Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Big Difference in Books and Movies by Ginger Simpson

Just as we take creative license with our books, I believe movies and TV programs do the same, although editors and publishers always stress how important, as authors, our historical facts must be true and accurate.  The same doesn't seem to apply to movies.

Borrowed from Wikipedia
For example:  I watched one of my old favorite westerns while camping, Buffalo Girls.  In the movie, Wild Bill is played by Sam Elliott. (Yum...or used to be yum)  He and Calamity Jane Canary had a brief fling which resulted in the birth of a baby girl.  However, they weren't married in the movie and there is no historical mention of a marriage between the two, but in researching Wild Bill, I discovered  Jane Canary claims to have married and divorced Bill Hickok so he could wed Agnes Lake.  However, as I mentioned, there are no records to support Jane's marriage claim, but Bill did marry Agnes Thather Lake.  I found no record of offspring which makes sense since they married in March 1876 and Hickok died August 2, 1876.

Wild Bill had a colorful background.  A notable marksman at a young age, he meandered in and out of positions upholding the law.  Tall and thin, he earned derisive (according to Wikipedia) nicknames such as "Duck Bill" and "Shanghai Bill," and it wasn't until he grew a moustache in 1861 that he began calling himself "Wild Bill."  It's no wonder.  *smile*

During the Indian wars, he scouted for Custer's 7th Calvary, but then moved to Niagara Falls to try his hand at acting.  After he should no talent in that area, he return to what he knew best....being a lawman.  However, in one of his many shootouts, he accidentally shot and killed a deputy who was coming to his aid and was relieved of his duties in Abilene.

Wild Bill's colorful life came to an end in a saloon Deadwood in the Black Hills of Dakota.  He made it a habit to sit with his back to the wall while gambling, but this particular time, arrived late for the game and his seat was already taken by someone who refused to relinquish it.  A former buffalo hunter named, Jack McCall (AKA Crooked Nose Jack), entered unnoticed by Hickok, drew his pistol and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head, killing him instantly.  Another player was struck in the wrist by the bullet as it exited Hickok's right cheek.  The hand he was holding was sure to be a winner, two aces and two eights of spades;  now known as the "Dead Man's Hand."  The fifth card had yet to be revealed.

By the time of his death, Hickok had killed thirty-six men.  The motive for his own murder remains a mystery.  Some claim the shooter might have been paid to do the deed, other's claim it was payback for the way Wild Bill had embarrassed him the previous day, after McCall had lost all his money, Hickok gave him money for breakfast.  The most logical is the shooting was in retribution for the killing of McCall's brother, although there is really nothing to prove he was related to "Lew McCall," who was reportedly killed by the law in Abilene.

Taken From Google Images
McCall was acquitted (HUH?) and left for Wyoming, where he bragged about what he'd done and was rearrested and tried again.  This time, he was hung (March 1877.)

Times have really changed.  Double Jeopardy didn't exist in that time period because Wyoming was not yet recognized by the U.S. In the movie, Buffalo Gals, Calamity, along with her new baby and an old Indian, came to the Abilene where Wild Bill was killed and found they had just hanged someone.  Guess Who?  That's not true to history.

 Although some allege Calamity tried to organize a mob and threatened McCall with hanging, historical records reveal she was actually being held by the military at the time.  So much for historical accuracy in movies.  You can bet if we write about a novel about Wild Bill, it will be historically correct.

No baby, no marriage, no divorce, just the facts we can find that are historically accurate.  I guess the romantic part of Jane giving up her child because the father was dead and she couldn't care for the little girl, given the mother's lifestyle, just added appeal to being a Buffalo Gal.

If you would like to know more about the story of Wild Bill Hickok.  I just watched Legends and Lies based on Bill O'Reilly's book.  I enjoyed finding out the TRUE story, and those wanting to know more about Hickok's years enforcing the law and his shootouts...visit Wikipedia's page on Wild Bill.
BTW...O'Reilly's book was written by David Fisher, the author of more than a dozen bestsellers.  He has also written extensively for national magzines and newspapers.   Bill likes to brag about his'd think he wrote them.  *lol*
Wikipedia Picture

Monday, May 25, 2015


My husband and I don’t subscribe to the Hallmark Channel and are just now watching (via Netflix) the great series based on Janet Oke’s writing, “When Calls The Heart”, set in a Canadian West coal town called Coal Valley. I wish I had seen this series before I wrote my own western romance of coal mining, O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book two. My book doesn’t include a Mountie, of course. Mine features a ranch hand hero, Finn O’Neill, who goes undercover in a lignite coal mine to earn money to buy his own ranch.

On second thought, perhaps I’m better off using research and my imagination to create my own version of a coal town operated by a less than ethical man. The town in my story is not nearly as neat and pretty as the one in Janet Oke’s stories. The miners get just as dirty, though. And the miner's homes were as basic as in the television series.

My idea of Lignite, only I added more grime
(photo purchased from iStock)

I confess that research into coal mining in 1885 Central Texas was difficult. I found plenty of information on early coal mining from BCE to today—but not much on the specific time period I needed. What I did discover was fascinating in some areas, not so much in others, and downright scary in places.

I found the perfect place for my story, the town of Coal, Texas southwest of San Antonio and near the town of Lytle. In my story, the town is called Lignite after the type of coal mined there. Also in my story, someone is causing deadly “accidents” at the mine and the owner wants to determine who is guilty. For this, he hires my hero, Finn O’Neill.

The beauty of changing the name of the town in fiction is that the town has whatever buildings I choose and/or need for the story. Instead of Lytle, in my book the next town is Spencer for the same reason. That’s one of the fun things about writing historical fiction. The author gets to build the setting and only has to be true to the period in customs and dress. I love making up my stories and their settings and I hope readers enjoy them.

The actual town of Coal was on the Missouri Pacific line in southeastern Medina County. Coal mines, worked by as many as 500 people at a time, precipitated the growth of mining camps in the 1880s. In 1881 the International-Great Northern Railroad built a rail line from Austin to Laredo that passed through Lytle southwest of San Antonio.

The community of Coal developed on this line a mile southwest of Lytle and just north of the mining camps. The high-grade lignite produced at the mines was sold to the railroads until the advent of oil-burning locomotives. In 1888 Coal Mine consisted of a store, a bandstand, a main plaza, a dance hall, a Catholic church, and at least two schools. Hmmm, in my story, Lignite has a store, both a Catholic and a Protestant church, a saloon, two dormitories called longhouses for single men, an infirmary with a nurse on duty, and one two-room school where heroine Stella Grace Clayton and her sister Nettie Sue Clayton teach. I included a lot of mystery in this book, but O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE is a romance between Finn O’Neill and Stella Clayton.

Photo model for Stella Grace Clayton
(photo purchased from iStock)

Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft brown combustible sedimentary rock that is formed from naturally compressed peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content. It is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation. In China, lignite is also mined for its germanium content.

I learned a couple of interesting things in my research. (1) Dark black lignite, or jet, is where the term 'jet black' originates. (2) Now the term has more scientific and precise basis, but the actual term “horse power” began as the amount of effort it took one horse to lift one container of coal up from the mine shaft to the ground. (3) Another thing I learned is that I never, ever want to work in a coal mine. I get claustrophobic in elevators.  

O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book two, is available at these links:

Amazon    Apple/iTunes    Nook    Kobo    GooglePlay

Amazon bestselling and award winning author Caroline Clemmons writes western historical and contemporary romances. Her latest release is O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book two. Other series include the Kincaids and Stone Mountain Texas. You can keep up with Caroline’s releases by signing up for her newsletter. Her books are listed on her website at and on her Amazon Author Page.   

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Horse Sense - By Alison Bruce

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

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

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

“Always drink upstream from the herd.” 
Will Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Plugging" my books.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Monday, May 18, 2015

Law Enforcement in the Old West by Paty Jager #historicalwestern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cowboys to the Rescue

Cowboys to the Rescue

by Christina Cole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

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

It’s In His Kiss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sexy Cowboys and the women who love them...

Nominee  for the 2015 RONE Award

Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards.

Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review.

Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable

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

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

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

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

There's something about a cowboy....

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

Callie's Heart
Lone Star Joy
Stetson's Storm

Dawson Ranch Series

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

Cowboy Seasons Series

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

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Get To Know Me Better

My writing space

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

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

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

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

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