Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Just this past week, Prairie Rose Publications published two new sweet/sensual anthologies of some of the best, most entertaining western romance reading you’ll find anywhere, and we’ve got two more headed your way in June!

Lassoing a Groom and Lassoing a Bride came out with a bang and have already started garnering some wonderful reviews! Priced at $2.99 each, you can’t go wrong!

Author Richard Prosch just had his new story, WAITING FOR A COMET, released as a single sell short story with our PAINTED PONY BOOKS line. This story is such a great crossover story, we also included it in the anthology from TORNADO ALLEY PUBLICATIONS, THIS SUMMER STORM! This is one you do not want to miss! For only .99, it's a steal--and is for all ages!

Coming in June! From our TORNADO ALLEY PUBLICATIONS imprint for younger readers, we have a new anthology, THIS SUMMER STORM, coming your way on June 5th! This anthology has 7 stories in it for Young Adult ages, 13-17, and we are just thrilled to bring this debut anthology your way! These stories take place in different times and locations, with one thing in common: they are all some of the best tales you’ll find out there for this age group!

Also coming in June, two more anthologies from Prairie Rose Publications. Lassoing a Mail-Order Bride will be released on June 5, and we are thrilled to offer this wonderful collection of stories about mail-order brides taking a circuitous “route” to the love of their lives by answering one little ad that changes everything for each of them. AND, on June 12, our spicy anthology, COWBOY CRAVINGS, will make its debut for your reading pleasure! With four spicy-hot stories of love in the old west, this is one collection you will not want to be without!

Also in July, we have a real treat coming from FIRE STAR PRESS for those of you who enjoy retro historical reads. The Viet Nam War era was a turbulent time in our nation’s history, and also in the lives of the many young people who were faced with going to fight overseas, and the loved ones they left behind. Author B.J. Betts has authored a love story, ECHOES IN THE NIGHT, that takes place during this time and will leave you wanting more—and in August, she delivers, with SAIGON MOON!

Join us at the end of July, as well, for our PRP CHRISTMAS IN JULY sale, when we’ll be offering many titles, old and new, for several days at special low prices! Stop by our websites and see all of our wonderful offerings! We’d love to have you come visit.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Those of you who love the West enough to follow this blog have no doubt read at least one of Zane Grey's novels. Until researching this post, I had no idea that he had developed the basis for the long-running radio and television series "The Lone Ranger" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon." I'm probably giving away my age, but I used to watch both of those.

Zane Grey was a troubled, somewhat self-indulgent yet brilliant writer. While I don't approve of all aspects of his life (detest cheating spouses), I certainly admire his writing achievements. Those of us who write western historical romances owe him a great debt. With his acknowledged veracity and emotional intensity, he connected with millions of readers worldwide and inspired many of the western writers who followed him. He became one of the first millionaire authors, not bad when you consider what he'd be worth in today's currency.

Zane Grey was a major force in shaping the myths of the Old West. His books and stories were adapted into other media, such as film and TV productions. He was the author of more than 90 books, some published posthumously and/or based on serials originally published in magazines. His total book sales exceed 40 million. From the beginning, vivid description was the strongest aspect attributed to his writing.

Grey wrote not only westerns, but two hunting books, six children’s books, three baseball books, and eight fishing books. Many of them became bestsellers. According to Wikipedia, he wrote over nine million words in his career. From 1917 to 1926, Grey was in the top ten best-seller list nine times, which required sales of over 100,000 copies each time. Even after his death, Harper had a stockpile of his manuscripts and continued to publish a new title each year until 1963. During the 1940s and afterward, as Grey's books were reprinted as paperbacks, his sales exploded.

Grey suffered bouts of depression, anger, and mood swings, which affected him most of his life. As he described it, “A hyena lying in ambush—that is my black spell! I conquered one mood only to fall prey to the next...I wandered about like a lost soul or a man who was conscious of imminent death."

Pearl Zane Grey was born January 31, 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio. He was the fourth of five children born to Alice "Allie" Josephine Zane, whose English Quaker immigrant ancestor Robert Zane came to the North American colonies in 1673, and her husband, Lewis M. Gray, a dentist. His family changed the spelling of their last name to "Grey" after his birth. Later Grey dropped Pearl and used Zane as his first name. He grew up in Zanesville, a city founded by his maternal great-grandfather Ebenezer Zane, an American Revolutionary War patriot. Understandably; Zane Grey was intrigued by history from an early age. Grey developed interests in fishing, baseball, and writing, all of which contributed to his writing success. His first three novels recounted the heroism of ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

As a child, Grey frequently engaged in violent brawls, despite (or because of) his father's punishing him with severe beatings. Though irascible and antisocial like his father, Grey was supported by a loving mother and found a father substitute. Muddy Miser was an old man who approved of Grey's love of fishing and writing, and who talked about the advantages of an unconventional life. Despite warnings by Grey’s father to steer clear of Miser, the boy spent much time during five formative years in the company of the old man.

Grey was an avid reader of adventure stories such as Robinson Crusoe and Leatherstocking Tales and of dime novels featuring Buffalo Bill and Deadwood Dick. He was enthralled by and crudely copied the great illustrators Howard Pyle and Frederic Remington. He was particularly impressed with OUR WESTERN BORDER, a history of the Ohio frontier that likely inspired his earliest novels. Zane wrote his first story, "Jim of the Cave," when he was fifteen. His father tore it to shreds and beat him. As a writer, that horrified me! What a hard man and terrible parent his father must have been. Both Zane and his brother Romer were active, athletic boys who were enthusiastic baseball players and fishermen.

Supposedly due to shame from a severe financial setback in 1889 caused by a poor investment, Lewis Grey moved his family from Zanesville and started again in Columbus, Ohio. While the older man struggled to re-establish his dental practice, Zane Grey made rural house calls and performed basic extractions, which his father had taught him. The younger Grey practiced until the state board intervened. His brother Romer earned money by driving a delivery wagon. Grey also worked as a part-time usher in a movie theater and played summer baseball for the Columbus Capitols, with aspirations of becoming a major leaguer. Eventually, Grey was spotted by a baseball scout and received offers from many colleges. Romer also attracted scouts' attention and went on to have a professional baseball career.

Zane Grey in baseball uniform
for the University of Pennsylvania

(love the old-style uniform, don't you?)

Grey chose the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, where he studied dentistry and joined Sigma Nu fraternity; he graduated in 1896. When he arrived at Penn, he had to prove himself worthy of a scholarship before receiving it. He rose to the occasion by coming in to pitch against the Riverton club, pitching five scoreless innings and producing a double in the tenth which contributed to the win. The Ivy League was highly competitive and an excellent training ground for future pro baseball players. Grey was a solid hitter and an excellent pitcher who relied on a sharply dropping curve ball. When the distance from the pitcher's mound to the plate was lengthened by ten feet in 1894 (primarily to reduce the dominance of Cy Young’s pitching), the effectiveness of Grey’s pitching suffered. He was re-positioned to the outfield. The short, wiry baseball player remained a campus hero on the strength of his timely hitting.

He was an indifferent scholar, barely achieving a minimum average. Outside class he spent his time on baseball, swimming, and creative writing, especially poetry. His shy nature and his teetotaling set him apart from other students, and he socialized little. Grey struggled with the idea of becoming a writer or baseball player for his career, but unhappily concluded that dentistry was the practical choice.

During a summer break, while playing summer nines in Delphos, Ohio, Grey was charged with, and quietly settled, a paternity suit. His father paid the $133.40 cost and Grey resumed playing summer baseball. He concealed the episode when he returned to Penn.

Grey went on to play minor league baseball with several teams, including the Newark, New Jersey Colts in 1898 and also with the Orange Athletic Club for several years. His brother Romer Carl "Reddy" Grey (known as "R.C." to his family) did better and played professionally in the minor leagues. He played a single major league game in 1903 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After graduating, Grey established his practice in New York City under the name of Dr. Zane Grey in 1896. It was a competitive area but he wanted to be close to publishers. He began to write in the evening to offset the tedium of his dental practice. He struggled financially and emotionally. Grey was a natural writer but his early efforts were stiff and grammatically weak. Whenever possible, he played baseball with the Orange Athletic Club in New Jersey, a team of former collegiate players that was one of the best amateur teams in the country.

Grey often went camping with his brother R.C. in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where they fished in the upper Delaware River. When canoeing in 1900, Grey met seventeen year-old Lina Roth, better known as Dolly. She came from a family of physicians and was studying to be a schoolteacher.

After a passionate and intense courtship marked by frequent quarrels, Grey and Dolly married five years later in 1905. During his courtship of Dolly, Grey still saw previous girlfriends and warned her frankly, "But I love to be free. I cannot change my spots. The ordinary man is satisfied with a moderate income, a home, wife, children, and all that....But I am a million miles from being that kind of man and no amount of trying will ever do any good". He added, "I shall never lose the spirit of my interest in women."

After they married in 1905, Dolly gave up her teaching career. They moved to a farmhouse at the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers, in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where Grey's mother and sister joined them. (This house, now preserved and operated as the Zane Grey Museum, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.) Grey finally ceased his dental practice to devote full-time to his nascent literary pursuits. Dolly’s inheritance provided an initial financial cushion.

Zane Grey home in
Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania
While Dolly managed Grey's career and raised their three children, including son Romer Zane Grey, over the next two decades Grey often spent months away from the family. He fished, wrote, and spent time with his many mistresses. While Dolly knew of his behavior, she seemed to view it as his handicap rather than a choice. Throughout their life together, he highly valued her management of his career and their family, and her solid emotional support. In addition to her considerable editorial skills, she had good business sense and handled all his contract negotiations with publishers, agents, and movie studios. All his income was split fifty-fifty with her; from her "share", she covered all family expenses. Their considerable correspondence shows evidence of his lasting love for her despite his infidelities and personal emotional turmoil.

The Greys moved to California in 1918. In 1920 they settled in Altadena, California, where Grey bought a prominent mansion on East Mariposa Street, known locally as "Millionaire's Row". Designed by architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey (no relation to the author), the 1907 Mediterranean-style house is acclaimed as the first fireproof home in Altadena, built entirely of reinforced concrete as prescribed by the first owner's wife. Grey summed up his feelings for the city: "In Altadena, I have found those qualities that make life worth living."

Altadena, California estate
In Altadena Grey also spent time with his mistress Brenda Montenegro. The two met while hiking Eaton Canyon. Of her he wrote, "I saw her flowing raven mane against the rocks of the canyon. I have seen the red skin of the Navajo, and the olive of the Spaniards, but her...her skin looked as if her Creator had in that instant molded her just for me. I thought it was an apparition. She seemed to be the embodiment of the West I portray in my books, open and wild."

With the help of Dolly's proofreading and copy editing, Grey gradually improved his writing. His first magazine article, "A Day on the Delaware", a human-interest story about a Grey brothers’ fishing expedition, was published in the May 1902 issue of Recreation magazine. Elated by selling the article, Grey offered reprints to patients in his waiting room. In writing, Grey supposedly found temporary escape from the harshness of his life and his demons. "Realism is death to me. I cannot stand life as it is." By this time, he had given up baseball.

Grey read Owen Wister’s great Western novel THE VIRGINIAN. After studying its style and structure in detail, he decided to write a full-length work. Grey had difficulties in writing his first novel, BETTY ZANE (1903). When it was rejected by Harper & Brothers, he lapsed into despair. The novel dramatized the heroism of an ancestor who had saved Fort Henry. He self-published it and became an indie author.☺

After attending a lecture in New York in 1907 by Charles Jesse "Buffalo" Jones, western hunter and guide who had co-founded Garden City, Kansas, Grey arranged for a mountain lion-hunting trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He brought along a camera to document his trips and prove his adventures. He also began the habit of taking copious notes, not only of scenery and activities but of dialogue. His first two trips were arduous, but Grey learned much from his compatriot adventurers. He gained the confidence to write convincingly about the American West, its characters, and its landscape. Treacherous river crossings, unpredictable beasts, bone-chilling cold, searing heat, parching thirst, bad water, irascible tempers, and heroic cooperation all became real to him.

He wrote, "Surely, of all the gifts that have come to me from contact with the West, this one of sheer love of wildness, beauty, color, grandeur, has been the greatest, the most significant for my work."

Upon returning home in 1909, Grey wrote a new novel, THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN, describing the adventures of Buffalo Jones. Harper’s editor Ripley Hitchcock rejected it, the fourth work in a row. He told Grey, "I do not see anything in this to convince me you can write either narrative or fiction." Grey wrote dejectedly,

"I don’t know which way to turn. I cannot decide what to write next. That which I desire to write does not seem to be what the editors want...I am full of stories and zeal and fire...yet I am inhibited by doubt, by fear that my feeling for life is false".

The book was later published by Outing magazine, which provided Grey some satisfaction. Grey next wrote a series of magazine articles and juvenile novels.

With the birth of his first child pending, Grey felt compelled to complete his next novel and his first Western, THE HERITAGE OF THE DESERT. He wrote it in four months in 1910. It quickly became a bestseller. Grey took his next work to Hitchcock again; this time Harper published his work, an historical romance in which Mormon characters were of central importance. Grey continued to write popular novels about Manifest Destiny, the conquest of the Old West, and the behavior of men in elemental conditions.

Two years later Grey produced his best-known book, RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (1912), his all-time best-seller, and one of the most successful western novels of all. Hitchcock rejected it, but Grey took his manuscript directly to the vice president of Harper, who accepted it. As Zane Grey had become a household name, after that Harper eagerly received all his manuscripts. Other publishers caught on to the commercial potential of the western novel. Max Brand and Ernest Haycox were among the most notable of other writers of westerns. Grey's publishers paired his novels with some of the best illustrators of the time, including N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Douglas Duer, Herbert W. Dunton, W. H. D. Koerner, and Charles Russell.

Grey had the time and money to engage in his first and greatest passion: fishing. From 1918 until 1932, he was a regular contributor to Outdoor Life magazine. As one of its first celebrity writers, he began to popularize big-game fishing. Several times he went deep-sea fishing in Florida to relax and to write in solitude. Although he commented that “the sea, from which all life springs, has been equally with the desert my teacher and religion,” Grey was unable to write a great sea novel. He felt the sea soothed his moods, reduced his depressions, and gained him the opportunity to harvest deeper thoughts:

"The lure of the sea is some strange magic that makes men love what they fear. The solitude of the desert is more intimate than that of the sea. Death on the shifting barren sands seems less insupportable to the imagination than death out on the boundless ocean, in the awful, windy emptiness. Man’s bones yearn for dust."

Over the years, Grey spent part of his time traveling and the rest of the year wrote novels and articles. Unlike writers who could write every day, Grey would have dry spells and then sudden bursts of energy, in which he could write as much as 100,000 words in a month. He encountered fans in most places. He kept a cabin on the Rogue River in Oregon. Other excursions took him to Washington state and Wyoming.

From 1923 to 1930, he spent a few weeks a year at his cabin on the Mogollon Rim, in Central Arizona. After years of abandonment and decay, the cabin was restored in 1966 by Bill Goettl, a Phoenix air conditioning magnate. He opened it to the public as a free-of-charge museum. The Dude Fire destroyed the cabin in 1990. It was later reconstructed 25 miles away in the town of Payson.

During the 1930s, Grey continued to write, but the Great Depression hurt the publishing industry. His sales fell off, and he found it more difficult to sell serializations. He had avoided the Stock Market Crash and continued to earn royalty income, so did better than many financially. In the 1930s, nearly half of the film adaptations of his novels were made.

From 1925 to his death in 1939, Grey traveled more and further from his family. He became interested in exploring unspoiled lands, particularly the islands of South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. He thought Arizona was beginning to be overrun by tourists and speculators. Near the end of his life, Grey looked into the future and wrote:

Grey with a koala on his travels
"The so-called civilization of man and his works shall perish from the earth, while the shifting sands, the red looming walls, the purple sage, and the towering monuments, the vast brooding range show no perceptible change."

The more books Grey sold, the more the established critics attacked him. They claimed his depictions of the West were too fanciful, too violent, and not faithful to the moral realities of the frontier. They thought his characters unrealistic and much larger-than-life. Broun stated that “the substance of any two Zane Grey books could be written upon the back of a postage stamp.”

T. K. Whipple praised a typical Grey novel as a modern version of the ancient Beowulf saga, “a battle of passions with one another and with the will, a struggle of love and hate, or remorse and revenge, of blood, lust, honor, friendship, anger, grief—all of a grand scale and all incalculable and mysterious.” But he also criticized Grey’s writing, “His style, for example, has the stiffness which comes from an imperfect mastery of the medium. It lacks fluency and facility.”

Grey based his work in his own varied first-hand experience, supported by careful note-taking, and considerable research. Despite his great popular success and fortune, Grey read the reviews and sometimes became paralyzed by negative emotions after critical ones.

His novel THE VANISHING AMERICAN (1925), first serialized in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1922, prompted a heated debate. People recognized its Navajo hero as patterned after Jim Thorpe, a great Native American athlete. Grey portrayed the struggle of the Navajo to preserve their identity and culture against corrupting influences of the white government and of missionaries. This viewpoint enraged religious groups. Grey contended, "I have studied the Navaho Indians for twelve years. I know their wrongs. The missionaries sent out there are almost every one mean, vicious, weak, immoral, useless men." To have the book published, Grey agreed to some structural changes. With this book, Grey completed the most productive period of his writing career, having laid out most major themes, character types, and settings.

His WANDERER OF THE WASTELAND is a thinly disguised autobiography. One of his books, TALES OF THE ANGLER'S EL DORADO, NEW ZEALAND, helped establish the Bay of Islands in New Zealand as a premier game fishing area. Several of his later writings were based in Australia.

As a loyal tree-hugger, this next phase positiverly nauseates me! Grey co-founded the "Porpoise Club" with his friend, Robert H. Davis of Munsey's Magazine, to popularize the sport of hunting of dolphins and porpoises. They made their first catch off Seabright, New Jersey on September 21, 1912, where they harpooned and reeled in a bottlenose dolphin. Arghhhh!  Dolphins and porpoises are so intelligent and harmless. Grey should have stuck with writing, in my opinion. (Yes, you can email me your protests.)

Grey's son Loren claims in the introduction to TALES OF TAHITIAN WATERS that Zane Grey fished on average 300 days a year through his adult life. Grey and his brother R.C. were frequent visitors to Long Key, Florida, where they helped to establish the Long Key Fishing Club, built by Henry Morrison Flagler. Zane Grey was its president from 1917 to 1920. He pioneered the fishing of Boohoo fish (sailfish). Zane Grey Creek was named for him.

Grey fished out of Wedgeport, Nova Scotia, for many summers. He also helped establish deep-sea sport fishing in New South Wales, Australia, particularly in Bermagui, New South Wales, which is famous for Marlin fishing. Patron of the Bermagui Sport Fishing Association for 1936 and 1937, Grey wrote of his experiences in his book AN AMERICAN ANGLER IN AUSTRALIA.

From 1928 on, Grey was a frequent visitor to Tahiti. He fished the surrounding waters several months at a time and maintained a permanent fishing camp at Vairao. He claimed that these were the most difficult waters he had ever fished, but from these waters he also took some of his most important records, such as the first marlin over 1,000 pounds. He held numerous world records during his time, all of which have since been broken.

Grey had built a getaway home in Santa Catalina Island, California, which now serves as the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel. He served as president of Catalina's exclusive fishing club, the Tuna Club of Avalon.

Grey started his association with Hollywood when William Fox bought the rights to RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE for $2,500 in 1916. The ascending arc of Grey’s career matched that of the motion picture industry. It eagerly adapted Western stories to the screen practically from its inception, with Bronco Billy Anderson becoming the first major western star. Legendary director John Ford was then a young stage hand and William S. Hart, who had been a real cowhand, was defining the persona of the film cowboy. The Grey family moved to California to be closer to the film industry and to enable Grey to fish in the Pacific.

After his first two books were adapted to the screen, Grey formed his own motion picture company. This allowed him to control production values and faithfulness to his books. After seven films he sold his company to Jesse Lasky, who was a partner of the founder of Paramount Pictures. Paramount made a number of movies based on Grey's writings and hired him as advisor. Many of his films were shot at locations described in his books. In 1936 Grey appeared as himself in a feature film shot in Australia, WHITE DEATH (1936).

Grey became disenchanted by the commercial exploitation and pirating of his works. He felt his stories and characters were diluted by being adapted to film. Nearly fifty of his novels were converted into over one hundred Western movies, the most by any Western author. Shortly after Grey's death, the success of Fritz Lang's "Western Union" (1941), a film based on one of his books, helped bring about a resurgence in Hollywood westerns. Its costars were Randolph Scott and Robert Young. The period of the 1940s and 1950s included the great works of John Ford, who successfully used the settings of Grey’s novels in Arizona and Utah.

The success of Grey's THE LONE STAR RANGER (a novel later turned into a 1930 film) and KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED (popular as a series of Big Little Books and comics, later turned into a 1936 film), inspired two radio series by George Trendle (WXYZ, Detroit). Later these were adapted again for television, forming the series "The Lone Ranger" and "Challenge of the Yukon" (Sgt. Preston of the Yukon on TV). More of Grey's work was featured in adapted form on the Zane Grey Show, which ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System for five months in the 1940s, and the “Zane Grey Western Theatre”, which had a five-year run of 145 episodes.

Zane Grey 1872-1939

Zane Grey died of heart failure on October 23, 1939, at his home in Altadena, California. He was interred at the Union Cemetery in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where the National Park Service maintains the Zane Grey Museum.

photos - Wikipedia and Google commons

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

For many, this weekend marks the beginning of summer. Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a Federal Holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives. By the 20th century, Memorial Day evolved into honoring all Americans who have perished while serving in the military. 

Harlequin Sale
This picture is of either Memorial Day or Fourth of July in Ortonville, Minnesota in 1880.  I chose it because we go to Ortonville every Fourth of July. My brother has a cabin there and many of the buildings in this picture are still standing. 

For Memorial Day we travel north, to the Canadian Border where we will decorate family graves. It promises to be a lovely weekend and we are looking forward to a bit of down time completely ‘off the grid’. We don’t even have cell service at our property. 

In honor of Memorial Day, Harlequin has a sale on all military hero books. The Major’s Wife is part of this sale. 

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Last week, the final installment in my Teton Romance Trilogy, Teton Sunset, was released. As you might guess, the books are set in the area we know today as Grand Teton National Park. The mountain range known as the Grand Tetons and their surrounding land became a national park in 1929.
While I spend a great deal of time researching the locations and history I write about, and staying true to the descriptions of the land, I used actual dates and events loosely while writing these story. While Teton Sunset takes place in 1855, the first expedition came to the Tetons in 1860, and Jackson Valley wasn’t actually inhabited by white settlers until 1887.
The first white man to see the jagged peaks of the Tetons is believed to be John Colter, who was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On their return trip down the Missouri River in 1807, Colter left the expedition with a couple of trappers and headed back into the wilderness. He spent several years trapping in the Rocky Mountains, eventually ending up in the valley at the base of the Tetons, which was later named Jackson’s Hole after trapper Davey Jackson. The name of the valley has been shortened to Jackson Hole. French-Canadian trappers soon found their way into the region, and they gave the Tetons the colorful name “le trois tetons”, meaning “the three breasts.” The Shoshone Indians who inhabited the area called the mountains Teewinots, which means “many pinnacles.”
For several decades, trappers, Indians, traders, and outlaws passed through the valley, but the first permanent settlers didn’t arrive until 1887. The area, due to its high altitude, wasn’t suited for farming, but was ideal for grazing cattle.
In 1859, Captain William Raynolds led an expedition into the Yellowstone Region of Montana and Wyoming to find out about the area’s potential for agricultural and mineral resources, and to map the region. The expedition included noted naturalist/geologist Ferdinand Hayden, and guided by legendary mountain man, Jim Bridger. Due to bad weather, the expedition never made it into the region that would later become Yellowstone National Park, but ended up further south in the Tetons. Due to the start of the Civil War, Captain Raynolds didn’t publish his report and research until 1867. Ferdinand Hayden would, in 1872, lead a government-funded expedition into Yellowstone, carving the way for the creation of the first national park.
To find out more about Grand Teton National Park, and national parks in general, please visit the National Park Service website at

Teton Sunset Blurb

Life for Lucas Walker is a constant adventure, a daily game to be won in the vast Teton wilderness.  Facing every challenge head-on, he values the freedom to go where he wants, when he wants, and without attachments to any one person.
She is known to the native people of the land as Ghost Woman. Hiding from a terrifying past, she has lived alone and under conditions too harsh for even the hardiest men.  Trusting another person is something she can’t do. Forced to put her life in the hands of a man who dares her to confront everything from which she’s tried to escape, she struggles to protect the walls she has built around her identity . . . and her heart. 
Brought together through life or death situations, Lucas and his unwilling charge find themselves fighting dangers only found in the untamed mountains.  Their battle for survival teaches them the ultimate lesson in how to trust and love someone.  When the past catches up to them, they discover that the heart can't always be protected; sometimes the only way to be safe is to open it.


“I’m not going with you,” Tori said again when he advanced on her with that same dark scowl on his face. Wordlessly, he moved past her into the cabin, and Tori turned to follow him.
Lucas rummaged through the pile of clothes at the foot of her bunk, and shoved several articles into a leather pouch draped around his shoulder.
“What are you doing?” Tori demanded, and rushed to his side.
Lucas continued shoving shirts into the bag. “Packing,” he grumbled. “I’m taking you down off this mountain.”
Tori reached into the pouch and pulled several shirts from it, tossing them on the other side of the bed.
“Like hell you are Walker. You can’t tell me what to do.”
 “Is there anything else you want to bring?” Lucas glanced around the cabin as if she wasn’t even there.
“No, because I’m not leaving.” Tori moved in front of him, her hands on her hips. She glared up at him. “Get out of my cabin, Walker.”
 Finally, he looked down at her.
“If there’s nothing else, I guess we’re ready to go.” He nodded in satisfaction. Before she had a chance to comprehend his intent, Lucas bent forward and grabbed her around the knees, then tossed her over his shoulder. The air left her lungs, and a sharp pain jabbed through her injury.
“Put me down, you lout,” she screeched, and pounded her fists against his back. “Walker, put me down this instant. You have no right to take me away from here.”
Ignoring her tirade, Lucas moved out of the cabin, pulling the door shut behind him. He strode to his horse, and unceremoniously dumped her into the saddle. Before she could squirm off the prancing animal’s back, Lucas swung up behind her, and wrapped a steely arm around her waist.
“You can’t do this, Walker,” she growled between clenched teeth, grabbing at his arm to try and dislodge his hold on her. He wouldn’t budge, much like the shackles she’d worn in her prison cell back in St. Louis.
“I think I just did,” he whispered in her ear, and nudged his horse forward.
Tori gritted her teeth. Anger flooded her like nothing ever had. How could she have, even for a second, thought that Lucas Walker was a trustworthy man?
“You’d better sleep with one eye open from hereon, Walker,” she grumbled.
“Oh, I plan to.” His lips lingered against her ear, and despite all the anger that welled up in her, a shiver ran down her spine, and it wasn’t due to fear of this man.
“I haven’t had both eyes closed since I came to this cabin, Tori.”

Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and Teton Romance Trilogy. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Esther Morris’s Legendary Tea Party

by Lyn Horner

Wyoming Territory granted women the right to vote in 1869, fifty-one years before passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing all American women full voting rights. We all learned that in history class, but I don’t remember any teacher mentioning Esther Morris and the role she played in getting Wyoming women the vote. Do you?

Esther Hobart Morris

Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris (born Aug. 8, 1814, near Spenser, N.Y.) moved to the Sweetwater Mining District of Wyoming in 1869, where her second husband and eldest son had gone the previous year to open a saloon. Traveling by train and stagecoach, Morris and her eighteen-year-old twin sons, Robert and Edward, joined the two men in South Pass City, a mining town of about 3,000 residents, the largest town in the territory at that time.

A tall woman of strong character, with a staunch belief in women’s rights, Esther Morris is said to have given a tea party in her home – a miner’s shack – on September 2, 1869, for twenty influential citizens of South Pass City. Her guests included her district’s Democrat and Republican candidates for Wyoming’s first territorial legislature. That evening, so the story goes, she asked each of the two men if he would introduce a bill in the legislature giving Wyoming women the right to vote. Amazingly, both candidates said yes.

The Democrat, Colonel William H. Bright, won the election and he kept his word, probably with urging from his wife, who Esther Morris had nursed through a difficult childbirth, likely saving her life. The bill to give women the vote met with opposition in the all-Democrat legislature, but in the end it passed both the Senate and the House, partly due to Esther Morris and other women who wrote letters and personally called upon legislators and the territorial governor.

Some of the men who voted for the bill probably expected Republican Governor John Campbell to veto it. However, as a young man, Campbell had heard Susan B. Anthony speak at a women’s suffrage convention, and her arguments for giving women the vote impressed him. Despite bitter wrangling over the bill, Governor Campbell signed it into law on December 10, 1869. For the first time anywhere in the world, women had the right to vote.

For such an historic document, it’s very brief:

Female Suffrage
Chapter 31

An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage, and to Hold Office

Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wyoming:
Sec. 1. That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this territory, may at every election to be holden under the laws thereof, cast her vote. And her rights to the elective franchise and to hold office shall be the same under the election laws of the territory, as those of electors.

Sec. 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Approved, December 10, 1869.

Statue of Esther Morris

The story of Esther Morris’s tea party has never been proven by any hard evidence, but it is a fact that she went on to serve as Justice of the Peace in South Pass City – the first woman judge ever in this country or elsewhere. She became involved in the national women’s suffrage movement and, since 1953, a bronze statue of her has stood at the Wyoming State Capitol building in Cheyenne. A replica stands in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C.

In Dee Brown’s wonderful book, The Gentle Tamers, he gives an account of Esther’s Wyoming tea party and her pioneering work for women’s rights. He concludes this way: “Wyoming became the first place, and for many years, the only place in the world that allowed women to vote. That was a truly remarkable legacy for a very remarkable woman.”

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Iron Slipper

Sarah J. McNeal

When I created the saloon in Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, I needed a catchy name. From my childhood came the memory of my dad building a short fence out of old tree limbs he found while taking walks in the woods.  At the time, we were living in a log cabin that used to be the carriage house on an old plantation. It was a cool place with a stone fireplace and huge windows in the front where I guess they used to load in the hay for the horses. So Pop thought the place ought to have a name. At the end of the fence he built, he placed a wooden sign with a horse shoe on it and engraved the name, The Iron Slipper.

POP with his dog, Guess
Naturally, when I thought of a name for a saloon, I thought of Pop’s old sign and name the saloon and brothel in Hazard, The Iron Slipper. By the time I wrote For Love of Banjo, the sequel to Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, Banjo decides to change The Iron Slipper to a decent establishment when he inherits it from the old madam, Belle. With Joe’s wife, Lola, The Iron Slipper transforms into a fine hotel and restaurant where many of Hazard’s fine balls and special occasions are held. In just about every Wilding story, The Iron Slipper is mentioned.

But I was curious about saloon names from back in the old west and secretly wondered if I would find The Iron Slipper among the names. Well, here’s the top 100 list of saloon names from the old west:
Saloon Names in the Old West
Dodge City, Kansas

  • 1. Stockman Saloon
  • 2. Bloody Bucket (this was gory, but unique)
  • 3. Silver Dollar
  • 4. Trails End (it could have been switched to End Tails or entrails, whatever)
  • 5. Long Branch (of course, Dodge City. Remember the old TV show, Gunsmoke?)
  • 6. Big Nose Kate

Brownville, Nebraska 
  • 7. Crystal Palace
  • 8. The Quick and The Dead (later a movie title)
  • 9. Crazy Annies
  • 10. The Last Chance
  • 11. Hitch N Post
  • 12. Horseshoe
  • 13. Shady Lady
  • 14. The Wrangler
  • 15. J Bar S
  • 16. Aces & Eights
  • 17. The Broken Wheel
  • 18. Re Load
  • 19. Double D
  • 20. Diamond Lil's
  • 21. Shotgun Willies
  • 22. Prairie Dew
  • 23. One-Eyed Jacks
  • 24. The Brass Rail
  • 25. The Red Garter

                                                                                THE ARCADE SALOON
 Eldora, Colorado
  • 26. The Mangy Moose
  • 27. Ore Car Saloon
  • 28. Rocking R
  • 29. Two Bit Saloon
  • 30. Wagon Wheel
  • 31. Rusty Spur
  • 32. The Prairie Dust
  • 33. Stables  (I suppose if the wife asked where her husband was all night, he could say, ”At the stables”)
  • 34. The Anvil
  • 35. Two Podners
  • 36. Saddle Sore
  • 37. Mavericks ( I wonder of this is how they came to name the show “Maverick)
  • 38. The Brazen Hussy
  • 39. The Red Eye
  • 40. The Silver Bullet
  • 41. The Blind Pig
  • 42. Easy Sallies
  • 43. Wild Horse
  • 44. Broken Arrow
  • 45. The Trail Dust
  • 46. The Holy Moses
  • 47. Bender
  • 48. Calaboose
  • 49. The Dry Gulch
  • 50. The Gospel Mill (I wonder if they really meant “Gossip Mill”?)
                      THE BUCKHORN SALOON 
                                                                                    Pinos Altos, New Mexico
  • 51. Hang Fire
  • 52. Hard Case
  • 53. Ten Gallon
  • 54. Played Out
  • 55. Pony Up
  • 56. The Kit and Caboodle
  • 57. Who hit John
  • 58. The Mule's Mother
  • 59. The Conniption
  • 60. The Deadbeat
  • 61. Forty Dead Men
  • 62. Hard Knocks
  • 63. The Hunkey Dorey
  • 64. The Cocked Hat
  • 65. Mustered Out
  • 66. Somebody's Darling
  • 67. The Tuckered Out
  • 68. The Rusty Spur
  • 69. Goldust
  • 70. Wet Your Whistle
  • 71. Cowboy Up
                                                                           THE SALTY DAWG SALOON
                                                                                 Homer, Alaska
  • 72. The Tough Enough
  • 73. Tenderfoot
  • 74. Ride-em-hard
  • 75. Mount Up
  • 76. The Mosey On
  • 77. The Caboose
  • 78. The Bangtail
  • 79. The Devil's Outpost
  • 80. The Bettermost
  • 81. The Bible Bump
  • 82. The Bone Orchard
  • 83. Boosy's
  • 84. The Bronc Buster
  • 85. Buckle Bunnies
  • 86. The Hook or Crook
                                                                                   THE SUMMER SALOON
                                                                                        Fairplay, Colorado
  • 87. Mugwumps
  • 88. The Talking-Iron
  • 89. Tarantula Juice Betty's
  • 90. The Tongue Oil
  • 91. Two Whoops and a Hollar
  • 92. The Deadshot
  • 93. The Devil's Addiction
  • 94. The Dilly-Dally
  • 95. The Gut Warmer
  • 96. War Bonnet
  • 97. Whistle Berries
  • 98. The Fair Shake
  • 99. Pie Eyed
  • 100. The Prayer Book
                                                                                THE CRYSTAL PALACE
                                                                                    Tombstone, Arizona

Although there are many fanciful, clever, and unique names for saloons from the old west, I stuck with The Iron Slipper because it was part of my personal history.

A haunted plantation… A trunk… And a date with destiny.

When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets—and she’s married to him.
Joe Wilding carries his shame in his pocket in the form of a harmonica. The woman he thought he married to save her life, is beginning to break through his stoic wall and find the secret he hides. Loving her could be his ruin. Only time can tell.


          (Just Released Sequel to Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride)

Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.

Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.
Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.