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Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Release — LYDIA'S REDEMPTION by Agnes Alexander @prairierosepub

Lydia Patterson is on the run with no place to go but Hatchet Springs, Arizona, where her sisters live. When her husband, Bradly, is killed, Neville Redford, his business partner in the saloon he owned, is all too anxious to see Lydia remarried—to him! But Lydia has never trusted him, and when his sister Cara suggests Lydia work in the bordello above the saloon, she knows she has to flee Savannah immediately.
Lydia’s sisters, Drina and Hannah, have found happiness in Hatchet Springs, and Lydia needs a place to think about what life holds for her next. When a handsome preacher, Caleb Burkhart, and his young son, Matthew, board the stage, Lydia finds herself falling for the clergyman. Could there be a future for a former saloon owner with a man of God?
But evil is on her trail in the form of the Neville and Cara Redford, each with their own schemes. Will happiness elude Lydia forever? How can God love someone like her—and how can Caleb? It seems that the Redfords will be successful in their plans after all…but will Fate allow it?  Will love truly conquer all in LYDIA’S REDEMPTION?


     The stagecoach slowed and stopped in a whirlwind of dust.  The preacher said, “Stay calm, ladies. I’ll see what…”
     The door jerked open and interrupted him. “Well, well, what have we got here?” A skinny man with a blue bandana over his face laughed out loud. “Come on out, folks. We need to have a little discussion.”
     “Oh, my Lord in heaven, help us.” Lulu’s voice was only a squeak. “We is about to die right here on this lonely road.”


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dress like a Cowboy

What's in Your Fifth Pocket?
That little pocket on your jeans. How often have you wondered what the heck it's for? If you're like me you thought that pocket was to store your emergency quarter in the event you got in trouble and needed to phone home--back in the day before cell phones. Turns out this pocket is called the watch pocket. When Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss patented the design for jeans in 1873 with miners in mind, they included a handy place to keep a size 16 pocket watch. They also put in rivets at stress points so heavy tools didn't ruin the pants. Even today the belt loops are spaced to take the watch clip. This style of pants designed for miners was quickly picked up by ranchers. Why dark blue? The color does the best job hiding dirt.

Learning I've been walking around with a watch pocket for decades made me wonder what other vestiges of bygone days are hidden in my wardrobe. It also got me curious about western wear in general. I did a little research on some of the mainstays of this fashion and discovered it's a marriage of function and style, which has not only lent much to the fashion of future generations of non-cowboys, but it's also a style with an interesting history.

If western wear had a family tree, it's roots would originate with the cattle herders of 12th c Spain, the old Castille region to be specific. Low-crowned, wide-brimmed hats, spurred boots, tight pants, bolero jackets, and a sash were the herders costume.

Vaquero in Spanish California, 1830's
When the practice of cattle herding moved to the new world, the costume changed to adapt to new landscapes. In the American west slabs of cowhide were hung from the saddle to protect the rider's legs from brush and cactus--and so chaps were born. Chaps with the hair left on are called "woolies."

Chilling in his woolie chaps

Every piece of a cowboy's wardrobe has a function story as well as a style story. Because he had to travel light, articles of clothing had to prove its worth. Take for instance the bandanna. This square piece of cloth used to keep dust and sun off the neck can also be used as a potholder, a first aid item, ear muffs, a filter to strain the bugs and dirt out of your water, and if you're up to no good, a disguise. Bandanna comes from the Hindi word bandhnu, meaning a tied cloth. Martha Washington, our first, first lady introduced the bandanna to America when she commissioned one to be made with the image of her husband on horseback, starting a popular souvenir trend. The most recognizable bandanna pattern which is still made today is a paisley design from Kashmir called by cowboys, the "Persian Pickle". The paisley pattern comes in every color under the sun, but red is probably the most popular.

The "Persian Pickle" pattern

The cowboy shirt as we know it today with its pearl snaps, pocket flaps, and triangular yoke was largely the design of tailor Jack Weil in the 1940's. Seeing that cowboys often function one-handed, Weil came up with the brainstorm of using snaps instead buttons (what a cowboy is doing with one hand while he needs to rip his shirt off in a hurry, I do not know). He reinforced the parts of the shirt that take the most strain by adding the distinctive yoke. He put flaps on the pockets so all your hoofs picks and what have you don't fall out when you bend over. We can also thank Weil for making the shirts form-fitting to prevent them from getting caught on things. Thank you, Mr. Weil.

The western style shirt has some interesting antecedents. As well as having roots in the vaquero tradition, the cowboy shirt gives a nod to Civil War uniforms. The bib or shield front, which I associate with John Wayne, comes from a Union battle shirt designed by Custer, who in turn borrowed the design from early firefighters.

The Duke in a Bib or Shield Front Shirt 

And from the other side of the Mason Dixon line comes some of the more flamboyant features of the cowboy shirt. The fancy piping, contrasting yokes, ruffles, plaids, and decorative embroidery draw from the Confederate battle shirt. Yes, that's right. I was surprised by that too, but after spelunking into the depths of the Pinterest caves for a good part of the afternoon, I saw some amazing designs. Apparently, the ladies who made the shirts for their loved ones going off to fight, sent them off in style.

"Bloody Bill" Anderson in his Conferderate Battle Shirt

In the early days, western headgear was no different than what folks covered their heads with elsewhere in the country. Picture the cowboy in a bowler hat. Then in 1870 John Stetson moved to the west for his health. He noticed the wide-brimmed Spanish style hats worn in the area and fashioned a hat for himself, which again was based in part on the Union Calvary's blue kepi. When a cowboy admired Stetson's hat, he sold it to him for $5. Hello cowboys in Stetsons!

Stetson Hat Advertisement

Like other items in the cowboy's wardrobe, the Stetson isn't just for looks. The hat is multi-functional. The wide brim afforded protection from rain, sun, and snow. The high crown provides an air pocket that helps insulate the head in cold weather, and in hot weather the hat can be soaked in water to cool the hot cowboy. The v-shaped dip in front of the brim shields the eyes when riding into direct sunlight at certain times of the day, while leaving vision clear either side of it. And in the days of limited means of communication, waving your big hat was a way to signal across vast spaces. Stetsons are made of such a tight weave they can be used as a bucket as in the ad above.

And, finally, speaking of buckets, the term Ten Gallon Hat doesn't have anything to do with how much water a hat can hold. Can you imagine how large a hat that holds ten gallons would be? Try walking around with ten jugs of milk stacked on your head. The term probably comes from the corruption of the Spanish phrase tan galán, meaning something like "so handsome". Or more likely the name comes from the braids on Spanish-style called galóns. A hat with a brim wide enough for ten braids was a ten galón hat.

P.S., I'm not forgetting cowboy boots and belt buckles. I'm deliberately avoiding them for the moment.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Book Review: One Magic Night by Cheryl Pierson



An Independence Day picnic...

Will it prove to be more than a simple celebration?

At the Independence Day picnic, Katrina Whitworth meets an interesting, but completely unacceptable man. Even though Shay Logan is a doctor, Katrina’s father would never let her see him socially—Dr. Logan is Indian. Mr. Whitworth plans for his daughter to marry Jack Thompson, an acceptable suitor, and upstanding attorney. When Katrina’s father publicly raises his hand to her, the doctor does the unbelievable—he speaks up for her and protects her.

Dr. Shay Logan has returned from medical school to set up a practice he hopes will overcome racial problems, as the town badly needs a doctor. He hasn't counted on this young woman working her way into his heart and life so quickly—or the fact that he would be defending her against first her father, and then, the man she planned to marry.

My Review:

I used to not be a huge fan of short stories/novelettes (I always wanted more!!), but I adore insta-love stories when they're done right. Then I discovered that Cheryl Pierson knows how to deliver the kind of insta-love story I need and do it condensed into a novelette. I simply needed to let go and just fall into the story and believe that anything is possible, and that forever-love can be found and claimed in a single night (and allow my imagination to flow).

Katrina and Shay have a huge hurdle to jump over: prejudice in the town because of his Indian blood. But from the first glance, these two knew they found their missing halves. Throw in a little family drama, a little town gossip, some old-fashioned morals, and a little bit of glowing magic, and you got yourself a magical hea night.

Plus, knowing there's a little bit more of history to the story than just the author's imagination (think real life, people!) made this even more of a treasured read. 

Purchase Link:

With all the excitement and events going on surrounding Independence Day celebrations, this is a great story that's easily squeezed in when you need a quickie happy break.  Grab your copy today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

If reality was no option...

An interesting article came across my news feed last week: Why do you hate your job?

What intrigued me wasn't that most of us hate our jobs, it is called work, after all. No, what got my attention was the sudden realization that I didn't know whether the characters in my latest WIP hated their jobs—or what their dream job would be for those one of those days.

If you know me, you’ve know my escape-it-all job is to wait tables in a diner in a small Southern town on the coast or in the Keys. Over the years, I've had this discussion with a number of friends, who has 'dream' jobs ranging from ghost busters or wine tasters.

But I hadn't asked my characters. So I did. 

The hero of my current, if-I-every-finish-this-self-torture WIP has inherited the family’s small construction and renovation business. Yet he fantasizes about specializing in retrofitting green technology on home while living deep in a red state (most of his clients quietly ask for the retro and don’t want the neighbors to know—ha, ha)

When he wants to chuck it all, his dream job is to run river-rafting tours in Idaho.

Days later, I still don’t know how my heroine would escape. It’s driving me nuts. The job has to be borderline crazy, yet in complete keeping with her personality. She’s driven, ambitious, and likes people more in theory than in actuality. So waiting on tourists is not going to be her thing. Ha, ha.

But she’s not the type to hermit away either, even if she’s currently avoiding everyone in her home town as if she were in the witness protection program. I've come to the conclusion that she's not the type to ditch it all. She's the one who's going to dig in until it kills her.

What about you and the people in your heads? Do they dream of leaving it behind or would they dig in?

Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. She's attempting her hand at a contemporary, but it's not going so well. In fact, she's dug in and it will likely kill her. 

If you want to know more about her as an author, visit her Facebook page.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Yuma Territorial Prison- WOMEN INMATES

When the Yuma Territorial Prison was designed and constructed in 1876, the builders never contemplated women prisoners. The arrival of those 29 women over 30 years often caused chaos.

Unidentified female inmates-Yuma Territorial Prison

In 1878, Lizzie Gallagher became the first female prisoner at Yuma Territorial Prison. She began serving her sentence for manslaughter, but with no provision for female prisoners she was kept in solitary confinement. After just 42 days, Lizzie was pardoned and released.

Manuela Fimbres, gave birth to a baby boy in 1889 while serving time for accessory to murder. The baby stayed with her in the prison for 2 years after which she was pardoned because of concern for the child. Manuela proved to be a troublesome inmate, and for that reason the guards were happy to see her leave. However, they all missed the young child.

In 1893, a separate women's Ward was finally completed. The room was carved out of the Granite Hillside by inmate labor.

A women's yard was constructed on the west end of the ward for recreation, but was destroyed when Southern Pacific Railroad built a new rail line in 1922 that operates to this day.

Elena Estrada was in prison for a crime of passion she was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter, when she stabbed her unfaithful lover then cut open his chest, pulled out his heart, and threw the bloody mass into his face.

Maria Marino was imprisoned for the murder of her brother. Alfred Marino, age 15, did not like the way his sister, Maria, age 16 was dancing and told her to stop. Maria threatened to kill him, and Alfred said, “Kill me then!” So Maria got a shotgun and shot her brother in the face, killing him instantly.

Pearl Hart was probably the most famous female inmates. There is quite an attractive display about her in the prison museum.

Pearl's number in
Yuma Territorial Prison
Along with Joe Boot, she robbed the globe to Florence Stagecoach. She became a media sensation around the entire country.
She was sentenced to five years in Yuma.  She used her feminine wiles with both the prisoners and the guards alike, using her position as the only female at an all-male facility to her advantage in an effort to improve her situation. After serving three years of her sentence, Pearl Hart was released December 1902 after being pardoned by Arizona Territorial Governor Brodie. The reason for this pardon, given on the condition she leave the territory, is unclear.

(The photos are mine, but except for the information from Wikipedia, many of them were taken of display materials at the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. Most of the information in this blog post comes from the same source. If you missed last month's post about the Yuma Territorial Prison, you may read it by CLICKING HERE.)

Anyone who has not yet read my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series which takes place just on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Columbia and Sonora, you may enjoy my first two books in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series. You may find the first book in the series, Big Meadow Valentine, by CLICKING HERE, and the second book, A Resurrected Heart, by CLICKING HERE.

The third book, Her Independent Spirit, touches on Independence Day, 1884. More importantly, it touches on the efforts of two women in the gold mining town of Lundy to declare their own independence from their current circumstances. It also includes an event in Lundy’s history that changed the dynamics of the town from that point forward. You may find this book by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Anyone here a Bon Jovi fan? I AM! LOL I love his song “I’ll Be There for You”—I’ll try to include a link here before the end of the post. This is one saying that I see a LOT when I’m editing. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, I edit a LOT of historical fiction. I don’t remember ever hearing it “back in the dark ages” of the 1950’s and 1960’s…so I guess maybe the 70’s was when it got to be popular. The 1970’s, not the 1870’s, y’all. I don’t believe a knight would tell his lady he’d “be there” for her…at least not for another 500-800 years, or somewhere around that, anyhow.

Here’s another one that’s jarring to me—the use of “morph” for “change”—it reminds me of those wonderful days when my son Casey was a young boy and so, so crazy about the Power Rangers. Anyone remember them? They were popular in the 1990’s. Five teenagers—two girls and three boys— (later changed to a total of six) who had the power to change from mere teens to THE POWER RANGERS! How did they accomplish this? They gave each other meaningful looks and said, “It’s morphin’ time!” And with some fancy camera work, there they were, in their Power Ranger color-coded uniforms. All…morphed…

How about the response to “Thank you.”? Truly…can you picture a knight responding with “No problem.”? No…me either. Yet, sometimes that’s the response that crops up in historical manuscripts. It doesn’t matter how politely one responds, the response has not been invented or introduced into thought or speech patterns of that time.

Another simple one that turns up a lot in response to “How are you?” is … “I’m good.” When did this phrase come into existence? I don’t ever remember this being said until only in the last couple of decades. When talking about someone else—“He’s good to go.” No…you might hear that on Blue Bloods or Law and Order, but not so much in 1860’s Indian Territory.
"Marshal Tilghman, how are you today?" "I'm good."

Here are a couple of words that tend to creep in a lot—and shouldn’t—flashback and replay. Remember what these words are really saying, what they convey to people of this day and age who are reading the stories we’re writing. A medieval knight or a drifting cowboy will have no idea what “replaying something in his mind” even means—or that he’s having a “flashback” to when he was fighting at the battle of Honey Springs. Or that he’s “flashing back” to something that might have been a sweet memory in his early years. These characters are going to just be remembering, recalling, or thinking back to something… When you use this type of modern wording that refer to contemporary actions/equipment, it’s easy to pull readers out of the story. Because my husband is such a sports fan, I can’t hear or read the word “replay” without thinking of the sports connotation it carries. Flashback—this conjures up images of Hollywood movie scenes.
Let's see the replay on that!

“Well, it’s all about you, isn’t it?” This is one that creeps in every so often, too. It “being all about” one person or another—or NOT “being all about” them is something that should never, ever, ever show up in any kind of historical writing. It’s easy to do—these contemporary sayings are so normal to us we can’t imagine NOT using them in daily conversation—problem is, it’s our job to check and double check what our characters are saying. If we don’t, they go out into the world showing that we have not “brought them up” correctly.

That reminds me—do you know the difference between being “reared” and “raised”? The standard saying used to be that “Children are reared; livestock is raised.” Those lines have blurred in modern times. I still remember my mother talking about children being “reared” and her brother “raising” cattle. She was born in 1922, so I would say that distinction has faded only during my lifetime.

This is “picky” but it’s the sort of thing that readers will seize on—and there are certain word usages and phrases that will definitely pull me right out of a story that’s written in historical times, so I’m sure that’s true of others, as well.
These are a few of the many “uh-ohs” I see when I’m reading/editing. What are some you’ve come across?

If you are a FRIENDS tv show fan, you know that there is another “I’ll Be There for You” – the theme of the show by the Rembrandts. There’s also a Kenny Rogers song that uses that phrase. But I promised you Bon Jovi! Here he is singing “I’ll Be There for You”—a wonderful song to turn up loud and belt out when you’re driving…just remember, in historical fiction writing, we have to find another way to say this. Kinda makes me sad, but we have to wait for it to be invented.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Comanchero's Bride by Kaye Spencer – June #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePubs @PrairieRosePubs

The #blogabookscene theme for June is On the road again.  The travel excerpt below is from my western romance novel, The Comanchero's Bride. Mingo and Isabel are moments away from embarking upon a literal run for their lives from Albuquerque in the New Mexico Territory to the safety of Mexico's border.


Mingo guided Isabel across the yard to the barn then set about tightening the cinches, checking the ties around the bedrolls, shaking and pulling at the packhorse’s load, and making doubly sure the saddlebags and canteens were secure.

Over his shoulder, he said, “Slide your shotgun into the scabbard and tie your bags to the saddle or hang them over the saddle horn.” Hearing no movement, he glanced her way and saw that she stood beside her horse, staring at it.


“The saddle.”

He looked at it, then at her, and shrugged, motioning for her to mount. “, and that is your horse.”

“But I’ve never ridden on a saddle like that.”

Grinning, he swatted her rear playfully then gave her a leg up. “You will have a few hundred miles to practice.”

She made a face at him as she adjusted her reins and settled her feet in the stirrups. “Why didn’t you ride your palomino here?”

“I need him to be fresh when we cross the border. An old friend is looking after him.”

“You’ve mentioned this friend before.”

He heard the curiosity in her voice. “For now, it is best he remains just an old friend.”

“You’re keeping secrets from me?”

He didn’t hesitate. “I am, but it is for both your protection and his if I am arrested. If we are caught, you cannot be forced to reveal what you do not know, and he would be accused of interfering with the law. I will not jeopardize him and, until we meet at the border, it is better you do not know. I ask for your trust in this.”

She nodded. “You have my trust, always.”

He turned for the door, but stopped when she clutched his shoulder. Looking at her, what he saw in her eyes made him lay a hand on her knee, concerned...

The Comanchero's Bride is available on Amazon.
Print | eBook | KindleUnlimited

The Comanchero's Bride is also included in this boxed set.
Click HERE for more information.

July's Blog-a-Book-Scene theme: Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Until then,

Kaye Spencer

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Creativity (An 8-Part Series): Part VI - The Virgin and the Sacred Prostitute

By Kristy McCaffrey

Don't miss
Part I   - Imagination
Part II  - Domestication vs. Wildness
Part III - Shape-Shifting
Part IV - Forbearance
Part V  - Maiden/Mother/Crone

Both the virgin and the sacred prostitute archetypes create strong images and strong aversions. We all like the virgin, despite the implication of her naïveté. The prostitute? That couldn't possibly apply to us, right? And why include sacred before it? Isn't that a huge misappropriation of the underlying meaning of the word?

The virgin is best described as pregnant with possibilities. This is a self-contained energy, harboring all that's needed for creation to bloom forth. Virginity was revered because the energies of the body, the mind, and the spirit remained clean and untouched. Within this state, ideas can be nurtured without taint and corruption, much like a virgin forest contains all it requires to sustain itself. The dark side is the condemnation of the sensual side of life via a prudish disgust. To repress this energy is to stop the flow of creativity altogether. Celibate monks and nuns learn to channel their sexual energy rather than repress it.

The sacred prostitute is a form of psychic energy related to eros. It's an avenue of generating strong passion, which certainly applies to a sexual nature, but encompasses a broader context as a passion for creative endeavors. This archetype is related to ancient love goddesses such as Aphrodite, Isis, and Ishtar. This is not to be confused with the darker aspects of prostitution—sexual abuse, sexual addictions, rape, or any type of manipulation using sexual energy. The practice of sacred prostitution—the sharing of erotic energy to heal on physical, mental, and spiritual realms—brings transcendence. Many art-forms attempt to achieve this state.

Every woman has an aspect of the sacred prostitute within. The artist, when truly embodying her work, allows herself to be a conduit from the world of matter to the world of spirit, sharing herself with one and all. Her work lights the way for others.

According to Carolyn Myss, the prostitute archetype "engages lessons in integrity and the sale or negotiation of one's integrity or spirit due to fears of physical and financial survival or for financial gain." This universal archetype is related to selling one's talents and ideas, and how selling-out can trigger a downward spiral of self-esteem and self-respect. Anytime you consider shifting your faith from the Divine in the world to a physical satisfaction, the prostitute can be your greatest ally, keeping you on the path of highest enlightenment.

Works Cited
Beak, Sera. Red Hot & Holy: A Heretic's Love Story. Sounds True, Inc., 2013.

Myss, Carolyn. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. Harmony Books, 2001.

Don’t miss Part VII in the Creativity series: Synchronicity

Until next time…

Connect with Kristy

Monday, June 11, 2018

#blogabookscene ON THE ROAD AGAIN

I’m writing this as dh and I are preparing to travel for some Cowboy Action fun this weekend. We have it so easy—pack a suitcase, put everything in the truck and go when we’re ready. Three hours on the road and we’re in a different state. It’s nothing like it was in 1889 where those same 175 miles would have taken the better part of a week in a stagecoach or on horseback. To say nothing of sleeping on the ground and cooking over a campfire versus a hotel bed and room service.

Here’s a scene from my novel, WILD TEXAS HEARTS, where Wolf and his son, Calvin, are “on the road again.”

Dawn came, but only a generous man would have called it morning. Wolf knew the sun was up there somewhere, since there was light enough to see the ground, but that was all he would concede. They were a day out of Fort Elliott, too far to turn back. A steady rain had started in the very late hours of last night and it was still falling.

“Pa?” Calvin hunched under a gray rain slicker that was three sizes too big. “When’s it going to stop?”

Wolf held on to his temper, barely. “I’m not God, son, and that’s a decision only He gets to make. No use complaining about it. You’ll be just as wet and you’ll irritate your horse.” And me, he added, but not aloud. He didn’t want to upset his son. He was too damned grateful to have him back alive.

Calvin heaved a sigh and patted his horse’s neck. “Okay, Pa.” They rode in silence for another mile. “Pa?”

Wolf topped a small rise and pulled his horse to a stop to wait for Calvin to catch up. “What now, son?”

“I think Lightning needs to rest. I might be getting too heavy for her.”

His irritation evaporated. Wolf turned his face away so Calvin wouldn’t see his grin. His boy was not quite eight years old and as small as Wolf was big. “Well, if you think so, we’d better find a spot to stop for a while.” He scanned the landscape again. “There’s a small stream a couple of miles ahead. Can she make it that far?”

“Sure I ca-- I mean, she can.”

Looking over their back trail for any sign someone was following, Wolf checked the lead rope on the packhorse, then bumped his big chestnut mare in the ribs and set off down the hill with Calvin close behind. The trees that grew near the stream were too small to offer him any protection, but Calvin managed to ride under some of the higher branches, out of the rain. Wolf dismounted and lifted his son from the saddle just for the joy of holding him. Resisting the urge to hug him, Wolf set him on the ground. “Go on. I’ll see to Lightning.”

Calvin didn’t wait for a second invitation, but disappeared into the brush downstream, his slicker flying behind him. When he returned, Wolf was waiting to boost him back into the saddle. “We need to keep riding. There’s not enough cover for all of us.”

“Okay, Pa.” Calvin settled on the back of the chestnut filly that had been a gift from Jake McCain, the Texas Ranger responsible for rescuing his son from the killers who’d kidnapped him. Calvin leaned forward to pat the horse’s neck. “Come on, Lightning. We’ve still got some miles to cover.”

One heavy eyebrow rose as Wolf heard his son quote words he’d said many times in the months since they’d ridden away from Lucinda, Texas. Being on the trail was hard, and they didn’t cover many miles in a day, but Calvin’s company made for more laughter and sunshine, somehow. Wolf stretched tired muscles. He was ready to be home. How much more tired must a young boy be?

“We have enough supplies to keep us for a while yet, so we don’t have to go into town first. I expect we’ll be sleeping in our own beds in two or three more days.” Alone Wolf could have covered the distance from the fort to Civil in two days.

Calvin glanced at the sky, his face a mirror image of his mother. “Only three more nights on the ground.”

“Maybe less, if we get moving.”

The boy grinned at him, mischief sparkling in his eyes. “Then what are we doing standing here? You aren’t afraid of a little rain, are you Pa?” Without warning, he kicked his little mare into a gallop, splashing through the stream and racing away across open ground. Wolf swung into the saddle, dropped the packhorse’s lead rope and shot off in pursuit. The big horse overtook them in seconds, and Calvin squealed when Wolf scooped him from the saddle on the run.

See you the first Monday of next month!


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Book review: Walk the Promise Road by Anne Schroeder



Mary Rodgers has lost everything—or so she believes. Her entire family has been struck down with influenza, leaving her alone in the world—except for her cousin Philip. But Philip is bound for Oregon to meet up with Laurel, his fiancée, who’s waiting for him. Though Mary begs him to take her with him on the Oregon Trail, he resists. What would people think?

Mary’s plan is simple. They already share a last name. They will pose as husband and wife. The wagonmaster is a firm man—and if he finds out the truth, he’ll force them to marry, dashing Philip’s dreams of a life with Laurel. But Mary promises it will be their secret, and Philip can’t leave her behind after all she’s lost.

When Luke Sayer, their half-Indian trail scout, begins to spend evenings at their fireside, other travelers notice the obvious mutual attraction between him and Mary. Though Mary denies it, she struggles to keep her promise without bringing harm to either her dear cousin, Philip, who has risked everything for her—or to Luke, the love of her life.

Mary's grit and determination will see her through the hardships and sorrows she encounters, but Luke’s love will give her hope for the future as they WALK THE PROMISE ROAD…

“With exquisite details of wagon trains, women and the West, Anne Schroeder takes us on an authentic journey of love and hope giving us characters to cheer for and moments of meaning to cherish.” — Jane Kirkpatrick, Award-winning author of ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND.

"The most accurate novel I've ever read on the Trail." — Michael Smith, Oregon Trail Preservation Committee

My review:

Take a journey along the Oregon Trail and discover a piece of our American history in a new way. Walk the Promise Road reads almost like a journal that has been reformatted into an educational storybook with a splash of a love story. The meticulous work that Anne Schroeder put into the story to make us feel all the trials and hardships along with the moments of joy and relief really shines through.

Mary, when this is done we will have made a part of history. Your journal will be read by your children and theirs. Lives will be changed because of what we did out here. A new country will be formed. Have you thought about that?

While I've always had a special fondness of Oregon Trail stories, Lucas and Mary's story has something different with how the everyday events and unique trials and adventures are brought to life. Traveling westward to settle new lands definitely wasn't a glamorous expedition. I think I was just as relieved as the emigrants to finally arrive in Oregon City and find a soothing place to be restored and settled!

Maybe the trail is like life itself. If you knew what was in store up ahead, you might not even have the nerve to start, but having no choice, you do your best; and in the end, you triumph through your own grit.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

My home: deep porches, Billy Graham, Black Beard—we got pirates in NC! by Sarah J. McNeal #PrairieRosePub

I’m in transition right now…what to write next? I started off my writing career writing paranormal stories like The Legends of Winatuke trilogy and then the time travel story, The Violin followed by the beginning of my western series about the Wildings starting with the time travel western Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. I'm presently working of revisions for the Winatuke trilogy...let me rephrase that; I am rewriting the Winatuke trilogy. After I finish those revisions I am eager to get on to something new.

But where do I go from here? Among some of the ideas to which I have given thought, I’ve considered writing stories based here in my state of North Carolina. North Carolina has a colorful history ranging from pirates like Black Beard 
Black Beard's House in North Carolina

to Christian evangelists like Billy Graham. 
Rev. Billy Graham

We also have a unique southern culture that exists even here in Charlotte where people from other states have migrated in significant numbers over the last few decades and brought their culture with them. Charlotte wasn’t always metropolitan. In fact, it barely qualified as a city when my family first arrived back in 1952.

One element that has been present from the beginning is deep front porches, not those modern narrow porches in recent times that are supposed to represent deep porches, but the real thing. Porches were our social media. 

Families used to sit on their porches after supper and visit with friends, some of whom were just passing by on the sidewalk out front. Neighbors would share in the wonder of fireflies and the constellations as the kids played games in the yard. Sweet tea or lemonade loaded with ice quenched the thirst of the occupants of the porches as they shared news and gossip. Soft drinks original to the south like Cheerwine or Royal Crown Cola were sometimes served after my generation came along.

To deter the mosquitoes that are quite the nuisance in the hot, humid summers here, and to provide a cool breeze, people installed ceiling fans on the porch ceilings or used hand held fans—the same kind of fans used in church with a broad cardboard attached to a wooden stick. In church the fans usually had the face of Jesus or a person from the bible like Moses printed on the cardboard. Air conditioning was not a staple in the 1950’s like it is now.

Southerners talk with an accent and they use some words unique to the south. It's a slower, easier way of talking than my northern relatives use. But don't let that smooth molasses accent fool you; the south is filled with innovative people, artists, musicians, and thriving businesses. Duke University and Carolinas Medical Center are leaders in the medical community. Charlotte is the second largest banking city in the U.S.

North Carolina has its fair share of famous celebrities who were born and raised in North Carolina and those who have made immense contributions and accomplishments both personally and professionally. 

Famous people from North Carolina:

The Oscar winning Julianne Moore, 
Julianne Moore, Actress

the hilarious Zach Galifianakis and the gorgeous Ava Gardner, were all born in North Carolina. The state is particularly renowned for creating remarkable musicians such as Grammy winner Roberta Flack, Max Roach, Eric Church, Ron Milsap, and others. The state has produced several athletes as well such as NBA player Chris Paul, Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard, and baseball player James ‘Catfish’ Hunter. The controversial Edward Snowden also hails from North Carolina.
Edward Snowden

Famous Literary Writers:

Thomas Wolfe
O. Henry
David Sedaris
Charles Frazier
Reynolds Price

Novelist, Nicolas Sparks

Singer, Roberta Flack

Attorney General for President Obama, Loretta Lynch

 So, I'm giving a great deal of consideration to writing stories from my home state. I can't imagine how comfortable it might be to write about the things I am familiar with in my stories.

Do you write stories that take place in your home state? If you wrote about stories that take place in places that are unfamiliar to you, how would feel about doing that? Would it be easy, uncomfortable, or maybe exciting doing research for such a project? What would be your first choice of states in which to place your story if it weren't your own state?

The Violin, my first time travel story, starts off in North Carolina.

THE VIOLIN (time travel/paranormal novel)

by Sarah J. McNeal

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner who died from downing inside the case, she realizes he is the man in her dreams.
She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he came to drown that day. Little does she know how her own life will be tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927.

She heard him take in a slow breath before he spoke to her in a more relaxed, quiet tone. "I beg your pardon, miss, I didn't mean to curse. What's your name?" The younger man’s voice soothed her as he knelt beside the couch where she lay. He wrung out a cloth in the bowl of water beside his knee, folded it, and applied it to Genevieve's brow.
"My name is Genevieve Beaumont. I was just standing at the window and now…I'm here." She lifted a shaky hand to her brow. "My head is pounding."
"You bumped your head when you fainted. Is that a French name?"  He lifted a quizzical brow and smiled.
She lifted her eyes and got a good, close-up look at him then. Her heart almost stopped beating in her chest. She sucked in a deep breath. What was happening to her? How could any of this be possible? The man holding the cool cloth to her head was the man in the pictures she found in the violin case!
She would not have guessed he had auburn hair, or that his eyes were such a vivid, bottle green. He wore a collarless, khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up and suspenders instead of a belt held up his tan, canvas trousers. Oh, but he was handsome—so much more than his pictures ever allowed. She didn't have time to admire the young man's good looks because her mind swirled round and round with the unfathomable implications of her situation.
Excerpt 2:
The music began again and the carousel began to move.  Slowly, Genevieve’s horse began its first ascent.  Her dress rose above her knees in the breeze created by the movement but she didn’t care.  She felt free and filled with golden happiness.
John stood watching her with his hand clasped gently, sensuously around her ankle.  When her horse descended, John let his hand slide up to her knee.  He gazed at her in that way he had earlier that day when she met him on the road.  His eyes were dark green and filled with mystery and something that looked like longing.  He bent his head and kissed her knee tenderly just as he had in her dream.  The electrifying feel of his full mouth on her sensitive flesh sent heat to her very core.  She shook her head as the moment of déjà vu passed over her.
With his hand still resting on her knee, John lifted his head and kept his eyes pinned to hers as she ascended once again.  As her horse began to lower her toward him, John reached up and clasped the back of her head to pull her toward him.  She leaned forward and met his kiss with a racing heart.  His kiss told her more than his words ever could that he was falling in love with her.  It was bittersweet knowledge to know it, to feel it.  They had so little time left.
“This was my dream,” she said barely audible over the music.
“I know.”  He ran his hand back down her leg to her ankle and kissed her on the lips once again…

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