flagstaff, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Located in northern Arizona, Flagstaff lies at the base of the highest mountain range in Arizona—the San Francisco Peaks. Since the mid-19th century, the town has been a popular tourist destination due to its close proximity (75 miles) to the Grand Canyon.

The San Francisco Peaks. Mt. Humphreys is the tallest
mountain in Arizona at 12,637 feet.
On July 4, 1876 a group of campers at the base of the San Francisco Peaks stripped a pine tree and used it to raise an American flag. This tree inspired the name “Flagstaff.”

Flagstaff circa 1882.
The early economy of Flagstaff consisted of timber, sheep, and cattle. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad arrived in 1880. When the Santa Fe Railroad purchased it in 1885, Flagstaff became the largest town between Albuquerque and the Pacific Ocean.

The Babbitt sons arrived in 1881 with $17,000 and eventually settled in Flagstaff, creating the famous CO Bar Ranch which still exists today. The establishment of the Babbitt Brothers Trading Company in 1889—along with several other businesses in northern Arizona—greatly aided the growth and development of the area.

The Babbitt brothers.
Flagstaff suffered its share of criminal activity. “Cattle rustling was rampant and only conquered by stringing the culprits to a limb of a tree and riddling the bodies with bullets. Many were the shootings in the town….They write about Tombstone and other early settlements, but Flagstaff was as bad as any of them.” (from A Brand From the Burning by Charles C. Stemmer, 1959)

The Northern Arizona Normal School was established in 1899. In 1966, it was renamed Northern Arizona University.

Flagstaff circa 1899.
Massachusetts astronomer Percival Lowell established Lowell Observatory in 1894, naming Flagstaff an ideal location due to its elevation. Pluto was discovered here by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, and in 1978 Pluto’s moon, Charon, was also identified.

Lowell Observatory, 1897.
Today, Flagstaff still has a strong tourism economy due to its location to the Grand Canyon, Historic Route 66, the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, Meteor Crater, and the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations.


My novel, Into the Land of Shadows, begins and ends in Flagstaff.

Kate Kinsella has no choice but to go after Charley Barstow and talk some sense into him. After all, he's skipped town, leaving a string of broken hearts and his pregnant fiancée, Agnes McPherson. But Kate didn't count on being kidnapped by a band of criminals along the way!

Ethan Barstow is hot on his younger brother's trail, too. He rescues Kate, believing her to be Charley's fiancée, and suggests they try to find him together. Kate's reluctance has him baffled.

All hell breaks loose when they discover Charley in search of a copper mine—not wishing to be found by anyone; certainly not Kate! But, then, Kate was always trouble—and now she's brought it to his doorstep, with tales of a pregnant fiancée and his brother Ethan, who he hasn't seen in five years.

Can Ethan and Kate ever find their own love and happiness with one another through the dark deception and hurt? Or will they both return INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS...

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenaged children happen to be in residence.

Connect with Kristy

Monday, April 11, 2016


Did you know…

I was doing some research for the next River's Bend story (coming soon!) about the tradition of hunting for eggs at Easter. Did you know it was practiced by none other than Martin Luther, the Protestant Christian reformer and father of the modern Lutheran church? It is a known fact that Luther held Easter egg hunts where the men hid eggs for the women and children to find. Their hunt for eggs is symbolic of the apostles and the women hunting for the risen Jesus.

The egg has long been tied to Easter and the tomb.  The Easter egg was seen by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus, and the egg was likened to the tomb from which he rose.

Most cultures use eggs as a part of their Easter celebrations. They’re dyed red by the Greeks, emptied and painted with brilliant colors and patterns in the Ukraine, baked onto the King Cake in New Orleans... The idea of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs has been around at least since the 17th century.

Did you have an Easter Egg Hunt at your house this Easter?  Inquiring minds and all that…


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Strange food fancies in the UK.

By - 'The English Rose.'

Hi everyone. Well, Easter has been and gone again and it got me thinking about food (of course). We know that for certain festivals throughout the year, Easter of course, Christmas, Thanksgiving, there are particular foods which are usually only eaten at those times. (Although I’m sure there are many of us who would like to eat Easter eggs all year round!)
Every country must also have provincial dishes, many of which are unknown elsewhere in the world. I thought I’d take a look at some of the regional foods we have in the UK. I think you might find some of them a bit odd.
For such a small land, there are a lot of specific county dishes here, most of course, stem from the uses of the produce from that particular area. Some of these dishes have survived almost unchanged for centuries. Many of them were created in times of food scarcity, but they became popular and still exist today.
For instance, most of you will have heard of the famous Scottish delicacy, Haggis. However, contrary to what seems to be popular opinion in the USA, the haggis is not actually a small animal with legs which are longer on one side than the other, to enable them to go up and down Scotland’s steep hills without falling over. One poll suggested that 33% of Americans polled believed that story. Sorry, but I have to spoil your fantasy.

Haggis is a ball shaped, savoury pudding, made of the sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs) mixed with oatmeal, onion, suet, spices and seasoning, boiled together in the sheep’s stomach, and despite the sound of it, I can promise you it is delicious, spicy, crumbly and usually served with ‘bashed neeps’ or mashed turnips and mashed potatoes. Yum! (Really!)
Apparently, the word ‘hagese’ was used for a similar food item in England in 1430, and it was mentioned in a Scottish poem by William Dunbar in 1502, but it really took off as a traditional Scottish dish after the famous poet Robert Burns wrote his poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ in 1787, now, no Burn’s Night celebration is complete without a haggis.
In the Scottish/English Borders there is a very localized dish called ‘Rumbledethumps,’ which is bubble and squeak (mashed potatoes and cabbage all mixed together) with added grated cheese and lots of butter. Not very healthy, but supposed to be tasty. And you can even buy it frozen these days!

Wales too, have a food which is peculiar to that area, ‘Lava Bread’ No it doesn’t come from a volcano, it’s actually a seaweed, collected in huge quantities from the rocks, boiled for hours to make it soft, then pureed. The resulting bright green, gelatinous mass can be fried with bacon, rolled in oats and formed into a patty, or just used as a veg to accompany a meal of meat and potatoes. I can’t tell you how Lava tastes, I’m not that brave!

In Cornwall, there is a lot of fishing and their national dish is naturally fish based, ‘Stargazey Pie,’ is made using Pilchards, which are small, oily fish like sardines. They are baked, then laid around the pie dish with their tails pointing to the centre and their heads protruding from the pastry top, these pies can also contain chopped onions and bacon. The reason the heads are stargazing is that it proves there really are fish in the pie, not just bacon and onions!

Many of you will have heard of the famous London ‘Jellied Eels.’ In the 19th century, the River Thames was so polluted, the hardy eels were the only fish able to survive there and they became a staple for the poor. Now they are considered a delicacy and shipped world-wide. The eels are killed, skinned, chopped and boiled in gelatine, then served cold, either in a small tub on their own, or as a dish with pie and potatoes.
The North East of England has a dish with the delightful name of ‘Singing Hinnies,’ they are small, round, half inch deep, currant filled cakes, (I think they look a bit like your ‘biscuits’?) These are fried in lard in a pan or on a bakestone/griddle. The name is an amalgamation of the sizzling noise they make when they are cooking – singing, and the word Hinny which means ‘darling’ in the dialect of that area, so they should really be called Singing Darlings.

Now, here’s a controversial one for you! During WW2 when good meat was very hard to come by, people had to make do with the poorer parts of the animal, usually a pig. They would take the belly, liver and heart of the animal, chop it all finely, add onions and breadcrumbs, form the mix into balls and wrap them in the caul from the fat of the animal. These balls were served in onion gravy with potatoes, and were called ‘Faggots.’ (Sorry about the name! I don’t like pork, but I’m told by family members that these are delicious.)

From Bedfordshire comes a strange dish known as the ‘Bedfordshire Clanger.’ It is a suet crust rectangle with one end filled with skirt of beef and onions and the other half filled with chopped pears. A complete meal in a crust.
Here in the North of England, where I live, we have a wealth of strange dishes! In some areas we call Jam roly poly by the name ‘Dead Man’s Leg.’ In a town called Oldham, they eat ‘Rag Pie’ which is really minced (ground) beef and onion, wrapped in suet pastry then in a piece of cheesecloth and boiled. We eat ‘Tatty Hash,’ a mixture of mashed potatoes and corned beef, along with onions and carrots cooked in milk and water, all served together with a crust cooked separately and served on the side. ‘Tripe and onions’ are considered a delicacy in many parts of Lancashire, this dish consists of the linings of beef stomach, boiled with onions in milk, with seasoning. Despite the sound of it, that is rather tasty. 

Liverpool, where I was born, has a dish all of its own named ‘Scouse.’ That is where Liverpudlians got their nickname of ‘Scousers.’ It uses the cheapest cuts of stewing meat, layered up with onions, sliced potatoes, chopped carrots and turnips, herbs and seasoning. It is covered with water or stock and left to cook for a minimum of four hours, often much longer. Delicious!

We also eat ‘Butter Pie,’ which was created especially for Catholics, who can’t eat meat on Friday. It is made of thick layers of sliced potatoes and onions, with seasoning and lots of butter, in a deep short pastry case. Love it. (Even though I’m not Catholic!)
Last but not least, in many parts of the UK, people will eat ‘Crisp Sarnies,’ simply layers of crisps (potato chips) on a slice of buttered bread with another buttered slice pressed on top. A strange habit, which varies in taste according to the flavour of the crisps!

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little look at some of the UKs strange and calorie filled foodstuffs, but I bet you have many more? I’d really love to hear about the strangest!