Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Bones War

   I enjoy doing the research for my stories, sometimes too much so, as one thing leads to another and suddenly several hours have passed.

 While researching 1878 Colorado, two fascinating events caught my attention. One was the Great Eclipse, and the other was the Bones War. Both occurrences seemed like great external elements and conflict for my story, Break Heart Canyon.

    The discovery of dinosaur artifacts in Como Bluff, Wyoming and Garden Park, Colorado, sparked the public's interest in dinosaurs and caused much ado back East. Known as the Great Dinosaur Rush, the competition to attain the best examples led to ruthless skullduggery as fossil hunters flooded west. 
    During this time of expansion, in order to amaze and amuse their friends, many elites on the East Coast searched the world over for unusual items—dinosaur artifacts now topped the list. But the two main real-life players in the battle for bones were Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.  

    Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh  Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Creative Commons.

Cope was a member of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences and Marsh was a professor at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale. They fought fiercely trying to outdo one another as they sought the best specimens to garner not only fame, but government funds and contributions for their various projects. 

The only time they seemed in agreement was when they both tried to destroy a third rival, a mild-mannered, older gent named Joseph Leidy, the first U.S. paleontologist of vertebrates.

Fortunately for the world, Leidy retreated from “the war in the West” and turned to microscopic endeavors discovering the microorganism in pork that causes trichinosis, and the source of canine heartworm.

The feud between Marsh and Cope led to some of the greatest discoveries of dinosaur remains. But as shipments of unearthed artifacts heading for the coast were stolen at gunpoint, and spies and double agents existed in both excavation camps, their mutual blind ambition let to a harmful impact on their personal life and careers. Eventually, both men lost their funding and their credibility.

As science began to interest the everyday man, I’m sure it changed how the characters in our books thought about the world around them, and what dreams and aspirations they may have harbored. What must they have thought of those gigantic bones and skeletons? I know my hero and heroine were intrigued, but also at odds with one another over digging up the land for such treasure.

The Bones War came to an end, but the effects had a lasting effect on Colorado. In 1982, Governor Richard Lamm named the Stegosaurus the official state fossil. 

There are several places in Colorado to see dinosaur bones firsthand! Here is a website that lists places to see displays, digs, and footprints.    

During the same year, 1878, the Great Eclipse occurred, again putting Colorado in the spotlight. More on that momentous event next time... 


Blurb: Unearthing artifacts in Colorado sounded like easy money to Ryker Landry. Then he met the woman who owned the land. 

Una MacLaren vows no fortune hunter will desecrate the ancient relics of BreakHeart Canyon—even if the man is a handsome scoundrel. Fighting to keep her goat farm afloat, as local cattlemen hatch deadly schemes to make sure she fails, Una has enough to worry about. 

Captivated by the courageous redhead, Ryker joins forces with Una and her deerhound, MacTavish. But what does he desire most—the woman or the artifacts? 

When the mythical white cougar again prowls the rocky cliffs, the legend of Break Heart Canyon draws them into a web of danger. Now only daring and blind trust can save them. 


 #historicalromance #western romance #dinosaurbones 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

General Store

 Farming and ranching were full time jobs. Monday thru Saturday you'd work hard. Sunday, of course, the day of rest. However, one Saturday a month, families would pile into the wagon with some of their hard earned products and head to town to stock up on supplies. Small towns and villages dotted the American west. Families needed somewhere where they could barter or buy supplies to maintain their families. That place was the General Store or Mercantile.

      The General store was the heart of the community. It's where the well to do and the barely getting by met to mingle. Where young girls purchased supplies for their quilts and maybe caught the eye of the cowboy, farmer, miner, timber man, or rancher's son. A surviving store did not run by itself. The merchandise may have been shipped by rail but often these stores were in areas far from the rail depots. Horse and wagons loaded the goods and carried them to the stores.Getting the merchandise to the store was one part of the puzzle. The placement and arrangement of the goods was doubly important. 

Placing goods on the shelf or on tables was done to provide the customer with the ability to browse, to touch, to taste, to decide that they could not live without what was provided. Long shelves contained dry goods, ticking for pillows and mattresses, calico for quilts, simple tableware to samples of imported English fare. Mothers might pick up medical goods to treat family ailments. Ladies magazines that showed the latest gowns or a few store made dress fronts and skirts could be purchases.

For the men, saddles, bridles, spurs, chaps, hats, blankets could be gawked over. Perhaps a new pocket watch or some mustache wax might be purchased. Further back, the men would gather to share a glass of whiskey, purchase seed, tobacco, even barrels of dried and salted meat, even kerosene for lamps. As customers made their purchases, they would be bedazzled by the array of glass jars holding candy of all sorts guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.

With cash a commodity all to itself, these stores existed on barter. Families would bring the fruits of their labors, skins, eggs, wheat, corn etc to the stories to barter for goods. While the proprietor added up the price of the goods vs the cost of the merchandise, families caught up on what was happening, shared newspapers that came in on the post, mailed letters at the Post office corner, looked for work, and perhaps looked for that mail order bride. All the details of their transactions were recorded by hand and kept in ledgers - no excel sheets here.

The grand thing was it worked. Today those simple stores have grown into the Kroger, the Winn Dixie, the Safeway's we see at every corner. 

  Until next time,


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Three Trailblazing Black Women in California by Zina Abbott


Biddy Mason (1818-1891)

Born into slavery August 15, 1818 in Hancock County, Georgia, Biddy was brought to San Bernardino, California, by her owner, Robert Smith. She won her freedom and that of her three daughters from a California court in 1856, at which time she chose the surname of Mason. A real estate entrepreneur, she was one of the founders of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. She gained knowledge of medicine, child care, and livestock care during her enslavement and used it to aid others during her travel from Mississippi to the West. While in Los Angeles, she became a real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist and was instrumental in founding a traveler's aid center, and a school and day care center for Black children. She died at the age of seventy-two on January 15, 1891. 


Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood (1828-1867)

Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood left a legacy in California as a 19th-century African American educator and activist. She is best known for being the first Black teacher in Sacramento. Born a freewoman in New York and educated in New Bedford, Massachusetts, she, her first husband, Joseph Scott, and their son moved to Placerville, California in 1852 during the gold rush. Mr. Scott died soon after, and Elizabeth chose to move to the larger African-American neighborhood in Sacramento. Due to his race, her son was not allowed to enroll in school. In 1854, Elizabeth opened her own school in her home and taught non-white children and some adults ranging in ages from four to twenty-nine. Shortly after, the Sacramento school board took over administration, but provided no funding.

          Elizabeth later attended the first California State Convention of Colored Citizens in Sacramento. She joined other activists in calling for better representation and civil rights. She soon met her second husband, Isaac Flood. They settled outside of Oakland, where she opened another school for non-white children operating out of her home. The couple started the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the area. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood died in 1867 at the age of thirty-nine, leaving behind her husband, five children, and a legacy of advocating for education and civil rights for Black Americans in California.

Delilah Beasley (1867-1934)

Delilah Leontium Beasley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 9, 1867. When her parents died while she was still a teenager, she trained as a masseuse. In 1883, Delilah began writing about church and social activities for a black newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette.  Three years later, under the headline "Mosaics," she published her first column in the Sunday. Cincinnati Enquirer. She studied journalism under Daniel Rudd, a well-known newspaper publisher of Cincinnati’s Colored Catholic Tribune. 

At the age of thirty-nine, Delilah Beasley moved to Oakland, California, where she worked as a columnist for the Oakland Tribune, was a historian and the first African American woman to be published regularly in a major metropolitan newspaper. She also documented the struggles of California’s African-American pioneers in her book, Slavery in California (1918). 

She is also well-known for the publication, The Negro Trail-Blazers of California (1919), which included diaries, biographical sketches, poetry, photographs, old papers, transcripts of conversations, and a history of legislation that affected Black people in California. A journalist for over fifty years, Delilah Beasley died
August 18, 1934 in San Leandro, California.



My most recent release is a boxset, Eclipsed by Love, of my first three of six romances inspired by the 1878 total solar eclipse. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE






My next release is titled Jocelyn’s Wedding Dilemma which is scheduled for release on March 5, 2024. To find the book description and pre-order link, please CLICK HERE







Tuesday, February 20, 2024

More Ridge Ranch

Sometimes you have to take a few steps back before you can go forward. The Ridge Brothers have told their stories but it doesn’t end there. Several things go into making a series. We’ve talked about the character of the town and even the personality of the pets. Have you ever read a book that only had two people in it? I’m sure they’re out there but secondary character add so much to the story. How does the main character interact with other people? Is the Main character flirty with other people too or are they a complete asshole and only have eyes for the other main character. 

When I started writing Saving Maddie, Wyatt was an only child. Now, I couldn’t imagine him with out his two younger brothers. As I was writing Finding Liv I wanted to go back and tell Bo and Bonnie’s story so that’s exactly what I did. The next Ridge Ranch release will be Loving Bonnie which is set to come out in June this year. 

💖Small town contemporary country romance

💖Workplace romance

💖Friends to lovers


💖He falls first


💖He falls first

The Ridge Ranch Series

Loving Bonnie

Bo and Bonnie’s Story


I was not going to be derailed by a breakup. The timely acceptance letter to a premier Ranch Management Intern Program gives me time to clear my head. It’s not the first time I’ve come across men who don’t think I belong in their world. I might have to work harder than they do, but I deserve it just as much. When there's a mention of a permanent job, I know it’s mine. I just can’t let a handsome ranch hand distract me no matter how much I  want him to.


Helping oversee the boss’ Internship Program is not my idea of fun. I’d rather muck stalls all year, than babysit a bunch of wannabe ranchers. Girls in our program are few and far between and the guys don’t take it easy on them. Several of the interns don’t feel she belong, but she earned her spot just like they did. In fact, she gives them  a run for their money. As an intern, she’s off limits, so why do I feel  I want to protect her? She won’t let anything get in the way of what she wants, even me.

Available for pre-order on Amazon. 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Unexpected New Book!


 February has been great in the romance department. An unexpected creative spark has brought about a new book. Though it would be great if I could finish older books. 

Book 5 in the Wild Love Series was not something I had planned. But two sub characters in Outlaw's Redemption finally demanded that their story be told.

A good friend read Outlaw's Redemption and wanted to know when the book about Jaron and Marti was coming out. I had to break her heart and tell her I wasn't planning on a book for them. And I wasn't. Until...

Two years later, I had this random thought about Jaron and Marti while I was at work. That nightshift, I pulled out my microphone and dictated my ideas. The next night I did the same thing. Soon their story was flowing.

It was a crazy breakthrough for me! I've been struggling for the past few years to get writing done. My creativity is hiding behind a door somewhere. Jaron and Marti kicked down the door and the words flowed.

I'm happy to say the book is almost ready to become a rough draft. I have to fill in a few places and rearrange a few things. After that I can go through it and get it in rough draft form.

My friend is so thrilled that I'm writing about Marti and Jaron, and she can't wait to read it.

A rough synopsis...

Marti Barkley, a determined young woman who sets out for Boston to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, seeking refuge from a heart-wrenching tragedy. However, her return takes a perilous turn when her train is ambushed, thrusting her into a dangerous situation. To her surprise, the one who emerges as her rescuer is none other than Jaron Wolf, the man who had once shattered her heart.

Jaron, grappling with long-held anger and the pain of Marti's departure, embarks on a daring mission to rescue her. As Marti finds safety in his arms once again, Jaron discovers that his love for her remains unwavering. Throughout the perilous journey home, Jaron strives to convince Marti that their love can transcend past heartaches, believing they are destined to be together.

However, Marti, guarded by a deeply hidden pain, is reluctant to let Jaron back into her heart. Her emotional barriers create a challenge for Jaron, who is determined to unravel the layers of her pain and prove that their love is worth reclaiming.

Returning Love is a touching tale of resilience, forgiveness, and the enduring power of love, as Marti and Jaron navigate through danger and emotional barriers, rediscovering each other against the backdrop of a perilous journey and the mending of once-broken hearts.

If you are interested in learning about Marti and Jaron, you can read about them in Outlaw's Redemption.  A book that I'm happy to say has achieved another award!

A promise made to a dying man brought Boone Cain to the town of Rimrock. Four years of war had left scars on his body and soul and years of drifting had turned him into a dangerous gunman. He had been prepared for a lot in fulfilling his promise, but he hadn’t been prepared for Leslie Barkley. She melted the ice surrounding his heart and his need for her could make keeping his promise extremely difficult. Getting involved with her was something he couldn’t let happen, but his need for her could win and put her in danger.

Leslie’s gift of premonitions had not warned her about the gunman that came to her boardinghouse looking for a place to stay. Nor had it warned her of the trouble that would follow this handsome, haunted man. Though Leslie had never met Boone before, he is familiar to her. A past premonition? This secretive gunman is connected to her in a way she never imagined and the truth will test her feelings for him.

 Can they put the past to rest and live the lives they were destined for?

I've enjoyed writing the Wild Love Series. I love each book.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Bat Masterson


Bartholemew "Bat" Masterson was an iconic figure of the American Old West, known for his colorful life as a lawman, buffalo hunter, gambler, and sports writer. Born on November 26, 1853 in Henryville, Quebec, Canada, Masterson's family moved to the United States when he was young,settling in Kansas.

Masterson's reputation was forged primarily in the frontier towns of the American West during the late 19th century. He gained fame as a lawman, serving as a sheriff's deputy in Dodge City, Kansas, and later a U.S. Marshal for the Southern District  of New York. Masterson was known for his cool demeanor, quick wit and skill with firearms, earning him respect among both allies and adversaries.

Beyond his law enforcement career, Masterson was also drawn to the world of gambling and became a well-known gambler in his own right. He frequented many of the saloons and gambling halls that dotted the frontier landscape, often participating in high-stakes games of poker and faro. 

In his later years, Masterson transitioned to a career in journalism, becoming a sports writer for newspapers such as the New York Morning Telegraph.He covered boxing matches and other sporting events, offering colorful commentary and insights drawn from his own experiences  in the rough-and-tumble world of the Old West. Masterson's life was one of adventure and intrigue, leaving an indelible mark on the history and mythology of the American frontier. He passed away on October 25, 1921,in New York City, leaving behind a legacy that continues to captivate imaginations to this day.


Public Domain, 


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

My Strange Valentine

Ten Valentine Tidbits

 As it is with many of our holidays, the current Valentine's Day came about because Christians were trying to redefine a Pagan holiday. You see the Pagans loved a little violence with their holy days. Things like throwing virgins into volcanos or setting people on fire. The Christians, while not adverse to such activities, preferred to have holidays that didn't require human sacrifies.Therefore we went from having men beat their wives on Valentine's Day to men giving their wives flowers and candy. I think we owe the Christians a debt of gratitude!
Valentine's Day is celebrated around the world in a variety of ways. It's become known as a celebration of fertility and love. Here are some facts about this sweet holiday:

1. Shakespeare romanticzed Valentine's Day by including it in his poems and plays.
2. It became popular in Germany after the end of WWII. Germans made pigs a symbol of the day. Pigs are a sign of good luck and figure into their Valentine's Day gifts. They also give large heart-shaped gingerbread cookies known as lebkuchen to their sweethearts.
3. In parts of Latin American, Valentine's Day is known as El Dia del Amor y Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship).
4. In the 1980s Estonia and Finland began recognizing platonic love and friendship along with romantic love. They meet with friends for dinner and the exchange of gifts.
5. Marriage is celebrated in the Philippines where mass weddings are performed for couples who can't afford their own ceremonies. Thousands of couples tie the knot throughout the country on that day. Not surprisingly, Feb. 14 is the most common wedding anniversary in the Philippines.
6. Chocolates are given to men in Japan. One origin of the tradition is that chocolate manufacturers suggested that women use Valentine's chocolate to confess their romantic feelings. Women give different types of chocolate. There is honmei choco (true feelings), giri choco (obligation, like to classmates or coworkers), and tomo choco (friendly feelings). Women get their gifts on March 14, White Day. That's when men return the favor with sweetheart gifts.
7. The first heart-shaped box of chocolates was sold in 1861. It was created by Richard Cadbury.
8. American households spend about $750 million on Valentine's gifts for their pets.
9. Conversation hearts began as medical lozenges, used for sore throats. A pharmacist invented a machine that simplified the way they were made, then he realized that he could use it to make candy, so he opened Necco --New England Confectionery Company. In 1866 sweet messages were added to them. The first ones were longer and on large lozenges. "Married in white you have chosen right." "How long shall I have to wait? Please be considerate."
10. The first Valentine was sent in the 15th Century from the Tower of London where French Duke Charles was imprisoned. He wrote to his wife: "I am already sick of love. My very gentle Valentine."

No matter how you celebrate it, Valentine's Day is all above love. Here's hoping this day brings all the love your heart can hold!