Saturday, June 27, 2020

Test Post By Julie Lence

Hello Cowboy Kisses! 
Blogger has given itself an update, that has left some things alone and has made others difficult for the authors. I'm using today to see what is and isn't working. Thank you! 
Julie       😏

The Coach Shotgun by Zina Abbott

A coach gun is a more modern term for a double-barreled shotgun generally with barrels, generally with barrels from 18" to 24" in length placed side-by-side. These weapons were known as "cut-down shotguns" or "messenger's guns" because of their use on stagecoaches by shotgun messengers throughout the American West. They came in 10 and 12 gauge black powder. The barrel length differed from standard shotguns used for bird hunting with their 28” to 36” barrels. Earlier used for protecting stagecoaches had only one barrel.
Double-barrel, break-action coach gun
The use of coach guns originated in the British Isles where they were also used to protect carriages from highwaymen. Known as a blunderbuss, these earlier versions of the more modern coach gun were a short-barreled firearm with a flared end that used shot. They were muzzle-loading weapons.

English Flintlock Blunderbuss
The shotgun that became known as a coach gun began to be produced in the 1850s. They were 10 or 12 gauge caliber break-action weapons using a bead for the sights.
Musketoon, blunderbuss, and coach gun from American Civil War era
It’s always nice to have a resident expert. My gun specialist is my husband. He has been a firearms enthusiast for years and serves as a range safety officer at our local shooting association. He shared with me a more modern coach gun he uses in gun safety training to demonstrate different types of firearms, their uses, and their dangers. This one has a double barrel. It has a lever release, or break-action, for loading the shells.

Center lever opens breech

Compare this more modern coach gun with this antique muzzle-loader shotgun.

Top: Antique muzzle-load shotgun; Bottom: Breech-load coach gun
He also has this handy item for displaying the shot sizes. There are different sizes of shot for different types of uses. For hunting birds or other small game/vermin, a small size shot is used. Water fowl requires a larger size of shot, where the bigger sizes of shot are referred to as buckshot.
Largest size shot shown is double-aught buckshot
In my story to be released next week, I have a scene involving a shotgun messenger who comes to the rescue of another stagecoach employee—not on the stagecoach, but in a saloon. After he warns the women to get out of the way, he also warns the bartender. Most bartenders kept kept a shotgun under the bar. 

The following is an excerpt from Mail Order Lorena:

          Lorena widened her eyes at the sight of Al reaching a hand below the bar. He’s going for his shotgun. “Al! No!” Behind her, Lorena heard the sound of a gun lever being cocked.
          Danny’s voice filled the room. “No one reaches for a weapon. Ladies, please move up the stairs or to the back of the building. All of you gentlemen, including you, bartender, move to the far side of the room. Keep your hands where I can see them. I want you to understand, this coach gun sprays wide. My double-aught buckshot is designed to discourage either hostiles or road agents from getting near the stagecoach. Even if my shot doesn’t hit anyone, it will take out the mirror, glasses, bottles, and half the wall. I suspect it will cost more to replace everything than the amount owed this woman.”

Mail Order Lorena is the second of three of my books in the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies multi-author series. It is available on preorder and will be released on July 3, 2020.

The first book in this trio, Mail Order Roslyn, is currently available for sale and at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The third book in this trio, Mail Order Penelope, is also on preorder and scheduled for release on August 14, 2020.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Dorothy Wiley
Storyteller of love and heroes on the American frontier. Author of the 
American Wilderness Series, Wilderness Hearts Series, and Wilderness Dawning Series.

When writers write, they must constantly ask themselves questions and then find the answers because a novelist must be a student of the time period in which they are writing. They must create the world that their characters live in. They can only do that with the authentic details that come from careful research. Below are ten things I consider and research in the course of writing my historical romances.

1) Geography. What was the setting called at the time period? Believe it or not, the name of the location can change several times. And boundaries change. County names change. One county can get divided into eight counties. A territory can become a state. As you can see from this map, the 'Arkansaw' territory included much of present-day Texas.

Historical geography is an important element of any book. Just as the French had disputed Spain's claim to Texas' Red River area, so also did American settlers, who rightly believed the land to be part of the Louisiana Purchase. And then Mexico considered it theirs. And to the east and west, native American tribes might have argued with all of them as well as with each other!

2) Maps and roads. What maps were published at the time of the book? How accurate were they? What roads existed at the time? Where did they lead? Were they safe? When Davy Crockett gave his famous quote, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” El Camino Real is how he got to Texas and the Alamo. I love old maps and collect a few on my computer for every book I write.

Colonists' and emigrants' route to Texas published in 1877.

3) Weather. Were there any major weather events? Flooding or drought? Hurricanes or record snowfalls? How did those events affect the characters? River flooding, among the most powerful and terrifying forces of Mother Nature, has led to countless disasters throughout history. The same is true for droughts. Books that don't mention weather events are missing an important element of reality.

Comparing the Two Major Red River Flood Events of 2015 at Pecan ...
My book RED RIVER RIFLES is set on the Red River at Pecan Point in 1818.

4) Epidemics. Did they have to deal with smallpox, yellow fever, flu, or some other contagion? What did they know about these diseases? Did they understand the cause? How did outbreaks disrupt the economy? Yellow fever appeared in the U.S. in the late 17th century. The deadly virus continued to strike cities, mostly eastern seaports and Gulf Coast cities, for the next two hundred years, killing hundreds, sometimes thousands in a single summer. The cause of malaria, mosquito bites, would not be discovered until 1897 and not until 1900 for yellow fever. 

5) Cures. What were the cures or treatments for those diseases at the time? For example, quinine pills were not available until 1832. John S. Sappington developed a pill, using quinine taken from cinchona bark, to cure a variety of fevers, such as scarlet fever, yellow fever, and influenza. The anti-fever pills helped to save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives. 

6) Guns and other weapons. Were flintlocks still used? How were they loaded? Was a lead ball called a bullet? What was the weapon's range? How accurate was it? How did they protect it from rain? 

This.69 caliber smoothbore flintlock U.S. Model 1813 pistol was made by Simeon North under Army contract. 

7) Animals. What kind of animals roamed in the setting? Which ones were dangerous and why? What's a gelding? What's a steer? How many pounds does a calf weigh? How much water does a cow drink per day? How fast can a horse reasonably travel in a day? What did they feed them then? Animals were a big part of pioneer and western life and even though I live on a ranch, I'm always learning something new about them.

8) Songs, books, and other entertainment. What did they sing or dance to? What books would the characters be reading? As the four main characters in my upcoming release approach Nashville, they hear a song being sung. It adds authenticity to let the reader know it was Hail Columbia a popular pioneer tune composed by Philip Phile in 1789 for the first inauguration of George Washington. 

9) Customs, cultural, and political elements. The first settlers dealt with cultural, political, legal, and economic challenges. For example, gaining legitimate titles to their land was often difficult and sometimes impossible. And, ironically, entrance into Mexican Texas was extremely regulated by Mexico. According to the Texas State Library and Archives, “Foreigners arriving in the state of Coahuila y Texas had to ‘prove, by certificate from the authorities of the place from whence they came, that they are Christians, and also the morality and propriety of their conduct.’" 

10) Wars and rumors of wars. American history is an endless list of rebellions, skirmishes, battles, and conflicts. A writer must determine what was happening at the time of the setting that might have impacted the lives of the characters.

There are countless other considerations–such as food, clothing, newspapers, money used, types of stores, etc. With these kinds of details, the reader should be able to almost taste the food, smell the forest, or visualize the town.  Of course, all of this research takes lots of time. That's why I only publish about two books a year. But I believe it makes for a far better novel. 

After six months, I’ve finished the first draft of the third book in the Wilderness Dawning Series—BUCKSKIN ANGEL! I still have edits, design, and publishing ahead but it will be released soon. This book brings back well-loved characters Captain Sam and Bear, and their two sons, Rory and Alexander, and takes them to the Province of Texas in 1824 to see their brother Stephen. This is a story about two aging warriors who learn they are not too old for a good fight or a wild adventure. And it is a tale of two young men who learn they still have some things to learn. While one of them discovers courage, the other finds love. I’m so excited about this novel, my 13th! For those readers who haven’t read the other twelve books in my highly-rated series, they are all available on Amazon in eBooks and print and some in audiobooks at the link below.

I am constantly amazed at how fascinating history can be, and when paired with an active imagination, writers like me can have fun bringing history to life for readers like you!

Author’s Website and Newsletter Signup

To be notified of new releases, follow Dorothy on Amazon –


Facebook –

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Researching the past

A few years back, I wanted to understand the celebration of Cinco De Mayo. So, I started doing a bit of research. Mexican Independence Day, got that. Troops loyal to Juarez went to the mountains to fight against the French take over of Mexico. Noted.  As I read on... something of interest caught my eye.

How many of you know of a plot called the Grand Scheme of the Americas?

It sounds innocent, right... Ah but it is not. Napoleon III wanted land. Land that might bring him riches. Where had Spain found riches? Where had England produced a great nation? In the Americas.
So, from January of 1862 to March of 1867, Napoleon unleashed his Grand Scheme.

It is important to note that the Monroe Doctrine was not used to block the intervention of France in the New World because American was blundering into its own Civil War that would pit brother against brother. Free to manipulate, Napoleon planned a three prong assault. In Phase one: He would recognize the Confederacy and sign an agreement to provide military aid. France did provide the last ironclad called the Stonewall.

Second phase: He would reintroduce the idea of royalty to Mexico.  Under the disguise of unpaid debts, Napoleon introduced a prince of the Hapsburg Royal House as the King of Mexico. Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, Prince Imperial, Archduke of Austria and Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, the second son of Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and brother to the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria would now be set up as Maximilian I of Mexico. An expeditionary force was sent to Vera Cruz in December of 1861. Juarez of Mexico paid most of the debts owed off. Most countries forgave the rest, but not France. They fought on to Mexico City setting up Maximilian with the hopes of increasing trade between Mexico and France.

Third phase: With the consent of the Confederate States (which of course they were hoping to win the war) set up a large buffer state that would run across the Rio Grande to Baja California.

Of course, the insurrection in the United States failed and Juarez troops over threw those of Maximilian I which ended in his execution.

It is an interesting read. The revenge for loss of Texas by taking the land and making it part of Mexico again. Regaining land from Arizona, New Mexico, California that was lost to the Gadsden Purchase of 1854. So the writer in me began to dream. What if... What if.... a child had followed his father as part of Maximilian's forces. What if, he had watched his father killed by a firing squad? What if, he had be left to languish on his own in a nation that clearly hated his father's choice. He would have had to make his way doing the lowest of jobs, despising everyone and everything. Thus the creation of a delicious villain.

Who would save Texas from this madman??? Enter the Texas Rangers.

Next month, my publisher will begin releasing my four book series based on the Grand Scheme of the Americas. The Bluebonnet Brides will have land schemes, cattle raids, stampedes, stolen rifles, kidnapping and of course, romance. Look for Texas Strong and Texas Born coming in the middle of July.

I hope you enjoyed the little tidbit behind the scenes of my next series. Next time, Happy Trails.