Thursday, October 8, 2015

Great Lines from the Westerns

By Alison Bruce

This is just a sampling of great movie western lines. I would be up all night digging them all up and I can't do that two nights in a row. Now, if you'd like to share some of your favorite quotes in the comments, I reckon I'd be right grateful.

"They're making me run. I've never run from anybody before."
Will Kane, High Noon (1952)

In some ways, High Noon is the Hamlet of westerns. It has been quoted, excerpted and paid homage to so many times, you don't have to watch the movie to recognize it.

Jake Cutter: It would break my heart if I had to put a bullet in your back.
Paul Regret: It would make me sad also.

Comancheros (1961)

Comancheros is one of my all time favorite John Wayne movies largely because of the banter between the two main characters.

“You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”
The Man with No Name, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. (1966)

"Is that a ten-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?"
Lili Von Shtupp, Blazing Saddles (1974)

What can I say? I love Madeline Kahn and Blazing Saddles. (I've been known to sing "I'm Tired" in the shower.)

"I've made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it."
John Wayne when filming his last movie The Shootist (1976)

Not a movie line but so characteristic of The Duke that I couldn't resist including it.

"We'll give you a fair trial... Followed by a first class hangin'."
Sheriff Cobb, Silverado (1985)

It came a big shock to me when I discovered that Silverado was a bona fide western and not a spoof. The trailers made it seem more like a comedy, perhaps because most movie-goers hadn't seen a real western in years.

“It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.”
Will Munny, Unforgiven (1992)

“You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.”
Mattie Ross, True Grit (2010)

Anna: You're a good sheep farmer!
Albert: Oh my god, please! I suck at sheep. Louise was right, I can't keep track of them. There was a sheep in the whorehouse the last week.
Anna: Really?
Albert: Yeah. Wandered in there, and then when I went to pick it up, somehow it had made 20 dollars.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

What are your favorite lines? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Aspens, Donkeys and Llamas

New York in Autumn courtesy of

Having grown up in New York, Autumn was always a special time of year. The leaves changing colors brought a vibrant array of red, orange and gold to the landscape. Mom and Dad would load us kids into the car and we'd venture to nearby farms for apples and cider donuts. Sometimes, we'd journey north. Sometimes we'd travel east or south. No matter the direction, I always enjoyed the color of the leaves.

When the hubby and I lived in New Jersey, we'd often visit our families in New York. I remember one such time, on our way back to New Jersey, the hubby and I strayed from the main highway and drove along the back roads to look at the changing leaves and to stop for apples and donuts. The trip took longer, but we had a great time and started our own tradition of taking a drive on an autumn day to see the changing leaves.

The back side of Pikes Peak
Here we are many years later and living out west where the Aspens change from green to bright yellow, with some red and orange and brown leaves from other trees mixed in. One Saturday a few years back, the hubby and I loaded the kiddo into the car and took off for an afternoon drive through the Rocky Mountains. Driving up the pass, we went through Woodland Park and headed west to the road that winds along the back of Pikes Peak to Cripple Creek. For those who don't know, Cripple Creek is an old mining town from the 1800's. Some of the original saloons and buildings remain, most are casinos now, and there is still a working gold mine outside of town.

Cripple Creek, CO
The drive was quiet and relaxing. Some of the Aspen were in bloom, offering a myriad of colors. Most were still green, but no matter what time of year, the scenery is always gorgeous. We entered Cripple Creek and decided to drive through town and pick up the road on the other side. Just as we passed the last casino and began to approach the outskirts of town, my son spotted a donkey beneath some trees. Looking out my window, I found there was more than one donkey and figured a nearby rancher had brought the donkeys to town for a special occasion. But then, on the hubby's side of the street, there was an open lot with more donkeys. A lady was feeding them. We decided to stop along the curb and take a video of her feeding the donkeys.

Getting out of the car, the first few donkeys the kiddo and I had seen decided they were hungry and, one by one, they began crossing the street to get to the lady. Now, this was a sight to see--donkeys crossing the road and motorists stopping to give them the right of way. One donkey took an interest in a parked car's bumper and after sniffing it, scratched his ear along the tail light--too cute! (Glad it wasn't my car.) After the donkeys had their fill of hay, they followed their leader--a grey donkey--to the next street over and disappeared around the corner of a building.

The baby was adorable
While watching this scene, a gentleman walking his dog approached. One of the donkeys stopped and eyed the little dog, but did nothing and continued on his way. I learned from the gentleman that the donkeys are wild and live in Cripple Creek. The citizens of Cripple Creek help take care of them and feed them. The donkeys know the lady with the hay. She is there almost every day to feed them, and motorists have to yield to the donkeys. It is believed that these donkeys are descendants from the donkeys that were left behind when the gold rush came to an end and the miners went back down the mountain. It's the first time since coming here in '93 that the hubby and I have ever seen the donkeys, and it sure made our day. Sadly, I don’t have pics of the donkeys, but the llamas we saw that day were just as cute, as were the mountain goats along the side of the road.
The goats

Happy Autumn everyone!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rounding Up Inspiration

by Shanna Hatfield

Perhaps I shouldn't love it as much as I do, but there are few things I enjoy as much as attending a good rodeo.
A few weeks ago, Captain Cavedweller and I spent a few days in Pendleton, Oregon, attending the world famous Pendleton Round-Up. The first Pendleton Round-Up was held in the early 1900s and has a long, rich history.

One of the great things about going to the Round-Up is the Westward Ho Parade. There isn't a single motorized vehicle in the parade, but there are oodles of horses and vintage conveyances.
I snap bunches of photos so I can pull them up and study the details when I'm working on a story.

It's not every day you have the opportunity to see horses and mules in harnesses (especially spit and polished for a parade).

And you definitely don't see this everyday. These two characters were one of the most talked about entries in the parade. Later, they hung out in the park and let people take photos on the backs of the these tame giants.

Of course, one of the other things I love about the experience, is the rodeo. Since I write a lot about cowboys in general and rodeos in particular, it provides an opportunity for me to capture hundreds of images I can later use for research purposes.

(And for fun!)

Even if this is at a modern-day rodeo, I could easily use this photo to describe a scene of someone riding a bronc in any time frame.

This was my favorite photo of all those I took. This cowboy almost looks like he's performing some intricately choreographed dance move.

And you gotta have a photo of bull riding, even if this ol' boy was a little snotty.

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:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:
ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Monday, October 5, 2015

How Book Reviewing and Contest Judging Improved My Perspective On Writing

By Kristy McCaffrey

Writing is an inherently private endeavor, despite any support group an author might have. As such, it can be exceedingly difficult to gain perspective on one’s own work. And while the input of other writer’s opinions should be sought, along with editorial advice, the feedback can sometimes prove to be confusing. As such, we must learn to be our own best guides in our writing life. Reviewing books and judging writing contests can offer a unique avenue to improving your own writing.

For two years I worked on the book review team for Women’s Adventure magazine. Book solicitations were forwarded to us and we were each allowed to choose (or not choose) any of the selections. And while most of the books submitted (via authors, publishers, and publicists) were adventurous memoirs, we also received fiction books and even a few romances. This selection process showed me several things: each reviewer (there were four of us) had her own personal likes and dislikes, the presentation of a review query was so very important (explain your book and why we would want to read it but keep it short, and include relevant links to a website, book page, etc.—don’t make a reviewer hunt for them), and finally there’s an element of serendipity to getting your book read and reviewed.

Some books I requested I dove into and loved immediately. Some books, while well-written, didn’t contain subject matter terribly interesting to me, but by reading a little every day I could reach the end. Then there were other books, ones that I’d requested but once they arrived I couldn’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm to read. There were also a few that, once begun, were badly written. I always gave a book at least three chapters before giving up. But if I couldn’t in good conscience recommend a story, I would pass on the review. Issues with these books ranged from rambling, incoherent chapters with bad transitions to shallow storylines (adventure memoirs require a certain amount of digging deep emotionally) to too much telling and not letting the story simply unfold. Sometimes an author would interject with a 20/20 vision of hindsight from page one and never stop, which can be a huge impediment in narration (and, to be honest, is annoying to read).

Book reviewing helped me understand how my own writing might be lacking in both presentation and depth. It also expanded my reading repertoire and this can have a profound impact on your own writing curiosities.

Judging a writing contest is a wonderful way to give back to the community in which you make a living (or hope to). Many authors are asked to judge unpublished writers and I’ve always done my best to offer constructive feedback and not just return a scoresheet with a number on it. But what really opened my eyes about the subjectivity of writing was judging a published writer’s contest. In each instance, I was given polished and excellent works. It was a huge challenge to score such a contest, because there was very little to critique. It really came down to my own attachment to the story and the characters. I really felt bad for the stories that didn’t win because in most instances, they all deserved to win. So, if your books aren’t claiming awards, it may have nothing to do with the quality or your abilities as a writer but everything to do with how your tale connected with the reader/judge.

By reviewing and judging other writers, critical skills can be sharpened, serving as a catalyst to improve writing skills even if one is a seasoned author. It can help you identify what styles and tropes resonate, and which ones don’t. Even better, you’ll understand where your work falls along the writing spectrum.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The National Park Idea

The National Park Idea

I write several time travel romance series set in the American West, as well as some western historical romances. I love Yellowstone - it’s beauty, diversity, and history. There is just no place like it on earth. It’s what inspired me to write my first series, the Yellowstone Romance Series. Romance and adventure is set against the backdrop of this magical place that is often called Wonderland. Amidst action, adventure, and plenty of romance,  the series takes the reader through my fictional account of how Yellowstone National Park went from an unknown wilderness to becoming the first national park.

Yellowstone National Park, the nation, in fact, the world’s first national park, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.

If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, and sat at one of the Ranger campfire programs at Madison Junction, the ranger will almost always point behind him or her, to a tall mountain across the valley. The mountain is named National Park Mountain, and legend has it that this is where the national park idea was born. It is said that Henry Washburn, Nathaniel Langford, and Cornelius Hedges camped in the valley just beneath the mountain during their expedition through the area in 1870, and came up with the grand idea of preserving the wonders they saw – the geysers, hot springs, canyons, rivers and lakes – for everyone to enjoy for generations to come. They wanted the area set aside as a nation’s park.
National Park Mountain
Whether this conversation actually occurred, and in that precise location, is up for debate, but it makes for a nice campfire story.  So what did lead to the birth of the national park idea?

Lewis and Clark, during their expedition in 1805, missed the area that is now the famous Yellowstone National Park. In 1806, John Colter, who was part of the expedition, set out with a group of fur trappers, and some historical accounts say he is the first white man to have seen the area and its geysers. He described a place of “hell and brimstone” that most people dismissed as delirium. Those who heard of his tales called this imaginary place “Colter’s Hell.”
Over the years, more fur trappers entered the Rocky Mountains, and more and more reports found their way back to civilization of a place with boiling mud, steaming rivers, and petrified trees. These fantastical stories were believed to be just that – men’s tall tales who had been in the wilderness too long.

In 1856, mountain man Jim Bridger reported observing boiling springs, spouting water, and a mountain of glass and yellow rock. But since Bridger had a reputation as a “spinner of yarn,” his reports were also ignored.
The first detailed exploration of the Yellowstone area came in 1869, when three privately funded explorers trekked through what is now the park. The members of the Folsom party kept detailed records and journals, and based on their information, a group of Montana residents organized the Washburn/Langford/Doane Expedition of 1870. Henry Washburn was surveyor-general of Montana at the time.
The group included Nathaniel Langford, who later would be known as “National Park Langford.” They spent a month exploring the region, collecting specimens, and naming sites of interest (Old Faithful, anyone?) Another member of the group, lawyer Cornelius Hedges, proposed that the region should be set aside and protected as a national park. Other prominent men also made similar suggestions that “Congress pass a bill reserving the Great Geyser Basin as a public park forever.”
In 1871, Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, a geologist, organized the first government-sponsored exploration of the region. The Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 included numerous scientists, as well as photographer William Henry Jackson, and artist Thomas Moran. Together, they compiled a comprehensive report on Yellowstone, which helped convince Congress to withdraw the region from public auction. The Act of Dedication Law was signed by the President Uysses S. Grant on March 1st, 1872.

The Act of Dedication

An Act to set apart a certain tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River as a public park. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the tract of land in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming …. is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people; and all persons who shall locate, or settle upon, or occupy the same or any part thereof, except as hereinafter provided, shall be considered trespassers and removed there from…Approved March 1, 1872.

Yellowstone Heart Song, Yellowstone Romance Series Book One:

Nurse and avid backpacker Aimee Donovan is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. She encounters a patient who tells her he can send her two hundred years into the past to spend three months in the rugged Yellowstone wilderness at the dawn of the mountain man era. The only requirement: she cannot tell anyone that she’s from the future.

How did a white woman suddenly appear in the remote Rocky Mountain wilderness? Trapper Daniel Osborne’s first instinct is to protect this mysterious and unconventional woman from the harsh realities of his mountains. While he fights his growing attraction to her, he is left frustrated by her lies and secrecy.

Daniel shows Aimee a side of Yellowstone she’s never experienced. She is torn between her feelings for him, and exposing a secret that will destroy everything he holds as truth. As her three months come to an end, she is faced with a dilemma: return to her own time, or stay with the man who opened her eyes to a whole new world. When the decision is made for her, both their lives will be changed forever.

Excerpt from Yellowstone Heart Song

For the better part of the morning, Daniel led her through the forest.  He showed her how to read different tracks, signs to look out for that an animal had been in the area, where to look for edible roots and plants, and how to watch the skies for changes in the weather. Along with the berries, she filled her backpack with mint, wild onions, licorice, and various other roots and plants.
She listened attentively as she tried to absorb everything Daniel told her. Some things she already knew, others were completely new to her. The subtle animal signs he picked up on astounded her. Silently, he had pointed out a black bear sow and her twin cubs in the distance, a moose in the thickets that she would have completely overlooked, and countless other smaller animals. He knew which critter made every track they came upon. He read the forest for information as someone in her time would read a newspaper. It was most refreshing to get a glimpse of this wilderness that she loved so much in her time from this man who carved out a living here.
Aimee savored the beauty of her surroundings. Aspen trees grew in abundance. Beaver lodges lined the banks along streams, and countless otters played in the waters. With the coming of the fur trappers to these mountains within a decade of this time, the beaver would be trapped to near extinction. Wolves would be hunted until none remained, and without this predator, the elk would take over, and cause the destruction of the aspen from overgrazing. This was a Yellowstone unfamiliar to her, but it was as nature had intended before the encroachment of man.
Despite the differences, the landscape still held a certain familiarity, and she realized Daniel was leading them back in the direction of the cabin sometime in the early afternoon. Her foot throbbed with every step she took, but today was one of the best days of her life. The raw, undisturbed landscape exhilarated her. No other hikers, no roads. Just me and this gorgeous backwoodsman.
Oh, geez, where were her thoughts taking her now? Daniel had proven to be an excellent teacher, and she enjoyed seeing her beloved Yellowstone through his eyes. Yet, as the day wore on, she found it harder and harder to concentrate on her surroundings, while she became more and more aware of him. He was as untamed as this land, and by far the most virile man she had ever met.

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series