Friday, February 21, 2020

I'd like to check out a book, please ~ by Kristine Raymond

Library in 1885

And, you can, at the Copper Queen Library in Bisbee, AZ.  Established in 1882, the Copper Queen is America's oldest operating library, but that doesn't mean it's behind the times.  In 2019, the 137-year-old athenaeum was awarded the honor of best small library in America by the leading publication for bibliophiles for expanding its early literacy program, developing a seed library for gardeners, offering unconventional items, like sports equipment, for checkout, and providing Wi-Fi internet hot spots.  It's the first library in Arizona to receive the prize.

Its history is an interesting one.  Originally opened inside the mine's company store after, according to one popular legend, mining officials arrived in Bisbee to find a man hung by a lynch mob, the consensus was that the miners needed something to occupy their time.  With a donation of 400 books from back East, the library was born.  Its location moved several times over the decades, first in 1885 to a two-story wood-framed structure, then after a fire in 1892 left the building and books in ashes, a brick building was erected and the library reestablished.

It moved to its current location above the Bisbee Post Office in 1907 and, even today, serves as a gathering place for locals.  In fact, some of the furniture from that time is still in use, though the brass spittoons are a thing of the past.

Copper Queen Library - circa 1907

Copper Queen Library - circa 2016

Roughly 3000 of the 5,500 residents of Bisbee carry library cards and an annex was added last December to serve the nearly 150 families residing in the nearby border town of Naco.

Now, where did I put my library card?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Settled at the very top of the Teton Pass, in Wilson, WY, as if it were deciding whether to go on to Idaho or not, sits one of my favorite places in Jackson Hole—The Stagecoach Bar. Unlike Jackson’s Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, my Wilson watering hole has nothing fancy about it, yet it’s undeniable that its atmosphere is more welcoming, more genuine, and just plain more fun. Bob Dylan has played there, Harrison Ford and Peyton Manning have drunk there, and I’m still trying to figure out what the sign above the bar--that looks like someone's internet password--means:  IWTUIUWBMAD
The Coach, as it’s called, moved a couple of times before finally settling into its current spot. It began life in 1942 with a rodeo attached and drinks served through a hole in the wall.  You can imagine that mixing rodeo cowboys and drink led at times to horses in the bar and a few shots at pool from the top of a steed.  When the rodeo moved into Jackson, the action moved inside but the cowboys didn’t leave.  Apparently, the place could get pretty rough, especially when hippies appeared on the scene in the sixties. Finally, in 1969, some strumming occurred on a Sunday evening which started to calm things down a bit and eventually led to dancing.  The Coach Band has been picking and strumming ever since (with a good few yodels thrown in), and Sunday has remained the night for dancing with Thursdays now a disco night in the high seasons of winter and summer. And by the way, just to make it feel right that you’re going to a bar on a Sunday, the locals call it ‘church.’
The Coach now is a place where everyone feels comfortable.  Whether you dance with a stranger—as I have done many times—or just sit back and watch the action, perhaps enjoying some of the delicious Street Food from the small place now at the very back, the ambiance is certain to make you feel welcome and at ease. So the question is, how did the Coach inspire me?
Let’s go back to those hippies who came in during the 1960’s and were evident for several years, getting into fights with the cowboys.  When I heard about this, I thought, ‘what if?’  Cowboys at that time were a pretty rough bunch and if you get a cowboy who’s also a rancher, you’re certainly not going to find a marshmallow.  Ranchers are known to be attached to their land, proud of the generations that have worked it before them, and—shall I say this?—pretty set in their ways.  Hippies, on the other hand, are pretty much free-wheeling, easy going, airy-fairy even; they tend to either lead a vagabond life or settle in communes, at least they did in the sixties and seventies.  So, that’s my ‘what if?’ What if one of these hardened ranchers actually fell for a hippie girl?  What then?
You’re going to have to read Always on My Mind to find out “what then”…

Always on My Mind is available TODAY at all good bookstores and sales sites, including:
1972 - Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop's inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, "You were 'always on my mind'?"

He didn’t answer but shoved in another forkful of eggs and studied her. “You do want to go, don’t you? You want to join them? All I’ve heard about is dang San Francisco.”
“I guess.”
“You guess what, for goodness’ sake? Do you or do you not want to go with them?” He tapped the fork three beats by the side of his plate.
“Well, I thought I did. I mean, everyone’s going to San Francisco. Haight-Ashbury. It’s supposed to be where everything’s happening. And you don’t want me.”
“Jeez, Cassie. I’m not the only alternative. Get a job, for goodness’ sake. What was all your college education about anyway? You did go to college, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but…I went to an all-girls’ college. I don’t think they expected much of us beyond doing secretarial work and becoming wives.”
“So find a husband. I don’t care.” He turned back to his paper.
“I know you don’t care. I don’t expect you to.”
He let his fork clatter to his plate, and his gaze met hers. “Cassie, you’re like…you’re like…” He watched as a tear made its way down one cheek. “Oh, for gosh sake.”
He met her sorry stare across the dinette, eggs congealing in the kitchen warmth. Outside was the screech of tires as a car pulled up, followed by the laughter and clatter of a group of people, sliding doors hitting the metal of the cab, shouts of “Cassie, Cassie, where are youuuuuuuu?”
He pushed back from the table at the same time as she and went to the window to look out. He swiveled to look at her, see her reaction. Then, with a gentle hand, he pushed her toward the back door.
“There you are!” Dave’s voice had a note of happy surprise, which faded as he noticed Coop standing nearby. The boy stumbled as he went to her. “We had to ask that shit Ty where this guy lived and got directions here. Are you okay?”
Cassie faced Coop, her bare feet curling in the dirt in front of the ranch house as he stood on the steps and watched, arm up against a pillar, his own socked feet crossed. Part of him wanted his peace and quiet, his solitude back, but he already knew he would miss her, be sorry to see her go.
She turned back to Dave. “Of course I’m okay. I’m just—”
“Well, get your shoes or whatever and we’ll go off. We should get to Salt Lake City this afternoon and stop there before heading west again.”
“She doesn’t want to go with you.” He heard the reluctance in her voice, came down the steps, and stood in front of Dave, challenging. “She’s changed her mind.”
Cassie pivoted to glance at Coop. Surprise mixed with uncertainty faded as a small smile turned up her lips. For a moment, the others were silent, standing there, stupefied. “I…” she began again. “I’m staying here.” She felt bolder, more self-assured.
“You must be joking.” Dave’s shifty glance skimmed from one to the other. “Cassie?”
Needing reassurance, she turned to look at Coop, then turned back to Dave. “I’m fed up with traveling in that bus and I like it here. In Jackson.”
“She’s staying here,” Coop said. “At least for now.”
Perturbed at this news, the other two friends started to turn back toward the bus. Steve drew out a satchel, then scribbled something on a piece of paper before handing both to her. He nodded before he disappeared into the confines of the van.
Dave stood there gawping. “You’re gonna stay here? With this guy? On a ranch? You’re not coming to Frisco?”
She glanced back at Coop for confirmation.
He stayed stock still.
She turned again to Dave. “Yes, that’s right. I’m staying here with Coop on his ranch. I’ll follow along when I’m ready.”
“How you gonna do that? You haven’t any money.”
“I have money. At least some left. When I’m ready I’ll come. It’ll be fine. Honest, Dave. I’ll be along shortly. I’ll hitch.”
Dave’s face folded into a picture of doubtfulness. “I guess it’s your choice, Cassie.” He eyed Coop, then turned back to her. “Just be careful, Cass. Don’t fall for this jerk. He has no real interest in you.”
She stood next to Coop, doubt and insecurity filling her like water flowing into a jug. The VW bus pulled out, friends waving, and she knew she was on her own.
“Now what?” Her voice was just a whisper. “Now what?”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

WHY WE LOVE COWBOYS By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

There comes a time in every writer’s life when suddenly it feels like someone flicked a switch.  All kinds of writerly things that had previously eluded me suddenly made sense.  My “ah ha” moment came about at my first romance writer’s conference when I crowded into a room with hundreds of other hopefuls to soak up the wisdom of Jayne Ann Krentz.

Ms Krentz spoke about the “basic core fantasies” which we now bandy about as “tropes” but back then for me, her workshop was a defining moment.  She listed about a dozen of these fantasies that readers respond to on a primal level including but not limited to: vampires long before they were a popular romance trope, secret babies, marriage of convenience, sheikhs, and most notably for me the Cowboy Fantasy which, as she said, needs no explanation.  The cowboy as hero is simply etched deep in our psyche. 

At a recent Reader’s Group Launch Party I asked readers some of their all-time favorite character traits for a western hero.  No surprise; the answers were all very similar.  #1 was strong yet gentle.  Closely followed by loyal, fair, brave yet humble, tough yet gentle, always willing to help, seeker of justice and willing to fight for it.   These traits easily apply to both historical and contemporary stories and, as a writer, are definitely something I aim for with my cowboy heroes. 

In my Seven Brides for Seven Brothers series, I have my favorite hero of the brothers.  He’s cocky and arrogant to start with and although the heroine puts him smartly in his place, not everyone loves him as much as I do. 

The most popular, well-liked brother, hands down is Blake, the quiet, humble one.  Blake feels like an outcast, out of step with the rest of them because he can’t learn to read.  But the lengths he goes to for his lady!  I have to admit there is one scene where even I get a little misty-eyed every time I read it.  Blake truly is a hero.

          Blake pulled his hand out from behind his back.  “I wanted to give something to you to take with you.”
          “Scissors?” she said, puzzled.
          “I made them special.  So you can use your other hand in them.”  He demonstrated, snipping the air between them, before he tucked the fingers of her left hand into the holes.  The metal of the scissors was warm from his hand. 
          “Oh, my word,” she said.  “They feel so good.”
          “Made ’em smaller on account of you have such little hands,” he said.
          “They’re perfect.  How did you know?”
          “When we were touching the sand letters.  I was taking a picture in my head of your hand on top of mine.  That way I knew how to make them the right size for you.” 
          Storm swallowed past the suddenly huge lump in her throat.  “No one has ever, in my entire life, done anything so nice for me.”
          He looked at her and nodded.  “Funny.  I feel the same way about you and the letter learning.” 
          Once again, her eyes threatened to fill with tears.  There was a painful weight on her chest.  Her lungs felt constricted, as if she couldn’t quite draw a deep enough breath. 
          “You okay?” He was watching her with concern.
          She gave her head a shake to clear her thoughts and her vision.  “Never better.”
          “Good.  Then I got something that needs said before you go.  Stay here, Storm.  Marry me and be my wife.”
          Dizzily, she swayed toward him, afraid she might faint. 
          He caught her and held her.  Safe.  If only she could stay and feel safe forever.
          “I can’t.”  Her words came out in the barest of whispers.  “I’m already married.”

The series books can be read as stand alone, or enjoyed in the order they were written.  A free prequel is yours when you sign up for my VIP Readers Newsletter here.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Their name is Numu by Paty Jager

I've been on the Keto diet since before Christmas so is it any wonder that I want to write a blog post that starts with a sweetener? LOL

In January, my husband and I were in Northern Nevada. He'd been told about a Native American museum. Pyramid Lake Museum. It has a wonderful display of how the Paiute Indians lived and survived in northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and southeastern Oregon.

I not only learned about how they are keeping their heritage alive, but also how they lived. The first thing that caught my eye was Mountain Sugar Cane. I had never heard of it before. But there were three different photos I took that showed how it was used.

Crystals were deposited on the leaves of the plant and the women would shake the plant over a tightly woven winnowing basket and gather the crystals that they used to prepare food.

It was also used for candy. The plant was cut at the base and propped up at a slant to drain the sap from the plant. The sap formed a taffy like candy. 

I thought it was interesting that they used the shaft to make arrows. The canes shown weren't very straight. And "aha" a little further along there was a stone which I can't find a photo of. I was sure I took the photo, anyway, it was big enough to hold in a hand, and it had a groove in it the length of the stone. It was used to "sand" the shafts and make them straight. It was something I hadn't seen before in a Native American museum/display. 

On to more food related items: The first has pine nuts from the pinion pine. This is a flat stone and a hand held stone they used to grind the nuts.

This was used to grind berries and meats into a course flour or meal. A food similar to pemmican. (salmon and berries that the Nez Perce make)

And there were their mortar and pestals.

The Native Americans were resourceful people. They used everything they could find to make their lives better. I found it fascinating that the sagebrush I find unique, they used for many things, one of which was fiber to make clothing, shoes, and rope. 

They also used deer sinew, tule, Indian hemp to make snares and ropes.

This is the one that blew my mind. They used stinging nettle to make a cord. Now it doesn't bother me but my brother would breakout all over if he touched the plant.

They twined Indian hemp and sagebrush bark together and then used that to weave clothing. If you can read the note in the photo above, it said it was interesting to note that men rarely used this clothing. No kidding! It would rub the skin raw, I would think. I guess the women and children needed to stay warm and maybe their skin toughened to the contact. 

I love pottery and these two vessels that were woven of willow and covered with pine pitch look like thrown pots to me. I love them!

The other thing that fascinates me is Native American beadwork. It's beautiful, intricate, and is designed to tell a story. 

 Notice the beaded collar.This was something the woman made that was special to them. They wore them for dancing and special occasions. The Paiutes are very good at beading and still enjoy doing it. There were some gorgeous beaded earrings in their gift shop. I purchased a pair. Hard to pass up such wonderful workmanship.

If you ever get to northern Nevada, I suggest you check out this museum. They even had a thirty minute video that told about their past and what they are doing in the present to keep their culture alive.

And why did I title this Their name is Numu? Because that is the name the Paiute call themselves. While we moved in and renamed them, just like the Nez Perce call themselves Nimiipuu, the Paiute are the Numu.

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 43 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

The story of my OLD New Release, FOLLOWING FAITH by Jacqui Nelson

Happy Valentine's Day!

For several years, my book Following Faith could only be read in the Journey of the Heart multi-author anthology. This February that contract ended. Now I'm able to share Faith and Eagle's story as a single title with its own awesome book cover! ❤️

The cover was made by Kim Killion from a photoshoot with Rick Mora (from the Twilight movies) and Sharon Sala's granddaughter. Wow! That's pretty darned impressive. But even before I knew all of that, I knew this was the perfect cover for Faith and Eagle.

Who is Faith? And why is Eagle following her? 

Can a single day together on horseback change your life forever?

Labeled a harlot and expelled from a remote logging camp and her work teaching children, Faith Featherby embarks on a journey to return a stolen spirit horse to the little girl whose photograph was hidden in the horse’s riding blanket.

Orphaned young and stifled by a lifelong shyness, Faith has only her education as a schoolmistress and her memories of her mother’s stories. She’s not an experienced rider, but a Medicine Hat horse—alleged to have the sacred power to protect its rider—might be her best hope for surviving the wilderness... until an Osage warrior rides out of the mist.

Scarred by a brutal past, the warrior challenges Faith to follow a new path where belief in yourself and your partner, be they horse or man, can lead to a triumph of the heart.

Following Faith's Excerpt 

Chapter 2 - where Faith & Eagle first meet - and where Faith isn't an experienced horseback rider, but she's determined to try her best! 

Faith's gaze darted between the two paths. Her mare edged toward the narrow trail that ascended to Bird’s Eye Pass, making her choice clear. 

Faith wasn’t convinced. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to take the flatter, more used and therefore safer road?

Spirit’s entire body tensed. She released a shrill whinny and trotted up the trail before Faith could pull her to a halt. High above them, a man on a pale horse galloped out of the mist cloaking the pass. Long dark hair flying out behind him, the man rode with an elegant grace as if one with his horse. His pace quickened, heading straight for her.

She urged Spirit back onto the main road. Her decision had been made for her. She didn’t want to approach the rider thundering toward her with such determination. 

Mustering her own resolve, she tried to make Spirit go faster. The best she achieved was a brisk walk. At least they moved away from the trail. With any luck, the rider would be heading toward Timber Creek. 

His mount’s galloping hoofbeats grew louder, pounded onto the main road, and then slowed to a clip-clop—trotting her way. Several agonizing heartbeats later, the horse’s strides fell into an easy rhythm with Spirit’s. 

Surprise loosened Faith’s lips. Without looking back, she asked, “Are you following me?”

“Yes.” The timbre of his deep voice was pleasing but unusual. The orphanage and academy had accommodated many with mixed accents, but none as intriguing as his. A fanciful notion since he’d said only one word. And not a word she should appreciate.

She strove to make her voice stern and unapproachable. “Why are you following me?”

“You are riding—” He heaved a sigh, then continued in a gentler tone like he feared he might spook her. “My horse.”

~ * ~ 

To read the opening scene of Following Faith, visit my excerpt page on my website.

Or purchase Following Faith for $0.99 on Amazon (or read it for FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription): Amazon US, UK, Canada, and Australia

A note about my Lonesome Hearts Series

Following Faith is book #2 in my Lonesome Hearts series. This series follows the frontiersmen and women who meet on the Oregon Trail and afterward. Each story features characters from the other books but is also a standalone read.

Thanks for hanging out with me on Valentine's Day! 

Sending you lots of love and all of my hugs today - and every day ❤️❤️


Join me on… 
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Don't forget to download my FREE story Rescuing Raven (Raven & Charlie's story in Deadwood 1876) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Writing Believable Love Stories by Rhonda Frankhouser

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When I first started writing, I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts. I read books by critical thinkers like Aldous Huxley, René Descartes, and Ayn Rand. I watched movies with French subtitles and meditated to the new age, spiritual strumming of Santoo Govi. I was all about broadening my mind and creating intellectual prose that would impress even the most persnickety scholar. My dream was to - let’s say it together – write the next great American classic.

All that changed on a flight from California to Hawaii. I’d picked up a copy of Nicolas Evans’ best-seller, The Horse Whisperer, looking for a light read to pass the time. What I found was anything but light. The plot was sophisticated and unpredictable, and one of the most romantic I’d ever read.

I was converted.  

So, I laid down my feathered philosopher pen and turned my sights to romance. A jump from complicated prose to stories about real human connection would be easy, right? Ummmm, no. Romance authors are magicians who weave emotions, scents, visions, sounds, and touch into something that makes the reader actually experience love as it blooms between the characters. That is no easy task, let me tell you.

After many failed attempts, and a truck load of over-used adjectives, I stopped trying so hard to FORCE my characters to love one another. Instead of creating the cliché tall, dark, and handsome heroes, and perky, blonde heroines, I penned a list of characteristics I find intriguing. I closed my eyes and visualized the person I wanted to create. How they walked. Their ticks. How their clothes fit against their body. The way their mouth moved when they spoke. Not only the way they smelled and tasted, but how those things affected me. And this list went on and on, for each character.  Once I employed all the senses, the characters came to life and guided me through their story.

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My trick to writing believable love stories is simple. Make the characters real, and flawed. It’s more interesting, trust me. Put yourself in the mind of the character. What would make you trust, appreciate, and finally desire, a love interest. The most realistic stories have heroes and heroines who build a relationship the old-fashioned way through hard work and understanding, with a hefty dose of that undeniable chemistry we all crave.

Rhonda Frankhouser is an award-winning novelist, now living in the beautiful state of Georgia.  Follow her at

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

We love the West. There is much to love. For me, the history makes the present that much richer. This year of 2020 is being celebrated at the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. For those who follow western history, you know women had been voting prior to the 1920 date. Still, the path to suffrage out here wasn't always an easy one.

Image result for images women's suffrage 1877 colorado
from Colorado Virtual Library
In 1877, about six years after the city was founded, Colorado Springs started its own organizational journey to win women the right to vote.

The first notice to appear in the local paper was February 17, 1877. The article spoke of 150 people attending the event at the M. E. Church. The meeting was called to order by Commissioner Matt France. The president elected was Mr. J. S. Wolfe. After the minister spoke, Mrs. W. A. Wilkes spoke about using the ballot box to voice her conviction of what is best and right for herself and her children. She was followed by Miss Hanna, the speaker from Denver.  Below is a portion of her reported speech for that evening. (For those who would like the whole reported speech, contact me and I will send a link to where the article can be found.)

"The work before the friends of the cause is no child's play. It wars directly with the thought so deeply rooted and so hoary, that woman is only an appendage ad not an integral part of the fabric of human society. It stands opposed to the soul-blighting usages of society, which had consigned women to an aimless, objectless existence, and have baptized a life so unworthy as peculiarly fitting and graceful for women.

"We are now safely launched upon the sea of discussion and bearing on toward the trade wind. Our chief cargo is made up of rich reason, valuable self-evident truths, and priceless justice. Every day there is a new voice added to the chorus - 'Don't give up the ship!"

Hanna was followed by Mrs. Mary F. Shields who listed the history of the suffrage movement in the state from the committees on suffrage, their attendance to the constitutional convention, to submitting the resolution to the voters.

The year 1877 was a busy one that led to even more activity in the subsequent years until Colorado granted suffrage via a constitutional amendment in 1893.

As 2020 progresses, this rich history is worth exploring if only for the gifts we have today thanks to the efforts of these early pioneers.  Perhaps it is the admiration I have for these early 'fighters' that lead me to the strong women that populate my stories. Below is an excerpt from the short story, 'The Homestead' in "The Untamed West"

Photo property of the author
     "Mother, Mother," Ruth heard excitement and fear in her five-year-old son Samuel's voice.

     Heart pounding, Ruth moved away from the wood she was chopping. She turned to see Samuel standing some twenty feet away. He was standing statue still, not moving.

     Chances were her son had seen a snake, and she hoped it wasn't a rattler. She'd taught him to stay in place and call for her. She'd emphasized how important he remain still, realizing a rambunctious five-year-old would likely run. To move could be fatal. In that respect, he was like his father Joseph who was always out for adventure.

     Thinking of Joseph, the man who'd left her and their child alone out here, brought up the rage she tried hard to suppress. Now a snake might take away all that was precious to her.

     Gripping the axe tightly, Ruth moved toward Samuel. She knew it would do no good to rush blindly ahead. If anything happened to her, there would be no one to care for Samuel. Plus, with winter not far off, any meat, even snake meat would help them survive.

The Untamed West Kindle Edition
Amazon Purchase

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet