Thursday, May 21, 2015

Horse Sense - By Alison Bruce

horse sense: the ability to make good judgments or decisions : common sense
(First known use of horse sense: 1832)

“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. ”
W.C. Fields

Since I'm a bit overwhelmed with work right now, I've fallen back on my favorite pastime: sharing quotes. The ones I like best fall into one of two categories - clever puns and elegantly expressed common wisdom. I'll save the puns for another time.

“Always drink upstream from the herd.” 
Will Rogers

Will Rogers is an excellent source of common wisdom and wit. Born in Indian Territory (aka Oklahoma) in 1879, Rogers left school to become a cowboy. Later he performed with his lasso in wild west shows, circuses and vaudeville. Poorly educated but well-read, his act included humorous observations about people, politics and life. Soon, his observations became a bigger drawn than his rope tricks.

“If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.”
Will Rogers 

 If I were ever to go back in time, I'd like to meet Judge Roy Bean... as long as he wasn't judging me, of course. Wikipedia describes him as "an eccentric U.S. saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos"." He was known as the hanging judge, but he only sentenced two men to hang and one of them escaped. He talked a mean game.

“A decent cowboy does not take what belongs to someone else and if he does he deserves to be strung up and left for the flies and coyotes."
Judge Roy Bean

Then there are all those bits of practical advice passed down to us by good ol' Anon.

“Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.” 

“Don’t cut in front and don’t crowd from behind.” 

“Oil all the wheels on your wagon, not just the squeaky one.”

Finding quotes from women of the west is a bit more challenging. Calamity Jane is reported to have said: “The bigger a man's gun the smaller his doodlewick.” But is that horse sense?

Annie Oakley seemed to have her fair share of practical wisdom as well a natural talent with a gun. She helped feed her family by hunting and later paid off the mortgage on the family farm with her earnings as a sharpshooter. Throughout her long career (she toured with the Wild West Show for twenty years, performed in exhibitions and acted in a stage play) she reportedly taught almost 15,000 women to use a gun.
Oakley believed strongly that it was crucial for women to learn how to use a gun, as not only a form of physical and mental exercise, but also to defend themselves. She said: "I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they know how to handle babies." - Wikipedia

“Aim at a high mark and you'll hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second time. Maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect.”
Annie Oakley

"Plugging" my books.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Wow, I cannot believe how fast the past month has gone.
Unfortunately it has not been a good one for my husband and myself. First we lost my dear father-in-law, then my mum and dad’s beautiful Jack Russell passed away and in the last couple of days we lost my father. It started me thinking about family and the devastation of loss, especially for the Western Pioneers in the United States.

How did the women cope with the loss of their husband?
In these days the husband was often the sole provider. Research shows they turned to Prostitution, hurriedly married again – often to someone many years older who was willing to take on a widow and another man’s children or, the lucky ones turned to family who were willing to help. Times were hard though, and often parents were unwilling to accept the burden of a widowed daughter and her children. She was often turned away to fend for herself. I cannot imagine the sadness these women would have felt at such rejection.

How did parents cope with the death of a child?
It is a well-known fact, the mortality rate of children during these harsh times was so much higher than today. There were none of the medications we take for granted, infection was rampant and being the “Wild West” – accidents happened on a regular basis. Some women literally ‘pined’ themselves to death, men either broke down in unimaginable despair or chose to deny the child had ever been born. The more ‘stoic’ couples, looked to each other for the strength to push through such tragedy. I often wonder, how many small crosses were erected along these treacherous trails? Do we really have any idea?

How did survivors cope with the rest of their family falling victim to Disease?
During their travels west, Pioneers were affected by weather, famine and disease. Whole families could be struck down with Yellow Fever, Influenza or some other rampant and highly contagious disease but sometimes there could be a lone survivor. How would this survivor feel? Many questioned why they had been spared when the rest of their family had been taken. Young men who survived such tragedy would often turn to alcohol or crime and within a few years many ended up dead themselves. Young children who weren’t taken in by other pioneer families, would be dropped off at orphanages in the next town they arrived at. At this time, the cruel and desperate conditions in some orphanages, would have been likened to a ‘fate worse than death.” Their futures would have been dismal thanks to the attitudes of the day – most orphans were considered worse than street waifs. These poor little mites really had their chance of a successful life, reduced.
Do I wish I had been alive during such harsh times? Definitely not. I have the utmost admiration for pioneers in any country. They knew what it was to ‘do it tough’ and often did it without complaint. These days if our computer doesn’t boot up fast enough, we think we’re hard done by. We have a lot to learn about strength of character from these people, about conquering hardships and accepting what we cannot change. About accepting death and moving on.

We also need to learn to be thankful. In times of death we need to remember the deceased’s’ contribution to this world. We should celebrate their lives and try not to grieve and mourn our losses too badly. In both my father’s and father-in-laws’ cases, it was a privilege to have been related to men of such standing. They each loved their families dearly, worked hard to provide for their wives and their children and a rarity in this day and age – they each honoured their marriage vows for more than 60 years. Will they be missed? Deeply. But, I will smile when I recall the good times along with the things they did and said.

I am grateful for the fact that these days, people can pass away quietly, without pain, thanks to modern medicine.  How gut wrenching it must have been for some of the pioneering families to watch loved ones die in such agony.

So, next time you feel like complaining about a computer that won’t start, a car in front that is moving too slowly or the rain that bucketed down after you just finished washing your car – think of your forebears.

Until next month, God Bless and take care.
Susan Horsnell 
Western Romance Author



Monday, May 18, 2015

Law Enforcement in the Old West by Paty Jager #historicalwestern

Gun Smoke Photos
Ever watch an old western show or movie or read a historical western book and wonder why in one town the lawman is called a sheriff and another a marshal? When I wrote my first book, Marshal in Petticoats, I had to figure out if the correct wording was sheriff or marshal.

These days we know a sheriff is a county lawman and a marshal is a federal lawman but back when this country was new and growing there was also a town marshal.

County sheriffs had responsibilities for less territory than an U.S. Marshal who had the full jurisdiction of the U.S. The County sheriffs tracked down and captured outlaws, thieves, and murderers. The maintained the county jail, sold property tax delinquencies, served court orders, and in some states were involved in keeping track of cattle brands, operating dog pounds, and finding stray livestock. These men were voted in by the county populace.

A town marshal had the smallest territory, their town and some distance from the town. They maintained the order in the town; collected business license fees and taxes; served as health, fire, and sanitation inspectors; maintained records and the town jail; served subpoenas; and provided evidence at court hearings. These lawmen could either be voted in or picked by a mayor or leading town member.

The U.S. Marshal was appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. The U.S. Marshals had a much larger and broader authority than the city marshal. But they were restricted to their district.

U.S. Marshals could appoint deputies and round up posse members when needed. In some cases the U.S. Marshal did the paperwork and assigned jobs to the deputies who were at the mercy of the marshal to get paid.

In the territories where law and order hadn't reached yet, the marshals were the only lawmen. They chased outlaws and brought justice and order until the territory became a state. Then the U.S.Marshals had to let the territorial lawmen take over.  Though many times sheriffs, marshals and U.S. Marshals would all work together to bring a gang or group of outlaws to justice.

U.S. Marshals were went in to deal with crimes in Indian Territory. Indians resolved their own crimes but when there were cries involving the Indians and Whites the marshals and the federal courts dealt with the crimes.  Part of their duties within the Indian territories and reservations was to  keep Whites from selling the Indians liquor and guns. The illegal trading of guns and liquor with the Indians was one of the biggest law enforcement problems for the marshals.

The U.S. Marshals were also brought in for riots against minorities. In 1885 the mayor of Tacoma, WA was taken prisoner and indicted on federal charges for inciting violence against the Chinese.

Most men who took on the jobs of sheriff, marshal, and U.S. Marshal had integrity and believed they could help to build and make this country stronger and better. Much like the law enforcers of today.
Writing into the Sunset

The information was found in: The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West by Candy Moulton and The Lawmen by Fredrick S. Calhoun

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cowboys to the Rescue

Cowboys to the Rescue

by Christina Cole

The glory days of cattle drives and cowboys ended long ago. Those of us who love the legend and lore of "the old west" are probably familiar with the economic factors that changed the lives of ranchers and cowboys. 

The use of barbed wire, the expansion of rail lines throughout the Great Plains states, and stricter enforcement of federal land laws all contributed to the decline of the open-range cattle ranching, the huge drives to market, the great trails, and the hard-working, hard-riding cowboys.

In  The Reader's Companion to American History, co-edited by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, we learn that "by the mid-1880's prudent cattlemen realized that the industry was overexpanded, the Great Plains overgrazed, and the price of beef declining."

The summer of 1886 was exceptionally dry. It was followed by one of the worst winters ever recorded. The frightful weather all but destroyed anything that had remained of the original cattle industry. The open range was a thing of the past, and the only work for a cowboy was often mending fences and tending to sick cattle. 

Yet while the American cowboy may be a "dying breed", he still exists, and he still possesses important skills for handling both his horse and cattle. And as in the past, there are still times when the only man for the job is, indeed, a cowboy.

Here in the midwest, we recently had one of those times.  Spring always brings a lot of rain and thunderstorms, and sometimes driving becomes hazardous. That was the situation last week when a truck hauling 60 head of cattle from Hutchinson to Eureka crashed northwest of Wichita -- once one of the best-known "cattle towns" in America. Kansas Highway 96 was closed down as the cattle escaped from the truck and began roaming around. 

What to do? Call a cowboy, of course. Working alongside animal control officers, a crew of cowboys were able to "head 'em off, round 'em up" and get them loaded onto a new truck. 

The driver of the truck was not hurt, and the highway was soon reopened, thanks to the efforts of a few modern-day cowboys. 

Just as in days gone by... you can always count on a cowboy to come to the rescue when called.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's In His Kiss by Kathleen Ball #ASMSG #IARTG

It’s In His Kiss

Kisses, Kisses, Kisses. Who doesn’t like a kiss? There are so many kisses which ones do you love best?

There is the peck on the lips, the kiss on the cheek, temple or hand. There are kisses in greeting and kisses to say goodbye. There are the accidental kisses and unwanted kisses.

The first kiss is always a long anticipated one. You’ve been waiting for it and when it finally happens, it makes you glow. The cowboy dips his head and takes her lips with his strong masculine ones. He pulls her closer as he deepens the kiss. Their hearts beat wildly as they open their mouths for each other. 

Stolen kisses are often good kisses. You know they only have a few minutes and they have to make the best of it and as they clutch each other tight, and share a magic kiss; a kiss to sustain them until they meet again. In those few minutes they communicate, their love, their need, and their intent to be together.

Depending on the circumstances, a “You may kiss the Bride” kiss can be sexy. They kiss and forget they are standing in front of family, friends and sometimes the whole town. It bodes well for a perfect wedding night. However, sometimes it’s a simple peck on the lips or kiss on the check and you can’t help but feel sorry for the Bride.

The bedroom kiss is long, sexy, and sensual. They have their arms wrapped around each other, or fingers running through the other person’s hair. It’s just the beginning of a great scene.

My favorite is the long, lingering, passion-filled kiss good bye. Will they see each other again? Will this kiss have to live in their hearts for eternity because it’s the last time they will set eyes on their loved one? They cling to each other and as the cowboy walks away, you hope he turns back to take one last look.

So what’s your favorite kiss? Any kiss by a cowboy would make my day.

Sexy Cowboys and the women who love them...

Nominee  for the 2015 RONE Award

Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards.

Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review.

Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable

characters.Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including

Amazon's Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and

Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor's Choice

Awards, and The Readers' Choice Award for Ryelee's Cowboy.

There's something about a cowboy....

***Order of my Books***
Lasso Spring Series

Callie's Heart
Lone Star Joy
Stetson's Storm

Dawson Ranch Series

Texas Haven- FREE
Ryelee's Cowboy
*Alice's Story- free prequel on my website

Cowboy Seasons Series

Summer's Desire
Autumn's Hope
Winter's Embrace
Spring's Delight

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Get To Know Me Better

My writing space

As an author, I spend most of my day at the computer writing, promoting and keeping up with social media. As a reader, I enjoy getting to know the authors’ whose works I’ve read. I do this mostly through Facebook. I’ve met many people and made some great friendships. This is important to me. Why? Because I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them outside of their author persona. Which got me to thinking—it’s important for readers to know something about the authors they like other than the books she’s written. Author interviews help to form a bond between reader and author, so for this month’s post, I thought I’d share a little more about me to create more of a personal bond between you and me.

The hubby and me at the rodeo
Many know I’m originally from upstate New York, so when I make snarky jokes on Facebook about New York’s weather, it’s because I can relate to the heat and humidity and the cold and snow. I married my hubby two years after high school and accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the Air Force. We’ve been stationed in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Virginia. Through his work and mine, we have met a lot of nice people and still maintain those friendships today. The best job I ever had, outside of being a mom, wife and author, was as a collection agent for the Air Force while stationed in Jersey. My boss had tremendous faith in me and gave me several responsibilities above my pay grade. One such responsibility was to work with the legal department. I got to know a few of the lawyers very well, and they got to know and depend on me, so much that when I was out of work for a month due to illness and a case came up, they waited for me to return instead of relying on a coworker, who was just as capable as me, to testify.

Eleven Mile Canyon, CO
Colorado was the nicest duty assignment as far as scenery and way of life. The Jersey shore is pretty in spots and has the best lemonade (I think it has something to do with the salt air) but the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking and rich with history. It’s little wonder we retired back to Colorado to raise our son. Speaking of the kiddo, I had him later on in life, which was a good thing. It gave the hubby and me time to ourselves and time to become financially stable to raise a child. Quitting work to be a stay-at-home mom was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve been home for over a decade and honestly, I wouldn’t go back to a 9-5 job for anything. I really like being at home and being here for my son.

Loretta Lynn
I’m a child of the 80’s, leg-warmers, big shoulder pads, even bigger hair and rock/pop music. Before that, I was raised on country and western. Loretta Lynn and George Strait are my favorites. I spent most of the 90’s as a concert junkie, as country music came into its own back then and was everywhere, even in New York City! I saw everyone I wanted to see, with the exception of Alan Jackson, because where I was he wasn’t, but the hubby saw him when Alan gave a free concert at the Pentagon after 9/11. I remember dragging the hubby off to see Vince Gill, and when Vince started to jam on the guitar, the hubby was impressed. (He’s not one for country. He prefers his rock and roll.) Sammy Kershaw earned a laugh or two from the hubby and Garth Brooks earned his respect. And Billy Joel, the NY boy who made it to the bigtime, was a night neither of us will forget. And the kiddo—well, he loved Heidi from Trick Pony when he was little, so I snagged backstage passes and took him to meet her. At four years old, he was speechless and could only stare up at her. Heidi was really sweet and knelt down to chat with him for a minute.

The things I love the most outside of family and home are  Nova (our 85lb German Shepherd) iced tea, my truck and my slippers. If I could wear slippers to the store and out in the snow I’d be happier than a bear hibernating all winter. Nova has a weird attachment to my slippers; she uses them as a pillow and growls if someone comes near them. Sage is my favorite plant, horses and dogs my favorite animal and currently NCIS L.A. is my favorite drama and The Big Bang Theory my favorite comedy. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara are my favorite actors. Veal is my favorite food, and grey and purple my favorite colors. Sticky notes are my best friend. I keep a weekly schedule of all I need to accomplish, and I enjoy hearing from you. Visit my website for a link to contact me ( And the last thing to tell you; I am one of the most boring people you’ll ever meet.        

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


By Shanna Hatfield
Recently, I made a trip to Central Oregon to meet with the very talented Jane Kirkpatrick to work on plans for the 2015 Women Writing the West Conference taking place this October in Redmond.  Jane and I are co-chairing the event and despite the wonders of modern technology, sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

On the way to Redmond, Captain Cavedweller and I stopped in Shaniko to stretch our legs and look around.

Considered a ghost town, about thirty residents inhabit Shaniko. In fact, Oregon has more than 80 registered ghost towns, making it the ghost town leader in the country.

  Looking Down Fourth Street from the East in the Early 1900's

Travelers who leave Interstate 84 and head south on Highway 97 toward the heart of Oregon, will travel through numerous small towns, all spaced about nine miles apart. (The common distance traveled in a day back when the towns were first settled.)

Wasco, Moro, Grass Valley, Kent, Shaniko are all historic towns along the highway.

Although we've stopped in Grass Valley before, since it's the setting for my Grass Valley Cowboys series, we generally drive right by Shaniko. It's located on a 90-degree curve and unless you choose to go straight and enter what is left of the town, you pass by it in the blink of an eye. This time, we decided to stop. There are a few museums in town, an ice cream shop, and a small store.

The remaining buildings definitely have an old west feel to them.

I love the lettering and lace in the Shaniko Cafe windows.

It's connected to what used to be the Shaniko Hotel.

Across the street is a jail museum, complete with cells and replica handcuffs.

Shaniko's history is tied to the development of the five transcontinental railroad systems that opened the United States to remarkable economic growth from the 1860s through the 1890s. A spur line called "The Columbia Southern Railway" would open the eastern interior of Oregon to successful enterprises.

In 1862, gold was discovered in Canyon City, Oregon, drawing people to the area. A route to Canyon City started at the early settlement of The Dalles (located right on I-84 along the Columbia River). Camps were made wherever water could be found. Two nearby camps, Bakeover and Cross Hollow, drew settlers to what would become Shaniko.

In 1867, after complaints of hostilities with Indians and fear of robbery during gold transportation, the US government built a military wagon road from The Dalles to Fort Boise, Idaho. Following this road, homesteaders began claiming land in Central Oregon that had before been inaccessible.

One of the settlers was August Scherneckau, a man of German descent who came to the area after the Civil War. Although the locals pronounced his name "Shaniko," he served as postmaster in the town originally known as Cross Hollows.

The first train arrived in Shaniko May 13, 1900. There were a few buildings and many tents pitched to service the 170 or so people residing in town at that time. The first wooden building built was (of course) a saloon.

The stage in front of the Shaniko Hotel
The town's heyday arrived in those early years of the 20th century when Shaniko served as a transportation hub spurred by the presence of the Columbia Southern Railway, as well as a stop on the stage route heading north and south.

At the time, the city was known as the "Wool Capital of the World," and boasted the largest wool warehouse in the state. It was the center of 20,000 square miles of wool, wheat, cattle and sheep production, with no other such center east of the Cascade Range in Oregon. The region served by the city even stretched into Idaho, south to nearly the California border, and Washington.

Unfortunately, a competing line from the Columbia River along the Deschutes River to Bend that opened in 1911 put an end to the trek many farmers and ranchers made to Shaniko to ship their cattle and grain. On top of the decline in shipping, a fire in 1911 claimed most of the buildings in the business district.

Passenger service to Shaniko ended in the 1930s with the railroad ended all service by the mid-1940s.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a detour south of the freeway and drive through Shaniko, go for it.

It's a scenic drive with big open skies and rolling hills of wheat.
You might spy a few antelope along the way.

Or stop to look over a rock crib built more than a century ago. The glory days of the region are long gone, but a rich and fascinating history remains.


A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:
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