The Lawless Indian Territory

I’m so excited to have THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY out in one week. This is Book #2 Men of Legend and features Houston Legend and I think it’s my best novel yet.

Houston is hard at work on the ranch books one Monday when his father comes in and announces that he gambled away ½ of the Lone Star Ranch. Over 200,000 acres is gone just like that in one hand of cards.

But…Houston can get it back for them. All he has to do is marry the daughter of the new owner and give her baby a name.

Despite anger and resentment toward his father, he does. And so this marriage of convenience story is off and running and he settles into a tenuous relationship with Lara Boone–a woman he’d never met.

Two weeks following the ceremony, he decides to take a large herd of longhorns up the Great Western Trail to Dodge City where he can get triple the money. At the last minute, his cook quits and Lara steps into the job.

This story is full of danger and suspense with an unfolding love story woven throughout. They’re beset by a group of outlaws in Indian Territory and the outcome appears uncertain.

Most of the story is set in Indian Territory. So what exactly was it?

Its wild, untamed land that eventually became Oklahoma. The federal government set the land aside for the five civilized native tribes to live on—Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. The only law other than Indian was a handful of U.S. Marshals, but they were stretched mighty thin.

Indian Territory became a place to hide for outlaws, train robbers, and murderers. They could ride into the neighboring states, commit their crimes, and ride back to safety. And they did that for a lot of years until Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

Until it became a state, Judge Isaac Parker ruled over this territory. He in turn appointed a few U.S. Marshals to try to curb the lawlessness but it was far more land than the marshals could cover. Outlaws ran roughshod over them.

So when Houston and his drovers find themselves fighting to stay alive, there was no law to help them. They were completely on their own.

I hope you’ll give this book a try. I’m very happy with the reviews it’s getting. Book #3 To Marry a Texas Outlaw comes out in November with a thrilling conclusion of the series.

My question….what is it about marriage of convenience stories that draw you? I’m giving away a copy of the book to two people who post a comment on this blog.  

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Manners and Morals of Victorian America

Here’s another book in my research arsenal and sure to get plenty of giggles — Manners and Morals of Victorian America by Wayne Erbsen.

It addresses all sorts of subjects such as: Business Ettiquette, Children, Courtship, Kissing, Dining, and so many more. This is just a treasure-trove of information and I hardly know where to begin.

This one should be #1 though:

Beware of Bad Books – one half of the youth in our prisons and houses of correction started on their evil path by reading bad books, or at best, worthless novels. These books are the nicotine and alcohol of literature; they poison and burn, and blast the head and heart as surely as their cousins do the stomach. (1903)

* * *

No wise girl would accept a man who proposed by moonlight or just after a meal. The dear things are not themselves then. Food, properly served will attract a proposal at almost any time, especially if it is known that the girl prepared it.

* * *

Matrimony for women is the great business of life, whereas for the men it is only an incident. (1838)

* * *

Avoid the pen as you would the devil when you are angry. If you must commit follies, don’t put them down on paper. (1887)

* * *

We kiss too much. The principles of both hygiene and honesty are constantly violated in the practice. We might well indulge in a perfunctory little peck on the cheek that means nothing. It ought not to be necessary—but it is—to say that kissing in public is extremely bad form. (1907)

* * *

It is not allowable for a young man to shake hands with a lady unless she offers hers first. Only those of unimpeachable integrity and unsullied reputation should be introduced to a lady. (1892)

* * *

There is beauty in the helplessness of women. The clinging trust which searches for extraneous support is graceful and touching. Timidity is the attribute of her sex; but to herself, it is not without danger, inconveniences and sufferings. Her first effort at comparative freedom is bitter enough. The delicate mind shrinks from every unaccustomed contact and the warm and gushing heart closes itself, like the blossom of the sensitive plant, at every approach. (1916)

* * *

What men want in a wife for the most part is a humble, nattering, smiling, child-loving, tea-making being who laughs at their jokes however old they may be. Women who coaxes and wheedles us to good humor and fondly lies to us through life. (1886)

* * *

Ladies, never marry a genius. As the supply of geniuses is very limited, this advice may seem useless. It is not so, however, for there is enough and too spare of men who think that they are and take liberties accordingly. (1886)

* * *

No lady should use the piano of a hotel uninvited if there are others in the room. It looks bold and forward to display even the most finished musical education in this way. It is still worse to sing. (1910)

* * *

And one more. These are just too hilarious.

It is evident that although a man may be ugly, there is no necessity for his being shocking. (1836)

* * *

Okay, there you go. I didn’t even get a chance to get into table manners or umbrella etiquette or any of the other interesting topics. I guess I’ll have to save those. It blows my mind that those people went to such lengths to have rules for everything. They had waaaaay too much time on their hands.

Which was the funniest to you?

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Facts Worth Knowing in the 1800s

Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of books in my personal research library about various subjects. One book is an 1887 Edition of The Original White House Cookbook by P.L. Gillette. This book is full of recipes by the presidential First Ladies of the White House and actual menus served in addition to one of the State dinners, Mrs. Cleveland’s wedding lunch and President Grant’s birthday dinner. Then at the back are several very interesting sections.

One is labeled For the Sick and lists things to feed someone who’s ailing. Such as: Beef tea, Mutton broth, Gruel, and Porridges. Then it also has a section on how to make different poultices, a remedy for boils, and a cure for ringworms.

Another section is called Heath Suggestions. I found it very enlightening and funny. For instance: “People swallow more colds down their throats than they inhale or receive from contact with the air, no matter how cold or chilly it may be.”

So don’t be swallowing a cold down your throat!

Furthermore…. “Many colds are taken from the feet being damp or wet.”

“Sleeplessness caused by too much blood in the head may be overcome by applying a cloth wet with cold water to the back of the neck.” (HaHa!)

There’s a miscellaneous section that tells you how to clean kid gloves, freshen up furs, wash feathers, and clean oil-cloths. Invaluable I’m sure if you’d lived back then.

Then we come to Facts Worth Knowing and this is priceless.

To clean marble busts: First free them from all dust, then wash them with very weak hydrochloric acid. Soap injures the color of marble. (You want to keep your marble busts in tip-top shape.)

To keep milk sweet: Put into a panful of grated horseradish and it will keep it sweet for days.

To remove paint from black silk: Patient rubbing with chloroform will remove paint from black silk or any other goods and will not hurt the most delicate color or fabric.

To remove stains, spots and mildew from furniture: Take half a pint of ninety-eight percent alcohol, a quarter of an ounce of pulverized resin and gum shellac, add a pint of linseed oil and shake well. Apply with a brush or sponge.

To soften boots and shoes use kerosene. Saturate a woolen rag and rub into the leather.

Choking: A piece of food lodged in the throat may sometimes be pushed down with the finger, or removed with a hairpin quickly straightened and hooked at one end, or by two or three vigorous blows on the back between the shoulders. (Alrighty! I’m laughing here. Seriously? A finger or hairpin down my throat?)

To prevent lamp wicks from smoking soak them in vinegar then dry thoroughly. (This is something we all need to know. My lamp wicks smoke something horribly.)

Never use water from a stone reservoir for cooking purposes. (Huh?)

To prevent the odor of boiling ham or cabbage: Throw red pepper pods or a few bits of charcoal into the pan with them. (Good Lord!)

Death to bugs: Varnish is death to the most persistent bug. It is cheap—ten cents’ worth will do for one bedstead—is easily used, is safe, and improves the look of the furniture. The application must be thorough, however. Coat the slats, sides, and every crack and corner.

To make tough meat tender lay it in strong vinegar water.

To ventilate a room place a pitcher of cold water on a table and it will absorb all the gases with which the room is filled from the respiration of those eating or sleeping. Very few realize how important such purification is for the health of the family or understand that there can be impurity in the rooms; yet in a few hours it will make the air pure. But the water will be unfit to drink.

There were tons of these pieces of sage advice. A few are what we do today but others were just really off the wall and kept me laughing. I wonder what things we do now that future generations will snicker at. No telling but I’m sure there’ll be plenty.

Which things that I mention in this book caught your attention?

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon:  http://a.co/fBoY1sG

Just three weeks until The Heart of a Texas Cowboy!! Happy, happy!

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Law Enforcers on the American Frontier

When have you ever picked up a western romance book to read that didn’t have some kind of law enforcement hero? I’ve noticed that an overwhelming number of stories feature marshals, sheriffs, Texas or Arizona Rangers, bounty hunters, and Pinkerton agents. And little wonder, because those occupations tend to breed larger than life heroes. Not that I’m saying the ordinary man can’t be a memorable hero. Heroes spring to life wherever there are people—the man who struggles to provide for his family, the rancher who’s trying to hold onto a piece of land by his fingernails—any man or woman who faces long odds and certain loss, yet overcomes.

A hero is someone who gives his all for a belief in justice and right, knowing full well he might lose, and plunges ahead anyway.  He has unwavering conviction that he can make a difference. And he’s someone people respect above all else.

In the settlement of the West, law-enforcers were few and far between. Circumstances bred lawless men who ran roughshod over the weak. Oftentimes, the ordinary citizen took it upon himself to protect and defend. Ordinary people with grit and determination filled the gaps and helped carve out a land free of outlaws and greedy land barons. I’ve put together a list of the most written about heroes. I wish I’d known some of these facts when I wrote my first three books which featured a bounty hunter hero, a Texas Ranger, and an ex-Confederate spy. Almost all my books have a sheriff or marshal in them and at times I used the two professions interchangeably. <groan> I didn’t exactly know the distinction between them. Until now.

U.S. Marshals — the first federal organization to come into being.  George Washington and the Continental Congress created the service in 1789. Marshals are federally appointed, not elected, and they served a certain territory and still do today. Their authority extends to everything within that territory. Where states had not yet formed, the U.S. Marshal provided the only law. Their primary function was to support and defend the federal courts. They had wide authority in enforcing every aspect of the law, handling disputes, and carrying out death sentences. They also disbursed and accounted for monies used in running the courts. While I’m not exactly sure, I assume U.S. Marshals paid the bounty money for outlaws. The marshals were not put on an annual salary until 1896. Before that, they worked on a fee system, collecting set amounts for performing particular tasks. Strangely, from 1790 to 1870 they were ordered to take the census every ten years, a fact I didn’t know. U.S. Marshals reported directly to the Secretary of State until 1861 when Congress created the Department of Justice. U.S. Marshals hired as many deputies as needed to perform their duties. Another odd piece of information I learned was that U.S. Marshals had no official headquarters until around 1972. Kinda interesting.

 

Sheriffs –- Elected by the citizens of a town and paid by the city officials to perform their duties. Their jurisdiction was limited to the county in which they served. Their primary duty was to keep the peace, uphold the law, and maintain the jail. They acted in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals, but had limited authority. Sheriffs hired deputies and formed posses when needed. The sheriff also served as the tax collector for the county.

Texas and Arizona Rangers –- I can’t think of any tougher law enforcement groups more honored and more deserving than the Texas and Arizona Rangers. Rangers to this day offer untold service to their respective states. Some of their duties include: protect life and property, handle special criminal investigations, quell disturbances, serve as officers of the court at a judge’s request, and suppress criminal activity in any area where local officials are unable or unwilling to maintain law and order. A Ranger’s authority extends throughout the entire state, not curtailed by city or county boundaries. Directly under the governor, they act as an army at times while at others they’re like a police force. The Texas Rangers organized in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin got together a group of men to protect the frontier. Each ranger had to furnish his own horse and firearm. He received $1.25 a day. They were called upon to handle the toughest assignments, usually in conflicts where they were severely outnumbered – “one ranger for one riot” kind of thing. The Arizona Rangers were formed in 1882 under the territorial governor. They were the exact counterpart of the Texas Rangers. The Arizona State Congress abolished them in 1909 but they were reformed years later.

Bounty Hunters – People aren’t quite sure where bounty hunters sit when it comes to being a good guy or a bad one. Some writers make them more the villains than the hero, but bounty hunters began as law enforcers. A lot of them served in the capacity of deputy U.S. marshals. Others worked directly with sheriffs in apprehending criminals. Bounty hunters freed up the marshal’s or the sheriff’s time so they could focus on their normal duties and they performed a valued service. Of course, I’m sure there were rogue bounty hunters and that’s probably what led to their tarnished reputations. Today bounty hunters track down bail jumpers.

 

Pinkerton Agents –- A detective agency founded in 1850 by Allen Pinkerton. They operated nationwide, working for railroad and stage companies. Their logo was the image of an eye and their motto was “We Never Sleep.” Hence, the term private eye.  They performed some of the same work now assigned to the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service. In 1861 while investigating a railroad case, the agency uncovered and foiled a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln on his way to the inauguration. They sometimes used heavy-handed tactics and it sullied their reputation. However, it continued as a family-owned operation until 1967.

You also had the Secret Service that was formed on July 5, 1865 to combat counterfeiting. Later, it became their job to protect the president, vice president and other government leaders.

Matt Dillon at 6’7” is probably the best known TV marshal. And Steve McQueen made an excellent, fair-minded bounty hunter in Wanted Dead or Alive. But do you have other favorites? Or maybe you learned something you never knew before about law-keepers in the Old West.

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A Pioneer Woman’s Life

Last week I talked about a cowboy’s responsibilities on a ranch. They often worked from can to cain’t. So did the women–only I think they did a lot more because their job was never done.

She rose before dawn to get breakfast on the table. A pioneer wife knew the importance of putting a hearty meal into her husband’s stomach so she fixed things with a lot of protein, although back then she didn’t know what protein was. It was always meat of some sort—bacon, sausage or steak. Eggs were a staple as were biscuits. Sometimes they had flapjacks too. The men often carried extra biscuits with any leftover meat in their pocket to nibble on through the day because they seldom got lunch.

So, here is a partial list of the housewife’s jobs:

  • Breakfast
  • Getting the children up, dressed and fed
  • Feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs
  • Milking the cow
  • Washing dishes
  • Setting bread dough to rise for baking later
  • Making a lunch for the children and getting them off to school
  • Feeding and caring for the baby if she has one
  • Washing and ironing
  • Weeding and collecting vegetables from the garden
  • Sewing
  • Mending
  • Cleaning house
  • Start supper immediately after eating a bite of lunch herself
  • Churn butter
  • Put supper on the table
  • Wash dishes, then maybe sit with her husband and crochet, knit, or darn holey clothes
  • Get the children ready for bed
  • Soak beans to cook the next day

 

This isn’t near all but I got exhausted just making the list. Of course, some things she didn’t have do every day. Like laundry. That was usually done once a week. And when the kids got old enough they took over gathering eggs and milking the cow.

But still, the average woman back then had a child every year like clockwork. That only added to her long list. And, she was never allowed much time to recover following childbirth. A week at the most but often only a day or two.

My question….how lucky do you think we have it today? How long do you think you’d have lasted back then? I wouldn’t have made one entire day. But I’m kinda wimpy. Maybe you’d have done better.

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A Cowboy’s Life

Before I started writing western historical romance eons ago, I didn’t know too awfully much about a cowboy’s job on an early day ranch other than the obvious–working the cattle. In case you’re bitten by the curiosity bug, I’m going to try to enlighten you.

It was certainly nothing romantic or glamorous. Still isn’t. It’s very hard work.

The cowboy’s job began just as the first rays of dawn were breaking and he didn’t crawl out of saddle until after dark. The days were long and the work was hard. But the cowboy loved his life. It was in his blood. He didn’t “work” for the ranch; he “rode for the brand” and he was very loyal to the animals entrusted in his care and to his employer.

Here’s some insight into daily life.

Upon “rolling out” of the sack, a few of the men would saddle their mounts and round up the scattered band of ponies that had wandered near and far, grazing during the night and herd them into the corral while the cook set about making breakfast. The outfit would fill their bellies then carry their saddles and bridles to the corral and mount up. (On cold days the compassionate cowboy would warm the bit for a second before putting it in the horse’s mouth. I’m sure it was appreciated.) Once mounted, the wrangler would get to the business of checking the herds and looking for signs of trouble. The cattle required constant care and vigilance.

Daily chores in addition to riding herd on the cattle:

  • Keeping horses shod and in good physical shape
  • Gentling horses
  • Branding Cattle
  • Repairing saddles and wagons
  • Mending ropes and harnesses
  • Cleaning their guns
  • Skinning carcasses of any cattle that died and drying hides
  • Riding fence and repairing any downed ones

In general, doing whatever the foreman asked, be it painting and fixing up or putting out bait to catch or kill any predators that threatened the stock.

Simply put, when he was on the time clock, the cowboy was at the beck and call of his employer. Whatever his orders that’s what he’d do.

Life was much easier in warm weather. Spring and fall saw roundups and trail drives. Once the cattle drives were a thing of the past sometime in the 1880’s, the cowboys drove cows to the nearest railroad shipping point. A note of interest: The biggest year for Texas cattle drives was 1871 when more than 700,000 cattle were driven up the trails from Texas.

In the mountainous areas, the saddle wranglers would herd the cattle twice a year to summer or winter ranges for better grazing. They used the high country in summer because it was normally a little cooler. The low country was preferred in winter as it wasn’t usually as cold. Of course, on the flat plains they had no need to shift the herds.

Part of the cowboy’s duties was to inspect the cattle to see if they had enough food and water. They also directed them away from any patches of known loco weed. This was called “outriding.” In addition, the outriders “rode sign” to determine if any cattle had strayed too far from the rest and if so to turn them back. They looked for bogged down steers or horses, laid traps for coyotes and wolves, and kept their eyes open for signs of rustling. Sometimes the outriders “blabbed” young calves that were too old to be nursing their mothers. This involved clipping a board onto the calf’s nose. It allowed the animal to graze but not to nurse. Usually, this was only done in the case of a lusty calf with an emaciated mother. It allowed the mother to gain weight.

Outriders also kept on the lookout for diseased or injured animals. When they found any, they either inspected and treated the animal or destroyed it.

Mother Nature brought her own set of problems. Lightning and prairie fires were the most feared. But there were also gullywashers that could trap scores of cattle in flash floods; tornadoes and cyclones; and drought and freezing temperatures that could devastate entire herds. The bottom line was protecting and saving the cattle. They were money on the hoof.

Winter brought some of the cowboy’s hardest work. They lived in “line camps” which were outpost cabins situated on the far reaches of the ranch. And the punchers who wintered there were called line riders. The difference in line riders and outriders was the fact that line riders had a specific area to patrol whereas outriders roamed everywhere. The line rider’s main job was looking after their herd. They made sure the cattle had food and water and protected them from hungry coyotes and wolves. Whatever it took to get the herd through the freezing winter months that’s what they did. It was lonely boring work for the line rider and they were always grateful for springtime when they could rejoin their fellow cow punchers.

The bottom line was that the cowboy’s job consisted of doing whatever they could to make the ranch run smoothly and turn a profit.

According to the book “The Cowboy” by Philip Ashton Rollins, in the late 1800’s top hands earned $40.00 a month. Lesser hands were paid $25.00 and upward. Foremen earned $10 to $40 over and above what the top hands drew. And they were all given free room and board. That wasn’t much money for what was expected of them.

I’m curious about why we think the cowboy’s life was and still is glamorous. Why are we so attracted to men who ply that trade? I suspect it’s due to the hard, dangerous work in less than tolerable circumstances. Or maybe that the men have to be tough as nails to survive on the unforgiving land. Or that they carry such a deep love of the land and consider themselves caretakers.

We do like these qualities in our heroes. And the women too. I’d like to hear your thoughts. What’s the appeal?

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I Have Winners!

Huge thanks to all who came to read my clothing post. I really appreciated it.

Because I got such a big response, I’ve added two more to the giveaway.

The random winners are………………….

DONNA BRATTON

CATHIE MORTON

TIFFANY ANDERSON

LORRIE CABANISS

BABS HIGHTOWER

Congrats, Ladies! I’ll contact each of you to see if you want print or ebook. Don’t forget, more books are coming.

 

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How the West Was Worn

Some things on the American Frontier were hard to come by—especially clothes. Store bought cost too much and even if the wife sewed, she had to buy fabric. They mostly made do with just one or two changes of outfits, always reserving the best for Sundays.

Most women wore dresses of muslin, calico, or gingham. Only the wealthy wore silk and satin. Lace wasn’t that easy to come by either so most dresses were plain.

Due to the constant wind, the ladies would sew rocks or small pieces of metal into the hems to hold their skirts down. Can’t have the men seeing anything—not even ankles. Ha! On the plains, most women wore one simple petticoat. They didn’t want their clothes catching on fire when they cooked over an open flame.

 

Flour sacks provided material for underwear, dishtowels, children’s clothing, and lots more.

My mom used to tell us about one of daddy’s sisters who was real prissy. She was crossing a street one time and a gust of wind blew up her skirt. Everyone saw her flour sack underwear and emblazoned across her rear were the words: America’s Best. I always thought that was so funny. My prissy aunt really got kidded a lot I’m sure.

Now for the men—-

They usually owned just one extra set of clothes. They slept in longjohns and most wore them year round. In the summer, all the men needed to put on was a pair of pants (usually made of wool,) letting their longjohns serve as a shirt.

Denim came on the scene in 1873 when miners and others needed very sturdy pants. The designer was Jacob Davis and the popularity of his pants made it difficult to keep up with the demand. He contacted the Levi Strauss company and the rest was history.

Men’s shirts were usually made of broadcloth, muslin, or maybe twill. Flannel or wool in winter. Rich men wore lawn, silk, and poplin. They were usually collarless. You bought the collars separate and they were made of linen bonded to paper. They stood up around a man’s neck. You just threw them away when they got dirty. Also, most men wore vests back then.

A man’s hat set him apart from others. He could shape it however he wanted. A good Stetson was invaluable. Boots were a must and a lot of cowboys stuck their pant legs down into them.

Women added various little accessories to their dresses—gloves, fancy handkerchiefs, and things that didn’t cost a whole lot. Every woman wore a hat or bonnet and they ranged in price. Shawls were an absolute must.

Weddings were not very elaborate for the most part. The bride and groom wore their best. The wedding gown might’ve been made of muslin and she’d have worn it afterward as a Sunday dress. Seldom were they white like they are now. I just wrote a wedding scene in my new book and she had on a plain yellow dress. I don’t think I would like to have worn gray. Nope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things were simple back then. Nothing could interfere with work and they toiled every day from sunup or before to sundown or after. There was so much to do.

Which article of clothing caught you by surprise? Anything?

I’m giving away a copy of TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER to three people who leave a comment.

 

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THE POSSE is Coming!

The Posse is galloping toward you and will be here on March 15, 2017!

I’m so excited. This cover really speaks to me and I know several of these authors. I also think it’s safe to say that I helped push Chimp Robertson into writing westerns. It just seemed a natural fit with him being a rodeo guy and owning his own ranch. Don’t you think? And Charlene is such a dear lady. I love her to death. But all of these are writers who know their stuff… and their cowboys!

EIGHT WESTERN STORIES YOU WILL LOVE!

“One Way or Another” By Frank Kelso
A bitter water dispute twists two Texas cattle ranches one way or another after the son of one rancher takes a shine to the other rancher’s daughter, new from the east.

“The Schoolmarm’s Hero” By Lyn Horner
The Sheriff leads a posse after two drunken cowboys who kidnapped the spinster schoolmarm. The chase forces him to realize how much he loves her.

“Bad Day at Round Rock” By CJ Petterson
The pursuit of stolen gold culminates in a “Bad Day at Round Rock”–a story of greed, death, and love torn from pages of West Texas history.

“The Reckoning” by Charlene Raddon
A half-breed boy seeks his place in the world—with the Shoshone who raised him, or his white aunt and uncle where he has been sent for an education.

“Headed for Texas” By Chimp Robertson
Rowdy Hawkins’s been shot, stabbed, and caught in Custer’s attack on Black Kettle, but it’s the first time he’s ever been in love—with Black Kettle’s granddaughter.

Bonus Story
“The Savage Posse” By JS Stroud
A death-bringer, neither whites nor Apaches wanted her until they needed one full of venom to lead their Savage Posse in rescuing stolen children.

“Set a Thief” By Chuck Tyrell
The man who stole Kimberly’s prize pinto returns the mare. “Let the man have his say,” her Pa says. “Don’t expect to come courting,” she warns.

“Tibby’s Hideout” By Frank Kelso
After the Civil War, Bess Newcomb, a single mother, wants to remarry, but Tibby, her eight-year-son, isn’t sure he wants a new dad—he decides to hideout.

ONLY .99 ON KINDLE – http://a.co/dWKhFd2

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Texas Redemption and War

I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact the bloody Civil War left a dark, permanent stain on our past. It tore apart families and ripped a great divide in our nation. To be truthful, I’m not sure we’ve fully recovered. In many ways the north and south are still divided and resentment runs deep.

The events following the last gunshot probably bore a lot of blame for the resentment. The Union army immediately swept in, gloating in their victory, and hell bent on making the losing side pay for their uprising.

They placed all the Southern states under military occupation, arresting dissenters and hanging them. They built stockades where hundreds were kept until trial—both former soldiers and businessmen who aided the Confederacy. No one escaped their wrath.

And they hunted down special people who fought with the Rebs—spies, commanders and overseers of the Union captives.

This is the climate of Texas Redemption—when people were living under military occupation. It was a dangerous time and angry people trusted no one. Although the town of Redemption was only 20 miles from one of these actual stockades in Jefferson, Brodie Yates thought he’d be safe in the dark swamps. And he was until Zeke Vallens came looking for Laurel and found Brodie. He wastes little time turning Brodie in.

Another thing to directly come out of the war was outlaws. Men returned home from the fighting to find everything gone—land, farms, families. They were angry and resentful. The only thing they how to do was fight and lot of them had become extremely good at it.

Jesse James and his gang sprang up along with the Daltons, the Youngers, Clay Allision, and many others. They all had fought for the South and they were tired of losing. For once, they’d take back some of what they’d lost.

I’ve just started the first book of a new series that you’re gonna love. I don’t want to give away too much this early. I’ll just give you three hints—a town of outlaws, Tally Shannon and the women of Deliverance Canyon, and an underground mail order bride service.

A little about my next release on May 2nd, THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY…Houston Legend has to drive a large herd of longhorns north to Dodge City to save the Lone Star Ranch. He hires a mysterious man by the name of Clay Colby as his head drover and not once did Houston regret his decision. I hope you fall in love with Clay because book 1 of this brand new series will be about him.

I’ll have author copies of The Heart of a Texas Cowboy in April and will give away quite a few to visitors who come to read my blogs.

So why do you think it is that we adore outlaws and fantasize about that life? Do you share my views that some were really good men at heart? Or maybe it’s our admiration of those who dared to step outside of the law and did things we might yearn to do–if we had the courage? I’d like your opinion.

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