Sunday, April 29, 2012

Karen Michelle Nutt: Storm Riders

Storm Riders
by Karen Michelle Nutt

Romancing The West welcomes Karen Michelle Nutt who resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chihuahua/Yorkshire terrier is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer. Her Book, Lost in the Mist of Time, was nominated for New Books Review Spotlight Best Fantasy Book of the Year Award 2006. A Twist of Fate was a nominee for Best Time Travel P.E.A.R.L. Award for 2008. Creighton Manor won Honorable Mention P.E.A.R.L. Award 2009. Her new passion is creating book covers for Western Trail Blazers and Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing. In her spare time, she reviews books for PNR-Paranormal Romance Reviews.

Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love. Visit Karen at her website or stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats, and contests.

RTW: Thanks for dropping by, Karen! To start us off, please tell us about the book you're featuring this week.

KMN: Storm Riders isn’t your typical western. It is a western steampunk tale that takes the readers back in time to a small town called Bodie. Bodie is a mining town with a bad reputation. Ace McTavish is accused of murdering his brother and niece. Samantha Skelley and her Storm Rider partner, Denny Randeli, are in Bodie to fix a rift in time, which so happens to be Ace’s death. Samantha and Denny are there to save Ace, but the outlaw doesn’t make it easy. There are some downright bad guys, romance and an adventure readers will hopefully enjoy.

Yes! Karen has a contest!
To one lucky winner, Karen's giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate.
See details below.

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Storm Riders?


Right: Karen Michelle Nut, author
Left: Jack, special assistant & boss

KMN: Why do I write Westerns? I blame it on the popular westerns in the '70s. Alias Smith and Jones was my first interest in the western genre. I was fascinated with the lovable outlaws who were trying to go straight. I was only nine when it first aired and I had a big crush on Pete Duel. I wanted to know more about the west and ordered books at school from the Scholastic book club. The Ghost of Dibble Hollow by May Nickerson Wallace had the western theme with outlaws, ghosts and good mystery for a nine year old to fall in love with. Of course Little House on the Prairie caught my interest and How the West was Won, starring Bruce Boxleitner, who played Luke Macahan, was another.

To add to my growing western obsession, my family lived near Knott’s Berry Farm where Walter Knott created an authentic Ghost Town. When I was a teenager worked there for a time. With my first paycheck, I bought a cowboy hat. I loved that hat. Lol. Knott’s Berry Farm also sold mini-books on outlaws and lawmen of the west. I still have those books today.

I’ve written a few stories with a western theme to them. Wanted (outlaw wanting to go straight), Storm Riders (outlaws, adventure and romance) and At the Stroke of midnight (Western TV star of the '70s and a woman who travels back in time to save him). All three tales were motivated by my love of those early westerns.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you? KMN: How the West Was Won by Louis L’Amour. Louis L’Amour brings the old west alive with vivid accounts of hardship for both men and woman of that era. You see how they survived and struggled to have a happy life.

Storm Riders (Excerpt)
by Karen Michelle Nutt

The hangman’s hand pressed the lever and the prisoner dropped. At the same time a shot rang out, severing the rope before it could constrict around McTavish’s neck and break it.

Her horse tensed, but she stroked his neck and leaned forward. “You’re fine, boy. Stay with me.” People screamed and ducked. Deputy Goodman who stood at the foot of the stairs drew his gun, looking for the man responsible for the interruption.

He kept the patrons hopping with shots flying over their heads. Deputy Chester couldn’t leave the scaffold, the way the bullets flew at his feet, making him dance a jig.

Bless you, Denny Randeli.

Samantha didn’t waste time and rammed her feet into the horse’s flank, sending them flying forward through the crowd of scrambling people. McTavish looked stunned, but he was already working to free his hands.

“Need some help, cowboy.” She tipped back her hat and smiled. She pulled her knife out and he stumbled back. “Don’t be stupid. Let me cut the ropes.”

“Who are ye, lass?” His thick Scottish brogue laced his words.

“I’m the woman who’s going to save your arse. Now turn around and let me cut you free.”

He didn’t hesitate now, whirling around and giving her his backside. A nice backside, too, but now wasn’t the time to admire it. Keeping the horse steady, she leaned down and slashed the binds free from his hands. She shoved the knife back in its holder and offered her hand.

He turned to stare at her. In the bright of day, his eyes stood out like clear green gems with no other pigment clouding the color.

“Come on.” She thrust out her gloved hand.

His grip was firm as he swung up behind her.

“Hold on,” she told him. “Hiyah!” The horse bolted at the command and her sudden slam of her boot heel against its flank. She maneuvered around the scrambling crowd with ease and jumped over obstacles in her way.

“St. Brigid in Heaven, you’re an angel.” McTavish clung to her, his hands around her waist—warm and large, the heat from him sent a strange feeling to the pit of her stomach.

She shook her head. It was the thrill of the escape, not how McTavish felt against her. She tried to convince herself with no avail.

“Do you have the package?” Denny’s voice echoed in her ear, making her focus.

“Got him and we’re on the right trail to lose anyone who follows. We’ll stop at the first hideout and see if there’s trouble. If it looks clear, we’ll meet you back at the safe house tonight.

“Be safe,” Denny told her.

“Back at you.”

“Who are ye talkin’ to, darlin’?” McTavish leaned his head next to hers, his breath whispering against her cheek.

“None of your concern, cowboy. Just keep holding on. We have a rough ride ahead of us if we want to cover our tracks.”

She thought she heard him chuckle. “Oh, doonae fash yerself. I willnae let go.”

You can purchase Storm Riders at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

RTW: Great excerpt--we want more! So what’s next?

KMN: I’m working on a few WIP- the second book of Storm Riders. Storm Riders is slated to be a trilogy. I’m also working on a vampire/werewolf/necromancer Urban Fantasy tale and the third book in the Warriors for the Light series (Fallen Angels). I just finished Twilight’s Eternal Embrace (a historical vampire fantasy tale) and am ready to submit for publication.

In August, Magic of the Loch will be released with The Wild Rose Press. This is a shape shifter mystery with a new twist on the Loch Ness Monster legend.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

KMN: I want to thank you Jacquie for having me here today. Readers, I also want to thank you for your kind words and continue support.

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate!
Now for the Contest question: If you could travel back in time to a western town, where would you go and why? Was there someone there you wanted to meet?

Drawing will be held May 6 at 9pm Pacific Time. Your email address must be included to be eligible! Otherwise, we can't contact you and we'll have to draw another winner.

Chicken Dinner: Best chicken you ever ate--Beer-Butt Chicken

Normally I have a little western history here, but today we're going redneck.   Yes, for all you culturally deprived people out there, here's how you cook ...
Beer-Butt Chicken

First of all, why would anyone want to prepare chicken this way?  Because the fat drips out but the meat is the tastiest, most moist chicken you ever ate.  Not only that, it seems to entertain the kids--little boys seem to be fascinated with the prospect of shoving a can of beer up the backside of a chicken.  They're all too happy to help, and to eat it when it's done.  Every single kid had seconds!  Not bad for a bunch of picky eaters. 

If that isn't reason enough, then think about the leftovers.  Beer-Butt Chicken makes absolutely exquisite enchiladas, sandwiches to die for, and heavenly chicken salad.  You just can't lose.  So I'm going to tell you how to prepare it, if you haven't already been introduced to this wondrous method.

First of all, I bought a couple racks called The Chick Can Rack.  You don't have to have a rack, but I'm not into things tipping over, especially hot things.

You have to have a good-sized grill with a lid.  A dinky grill won't do because once you stand the chicken up on a  can of beer, it can be nearly 14" tall, so you need that much clearance inside there.  And briquets.  No, we don't use gas but I suppose you could.  You'll also need some long tongs, some good potholders, and a tray or two, and a toothpick. 

Down to Business
Now that you've got all that stuff, we'll prepare the bird.  Um, I don't use measuring cups or spoons, so precise measurements won't be found here. I just cook. 

You'll need:
  • 1 good-sized roasting chicken
  • 1 standard-size can of your favorite beer
  • Rub for the chicken

There are quite a few ways on the internet about how to make Beer-Butt Chicken, so google it if you don't think you'll like the spices I use.

Rub:
  • Dollop of olive oil, maybe 1/4 cup or less
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of minced garlic (we use more)
  • Enough taco seasoning to make it into a paste (maybe 1/2 cup--I buy it at Costco and just keep dumping and stirring until its right
  • Let sit for at least an hour before use.

You'll also need a lemon or lime.

Chicken:
The standard thing--take out the giblets and neck, rinse the chicken inside and out, then dry it.

Beer:
Drink half the can.  ONLY half.  You need half for the chicken! 
Place the half-full can in the rack

Now you're ready for business
  • Make sure the cavity is free of fat.   Pull it down, but not off. 
  • Insert the chicken cavity over the can and rack, and wiggle it down until its stable. 
  • Rub the whole chicken with a quarter of a lemon or lime. 
  • Smear the rub all over the chicken.  This is messy but go for it.  Don't forget the armpits and such.  Smear it everywhere. 
  • Put the quarter lemon or lime in the neck cavity, pull the skin over it, and seal with a toothpick. 

Cooking:
Fire up the coals, baby, we're ready to cook some chicken!  I admit that I turn over this part to our outdoor grill specialist, Mr. R.  He tells me you must use indirect heat, so arrange the coals around the chicken, not directly under.  Close the lid and only open it to check the coals every 15 minutes or so.  Chicken takes about 75 to 90 minutes to cook.  If you're a thermometer kind of cook, google "beer butt chicken" and you'll find some temperatures.  We don't own a thermometer so don't worry about it.

But here's the deal, once the chicken is done and removed from the grill, you have to let it cool for at least five minutes and preferrably ten minutes before you remove the chicken from the can and rack.  If you're impatient, I can pretty much guarantee you'll get a burn or scald.  Go do the crossword puzzle or read a scene or two of one of my books.

Then, carve up and chow down.  I'm telling you, this is good food!


We have two winners!
Congratulations to
Sandy & Caroline
who each won her choice of these books from
Linda LaRoque:
Coming May 16:
A Love of His Own

 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Little History on the Feed Sack

A Little History on the Feed Sack
by Linda LaRoque

Life on the prairie for women in the 1800s was hard. Fabric was scarce so every available piece of cloth was used until it fell apart. When the backs of skirts wore out, the panel was either turned around, or the piece was removed leaving a less full skirt. Sometimes the garment was cut down to make a garment for one of the children. Material was never thrown away, but recycled until it could only be used for cleaning rags.

Until around the 1840s foodstuffs, as well as animal feed, was packed in boxes, barrels, and crates which made it hard for a farmer without a wagon to get from the store to home. When the sewing machine was invented, double lock stitching made it possible to sew fabric secure enough to keep from spilling. Bags of flour, feed, etc. could be loaded on a horse and thus make it home without too much loss.

The first feed sacks were made of heavy white canvas printed with the name of the flour or other product. The farmer could bring empty bags back to be refilled. When mills in America began producing inexpensive cotton fabrics in the later 1800s, these cheaper fabrics were used. The cloth was softer and more useful. Not as durable, they weren’t refillable so women used them for quilt pieces and to make dish towels, curtains, pillowcases, sheets, and other items for the home. The manufacturer’s name was stamped on the sack in vegetable dye so the homemaker could remove it, often a difficult chore, and return it to pristine whiteness. Humorous stories about garments made with the stamp remaining abound—for example underwear.

In 1925 manufacturers began to realize how popular these sacks were to women and started to compete to have the most desirable patterns and colors. Here is a picture of a print representing Gone With the Wind.

Soon pattern makers were creating patterns, even evening wear, specifically for feed sacks.

The Woman - August 1953 Cover: Olga Nicholas, photographed by Dirone Studios, wears a feed-bag formal and matching stole, McCall's pattern #9121. Jewelry by Trifari.

Women often gathered to trade pieces so they’d have enough for a dress or the quilt they were piecing. Imagine how valuable they were to homemakers during the depression. It was hard enough to manage to provide food, fabric was an extravagance. Special was the husband and father who selected several sacks of matching material so his girls could have a new dress.

My mother-in-law said in the late 1920s she chopped cotton all day long, from sunup to sundown, and earned a quarter, just enough to buy two and a half yards of fabric to make a dress. A feed sack holding fifty pounds of flour measured 34 x 38 inches, a yard of fabric. So, depending on the size of the pattern and the style, it would take approximately 3 sacks to make a dress.

When talking about fabric and dress making, it’s interesting to consider Taylor’s Hemline Index which indicates that when the economy is good, skirt lengths are shorter, and when it’s bad, skirts are longer. I know myself that during the late 1960s when mini-skirts were the rage, the economy was good. A few years later in 1974, we had the oil embargo and gas rationing, hemlines were longer. The cycle has repeated itself many times since the Roaring Twenties.

My cousins and I loved the feed sack dresses our Aunt Jewell made for us. Grandma Riley saved the sacks until there was enough for a dress. There was one in particular I’ll never forget. It was a floral pattern with muted oranges and yellow, like a watercolor. The skirt was full and of course I wore a petticoat or two underneath. I have a picture but it isn’t in color and not sharp enough to post. A friend with several sisters grew up on a farm. They often went with their father to the feed store so they could pick out the pattern they wanted. She said it never failed, the one they wanted was always on the bottom.

For further reading, check out this link.

How about you? Did you ever wear feed sack dresses? If so, tell us about your favorite one. Feed sacks are in vogue again. Maybe you’re a crafter and enjoy making items to show off their unique characteristics.

References:

Don’t forget to leave a comment today to be entered into my drawing. I’ll be selecting two winners.

Thank you Jacquie for having me on your site this week.  I’d like invite RTW readers to enter the contest I’m having on my blog to celebrate the release of A Love of His Own. I’m giving away a Brighton heart box of chocolates charm. If you read the story when it comes out May 16th, you’ll recognize the significance of the charm.

Thank you, Linda!

Great reads from
Linda LaRoque:
Coming May 16:
A Love of His Own


Contest!

And TWO chances to win a Free Book
right here at RTW

At the end of the week, on April 27th, Linda will give away two PDF copies of her books—two winners. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The winners can view her website and pick which book they’d like.

Small print: Please leave your email address or we'll have to draw another winner.  Drawing will be held April 27th, 9pm Pacific Time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Linda LaRoque: A Love of His Own

A Love of His Own
by Linda LaRoque

This week, Romancing The West features Linda LaRoque and her May release, A Love of His Own. A little about her: Linda LaRoque is a Texas girl, but the first time she got on a horse, it tossed her in the road dislocating her right shoulder. Forty years passed before she got on another, but it was older, slower, and she was wiser. Plus, her students looked on and it was important to save face.

A retired teacher who loves West Texas, its flora and fauna, and its people, Linda’s stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas and the Midwest. She is a member of RWA, her local chapter of HOTRWA, NTRWA and Texas Mountain Trail Writers.

RTW: Welcome, Linda. Thanks for joining us this week!

LL: Jacquie, thank you for having me here on Romancing the West. You have a beautiful and interesting blog with loads of fascinating people and topics. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share my upcoming release with your readers.

RTW: Thank you! I'm amazed at the talented authors willing to come and share with us, and I'm glad you're with us, too! So why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into A Love of His Own?

LL: As a young girl, I day dreamed about living in the Old West and wondered if I’d be a farmer’s wife or a dance hall girl like Miss Kittie on Gunsmoke. Of course, I didn’t have a clue what those ladies did other than wear pretty clothes and serve drinks.

In high school and college I enjoyed history and read extensively, historical novels being one of my favorites. The first story I remember reading about the Old West was Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow. From then on I was hooked on the time period.

On the aspects that intrigue me, I have to say most everything—the clothing styles, the home furnishings, customs and speech, and the unity of some small communities.

In my upcoming release, A Love of His Own, I tried to make every aspect as authentic as possible—from the clothing to how to drive a team of mules. RTW: If you lived in 1892, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?


Linda LaRoque, author

LL: A Love of His Own is the third story in this time travel series and is set in 1892 Prairie, Texas in the Texas Panhandle. I’d want to ride a train and sleep in a sleeper car, visit a mercantile, try on a pair of the original Levi’s, and try to cook on one of those wood stoves.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

LL: Oh boy, that’s a hard one. I’d have to stay Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow and How the West Was Won by Louis L’Amour. Both authors showed the hardships and the struggles experienced by both men and women when traveling across the country, settling the land, surviving, and building a happy life.

RTW: Why must Bull Dawson take this particular story journey? What does he have to prove? How does Dipsey affect his journey?

LL: My hero, Buford “Bull” Dawson, is determined to travel back in time and live out his days with his daughter’s family. There is nothing left for him in the future. He’s been a widower for close to thirty years.

He sets his sights on the widow Dipsey Thackson, a woman shunned by the community because of her past. His goal is to marry her and have a love of his own.

RTW: Now that you have us intrigued, please set up the excerpt for us.

LL: Bull Dawson, New York lawyer, mourns the loss of his daughter, who disappeared from a cabin in Fredericksburg, Texas four years ago. A history book found in his office safe leads him to believe she traveled back in time to 1888 Prairie, Texas. He's determined that if she can time travel, he can too. Life will be different, probably hard, but practicing law can't be so difficult back in the Old West.

Widow Dipsey Thackson scratches out a living for herself and her young son on their farm. Shunned by the locals, she keeps to herself. When a man appears in her wheat field one day, life changes for the better. Then her brother-in-law arrives, claiming the farm is his and threatening Dipsey and her son. She fears for both their means of survival and their safety.

Her dilemma will take more than a knowledge of the law, but Bull vows to do his best to protect her and her boy.

A Love Of His Own (Excerpt)
by Linda LaRoque
Copyright © 2012 Linda LaRoque

Dipsey walked back to the wagon and placed a foot onto the spoke of the front wheel to climb into the wagon. A snorting sound from behind her made her pause. Grabbing her rifle from under the seat, she whirled and peered into the field of winter wheat gently waving in the cool morning air. Sunlight glanced off the stalks giving the field a slight iridescence, but no movement caught her attention.

The noise stopped, then resumed with a loud bleating resonance. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Thomas was asleep in the wheat field, but she’d buried her husband two years past. Who trespassed on her land?

Rifle cocked, she stepped in the direction of the snoring. Thomas always said she could sneak up on Satan himself. She hoped her skill served her well today.

Lying on her precious wheat, breaking the stalks flat and making it useless, was a big, burly man. Wrapped in someone’s finely stitched quilt, he had a brown felt hat over his eyes. One arm lay across his chest, the other cradled a new-fangled model Winchester, so new the shine hadn’t yet worn off.

She snatched the rifle from his arm. The dang fool didn’t open his eyes. Dipsey thumped him on the shoulder with the butt of his weapon. He farted and rolled to his side exposing a muscled butt and legs encased in denims. She stumbled back a few steps. Disgusting man!

RTW: Hahaha! Good one and we'll be waiting impatiently to read the rest! So what’s next? Is A Love Of His Own a part of a series?

LL: A Law of Her Own and A Marshal of Her Own are the first two stories in this series. I think A Love of His Own will be the last story and I’ll move on to something else, probably another series. I have a Paranormal Romantic Suspense set along old Route 66 with an editor now. It involves a woman on the run, a recovering ex Albuquerque police detective, a ghost, and a set of missing Zuni prayer fetishes. My latest work-in-progress is another time travel set in Waco, Texas in 1890. My first time travel, My Heart Will Find Yours, is also set in Waco in 1880. I grew up in Waco and we moved back to the area in 2002. I love researching local history and am having loads of fun with this new project.

RTW: And you have a...

Contest!

LL: I’d like invite your readers to enter the contest I’m having on my blog to celebrate the release of A Love of His Own. I’m giving away a Brighton heart box of chocolates charm. If you read the story when it comes out May 16th, you’ll recognize the significance of the charm.

And TWO chances to win a Free Book
right here at RTW

At the end of the week, on April 27th, I’ll give away two PDF copies of my books—two winners. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The winners can view my website and pick which book they’d like.

Small print: Please leave your email address or we'll have to draw another winner.  Drawing will be held April 27th, 9pm Pacific Time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chicken Dinner: Merlin, Zerelda Mimms, and Facebook

It's a busy week in my neck of the woods. I have a new release out: Willow, Wish For Me. It's a short story blend of the Old West and Merlin. What's it about?
  • A high-society debutante seeking solace as an herb farmer in the Old West.
  • A high-stakes gambler hired to retrieve said debutante for her unscrupulous suitor.
  • A money-hungry, status seeking ex-fiancĂ© who doesn't get the "ex" part.
  • And Merlin, King Arthur's powerful sorcerer, re-emerges as a mule to fulfill his own destiny.
Idaho Territory: 1885
Willow escaped Boston and is now a content herb farmer, but she's lonely. When making a frivolous wish upon a star, she dreams a man who became her heart's desire. One day, as she was weeding, that very man rides up on a mule! But he's not the man of her dreams--instead, he's been hired to hand her over to the one man she despises...her ex-fiancé. How could Willow's wish go so awry?

If you like out-of-the box stories, this just might be the ticket for you!

This week in the Old West:

April 22, 1889: the Oklahoma Territory Land Rush. See Callie Hutton's article right here on Romancing The West.

April 24, 1874: Zerelda Mimms marries Jesse James.

April 28, 1876: A new boomtown is founded in Dakota Territory called Deadwood.

Want to keep up with what happened in the Old West each day? There's a Facebook group for that: Today in the Old West. While you're on Facebook, check out the Western Historical Romance Book Club--a great place for readers and writers of WHR!

We Have A Winner!
Congratulations to
Kathleen
who won a digital copy of
Callie Hutton's

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oklahoma Territory Land Run

Callie Hutton, author
Oklahoma Territory Land Run:One of the Most Amazing Events in American History
by Callie Hutton
Copyright © 2012 Callie Hutton

When the sun rose one hundred twenty-three years ago this coming April 22, a non-existent town, boasting only a train stop in Indian Territory, had a population of zero. When the sun set that same day, ten thousand people called themselves citizens of the new town of Guthrie, Oklahoma.

That was the day the first Oklahoma Territory Land Run took place. Those adventurers who sought a new life, and a chance at a better one, arrived in wagons, on horseback, on bicycle and, even on foot. They gathered on the borders of what had been Indian Territory and waited for the noon signal that the race was on. Cannons boomed, and bugles blew, and they were off.

Thousands had elected to take The Santa Fe Railway as their means of transportation. So many were loaded onto the trains, they stood on the roof, and jumped off when something appealed to them. The train, however, did make stops, with the majority of town lot seekers disembarking in Guthrie.

From there they raced to plots of land that had been divided and marked by government officials into town lots. After shoving a stake into the ground (staking your claim), the next stop was to the Land Office where the new citizen swore he or she was eligible under the Land Run Act. They stood in lines, hungry and thirsty, for hours, before receiving a piece of paper registering the plot. They were now land owners in the newly opened Oklahoma Territory.

Fights broke out between those claiming land where another’s possessions were already placed. But, most likely because of the lack of alcoholic beverages, all those individuals arrived, claimed land, and settled in, with no violence to mar the event.

Thousands of others claimed grants of 640 acres of land to start farms. They mostly traveled in covered wagons, with all their earthly possessions, and numerous family members, stuffed inside. The noise was deafening, and the dust choking. However, soon the Runners fanned out, and headed in different directions.

Many claimants had snuck in before the official start of the race, and garnered the name “Sooners.” Unfortunately, many of the lots in Guthrie were claimed by the very men who were designated to supervise the settling of the town. They took advantage of their position, and set up on the choicest lots in town, which they had been forbidden to do. One can only imagine the frustration of Land Runner racing with everyone else, only to find upon arrival in Guthrie that tents were set up already, obviously by those who had been there for some time. Years of lawsuits followed.

For a while Guthrie was the capital of Oklahoma Territories, but shortly after it became a state in 1907, the capital was moved to Oklahoma City. Today, the historical town still boasts buildings that were erected during the early days of settlement.

My Oklahoma Lovers Series takes place in Guthrie. During the research phase of the first book, I took a trip to Guthrie, which is only about forty-five minutes from my house. The town was in the midst of celebrating a Territorial Christmas where shopkeepers, and even some shoppers, dressed in Victorian clothing. I took these pictures during that trip.

Since I was born and raised in New Jersey, I had absolutely no knowledge of the Land Run. We probably covered it in history class a one point, but no emphasis was placed on it. New Jersey’s own rich history of early settlements, and the Revolutionary War took precedence.

After I moved to the great state of Oklahoma, I heard the story of the Land Run, and it immediately caught my interest. I had to investigate further. The courage of the men and women who took the plunge, and raced with thousands of others for a new life, touched something deep inside me. How desperate must their existences have been to take such a chance?

A Run For Love (Oklahoma Lovers #1) starts at the Land Run, and follows Tori Henderson and Jesse Cochran as they clash, then marry, then clash again. A Wife By Christmas (Oklahoma Lovers #2) features one of the characters from A Run For Love seventeen years later. Ellie Henderson is now all grown up and giving Max Colbert a twitch in his left eye. He figures getting her married off will get her out of his life, but no one seems to be worthy of her. I recently finished A Prescription for Love (Oklahoma Lovers #3), and features another character from the original book, Michael Henderson’s venture into love.

Where you can purchase A Run for Love: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Soul Mate Publishing

Win a FREE Book!
Callie will provide a free download of either A Run for Love, or A Wife By Christmas, (your choice), to one commenter. If you’ve read both of her books, and you’re willing to wait, you can receive a free download of An Angel in the Mail when it becomes available.  Drawing will be held April 21st at 9pm Pacific Time.  Comments on both this article and Monday's interview are welcome, so you have all week!  Be sure to include your email address or we'll have to draw another name.

Thank you, Callie! 
Visitors, please check out Callie's interview.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Callie Hutton: A Run for Love

A Run For Love
by Callie Hutton

Romancing The West welcomes Callie Hutton all this week. Callie’s been making up stories in her head since elementary school, and writing since she learned to type in high school. She loves falling in love, did it herself, and now enjoys writing about it. And yes, she falls in love with all her heroes.

Although she’s lived in several states, Oklahoma is where she’s hung her hat for the last several years, but she originally hails from New Jersey. An Okie-Jersey girl. And proud of it. Her hubby supports all her ventures, truly being the wind beneath her wings. They have two young adult children at home. And they’re happy their two rescue dogs and rescue cat allow the family to share their home.

Here's a short blurb for A Run For Love:
Feisty school teacher Tori Henderson values her independence and has no use for a husband. When she finds herself the legal guardian of her two nieces, two nephews, and facing eviction from her Kansas home, she enters the 1889 Oklahoma land run and confronts a new set of challenges. The biggest obstacle being her new neighbor, cocky lawyer Jesse Cochran, the son of a whore--a man determined to put his past behind him and start a new life and family of his own.

Despite the undeniable attraction between them, Tori is determined to keep him at arm’s length, but a family emergency brings them together and they declare a truce. Can Jesse win Tori’s heart after a series of unplanned events, or will a tragedy tear them apart forever?

Contest!
Details at the end of this post.  Don't miss out!

RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into A Run For Love?

CH: What intrigues me the most is the courage and fortitude of the men and women who settled the west. I think I worked that into my book because my heroine, Tori Henderson, is a young, single woman who inherits her four nieces and nephews, and decided to make the Oklahoma Land Run to provide a home for them. She, and all the Runners, were courageous people.

RTW: If you lived in 1889, what modern convenience would you miss the most?

CH: Indoor plumbing. I can’t imagine using outhouses, and filling up a bathtub by carrying buckets of water. In 1889 some homes had indoor plumbing, but most didn’t.

RTW: Are there any common errors in westerns that bug you? If so, please set us straight.


Callie Hutton, author
CH: I understand that women today are more independent, sexually aware, and have a place in the world they didn’t in the past. But when authors have their heroines go completely against the times, it turns me off. I try to make my heroines a bit different than their peers—stronger, and more forward thinking. You have to be aware of your audience. The days of the suffering damsel in distress won’t cut it today. But some authors give women of the past attributes and actions, that are not believable to anyone familiar with history.

RTW: Why must Jesse Cochran take this story journey? What does he have to prove? Why is he the best match for Tori Henderson?

CH: Jesse is the son of a whore, who has risen from being raised in a brothel to attending college and law school. But he will always be ‘the whore’s kid’ in his home town. He sets out for Oklahoma to prove to the world, and himself, that he is not his beginnings. Tori is the best match for him because she’s strong, independent, and keeps him on his toes. He wants a home and family, something he never had, and he wants it with her.

RTW: I'm delighted that you have a book video to share with us today!



Where you can purchase A Run for Love: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Soul Mate Publishing

RTW: What’s next? Will you have a sequel to A Run for Love?

CH: Actually, I have a few ‘next.’ Oklahoma Lovers #2, A Wife by Christmas, released from Soul Mate Publishing December 1st, 2011. In May my contemporary novella, Annie’s Attic, releases from The Wild Rose Press, and my American Historical, An Angel in the Mail releases that same month from Soul Mate Publishing. I just finished A Prescription for Love, #3 in the Oklahoma series, which I assume will have a Fall release. I’m currently working on a novella set during the end of the Civil War.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

CH: I want to thank you, Jacquie, for having me visit with you and your readers today. It’s been fun.

Win a FREE Book!
Callie will provide a free download of either A Run for Love, or A Wife By Christmas, (your choice), to one commenter. If you’ve read both of her books, and you’re willing to wait, you can receive a free download of An Angel in the Mail when it becomes available.  Drawing will be held April 21st at 9pm Pacific Time.  Comments on both this interview and Thursday's article are welcome, so you have all week!  Be sure to include your email address or we'll have to draw another name.

Thank you, Callie!  We'll be waiting to read your Thursday article: History of Guthrie

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken Dinner: Cowboy Kisses, Annie Oakley, and an Earthquake

Cowboy Kisses is a new group blog out for Western Historical Romance readers and writers. We already have some terrific articles up. This week, Lyn Horner writes about The Roots of Western Romance, Devon Mathews tantalizes us with The Gunfighter - Bad Boy With A Big Gun, and my article is Ride For The Brand.

And, just for kicks, take a look at my new banner:


I'll have a new short story out this week so be watching for it--it's a fast, fun read.  (Still working on a title and cover art.)  Also, I have a blog post on Authors By Moonlight about the Re-emergence of Western Historical Romance, considering today's publishing market.
  • April 15: In 1871, W.B. Hickok is appointed marshal of Abilene, Texas. Ten years later, in 1881 William Bonney is sentenced to death in Mesilla, New Mexico. And in 1885 Annie Oakley joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Extravaganza.
  • April 16: Cockeyed Frank Loving is killed in a shootout with John Allen in 1882.
  • April 18: In 1906, an earthquake in San Francisco kills 700 residents and destroys 28,000 buildings.
  • April 19: The 49ers set out from St. Joseph, Missouri (in 1849, obviously), and in 1863 most of Denver burns.
  • April 21: Denver gets electricity in 1883.
Troy D. Smith treated us with a portion of his dissertation this week here at Romancing The West. If you haven't read The Flight of Opothleyahola, better go do it now. He packed a lot of interesting history in one article, and I was especially intrigued about the Native American involvement in the Civil War. If you want to read an excerpt from his latest fiction work, go to Troy D. Smith: Cherokee Winter.

And the winner of Troy's book is:
Caroline Clemmons!
Congratulations, Caroline

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Flight of Opothleyahola


Troy D. Smith, author

The Flight of Opothleyahola
by Troy D. Smith
Copyright © 2012 Troy D. Smith
See RTW's interview with Troy

Opothleyahola (pronounced Oh-POTH-lay-a-HO-la) was an Upper Creek Muscogee, born in Alabama near the end of the eighteenth century to a Creek mother and a Welch father. As a young man, probably still in his teens, he fought the Americans encroaching on his people’s lands. The Creeks were inspired by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother, the prophet Tenskwatawa, to ally with the British in the War of 1812. In the course of that conflict the Creeks endured a civil war, with the traditionalist “Red Sticks” of the Upper Towns opposing the pro-American Lower Creek “White Sticks.”

Opothleyahola

The civil war became a war against the United States and its Indian allies, which ended when the Red Sticks were decisively defeated by forces under Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814; as a result of their loss, the Creeks were forced to cede 20 million acres of their Alabama territory to the U.S. Having fought on the losing side, the Red Sticks –including Opothleyahola –pledged an oath of loyalty to the United States as part of their surrender. It was an oath Opothleyahola took very seriously, later aiding U.S. forces against his Seminole kinsmen when called upon to do so.

Gaining renown as an orator, Opothleyahola eventually became the designated speaker for the Creek National Council. In that capacity he traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1826 to protest a treaty signed the previous year by several Lower Creek chiefs, led by William McIntosh, which gave up most of the tribe’s remaining land in Georgia and Alabama. Opothleyahola negotiated a more favorable treaty, and McIntosh was later executed by command of the Creek council for violating their directive not to sell land to the whites. Nevertheless, the handwriting was on the wall –the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830, and the Creeks were among the many tribes relocated to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, in an exodus that would be known as the Trail of Tears. In 1837, Opothleyahola led 8,000 of his people to their new home across the Mississippi.

Civil War engulfed the Creeks once again in 1861 –this time in conjunction with a larger conflagration which swept through, not just Indian Territory, but the whole United States. Representatives of the Confederacy met with the leaders of the “Five Civilized Tribes” –Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles –urging an alliance. Those tribes were also “Southern,” after all, and some of their citizens, including Opothleyahola, were heavily invested in cotton agriculture, African slaves, and “Dixie” values.

John Ross

The official governments of all five tribes agreed to ally with the Confederacy –even though many of those tribes’ people favored neutrality, or even supported Union and abolition of slavery. Even Opothleyahola’s longtime ally John Ross, Principal Chief of the Cherokees, reluctantly committed his people to the Confederate cause –due to a combination of factors, including the withdrawal of Union troops from I.T. and the proximity of the Confederacy, and the fact that Confederate leaders were ready to support Ross’s political enemies if he did not side with them. The Confederacy also offered some benefits which the United States did not: Indian representation in the Confederate Congress and full recognition of Indian sovereignty.

Opothleyahola was deeply saddened at Ross’s decision, and refused to follow suit. He had pledged his loyalty to the United States and wanted no part of a rebellion against it. Soon other people from Indian Territory who did not support their leaders’ alliance with the Confederates poured into Opothleyahola’s camp –including Indians from all Five Tribes, a few from the western tribes, free blacks, and escaped slaves. Opothleyahola’s band, now numbering in the thousands, felt unsafe, surrounded as they were by pro-Confederate Indians. There was some fear that their males would be forcibly conscripted, or that they would be attacked.


Confederate Indian




One of the Confederate Creek officers –son of William McIntosh, whose long-ago execution Opothleyahola had approved –wrote that “It is now certain that he has combined with his party all the surrounding wild tribes and has openly declared himself the enemy of the South. Negroes are fleeing to him from all quarters—not less than 150 have left within the last three days.” Opothleyahola received word that the U.S. government promised his people sanctuary in Fort Row, Kansas, so they began their northward trek through the Cherokee Nation.

They were not allowed to leave peacefully. A large Confederate force followed them on Nov. 15, 1861, comprised of Creek and Cherokee regiments, with some Choctaws, as well as the 9th Texas Cavalry. The force, 1400 men strong, was commanded by a former Indian agent turned Confederate colonel, Douglas H. Cooper, who was determined to force the band to either support the Confederacy or be scattered. The refugees set fire to the prairie behind them to deny forage to their pursuers, and the flight became a running battle.

Some of the Confederate Cherokee soldiers, dismayed at being forced to fight their old comrades, deserted and joined Opothleyahola. The fugitives beat their attackers back at the Battle of Round Mountain, were defeated at Chusto-Talasah, and, in December, were roundly routed by the Confederates at Chustenahlah.

One child would later recall the fighting:
The Creek Indians and the slaves with them tried to fight off them soldiers like they did before, but they get scattered around and seperated [sic] so they lose the battle. Lost their horses and wagons, and the soldiers killed lots of Creeks and Negroes, and some of the slaves were captured and carried back to their masters.... Dead all over the hills when we get away; some of the Negroes shot and wounded so bad the blood run down the saddle skirts, and some fell off their horses miles from the battle ground, and lay still on the ground.
When the band finally reached Kansas, in the dead of winter, they discovered that the U.S. government was unprepared to provide for so many refugees. They were moved to nearby Fort Belmont, most with only the clothes on their backs and no further shelter available. All told, about two thousand members of Opothleyahola’s band of nine thousand perished, either from the fighting along the way or starvation, sickness, and exposure when they arrived. Opothleyahola and his daughter were among those who died after reaching Kansas.

This was only the beginning of the bloody Civil War in Indian Territory. Many of the surviving males who had taken flight with Opothleyahola, most of them Creek or Seminole, joined all-Indian Union units and carried the fight back into their own lands. Indian Territory became a battleground of blue, gray, and red.


Cherokee Winter:
Tales of the West, Vol. 1
by Troy D. Smith
Amazon ~ Smashwords

Win Troy's Book!

Everyone commenting this week is eligible to win a free digital copy of Cherokee Winter. The winner will be chosen at random at the end of the week (Saturday, April 14 at 9pm Pacific Time) and announced at this site. Be sure to include your email address or he can't contact you if your name is drawn.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Troy D. Smith: Cherokee Winter

Cherokee Winter:
Tales of the West, Vol. 1
by Troy D. Smith

Romancing The West welcomes award-winning author Troy D. Smith, a native of Tennessee and professor of history at Tennessee Tech University. He's published in both periodicals and novels, well-regarded in the industry, talented author, and just generally a good guy to know, so we're delighted he's visiting here all this week.

Troy, thanks for joining us! Please tell us about your latest release, Cherokee Winter.

TDS: Cherokee Winter is a collection of previously published short stories set on the frontier, to be followed soon by a second volume called Red Trail. The story I’ve chosen to highlight with an excerpt here, “The Stealing Moon,” is about a family that has been torn apart by tragedy: one of their sons was killed by Comanches, and the father blames the surviving son for abandoning his brother. Long-suppressed emotions boil to the surface when the Comanches raid the area again…

Contest!
One lucky reader today will win a digital copy of
Cherokee Winter
See details at the end of this article!

RTW: Why do you enjoy writing about the Old West?

TDS: I like writing about people’s emotions, and stripping everything down to the most elemental part. A frontier setting is ideal for that. Your characters are most likely not able to be in a comfortable setting where they can suppress things –they are probably fighting for their lives, whether it be in a dramatic outward fashion like facing Indians (or cavalry), outlaws or lawmen, or just the fact that daily life on the frontier can be a struggle for survival –against the elements, or sometimes against loneliness.

“The Stealing Moon” is an ideal example of what I’m talking about. Here you have a father, mother, and son (and, in a way, the ghost of a dead son), all of whom really want to keep their feelings at bay. But the frontier will not let them. They are forced to face their fears, regrets, shame –and their love –whether they want to or not. My motto has always been that I don’t want to write about things that happen to people, I want to write about the people that things happen to.

RTW: You have written several novels –why do you also continue to write short stories?


Troy D. Smith, author
 TDS: Actually, I think the short story may be my first and greatest love. My first published work was a western short story, “Mourning Glory,” that appeared in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine in 1995 (it is reprinted in this book’s upcoming companion volume, Red Trail.)

Again, this gets at the heart of what I like to do. A short story gets right to the point –it delivers a powerful, concentrated punch. Less really can be more –and it is a unique skill. All those layers I like to strip away –in a short story you just rip them right off, and your characters’ innermost selves can be exposed in a deeply affecting way.

RTW: How important is historical accuracy to you?

TDS: Oh, it’s very important. Especially in my day job, as a professional historian (naturally). But it’s important in fiction, too –anachronisms can jerk me right out of a story in a heartbeat. That being said, I am not slavishly devoted to accuracy when I write fiction –sometimes the needs of the story, and of the larger truth you are trying to share, outweigh the facts. But it is a delicate balance to strike, and should be approached respectfully, or you will lose the readers.

RTW: How do you go about your research?

TDS: Many of the topics I write about in my novelist’s hat are also topics I deal with as a history professor, and my research is ongoing. For example, a couple of years ago I spent an entire summer traveling to archives in Oklahoma and Arkansas; the year before that I did the same thing in Tennessee. Here in our cozy 21st century, an increasingly large amount of historical documents are digitized and available online, and I spend several hours a week scouring them.

The article which will be featured here later this week, The Flight of Opothleyahola, is about an event that is featured prominently in my dissertation, which will hopefully see print soon.

RTW: You have included an excerpt from the story “The Stealing Moon,” in which we meet the Rafer family and the mood is set.

Excerpt from Cherokee Winter, "The Stealing Moon"
by Troy D. Smith

Jim Rafer looked over the rim of his tin cup when he heard the door open--he saw his son’s form through the coffee-steam which curled around his own face. About time the boy showed up. Molly set the milk pitcher in the center of the table and smiled gently at Will, but he did not look at her. He seated himself at the opposite end from his father. A long empty space was left between the two Rafer men--both men in Molly’s eyes--and a vacant chair which had not been pulled out from the table in months, not even to be dusted.

Jim set about quietly devouring the biscuits and bacon his wife placed before him. He did not bother to pray, not anymore, a fact which still left Molly feeling uneasy. Will began to eat as well--still no words had been passed--and he said no graces to God either. Molly released a gentle sigh before nodding her own head in quiet supplication. Her sighs went unnoticed by her family. She took some comfort in the thought that the Lord heard them. She alone still believed.

Molly could not bring herself to criticize her son for his lapse in faith, and in the common courtesies one rendered to the Maker for His small gifts, for he was following the example set by his father. Molly knew, though, that their reasons were different--knowing those reasons made her feelings even more gentle toward each of them, as much as they would allow her or anyone else to be gentle.

Jim Rafer had turned his back on God--at least for awhile, and not forever, Molly hoped--because he felt betrayed. Betrayed by the Lord, and by the life and world around him. Will believed himself a betrayer, and undeserving of grace.

Molly continued to believe, and to pray, and to hope with an anguished intensity. Only her eldest boy Bob knew true peace. She still hated to risk disturbing his peace, at least in her own mind and memory, by dusting his chair.
♥ ♥ ♥
RTW: Thanks so much, Troy! Where can we buy Cherokee Winter?

TDS: You can find it on Amazon [RTW note: be sure to "like" and click on the tags for Troy's book when you visit!], and Smashwords.

RTW: What is next for you?

TDS: I am editing a series of Western novels –the first one will be out in September –that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and everyone involved is quite excited about it. All I can tell you right now is that the books are being produced by Western Fictioneers, the only professional organization dedicated exclusively to traditional western fiction (and whose members, in a moment of mass judgmental lapse, recently elected me the group’s president for 2012.) The series is called Wolf Creek, and will involve dozens of your favorite western authors. More info will be forthcoming in the months ahead.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

TDS: Just that I am extraordinarily grateful to all those wonderful readers who support my nasty writing habit. And to show that gratitude, everyone commenting today is eligible to win a free digital copy of Cherokee Winter. The winner will be chosen at random at the end of the week (Saturday, April 14 at 9pm Pacific Time) and announced at this site. Be sure to include your email address or I can't contact you if your name is drawn.

It's been wonderful having you with us, Troy.  Thanks again!

Thursday's article by Troy:
The Flight of Opothleyahola