Friday, February 28, 2020


I’m sure I’m not the only historical author who has found herself in this position.

I’m writing another book for the Lockets and Lace series. My earlier books have dealt with the Atwell family that (mostly) settled in Salina, Kansas. They have dealt with Fort Riley and the Kaw, or Kansa, Indians, as well as suffered some excitement because of the hostile native tribes. Although I have researched quite a bit about these topics, my current book is set in the second half of the 1860s, which means several more forts were built in Kansas, especially as the American Civil War drew to an end.

In 1858, gold was discovered at Cherry Creek in Denver and started the Pike’s Peak gold rush, thus turning the Indian trail that followed the Smoky Hill River into a prospectors’ and freighters’ trail. In 1862, several bills were signed into law by President Lincoln, including the Homestead Act. That act opened the floodgates of those Americans choosing to move west to claim land. Many chose to homestead on the buffalo hunting grounds of the Cheyenne, Kaw, Arapaho, and several other tribes. After Butterfield lost his contract to use the Southern route, he established his new route to Denver through Kansas.
Frank C McCarthy- The Run to the Way Station
While the white Americans were fighting each other in their civil war, several native tribes took advantage of the situation and raised havoc with the whites who settled on or crossed their land. This continued through the late a860s and 1870s until all the hostile Plains tribes were subdued, forced to sign treaties, and confined to reservations.

These forts were not established for long-term use like Ft. Leavenworth or Ft. Riley. The following is from Marvin H. Garfield who wrote The Frontier Defenses of Kansas:
"THE name “fort” is perhaps a misnomer when applied to the military posts of the western frontier during the sixties. No huge, grim structure of defense which usually is associated with the name fort was ever erected on the western border. Nor did the western fort usually possess a stockade or blockhouse for defensive purposes. Officers' quarters, soldiers' barracks, stables, military storehouses and headquarters buildings, grouped around a trim parade ground, constituted the frontier fort. While no doubt a disappointment to many of its critics the military post of the Middle West admirably fulfilled the purposes for which it was constructed, i. e., the keeping open of lines of travel and communication and the protection of outlying settlements."
Fort Larned 1867
Here is a tidbit about Fort Larned that explains the purpose for the existence of most of the Kansas frontier forts of the 1860s and 1870s:

     Fort Larned came into existence on October 22, 1859, in response to the need to protect the constantly increasing traffic and the recently established stage stations on the Trail from the resistance of the Plains Indians. The post was first called "Camp on Pawnee Fork." On February 1, 1860, orders were issued changing the name to "Camp Alert" because the small garrison of about 50 men had to remain constantly alert for Indians. 

Back to my research. I have my heroine interested in two Army officers she meets at Fort Riley. However, with the building of the frontier forts to the west, and Fort Riley having been established as the primary supply fort for many other forts she must deal with them being sent where needed.

I found some great information about the Kansas forts. The Kansapedia Kansas Historical Society and Legions of America sites are wonderful sources for information. However, I’m a charts and graphs girl. I needed the big VISUAL picture.

Author's chart of Kansas frontier forts (partial)

First, I searched for information about the Kansas forts, the part of the state each fort served, and its primary purposes. I put together a excel spreadsheet that probably only makes sense to me. However, it did allow me to understand three things: 

  *  Most of the newer forts (camps, cantonments) were built along one of two trails: Santa Fe Trail or the Smoky Hill Trail. In fact, Fort Leavenworth that was first established in 1827 as Cantonment Leavenworth had as one of its missions the protection of the Santa Fe Trail.
  *  Most of the newer frontier forts in Kansas were built specifically to deal with protecting white American interests from the hostile Native American tribes. Once their purpose was served, they were discontinued.
  *  Civilian towns grew up around several of the forts. Once the forts in those locations were abandoned, all that remained were the towns.

Why am I so late posting today? I’ve been making a map. Why did I not use one already available? I was unable to find one in the public domain. However, I did find a public domain Kansas river map, and little ol’ mapmaker me put this together. It does the job. It also convinced me I need to invest in one of those pens that goes with my photo-editing program. The mouse and I don't get along well when it comes to freehand drawing.
Author's towns, forts, and trails map - not drawn to scale

Based on this information, I have decided my Jake Burdock in Hannah’s Handkerchief will be sent to head up a freight train escort from Fort Riley to Fort Harker. After, he will be assigned farther west to help deal with the hostilities. My Hannah falls in love with Andrew Call at Fort Riley. he also is involved in supplying the forts on both the trails. Seeing the map, and knowing the years the forts were built, helped me put it all together--important since my story starts in 1865, and some of the forts were established a year or two later.

Now I have the big picture before me, it is time to finish the fine details in my writing and get the book out to my readers.

Hannah’sHandkerchief just has its cover reveal earlier this week. It is now on preorder. It will be available March 27th. You may read the book description by CLICKING HERE.

Here is a snippet:

         Finally, he stood before her and asked her for the next dance, which happened to be a waltz. She noticed he was not more than three inches taller than she was. Although compactly built, his broad shoulders and narrow waist filled out his uniform well. His dark brown eyes appeared to dance with a light that came from a different source than those that lit the ballroom.
         “May I introduce myself. I’m Lieutenant Burdock.”
         “Pleased to meet you, lieutenant. I’m Miss Atwell.” Much to Hannah’s chagrin, Mrs. Prescott had earlier coached both her and Kizzie not to offer their first names.
         “Ah. I have already had the pleasure of meeting another Miss Atwell this night.”
         Hannah had to force herself to keep from grimacing. She did not want Lieutenant Burdock to be overly impressed with Kizzie. Instead, she smiled. “Yes. That would be my cousin.”

If you think I went to all this work for one book, think again. I will be writing two short novellas—just the right size for quick summer reads—and will use this same research for their plots. Mail Order Roslyn and Mail Order Penelope, both part of the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies series, do not have preorder links yet. I just barely shared their covers. Here are three things I can tell you about this pair of stories:
  *  Although written as stand-alone books, this pair of novellas will be a duet—a series within a series.
  *  Roslyn and Penelope are cousins.
  *  Both stories involve stagecoaches (along the new Butterfield Overland Despatch trail that follows the Smoky Hill Trail protected by above-discussed Kansas frontier forts.)


Thursday, February 27, 2020

New Release!! Chasing Time: Jesse ~ By: Ruthie L. Manier

February 29th - Leap into the future with Jesse and Skylar

Second chances come along too seldom
I wanted to let you know that every once in awhile -- in life, love and literature -- second chances come along. If you are like me, it’s not often. So, when it happens, one must take advantage of the opportunity.
Skylar Cummings gave Jesse Clark a chance to heal his broken heart. I was given a chance to re-energize my Tombstone Ghost Cowboy series by a wonderful new editor, Gerald L. Guy. Now, I’d like to offer you a
chance to read it again, this time from a new point of view, new direction, new scenes and a new and exciting cover. If you enjoyed Jesse and Sky’s sizzling relationship before, I guarantee you’ll like it even more this time around.
The new series is now called “Chasing Time” and the first book is again called “Jesse.” I expect it to debut around February 29th. Thank you for being a faithful reader. I’m looking forward to sharing more exciting news with you as the year progresses.

Can a 21st century woman find love in the arms of a 19th century womanizing gambler and cattleman?

   “Ghosts and the Old West, its kinda like Canadian bacon and pineapple. Who'da thunk it! But now the one is a mainstay of the pizza industry. Maybe you got a breakthrough to juice up Westerns.”
- Kenneth Meeker

Excerpt: Chapter Two 

The hot, dreamy cowboy leaned against a magnificent, wooden headboard. He was shirtless, and his right foot rested on the bed. The left was on the floor. He had not removed his dusty boots.  
He looked right at her.
She felt embarrassed for invading his privacy.
With dark, menacing eyes, he proclaimed, "Are you gonna stare at me all night, woman, or are you gonna take care of business?”
She gasped as goosebumps returned
She whirled, put her back against the door and whispered, “The ghost talked to me!” 
He spoke again, his voice as cold as a Colorado river. It sent chills from head to toe. 
“What kept you so long?”
She placed her hands on the door. She wanted to feel the wood and comprehend what was happening. 
“I rang the damn bell twenty minutes ago. It don’t take but a couple minutes to cross the catwalk and climb down them stairs,” the cowboy bellowed.
She prayed there was someone else in the room, perhaps the ghost of one of the call girls who used to work the cages upstairs. There was no answer, though, and her throat suddenly was so dry she could not speak.
“The breaks about over, and I haven’t found my release, woman. Do you know what that means?” the cowboy shouted, getting angrier by the second.
Skylar looked around. There was nobody else in sight. Could he be talking to her? She shook her head, not as an answer but at the absurdity of the moment. 
“Let me explain,” the cowboy continued. “This will not bear well for my poker game.”
Cummings cleared her throat. She couldn’t believe her eyes or her ears.
His releaseWhat the hell? Is the ghost saying he needs sexual interaction to play better poker? Does he honestly believe I’m going to help him get his release? 
“So, if you want to get paid…” 
He didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he grabbed his crotch and flashed a smile that could melt the snow from a mountaintop. 
The gesture captivated her. It was easy to see he was hard.  Again, she gasped. Redness spread across her face. but she couldn’t control her eyes or thoughts. His erection aroused her. When her eyes reluctantly traveled to his face, he spoke again. Her breath was hot. 
He arched a brow and said, “You’d better get on it." 
He was becoming impatient. His eyes were glaciers, and his lips were set in a cruel grin.
She gulped air and swallowed hard.
Is this man drunk? Who talks like that to a complete stranger? Granted, he’s sexy, but he can’t be talking to me
Again, she searched the room for another ghostly presence. Only the cowboy was there. 
At last, she rationalized she had found what she had traveled so far to find, a nineteenth-century ghost. What else could it be? This was the twenty-first century, and she was in a museum not a brothel. 
She kneaded her eyes with trembling fingers. She knew her imagination was running amuck.  When she opened her eyes, she was confident he would be gone. 
Then, I’ll finish the tour and call my mother back.
When her eyes opened, she realized something was terribly wrong. There was no door between her and the ghost cowboy! 
That’s impossible! 
She spun and discovered the door and the peephole were behind her. 
She froze. 
She couldn’t breathe. 
Her heartbeat accelerated when she discovered the cell phone no longer was in her hand. The skirt and silk blouse she had been wearing had disappeared. To her surprise, she was dressed in a revealing, colorful gown, the fashion worn by saloon girls of the nineteenth century. 
She was more confused than ever. 
The cowboy continued to stare at her with raised eyebrows and a demanding look.
The room had changed, too. Everything was brand-spanking new. Nothing was over a hundred years old, as it was moments before. 
She backed away, her hands searching for the door. Her eyes left the sexy cowboy. All she wanted was to find her cell and call her mother in the twenty-first century. Then, the dream would end. 
"You’re getting me in a foul mood,” the cowboy shouted. “Don't make me come after you." 
His words were accompanied with a growl. His eyes narrowed. 
She sensed danger and wondered if he would chase after her if she could only find the doorknob! She cursed in frustration. 
Then, he spoke again, his husky voice caressing her skin.
"Unless, of course, you like it rough. I’ve met some women who do."
She delivered him a glance so fiery Betty Davis would have been envious.
"Rough it is!" he declared and pushed himself off the bed.
His toned body made her quiver as her eyes inspected his gorgeous physique. She looked away, searching for a way to escape. 
She was too late. He was already behind her, invading her space and chuckling low and deep into her ear. His fingers were tangled in her hair, and he forcefully pulled her away from the only exit. She could feel his swollen manhood pressed against her derriere. 
She was frightened but determined to remain a virgin. Skylar had no plans of surrendering her womanhood in a museum, casino, brothel or whatever. She was saving herself for her beloved, from whichever century he might materialize.
She twisted out of his grip and asked, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I think it should be obvious,” he replied. 
Again, she was engulfed by his arms. She could feel his whisper against her cheek and smelled whiskey on his breath. 
“Let go of me this instant!” she ordered.
"Well, you’re a feisty one, aren’t you?” he chuckled. “Thanks to your tardiness, we don’t have much time for games, darlin’. Perhaps I’ll ask for you next time around if you treat me well. Then, we can pursue something of a different nature.”
Seizing her by the hips, he again pulled her tight against his body. She continued to struggle but it was no use. He was too powerful.
“Tell me, now; I’ve got to know! Do you like it rough?" he asked, sliding his tongue across her ear. He captured the lobe with his teeth and again pressed himself against her. 
His voice was deep and sensual. Waves of lust danced over her flesh. Confused, she struggled to understand what was happening.
She felt her stomach do somersaults. He was so close she could barely breathe. Should she cry for help?
Then, the idea of a setup came to mind. He was an actor! This whole scene was being videotaped. It would be presented to her at the end of the tour. It felt so real, though. And where were the cameras? 
If this was not a re-enactment, what was it?
Her nerves were destroyed. 
Thinking straight was impossible.
She was losing control of her body and mind. Both were overreacting. 
She knew she should be scared, but his touch created a burning demand deep within her core. She no longer knew if it was anger or lust. She was confused but enraptured.
As his fingers fumbled to undo the fastens at the back of her dress, she couldn’t decide whether to continue the struggle or give in. 
Suddenly, her attention was drawn to the dress instead of the cowboy. 
What the hell? Where did this come from? 
It was red and cut deep across her bosom. Her boobs were pressed up into her chin. The silk skirt billowed with petticoats. It was so tight she could barely breathe in it. No wonder it felt so good when he began to unfasten it. 
The first two clasps surrendered to his fingers. He was working on the third when she turned to look at him. Their eyes met with intense heat. Her abdominal muscles squeezed tighter. His clamped jaw loosened, and she melted into his gorgeous smile.
“I’m going to ask one last time. Do you like it rough?” he asked. 
“I can’t answer for sure, cowboy. I’ve never had it rough,” she answered. She was surprised by the huskiness in her voice. She felt her face blush.
His brow furrowed and his eyes softened as he asked, “You’re new, aren’t you?” 
She stared into his eyes and tried to understand what was happening. 
A rap at the door shattered the moment. A woman’s voice called out, "Jesse, the game’s about to begin.” 
"Damn!" he cursed, loosened his grip on her and rolled his amazing eyes. Her lungs released the breath she had been holding. 
“I can’t wait to delve further into this subject,” he said smartly. “I’llwiden your horizons on my next break.”
Abruptly, he smothered her lips in a sensuous kiss. 
Fireworks went off. She thought she felt the floor tremble beneath her feet. She pushed into the kiss, enjoying the soft smoothness of his warm lips. Then, he stopped, stuck some coins between her breasts and pushed her away.
She was aghast but panting. Never had a man made her pant. 
What’s happening to me?
“Don’t go anywhere,” he ordered. “I want you naked and in that bed upon my return.” His head motioned toward the bed as he pulled his shirt over his muscular chest. “Do you understand?”
“N-no! I’m afraid I can’t do that," she said, still recovering from the ground-shattering kiss and the shock he deposited money into her cleavage. 
“I need to meet my boss, Billy,” she replied, grabbing a name out of midair.
“I won’t accept no for an answer,” Jesse said, glaring at her.
The color of his eyes changed from shimmering blue to black. Then, his jaw muscles relaxed, he grinned, and the sapphires returned. His eyes glowed mischievously.
"Don’t worry that pretty little face, woman. If it’s the money you’re worried about, there’s lots more where that came from. I’ll pay whatever it costs,” he said.
For emphasis, he patted the leather pouch that held his winnings and added, “As far as your Billy goes, he shouldn’t care as long as I’m paying.” 
Jesse’s eyes flashed to her breasts. They moved slowly down to her waist, to her hips and back up to her face. His tongue moistened his lips before he spoke. 
“I suspect you’ll be well worth the trouble," he said and slapped her right butt cheek. The sting made her jump and yelp.
“Ouch! That hurt!” 
He chuckled and finished dressing. Then, he stepped out the door without another word. 
As the door slammed, Skylar Cummings felt her life had been altered dramatically.