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Wednesday, February 20, 2019


"Sulky bulldog appearance: looks rather like a blacksmith coming from work; wears cap pulled well down over face."

I came across this wanted poster some time ago and thought it was fake. But, no, Dan Breen was a member of the IRA during the Irish War of Independence and later a major player in Irish politics. This was the poster issued seeking his arrest. 
Curious, I wondered if such hyperbole on a wanted poster was an Irish thing (because, you know...the Irish like to use their words to embellish), but after looking further, I found similarly descriptive Wanted posters in early American criminal history.
I suppose in a time before TV coverage and video recordings, the authorities had to provide the details the best they could, though I expect even the Irish in the early 20th century were scratching their heads over the description, "looks rather like a blacksmith coming home from work."  (by the way, I love the quantifying word "rather" thrown in that sentence.)
I live across the street from a commuter train station, and if someone was described as looking like a "patent lawyer after a grueling week, coming home and looking forward to a G&T," I doubt I'd be able to nab the miscreant.
With the innovation of photography, the police were able to drag the criminal off to the local photographer to have his or her mug shot taken before throwing them in the cell; and thus ending many a criminal career. Newspapers, telegraphs, and now their faces plastered in quick order all over the country!
One incident to illustrate the point is the famous Fort Worth Five Photograph taken in 1900 by John Schwartz, which put an end to Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch.

Forth Worth Five Photograph of the Wild Bunch

Butch and the boys had gathered together in Fort Worth, TX for the occasion of  Will "News" Carver to Lille Davis, a prostitute he met at Madame Fanny Porter's brothel (spoiler alert: not a long and happy union). Someone had the bright idea that it would be a hoot to get dressed up like dudes and have their picture taken. Huge mistake!
One version of the story is that Schwartz was so proud of his work he put the photo in the window of his shop, and when the local law next brought in a criminal for a mugshot, he recognized some the gang. Keep in mind that at this time the law still wasn't clear on who was in the Wild Bunch. So, this was an important development. 
Bam! The Fort Worth Five portrait went directly onto a wanted poster. Go directly to jail, do not pass go. 

To make matters worse, Wanted posters could be churned out and disturbed so quickly, an outlaw had to be almost constantly on the move. There was one incident where "News" Carver had an unfortunate encounter with a skunk. Immediately, posters went out adding the detail that one of the gang stunk like a skunk.

Though some of the gang were slow to realize it, the days of train robbing was over for the Wild Bunch, and in fact for all the gangs. 

Butch and  the Sundance Kid along with Etta Place definitely got the memo saying the game was up and escaped to South America to start a new life.
"Wedding" (if they were legally married) Photo of Harry Longabaugh, AKA, The Sundance Kid and Etta Place (if that was even her name). 

...before embarking on their fresh start, Sundance and Etta had their picture taken in New York, even sending copies to friends and relatives. And, you guessed it, the picture was used on Wanted posters traveling even as far as South America. Now the Pinkertons had Etta as well.

Spanish language poster provided by Pinkerton detectives to local authorities in South America (photo courtesy of True West)

I note with amusement the following description on one of the Wanted poster for the Sundance Kid:

"Complexion, dark (Looks like a quarter breed Indian)
Eyes, Black
Features, Grecian type"

There are so many things wrong about this description, I hardly know where to begin. Okay, let's begin with "black eyes." Unless he has two shiners, I doubt "black" eye color is an accurate description. And then I picture folks in the old west puzzling over Grecian features while they are comparing various skin tones. This description seems more likely to confuse than aid the good citizens.
In any case, this exposure spelled the end for their brief experiment in going straight. They went back to a life of crime on the run--even Etta at times. She eventually had enough of it and went back to the states to disappear from history. Butch and Sundance, depending on which version of history you subscribe to, either were killed in Bolivia or went on to live peaceful lives under assumed names.  But whatever their fate the Wanted posters certainly contributed to their end as train and bank robbers.

Just like the Wanted poster helped end the careers of many a notorious outlaw in the Old West, it is a wanted poster that brought down a character in my new release, Den of Thieves. 

When his identical twin brother is arrested, the Pinkerton Detective Agency enlists Wynne Palmatier to go undercover and impersonate his outlaw brother, Ennis. His mission is to infiltrate his brother’s gang. Ennis tells Wynne everything he needs to know. Except for one thing: there are two women with the outlaws, and one of them is his wife. 

Lucy House is still paying for the day she strayed away from decency. Now the handsome outlaw she ran away with has lost his appeal and she longs to get away from this life. As the danger mounts, can Wynne and Lucy escape this den of thieves?


Wynne tied up his horse at the hitching rail and walked in. The sheriff sat with his boots up on his desk. He dropped his boots back down to the floor with a dull thunk when Wynne filled the doorway.
“Sheriff Holden? I’m—”
 The other man stood up, fingers looped in his belt. “I know who you are.” He studied him a good long moment. “Incredible. You look just like him.” The sheriff pointed over Wynne’s shoulder.
“Yeah, that’s one of the defining aspects of identical twins,” he said, turning to see what the sheriff had pointed at.
He gasped. It was a shock to see his visage on a wanted poster.
Mesmerized, he wandered across the room to come face to face with the mugshot. His stomach dropped at the sight. It was one thing to know your brother was an outlaw, but it was another thing entirely to see his face on a poster. “So this is the poster that brought him down.”
Flashes of that same face in more innocent times. Flirting with girls at dances. Singing along with everyone else while Dad played the guitar. Wrestling with a younger cousin and laughing when he pretended to be pinned down by the much smaller boy.
“Yep. He was in Fort Worth having himself a good old time at a faro table when somebody recognized him as one of the gang who robbed a train the week before. They took him into custody without a struggle.”
Listening to the sheriff, he studied the details on the poster. Wanted. Notorious Outlaw. Ennis Green. Six foot tall. 165 pounds. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Reward $500.
 “And then, he escaped. Tricked a deputy into thinking he was having a heart attack and then took the man’s gun off of him when he went to his aid.”
“Nice fellow, my brother.”
“He escaped, but now the Pinkertons have a face to put to his name.”
“Yes, I heard. Someone from our hometown happened to see a copy of the wanted posters and recognized Ennis Green was the Ennis Palmatier who he grew up with. A Pinkerton detective came knocking on our door. Gave my mother quite a shock.”
“Didn’t she know he was an outlaw?”
Always burned in his memory was that day his nephew ran into the store and told him to lock up and come directly home. Then, walking in the parlor to see his mother, her face drained of color and her lips pinched tight as she twisted a handkerchief in her hands. A stranger in the room turned when he came in, his mouth falling open with surprise. “You look exactly like him.” The man, it turned out, was with the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency.
“We weren’t sure if he was even alive. The last thing my father did before he died was kick him out. We knew whatever he was up to, it probably involved being on the wrong side of the law. But we didn’t know how successful he become in his chosen profession.”
What he didn’t add was that he never thought his brother was dead. He knew he’d sense it if he died. Even with the intervening years and miles, he had a feeling in his gut he was out there somewhere, much like the man who loses an arm can still feel it. Right now, with only a floor separating them, he felt a peculiar buzzing in his body.

Available at Amazon

Saturday, February 16, 2019


We've got two open calls for submissions for boxed sets at PRP right now--our medieval collection, ONE MIDSUMMER'S KNIGHT, and our western historical romance collection, HOT SUMMER NIGHTS! Got a story you want to tell? Now's the time!


Theme: Historical Medieval Romance
Setting: Leading up to/during the summer solstice celebration, and can include Midsummer’s night
Length: 10,000-17,000 words
Heat Level: Sweet, sensual, spicy, hot (no erotica, please)
Deadline: April 1, 2019

In medieval times, Midsummer’s Night brought feasting, dancing, courtship—and love. Prairie Rose Publications is proud to announce a call out for submissions for a brand-new boxed set of novellas that bring you tales of love between daring knights and their ladies during the summer solstice.

Midsummer’s Eve is a night given to celebration. A time of the summer solstice, it is one of the great "charmed" holidays of the year, when hidden treasures lie open in lonely places, waiting for the lucky finder…and when passion is at its height between lovers.

Magic happens under the light of the full moon on Midsummer’s Eve...The Fae come out to play mischief, casting spells on unsuspecting mortals—and love is in the air, along with unleashed desire… When flames of sacred balefires rise high in the night, so do passions— blinding reason, and leading to dark temptations and danger. Wishes made, desires fulfilled, profane bonds forged…all to snare the heart of the handsome knight or maiden fair. Lords and ladies, knights and lovely maids, Faeries and other mystical beings revel in this special night of Midsummer Magic!

If you have a tale of a daring knight or comely wench you wish to share, here is your magical chance to tell it in this exciting new collection of novellas from PRP, ONE MIDSUMMER’S KNIGHT!

Send submissions to:


Theme: Historical Western Romance / time period of 1830-1899
Setting: Historical American West—west of the Mississippi River
Length: 10,000-17,000 words
Heat Level: Sensual, spicy hot (no erotica, please)
Deadline: April 15, 2019

Do you have a sizzlin’ western historical love story that takes place west of the Mighty Mississippi? If so, we’re looking for you! This wonderful Prairie Rose Publications boxed set will contain stories that take place in the heat of the western summer—when days are scorching, but the nights blaze even hotter!

Will love be found in dangerous Indian Territory or on a sultry Texas night? Maybe your couple will meet in a Colorado mining town, or at a U.S. Army fort in Kansas. Whether they’re braving a trek across the Arizona deserts or making their own fireworks at the local Independence Day celebration, there’s no better time for love than on those HOT WESTERN NIGHTS!

Send us your tales of lost love found and new love discovered that sizzle hotter than a blast of heat lightning across that big ol’ Texas sky in July! We look forward to seeing what you come up with! There’s nothing like discovering love on those HOT WESTERN NIGHTS!

Send submissions to:

Friday, February 15, 2019




What happens when a hired gun is forced to save a damsel in distress? Or when an ex-lawman must pick up his six guns once more to stand between a “prairie rose” and outlaws when they come calling?

At PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS, we are opening a call out for submissions for exciting stories like these! This new line, SIX GUNS AND PRAIRIE ROSES, will feature stories of men who are “gun handy” –– for better or worse—who come to the rescue of a woman in need, or in danger.

Does she readily accept his help—or is your heroine anything but a delicate flower looking for assistance? Is she from West Texas, or is she an Eastern socialite? Or could she be an immigrant from another country, making her way west?

Along the way, these lovers will find their own brand of romance (sweet to steamy) as danger lurks at every turn! Make us wonder if this couple is going to survive to see their HEA!

SETTING: Historical American West—west of the Mississippi River
TIME PERIOD: 1830-1899
HEAT LEVEL: Sweet, sensual, spicy, steamy—no erotica

Please send your submissions to Cheryl Pierson for consideration at:



What happens when a knight is granted his own small keep, only to learn he must marry to hold it? Or when a young noble woman is faced with an ultimatum from her king—she’ll wed the man he chooses for her—even if he is a sworn enemy—or else!

At PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS, we are opening a call out for submissions for action-filled stories like these. This new line, THE SWORD AND THE ROSE, will feature stories of mercenaries, knights, and noblemen—or other men of medieval times—who come to the rescue of a woman in danger. Though these lovers may not realize it or plan for it to happen, their circumstances will inevitably lead to a very happy-ever-after ending for both of them!

Does your heroine welcome your hero’s help, or is she determined to try to be independent—and hold things together without him? Is he a stranger to her, or someone she’s known from the past?

Somewhere along the way, the couple will find their own brand of romance (sweet to steamy) as danger lurks at every turn!
Make us wonder if this medieval couple is truly destined to enjoy their HEA!

HEAT LEVEL: Sweet, sensual, spicy, hot—no erotica

Please send your submissions to Cheryl Pierson for consideration at:


Do you have a story to tell about a very special heroine? One who defied the conventions of society to follow her dreams? Maybe your heroine aspired to become a doctor, or an attorney, or some other vocation that was most generally dominated by males. She may have been a woman who preached the gospel, or perhaps she was forced to take over the family business and keep it solvent during a time in our history when men ‘ran the show’ in these realms…and didn’t allow women to participate.

But sometimes, Fate has plans that won’t be altered, and these WOMEN OF DESTINY dream big—with Lady Luck as the wind in their sails, and grit and determination as their rudder, how can they be stopped? Add a good supporting hero in the mix, some unforeseen ups and downs (of course!) and an exciting tale of perseverance and true love is born!

These are just some of the ideas we’ve come up with for these special women and their very unusual success stories! If you have a historical heroine who is destined for an unconventional role in life—discovering love on the way—we’d like to invite you to submit to our new WOMEN OF DESTINY line at Prairie Rose Publications!

Stories will be set in the HISTORICAL time period of 1830-1899.
Primary setting of stories will be in the United States.
Romance? BUT OF COURSE! Any heat level, but please, no erotica.
Length: 50,000-90,000 words.
Open call for submissions immediately (7/21/18)—we look forward to seeing what wonderful creations you come up with!

Please send your submissions to Cheryl Pierson for consideration at:

AND THERE ARE MORE! Just check out our submissions page at the PRP website for all open calls --Men in Uniform, Witty Cozies, and always, any stories that fit our imprints are welcome submissions!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New Release — Den of Thieves by Patti Sherry-Crews

When his identical twin brother is arrested, the Pinkerton Detective Agency enlists Wynne Palmatier to go undercover and impersonate his outlaw brother, Ennis. His mission is to infiltrate his brother’s gang. Ennis tells Wynne everything he needs to know. Except for one thing: there are two women with the outlaws, and one of them is his wife.

 Lucy House is still paying for the day she strayed away from decency. Now the handsome outlaw she ran away with has lost his appeal and she longs to get away from this life. As the danger mounts, can Wynne and Lucy escape this den of thieves?


Texas, 1883
     She experienced the view as an ache. So impossibly blue and bright. She squeezed her eyes shut to block out the blue sky to savor the sweet scent of the flowers without the distraction of the sky, which even now flashed on the backs of her eyelids. The rain lilies perfuming the air, flowering after a heavy rain, would only last a day or two. How fortunate they were to catch them in bloom. The delicate white petals, so easy to miss. She took this as a good omen. With her eyes still closed, she listened to the sound of the buckboard wheels bumping up and down in the ruts of the dirt road and felt the gentle touch of Billy’s coat sleeve brushing against her as his arms moved with the reins.
     He nudged her. “What are you thinking about? You’ve got a smile lighting up your face like rays of sunshine on a summer morning.”
     Her eyes snapped open at the sound of his voice, a deep melody that reverberated in her heart. She turned in his direction to see his dark eyes sparkling with delight.
     “Why, I’m…” She let out a nervous giggle and tugged at her bonnet strings before fixing him with a bold look. “I’m thinking how this time next week I’ll be living a different life. The life of a married lady.”


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mail-Order Mix-up - Valentine's Day story by Kaye Spencer – February #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePubs #westernromanceanthology

The theme for February's #blogabookscene is All You Need is Love. Since Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and to shamelessly capitalize upon Sunshine Lake's recent review [ Read the review HERE ] for my story Mail-Order Mix Up, which is in the Valentine's Day-themed Lariats, Letters, and Lace western romance anthology, I'm sharing an excerpt from my story.

Scene Set-up

Through the well-intentioned meddling of his three young granddaughters, widower Dale Forbes gets a surprise on New Year's Day when Irene Maxon, the mail-order grandma the three girls 'ordered' for him, arrives at the house.


While another minute of exchanging weather observations ensued, Irene made a sweeping perusal of the house, or what she could see from the foyer at the foot of a wide staircase with hallways along both sides. The hardwood floor glistened in all directions. Framed pictures hung on the walls. A full-length cheval mirror stood opposite the coat tree. Coming in from the chill, the warmth from an unseen source touched her face, and the mixed aromas of baked bread, cinnamon apple pie, and roast chicken lingered in the air, which reminded her stomach she hadn’t eaten since last evening.

The foyer was crowded with adults and children busy donning winter clothing or assisting with buttoning and mittening.

“And who is this?”

Eloy removed his hat and held it in his gloved hands. “This is Irene Maxon recently of St. Louis.”

All talking stopped; every head turned to Irene. Eloy painstakingly introduced everyone. Irene acknowledged them with a nod and friendly Hello.

Ginny Forbes welcomed Irene with a polite, “We’re so pleased to meet you, but I don’t believe we’ve ever met. What brings you to our home?”

“Forgive me for intruding unannounced, especially during your festivities. I’m here to return—”

“Oh, there you are, Dale, Violet,” Eloy broke in. “This is Irene Maxon from St. Louis.”

Irene followed Eloy’s wave and recognized the man and the girl coming along the hallway from the photograph she’d received with the letter. She also noted with more than passing interest that the photograph had not adequately captured Dale’s handsome maturity, strong chin, and fine, broad-shouldered physique. Before she could greet them, movement at the top of the stairs drew her attention, and she looked up to see a girl descending one slow stair at a time, her hand trailing lightly along the bannister. The girl stopped midway down and looked right at Irene, the little satisfied smirk on her lips as pleasant as the sparkle in her eyes. So this was Meredith—the instigator of the marriage invitation.

Then a wisp of a child with braids flying burst through the midst of the group with a shriek of squealing delight. When she leaped, Irene instinctively caught her, staggering backwards a few steps under the child’s momentum. The girl clamped her arms around Irene’s neck with a grip so tight Irene couldn’t turn her head.

“Grandma! You’re here. You’re really here. I knew you’d come. I just knew it!”

Lydia’s face broke into a bright smile. Clara Jean clapped her hands and blurted, “It worked! She really got Meredith’s letter!”

All attention swung to Clara Jean who realized too late what she’d said as she ducked for cover behind the coat tree.

The few seconds of solemn, stunned silence shattered into echoes when Dale’s booming voice rebounded off the walls. “Meredith Margaret Forbes! What have you been up to now?”

But Meredith was nowhere in sight.

Lariats, Letters, and Lace anthology is available on
Print | eBook | KindleUnlimited

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ada Blackjack - The Female Robinson Crusoe

By Kristy McCaffrey

Ada Blackjack, a petite Inupiat woman born in Alaska, was known as “The Female Robinson Crusoe” after living alone for two years as a castaway on an uninhabited island north of Siberia.

In 1921, Ada set sail on an expedition to Wrangel Island in the Arctic circle. She was given a one-year contract as a seamstress and cook, accompanying four men into the unknown wilderness.

Despite her Inupiat heritage, Ada wasn’t raised with any knowledge of hunting or wilderness survival. Her upbringing by Methodist missionaries ensured that her English was good and gave her a background in the Bible, housekeeping, sewing, and cooking white-people food.

Ada Blackjack and her son, Bennett, in 1923.

At the age of 16, she married Jack Blackjack, a local dog musher, and together they had three children—two of whom who died—before Jack abandoned her. Her surviving child, a five-year-old son named Bennett, suffered from tuberculosis and general poor health, and Ada was forced to place him in an orphanage because she was destitute. But she vowed to find a way to earn enough money to retrieve him. It was at this time that she learned of an expedition heading for Wrangel Island, and they were looking for an Alaska Native seamstress who spoke English.

The expedition was the ill-conceived venture of Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. He recruited four young men to claim Wrangel Island for the British Empire, despite that Britain had never shown any interest in wanting it. Although Stefansson picked the team and funded the trip, he never intended to accompany them, and instead sent the very inexperienced crew into the unknown with only six months of supplies.

Although Ada had reservations about going on expedition with four men, she simply couldn’t pass up the salary of $50 a month, an unheard-of sum for a woman at the time. On September 9, 1921, she boarded a ship with Allan Crawford, 20, Lorne Knight, 28, Fred Maurer, 28, and Milton Galle, 19, and a cat named Victoria.

Ada Blackjack and the expedition crew to Wrangel Island.

For the first year on Wrangel Island, the team was able to supplement their supplies with local game, but when winter descended and the promised boat to fetch them never came (it had to turn back due to impenetrable ice), they were forced to stretch their meager supplies for another year.

At the beginning of 1923, their circumstances had deteriorated. Everyone was starving and Knight was ill with scurvy. On January 28, 1923, Crawford, Maurer and Galle made the decision to set out on foot across the ice to Siberia in search of help, leaving Ada to care for the deathly ill Knight. The three men were never seen again.

The camp at Wrangel Island in late autumn.

For six months, Ada was alone with Knight and cared for him, but it wasn’t easy. She struggled to do the work of four men while playing nursemaid, and Knight, in his misery, constantly berated her. On June 23rd, Knight died. After his death, Ada refused to fall into despair and was determined to survive.

For three months, Ada was alone. During this time, she learned to set traps for the foxes, taught herself to shoot birds, built a platform above her shelter so that she could spot polar bears in the distance, and crafted a skin boat from driftwood and stretched canvas. She even experimented with the expedition’s photography equipment, taking photos of herself standing outside camp.

On August 20, 1923, almost two years after first landing on Wrangel Island, she was rescued, along with the cat, Vic. Heralded as a hero and praised for her courage, Ada shied away from the attention, insisting that she was simply a mother who needed to get home to her son.

She was soon reunited with Bennett and used her payment, which was less than she had been promised, to seek treatment for his tuberculosis in a Seattle hospital. She later had a second son, Billy, and returned to live in Alaska.

While Stefansson and others profited from the story of the tragic expedition, Ada received none of the money, and smear campaigns against her character later emerged claiming that she had callously refused to care for Knight. Bennett’s health issues were never fully resolved, and he died of a stroke in 1972 at the age of 58. Ada passed a decade later at the age of 85, and she was buried beside Bennett.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Riverside Farm in Acushnet, Massachusetts, is linked in history with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. 

In 1826, Thomas and Jane Moss of Winchester, England welcomed their fourth and last child, Mary Francis Moss. Raised and educated as a gentleman’s daughter, Mary Francis married Henry Wellington Taylor in 1844 and together they ran a London pub, until he disappeared, reportedly for the charms of Australia. Whether he went willingly or on a prison ship, he left Mary Francis the single mother of two young daughters. She was counseled by her aunt, a former British actress, to go into the theater. Since it was unseemly at the time for a woman of good birth to work in the theater, Mary Francis changed her name to Laura Keene when she went took to the London stage. Enjoying success, she took her show “on the road” in 1852 and moved to New York, leaving her daughters in the care of their maternal grandmother.

Laura did well in the states, well enough to send for her mother and daughters, and to start her own theater company in Baltimore. After only two years, she took that show on the road, heading for California to take advantage of the ready cash of the gold rush.
When things didn’t work out as well, Laura headed to Australia to hunt up her husband. There she met and began working with Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth.

Upon her return to the United States, Laura and her company returned east, where they performed for audiences on both sides of the War Between the States. While performing in Boston, she and business manager John Lutz took a break and headed into the Massachusetts countryside, where John informed her that she owned the land on which they picnicked. Laura fell in love with Riverside Farm in Acushnet, renamed it Riverside Lawn, and ultimately retired there with her children.

Following the war, Laura Keene, actress, entrepreneur, playwright, director and theater manager, was invited to perform at Ford’s Theater on April 15, 1865. The show was Our American Cousin, to which Keene owned the rights. The proceeds were promised as a “benefit” to her, and Laura was onstage when John Wilkes Booth fired the shot that killed President Abraham Lincoln.

And that’s how a Massachusetts farm is connected to the assassination of our nation’s sixteenth president.

Tracy Garrett

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