Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Work In Progress!

by Andrea Downing

Last night I had a discussion over dinner as to what I was writing at the moment.  From that we were led into where I get my ideas, why I write about the west, why I write romance, and so on and so forth. If you’re an author and reading this, you’ve been there I’m sure. How do you name a character or find their names? How do you choose your setting? Do you have the entire story plotted out? Do you know the ending? The questions came at me faster than an outlaw on the run.
Well, I’m not going to answer those questions here if that’s what you’re thinking—unless of course you happen to put them in the comments section.  But I thought I’d give you a small taste of the opening of my WIP and see if anyone wishes to comment or critique it—all criticism gratefully received.  I’m also, purposefully, not giving you the working title since that can lead to all sorts of problems. So here we go:
Part One
Chapter One

The first thing Shiloh Coltrane thought, as he went flying through the glass of the The Painted Lady Saloon, was he was going to hurt like hell if he didn’t first bleed to death. The second thought that passed through his slightly foggy brain as he hit the iron bar, which served to protect the glass from kicking horse hooves not flying people, was this was going to cost him big-time and anger every man in town. And as he landed on the wooden boardwalk, rolling away from the possibility of further infliction from the tied horses, glass shattering and splintering around him, the vision that had descended the steps from the second floor flashed through his mind’s eye as if death was approaching and his entire life had come to this point.
Which in some vague way he was aware it had.
That woman. Soiled dove? Surely not. Too neat, prim, and fully clothed. So what was she doing there?
He lay for a moment as the boardwalk vibrated with a power not unlike an earthquake and voices grew like thunder moving in. A slight odor of manure wafted up, the prickle and sting of fractured glass, and a knowledge that any which way he moved, pain was inevitable—all became apparent.
Then, as the squeak of the saloon doors invaded his hearing, Bozy the bartender’s voice slammed into his brain: “That there glass come all the way from Pittsburgh, Coltrane. You know how much that gonna cost to replace? You know how I’m gonna have to cover up that there winda while we wait for a replacement? And the painting to be done? You know how much all that gonna cost? You! It’s gonna cost you!”
Shiloh felt the scrape of the glass fragments as he lifted his head gingerly and twisted to look Bozy in the eye. He’d removed his gloves earlier and in order to push himself up, the tenderness of bruises just now becoming evident, he knew he’d have to risk some of those splinters embedding themselves further into his skin. He pivoted on to his buttocks, now conscious something had stuck him in the behind, right through his jeans and union suit. He pulled his legs in, bent, and somehow managed to squat. His hands found and gripped the window’s iron bar behind him, and he pushed himself to his full height.
“You tell Ike to pay for that, Bozy. And tell him not to show his face in town or he’ll have two windows to pay for.”
“Ike’s not gonna pay nothing. He ain’t got two nickels to rub together. He’s already hightailed it outta here.”
“I see. So just because I have a ranch that actually sees a profit I’m supposed to pay on behalf of the dumb brute that just flung me through your window? Good luck with that.” He glanced around for his hat and spotted it clutched in the hands of one of the doves.
Without meeting his gaze, she held it out. Shiloh took it and nodded his thanks, dusted it down, more to see if he could get some glass splinters out of his hands than to get dust off the hat. He studied Bozy’s face, a mix of upset and anger, worry and thought.
“I’ll see what I can do about Ike.” Shiloh tried to keep his voice noncommittal.
“You gonna shoot him?”
“No, I’m not gonna shoot him. Damn fool.” His hands inadvertently slipped to his thighs but the discomfort stopped him from actually feeling for his Colts.
“Why’d you start that fight, then? You gotta chip on your shoulder big as all outdoors!”
“I didn’t start the fight. And I said I’d see what could be done.”
“You’re good with your hands, Coltrane. Usually. You can do the work.”
“I guess. Maybe. Let me know when the glass arrives.”
“Well, what the hell happened there anyway?”
The crowd drew a little closer and suddenly Shiloh felt the air sucked from his lungs. He wanted to get out, get home, get the glass picked out.
“I asked him where Parmeter was.”
It was as if the ring of onlookers moved as one person and took two steps back.
“Yeah. You remember Parmeter? My sister’s husband?”
“You been askin’ ’bout Parmeter ever since you come back. Give it up, why don’t you?”
A chatter punctuated by snorts and sly looks met this statement.
“I’m not giving up ’til I find out who killed my sister and where Parmeter’s gone. And I hadn’t asked Ike before.”
Bozy shook his head. “Looks like he don’t know nothing ’bout Parmeter from where I stand.” He seemed to think a moment. “You best be gettin’ on over to that new doc’s.”
“What new doc’s? Since when do we have a doctor?”
Bozy’s mouth puckered and moved like he didn’t want to swallow something awful in his mouth. “A few weeks back. Only temporary I’d think. Lives up near the fort, treats the Indians at the agency, comes down here once a week. Sees folks over in the storeroom of the mercantile. Name’s Sydney Cantrell.”

© Andrea Downing

And if you need some good reading to keep you occupied while I continue to work on that, maybe my Lawless Love would fit the bill.  It’s available in both eBook and Audible.  See

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.
Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong. He's never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he's followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers...but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless? 

Lacey thought of fluttering her eyelashes, but it was such a silly thing to do. How could women act like that? She just looked up at the marshal and waited, the possibilities turning over in her mind, flitting through her head but never settling.
     “You wanna tell me what really happened now so we can try to sort this matter? All I can do is promise I’ll do everything in my power to sort it for you, but I cain’t help you less’n you tell the truth. You tell me lies and make me look a dang fool, there’s nothin’ I can do. You understand that?”
     Along with the tiniest nod, she clasped her hands together. She looked up at Dylan Kane and saw kindness in that face, a face she could so easily have loved had things been different. She could sense the heat radiating from his body and knew if she touched his chest, a strength would exist where his heart beat. If she ran her hand down his arms, she would find that same strength in his muscle. How she wanted those arms around her! All her life, it seemed, she had looked after herself, cared for her brother, struggled to make a home for the two of them. What would it have been like if Morgan had not...
     “Lacey?” Dylan’s soft voice brought her back from her reveries. “You ready to tell the truth?” With one gentle finger, he lifted her chin so their gazes met for a moment before they each stepped back from the brink of something neither could control. “Lacey?” he repeated.
     “Yes, I’m ready.”


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Florida Cracker Culture:

Cracker in Florida
Although the cowboy is an icon of the American West many people don’t realize that the first American cowboys started out in Florida.  In fact, the largest privately-owned cattle ranch in the United States today is located in the heart of this semi-tropic state.
Before the States were even independent the Spanish brought cattle and horses to Florida where they settled. When the Spanish left this sunny state they turned these animals loose to fend for themselves. Not only did they survive they thrived.
As American’s settled the lush green state they collected these free-range animals and Cracker Cowboy Culture was born. 
The cowboys, known as Crackers would drive the brush cattle out of the thick palmetto forests using whips that cracked thus earning them the name “Crackers”. These hearty cow hunters worked long days in the sweltering heat accompanied by their dogs who helped to track down the crafty cows hidden in the undergrowth.

In my latest story, Meg: Book Three of the Cattleman’s Daughters, the hero Clayton Allen explains this to his new boss when he takes up residence on the Broken J ranch where he arrives with his Cracker horse Duke.  Here’s how he explained the cow hunters of Florida: 
           Clayton walked the horse to one of the stalls standing open n
ear the front of the barn slipped the ornate black bridle over the animal’s head and replaced it with a simple rope halter, then he turned and began unbuckling the saddle.
          “He’s a good looking horse, I’ll have to say. A stud I see. What breed is he? He’s got the look of a mustang but is bigger and more rounded.” (Joshua James)
          “He’s a Cracker horse sir.” The young man replied, his voice resonating with pride. “Bred and raised right there back home. He’s a pretty easy soul to work with but he does like the ladies.” He added with a wink.
“Florida Cracker horses descended from the horses the Spanish left behind when they gave up the place. We cow hunters just sorta’ picked ‘em up over time and through some careful breeding some families ended up with really fine stock like Duke here.”
          “Why, where I’m from the Parton’s and the Bronson’s are both well known for their Florida horses.” For a moment the punchers face clouded, but then it passed and he smiled again, swinging the heavy saddle up onto the railing beside the stall. “I sure was glad to be able to keep ol’ Duke when I left.”
          “Son, why do you call them cow hunters down in Florida instead of cowpokes like we use out west here?” Joshua was curious about the strange terminology and wasn't afraid to ask.
          “Most folk actually call us Crackers sir, just like our horses. The name comes from the cracking sound of our whips we use instead of lariats."
          To illustrate he pulled the coil from his belt and gave it a soft crack. The black horse perked its ears and nickered.
"Florida is so full of scrub and thick undergrowth that it’s harder than blue blazes to get a rope on a cow but you can drive ‘em easy enough using this bit of equipment.” He tapped the whip as he recoiled the long strand and fastened it on his saddle.
About Meg, Book Three in The Cattleman’s Daughers:
 Things aren’t always as they appear.

Clayton Allen is a man with a secret, one he clings to making it possible to control his rage. After being cheated out of his ancestral Florida home, he strikes out on his own hoping to find a place to start over and thinks the Broken J might just give him a chance. But how long can he hold his mask of teasing dandy in place before everyone knows him for who he truly is?
Muiread (Meg) James, romantic and dreamy, longs for the excitement of the big city. Her head is so full of thoughts of tall, dark and handsome heroes, that when confronted with the real thing her pride threatens to destroy them both. Her fiery temper and Penny Dreadful dreams of chivalry will toss her straight into a situation that might not only be her undoing but may demolish the trust of the Broken J.
Will two people determined to best the other finally hear the call of a wandering heart and be joined together or be shattered by the impact of their wills?

You can purchase Meg on Amazon by clicking HERE.
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Friday, July 12, 2019

The Wild Woman Philanthropist & Angel of the Mining Camps

Historic Angel of the Mining Camps & philanthropist

By Jacqui Nelson

In mining camps—where gold fever and greed ran rampant—an angel appeared. Meet the wild woman philanthropist who used her business sense, her strong work ethic, and her unstoppable determination to earn money for charitable causes and save lives.

Ellen “Nellie” Cashman
~ Aka the Angel of the Mining Camps ~

( born 1845 in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland ) 

 Nellie Cashman, San Francisco - 1874
 Nellie Cashman
San Francisco - 1874
Nellie was a businesswoman, boardinghouse owner, restaurateur, nurse, gold prospector, and philanthropist who also became known nationally as a frontierswoman.

In 1850, Nellie’s mother brought her and her sister to the United States to escape the poverty of Ireland’s Great Famine. As an adolescent, Nellie worked as a bellhop in a Boston hotel.

In 1865, her family moved to San Francisco.

In 1874, she struck out on her own and set up a boardinghouse for miners at Telegraph Creek, British Columbia, Canada. She asked for donations for the Sisters of St. Ann’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in return for the services at her boardinghouse.

Sisters of St. Ann, British Columbia, Canada
While delivering a $500 donation to the Sisters of St. Ann (in Victoria, British Columbia), she heard that miners had been stranded by a snowstorm and were starving in the Cassiar Mountains. She led a rescue party that hauled 1,500 pounds of food and supplies. It took 77 days to find the miners but her efforts saved 75 souls.

Cassiar Gold Rush, British Columbia 
In 1880, she moved to Tombstone, Arizona, where she raised money to build the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, did charitable work, and became a nurse. In 1883 when her sister died, she assumed the role of raising her five nieces and nephews.

In the late 1880s, she set up several restaurants and boardinghouses in Arizona. Legend says that a client once complained about Nellie's cooking. Fellow diner Doc Holliday drew his pistol and told the customer to repeat what he'd said. The man replied, "Best I ever ate."

Nellie Cashman
From 1898 to 1905, Nellie took up prospecting in the Yukon’s Klondike Gold Rush. She also opened a store in Dawson Creek. She used her earnings to help fund a new hospital in Fairbanks.

In 1925 when Nellie developed pneumonia, friends took her to the Sisters of St. Ann and the hospital that she’d raised donations to help build half a century earlier. When she died, she was buried in Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery.

St. Joseph's Hospital, Victoria - past

St. Joseph's Hospital, Victoria - present (June 2019)

Nellie Cashman - 1924, Arizona Historical Society

~ * ~ 

I live only a 5-minute walk from St. Joseph's hospital (which is now an apartment for seniors). On the other side of the street is the Sisters of St. Ann's Academy and Orchard (which still has its apple trees but is also a lovely public park). I walk along this footpath worn into the field every time I go to visit my sister and nephew.

St. Ann's Academy and Orchard, Victoria - June 2019

Only a few weeks ago I sat on the steps of Victoria's Parliament Building alongside Danni Roan (my fellow Cowboy Kisses blogger) and listened to Nellie Cashman and Queen Victoria reenactors talk about their part in British Columbia's history.

Nellie Cashman & Queen Victoria reenactors - June 2019

It often catches me by surprise that I live so close to all this adventurous history. As my mom used to say, it's in our backyard. All I have to do is pause for a moment and look for it. I think I'm going to pause and look more often :)

Do you have an interesting historical tale from your "backyard"? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below. 

~ * ~

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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Guest Author Linda Broday

Hello All! I'm a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 24 full length western romance novels and short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the Comanche and early cowboys once roamed, and on a still day I can often hear their voices whispering in the breeze. I love research and looking for little known tidbits to add realism to my stories and quite often make a nuisance of myself at museums and libraries. My newest release is Saving the Mail Order Bride.

Back Cover Blurb:
He may be a wanted man, but all outlaw Jack Bowdre ever desired was a second chance. Now he’s on his way to jail, completely unaware that his unexpected—and unexpectedly beautiful—traveling companion is none other than Nora Kane…his mail order bride.

All Nora sees is a scoundrel. But when their stagecoach crashes and the truth comes spilling out, they’re suddenly left to fend for themselves—and each other. Handcuffed together by a six-inch chain and a posse behind, Nora has to rely on Jack to save her. The longer they spend racing over rugged terrain, the stronger their feelings grow. Hounded by desperate men bent on doing them harm, Nora and Jack will do whatever it takes to find their happily ever after...but first, they’ll have to shake the devil from their trail.

Excerpt – Saving the Mail Order Bride

The barrel-chested marshal smiled at Lenora. “Sorry that you have to endure this a bit longer, ma’am. He’s little more than a savage animal.” He said that like the outlaw had a case of rabies or something. Dollard continued in a tone full of righteous contempt. “Why, he’s so mean the rattlesnakes won’t even come near him. I heard his own kin disowned him.”

Lenora’s gaze followed the outlaw’s long legs and lean form from which enormous power radiated, felt his deep irritation and anger to be cuffed to the marshal. She’d read about men like this one who lived outside the law in dime novels that were all the rage back East. But reading about one and coming face to face with one in the flesh were two totally different things.

Awareness sizzled between them and when he turned his gaze to her, a rush of heat flooded her cheeks.

His chiseled features appeared hewn from the hardest stone that the good Lord probably reserved for those like him who lived outside the law. The marshal appeared barely able to contain him. In fact, she got the impression the prisoner merely bided his time until an opportunity for escape came.

He glanced toward the window, allowing her to study him better. The outlaw had uncommon good looks with a hard, angled jaw that sported brown stubble. The rise high on his nose indicated it had been broken few times. Ha! She wasn’t surprised at that. But most striking were his gray eyes—gunmetal gray. At times they stormed, and other times, like when the marshal shot warnings and threats, they became icy and hard. But amusement colored his gaze when he turned his attention to her.

Lenora thought about leaning across the space and slapping his brazen face. Except she’d never struck anyone even though she’d been sorely tempted a few times.

The way he glanced at the door then back to the marshal told her he was planning an escape.

Lenora stilled and held her breath, her pulse racing. Would he use her somehow in his escape plan? Maybe take her hostage? Oh dear. She glanced at the marshal, wondering if he’d pull his gun and shoot him if he tried anything.

The handsome outlaw lifted a finely arched brow. “Here in Texas they make you pay to gawk, ma’am. But I reckon this is the first time a gentle woman like yourself has laid eyes on a born and bred killer. Who knows? Maybe you can come to my hanging. Now that’ll be a real treat.”

Beneath his mocking tone, she saw the layer of sorrow, felt his heavy heart, tasted his bitterness. She couldn’t bear the thought of him swinging from a rope.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Meet Rube Gautier, the star of Legacy of Ruby's Ranch by Rhonda Frankhouser

Granny Rube wasn't always a granny, y'all. She was once a dreamer...

In Legacy of Ruby's Ranch, Book 3 of the award-winning Ruby's Ranch Series, we go back two generations to interview the original matriarch of Ruby's Ranch, the young and impetuous Rube Gautier. 

After WWII and the devastation of the Dust Bowl, Rube tells us what life had in store for her before she became one of the most formidable ranchers of her time.

Rube Gautier is the only child of Cyrene and Samuel Gautier. She was born into a village of people who believed duty and responsibility reigned above all else, but all she wants is to leave home and start her own ranch in the Kern River Valley.

Rube does her best to accept her fate but dreams both haunt and tantalize her. Will she follow the teachings of the legacy or follow the tall, sexy cowboy who promises to make her dreams come true? Let’s ask Rube.

What is your relationship status?
She paused considering the question. “As far as my parents are concerned, I’ve been in a relationship since I was promised to Gabriel, but the thought of arranged marriages is so arcane. I just want to live my own life and fall in love.” She smiled, coyly. “I’d be interested in learning more about that gorgeous cowboy, Mac Adams. The whole, strong, silent, war hero thing he has going, keeps me up at night. If you know what I mean?”

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
“I see a stubborn, passionate woman who looks particularly like her mother when she pulls her hair back into a clip. Someone who knows exactly what she wants but can’t break Papa’s heart to get it.”
Copyright to photographer
What is people’s first impression of you?
She pinched her face into a frown and glanced away, “You know, I’ve never really thought of it, but I guess they might call me cranky and willful, when really I’m curious and hopeful. The few who matter can see my fun, flirty side.”

Name three of your favorite things.
“I have way more than three favorite things, but I have to say, riding my beautiful, Cremello mare, Twilight in the breaking dawn; smelling gingerbread cookies baking in Momma’s oven; and the adorable crooked smile Mac flashes when he’s trying to flirt. Have mercy.”

Name three things that tick you off.
“Being told what to do. I really hate that!  Also, being under the rule of ancient tradition and being forced into a relationship not of my choosing. I think it’s about time all of these things are challenged.”

What is your best memory to date?
A wide smile spread across her lips and her eyes lit. “Riding the high plains with Papa, rounding up our prized herd. Things were so simple when I was younger. More recently, I’d have to say the vision of Mac galloping toward me on the plateau. The commanding way he handled the most stubborn stud on the ranch, made me feel wicked things I’ve never felt before.”

What are you most afraid of?
“I’m afraid something bad will happen if I go against tradition. If I lost someone I loved because of my own selfish needs, it would break me.”

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
“Interesting question. I’m not sure,” she pushed the glass in front of her away and leaned on the table. “Maybe - Here lies the passionate woman who loved hard, never gave up on her dreams, and always made her family proud.”

Now on to something lighter, what is your favorite drink?
“Without question, country sweet tea served in one of Momma’s mason jars. Sweet nectar of life.”

What is your favorite food?
“Fried chicken and biscuits and of course, Gingerbread cookies made from our family recipe.”

What was your first impression of Mac?
“He’s shy, and funny, and full of truth and honor. Wicked sexy. When I first saw him, he seemed so familiar. He’s the most confidant person I know, and he knows exactly what he wants. I admire that about him.” A blush came to her face. “He gives me hope for a different kind of life.”
A little Mac motivation ~ Copyright to photographer
If we could only hear your voice (but not see you) what characteristic would identify you?
“Probably determination. I don’t appreciate unanswered questions and vague explanations. I’ll pursue the truth ‘til the bitter end, even if it hurts me.”

What would you most like to forget?
“I would like to forget the look on Papa’s face when I told him I didn’t want anything to do with the family legacy. Disappointing him will surely be the most devastating thing to ever happen to me. At least I hope things won’t get worse than that.”

What is your most prized possession?
“Well, a horse is definitely not a possession, but Twilight is my most prized gift. She has brought me through many tumultuous times, given me confidence and unconditional love, and she'll be the key to my happily-ever-after. I just have a feeling.”
Gorgeous Cremello  ~ Copyright to photographer

Thank you to Rube Gautier for sharing a few thoughts before her story releases August 21, 2019. Be sure to read her granddaughter's story, 2017 RONE Finalist, Return to Ruby's Ranch, and her daughter's story, Escape from Ruby's Ranch

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