Monday, March 31, 2014
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ENLIGHTENMENT, BUFFALO BILL CODY HISTORICAL RESEARCH, RONE AWARD NOMINATION, AND A PUPPY -- HOW I SPENT THE MONTH OF MARCH
First, I had way too many irons in the fire. Secondly—and something I should have realized long before now—I am not empowered with superhuman, multi-tasking abilities. Despite my best efforts, the items on my ‘To Do’ list were taking longer than I expected to complete – and time was running out. The word ‘failure’ started flashing in my thoughts like an incessant, internal panic sign.
However, with some necessary shifting of book deadlines, I focused on fulfilling my judging commitment for the RITA contest, and then prepared for my March trip to Colorado. What started out as a hectic, stressful month soon became one of the happiest, most productive months of my life. My trip to the Rocky Mountains not only empowered me as a writer, but as a person. And I would like to share with you some of the reasons why.
Enlightenment with Margie Lawson
Like a heat-seeking literary missile, she analyzes the writing of her Immersion students, and meticulously instructs them how and where to identify problem areas and strengthen their writing to NYT heights. Margie Lawson has worked with a multitude of aspiring authors, award-winning and published authors from a variety of genres, as well as highly respected and (okay, famous) New York Times Best-Selling authors.
For more information about Margie Lawson and her Immersion Master Class schedule for 2014, visit her website at www.margielawson.com. Please note Margie also travels to various parts of the country (and even different countries) to teach her Immersion Class for those who may find it difficult to journey to Colorado.
In fact, I will be hosting Margie for an Immersion Master Class at my home in June. There are some openings remaining. Margie will also be presenting a workshop at RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio this July.
In Search of Buffalo Bill Cody
I have been doing research on my own for quite some time, including reading William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody’s personal autobiography. However, I have longed to tour the Buffalo Bill Museum in Colorado and check out their research materials. I had planned to visit the museum during my trip to Colorado, and arrived a day early to do so. Much to my surprise, the thoughtful and very dear Mrs. Lawson and I had lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange, a National Historic Landmark restaurant and Western Museum founded in 1898 and once frequented by Buffalo Bill Cody.
Henry 'Shorty Scout' Zietz was a famous cowboy, and one of the youngest members of Buffalo Bill Cody's band of famous scouts. He was also a big game hunter, and the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant has quite a display of over 500 animal and bird mounted trophies on display, including a rather ferocious mountain lion that looked like he wanted to pounce on me and Margie where we dined.
As the snow accumulated on the mountain roads, the kindness and understanding Margie had for my desire to further my research on the legendary hero of the American West touched me deeply. I will never forget how she went out of her way to help me further my research. Pictured is a pair of Buffalo Bill's buckskin riding gloves with beautiful Indian beadwork that he wore during his famous Wild West Shows.
The Buffalo Bill Museum documents the life and times of William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody. Located in Lookout Mountain Park, the museum features an abundance of information and personal items that belonged to Buffalo Bill, as well as memorabilia from his internationally renowned Wild West Show.
We had a great visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum, and I was able to learn more about him, view some amazing items that were part of his life and times, and obtain some terrific research books, too. I will share more information and photos about this remarkable individual next month.
The 2014 RONE Award Nomination for WHISPER IN THE WIND
While in Colorado, I received some exciting news. InD’Tale Magazine notified me that my best-selling Time Travel Romance, WHISPER IN THE WIND, has been nominated for a 2014 RONE Award – for Best Paranormal Romance of 2013. A sensuous time travel set in 1885 Texas, WHISPER IN THE WIND was my first Indy published novel. And since the RONE Award "spotlights the very best and rewarding excellence in 2013 Indie and Small Publishing", this nomination is such an honor. Finalists for each category are selected by Readers who vote for their choice online following a set weekly schedule.
Subscribers to InD’Tale Magazine can vote for WHISPER IN THE WIND by visiting this link: http://indtale.com/polls/paranormal-2013
If you are not a subscriber to this free, exceptional book review magazine, you can still subscribe and cast your vote. Or, if you do not want to register for a free subscription on the website, simply email your vote for favorite Paranormal to Ana Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Puppies and New Beginnings
Last but not least, some of you may remember that our family lost Kane, our beloved 13-year old German Shepherd in July of 2013. His little brother and best buddy, our 12-year old Scotty named Patrick passed away in his sleep two days after Christmas. The loss of these two wonderful pets (both of whom we raised since they were babies) has been so painful. We miss them every day and always will. Someone told me that when you are ready to welcome a new pet into your lives, you will know.
Well, that time came on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Permit me to introduce the newest addition to our family, a Grand Pyrenees puppy named Loki.
I cannot think of a better way to close the month of March 2014 than with the addition of this beautiful, lively, mischievous, loving, and joyful puppy.
So, as you can see, March has been an interesting month for me personally and professionally. Granted, it was challenging, stressful, and hectic, on many levels. But through perseverance and patience (especially with myself and my goals), it proved empowering, enlightening, and exciting.
Spring is here. A time for new beginnings. May we all continue to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be, and to pursue—as well as achieve—our dreams. Remember to take a moment each day to embrace the natural beauty of our world, and the people (and pets) whose path joins with ours on life’s journey.
For more information about Ashley Kath-Bilsky, visit: www.ashleykathbilsky.com
You can also follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AKathBilsky, and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashley-Kath-Bilsky/302554710513
WHISPER IN THE WIND is available for purchase in Print and Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Wind-Ashley-Kath-Bilsky-ebook/dp/B00CC6ZZJG/ref=la_B008E2ABA0_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396266314&sr=1-2 .
It is also available in Nook, Apple, and Kobo formats.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Saloons of the Old West
Don't know exactly why, but I have a fascination for old west saloons. Okay, maybe I do know, but that's between me and the bartender. Just sayin'. My attraction to old saloons may also come from the fact that they seem to be the watering hole or social institution in movies and TV shows. if there was some excitement to be had, you can bet your lucky spurs it could be found in the town saloon.
The first establishment to be called a saloon was Brown's Hole near the borders of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah and catered to the trappers in the fur trading days.
But soon the west was littered with saloons. Most were hastily thrown together affairs like tents or lean-tos. As towns prospered, saloons became more like the traditional places we've become accustomed to today.
The whiskey served on those early years was mighty wicked stuff--made from raw alcohol, burnt sugar and a bit of chewing tobacco. (Yum) The clientele referred to this nasty brew by names such as Tangle Foot, Forty Rod, Tarantula Juice, Red Eye, or Coffin Varnish.
Also popular was "Cactus Wine" made from Tequila and peyote tea. Hmm, isn't peyote that weed used to get into some "visions"?
Muleskinner was another popular drink made with whiskey and blackberry liquor. Now this one doesn't sound too bad to me. But mostly, patrons of saloons drank straight whiskey like bourbon or rye. There was no such thing as cold beer. I can't imagine enjoying a tall glass of warm beer after riding a horse in the hot sun all day.
Saloons became entertainment centers over time, after a hard day of work or bank robbing a man could have a drink or several while he enjoyed a game of poker, Faro, 3-card-Monte or dice games.
Customers came from all walks of life, from miners to outlaws. But soldiers were not welcome. Western men had no respect for men who "policed the west"--nor did they welcome Civil War deserters. Women were also not welcome unless they were saloon girls.
Among these rough westerners there were codes of conduct to be maintained if a man wanted to get along well with others: only first names were used, no questions asked about anyone's past, and curiosity about anyone's personal business was considered rude. It was considered neighborly to buy the man standing beside you a drink or a man who confessed to being broke, but not a man who ordered a drink first, and then said he couldn't pay.
Saloon girls and dance hall girls were not prostitutes, although I always thought they were. These women were refugees from farms, widows without an income, and needy women down on their luck. Most of them earned $10 a week and commission on drinks--most of which were watered down. Men who mistreated saloon girls were doomed to become social outcasts.
Naturally, some saloons became famous for gunfights. Some of the more famous deaths that occurred in saloons were Wild Bill Hickok who was killed by Jack McCall while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota. Bob Ford, the man who killed Jesse James, was shot down in his own saloon in Creede, Colorado. John Westley Hardin, sometimes referred to as the meanest man in the west, was shot from behind in a saloon in El Paso Texas.
Some of the most famous saloon owners were Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson.
Some famous saloons, some which are now converted to museums, are The Arcade in Eldorado, Colorado, The Long Branch (Remember Kitty and Matt Dillon met there often in Gun Smoke) in Dodge City, Kansas, The Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio, Texas, Desert John's Saloon in Deer Lodge, Montana, The Bird Cage Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona, and The New Atlas Saloon in Columbus, Montana.
THE LONG BRANCH Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas
In my Wyoming Wildings stories I often mention The Iron slipper Hotel which was a saloon by the same name in the first book, Harmonica Joe's Reluctant bride. The name was changed from saloon to hotel after Banjo inherited it from a madam and partnered with Lola Wilding. They remodeled it and turned it into a classy hotel and restaurant, but kept the name Iron Slipper. It's the center of big parties and balls in following stories. Just a bit of personal history here: the house my parents rented before they bought the house where my sister and I were raised, was a log cabin made from a carriage house on an old plantation. My dad built a fence of oak limbs and made a wooden sign with a horse shoe on it and my dad wrote the name The Iron slipper. I thought that was a great name for a saloon and a nice way to remember my dad.
Some of my Wilding stories at Prairie Rose Press are:
FLY AWAY HEART (a novella with Painted Pony Press)
HOLLOW HEART (in the Valentine Aanthology--HEARTS AND SPURS)
A HUSBAND FIR CHRISTMAS (in the Christmas Anthology)
Coming soon is the story about Juliet Wilding and Harry O'Connor in the summer anthology, LASSOING A BRIDE.
Also in revision are the two original books that started the series, HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE and FOR LOVE OF BANJO
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Because I write western historical romances set in the latter 19th century, I am interested in everything about the period in history. Yes, I am a history geek. Whenever we travel, I visit recreated historic villages and pioneer museums. Fortunately, there are quite a few of these well preserved homes withing easy driving distance from my own home.
Imagine raising a large family in a 10 x 12 log cabin. I complain because I don't have enough storage in our home. I can't imagine how difficult just finding a place for everyone to sleep must have been. Most of the cabins had a loft for the kids. With large families, the kids must have been laid out like sardines.
|Cabin and well|
Palo Pinto County, Texas
One of the places my family and I have visited is Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth, Texas. Homes from several counties have been moved there. Docents stationed at each home relate the history of that cabin. Hordes of school children visit, and there are occasional festivals to draw more visitors. One of the homes there is that of Isaac Parker, related to Cynthia Ann Parker, whose life was so tragic. But she's for another post.
|Isaac Parker cabin|
|Belding-Gibson Ranch, Palo Pinto County, Texas|
Smokehouse is on the left, original cabin on right.
Steps lead to the kitchen in the newer part of the house.
|A commode chair was a luxury. Usually they were more|
enclosed with a lid so it could be used as a chair and
doors and sides to conceal the chamber pot.
|Cabin interior at the Palo Pinto County|
|Masterson Ranch Line Shack|
Ranching Heritage Museum
Monday, March 24, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Have you heard of Victoria Woodhull? I had only a vague recollection of her being an early suffragette before coming across an article tucked inside a book purchased from a used bookstore. Who placed it there I have no idea, but this Parade Magazine article, printed in March 1998, astounded me.
Victoria Woodhull was far ahead of her time. The first woman owner of a Wall Street investment firm and founder of her own newspaper, she was an adviser to Cornelius Vanderbilt and spoke before Congress demanding women be given the vote. Most astonishing, she ran for President in 1872 against incumbent Ulysses S. Grant and newspaper mogul Horace Greely. Just think, that was 142 years ago – and we still haven’t had a woman president.
On top of all that, Victoria was a psychic, or claimed to be. Being a firm believer in such God-given gifts, when I read that about her, I had to find out more. From young childhood, she was exploited by her father in his carnival show as a clairvoyant and fortune-teller. She was able to recall past events and predict future ones, could find missing objects and people, and supposedly cured afflicted individuals. She was also said to communicate messages from the dead.
Raised in squalor, beaten and starved by her father, with little or no education, Victoria always claimed to be guided by spirits, one of whom told her she would “rise from poverty one day to become ruler of the nation.” Perhaps that’s why she ran for President. Obviously she didn’t win, but she did “set America on its ear” proclaims the 1998 article.
In her book Other Powers – The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, author Barbara Goldsmith says of Woodhull’s time, “If a married woman worked, her wages were given directly to her husband. She could not dispose of her property upon her death. If she divorced, she automatically forfeited custody of her children. Women could not enter universities, law schools or medical schools. They could not serve on juries, and they could not vote.
“Most significantly, women had no control over their own bodies: There were no laws to protect them from physical abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers, although some states stipulated the size of the objects that might be used to inflict discipline. They had no right to deny their husbands sexual access.”
Good grief! No wonder Victoria Woodhull preached for the “. . . emancipation of woman and her coming into control of her own body . . . the end of pecuniary dependence upon man . . . the abrogation of forced pregnancy . . . “ and more.
For those of us who read and write romances set in the Old West, it behooves us to keep in mind the great difference between women’s circumstances then and now. We like our heroines to be capable of standing up for themselves, but the harsh reality is that they often had little or no say in what their husbands, fathers or other men decreed. Which is not to say there weren’t women who defied convention and men who respected their opinions, even loved them for their independent ways. My kind of heroes!
From Darlin’ Irish:
Captain David Taylor is an obstinate Texan who’s determined not to get involved with a hot-tempered colleen. She might make his blood run hot but he’s certain she doesn’t have the stuff to make a good frontier wife. It takes almost losing her to make him admit he’s wrong.
From Dashing Irish:
Tye Devlin feels an instant attraction to a gun-toting Texas cowgirl and she to him, but he’d rather walk away than allow her to stand with him against his enemies. However, the lady has a mind of her own. If she has to hogtie him, she’ll teach him two heads, two hearts and two guns are stronger than one.
Half-breed cowboy Choctaw Jack may need help from a timid white girl with a healing touch, but he has no intention of letting her into his heart, for he treads a dangerous line between the white and red worlds. She can’t walk it with him. Or can she?
Find these Texas Devlins books plus the prequel novella, White Witch, on these sites:
Also available as a boxed set: Texas Devlins 4 Book Bundle