Monday, December 29, 2014

Women's Clubs of the 1800s by Linda Brody

Women’s Clubs of the 1800s

Thank you so much, Sarah, for having me here at the Romance Room. It’s a great place to talk about books—my favorite subject.

I’m very excited about my new western historical, TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE, that will be out in a week because it shows how desperate women were to find a sense of worth and be involved in worthwhile projects.

Women’s clubs sort of took off in the early 1800s. They provided an acceptable social outlet into which they could throw their desires to contribute outside the home. Benevolent societies, garden clubs, church groups that helped the needy and others sprang up. Women often banded together to improve social problems.

That’s what my character Delta Dandridge did after she spent every cent she has to come to Battle Creek, Texas only to find that Cooper Thorne has no plans to marry her, not only now, but ever. Going back to Georgia is also out.

So she digs in her heels and refuses to leave. She looks at the shabby, dying town and decides that it needs her as much as she needs it.

After settling in, she gathers the women and they form a club called Women of Vision.
Their purpose is to fix up the town, start a school and a library and become a vital part of the community. Of course, they are met with plenty of opposition.

I think you’ll enjoy how innovative and determined Delta is to help the people of Battle Creek and in doing so, discovers things she never knew about herself.

Take this journey with me as Cooper and Delta sort out their differences and decide that possibly they’re more alike than they care to admit. All’s fair in love and war. And when the dust settles, the only place they want to be is in each other’s arms.

Have you ever been a member of a club or maybe wanted to be?

I’m giving away a copy of Texas Mail Order Bride to one person who leaves a comment. Winner can choose either print or e-book!!!



When a woman claims to be the bride Cooper Thorne sent for, he scrambles to set her straight. But then, she refuses to leave and he's left wondering just who the joke is on.


Deep-rooted scars left by an orphanage bear the blame for Cooper Thorne's vow to never marry. He'll live and die a bachelor. He's so committed that he founds the Battle Creek Bachelors' Club.

So when Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach claiming she’s the mail order bride he sent for, he's fit to be tied. She challenges him in ways he finds both irritating and exciting.
Brash and quick-witted, the meddling Southern Belle is everything Cooper thought he never wanted…and everything his heart is telling him he needs.

Then demons from his past return to threaten everything…and everyone…he holds dear. He knows this will be a fight he can’t afford to lose.


    Delta covered the space between them and glared up into eyes that reminded her of a cold winter’s day. “I can’t believe this. You have a lot of gall, Mr. Thorne. The way I see it, you gave up your right to meddle in my affairs when you told me in no uncertain terms that you weren’t looking for a wife. Therefore, what I do is none of your concern. If I want to—”

    “Do what?” Cooper brushed her cheek with a fingertip. “Women like you won’t throw your reputation to the wind. You want it all or nothing.”

    She glared. “You’re awfully sure of yourself.”

“I know more than you think.” His words were soft. “I see the yearning for permanence in your eyes. Dear God, you’re a difficult woman to forget.”

Cooper tugged her against his lean body, lowered his head, and pressed his sensual lips firmly on hers. Her knees grew weak and she clutched the shirt covering his broad chest to keep from falling.

As the kiss deepened, their breaths mingled in a heated flurry while blood pounded in her ears. She heard a low moan and realized it came from her. Strange how it sounded so very far away.

Her stomach whirled and dipped as though she’d fallen from a great height. Tingles raced up her spine in some kind of mindless confusion. The anger that had propelled her into dangerous territory melted away and left a strange desire in its wake. Before she could unclench her hands from his shirt to take a step back, he released her.

    Cooper’s sinful half smile turned her knees to jelly. “And that, Miss Delta, is how we do things here in Texas.”

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble:

About Linda Broday:

I'm a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of western historical romance. I can spend hours scouring history books and the internet for little known details to add to my stories. I've been accused, and quite unjustly I might add, of making myself a nuisance at museums and libraries here in the Texas Panhandle. My books are known for humble roots and the love of family. I hope you like the stories I endeavor to bring to you and that you'll try my new Bachelors of Battle Creek series.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Miriam Newman on Writing the Next Book in a Series

Writing a series isn't as easy as it may seem. Miriam Newman gives us some insights into developing the next book in a fantasy series. Here is what she has to say:

Writing Ice Maiden, Part III of The Chronicles of Alcinia, was almost a foregone conclusion.  The first book of the series, The King’s Daughter, laid out all the history and background for what was to follow.  Part II, Heart of the Earth, ended  the story of Queen Tarabenthia of Alcinia, much beloved of her time.

But what of her children?  And what of the many lands in which she lived?  Most of all, what of her eldest son, perpetually restless warrior son of a famous general?  Where in this mythical world was there a place for Simius Magistri?

The answer to that question took a long time to formulate.  It was several years, in fact, before I realized that although I might have thought I was finished with the Chronicles, they were not finished with me.

In Ice Maiden, Simi’s wanderlust has taken him to a large island known only in legend as the Land of Fire and Ice.  Of course, I needed a canvas.  Although I have never been to Iceland, friends have described a land that fit with neat precision inside the image forming in my mind.  Seduced by photos of incomparable stark beauty, I was hooked. 

That is how the son of a general from sunny southern Omana comes to the Land of Fire and Ice from his adopted home in northern Havacia.  It is there that the prince of that land gave shelter to his mother, and where Simi was raised.  But his heart yearns for another place—one that can be his.  Lured by trappers’ tales, he sails west until, much like other explorers, he finally makes landfall and claims what he has found.   It is a land where waters run warm from the earth, where mountains of fire give life and death, where enemies lay claim to the shores.  And only when he has paid for his land in blood can the son of General Magistri lay claim to the beauties he has found and the heart of Sigra, the woman he loves.

I hope you will enjoy their story.

BLURB:  When a simple farm girl attracts the notice of the King’s half brother, it leads to a dazzling world of privilege, intrigue, passion and war. 
Snow lay on the ground. It was only first snow, a taste of winter, but enough to let us follow churned-up prints and splotches of blood down the slope towards the beach. That was where our men had made their stand. I saw that the ships that had brought us supplies had been roped together to make a great floating platform and put out to sea away from the beach to intercept ships coming in. A second line—of men—seemed to have been deployed on the beach. There were bodies there and in the water with more washing up, and a few ships half sunk in the tide, their sails burned. Everything smelled charred.
There were Havacians and Omanis on the beach, helping the injured—ours, at least. If they were Armatican, that was their last dawn. No one would bring them to us for care.
My lord was easy to spot. He was taller even than most Havacians, and he was unhelmeted. I wondered with a sense of exasperation if he had even bothered to shield his head. That man was born for battle. Probably he had enjoyed it. Son of a general indeed. Now I believed it.
Regardless, I went down to him through small hummocks of bodies and battle gear strewn across snow and sand. All of the women were looking for their men, and now I was one of them.
He was flushed with cold and battle fever, still carrying a gory sword that he plunged into the snow as though cleaning it, but he was not. He didn’t want me to see the blood, but I caught his distinct look of victory touching on defiance as he did it. He was what he was, that look said. Take it or leave it.
This now blood-drenched island was not what I had ever envisioned as a home. He was not the man I’d thought of in my dreams. I had never had much time for dreams, anyway, and I wouldn’t now—there was going to be too much work to do. But I thought now I would do it with him.
Ice Maiden – pre-order link:

CONTEST ALERT: Miriam will be giving away a digital copy of the first book in The Chronicles of Alcinia series, THE KING's DAUGHTER to someone who comments. Be sure to include your email address in your comment to contact you shuld you be chosen the winner. 

Miriam Newman

Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been Miriam’s passion for as long as she can remember.  She was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug.  She brings that background to her writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where she nurtures her muse.  Her published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance.  Currently she lives in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals.  You can view her books at

Monday, December 15, 2014

Coming Home by Tracy Garrett

COMING HOME is here!

Do you remember the first time you were in a new place or met a new person and felt you belonged, that you’d finally come home? Maybe it’s a new house, where you walked in the front door and said to yourself, “This is what I’ve been looking for.” Mine was the first date with my future husband. I knew this man was my “home” no matter where life took us—and it’s taken us quite a few places!

In my short story, COMING HOME, Jericho Hawken meets Maryland Henry and her three nieces and knows he’s found what he’s been searching for. But there are some big boulders in their path to happiness.

I’m so happy to share that Coming Home has been released as an electronic short story for only .99! [It was first released as part of the Hearts and Spurs anthology from Prairie Rose Publications.]

Here’s a little taste:

COMING HOME:  Sometimes it takes two to make dreams come true.

When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family…
Former U.S. Marshal Jericho Hawken should have been shepherding a wagon train to new territory, but he unwillingly left them vulnerable to a vicious raider. The murder of the settlers he was supposed to be guarding is the hardest thing he’s ever had to face…until he meets the sister of one of the settlers.

…finds a woman who has lost everything…
Instead of a joyous reunion with her brother, Maryland Henry has come to River’s Bend to take responsibility for her three orphaned nieces. Fired from her teaching position and with no other family on whom to rely, Mary believes Jericho Hawken is responsible for all her woes. Or is he what she’s been searching for all along?

It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together their dreams can come true.

Jericho met her gaze. “I was hired as extra security for their wagon train and was assigned to ride with the group of wagons they traveled in. I spent a lot of nights at your family’s fire on the trip out from Saint Louis. Your brother and his wife were kind and generous people.”
He watched Mary’s throat work as she battled back tears that made her blue eyes seem huge in her pale face. When she squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, he knew his time for avoiding the truth was over.
“What happened, Mr. Hawken?”
Self-loathing threatened to choke him. “I’m not sure.”
She glanced at Matt, then returned her piercing gaze to Jericho. “I don’t understand. Did it happen at night? Was it too dark for you to see?”
He gulped down the liquid in his glass and carefully set the crystal aside when he wanted to hurl it against the stone hearth. “I wasn’t there.”
“I was in jail.”
The tiny bit of color the brandy had given her drained away. “What!”
“You can’t hate me more than I despise myself, Miss Henry.” He rose and prowled the room. “I saw—someone I knew. From my past. Someone I thought never to lay eyes on again. It’s no excuse, but I got drunk. When the law decided I needed to extend my stay in their little town, the wagons went on without me. I followed as soon as they let me go. I was only a couple of hours behind, but… It was one hour too long.”

I’m giving away an electronic copy of COMING HOME to one reader who leaves a comment today.

Coming Home will be released on DECEMBER 4. Find me on Facebook (, Twitter (TGarrett_author) or stop by my website,, to keep up on what’s new. And thanks for visiting today!


BUY LINKS: Only 99 cents
Barnes & Noble 



Award-winning multi-published author Tracy Garrett has always loved to disappear into the pages of a book. An accomplished musician, Tracy merged her need for creativity, love of history, and passion for reading when she began writing western historical romance. First published in 2007, Tracy joined the Prairie Rose Publications in its inaugural anthology in 2013. She is a regular blogger on Petticoats and Pistols. Tracy resides in Missouri with her husband and their fuzzy kid, Wrigley.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Meet Author, Zina Abbott


I have written two new adult time travel novels under my real name, Robyn Echols, but ZINA ABBOTT is the pen name I use for my adult Golden Oaks and my historical novels. I like writing about the West, especially women making their way in the West. A lot of western novels are about cowboys, but I guess I am drawn to a man in uniform. I have been fascinated by the history of the frontier forts and the men who serve there, including my hero in my featured novel, A Christmas Promise.

Except for the first year of my life, I have lived in California. I have loved writing fiction since I was in junior high, but found my writing efforts set aside periodically by family and employment. I love family history and enjoy history from a genealogist's perspective by seeking out the details of everyday life in the past. When I’m not piecing together novel plots and characters, I enjoy piecing together quilt blocks. 


A Christmas Promise blurb:

A sergeant from Fort Laramie plans to muster out of the Army after twenty years in order to go into ranching--and start a family. A new widow, grateful to have work as a housekeeper, struggles to provide Christmas gifts for her two children. An eleven year-old boy, still fiercely loyal to the dead father who neglected him while alive, struggles to learn how to grow to be a man. A younger sister is starved for the attention and affection only a father can give. This heartwarming tale of a bleak Christmas set in 1873 Wyoming tells of the gift of second chances and a promise for a brighter future.


The three had no sooner settled in their chairs than they heard the sound of boots stomping on the back porch. A knocking on the outside door to the kitchen followed.
“That Saint Nicholas, Ma?” Arletta asked, her voice full of wonder. Samuel snickered in response. Annie glanced over to Samuel with a warning frown.
“Too early for him, Letta. Probably one of the hands a-needin’ something from Mr. Clayton. You two wait here while I see who it is.”
Annie picked up the oil lamp that had been sitting in the middle of the table. She heard the knock again before she could get to the door that separated the kitchen from the partially covered porch that served as a mud room and winter laundry room.
“Who’s there?” she called through the solid wood.
“It’s Sgt. Jenkins, ma’am.”
Annie almost dropped the oil lamp in surprise. She took a deep breath and yanked the door open. Before her, backlit by the almost full moon, stood a man bundled up against the cold. Even with the front of him being cast in shadow and with most of his face swathed in a knit muffler, she could see enough of his form and features to recognize the man who had been so much in her thoughts this evening.
Once over the initial surprise, a sparkle began to light her eyes that had nothing to do with the light from the lamp. She knew that if the truth were to be known, he had been in her thoughts during most evenings, not just this one.

Visit my A Christmas Promise Pinterest board to see some pictures that relate to this story.

I will be giving away one digital copy of A Christmas Promise chosen from among those who leave a comment at the end of this post.

Does your family have a tradition for opening presents at Christmastime? Do you open them Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Purchase links:

Monday, December 1, 2014


By Beverly Wells

     Have you ever wondered why a writer writes what she or he does? I’m sure there are a multitude of various reasons depending on the writer. I believe it’s all in our makeup and how we perceive life. I for one enjoy reading and writing about the past, be it Medieval, Regency, Civil War, or just days gone by. I especially have a thirst of the west back in the 1800’s. Just think of all the hardships they faced back then. Of course they didn’t miss dishwashers, microwaves, internet, and easier modes of transportation, etc.—all the niceties we have today—yet they dealt with what they had at the time and did amazingly very well. And yes, we still have difficulties and feats that we must meet in our present everyday life, but just think about the hardships our ancestors faced. I’m sure we could’ve done it, but whew. 

     So I’m drawn to write about those brave and determined people of that era. It was also a time when women fought for independence and a proper place in society, to make a good home and value their families and friends. The men were tough, rough and oh so very masculine. Oh, did I say I love those macho western guys? What woman can’t get carried away by them? Oh my…sigh.

     Besides writing about the past, I love the research. You never know what you’ll find when looking up all the information—well, an author has to research in order to make sure they have it right. Right? And the last thing I enjoy about writing historical romance is adding either a lesson learned, or covering a topic to raise awareness to an important issue. That’s what I’ve tried to do in my historical romance, All For Love

     So please, come along now and get a taste of  Lorelei’s upheavals, twists and turns as she battles to make Toleman, Wyoming a better town. And by gosh, if she just might find a love true and strong by Christmas. Enjoy!   


     All For Love released Sept. 18, 2014  by my new publisher, Prairie Rose Publications and I'm delighted to be part of their team of devoted and outstanding authors. If you read my first Historical Romance Only When the Loon Sings, you already know I write humorous, sensuous love stories, but I also included raising awareness of ALS. All For Love deals with domestic  violence, yet is filled with a wagon load of laughs and a few bales of tears, while your heart will be left deeply touched and full of joy...I hope you come along for the wild ride. Below is the blurb. . .  
            Feisty, outspoken schoolmarm Lorelei Webster—better known as Miss Neb-nose by many—is determined to stop the neglect and abuse in Toleman, Wyoming. And if it means raising havoc such as the town has never known and deterring any man’s attraction to her, so be it. But when faced with the compelling task of righting the wrongs in the handsome, new doctor’s life, she desires much more than merely cleansing his wounded soul.
            Reserved and dedicated to medicine, Doctor Seth Taylor has resigned himself to be content with his practice and a peaceful, uncomplicated life. Nothing more. But when the irritating Miss Webster stirs up memories he’s long tried to bury, his complacent world tilts off kilter. Forced to accept her help in saving a youngster’s life, Seth finds he must deal with his dark haunting past before he can ever hope for more…But can he?

Toleman, Wyoming 1886
            The well-aimed object impacted dead-center between Lorelei Webster’s shoulder blades. Knife-piercing pain stabbed deep as flames sizzled across her skin. Its bite didn't begin to match her humiliation, or the warning behind the insulting attack. Braking her foot on the first step up to the walkway, she fought to catch her breath. And inhaled the odor of tomato.
            Whoops of male laughter pierced the stifling air, triggering tears to cloud her vision. Juice oozed through her cotton blouse and across her tingling skin as a chunk of pulp plopped to the ground. She wished the steps would open so she could sink below. Refusing further disgrace, she sniffed back the sudden weakness, raised her chin and squared her shoulders.
            Unmannered, ignorant bastards. All of them
            "Take that Miss Neb-nose,” Sam Ahearns bellowed from across the street. “That's what we think of your damn meddlin'." Raucous mirth rose from the others gathered with him.
            “Yeah, maybe now ya’ll know to keep yer unwanted snoot outta affairs that don’t involve ya,” Andy Piedmont’s voice thundered worse than she’d ever heard.
            Oh my, I’ve riled them but good this time. One, two…She silently counted to ten, striving for any kind of dignity she could muster. Don’t let them see your distress. You’re right in doing what you believe in. You are! Would her wide-brimmed bonnet hide her anxious face?
            Gathering courage, she held her back taut to brace against another assault and lifted her foot to the next step. She focused on her original destination, yet the bank seemed a mile away. If her rubbery knees did not fail her, maybe she could make it inside with a smidgeon of poise.
            “Okay you men, break it up.” Michael Pearson’s voice had never sounded so good. “You’ve had your fun, done enough harm for one day. Get moving before I lock you up for roughing up the lady.”
Buy Links:
All For Love - CreateSpace

NOOK by Barnes & Noble, World's Largest Bookstore Beverly Wells: Books, Biography, Blog

CONTEST ALERT!!! Beverly will be giving away a digital copy of her book, All For Love, to a lucky commenter. Be sure to include your email address in your comment for a chance to win.

About Beverly Wells
For years Beverly Wells worked a hectic pace as a Public Health Nurse in Homecare while serving on the Medical Reserve Corps for Homeland Security. Little did she know when she decided to escape from reality and try a write a historical romance it would set another whirlwind to swirling. With the help and guidance of RWA, her local writing chapter LCRW and many rewrites, the award-winning author now devotes her full time to making writing her career. “It’s my new chapter in my life and I’m lovin’ it.”

Living with her own hero and rescued dog Jamie in the Finger Lakes Region of NYS, she enjoys writing humorous, sensuous Historical Westerns while including a lesson learned or raising awareness of a heartfelt issue. Her debut novel Only When the Loon Sings published by TWRP has captivated readers far and wide. Her second book, All For Love, published by Prairie Rose Publications is sure to follow suit. She’s busy finishing her third.

For more information regarding Bev, visit her at Prairie Rose Publications author page, her website, FB, twitter, blog or gmail her She’d love to hear from you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Author, Linda Hubalek Presents MILLIE MARRIES A MARSHAL

Millie Marries a Marshal by Linda K. Hubalek

Millie Donovan, the mail-order bride in my romance book, Millie Marries a Marshal, plans to settle on the Kansas prairie with a homesteader. But, things went array when the groom dies before Millie gets there, leaving her penniless and not knowing a soul in a strange town. My writer’s mind went into overdrive when I matched Millie, an Irish immigrant’s daughter with the town marshal, Adam Wilerson.

I looked up the history of American mail-order brides on Wikipedia and this was their summary.
North American men found financial success in the migration west, but the one thing that was missing was the company of a wife. Very few women lived there at this time, so it was hard for these men to settle down and start a family.

They attempted to attract women living back East; the men wrote letters to churches and published personal advertisements in magazines and newspapers. In return, the women would write to the men and send them photographs of themselves. Courtship was conducted by letter, until a woman agreed to marry a man she had never met.

Many women wanted to escape their present way of living, gain financial security and see what life on the frontier could offer them. Most of these women were single, but some of them were widows, divorcees, or runaways.

A mail-order bride story can have so many scenarios, and I can see why they are a popular story line for anyone that likes to read historical or western romance books. I sure had fun writing it! Please read Rania Ropes a Rancher to start the Brides with Grit series, then follow with the second book, Millie Marries a Marshal.

Millie Marries a Marshal: A Historical Western Romance by Linda K. Hubalek
Brides with Grit Series: Book 2, debuted Nov 17, 2014

Book Blurb:

Mail-order bride Millie Donovan was looking forward to meeting Sam Larson, a Kansas homesteader, who she is sure, from reading his heartfelt letters, will provide her with the love and safety she wants and needs. Millie arrives on the train, not realizing that her husband-to-be was killed in an accident, until Clear Creek’s town marshal informs her of the situation.

Town Marshal Adam Wilerson never plans to marry due to his dangerous job. After reading letters found at his friend’s home following his untimely death which were sent from his friend’s mail-order bride, he can’t help thinking of the woman, and believes he may be in love with her himself. But instead of sending Millie on the train back to her former home, he finds himself welcoming her—and her two-year-old charge—into his house, and into his heart.

When danger threatens, Millie faces it head–on to protect the people she loves, including the town marshal.

Can Adam keep the peace in town—and his house—or will the man following Millie cause an uproar that will endanger them both, and ruin their chance of a life together?

Excerpt from Millie Marries a Marshal, 2014 copyright by Linda K. Hubalek

Jacob Adam couldn’t believe he was walking back from the Reagans, holding a high chair slung over his back with one hand and cradling a baby potty chair against his chest with the other. It was only a three-block walk from the pastor’s house to his, but he’d found more people on the street watching him pass like he was a parade. Dang that woman and her child. No, dang it for Sam dying and leaving him to take care of his new family.

Mrs. Reagan could have filled a wagon with all the things she thought Adam should take to Sam’s intended new son. Adam tried to tell her that Millie and the boy didn’t need all this stuff, but he wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Reagan wasn’t walking behind him with her six boys carrying more things to his house. He was the grand marshal of a potty parade, not the respected marshal of Clear Creek.

Finally reaching his front porch, Adam stomped up the porch steps and set the high chair down so he could open the door. He turned the door knob, flung the door open—and jumped a foot off the porch floor when the toddler streaked past him, screaming at the top of his lungs—and buck naked. Good golly, now what will the townspeople think of their marshal?

Adam stepped back, expecting Millie to run past him next to sprint after the kid. After a few seconds he looked inside his house and saw no one, but he could hear female voices in the backyard.

He looked back to follow the path of the boy and realized he wasn’t in sight. Adam bolted off the porch not bothering to use the steps, frantically searching for the kid as he jogged down the street. He hated to have people hear him calling for the kid—if Adam could remember his name—but he didn’t think the kid would answer anyway. The boy seemed almost scared of him, but then Adam was a stranger.

Adam closed his eyes, with relief, and embarrassment. The boy was standing in front of the mercantile, petting—no, more like slapping—Henry Barclay’s old dog, who always laid at his master’s feet while Henry and his old friend Homer Johnston sat on the bench outside the store. And of course there were another five people standing around laughing at the child’s antics because it was a busy Saturday morning, as people were coming into town to do their weekly shopping.

“Okay, fun’s over everyone. I think this runaway citizen needs to be rounded up and carted off.” Adam tried to be official about it, but that was hard to do when the kid shrieked at the top of his lungs and dodged out of Adam’s path again.

He scooped the child up on a run and kept jogging back to his house, trying to get out of sight of everyone on Main Street. Adam slowed to a walk when he reached his porch. Just as he reached for the door handle, he felt a warm liquid running down the side of his body. He jerked the toddler back to see a little stream coming from the boy’s front.

Oh great, I’ve just been peed on…

CONTEST ALERT!!! Linda will be giving away a digital copy of Millie Marries a Marshall to someone who comments. Be sure to include your email address in your comment for a chance to win.

Buy Links for Millie Marries a Marshal:

Linda Hubalek grew up on the Kansas prairie, always wanting to be a farmer like her parents and ancestors. After earning a college degree in Agriculture, marriage took Linda away from Kansas as her husband worked in engineering jobs in several states.

Meanwhile, Linda wrote about pioneer women that homesteaded in Kansas between 1854 to the early 1900s, especially her Swedish immigrant ancestors. Her historical fiction book series are Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread, Planting Dreams and the Kansas Quilter.

She also has a historical western romance series called Brides with Grit.

Linda and her husband finally returned back to Kansas, where they raised American buffalo (bison) for a dozen years.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Fence Me In: the Texas Fence-Cutter War

(photo with permission from Darius Norvilas)

Don’t Fence Me In: the Texas Fence-Cutter War

By Kathleen Rice Adams

I’m going to leave old Texas now.
They’ve got no use for the long-horn cow.
They’ve plowed and fenced my cattle range,
And the people there are all so strange.

I’ll take my horse and I’ll take my rope,
And hit the trail upon a lope.
Say adios to the Alamo,
And turn my head toward Mexico.

The hard, hard ground shall be my bed
And my saddle seat shall hold my head.
When I waken from my dreams
I’ll eat my bread and my sardines.

When I die, please bury me
In a narrow grave just six by three.
I’ll tell Saint Peter that I know
A cowboy’s soul ain’t white as snow.

Yet in that far-off cattle land
He sometimes acted like a man.

(Texas folksong, source obscure)

In the late 1860s and early 1870s, Texas saw a massive influx of former Confederates dispossessed by the Civil War and seeking a place to start over. Texas seemed like a good spot: The state offered plenty of open range and brimmed with feral cattle called longhorns. Many a man with nothing more than guts and grit built a fortune and a legacy by shagging longhorns from deep scrub and driving the tough, stubborn, nasty-tempered critters north to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska. Others pushed herds to Montana and Wyoming to begin new lives where the West was even wilder.

Between 1866 and 1890, cowboys drove an estimated twelve million longhorns and one million horses north. A crew of twelve to twenty men could push a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 beeves about ten to fifteen miles a day, reaching Kansas railheads in three to four months.

The development of barbed wire in the mid-1870s—along with an incursion of sheepmen and farmers—put a crimp in the cattle drives by crisscrossing Texas’s wide-open spaces with miles and miles and miles of fence. To protect themselves and their herds from the yahoos who would use Texas range for something besides Texas cattle, wealthy ranchers strung wire around the land they owned or leased, often extending their fences across public land, as well. What once had been open range across which cowboys drove enormous herds of beef on the hoof became parceled off, causing no end of frustration and unfriendly behavior.

Fence-cutting began almost as soon as the first wire went up. Small confrontations over “the Devil’s rope” happened frequently, with wire-nipping taking place in more than half of Texas counties.

In 1883, the conflict turned deadly. Instead of merely cutting fences that got in the way during trail drives, bands of armed cowboy vigilantes calling themselves names like Owls, Javelinas, and Blue Devils destroyed fences simply because the fences existed. Fence-cutting raids usually occurred at night, and often the vigilantes left messages warning the fence’s owner not to rebuild. Some went so far as to leave coffins nailed to fenceposts or on ranchers’ porches. During one sortie, vigilantes cut nineteen miles of fence, piled the wire on a stack of cedar posts, and lit a $6,000 fire.

In response, cattlemen hired armed men to guard their wire…with predictable results. Clashes became more violent, more frequent, and bloodier. In 1883 alone, at least three men were killed in Brown County, a hotspot of fence-cutting activity, during what came to be known as the Texas Fence-Cutter War.

The bloodiest period of the Fence-Cutter War lasted for only about a year, but in that period damages from fence-cutting and range fires totaled an estimated $20 million—$1 million in Brown County alone.

Although politicians stayed well away from the hot-button issue for about a decade, in early 1884 the Texas legislature declared fence-cutting a felony punishable by a prison term of one to five years. The following year, the U.S. Congress outlawed stringing fence across public land. Together, the new laws ended the worst of the clashes, although the occasional fracas broke out in the far western portion of Texas into the early part of the 20th Century.

The Texas Rangers were assigned to stop several fence-cutting outbreaks, and being the Texas Rangers, they proved remarkably effective…with one notable exception. In February 1885, Texas Ranger Ben Warren was shot and killed outside Sweetwater, Texas, while trying to serve a warrant for three suspected fence-cutters. Two of the three were convicted of Warren’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1888, a brief resurgence of fence-cutting violence erupted in Navarro County, prompting famed Texas Ranger Ira Aten to place dynamite charges at intervals along one fence line. Aten’s method was a mite too extreme for the Texas Adjutant General, who ordered the dynamite removed. The mere rumor of the explosive’s presence brought fence-cutting to a rapid halt in the area, though.

In my debut novel Prodigal Gun, a barbed-wire fence touches off a war in the Texas Hill Country, bringing an infamous gunman to Texas for the first time since he left to fight for the Confederacy sixteen years earlier.

To celebrate the book’s release, I’ll give an e-copy in the winner’s choice of formats to one person who comments today!

Prodigal Gun
A dangerous man. A desperate woman. A love no war could kill.

Widowed rancher Jessie Caine buried her heart with the childhood sweetheart Yankees killed on a distant battlefield. Sixteen years later, as a Texas range war looms and hired guns arrive to pursue a wealthy carpetbagger’s agenda, Jessie discovers the only man she ever loved isn’t dead.

At least not yet.

Embittered by a brother’s betrayal, notorious gunman Calhoun is a dangerous man, come home to do an unsavory job. A bushwhacker’s bullet nearly takes his life on Jessie’s land, trapping him in a standoff between the past he tried to bury and the infamy he never will. One taste of the only woman he ever loved puts more than his life and her ranch in the crossfire.

With a price on his head, a debt to a wealthy employer around his neck, and a defiant woman tugging at his heart, Calhoun’s guns may not be enough to keep him from the grave. Caught between his enemies and hers, Jessie faces an agonizing choice: Which of her dreams will die?

Paperback will be available Thursday, Nov. 20

 Kathleen Rice Adams

A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks…even Kathleen’s good guys wear black hats.
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