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Monday, March 31, 2014

A Few Goats More: Goats in a Western? Sure! @jacquierogers #romance #anthology

Got Goats?

When I think of the Old West, goats are not the first thing that comes to mind.  Nevertheless, the story I'm working on now has goats.  It's a western historical romance and will be included in Prairie Rose Publications' Lassoing a Groom anthology.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to pull this one off, butt it'll happen. (pardon the pun)

A side note: researchers have now discovered what goat owners knew all along--they're very intelligent animals.  See this article at Science Recorder.

It all started with a mule named Socrates who took over my second published book, Down Home Ever Lovin' Mule Blues.  It's a wonky contemporary western romance, narrated by good ol' Socrates, who has a rather condescending but patient view of humans.  Readers loved him, and now have come to expect animal characters in my stories.  Animals do have a role in nearly all my books and short stories.

Let's be clear here--I do not put animals in my stories to enhance the characterization of the humans.  The animals are characters in their own right.  I grew up on a farm and animals were my friends, which is how I see them to this day.  Not human, but each has a personality.  And they're always just there.  You can't have a ranch ten miles from the nearest neighbor that isn't self-sufficient--and that means milk cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, and cats.  Each animal has a job.  People who live and work there are just as dependent on the animals as the animals are on them.

Spanish goats

Which brings us to my current pickle--people kept asking me for a story with goats.  I've never had a goat.  In fact, I'm not sure a goat has ever set foot where my story is set, Owyhee County, Idaho.  I sure didn't see any when I lived there.  They have horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, cats, rattlesnakes, porcupines, coyotes, skunks... but no goats.  One of the highest insults is to be called a goat roper.

So I know nothing about goats, other than Pat Garrett was killed over a goat dispute, but that was in the 20th century, and in Texas.  No help there.  Sigh.  Thank the giant Bit Bucket there's YouTube and Google.  First thing, I wanted to know what breed of goat my heroine would have.  I knew about horses, cows, and dogs in the 19th century, but not a thing about goat breeds.

After several hours of searching, I found out that the goats in North America came from Spain with the Spaniards (no surprise) in the 17th century.  They were called goats.  I guess sometimes we have to keep it simple.  Sometimes they were called Spanish goats.  In the eastern US, they were sometimes called by the location, such as Corn Patch Holler goats, but the DNA was the same as those original goats brought here by the Spaniards.  (Side note: that breed no longer exists in Spain.)  Not until the 20th century did goat owners start defining specific breeds and importing from Asia and Africa.  (Now Spanish goats are a vanishing variety because of all the crossbreeding.)

So goats were goats.  Females were called nannies and males were called billies.  That changed in the latter half of the 20th century and now females are called does and males are called bucks.  I'm not sure what was wrong with nannies and billies, but there you have it.  Offspring were called kids, as they are still.  I figured it would be more politically correct to call them fawns.  Castrated males are called wethers.

Goats can live just about anywhere and love rugged terrain.  They're browsers, not grazers, so they can thrive on vegetation that cattle can't even eat.  They give more milk for their body weight than a cow and cost far less to maintain.  Plus, they kid a couple times a year, and often have two kids.  A cow has one calf per year and that's it.  The only domesticated animal that goes feral more quickly than a goat is a cat, so that shows the hardiness of goats.

As you can see from the video, they come in every color from nearly white to black, with lots of different marking patterns.  They're primarily used for meat, but are decent dairy goats as well, and goat hair can be used for weaving.  They have horns (looks like they dehorned the goats in this video), and yes, they do butt, some more than others.

A lot of the survivalist sites recommend goats and that got my attention.  Owyhee County is high mountain desert and there's not a whole lot of foliage or flat land.  Pronghorns do well, so why wouldn't goats?  If a man who was an obsessive analyzer and planner wanted to take his family to such a place, it doesn't seem at all unreasonable that he'd consider goats, especially if he were the type of man who didn't give a rat's patootie about what others thought.

I've written stories that had dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, mules, cows, horses, and even a skunk.  I guess it's time to give goats a try.  Be waiting for Lassoing a Groom, a PRP anthology, in May.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I know we’ve talked before about Dorothy M. Johnson, the iconic western short story writer who penned such classics as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Hanging Tree, and A Man Called Horse; but today, I wanted to tell you about another short story of hers that I read a few days ago. Quite possibly, the best short story –in any genre—that I’ve ever read.

You may never have heard of it. It wasn’t made into a movie, because it too closely mirrored the true life of a real person, Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Quanah Parker. The story is called Lost Sister.

I’d heard this story mentioned before by a couple of friends, and thought, “I need to read that—I’ve never read much of Mrs. Johnson’s work but the movies have all been good.” I know. I hate it when people say that, too. Anyhow, I bought a collection from Amazon that contained the three stories I mentioned in the first paragraph and Lost Sister as the fourth. Of course, I had to read The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, since that’s tied for my all-time favorite western movie, along with Shane. I was so disappointed. The characters in the short story were not the same as my beloved Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne! Hmmm. Well, even though I was disappointed, I decided to give Lost Sister a shot.

It more than made up for my lukewarm feelings for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Lost Sister is the story of a woman who has been kidnapped as a young child by “the hostiles”. She has an older sister, who remembers her well from childhood, and loves her with the devotion that most older sisters have for a younger sister. Through the forty years she has been gone, the oldest sister, Mary, has cherished memories of her younger sibling.

There are three younger sisters, as well, who have no recollection of the Lost Sister, Bessie. The older sister doesn’t live with them, but in a different town a thousand miles away. The three sisters are notified that their sister, Bessie, has been “rescued” and is being brought back to them. The story is told from the eyes of a nine-year-old boy, whose mother lives with the sisters. She is the widow of their brother, who was killed by the Indians. The boy has dreams of growing up and avenging his father’s death, but something changes once his Aunt Bessie comes back to live with them.

Up until Bessie is returned to them, they have gotten much attention from the neighbors, and have been pitied as being the family who had a sister stolen by the savages so many years ago. Once Bessie is returned, their standing in the community takes a subtle twist. The other sisters don’t know how to handle Bessie’s homecoming. They make plans to go into her room and “visit” with her every day. One of them decides to read to Bessie from the Bible for thirty minutes each day. The others come up with similar plans, none of which include trying to understand Bessie’s feelings at being ripped away from her Indian family.

The oldest sister, Mary, comes to visit. What’s different? Mary loves Bessie, and accepts her; and Bessie loves her—they both remember their childhood time together. The language of love overcomes the barriers of the spoken language that neither of them can understand, for Bessie has forgotten English, and Mary doesn’t know Bessie’s Indian dialect. But Bessie has a picture of her son, and Mary admires it, and by the time Mary is to go home, she has made arrangements for Bessie to come live with her—a huge relief to the other pious sisters who had made such sympathetic noises about her being reunited with them in the beginning.

In a fateful twist, Bessie makes her own decision about what she will do, taking her own life back, and helping her son avoid capture. This is one story you will not forget. Once you read it, it will stay with you and you’ll find yourself thinking about it again and again. It doesn’t fit the mold of a romance story, except for the fact that I think of Bessie being in love with her husband, having children with him, and then being “rescued” and forced to live in a society she had no ties with any longer…except one—the love and understanding of her older sister, Mary.

No specific Indian tribe is mentioned in the story, probably for a purpose. I think, one of the main reasons is to show us the cultural differences and how, in this case, the “civilized” world that Bessie had come from and been returned to was not as civilized as the “savages” who had kidnapped her. Also, as I say, Cynthia Ann Parker’s story, at the time this story was published, was not that old. There were still raw feelings and rough relations between whites and Indians. But by leaving the particular tribe out of the story, it provides a broader base for humanity to examine the motives for “rescue” and the outcome for all concerned, of a situation such as this in which it would have been better to have let Bessie (Cynthia Ann) remain “lost.”

I’ve posted the link below for the story as it was printed in Collier’s Weekly on March 30, 1956. It’s also available on Amazon in several collections.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Calling -- but why?

The beautiful cover alone (thanks Livia!) gives the reader a sense of what is to come in the pages that follow. A shadowed cowboy. A white church in Texas hill country. A brewing storm. And that lightning ... but why write this particular story? Well, let me tell you.

I have loved the music of Marty Robbins my entire life. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs was a mainstay in any CD case I owned. But there was something about The Master's Call ... it gave me chills so I would skip over that particular song more than I would listen to it.

While my family and I lived in Oklahoma, one morning I woke and opened the window while my beautiful children got ready for school. Something on the breeze was so calming and soothing with just a touch of a springtime thunderstorm on the horizon and in the air. I turned on The Master's Call and all of my children (I have four!!) sort of appeared in silence at the kitchen table. There was a definite MOMENT happening.

After they made it to school, I sat down and began to write. Why did the cowboy in the song do what he did? What was in his heart? Can God REALLY love us when we turn our backs on him repeatedly, choosing darkness over light? In His infinite wisdom, will He be there when we need Him the most? Being a romance author, of course I had to add a love interest -- Ella Allen-- to the tortured hero -- Esau Fitzpatrick. Most of the novel was completed that day at my kitchen table ... however it wasn't finished until years later.

In the pages, journey with Esau as he falls away from God and denounces his faith after a horrific 19th century accident. Ride with him through the hold-ups, robberies, and cat houses as Esau tries over and over again to prove himself to the notorious Covington-Jones Gang, all the while trying to push beautiful Ella Allen from his mind.

But when his life hangs in the balance, is Esau strong enough to finally make the right choice?
Or is God's strength, coupled with our faith (even just the size of a mustard seed) enough to move mountains?

Check out the song that inspired this thrilling literary ride here. 

I love this review of The Calling from Amazon! 

Sara Barnard is already a bestselling Historical and Amish Romance author. Now she is adding Christian Western fiction to her list. If you love flawed characters who need saving, you will love Esau. The humor in the story is an added plus. It's not a long story, but it's one you will want to read again and again. I predict another bestseller for Sara Barnard!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Release Thursday: THE CALLING by Sara Barnard

Esau Fitzpatrick is bad at being good—and even worse at being bad. As he waits for his sweetheart, Ella Allen, inside the Paisley Settlement church, a brewing storm erupts and lightning strikes, setting the church aflame. Ella and her parents pull Esau from the fire, but his parents are lost in the blazing inferno.

Angry at God, Esau flees his home and all he holds dear, only to fall in with the notorious Covington-Jones gang.  He journeys down the path to destruction and darkness, reliving the hellish fire in his nightmares.

Ella clings to the prayer that Esau will find his way back to a godly path – and to her. But Esau is gone, and her world is falling to pieces. Ella must lean on God in a way she’s never had to before as she follows her heart against everyone’s wishes. Can she dare to believe that Esau will ever change?

Esau’s life as an outlaw comes to a head during an epic cattle rustle. He is forced to choose between eternal hellfire and the rocky path of the Lord. Will Ella still be waiting for him? Or has he lost her forever? God reaches out to Esau again, but will it be in time?


The blistering heat from the angry flames licked skyward from the sodbuster’s cabin and seemed to singe the unkempt whiskers on Esau’s face. Hot as hell’s fire. Beads of moisture cropped up on his neck. Unsure if it was the unforgiving heat, the muggy Texas night, or the thought of hell’s eternal inferno that broke him out in such a sudden sweat, he shivered.
Esau’s greasy black locks poked out from beneath his black felt hat, tickling just inside the collar of his duster. He slapped at his itchy neck. It had been weeks since the Covington-Jones Gang had been through anything resembling a town, and the result was that the lot of them were sorely in need of haircuts. Esau included.
His mount, the stolen nag with the Rockin’ R brand, huffed heavily in the smoky air. Her sides heaved and her head dipped low.
Tristan Jones turned in the saddle, his thin lips curled into a sneer. “Sounds like that horse ain’t well.” The gang leader’s laugh was sadistic. “Might have you shoot ’er just to prove your salt, greenhorn!” The irony of the red-head’s fiery temper matching the events of the evening wasn’t lost on Esau.
Esau’s stomach churned. Sure, since taking up with the Covington-Jones gang, they’d pulled some harebrained stunts, but there hadn’t been any bloodshed. Yet.
Pushing the uneasiness down deep in his gut, Esau gazed at the blazing homestead and tried to ignore Tristan’s cackling laugh. As he stared at the inferno, the image of the church he’d attended as a boy flashed before his eyes. For a moment, he could hear his mother’s cries all over again. He shook his head.
“What’s the matter with you, Fitzpatrick?” Leonard Covington spat a stream of tobacco juice from atop his plundered horse. Of course, his nag wasn’t huffing. “Look like you seen a ghost.”
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A burst of lightning to the south made chills dance down Esau’s backbone. “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with me.” Against his better judgment, he let his gaze flicker over to the newly-homeless couple that crouched together beneath a gnarled oak tree. They had been trying to look inconspicuous, no doubt. Unfortunately, the old woman, clutching a thin shawl about her shoulders, had commenced to crying, thus winning Esau’s attention. And Tristan Jones’s. The woman’s husband, hunched from age, chattered in what sounded like German.
Maybe the rain will put the fire out before their whole house burns up, Esau caught himself thinking. He corrected the thought quickly. Don’t matter no how. We hate land-grubbing Germans. After all, that was what Tristan said all the time, and he was the leader of this outfit.
Joseph Covington followed their stare to the elderly couple. He cleared his throat in a series of rapid barks. “Why not just shoot them Germans, Lennie?” He leaned in the saddle, a hungry gleam in his eyes. “Keep ’em from goin’ and stealin’ some more of our land, somewhere.”
The German couple stared back at the notorious group of outlaws that had just looted them, burned their house, and left them destitute. Wicked grins twisted the lips of Leonard and Joseph. Tristan slowly drew his pistol from his hip.
Esau recognized the terror on the couple’s faces. They were utterly defenseless, left at the mercy of a gang of outlaws, and everyone knew it. He had seen, and heard, that same brand of terror more since joining up with the Covington-Jones boys than any other time in his eighteen years. On the faces of the bank tellers they’d robbed. In the watery eyes and trembling hands of the stagecoach passengers they’d held up. In the cracking voice of that rancher’s daughter who Leonard insisting having his way with before taking the very horses they rode now.
Me and Ella. That old couple could just as easy have been me and Ella. The memory of Ella Allen’s soft hair, the color of sunlight, pushed to the forefront of his brooding mind. He remembered the way it had shone despite the rain, falling in waves about her shoulders, that Sunday morning he’d left Paisley Settlement.
It had only been a month, but clearly defined in his mind was the way Ella’s grin had slowly melted as she stood in the green field beside the church in their hometown.
     A fat drop of rain plunked on his hat, causing the sweet memory of his Ella to fizzle into the night. It was probably better. That precious memory had no place here in his new life, anyhow. Best put the memory of Ella, the bright white church on the hill, and everything from Paisley Settlement away forever. Especially the memory of the fire.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Wild West of Books, by Jacquie Rogers @jacquierogers #romance

The Wild West of Books

One of the very best things about the new publishing landscape is that the readers are now in control. I know that frightens those whoíve made their living by determining what books are available, but for readers, itís a boon. We've grown up--we can decide for ourselves what we like and what we don't.

Lots of indie authors are self-published. In that case, they decide on cover art and editorial input. I've self-published one book, Sleight of Heart, and I'm really happy with the cover. Plus, I hired a professional editor with 35 years of experience as a magazine editor, Elizabeth Flynn. The book turned out very well.

Most of my books and stories, though, are through indie publishers. This is sort of the middle ground between The Gatekeepers of NY and self-publishing. Prairie Rose Publications is an indie publisher. The owners, Livia Washburn Reasoner and Cheryl Pierson, pick and choose quality books and stories, not having to worry about the massive overhead of Manhattan rent or a hundred employees' salaries.

What does that mean? It means they can take chances--chances that benefit readers. It means that readers have books available with quality covers and that have been well edited. It means that all the stories are coherent, the characters are developed in a logical fashion, and the setting is plausible. PRP takes a lot of the gamble out of buying an indie book.

It also means that sub-genres that have been given short shrift by New York are now thriving. One of those sub-genres that's doing well is western historical romance. And that's what Prairie Rose Publications gives us--a down-home good book set in the Old West. Take a look at the website and you can see new releases by Sara Barnard, Tanya Hanson, Cheryl Pierson, and the English Rose, Gil McDonald. Kathleen Rice Adams has a novel on the verge of release that I can hardly wait to read, too.

Another benefit of both the Wild West of publishing and ebooks is that it's now feasible to release short story anthologies. Five years ago, you couldn't find a short story. Now, theyíre quite popular. PRP has both a Chrismas (Wishing for a Cowboy) and a Valentine's Day (Hearts and Spurs) release, the first with eight stories and the second with nine stories. Itís so great to read these stories when weíre on the go but still want our Happily Ever After fix. Short stories were made with Little League baseball practice in mind. (wink)

PRP has many more anthologies in the works, so saddle up your Kindle. Prairie Rose Publications plans to take you for a quite a ride!

Contact Jacquie:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings?

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me. It was only later, when I
was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages
and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children. We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family,” a Presbyterian minister and his wife. Their last name was Walls. So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school. But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere. Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri. When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13. Her older sister left home one day and never returned. No one ever knew what became of her. This is a picture of my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin (1882-1972). She was around the age of 25 when this was taken in 1907. (Not a lot to smile about--she had four children and her first husband had been killed in an accident. She married a man who had 6 children of his own, and they eventually had 7 together...times were really hard.)

JOSIE BELLE WALLS MCLAIN MARTIN--made around 1907 when she was 25 years old. Already getting gray.

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt completely new and different ways, even down to their speech and childhood games—and their own names. Can you imagine it? To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever. How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated, even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

ONE MAGIC NIGHT by CHERYL PIERSON (Cover by Livia Reasoner)

Thanks for stopping by today! I will leave you with an excerpt of ONE MAGIC NIGHT, and a look at the brand new cover (which I am in love with!) I'm giving away TWO COPIES of ONE MAGIC NIGHT! Leave a comment with your contact information in case you are one of my winners!


Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay
hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how? He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or Indian He's made the acquaintance of Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?

THE SET UP: Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina's drunken father humiliates her. To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want?


As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away. But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have
toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word. He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by. Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel. Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath
stares of the townspeople of Talihina. What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare. It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all. How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later. It was always this way when he drank too much. These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before. But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that. He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though. She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone. “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter. She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth. Never that. You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake. ‘Shay,’ she had called him. As if she had known him forever. As if she was entitled to use his given name freely. As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter? Not, ‘Dr. Logan’? Shay.” He spat the words out bitterly. He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face. “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you. And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end. Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored. “You understand me, Whitworth. You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart. As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you? Threatening me?”

“Truman.” Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina. “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?” He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm. “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her. She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers. “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time. She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear. “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor. If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

For more great new releases from PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS, click here!

Monday, March 24, 2014


It was said, "There is no Sunday west of St. Louis--no God west of Ft. Smith."

Indian Territory. A perfect haven for outlaws of every kind. They could run west of Ft. Smith where lawlessness reigned, where there were no consequences for any crime--until Judge Isaac Parker and his U.S. Deputy Marshals took charge.

By 1870, the Indian Territory had become a hellhole not fit for honest citizens. The last civilized gateway into the territory was in Arkansas--Ft. Smith.

The Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) who had been relocated to Indian Territory, had their own judicial system for the Indians of the Nations. But their courts had no jurisdiction over intruders who found their way into the Territory.

In 1875, President Grant appointed Judge Isaac Parker to what later became the Western Judicial District of Arkansas, including not only several counties in Arkansas and a strip along the Kansas border, but all of Indian Territory as well. The total area of the court's jurisdiction was nearly 74,000 square miles, with Indian Territory accounting for over 70,000 square miles of that area.

The lawmen, or the "Men Who Rode for Parker," numbered less than 200 at the outset. Only one carried the title, "U.S. Marshal." The rest were deputies. The marshal's salary was $90 per month. The deputies received no salary at all. They could arrest for any crime committed in the 74,000 mile area--with or without a warrant. They earned usually no more than $500 per year. Up until 1898, a fee system was in place that allowed a deputy to collect $2 for each arrest he made. In addition, he could receive 6 cents per mile for going to the location of the arrest, and 10 cents per mile for himself and his prisoner to return to court.


No arrest meant no payment, and if he should happen to kill a suspect in attempting the arrest, the deputy was expected to pay for the suspect's burial.

After all the deputy's expenses were tallied, the U.S. Marshal deducted 25 percent from the total before he paid the deputy the remainder.

During the 21 years of Judge Parker's tenure, over 65 deputy marshals were killed in the line of duty. Some references list the number as high as 100.


Being a U.S. Deputy Marshal was even tougher in real life than Hollywood could ever portray. The lonely existence these men led, riding out in search of desperate criminals over vast areas of land for a $2 arrest fee, is unimaginable today. The turnover rate was high due to the danger, the low pay, and the enormous amount of territory they had to cover. Weeks of separation from their families was also a deterrent.


But the facts show what those deputy marshals did to bring Indian Territory back under the law again. Judge Parker tried over 17,000 cases during his time at the Western Judicial District of Arkansas--and there were never more than 200 men on the payroll to accomplish these arrests. Order could not have been restored without these men, willing to risk their lives to bring justice back to the wild borderlands of Arkansas, Kansas and Indian Territory.


Kaed Turner, the "marshal" in my book Fire Eyes, is just this kind of loner to begin with--until he finds the love of a lifetime in a most unexpected place. In the excerpt below, Kaed is recovering from a brutal beating at the hands of a band of outlaws with Jessica's care. He's making good progress!


The bath could be put off no longer. Kaed lay quietly, watching Jessica’s nervousness.

“Jessi.” When she looked at him, his bones liquefied. She wanted him. All question of how the night would end were answered as their eyes met and held over an achingly sweet moment.

Jessica sank her teeth into her lower lip, her fingers moving to the tiny row of buttons at the front of her day dress. She slowly began to work them open. “Kaed, would you, um, I mean, well, I need to get my bath now.”

“I suppose that means I need to at least turn my head.” His mouth was dry. It was hot in the cabin all of a sudden.

“Uh-huh.” She kept right on unbuttoning the buttons, caught in his gaze. “And close your eyes.”

Yeah, well it wouldn’t matter if he did, he thought. He’d still see the picture she burned in his mind as she stood there opening those buttonholes.

Her fingers hesitated at the button just above the rich swell of her breasts. Kaed wet his lips, not turning his head or closing his eyes.

“Kaed?” Her voice was a husky whisper. That made him close his eyes. The sound of his name on her lips had him imagining doing all the things that a man did with a woman. All the things that were soon to come.

God. The heat was unbearable.

“Huh?” He slitted his still-swollen eyes open and saw she had released that button and moved down to the next one. He gritted his teeth.

“Turn…your…head.” A teasing smile played about her mouth, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, what he was imagining.

Turning away would be a good thing right about now. If he could only persuade his neck to cooperate.

“Yeah. Okay.” He turned his face toward the window. Sort of.
“I’m trusting you.”

Kaed sighed, frustrated. “I know.” It was the one thing she might’ve said that would have kept him true to his word, that part about trusting. He couldn’t betray that. “I’ve gotta move slow. Hurts.”

“Don’t—” The dress whispered to the floor.

“I won’t,” he gritted, the words bitter in his mouth. Then, he thought of something. “It’s hardly fair, though.” He heard the delicate splash as Jessica slipped into the water.

“What do you mean?”

He heard her trailing water across her shoulders and neck with the washrag, blissfully unaware of the effect she was having on him, and on a certain part of his male anatomy. He was aching for her. But he managed to make his voice casual.

“I mean, you’re going to help me bathe.”

The dribbling water stopped, and he heard her breathing quicken.
“Yes, I know. But I don’t need any help.”

After a moment the splashing began again. He imagined she was washing her hair. “Jessi?”

She didn’t answer, but he knew she was listening. He grew tired of the game. He wanted her to know what to expect. What was going to happen. To anticipate it as much as he did.“Jessi, I want you.”

It took everything in him not to turn and look at her as he said it, to see the expression on her delicate features. “I’m going to make love to you tonight.”


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

PRP New Release Saint or Sinner by Gil McDonald

Can hard-hearted bounty hunter Leroy Vance find True Love with another man’s wife? SAINT OR SINNER by Gil McDonald, from Prairie Rose Publications
Can bounty hunter and sinner, Leroy Vance, find True Love with another man’s wife?

Leroy Vance is a hard hearted bounty hunter, hot on the heels of a gang of outlaws, when he gets his horse shot out from under him. Injured, and on foot, in the wide flat lands, Vance faces almost certain death. Help comes in the form of a buggy driven by two foreigners, father and son. They take him to the nearest town, and drive off without a word. When he eventually tries to buy a new horse, Vance is directed to the ranch owned by the foreigners. There, he finds some excellent stock. But the ranch holds a secret. The foreigners don't train the horses themselves; that is done by the wife of the younger man, and her little brother, who are both abused and beaten by the men. Vance swears to rescue the woman and boy. But Fate has a few tricks up her sleeve, and a lot can change in a short time. Vance falls in love with the man's wife as he helps them to escape. But with her husband hot on their heels, will the trio escape? And will Leroy Vance, bounty hunter and sinner, finally find True Love with the wife of another man?


The chase had been real hard, and real fast. The Curtis gang had almost a half a day's start on Vance, but out on the flat, mottled plains ahead, he could now see the cloud of dust being kicked up by the five riders as he drew closer to them.
In the still, dry air, the dust rose high and thick in a swirling gray plume, widening as it rose and dispersing slowly into the high, almost cloud-free, pale blue sky. With no wind to move it on or drop it back to the ground, the particles carried on travelling upward until they became all but invisible.
Vance knew the gang was heading for the hills, and they were moving fast, but he also knew he had a good horse under him; it was strong and light-boned but speedy, with a deep chest, powerfully sprung quarters, and plenty of staying power.
He’d been trailing this particular gang for some time, but was always just that little way behind them. Right now though, he was much closer than he had been so far. And there was no way—no way in hell—that he was going to let those bastards go; not now that he could almost taste their dust.
Vance was way too far back to be able draw a bead on them, or even to use his rifle. He couldn't be certain of hitting any of them from this distance, not riding at almost full-tilt, anyway. He needed to be a hell of a lot closer to them for that, but he didn't want to push his mount any harder just yet. He'd only have to hope the gang's animals were also getting pretty tired right about now. The way the men were pushing them on, it was more than likely. They’d soon be slowing down, and he'd have a better chance to catch up to them.
Trouble was, there was no doubt whatever in his mind that, if he could see their dust trail, they could sure as hell see his too—if they bothered to look back. And, judging by the way they were still moving, they were looking back over their shoulders all the time and urging their animals on at top speed.
They could only keep going at that speed for so long, though, before one of the animals, no matter how sure-footed it might be, tumbled on the rough ground and broke a leg…or maybe even its neck.
The same went for his own animal, though. They'd been pushing on hard for some time, and the big roan was starting to tire. He knew his horse well, and was well aware that there was still just a tad more run left in him. If he was going to catch them, he had to make the final push pretty soon now.
“Okay, boy, this is it. Let's go get 'em.” He spurred the heavily-lathered animal on one final time and felt the solid slabs of muscle respond, surging explosively beneath him.
Leaning as far forward as he could, Vance crouched down low onto the horse’s hot, thick neck. He let the reins lie loose, his face whipped by the swirling mane. Globs of foaming sweat from the animal’s neck splashed back on him. Horse and rider all but flew over the ground then, scattering up loose scree, dust, and dirt in a final, desperate burst of raw energy and power.
They were closing in on their prey fast, just a few short yards away. Vance was about to draw one of the two irons he carried, knowing that he would definitely hit at least one of his targets at this range. Hell, he could almost have reached his hand right out and grabbed a fistful of their horse’s tails, he was so close.
Then, one of the men at the rear of the group quickly turned in his saddle, drew a bead, and fired a single shot. Vance clearly saw the outlaw’s face, bearded, dusty, and scarred. They were close enough now for him to be able to see the evil gleam in the man’s eyes and the twisted smile on his ugly face. As the Colt aimed directly at him, Vance knew instinctively this day was not going to end well.
He pulled his own weapon fast, but in that tiniest of moments, just before he could pull the trigger, his horse jerked and catapulted forward. The roan’s face plowed deep into the ground, hind end standing right up in the air, poised, in that single, small instant, as if balancing on its head. Dust and dirt flew high around them. Somewhere in the distance, a man cheered.
Vance flew from the saddle into the air. He somersaulted, hit the ground hard, and bounced twice. It had been possibly the luckiest shot that outlaw had fired in his whole, miserable life.
Then, something very heavy crashed down on Vance’s side, knocking all the wind out of him. The air around him was filled with thick, choking dust.

His whole world flashed bright red before him, and then faded out into total blackness.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Naked in Church

By Kathleen Rice Adams

Many people suffer nightmare in which they find themselves naked in the middle of a crowd. What does the dream mean?Fiction writers face all sorts of fears: fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of the blank page, fear of running out of ideas, fear that this internal something that drives us to create is destructive, because all we've managed to put on paper so far is criminally bad... The list goes on.

Recently, I've realized one of the biggest writing-related fears I face is what I call the naked-in-church fear. The nightmare reportedly is common: There you are on Sunday morning, filing into the sanctuary along with everyone else, when suddenly you realize you aren’t wearing a stitch of clothing ... and everyone is staring. “Oh dear,” you think, blushing scarlet from head to foot. “I know I was wearing something besides my birthday suit when I left the house. Of all the places to be caught in the nude. I’ll never live this down.”

Most dream interpretations attribute the naked-in-church nightmare to fear of exposure: as a fraud, as wanton beneath a prim exterior, as someone who harbors dark secrets. Psychologists often say the dream is an attempt by the subconscious to inform the dreamer he is being disloyal to himself by hiding something.

Regardless how emotionally close we are to friends and family, there are just some things humans don't want others to know, and writers are no exception. Like everyone else, we pile on the layers of clothing before we head out to church. However, what makes good fiction phenomenal is the writer’s ability to “bleed” onto the page; to open veins and let emotions and visceral experiences flow through our characters in order to move readers with the same force they moved us. To do that, we must peel off the emotional equivalent of our Sunday best.

Right now, I’m working on a scene that’s quite a bit different from anything I’ve written before. It’s been a pure battle to make the words work. I’ve changed point of view twice. I’ve moved the characters to another setting. I’ve played with the weather, which has absolutely nothing to do with the action because the characters are indoors. I’ve even ripped out the whole darn scene and started over.

That’s when I realized I was wearing too many clothes.

Now, someone with a firm grip on decorum might take a moment to close her eyes, breathe deeply, and attempt to crawl inside her characters’ skin. Sadly, I am not someone with a firm grip on decorum. Instead of walking the more conventional path, I decided to confront the naked-in-church fear head-on. Why not? I had the house to myself, except for the dogs. I would show that fear who was boss.

Dogs (and pleather chairs, which can be remarkably cold, I discovered) have the most uncanny ability to knock ridiculous notions right out of a person. All three of the canine critics raised their heads, yawned, and then filed from the room.

Not one of my finer moments. On the positive side, at least now I have a visceral connection to a couple of emotions that ought to be useful somewhere.

There is much to be gained from confronting one’s fears. The next time I confront one of mine, though, I believe I’ll take a less radical approach.

Thanks to ForestWander, a father-and-son team of nature photographers in West Virginia, for the image.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Cheryl Pierson: author, editor, and co-founder of Prairie Rose Publications
Today, I’m blogging about one of my most recent releases, JASON’S ANGEL. In case this title sounds familiar to you, it was previously released in an anthology with Victory Tales Press, and also as single-sell short story with Western Trail Blazer. It's making its "re-release appearance" with PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS now, with an awesome new cover.

I’m excited about JASON'S ANGEL being released as a “stand alone” story, selling at only .99 ! I’m giving away two copies of JASON’S ANGEL today! Please leave a comment along with your contact info and you will be entered—it’s that simple.

Jason’s Angel takes on several issues with the society of that time. The story takes place just as the War Between the States is winding down. Jason wears Union blue, but speaks with a Georgia accent. To make things even more difficult, he’s half Cherokee, half Scottish! When he’s wounded and winds up at a Confederate hospital, there’s only one thing kind-hearted Sabrina Patrick can do…
Two wounded Union soldiers will die without proper treatment. Sabrina Patrick realizes they won't get it at the Confederate army hospital where she helps nurse wounded men. She does the unthinkable and takes them to her home.  JASON'S ANGEL by Cheryl Pierson, from Prairie Rose Publications
JASON'S ANGEL by Cheryl Pierson (Cover by Livia Reasoner)

Two wounded Union soldiers will die without proper treatment. Sabrina Patrick realizes they won't get it at the Confederate army hospital where she helps nurse wounded men. She does the unthinkable and takes them to her home.

Jason McCain’s pain is eased by the feel of clean sheets, a soft bed, and a touch that surely must belong to an angel. But what reason could an angel have for bringing him and his brother here?


It was only a brief touch of their lips, Sabrina told herself, and should not have caused the waves of trembling heat to rush over her. His lips were firm and strong. And she kissed him back.

He’d reached up and gently pulled her to him. As if he’d sensed her concern over Desi being in the room, he’d glanced to where she sat talking to Eli, once more engrossed in conversation, and when Sabrina had started to protest, he’d squeezed her shoulder in silent reassurance. And she had kissed him back.

He’d been so gentle and—oh Lord, had Eli seen that kiss? She had responded heartily to his brother. She had not pushed Jason away or protested in the least. She had welcomed it. There was no doubt for either of them. She had definitely kissed him back.

As she pulled away, she opened her lids to find him watching her. His dark eyes smoldered with desire. But it didn’t scare her. It excited her.

Good Lord. She stood quickly, her head spinning so that she almost missed her first step toward the door. When had she last eaten? That had to be the cause of her unsteadiness. But why was her heart pounding so frantically? It was only a kiss. One kiss.

But she had kissed him back.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Civil War Trivia--not that there's anything trivial about it ~Tanya Hanson

I've always been fascinated by Civil War stuff...such as Gone with the Wind (both movie and book) and the Jimmie Stewart classic movie Shenandoah.  (I just read that Sam Elliott fell in love with Katharine Ross the first time he saw this movie!)  Recent visits to Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry and Margaret Mitchell's home in Atlanta reinforced its allure. Peeking through a flea market find (Civil War Trivia and Fact Book by Webb Garrison) pointed out some wonderful tidbits that I thought inquiring minds might want to know.

1.  Only 28 percent of the 30,500 miles of railroads in 1860 lay in Confederate territory.
2.  The two warring capitals, Washington DC and Richmond, VA, are only 100 miles apart. 

3.  Seven states had announced their secession at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. (Can you name them?**  See below.)

4.  86 percent of the United States’ manufacturing firms were located in the North.

5.  38 percent of the Confederacy’s population were slaves.

6. Diarrhea, including dysentery, was the most common ailment in the camps and claimed the lives of 44,000 Union soldiers.

7.  More than 68 American Revolutions could have been financed for the estimated cost of the Civil War.

8.  During the years of the conflict, 2,778,304 men were enlisted in all the branches of the Union forces.

9.  Four states were classified as “border states”, meaning they remained in the Union but had strong ties to the South. (Can you name them?*** See below.)

10. New Orleans was the Confederacy’s largest city, with an 1860 census of 168,000.

11. New York, with its 1860 population exceeding 800,000, was the North’s largest city.

12. Due to inflation in the Confederacy, the price of a pound of tea was $10.00 by the end of 1862.

13.  On New Year’s Day 1865, 55 percent of the Confederate fighting forces was listed as AWOL.

14. The tallest man in the Union forces was Captain Van Buskirk of the 27th Indiana.  Six feet, ten and one-half inches.

15.  The shorted man in the Union forces was a private in the 192nd Ohio.  Three feet, four inches.

16.  There were 33 states in the Union in 1860.

17.  In 1861, a Union soldier’s monthly salary was $13.

18.  As president of the United States, Abe Lincoln’s annual salary was $25,000.

19.  About 200,000 blacks eventually served in the Union army and navy.

20.  Union regiment, the First Minnesota, lost 82 percent at Gettysburg, the highest percentage of one-battle casualties.

21. By the war’s end, 12,912 graves had been filled at infamous Andersonville Prison. (total deaths is believed much higher.) 

22.  When Harper’s Ferry fell to Stonewall Jackson, he seized 73 cannon and 13,000 small arms from the arsenal there. And 10,000 prisoners.

23. Thirty six (36) horses were needed to pull the six guns of a standard field battery, three pairs in tandem per gun.

24.  Six Confederate generals were killed at Gettysburg.

25.  Black troops participates in 450 battles and skirmishes.

26.  The most popular handgun in the North with about 200,000 manufactured between 1860-1872 was the Colt Army and Navy revolver.

27.  The weight of a shell thrown by a 13-inch mortar (the largest in use then) was 220 pounds.

28.  Three of the 2,300 Federal chaplains, received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I hope you didn’t mind a history lesson today! Which fact did you find the most interesting?

** South Carolina; Mississippi; Florida; Alabama; Georgia; Louisiana, and Texas.

*** Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri
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