Thursday, November 28, 2019

Cowboy Kisses Annual Round-Up

Join the Cowboy Kisses authors Friday, December 6th for their annual Round-Up party. Chat with your favorite author(s), meet new friends, and enter the giveaways. The party is on Facebook and runs from 9 a.m. thru 4:0 p.m. Mountain Time. We hope to see many of you there.

9 am Kristy McCaffrey
9:30 Andrea Downing
10 am Stephanie Berget
10:30 Danni Roan
11 am Jacqui nelson
11:30 Doris McCraw (a.k.a. Angela Raines)
12 pm Kristine Raymond
12:30 Patti Sherry-Crews
1 pm Paty Jager
1:30 Robyn Echols (a.k.a. Zina Abbott)
2 pm Maggie Carpenter
2:30 Rhonda Frankhouser
3 pm Nan O’Berry
3:30 Shanna Hatfield
4 pm Julie Lence
4:30 Close 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Have you heard the story about Elmer McCurdy?

Elmer was born January 1, 1880 in Washington, Maine. His mother, Sadie, was unmarried and no one knows who his father was. Sadie's brother and his wife adopted Elmer.
His adopted father died in 1890 and both his mother and grandfather died a month apart in 1900. After he joined the army, Elmer learned about nitroglycerin. McCurdy began drinking heavily and turned to crime.

Elmer McCurdy became an outlaw in the old west, albiet, not a famous one like Billy the Kid or Jessie James. He used his knowledge of nitro to rob banks, although he never quite got the hang of the right amount.
After spending hours trying to break through a bank wall with a hammer, McCurdy placed a nitroglycerin charge around the door of the outer vault.

The blast blew the vault door through the bank destroying the interior, but did not damage the safe inside the vault. McCurdy then tried to blow the safe door open with nitroglycerin but the charge failed to ignite. After the lookout man got scared and ran off, McCurdy and his accomplices stole about $150 in coins that were in a tray outside the safe and fled.

Even though he wasn't very well known, he was one of the last wild west criminals He told everyone he would never be taken alive, and he wasn't. He was killed at the young age of thirty-one in a shoot out with the law.
Nearly sixty years after his death, he finally gained notariety when the crew of The Six Million Dollar Man rented an amusement park fun house.
A member of the crew was moving a dummy when its arm came off in his hands. The dummy was a mummy. An autopsy was performed and it proved the mummy was Elmer.
The story goes, after McCurdy was shot, someone who identified himself as Elmer's brother claimed the body. Instead of a brother, the man was the carnival owner. It seems outlaw corpses were a big draw for carnivals of the era.

The body later was used as repayment for a bad debt and collected dust in a wax museum.
He was buried on Boot Hill in Guthrie, Oklahoma sixty-six years after he died.
We'll never know where he'd have ended up, if the crewman from a television show hadn't made a clumsy move.

Stories from the old west are amazing at times and unbelievable at other. I wonder if Elmer would be happy knowing he'd finally become famous.

It's getting close to Christmas and I'm in a group of six authors who have an anthology out titled A Cowboy Under The Mistletoe. My book is the third in my Rodeo Road series, called Saving A Cowboy's Christmas. Get your copy today and find out all about Drew and Gina.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Navigating a Silver Mine by Zina Abbott

The past two summers my travels have taken me to--and into--two historical mines. The Broken Boot Gold Mine is just outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The Lebanon Tunnel mine is in Silver Plume, Colorado, and can be part of your Georgetown Railroad train tour.

Since many of my Old West romances feature mining towns and miners, I found these tours very interesting and educational. A big part of my education included realizing that many of the words I used to describe mines are flat-out wrong.

This post is not going to be everything you ever wanted to know about mining terms. However, it will include a few terms to describe navigating within a mine, as well as a few structures you may find inside mines. The images I've used were taken by me, inside mines with poor lighting, during fast-paced tours involving 20-30 people. Please keep that in mind when judging photo quality.

First of all, most mines are not tunnels, although many of us think of them as that. Tunnels enter one side of a hill, cliff, or mountain and have at least one exit elsewhere. Also, you do not enter a mining shaft unless you are on top of the ground and entering the mine by going down, down, down or down at an angle. The two mines I toured had horizontal entrances. So I entered by what is called an ADIT.

Here is some basic terminology:

Adit – a horizontal opening from the surface into a mine, usually into a mine drift.
Original adit to the Broken Boot Mine

Shaft – a vertical opening from the surface into a mine, tunnel or drift. 

Drift – Similar to a tunnel in appearance, a drift goes only partway through a solid surface, but has no outlet.

Drift in Lebanon Mine
Raise – A vertical or inclined passageway driven between levels of a mine. They are used as manways, ventilation passages, for support lines such as pipes and electrical lines, for hauling ore from a lower level to another for removal from the mine, and as ore dumps for transporting ore to lower levels.

Winch with lines down a raise to bring up ore from lower level of mine.

Back – ceiling of a tunnel or drift.
Miner on top has hand on drift back and chalk marker on a rib of drift.
Rib – wall of a tunnel or drift.

Working face – a wall of rock in which miners will set charges to break it into small pieces, the working surface.

Miners in a drift preparing drill holes on working face of mine.
Stope – a large, underground room from which ore is removed. They are formed when miners drill numerous holes in the working face, then fill them with explosives which they then detonate. Said blasts breaks up the working face into pieces small enough to be loaded into mining cars and taken out of the mine. Often the area between two levels of the mine and sometimes accessed through a raise.

Crib/Crib Sets – in hard rock mining, cribs are the heavy wood supports that protect and support the drift.

Cap – top timber of the crib set.

Post – side pieces of a crib set that provide vertical support for the cap.

Posts - no caps or stringers in this section of the mine.

Stringer – connecting pieces that join the crib sets.
Square-set Timbers – massive notched beams designed to form an interlocking series of cubes.

Square-sets – cubes formed by square-set timbers

Back-filling –partially filling open stopes that are no longer actively mined with waste rock taken from other areas of the mine. This was done for safety as well as disposal of waste rock.

Test Pocket - Removing rock from the working face far enough to see if there is any sign of ore. 
Test pocket
Slag - waste rock.

Silver Ore - tends to be black in appearance in its raw state.
Examples of silver embedded in rock.

I have written seven books for the multi-author series, Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs. Jubilee Springs is a silver mining town set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My most recent book in the series, Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom, is currently available. Please CLICK HERE.

My eighth Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs book, and my next book to be released, Nathan's Nurse, is the first book in which I wrote a scene that took place inside the Prosperity Mine. I went out of my way to be sure the descriptions I used were understandable to those readers who, like I was, are not overly familiar with mining terms. I even asked some authors in my Gold Rush Writers group to give suggestions, which I followed. Still, I hope you found these mining terms above helpful. You may want to refer to them again when this book is published. 

Nathan's Nurse is currently on pre-order and is schedule for release on December 27, 2019. You may access the book description and purchase link by CLICKING HERE.


Broken Boot Gold Mine in Deadwood, South Dakota
Lebanon Tunnel Mine in Silver Plume, Colorado

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cowboy Kisses Annual Round-Up

Join the Cowboy Kisses authors Friday, December 6th for their annual Round-Up party. Chat with your favorite author(s), meet new friends, and enter the giveaways. The party is on Facebook and runs from 9 a.m. thru 4:0 p.m. Mountain Time. We hope to see many of you there.

9 am Kristy McCaffrey
9:30 Andrea Downing
10 am Stephanie Berget
10:30 Danni Roan
11 am Jacqui nelson
11:30 Doris McCraw (a.k.a. Angela Raines)
12 pm Kristine Raymond
12:30 Patti Sherry-Crews
1 pm Paty Jager
1:30 Robyn Echols (a.k.a. Zina Abbott)
2 pm Maggie Carpenter
2:30 Rhonda Frankhouser
3 pm Nan O’Berry
3:30 Shanna Hatfield
4 pm Julie Lence
4:30 Close 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Publication date has not been set, but here is a little taste of my latest, which takes place in Wyoming 1972, from The Wild Rose Press.  Most likely it will be released early 2020!

Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies. Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop's inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, "You were 'always on my mind'?" 


He met her sorry stare across the dinette, eggs congealing in the kitchen warmth. Outside was the screech of tires as a car pulled up, followed by the laughter and clatter of a group of people, sliding doors hitting the metal of the cab, shouts of “Cassie, Cassie, where are youuuuuuuu?”
He pushed back from the table at the same time as she and went to the window to look out. He swiveled to look at her, see her reaction. Then, with a gentle hand, he pushed her toward the back door.
“There you are!” Dave’s voice had a note of happy surprise, which faded as he noticed Coop standing nearby. The boy stumbled as he went to her. “We had to ask that shit Ty where this guy lived and got directions here. Are you okay?”
Cassie faced Coop, her bare feet curling in the dirt in front of the ranch house as he stood on the steps and watched, arm up against a pillar, his own socked feet crossed. Part of him wanted his peace and quiet, his solitude back, but he already knew he would miss her, be sorry to see her go.
She turned back to Dave. “Of course I’m okay. I’m just—”
“Well, get your shoes or whatever and we’ll go off. We should get to Salt Lake City this afternoon and stop there before heading west again.”
“She doesn’t want to go with you.” He heard the reluctance in her voice, came down the steps, and stood in front of Dave, challenging. “She’s changed her mind.”
Cassie pivoted to glance at Coop. Surprise mixed with uncertainty faded as a small smile turned up her lips. For a moment, the others were silent, standing there, stupefied. “I…” she began again. “I’m staying here.” She felt bolder, more self-assured.
“You must be joking.” Dave’s shifty glance skimmed from one to the other. “Cassie?”
Needing reassurance, she turned to look at Coop, then turned back to Dave. “I’m fed up with traveling in that bus and I like it here. In Jackson.”
“She’s staying here,” Coop said. “At least for now.”
Perturbed at this news, the other two friends started to turn back toward the bus. Steve drew out a satchel, then scribbled something on a piece of paper before handing both to her. He nodded before he disappeared into the confines of the van.
Dave stood there gawping. “You’re gonna stay here? With this guy? On a ranch? You’re not coming to Frisco?”
She glanced back at Coop for confirmation.
He stayed stock still.
She turned again to Dave. “Yes, that’s right. I’m staying here with Coop on his ranch. I’ll follow along when I’m ready.”
“How you gonna do that? You haven’t any money.”
“I have money. At least some left. When I’m ready I’ll come. It’ll be fine. Honest, Dave. I’ll be along shortly. I’ll hitch.”
Dave’s face folded into a picture of doubtfulness. “I guess it’s your choice, Cassie.” He eyed Coop, then turned back to her. “Just be careful, Cass. Don’t fall for this jerk. He has no real interest in you.”
She stood next to Coop, doubt and insecurity filling her like water flowing into a jug. The VW bus pulled out, friends waving, and she knew she was on her own.
“Now what?” Her voice was just a whisper. “Now what?”

© 2019 by Andrea Downing
Cover Art by Kim Mendoza

Friday, November 15, 2019

There's gold in them thar hills ~ by Kristine Raymond

I think the reason I fell in love with aspens is because I've always adored birch trees.  Now, to be clear, they are two different species.  Birch belongs to the genus Betula whereas the numerous varieties of aspen fall into the genus Populus.  Sounds like a spell taught at Hogwarts, doesn't it?  But their similarities, rather than their differences, are what captivated me when I moved from the New England, where birch trees are plentiful, to the mountains of Arizona, where stands of aspens dot the landscape.

Copyright©Depositphotos  Aspen trees
Copyright©Depositphotos  Birch trees

As a kid, my family vacationed in New Hampshire, on eight acres up in the mountains.  Aside from a well-hidden path just wide enough for our station wagon to travel and a small clearing on which to pitch our tents, the rest of the property was covered in trees.  Pines, oaks, maples, and...yes, birch.  I loved peeling the bark from the trunk and rubbing my fingers across the velvety texture on the underside.  And, lest you think I ran around harming innocent trees, one of the characteristics of paper birch - the variety that grew on our land - is bark that peels off in sheets. 
Copyright©Depositphotos  Paper birch bark
In autumn, the leaves turn golden yellow and flutter in the wind, an enchanting sight to a kid with a huge imagination.

When I decided to make my move out west, it was a photo in Country magazine that clinched my choice of destination.  An aspen grove on Mt. Elden; thousands of golden leaves rippling in the afternoon sunlight.  I may have been leaving everything I knew behind, but those gorgeous trees, in their resemblance to birch, helped ease the transition.

Did you know that aspens grow in clonal colonies, spreading by means of root suckers born of a single seedling?  Each individual tree can live upwards of 150 years but the root system underground is thousands of years old.  One such colony in Utah, given the nickname of "Pando", is estimated to be 80,000 years old (from Wikipedia.)  Did you know that forest fires, as devastating as they are, encourage the growth of new aspen trees?  Nature is remarkable in her ways of healing herself.

On an unseasonably cold day in June of 1993, my husband and I stood amidst a grove of aspens and exchanged our wedding vows, their verdant leaves fluttering non-stop in the blustery breeze; the sound akin to thousands of tiny hands applauding our commitment to one another.  It was the same grove where my beloved brought me on our second date two years earlier, introducing me to the beauty of aspens up close as, until that day, I'd only viewed them from a distance.  Imagine my delight at discovering trunks as snowy-white as the trees from my youth and pendulous flowering catkins like those of the birches back home.  They were different, yet so similar; closing my eyes I was transported back to New Hampshire, camping in the woods with my family.

I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite between the two - the sturdy birch, its paper-like bark sparking hours of imaginative play in a young child (that'd be me), or the resplendent aspen, setting the mountains aglow each autumn in shimmering gold. 

Copyright©Depositphotos  Aspens in autumn

Come to think of it, aspens did provide quite a picturesque backdrop for a newly-married couple (also me.)  Sorry, birch; as much as I love you, aspen trees will forever have my heart!


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Helpful Spirits by Rhonda Frankhouser

When I was, maybe five or six years old, I often awoke to an ethereal image of a Shaman wavering at the foot of my bed. Oddly, I found his presence quite soothing, even though he was a stranger to me. His expression was neither threatening nor friendly, but I knew he meant me no harm. He was older and slightly slumped over, with light brown skin marked with white stripes and wise, piercing eyes that could almost speak. His cloth-wrapped braids laid in front of his shoulders and a hollowed out deer's skull, with pelt intact, perched atop of his head. The deerskin smock he wore was fringed down the sleeves and covered in bright azure and orange beads. With a satchel slung on one hip, and a sheathed hunting knife on the other, his gnarled hand clutched a walking stick carved into the shape of a snake.
Image Copyright - Yokut Shaman
Most of the time he just shimmered in place, but now and again, he would glide slowly toward the head of the bed so close I could almost touch him. He acted like he wanted to say something, but his lips never moved. I was entranced, nervous, not understanding what purpose he may have in visiting me, but I wasn't afraid. There was an enticing energy around him, a feeling of security that I couldn't comprehend at the time. As I grew older, the image of this majestic figure became my symbol of a higher power. My version of spirituality, if you will.

When I told my family members about the Shaman visiting me in the night, they shrugged it off as a child's imagination. So, after a time, when I couldn't make logical sense of these visions, the door to that alternate reality shut forever. Once tainted by skepticism, I was never again visited by the Shaman.

It wasn't until I mentioned the visitations to a professor some fifteen years later, did I discover that I'd been one of the blessed ones. He reassured me I was most likely being visited by my 'Spirit Helper' and quite possibly, he was there to guide me through some sort of spiritual awakening. If only my family had encouraged me rather than denounce the possibilities, I might have learned more.

This sparked a decade long personal research project into the indigenous tribes in the Kern County area. I was ravenous for more information. Maybe my house really was built over an Indian burial ground? Maybe there had been some sort of uprising in the days the Tulamni Yokuts inhabited the land where our home was built? Maybe this Shaman was trying to tell me something important and I blew it?

Yokut Woman Basket Weaving
Thousands of years ago, the Tulamni Yokuts inhabited the land where my hometown now sits. Back then the area was more marsh than desert, so it was able to sustain a thriving society of nearly 50,000. These original inhabitants were the first to capitalize on the underground store of thick petroleum found all throughout the San Joaquin Valley. By heating the glue-like substance, they were able to secure arrows and shafts together, as well as bind soap root fibers with acorn meal brushes. They hunted, fished and gathered everything they needed in baskets made from the abundant Tule reeds, waterproofed with the asphaltum created by the very same petroleum substance. 

As fascinating as the history was, I only found one small, but significant link between the Yokuts and the Shaman in my dreams. The snake carving on the walking stick. The rattlesnake was revered and often used in ceremonies by the Tulamni shamans to ward off evil spirits. I realize it's a reach to believe my vision was the spirit of an actual shaman, but that's how I'll always choose to remember it. The impression left on my soul is so embedded, I often include the rich, haunting history of Native American tradition in my novels.
Image Copyright - Basket with Snake Depiction
Thanks for letting me tell my story. I'd love to hear if you've had a similar experience. 

About the Author:
After fourteen years in hospice care management in central California, Rhonda Frankhouser now writes full time from her lovely Atlanta, Georgia home. Rhonda's award-winning Ruby's Ranch Series, earned a finalist honor in the Uncaged Review Raven Awards; a second runner up in the prestigious InD'Tale Magazine RONE awards and a Book and Benches, Reviewers Top Pic ~ Books of Distinction award. Her follow up Shadowing Souls Series and Let Yourself Believe Series, have captured the attention of both romance and mainstream readers alike. Rhonda is a happily married stepmom to three beautiful daughters; two adorable pugs and a lazy Labrador named Dutch.
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