Monday, June 21, 2021

Fiction can Impart Fact by Paty Jager

Agency house on Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation

I have always been an advocate for unjust things. When I see an injustice, I have a need to help in some way no matter how small.

When I first saw a post on Facebook about missing and murdered Indigenous women my heart cracked for the women and children who suffered and their families who never had answers. Before I started writing my Gabriel Hawke series, I subscribed to the CUJ (Confederated Umatilla Journal) the newspaper written and put out by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. I wanted to know more about the area where I had imagined my character growing up and where his mother still lived. It helped me to see him better and to learn more about where he came from.

Every time I receive one of the newspapers, I read it from front to back. When the stories about the missing and murder women and the cause--women speaking out and making noise--I was drawn to the movement. The more I read and learned how many Indigenous women, children, and men were lost to their families because of lack of concern by the authorities, my anger rose. I wanted to help.

The best way I knew was to use my voice—and being a writer, that meant my writing voice. I decided Hawke would be called to the reservation by his mother to help find a missing woman. Once the idea took root, I couldn’t shake it.

And to not only spread the word, I decided that proceeds from the sale of the book would go to the non-profit organization, Enough Iz Enough. This organization is on the Umatilla Reservation with classes on how to protect and watch out for potential dangers, and to give voice to the missing tribal members.

I was fortunate when I began pulling information together to write the book to ask the organizer of the program if she would be willing to help me make sure my portrayal of the situation was accurate as well as logistics and information about the reservation. She was accepting of my request. And with good reason. She has lost four family members. Two were found murdered, the killer never caught and two have never been found. The cause is personal for her. And hearing her story of loss and futile efforts for answers, the cause became personal to me.

After reading the finished product, she gave me a lovely review: “The story was captivating, I couldn’t put it down. So many memories were brought to surface, so many emotions, like this has been lived before, because it has, this is a glimpse into our reality in the Reservation. Thank you for seeing us & helping tell part of the story.”  Kola Shippentower-Thompson Enough Iz Enough, Co-Founder & Director

Is there a cause that you have felt compelled to help? What made you decide to be part of a solution?

Stolen Butterfly, Book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels is now available


“We told the woman who called in, we have to wait seventy-two hours. These reservation women get liquored up and forget they have kids at home or decide they’ve had enough and walk out.”

Hawke stared at the bald-headed detective in his fifties that he’d been referred to when he explained why he was there. “Detective Lockland. You are stereotyping the reservation women. Most have strong motherly instincts and wouldn’t go on a drunk or walk away from their families. This woman happens to be one of those. She works at the bank in town, never misses picking her son up from the sitter, and doesn’t go out partying and drinking.”

“How do you know that? Her family could be lying to you.” The man wasn’t about to back down from his stand on what he thought to be the truth.

Ignorance about his people was something Hawke had fought all his life. “I know because I’ve been interviewing the people she works with and the people she spends time with. Something that might help us find her faster if you had done the same last night when my mother called you.”

The man leaned back in his chair and smiled. “Now I see. You’re one of them. Does your superior know you’re here poking around in someone else’s case?”

“Then you are going to investigate? If this is your case?” Hawke held back the disdain he felt for the man as the detective stuttered and tried to say it wasn’t a case until seventy-two hours had passed.

 Here is the back cover blurb:

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIP on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. 

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

Link for all ebook vendors:


Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 50 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

MY VERSION OF A MODERN-DAY COWBOY By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless


I write in several different genres, but the bulk of my books are set in the American West where cowboys ruled the range and capture our hearts. Over the years and the generations, as the American West was settled and the demand for beef grew, helped along by the arrival of railroads, cowboys continued to adapt, whether it was their equipment and technique, or the type of clothing they required due to weather or other factors. 

I like to think my heroes have adapted as well.  My latest hero, Blaze, is my version of a modern-day cowboy.  Riding onto Blue Sky Island on his Harley, Blaze is a legend in his own way as the world’s greatest stuntman.  The bike also gave me license to dress him in leather chaps, which I still think of as one of the sexiest things a man can wear. 

I also see the work of a stuntman as being very similar to that of a cowboy, with grueling physical labor and long hours, both parties facing danger head on every day.  At the end of each day, when Blaze climbs onto his Harley and rides off into the distance, their lives seem not so different.  The man.  The legend.

Here’s where my heroine and Blaze meet in ONE FANTASY FALL

“You’re early.”  Kaitlin opened the door to see a man clad in dusty, formfitting leather, his shaggy caramel-colored hair badly in need of a trim.  She stepped back a pace.  “Come on in. Let’s see what you look like under all that road dust.’’

The stranger stepped past her and into the front hall. “You must be Kaitlin. Steve said—’’

“My brother knows I can’t resist a challenge.’’ Kaitlin circled the man, eyes narrowed as she inspected him from all angles. Actually, in the right clothes, this one should clean up quite nicely. And he did possess a certain undeniable something.

“One good thing. We should be able to fit you off the rack..” Broad shoulders tapered to lean hips, which were hugged by a modern-day version of cowboy chaps in supple-looking black leather.

“But those chaps. The look is all wrong unless you’re auditioning for a cowboy commercial.” The garment in question sheathed him like an intimate glove, up over snakeskin boots to hug an impossibly long length of leg, before ending in a V of faded denim below his belt. The scrap of exposed denim was the exact same shade as his eyes.  Realizing where her gaze lingered, she looked away and hoped she wasn’t blushing.

He rocked back on his heels and crossed his arms over his impressive chest.  One side of his mouth quirked up in an endearing half-smile.  “I wasn’t expecting an audition.”

“This is only the beginning.  Tomorrow is your photo shoot and Bethany, from the modeling agency, needs your portfolio before she meets with the client.” She cocked her head. “I’d better book you a facial. You look like you haven’t slept in two days.” Something in the way he turned those gray-blue eyes on her caused an unsettling flutter in her nether regions.

“Good guess. Considering I just drove straight through from California.”

Kaitlin’s jaw dropped. “What were you doing there?”

“I live there.”

Dead silence hung between them and Kaitlin felt herself flush.  Weren’t people supposed to outgrow adolescent blushing?  Apparently not her. Even her ears were burning. “Somehow, I get the feeling you’re not my brother’s friend/wannabe model I was expecting.”

“Is that what he told you?”  The newcomer braced one shoulder against the doorframe as if he had every right to be there, thumbs hooked in the pockets of his jacket.

She blew out a breath that didn’t do a thing to help cool her down.  “I’m sorry.  Were you looking for Steve?  He’s at work right now.”

His half-smile turned into the real thing.  The change in expression deepened the grooves in his cheeks and gave him a lazy look that matched his careless pose.

His smile was addictive and Kaitlin caught herself starting to smile back.

“How about I introduce myself properly? The name’s Blaze.” Lazily his right

hand stretched toward her, broad and sun-browned with a faint line of scars

visible across the first two knuckles. “I’m your date for the weekend.”

Kathleen Lawless blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her many alpha male heroes.   

Her hero, Steele, in HER UNDERCOVER COWBOY, is a modern-day cowboy, so when she was wooed by a man called Steel— while he’s not a cowboy, he is an alpha male and her forever hero.  Which is why all of her stories end Happily Ever After.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Finding Love in Comfort, Texas by Sable Hunter


One of the joys of living in the Texas Hill Country is the opportunity to have a wide choice of unique and marvelous locales for my books right at my fingertips and in front of my eyes. I have created a universe of characters and connected series set in and around Austin, from the Highland Lakes to the north to the winding banks of the Guadalupe to the south – and all in between. My current work-in-progress is entitled I SWEAR, starring a handsome hunk named Jonah Callan who is a mechanic. He does work for nearby Tebow Ranch in Kerrville, but he also maintains a shop in the small town of Comfort, Texas to be near his father who has early onset Alzheimer’s. There is a lot going on in this story besides romance, there is the internal struggle the main characters have with being caretakers, there is the threat of kidnapping and human trafficking, there’s even a poltergeist in the mix. Ha! Typical Sable Hunter fare – a mishmash of issues reminiscent of what we all go through. Our lives are seldom simple. 

When I originally chose Comfort as a backdrop for this man’s story, I knew very little about the town. My process is to visit the community as well as google the heck out of it to find historical information, interesting facts, mysteries – etc. I work as much of those interesting facts into my books as possible. Plus, those types of trivial tidbits just fascinate the heck out of me.

Some towns have very little recorded history or points of interest to brag about. Some have been blessed with an abundance. Comfort and the surrounding area fit into the second category. In 1854, a group of Germans settled at the site of an old Native American village. These pioneers were academics, all well-educated. In fact for the most part, they spoke Latin when they conversed. They were a particular sort known as Freethinkers, migrating to America for religious freedom. They weren’t all atheists, but they weren’t religious. Their desire was to live in a place where no one told them what to do, how to think, how to worship or if they had to worship at all. In fact, there was no churches built in the town until the 1900’s. Funerals and such were well-attended, but primarily secular.

As an interesting aside, the name of the town was chosen out of hope. They hoped to find comfort in this land of newfound freedom. Unfortunately, due to those Freethinkers being more accustomed to a more sedate, intellectual life, they found it difficult to adjust to the Texas frontier. Although hard working, they just weren’t used to building their own homes, planting their own crops, making their own way – etc. And they sure weren’t used to the mosquitoes and other disCOMFORTS. So, they kept the name Comfort as the name of their community more as a statement of irony than anything else. Of course, time would smooth things out and they did become comfortable in their new home.

All of this sounds fairly mundane, but the timing made it anything but. The Civil War came along and turned everything upside down – primarily because Texas sided with the Confederacy and these FREETHINKERS from Comfort firmly stood against slavery and secession. When required to vow their allegiance to the confederate cause, they refused. Ideally, people would have said live and let live, moving on to find someone else to help fight their battle, but war is seldom reasonable. Forced to choose, approximately sixty men and women attempted to flee to Mexico rather than fight against their newly adopted country. They were early conscientious objectors, I guess you might say. Their plan was to make their way to New Orleans, then return to the Hill Country when things settled down. Just before they made it over the Rio Grande, they were attacked by a Confederate force and 36 were killed. Below is the monument to those FREETHINKERS whose greatest wish was for humanity to be free.

Worthy of note is the fact that the flag standing in front of this Treue der Union monument in Comfort, TX,, is one of two flags in the US, the other being at Arlington Cemetery, which has been given the right to fly constantly at half-mast. 

Descendants of those FREETHINKERS are still around today – as is the town they built. In fact, Comfort is known as being one of the best conserved small towns in the country, over 100 original structures still stand. Residents pride themselves in preserving history. Many of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Here are a few examples of architecture from that period:

NOTE: The shopping is incredible, especially if you love neat, specialty shops!  

Much of the commerce of this early era depended on sheep, goats, grains, masonry, and lumber. In the 40’s and 50’s, the Hill Country was considered to be the international center of wool and mohair. A Comfort resident by the name of Adolf Stieler held the prestigious title of Angora Goat King of the World. I’m sure he was very proud.

Another notable business venture was an armadillo farm. The animals were raised to be harvested for their shells which went to produce basket, purses, and other various items. This establishment stayed active and profitable until the 1970’s.


This is a picture of the Apelt building which housed the offices for the armadillo farm. I have mixed feelings about this since the armadillos were killed for their shells. I’ve always enjoyed seeing them moseying around through the underbrush. I sure don’t see as many of them as I used to growing up. I don’t know if the highways got them, if pesticides played a role, or the Apelt’s were the reason for the diminished population.

One interesting thing I’ll share with you that I learned while writing another of my books called FORGET ME NEVER, it was the lowly armadillo who can be thanked for the cure for leprosy. For centuries, people thought leprosy was a judgment disease, much like our early thoughts on AIDS. People who came down with leprosy were ostracized, their identity taken away and a number assigned, their right to vote abolished, they couldn’t even live at home. If they bore children in the colony, those children were removed immediately. The only leper colony in North America was in a little town in Louisiana called Carville, on a bend in the Mississippi River. Scientists and doctors working at Carville Leprosarium finally discovered that the only other creature who can carry leprosy besides humans is the little armadillo. After experimentation and study, they discovered that leprosy is just a virus – a virus called Hansen’s Disease that can be easily controlled and even cured with medication. Now, that was probably more than you wanted to know – but that’s Sable for you.

Another oddity about Comfort is what I call the bat tower. All of the Hill Country, most especially Austin itself, is big on bats. We have festivals for them. One of our downtown bridges is home to the largest colony of Mexican freetail bats in the world. Instead of trying to destroy them, Austin celebrates them. Crowds gather at night to watch them take flight. They are protected and revered. In nearby Comfort, in 1918, a man named Albert Steves built a bat roost in order to use a large colony of the creatures to naturally control the mosquito population. At one time there were 16 of these structures in the US and Europe and now there are only two – this one in Comfort and one in the Florida Keys. It stands over 30 feet high. I’m not sure they worked very well. 

One thing I don’t have a picture of, but I wish I did (for some reason my camera wouldn’t work in the Comfort cemetery…woo-woo-I’m making a spooky noise) is a bunch of graves covered in seashells. I asked around as to why and I was told several things. None of them made a lot of sense. I know it wasn’t just a convenient covering for protection because the shells weren’t readily available. Comfort is located a couple of hours north of the Gulf of Mexico, so they would’ve had to be hauled in. Strangely, these are all old graves and many of them were those original FREETHINKERS. This fact makes the most common explanation that it was a Christian thing highly unlikely. Now, it could’ve been a hold-over custom from the old-country and it may also be some version of the African belief in ‘the sea shall take them back home’. After all that happened, I’m sure many of those folks wished they’d never left Germany. Another explanation offered was the old practice of putting a shell or a rock on a grave each time you visit – although most of these graves appear to be completely covered in shells and it seems they were that way from the beginning. I’ve researched and researched for some cryptic meaning, and I really can’t find one. If I solve this mystery, I’ll let you know.

Another wild thing about Comfort is that its home to a future cryogenics lab. You know, where they freeze your body until you can be brought back to life and cured of whatever ails you. Director and principal architect, Stephen Valentine, chose an 800-acre plot of land just outside Comfort to house a facility known as the Time-ship. This facility will hold up to 50000 bodies in suspended animation at -130 degrees, all hoping to be resurrected at a more opportune time. Time-ship’s design is said to be a cross between a spaceship and a castle. The town of Comfort was chosen for its safety, located far from locales famous for earthquakes, tornadoes, or snowstorms. There are also no military bases or nuclear power plants close by. Also, the entire complex will be off grid, using solar and wind energy to avoid crippling power outages. Reports also state they’ve consulted experts on ways for the project to survive a nuclear bomb. After all, it would be sad to beat death by freezing, then get blown up in a world war. Frankly, I’m going to just see where death takes me. As an avid ghosthunter, I sorta have an idea what to expect and I’m not sure where I’d be hovering if my body was made into a popsicle.

There is a whole lot more to be seen in Comfort, but my day was full. If I were staying the night, I’d book a room at the Holekamp Guest Haus. While the B*B is very attractive, what makes it special to me is that it was built in 1906 from a Sears Roebuck kit, the best they offered at $5000. The photo below is not the exact kit, but it’s an example of how they were sold. I thought this was so neat until I talked to my cousin, and she said we had one of those old Sears houses in Bronson. I can remember the house and it was very neat. Who knew? I expect this will be a thing of the future also and when Amazon starts selling kit houses, I may just order me one.

Anyway…Comfort is a fascinating place. I am having a blast writing about Jonah and Delaney in I SWEAR. And if you read the book, you’ll see some of these facts again, worked into the plot in whatever may I can figure out how to use them. This is my favorite part of writing, learning everything I can about the world I build for my characters.

Talk to you later,


Friday, June 11, 2021

My Story Inspiration for Rescuing Raven

 My Story Inspiration for Rescuing Raven

By Jacqui Nelson

What inspires a short story? And can an author (who loves history) fit another iconic history-infused setting (Deadwood, South Dakota, during the gold rush) into a 6,000-word story that's also filled with romance and adventure? It was a challenge, believe me, but it was the best kind of challenge!

During my March, April, and May monthly blogs with Cowboys Kisses, I shared my Story Inspiration pages (the page I've included in the back of all of my books) for Between Heaven & Hell, Following Faith, and Choosing Bravery. 

Now it's time to share the Story Inspiration page for the story that chronologically follows those three, but this story was designed to be enjoyed at any time (including before reading the others)...

Rescuing Raven's Book Cover


Story Inspiration page ~ from the back of the book

Being an avid fan of the Dances with Wolves movie (starring Kevin Costner and Graham Greene) and the Deadwood TV series (starring Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant), I’d always wanted to write a story set in South Dakota or the town of Deadwood. After registering for the 2018 Wild Deadwood Reads (WDR) author-reader event, an intriguing opportunity arose—join 16 authors (who would also be attending the event) in writing a new story for a limited-edition anthology called Wild Deadwood Tales. The anthology would be available for 2018 only, it would be showcased at WDR and Deadwood’s annual Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event, and all proceeds would go to the Western Sports Foundation (WSF).

The WSF and the PBR connections had many of the anthology authors choosing to write stories about modern-day bull riders, but I’m a historical fiction author—who now had her chance to write about Deadwood in 1876! 

Why 1876? That’s the year the town of Deadwood was born. Prior to 1876, the site was a gulch with dead trees. Then gold was found in the Black Hills and white settlers flooded in—illegally taking permanent residence on the Lakota’s sacred land that had been forbidden to whites by the U.S. government’s 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. 

1876 is also the year of the Battle of the Little Big Horn—which was followed by General Crook’s march (from Montana Territory into the Dakota Territory) in pursuit of the Lakota Sioux. But General Crook only took enough rations for a few days—which resulted in the Horsemeat March (also known as the Starvation March) when his men had to eat their horses to survive. Near Deadwood, General Crook and his men fought the Battle of Slim Buttes and stole not only the Lakota’s winter food preserves but their horses (to replace the ones they’d eaten). 

Al Swearengen arrived in Deadwood early in 1876 and opened the Cricket Saloon, a barebones establishment that he built before his fancier and much more well-known Gem Theater. Not long after his arrival, his relationship with his first wife, Nettie, became extra complicated when a very attractive saloon girl named Kitty Austen came to town and became Al’s employee and more. 

All of this history created many complications for Raven (a Lakota woman born in the Black Hills) and Charlie Jennings (a white man from Oregon) who were perfect for each other even if their two worlds were not.

The reward is worth risk. Read Rescuing Raven for free on my website


Deadwood, Dakota Territory – 1876

Raven wants to save one person. Charlie wants to save the world. Their warring nations thrust them together but duty pulled them apart—until their paths crossed again in Deadwood for a fight for love.

In a gold rush storm, can an unlikely pair rescue each other?

Rescuing Raven features a grown-up Charlie Jennings who was a young boy in my Oregon Trail story, Between Heaven & Hell (set in 1850). You’ll also get to meet real-life (and really complicated) Al Swearengen—one of the first men to set up a business in Deadwood. Al’s most well-known saloon was The Gem Theater, but his first Deadwood saloon (the one shown in my story) was The Cricket. 

Click here to read an excerpt on my website.

Book review "grabbed my interest from the first page and did not let go until the end."


Resuing Raven is part of my Lonesome Hearts series, which follows the frontiersmen and women who meet on the Oregon Trail and afterward. Each story includes one or more of the characters from the other books but is also a standalone read.

Hope you enjoyed my writing inspiration and that your Friday and your weekend are filled with sunny summer inspiration ☀️❤️

~ * ~

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Creating Heroes by Rhonda Frankhouser

When people find out I'm a romance writer, this question always seems to arise. How do I create my sexy heroes? Are they modeled after someone I know? A complete figment of my imagination or a fantasy lover, perhaps? 

The question always strikes me odd. I honestly don't know what kind of man I'll create for my heroine until my fingers sculpt him with the keys. I'm a pantser even with my characters. At least I thought I was.

My first sexy hero was Billy MacCallister. Son of a rival rancher. Younger brother of a childhood friend. He first came alive when Ruby rolled up the driveway of her grandmother's ranch, in Return to Ruby's Ranch. I felt his dedication and honesty before I ever pictured his face in my mind. He was good with the animals, an ace cowboy, and had the respect of his men. 

Ruby needed someone steady, and patient. She's was a hot mess, as they say. For someone to earn her trust, he had to be ever loyal to her and her plight to find the answers to her many questions about her family, yet he could not be a pushover. Ruby would never fall for a man who was too perfect. She needed someone real and flawed, who could love her for who she was. 

And so Billy evolved - the picture of him came clearly to mind. Stubborn waves of chestnut hair tucked behind his ears; bright green eyes that betray his secret childhood crush; a muscular body formed from hard work and the scent of sweaty horses on his sun-tanned skin. His slightly crooked smile, always with a secret to tell.   

Ruby couldn't deny her growing affection for Billy MacCallister, even though love was the last thing she was looking for on her journey home. She had to find out what really happened to her mother who had disappeared from the ranch two decades before. She needed to understand why her grandmother had lost her mind. She had to learn the ranching ropes and win the respect of the ranch hands or risk losing the ranch her grandmother had spent her whole life building. She couldn't let anything or anyone stand in the way of her goals.

So, back to the question at hand ~ Where do we come up with men who complicate our heroines lives? In this particular case, it turns out that Billy was also the man of my own dreams. I met and married my own Billy some twenty years after I had written his character out in this story. I'm not going to say that I'm clairvoyant, but I must have put in my order with a higher power. My creation's accuracy was right down to the green eyes and chestnut hair, strong and honest and dedicated to me like no one ever before. I'm one of the lucky ones - living out my own fantasies.

How do you come up with your heroes? I'd love to hear about your process? What kinds of heroes make you want to read on?

Ruby Lattrell spends her days caring for her ailing father and younger brother. When they no longer need her, her life lacks purpose. Then she inherits Ruby’s Ranch – the only real home she ever knew – the place where her mother mysteriously vanished. The smell of fresh cut hay and the most handsome cowboy she’s ever seen, Billy MacCallister, greet Ruby when she arrives at the ranch.

Billy MacCallister always dreamed Ruby would return home. When he finally sees her standing on Granny’s porch, now a mix of that sassy young girl he once knew and the reassured, sensual woman she is today, he knows his heart hasn’t misled him.  Before she can fall into the timeless love that Billy offers, they must solve the mysteries that haunt Ruby’s Ranch. Will digging up the past hurt more people than it helps? Will the truth they discover tear Ruby and Billy apart?

Thanks for listening!

Rhonda Frankhouser

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Noodles - Memories

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Inside of Hornbeck's 1880s kitchen
photo property of the author

In the town I grew up in, there was a woman who made homemade noodles. They were the best I tasted then, or since. Now that I no longer can eat gluten I do miss them. 

Before I left for college, she imparted the secret to making this wonderful food. It was the basis for heavenly beef and noodles to say nothing equally tasty chicken and noodles. She would make a large batch, probably due to her cooking for the farmhands in her early married life. Born in 1893, she lived a long life, passing in 1982. She'd painted the outside of her two-story house when she was in her seventies and was active her whole life. Perhaps it was something in her noodles. Probably not, but who knows?

Courthouse near where I grew up.
Yes, Abraham Lincoln spoke there.

Since I loved them, I thought I'd share the 'secret' with you. Of course, there are probably many who know this same recipe but just in case, here it is.  

Eggs, milk, flour, and salt. So simple, and easy to make.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Usually, two make a nice batch. Fill half an eggshell with milk. One half eggshell per egg. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Usually one cup of flour per egg, more or less. Mix all the ingredients into a sticky ball. Place additional flour on a pastry board then knead the noodle mixture to a smooth ball. 

Roll the ball to desired thickness, 1/8 to 1/4. Cut the rolled batter to the desired width. 

At this point, I would usually put the noodles into the broth to cook, but she would set them aside to dry. Either works.

So the next time you would like an old-fashioned meal, you might try this lovely lady's noodles.

Although she didn't make noodles, Clara in my novella, "Home for His Heart" used food to catch the heart of the man she loved and the rest of the town where she had a restaurant.

Clara hummed as she put the finishing touches on the meal. 

Every year since she had arrived in Agate Gulch she prepared

a special meal for friends. The past year had been especially

wonderful. Even the gingham curtains on the restaurant 

windows seemed to smile with her tune.


Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

Author of the 'Agate Gulch' novellas and the 'Kiowa Wells' novels

Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

(c) Doris McCraw 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Navajo Hex

By Kristy McCaffrey

When I was nine years old, I lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation. My dad, who has long had a deep and abiding respect for Native Americans, saw this as a chance to give back with his life, so he took a job as an accountant with an arts and crafts store in Window Rock, Arizona—capital of the Navajo Nation. We obtained a house just across the border in New Mexico, in a small town aptly called “Navajo,” supported by a local sawmill. It was 1975.

Navajo, New Mexico (photo taken by author)

One day at one of the stores that employed my father a worker found a Styrofoam cup tucked away on a shelf. Inside were various items that included a torn corner of a $5, $10 and $20 bill. It was immediately clear to those who discovered it that a hex had been placed. Soon thereafter, a medicine man was called. Since it involved all the employees, my dad was allowed, despite being a white man, to participate in the ceremonies conducted.

Window Rock, Arizona (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

At the first ritual, the medicine man found a buried pot outside the building at the base of the famous local landmark, the window rock. This was accomplished when his hand trembled over the exact location. On the outside of the pot, stick figures represented the employees, and lightning bolts painted above indicated death by lightning strike. At the time, we were having terrible storms every day. Inside were pieces of coral, turquoise, and silver, and a section of human skull.

At the second ceremony, a bowl filled with some type of tea was passed around to ingest, and then each employee was asked to look into a crystal to identify who had placed the hex. My dad says he saw nothing, but it was generally agreed that the perpetrator was a former employee who had been fired. She was part of a major Navajo clan, and her dismissal had possibly angered the wrong people. But the curse spoke of deeper problems within the Navajo and their way of life. The crafts people—those who made Indian jewelry and the iconic Navajo weavings—were at odds with the administration, which included my dad. There were those who wanted progress, and those who didn’t. At the conclusion of the ceremony, after a sand painting was created, the piece of skull inside the pot was burned. Two female employees reported instant relief from a terrible headache that had plagued them all evening. Back at home, at the same time, my mother said I’d been distraught and crying for hours from pains in my head, which immediately stopped when the bone was destroyed. It seemed family members had also been included in the hex.

My dad never attended the third, and final, observance—the Blessing Way—because we had moved back to Phoenix. He has always joked that the hex was never fully removed. As evidence, he cites various mishaps that occur whenever he and my mother return to the Navajo Reservation: car breakdowns, money stolen, and in one instance missing a critical turnoff because five Indians stood in front of a directional sign.

In my recently re-released standalone historical western novel INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, I included the hex in the story. 

Digital copies are on sale this week for 99 cents.

It’s been five years since a woman came between Ethan Barstow and his brother, Charley, and it’s high time they buried the hatchet. When Ethan travels to Arizona Territory to make amends, he learns that Charley has abruptly disappeared after breaking more than one heart in town. And an indignant fiancĂ©e is hot on his trail.

When Charley Barstow abandons a local girl after getting her pregnant, Kate Kinsella pursues him without a second thought. She’s determined he set things right, and even more determined to end her own engagement to him, a sham from the beginning. But an ill-timed encounter with a group of ruffians lands her in the company of Charley’s brother, Ethan, who suggests they search together.

As Ethan and Kate move deeper INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, family tensions and past tragedies threaten to destroy a love neither of them expected.

A sensuous historical western romance set in 1893 Arizona Territory. Into The Land Of Shadows is a stand-alone, full-length novel with paranormal elements.

This book was previously published in 2013 under the same title. While the text and cover have been updated, the story remains the same.

Click to read Chapter One and find buy links.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Glen Eyrie Castle & General William Jackson Palmer ~ Julie Lence


Original Glen Eyrie Castle

Last month, I wrote about General William Jackson Palmer and how he founded Colorado Springs. There is so much General Palmer did for Colorado Springs and Colorado that one blog would go on for pages, so I condensed that blog and I return today with another of the General’s accomplishments.

William Jackson Palmer
Military Wiki 

While living in Colorado Springs, Palmer built a grand home for himself and his wife (nicknamed Queen) in the 1870’s. Situated just north of Garden of the Gods at the mouth of a canyon, Glen Eyrie was originally a clapboard home of twenty rooms. While in residence, Palmer’s wife taught school at Colorado Springs’ first school, but more often than not, the Palmers were not in residence; she because of her health and he because of his work. Suffering a heart attack wile pregnant with their second child, Mrs. Palmer gave birth at the home then spent most of her time on the East Coast or in England. She permanently left Glen Eyrie and Colorado Springs in 1885 and passed away 1894.    

Queen Palmer

With his daughters coming to live with him after his wife’s passing, Palmer sold his Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1901 for 6 million and retired in Colorado Springs, where he donated several plots of land to the city while forging ahead with plans to renovate Glen Eyrie. He hired architect Frederick J. Sterner and engineer Edmond Van Dienst to help with the project, which took near two years to quarry stone from the estate’s lands and transform the clapboard house into a stone castle. With 67 rooms and 20 fireplaces, the interior was paneled in oak, with the main floor boasting several parlors, a solarium, a dining room, and a kitchen that had ice storage and a walk-in refrigerator. Bedroom suites for Palmer and his daughters occupied the second level, as well as guest suites and servants quarters. The third floor held more bedrooms, a sitting room, and access to the tower, but the belle of the castle was Book Hall. Large enough to hold 300 people, Book Hall boasted a large fireplace and a balcony where an orchestra could perform. Beneath the hall were billiards rooms and a bowling alley.      

Renovated Glen Eyrie

Sadly, Palmer only enjoyed his renovated home for a handful of years. Paralyzed from a horse riding accident in 1906, he passed away 3 years later. His daughters wanted to donate the castle to the city, but city leaders declined because they feared the cost to maintain the property and home would be too high. For the next 40 years, Glen Eyrie saw many owners, though the house was rarely occupied, to include a group of businessmen who wanted to turn the property into a golf resort, complete with a tavern and luxury houses. World War 1 saw them changing their plans and operating the castle as a tea room. Alexander S. Cochran bought the property in 1918, closed the castle because of the high expense to maintain and let it go to ruin. He did build a ‘pink home’ on the property for a vacation house, and passed away at the start of the Great Depression. The property sat on the market until Texas oilman George W. Strake bought it in 1938.  He expanded the pink house, opened the castle for parties and used some of the land for ranching, and in 1953 listed Glen Eyrie for sale at a price of $500,000, which caught Dawson Trotman’s attention.

Dawson Trotman
Find a Grave

A Christian evangelist and founder of the Navigators ministry, Trotman was planning to move from Los Angeles to Colorado and hoped to split the cost of Glen Eyrie with fellow evangelist Billy Graham. Discovering Christians were interested in the property, Strake lowered the sale price. With Graham backing out of the deal, Trotman quickly raised the down payment with the help of his Navigators ministry and Glen Eyrie became their home in September 1953, and remains so today. The Navigators use the property as a home for their publishing firm, NavPress and as a Christian conference center. The property came with a lake in the Rampart Range area and now houses the Eagle Lake Camps, a Christian summer program. With the exception of the kitchen and the removal of the bowling alley to incorporate a dining area, the main part of the castle is unaltered. The castle and grounds are open to visitors for afternoon tea (reservations required) a tour of the castle, and an overnight stay within the castle, the pink house or the lodges the Navigators built.       


Throughout Colorado Springs and Colorado, General Palmer isn’t just known for Glen Eyrie Castle and the high school named after him. Palmer was responsible for bring the narrow gauge railroads to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain, for providing land and funding for Colorado College, for forming Colorado Coal and Iron Company’s steel mill in south Pueblo and laying out a second town, Bessemer, which is now incorporated into Pueblo. He also founded the General Palmer Hotel in 1898 in Durango, Colorado. Originally named the Palace Hotel, the hotel is still in use today, and in 1962 he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  

Glen Eyrie Castle
Trip Advisor
Glen Eyrie Castle East View
Trip Advisor