Search This Blog

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New Release -- INNOCENT AS SIN (The Innocents Mystery Series) (Volume 2) by C. A. Asbrey

Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy are just doing their job—robbing a bank! But when Nat sees Pinkerton agent Abigail MacKay is already there, he knows something isn’t right. Is she on the trail of The Innocents again, or has she turned up in Everlasting, Wyoming, by coincidence?
Abi can’t believe her bad luck! Nat and Jake are about to make her true identity known, and botch the undercover job she has carefully prepared for—a job she’s been working on for months. When Jake discovers she’s cooperating with a sadistic bounty hunter who never brings in his prisoners alive, he suspects Nat might be the next target. How could Abi betray them like this?
On top of everything else, someone has dumped a frozen corpse after disguising it as a tramp. The town is snowed in and the killer isn’t going anywhere, but can Abigail’s forensic skills solve the murder before anyone else is killed? Abi and Nat manage to admit their feelings for one another, but will that be enough to overcome the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the law?  
The Innocents and Abigail MacKay must work together to solve the murder case, but they’re still best enemies. It’s an emotional standoff, and they’re all INNOCENT AS SIN…


     It took another half-hour before Jake saw her neat, feminine figure approaching, her light blue dress standing out against the sun-parched dust of the streets. By this time, his breath came in rapid, shallow pants until his fingers prickled and his head spun. The everyday sounds of the town swamped his senses until they crashed around his skull in an echoing cacophony. Her voice reverberated, unusually strident and harsh, echoing between the screaming and shouting from years ago in his head.
     "Jake?" Abigail's eyes darted around drinking in the surroundings, looking for danger. Why greet her openly in the street, near her gate? His glazed eyes sparkled and the pupils looked enormous, but he didn’t seem drunk.
     "Abi, come with me. It's urgent."


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bad Girls, Bad Girls Whatcha Gonna Do? Ladies of the Wild Bunch Gang, Part 1. Etta Place

Since my current work in progress involves outlaws and the women who ran with them, I've been researching the members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. Interesting characters indeed, but their female consorts are just as interesting, if not more so. I thought I'd write one single post about them, but their own stories are so rich, I'm take them in parts. We'll look at Etta Place, Laura Bullion, and the Bassett sisters, Ann and Josie separately.
Facts to keep in mind:
The Wild Bunch core members consisted of Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker), the Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh), Elzy Lay, the Tall Texan (Ben Kirkpatrick), News (Will) Carver, Camila "Deaf Charlie" Hanks, Laura Bullion, Flat-Nose (George) Curry, Kid Curry (Harvey Logan), and Bob Meeks.
The Outlaw Hideouts: Places  to shelter strung out along the outlaw trail where different gangs could rest, restock ammunition, and refresh horses. Place such as Hole-in-the-Wall, Robbers Roost, and Brown's Park. Often there was a give and take between the outlaws and the surrounding ranchers.

As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, because a classmate's father worked on the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we were treated to a showing of that film every year from late grade school to jr. high. One of the results of those repeated screenings was that The Wild Bunch became my gate-way drug to a more serious addiction to all things western, and I am always delighted to return to this topic.

The "Wedding Picture" of the Sundance Kid and Etta Place. Later this picture would be used on "Wanted" posters to identify Etta

If you look up Etta up on Wikipedia, you find this information on her birth and death: "c 1878-?" Which about sums her up. Her life is bracketed in uncertainty and speculation. Nobody knows where she came from or where she went post Sundance, though in contrast the years between 1900 and 1907 are well documented as the Pinkerton Detective Agency was on the case enlisted by the Union Pacific railroad who'd had it with being robbed.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency's description of her says, "Classic good look, 27 or 28 years old, 5'4' to 5'5" in height, weighing between 110 and 115 lbs, with medium build and brown hair." It was reported by those who met her that she spoke in a refined and educated manner.

Another fun fact: she was one of only five women allowed into the hideout Robbers Roost in Utah.

We can also thank Pinkerton's for her name. Because it wasn't Etta but Ethel (...sometimes). When the first "Wanted" posters with her picture went up in South America, her name went from Ethel to Etta when a detective misheard her name spoken with the local accent.

And, Place was probably not her real surname. Longabaugh sometimes used the alias Harry Place, Place being his mother's maiden name.

There are various rumors of her origin. One says she left her two children and school teacher husband for Longabaugh, or that she was a school teacher herelf. Another version is that she was a prostitute from Texas who had relations with both Butch and Sundance.

Madame Fannie Porter ran a bordello in San Antonio frequented by the Wild Bunch. One prostitute there, Madeline Wilson, is sometimes put forth as Etta. Madeline was originally from England (thus the refined speaking manner) and disappears from the census after Butch and Sundance left the area. Another prostitute, Ethel Bishop, from a neighboring establishment is another likely candidate. She was an unsuccessful music teacher which reflects back on the stories where a school teacher is mentioned, and she has the right first name.

The infamous Fortworth Five picture, which helped identify gang members and went straight onto "Wanted" posters, necessitating the disbanding of the Wild Bunch. Sundance on the lower left, Butch Cassidy on the lower right. Note to outlaws: When on the run, don't stop to have your picture taken--even if everyone is having a good hat day at the same time.

Here's what we do know about Etta. In 1901 Longabaugh and Etta went to New York City. They had a photo taken and sent copies of it to friends and relatives, announcing their marriage (though if they were legally married or not is not known). Longabaugh wrote a friend that he "married a girl from Texas he had previously known." Sadly, when a copy of this picture got in the hands of the Pinkertons it was used to identify Etta and put on "Wanted" posters.

Not long afterwards, Etta, Sundance, and Butch set off for Argentina where they bought a ranch and tried to go straight. Under a new act, women were allowed to purchase land in Argentina for the first time, and Etta Place was the first woman to buy land there, which is an awesome fact to know. Reportedly, she was very happy on the ranch and kept it very clean and homey according to visiting neighbors.

Unfortunately, the long arm of the law was able to stretch all the way to South America, and  Pinkerton's were on to them. This could be because Sundance and Etta made a couple of trips back to the states. They went to visit his family in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City. They managed to fit in travel to such unexpected places as Coney Island and the St. Louis Fair as well as a couple of mysterious trips for medical reasons. All this to-ing and fro-ing  attracted the attention of the Pinkerton detectives, who also intercepted a letter from Sundance to his sister and were thus able to track them back to their ranch. Sadly, it was the Kid's devotion to his family back home that brought his downfall.

After that, it was back to bank robberies and life on the run. Etta even took place in one bank heist and it was reported in the newspaper she was a great shot. At this point Etta decided she'd had enough of this life and Sundance accompanied her back to San Francisco where he left her before returning to South America (sob), a six month round trip for him. There is no evidence they ever saw each other again, which breaks my heart because, bank robbers though they were, they did seem to have a solid relationship.

Then in 1909 Butch and Sundance were surrounded in their boarding house by soldiers in a dusty town in Bolivia. After an exchange of fire, the soldiers found both men dead in the house. It appeared the mortally wounded Sundance had been shot between the eyes by Cassidy, who then turned the gun on himself. That was the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (...or was it?*). It's at this point Etta Place walks off the pages of history.

Again, there are as many theories of her end as there are of her origins. She was variously reported as committing suicide, being shot and killed in a domestic dispute in South America, turning up as a school teacher in Colorado, marrying a wealthy South American landowner, and as well as turning up again in Texas and running a brothel of her own under the name Eunice Gray. Not that Eunice, who died in a house fire at an old age, ever claimed to be Etta, but they had similar stories of having to spend time in South America at about the same time. But photographs found of Eunice didn't match Etta.

The most interesting theory is that Etta Place was really Ann Bassett, who we will talk about in detail in the a later post. Ann and her sister Josie lived on a ranch near the hideout Brown's Park and both sisters were girlfriends of Wild Bunch gang members (there was some fluidity of romantic relations within the gang as we will find out later.)

The woman look very much alike. The Pinkerton's description of Ann is almost the same given for Etta. In this theory it is noted that whenever Ann disappeared from Brown's Park for a time, Etta showed up with Butch and Sundance somewhere else.

In modern times, Dr. Thomas G. Kyle of a computer research group used existing photos of the two women and enhanced them for comparison. He stated the women were almost certainly the same person. He also found what he thinks is a scar or cowlick in the same spot on their hairlines.

Ann Bassett on the left, Etta on the right.

So, this theory is sounding pretty convincing except at an important point the Superman/Clark Kent act falls apart. Ann Basset was getting married back in the states and subsequently getting herself arrested for cattle rustling at a time the Pinkertons knew Etta was in Argentina.

Plus, Ann, who later wrote her memoirs, never mentioned spending a considerable amount of time in South America, or having had an intimate relationship with the Sundance Kid. And, by the way, there is only one known image of Etta where her face is seen clearly--and photos can be funny things.

Where did Etta go? Who was she? I'm not an historian. I'm just a person sitting at her computer, but if you ask me I think Etta was Ethel Bishop, the prostitute/failed music teacher in Texas. It not a stretch to think that Ethel Bishop like many a bride took (one of ) the last names of her new husband and became Ethel Place. And, her prostitute past isn't something the young lady would want to broadcast. It was noted that the couple visited his family in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, but there is no mention of them visiting her family, which makes me speculate her past wasn't something she wanted to revisit. I think she took she money from the sale of the ranch and the last bank robbery, which was considerable, changed her name, and kept out of trouble for the rest of her life.

One final possible sighting took place in 1909 when a woman matching Etta's description showed up at the US Vice Consul in Chili and asked if she could have a copy of Longabaugh's death certificate, but it was not available so she left empty-handed. I wonder if she ever got over him?

So, what do you think? Comparing the images above, do you think Etta and Ann were one in the same?

Next up: Laura Bullion

*There were those who say rumors of their death in Bolivia are greatly exaggerated. Some say the two Americans killed that day were not Butch and Sundance. The bodies were not positively identified by Bolivian authorities (remember there was no death certificate when the mystery woman came to claim it). The outlaws may have been happy to see that rumor spread as they could finally escape the law. Rumors of Butch living to an old age under an assumed name persist. Even Josie Bassett, who we will talk about later, claims Butch paid her a visit after the South American incident. In modern times there have been attempts to exhume bodies placed in unmarked graves in the cemetery in Bolivia, armed with DNA from surviving relatives, but to date no matches have been found. So for those of you looking for a happily ever after, I'm throwing that out there. By this time I have read more stories claiming Butch and Sundance went on to live under assumed names than I can count, and some of them have Etta and Sundance going off together. So, your guess is as good as anyone else's. I know what I'm going to choose to believe (wink). 
Wouldn't you like to imagine the Sundance Kid in Chili telling Etta, "You go over to the Vice Consul and get my death certificate so we can get the law off our backs once and for all. I'll meet you in the cantina across the road here."? HEA!

You can find my books on Amazon

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review: The Second-Best Ranger in Texas by Kathleen Rice Adams




His partner’s grisly death destroyed Texas Ranger Quinn Barclay. Cashiered for drunkenness and refusal to follow orders, he sets out to fulfill his partner’s dying request, armed only with a saloon girl’s name.

Sister María Tomás thought she wanted to become a nun, but five years as a postulant have convinced her childhood dreams aren’t always meant to be. At last ready to relinquish the temporary vows she never should have made, she begs the only man she trusts to collect her from a mission in the middle of nowhere.

When the ex-Ranger’s quest collides with the ex-nun’s plea in a burned-out border town, unexpected love blooms among shared memories of the dead man who was a brother to them both.

Too bad he was also the only man who could have warned them about the carnage to come.

My Review:

OHH!! Kathleen Rice Adams is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical western authors -- and so far I've just read her shorter stories. I can't wait to see how she sweeps me away with one of her full-length novels! She's got the knack of sweeping me away into the story, the words chosen building a world around me that kept me enthralled.

I was smitten with Quinn from the minute I met him; despite his grieving the loss of his best friend and partner he was still making me laugh. And then when Quinn met Maria? Ohhh! His presence continued to fill the room - all manly and bossy and larger than life. Maria quickly learned just what kind of man she tangled with and gave as good as she got - she was no fainting flower - and I loved it! The sparks kept sizzling between them. It was a pleasure experiencing them falling in love and honoring a beloved friend's request in more ways than one.

Even though the stories are different, in my mind's eye, I kept picturing Clint Eastwood's Two Mules for Sister Sarah while I was with Quinn and Maria -- the hardened man with the nun, the setting, the quips, the intrigue/mystery/danger, the soundtrack -- it still all kinda worked together to bring this story even more to life.

Purchase link:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Update — ONE SNOWY KNIGHT by Deborah Macgillivray

Beautiful Skena MacIain, Lady of Craigendan, is on the verge of losing everything she holds dear. With her husband killed at the battle of Dunbar, and the men of Craigendan slain or captured, her small holding is protected by only the women, young boys, and old men who are left. A neighboring chieftain has set his sights on Skena, and she fears that he’ll take Craigendan by force during this coming Yuletide season. Skena needs a miracle, a wish-come-true granted by Cailleach, the Lady of Winter…but things are never so easy as just making a wish…
When Skena’s young son and daughter find a wounded knight in a blinding snowstorm, she fights against the hope she begins to feel. They’ve wished for a protector—but can Noel de Servian be that man? As Skena nurses the handsome warrior back to health, even she begins to believe he might be the salvation for her little keep…and more, he might hold the key to her heart.  In a season of joy, Skena soon learns he carries a dark secret that could shake her home—and her heart—to the very core...
"A sexy captive/captor romance. . .well done!" —Romantic Times on In Her Bed
"Like a bard of old, Macgillivray spins a tale of knights and ladies, myth and magic." —Romantic Times on A Restless Knight

Now available in Trade Paperback


Deborah and One Snowy Knight on The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace.

Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yuma Territorial Prison- INMATE CRAFTS

After hours, the inmates were allowed to produce crafts which were sold or traded at a monthly craft fair that was open to the public. A share of the profit was saved and given to the inmate when he left the prison.

The following is from the Arizona Sentinel, February 6th, 1892.

Some very fine lace is also made, which commands their prices. The money received from the sale of these articles is placed to the credit of the prisoners, who, in many cases, accumulate quite a handsome sum of money by the time their term of imprisonment expires.

A lifer, who spent most of his sentence at the Yuma Territorial Prison for murdering a man. C. E. Hobart spent most of his days making adobe and quarry rock to build a new prison cell. He was put in solitary confinement numerous times for violating prison rules and tried to escape twice. But during his free time, Hobart knitted beautiful lace.

Left, C. E. Hobart, #1113

Infant dress with knit lace yoke and sleeves
Top: Knit piano scarf; bottom: knitting needle used to make lace.
Also from the Arizona Sentinel, February 6, 1892.

During their leisure moments, their prisoners are permitted to work for themselves. They carve many beautiful bits in onyx, many of them very useful as well as ornamental.

(The photos are mine. However, 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 May’s post about the Yuma Territorial Prison, you may read it by CLICKING HERE.) If you missed June’s post about women inmates, 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, July 12, 2018

New Release -- One Snowy Knight (Dragons of Challon Book 3) by Deborah Macgillivray


Beautiful Skena MacIain, Lady of Craigendan, is on the verge of losing everything she holds dear. With her husband killed at the battle of Dunbar, and the men of Craigendan slain or captured, her small holding is protected by only the women, young boys, and old men who are left. A neighboring chieftain has set his sights on Skena, and she fears that he’ll take Craigendan by force during this coming Yuletide season. Skena needs a miracle, a wish-come-true granted by Cailleach, the Lady of Winter…but things are never so easy as just making a wish…


When Skena’s young son and daughter find a wounded knight in a blinding snowstorm, she fights against the hope she begins to feel. They’ve wished for a protector—but can Noel de Servian be that man? As Skena nurses the handsome warrior back to health, even she begins to believe he might be the salvation for her little keep…and more, he might hold the key to her heart.  In a season of joy, Skena soon learns he carries a dark secret that could shake her home—and her heart—to the very core...

"A sexy captive/captor romance. . .well done!" —Romantic Times on In Her Bed

"Like a bard of old, Macgillivray spins a tale of knights and ladies, myth and magic." —Romantic Times on A Restless Knight


    “By the blessed lady, he must be the rider of the horse.” Was he even alive? Skena knelt beside the still body, and with her freezing hands swept the snow from his face.
     As she brushed off the slope of the second cheek, a small gasp came from her lips; she stared, transfixed by his beautiful countenance. Never had she seen a more perfect man. The wavy brown hair was not a dark shade, not light, though made a measure deeper from the wet snow. He had a beautiful chin, strong, yet not too square. Angus’s face had been pleasant, but his jaw looked as if it had been carved from a block of wood. This man’s showed strength, character, yet there was a sensual curve that caused her to run her thumb over his nearly clean-shaven cheek. No face hair. Norman? Her hand stilled as a shiver crawled up her spine, one that had naught to do with the cold. Dismissing that concern, she swept the snow from his neck and shoulders. She rather liked that she could see his features; it allowed his perfection to show clearly. Nice strong brows, not bushy like Angus. And lips…so carnal, a woman would wonder what it would feel like to taste them, crave to discover such mysteries for herself. Surely, this man was touched by the blood of the Sidhe; only one blessed by magic could be so lovely formed, a man possessed of the power to lure a woman into darkest sin, nary a thought of the risk to her soul.
     She jerked back slightly at the odd notions filling her mind, a yearning that had never come before. Still, there was no time to fritter away on such nonsense. Trembling in alarm, she feared he might be dead. Great anguish arose within her that one so beautiful would have his life cut short. As she touched his neck, she felt the throb of his blood. Faint. So very faint. Relief filled her heart at that small flicker of life. She had to get him to Craigendan and warm his blood or he might not survive. Even then, it would be a fight to save him. How long had he been lying in the snow? In the fading light it was clear his skin was grey, his lips tingeing blue.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Michael Atkinson – American artist by Kaye Spencer #prairierosepubs #americanartist #oldwestart

WESTERN MAJESTIC by Michael Atkinson
In the early 1990s on one of my visits home to Fort Morgan, Colorado from where I’d moved to take a teaching position in the far southeastern corner of the state (a 500-mile round trip), I stopped in Limon, Colorado at a convenience store/souvenir shop. The shop had a bin of posters and prints. This is where I came across my first Michael Atkinson painting. I was immediately enthralled, captivated, and in love with Atkinson’s work.

This print is the first one I purchased.

 For the next several years, I checked that same shop for Atkinson's prints every time I passed through town. I also looked in shopping malls, other souvenir shops, second hand stores, etc. Every time I found an Atkinson, I felt as if I held a treasure in my hands. It mattered not at all that the prints I bought weren’t originals or even expensive. Keep in mind, I was scrounging for his works just as the Internet launched (1991), and years before eBay (1995) and Amazon (1994) started. It took these venues a few more years to gain their current popularity and convenience for finding what you want at the click of a few keyboard strokes.

EMERALD LAKE by Michael Atkinson

PUEBLO SENTINEL by Michael Atkinson
UNKNOWN TITLE by Michael Atkinson
So, who is Michael Atkinson? He is an American artist who paints and sculpts, and I *think* he was born in 1946. He lived in the Lubbock, Texas area when he was a youngster (maybe he still does). A few years ago, there was a Michael Atkinson art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Neither a Twitter or Facebook search resulted in more than passing mention of his works. These two websites, and offer a tiny bit more about him.

From his Smoky Ridge studio in Texas, Atkinson seeks to capture the emotion, be it subtle or exaggerated, a pursuit that has been in evolution since he started painting as a child in the northwest Texas town of Lubbock. Attracted early to the study of architecture, he earned a degree from Texas Tech University, then taught and worked in the field for a time.

From the first, his art, prints and posters have reflected his training, experience, and wide-ranging interests, as he creates images buildings, oceanscapes, animals, and Southwestern landscapes through a unique, semi-abstract style and a mastery of watercolors, spontaneity, and freedom.

White space is an essential element of the composition that characterizes Atkinson's art, prints and posters. The white is not empty. It is completely finished. Treating the paper as an element of design, the artist works from one concentrated area of detail and color, leaving much of the paper white and allowing the eye to focus on the central image without intrusion from the periphery.

The other source of information I have about Atkinson is this paper that is attached to the backs of several of my prints. None of my prints have dates on them, so the ‘seven years ago’ is meaningless without a year as a point of reference. You’ll notice this information is stamped with Diversified Art, Inc., Tucson Arizona, but an Internet search didn't offer much.

I have a Pinterest board of Michael Atkinson’s artwork, and I all of the prints I've shared today hang on my living room walls. I'm content with that. Here is the link to my Michael Atkinson Pinterest board:

UNKNOWN TITLE by Michael Atkinson


by Michael Atkinson

I’ve labeled three of the pictures as “Untitled”, because they bore no titles when I purchased them, and I haven’t found them on the Internet. But I’ll continue to search. That’s part of the enjoyment of having a reason to browse through Michael Atkinson’s works. *wink*

Are you familiar with his works? Do you know anything more about him? Take a moment to browse my Michael Atkinson Pinterest board. You'll be amazed at how many diverse pieces of artwork he has. There are at least two other Michael Atkinson Pinterest boards to enjoy, also.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

YouTube Channel

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Creativity (An 8-Part Series): Part VII - Synchronicity

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
Part VI - The Virgin and the Sacred Prostitute

Synchronicity is a meaningful convergence of inner and outer experiences. Carl Jung coined the word synchronicity to describe the profound significance of coincidence in our lives. Author Sera Beak describes them as 'Divine winks'. Poets and mystics speak of it when they say, "As above, so below." The world is a playground in which to bring forth ideas from the other, known by many names—heaven, inspiration, God, inner self. Creative flow is unlocked when we navigate the world via coincidence.

The world is alive around you, responding to your thoughts and intentions, with none other than synchronicity. In creative endeavors, this can lead to the right path if you can trust in the process. I've experienced this in my fiction writing. The sooner I can focus my story, the better, because then pertinent information seems to flow toward me from all directions. The key, of course, is to be open to the method. Sometimes, the material isn't what I thought it should be. In resisting, I often come up frustrated and empty-handed.

I encountered synchronicity while writing this series on creativity. (Along with a fair number of bird feathers appearing at every turn, a sign I took to mean I was on the right path and the muses were happy with me.) At first, I had an ambitious idea to write about the creative process. I had no idea where to start. I've read so many wonderful books relating to this, but how was I going to compress this into something usable and short? The first step was to take a leap of faith.

And to practice that faith again, and again, and again. I didn't know all the answers, but as I moved forward with intention, the material came to me, either sprouting directly into my mind (the whispers of angels, as some would say) or through a book I came across, or a conversation with someone, or a link I found on social media. The key is to begin moving. Remaining still slows the process. The avenues for synchronicity are endless. And to those who say they don't happen to them—you're simply not paying attention. They happen everywhere, and everywhen.

Be open. Compartmentalizing life can cut the flow of symbolic relations from finding you. Learning can happen at any time, not when you deem it time.

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

Moss, Robert. The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence & Imagination. New World Library, 2007.

Don’t miss Part VIII in the Creativity series: Magic

Until next time…

Connect with Kristy

Monday, July 9, 2018


You know what I love about July 4th? No, not the fireworks—I’ve never been a big fan, unless it’s the big displays exploding overhead. My favorite memories are of the picnics in the park, with the band in the shell and baseball games on the field next door.  Riding my bike through the park, listening to the laughter, meeting up with my friends… the community celebration is what I loved most about July 4th growing up. 

In the old West, the community would celebrate in a similar way. There’d be a band, speeches from politicians and prominent citizens, maybe a basket auction to raise money for a new school or a bell for the church steeple. There might be games for the kids—and the adults—like sack races and horse races. And after the playing and the speaking and the eating, the musicians would tune up for the dancing. 

Yes, I think the celebrations, even in the old West, were all about community and fun.

In WILD TEXAS HEARTS, Wolf Richards returns to Civil just in time for the celebration in the park. He joins the festivities, meets up with friends and sees a beautiful woman he’s never met go dancing by in the arms of the town’s teacher. While he’s wondering where his son and Lizzie are, the doctor takes the next dance with the beauty—and Wolf finally realizes who he’s looking at.


Wolf only paused long enough to turn his horse over to Malcolm Douglas at the livery. Flipping an extra two bits to the man to unsaddle and groom the gelding, he strode back into the sunshine, knowing his horse would be well cared for.
He could hear the fiddlers warming up by the time he joined the crowd at the schoolhouse. He greeted friends as he made his way past the tables loaded down with baskets of food waiting to be auctioned off, but he hadn’t yet spotted Cal or Lizzie.
“Richards! Over here.”
Wolf joined Harvard in the shade of a big tree.
“I wondered when you’d arrive. Cal has been watching for you since daybreak.”
“Pa! You made it.” Calvin came running around the schoolhouse, loose shirttails fanning the hot afternoon air behind him. Wolf snagged the flying body and spun his son in a circle, hugging him close.
“I promised I’d be here, didn’t I?”
“That’s what Miss Lizzie said, that you gave your word and you’d keep it no matter what. And. You. Did!” He huffed out the words as Wolf gave him another squeeze.
Wolf dropped Cal on his feet and ruffled his hair. “I do my best, son. Happy birthday, Cal.” With a flourish, he held out the new book he’d bartered from a cowboy at the last trading post he’d visited.
“Thanks, Pa. I’ve never read this one.”
“That’s why I got it for you.” He ruffled his son’s hair.
“Miss Lizzie gave me this.” He pulled a brightly painted toy from his pocket. “She whittled it and painted it and everything.”
Wolf glanced around to see if anyone was close enough to hear Cal’s slip. “That’s really nice, Cal. Where is Mister Sutter? I haven’t seen him yet.”
Cal’s grin widened and he nudged Harvard, as if the two shared a secret. “Oh, he’s around back, I imagine.” Before Wolf could question him further, one of the other boys called Cal back to their game of hoops.
“What was that all--”
“You haven’t seen the decorations around the park, have you? Millicent and the celebration committee have outdone themselves.” Harvard strolled away, ignoring Wolf’s question.
Something was definitely going on.
The half-acre of flat, open land behind the schoolhouse had been transformed. A large plank floor had been assembled for the dancing, with a raised platform at one end currently occupied by two men Wolf didn’t recognize, tuning their fiddles, Mr. Petersen holding a long saw across his knees, and Sheriff Freeman, who always had the job of calling the dances and controlling the raucous basket auction. The entire area was edged with a railing made of freshly cut tree branches wrapped in red, white, and blue bunting, befitting the day.
Wolf accepted the glass of punch Audelia Mercer insisted he try and followed Harvard around the structure. He spotted Calvin in the middle of a knot of boys, but he still couldn’t find Lizzie. He wanted to see her, needed to know how she’d fared being in town under Millicent’s watchful eye for a more than a month.
Folks took their places as the fiddlers struck up a lively reel. Carruthers strutted by, his collar so stiff he couldn’t turn his head to his partner, a lovely woman Wolf didn’t recognize. The man looked dumbstruck with awe. Who would have thought the schoolmaster would have snagged a woman in this little town? As the dance got underway, Wolf watched the couple parade past, the woman watching her feet carefully as if she wasn’t quite sure of her steps. Something about her seemed familiar, but he was certain they’d never met.
“Who is that with Carruthers?”
Harvard grinned at him. “You know her.”
“I don’t. A man doesn’t forget a woman that beautiful.”
Harvard threw back his head and laughed like a braying mule. “This evening is going to be entertaining.” He slapped Wolf on the shoulder. “Excuse me. This is my dance.”
As the music changed to a waltz, Harvard relieved Carruthers of his partner, took the woman in his arms and started moving. Her sunny yellow skirt flared as they turned and the setting sun made her hair glimmering with all the colors of autumn. Just like Lizzie’s. Where was the woman anyway?
As Wolf watched the couple, something Harvard said made his dance partner laugh, and the sound hit him like a punch to his gut.
That was Lizzie!                    

See you next month!