Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for the Oriental Saloon

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Today we have the Oriental Saloon, one of many that inhabited Tombstone in the 1880s.



At one point Wyatt Earp held a quarter interest in the place and he invited Bat Masterson to come out and help run the faro tables. In this scene, Alanna has just come over from the Grand Hotel where she's staying...


 She could feel eyes on her as she walked past the ornately carved bar, which was lined with crystal glasses and colored bottles, all sparkling beneath the brilliance of the suspended chandeliers. The Brussels carpet was soft and plush beneath her heeled shoes as she made her way toward one of the faro tables. The pungent smell of cigars and whiskey hung in the air and the room was abuzz with talk and laughter and the sound of cards being shuffled.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Newspaper

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Today we have N for Newspaper, namely, the Tombstone Epitaph - and yeah, this letter gave me a little trouble since I couldn't find a person, place, or thing (that I found interesting enough) for the letter N - hence my disclaimer of "however distantly related..."





The Epitaph was founded in May of 1880 by John P. Clum (who also has a small role in my tale) after he was "chided by associates who said he would write an epitaph and not a newspaper." This inspired Clum to name his new publication The Tombstone Epitaph.

Previously, Clum was an Indian Agent  for the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation where he "implemented a limited form of self-government on the reservation that was so successful that other reservations were closed and their residents moved to San Carlos." Unfortunately, the Army didn't like Clum's method of treating the Indians fairly as it prevented them from siphoning off the money that was supposed to be used for the aid of the Apaches. Clum soon tired of the Army's meddling and resigned his post in 1877.

After the great silver strike, Clum moved to Tombstone where he started up The Tombstone Epitaph and organized a "Vigilance Committee" in an attempt to bring peace and order to the town. This led to his election as Tombstone's first mayor and his lifelong association with Wyatt Earp.





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Masterson, Bat

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Today we have M for Bat Masterson, who worked as a buffalo hunter, Indian scout, sheriff (Ford County 1877-1879) and deputy US marshal (1879), but mostly made his living as a saloon keeper and gambler.



In West of Paradise, I placed Bat Masterson in Tombstone as a Faro* dealer (or banker) at the Oriental Saloon where Alanna takes a fancy to him. However, while it's true he was a Faro dealer at the Oriental, he left Tombstone in April and so was not present in the town for the actual gunfight which took place in October. 


* Faro was a 17th century French card game played between a banker and any number of players. It was banned in France but continued to be played in England and was eventually exported to the United States where it became wildly popular "due to its fast action, easy-to-learn rules, and better odds than most games of chance."

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Leavenworth

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Today we have L for Leavenworth, which is where both Jack and Katherine arrive after being sent into the past. The following scene takes place upon Jack's arrival...



     Jack came around the corner and stopped dead in his tracks.
     Horses and wagons and people who looked as if they had stepped straight out of an old history book paid him no mind whatsoever, going about their business. Wooden sidewalks, raised up away from the ground to allow for drainage, fronted the buildings, big boxy things, all clapboards with a smattering of brick here and there. The Planter’s Hotel sat on a rise above the Missouri River, an old keel boat grounded near the shore. Out in the middle of the river a newer steamboat was chugging away and come in from the west…he could hear the train.
For a second he just stared like a kid at Christmas who’d gotten the best present ever. He was really here…or there: Leavenworth, Kansas. And there on the corner across the street was the Silver Slipper, two doors down from the barber’s, just like Miss Adjani said.  
     Jack shoved his hat down on his head and walked across the street, trying not to stare at the wagons and horses jostling along the wide street. He stepped up onto the sidewalk and pushed the doors open. The smell of whiskey and cigars assaulted him.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Katherine

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place, 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Katherine is our heroine, who thinks a trip to the past will cure her restless heart. Which it does, but not the way she thinks. Here's how it begins...




     Katherine was bored.
     It was a new experience. To be sure there had been moments of boredom, brief interludes that had passed before they’d really begun. But those moments had been tiny fragments of her life, fleeting bits of time that were over before they had a chance to settle.

     What she felt now was complete and utter boredom.
     She glanced over at the king size bed where her fiancé sprawled inelegantly beneath satin sheets, one arm draped over the bedside. Moonlight flooded the room and bathed his form in quicksilver light. Perfect, she thought, he was as perfect a man as she could have imagined, from his silky black hair to his manicured toes. What was there not to like? He was intelligent, funny, sensitive when it mattered, and an excellent lover. But the longer she studied him the more she realized that there was nothing about him she loved. She had no desire to snuggle close, no desire to kiss him as he slept, and not the slightest inclination to wake him and share her troubled heart. And she knew at that moment, despite the barrage of protests she would hear, she would not marry Antonio D'Salvatore.
     ***

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jack

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place, 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.

Jack McCabe is our hero although admittedly he doesn't act like it at first, as illustrated in this excerpt where he has mistaken Katherine for Alanna...



     “Sorry, sweetheart,” Jack said with a nasty grin, “But you are a wanted woman. You might have thought you’d gotten away but you left me alive and I gave a pretty good description of you as you can see.”
     “But...but this isn’t me,” Katherine whispered.
     “Yeah, right.” He snatched the poster out of her hands and stuffed it into his pocket, “Now get dressed.”
     “No, please,” Katherine said, her tone turning desperate, “You’ve got to believe me. There’s been a mistake. I swear this is not me. I never killed anyone and I certainly never robbed a bank or a train or anything else. See? It says Alanna McLeod. My name is Katherine.”
     “You think calling yourself by a different name changes who you are?” He shook his head with a snort of laughter, “Get dressed.”
     “I will not!”
     Jack raised the gun, and Katherine flinched automatically.
     “Either get dressed or say your prayers. Unless of course you want to travel in your nightdress. In which case I can’t vouch for your safety. After all, you never know who we might meet along the way.”
     “Please,” Katherine said, her voice becoming a low, frightened whisper.
     “Get dressed,” Jack repeated, his eyes as cold as winter.
***

    
        

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Israel's Ice Cream

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place, 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book, West of Paradise.



While researching the town of Tombstone (which figures prominently late in the story), I came across mention of Israel's Ice Cream, much to my surprise. Who knew they had ice cream back then? Not me! But I had to incorporate it into my story:

 
Jack was gone before she could protest, but instead of finding someone to bring water for a bath, he headed back to where they’d first gotten off the stage. Because he’d spotted something he hadn’t seen in a long while: ice cream. Israel’s Ice Cream to be precise, and Jack was willing to bet Katherine had never had anything like it.
Katherine had barely gotten comfortable in the chair by the window when Jack returned.
“You’ll never guess what I found,” he said.
She sat up, trying to see what he had. Her eyes lit up as he drew closer.
“Where did you get that?” she asked.
“Israel’s Ice Cream,” Jack said with a pleased smile, handing her the dish. “I spotted it as we walked.”
“You are a man of many talents, Jack McCabe,” Katherine said. She dipped the spoon in and closed her eyes as she savored the taste, sighing with pleasure; it was cold and sweet and very vanilla.
She had eaten it all before she noticed Jack didn’t have any. “Oh! I should’ve shared!”
Jack shook his head with a smile. “It’s okay. I think it was actually more enjoyable watching you eat it.”
***








Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Hayes City, Kansas

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.



Hays City (now known simply as Hays) was established in 1866 by William Webb in anticipation of the construction of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Like other frontier towns, it was a violent place; between 1867 and 1873 more than 30 people were murdered. And this was a town whose population was only 1,000 people in the late 1860s. 

Among the famous or infamous who lived in Hays City were General George Custer, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, who acted as Sheriff briefly and killed two soldiers, two citizens, and wounded several other people during his short time in office. 

In West of Paradise, Hays City serves as a stopping point for my two main characters, Jack and Katherine. If you look closely at the picture you can see the drugstore they pop into after getting off the train  where they buy some carbolic spray.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Garfield, James

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.

Today, we have James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, who was assassinated on March 4, 1881, a mere four months after being inaugurated. 



The crime took place at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station (pictured above). The President was on his way to deliver a speech at Williams College when he was shot twice from behind by assassin Charles J. Guiteau, a "disillusioned Federal office seeker."

The first bullet grazed President Garfield's arm harmlessly, but the second could not be found, and Garfield soon became ill due to infection. On September 6 the President was moved to the Jersey Shore, but the fresh air did nothing to aid in his recovery and on September 19, 1881, President Garfield succumbed to his wound.

Back in college I took an interesting class on assassinations. Yeah, I'm weird that way.  


ps my apologies for Sunday's way early post for those who saw it. Needless to say I did NOT look carefully enough at the date I wanted it to post...



Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Four Dead in Five Seconds

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.

Today we have yet another violent episode for the year: Four Dead in Five Seconds, which occurred in El Paso, Texas on April 14, 1881.


This famous gunfight began over the theft of 30 head of cattle, stolen in Mexico and driven into Texas to sell. When two Mexican investigators ended up dead, a posse soon followed and the bodies of the dead men were found at the ranch of Johnny Hale, a local ranch owner and known cattle rustler. An inquest was held with Constable Krempkau acting as interpreter. Marshall Stoudenmire was present during the proceedings and afterwards went across the street for supper. Next door at the saloon Krempkau was confronted by ex-city Marshall George Campbell (a friend of Hale's), regarding his translations and "apparent friendship with the Mexicans." George Hale, drunk and pissed off, grabbed one of Campbell's guns and shot Krempkau.

Marshall Stoudenmire heard the shots and pulled out his pistols, running outside. While running he fired wildly and killed an innocent bystander. A moment later he spotted John Hale peering out from behind an adobe pillar. Stoudenmire shot him between the eyes. Campbell stepped from cover and yelled to Marshall Stoudenmire that this wasn't his fight. Krempkau then fired twice at Campbell, hitting him in the wrist and foot, before passing out. Stoudenmire then fired at Campbell, hitting him in the stomach. Campbell and Krempkau both died within minutes. 

After just a few seconds, four men lay dead or dying

I do love history but I'm not sure I'd want to go back in time like my characters did. 1881 was a dangerous year. 


Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Earp, Wyatt

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.

Today's post is for Wyatt Earp. Not a bad looking guy, eh?


 Wyatt Earp was born in 1848 and lived until 1929. As a boy he repeatedly tried to follow his brothers into war (the Civil War). After his first wife died he moved to Kansas where he allegedly frequented the saloons, gambling houses, and brothels, and had a few close calls with the law enforcement. But after helping track down a wagon thief, Earp joined the police force in Dodge City where he would make the acquaintance of Doc Holliday.

In 1879 Wyatt moved to Tombstone, Arizona to join his brothers, hoping to get rich off the silver mines. When that didn't pan out (haha) he returned to the law and as Deputy Town Marshal in Tombstone, took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881.

In my novel, West of Paradise, Jack (our hero) is a history buff and actually gets to see the gunfight, which occurs just before all hell breaks lose for a second time in Tombstone.

Thankfully I'm a bit of a history buff, too, so I had a lot of fun with the research.






Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dodge City

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.


Dodge City was made famous in the early 1880's both as a frontier settlement and a cattle town. There were more gunfighters working in Dodge City at one time or another than any other town in the West, among them Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, both of whom have small roles in my novel. Additionally, Dodge City boasted the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels - including the famous Long Branch Saloon, which some of you might recall from the show, Gunsmoke. Then again, I may just be dating myself.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Cushing, Will

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I'll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.

Today I'll introduce you to Will Cushing, Alanna's lover and partner in crime in West of Paradise. Here's the scene where we first meet Will...


Will Cushing was playing cards and losing badly when he got word, and he knew at that moment his luck had changed. To prove the point he bluffed his way through the hand and won the pile. It wasn’t much but to Will it was an omen of good fortune. God knew he needed it.
Until two years ago, he’d considered himself pretty lucky. He’d managed to keep ahead of the long arm of the law and was in possession of what he considered a small fortune. With careful planning, and Alanna’s help, he figured the two of them could live a decent life somewhere south of the border. But then he’d woken up one morning to find her gone along with every cent they’d stolen.

***
Sam Elliott - as Will Cushing. Just put a hat on him and make him a little less grey.

I actually became quite fond of Will, much to my surprise. Then again, I've always rather fancied Sam Elliott ;)







 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Billy the Kid

 My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.






Today we have Billy the Kid, aka William H. Bonney aka Henry McCarty, who was born in 1859 but didn't turn to criminal activities until after his mother died and left him an orphan (one can't help but wonder how he might've turned out had his mother lived...). At first he lived with a foster family but when their situation changed, he was forced to move into a boarding house. Not long after, he stole food, clothing, and a rifle and was subsequently arrested. He escaped from jail and from that point on lived as a fugitive for the rest of his short life. He was killed by Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881 after escaping jail yet again and killing two guards in the process.





Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Alanna McLeod

My theme for A- Z is the year my book takes place: 1881. I"ll be posting about people, places, and random facts about the year as it relates - however distantly - to my book.*



In my novel, West of Paradise, Alanna McLeod is the beautiful but deadly leader of a gang of train robbers. In this scene, she has just forced the telegraph operator to send a message... 


     “I’m finished,” the young man said.
     “Indeed you are,” Alanna whispered, drawing the knife swiftly across his throat and stepping aside quick to avoid the blood spray.
     He gurgled a cry as he fell, his hands going to his throat in a useless effort to stop the bleeding. But it was already too late. This wasn’t her first time.

***


As for who might play her in the movie version (hey, I can dream big if I want!), I think Jaime Murray (from Warehouse 13 and Dexter) would suit.


 She plays sexy bad so good.


* with the exception of x, y, z (the trouble makers)...but I have time yet...



Monday, March 31, 2014

It's here!

That's right, April's big giant A-Z  Blogfest is upon us, beginning tomorrow. As a reminder, the overall theme for my posts is 1881, the year my book takes place, and a few brief (and I do mean brief!) bits about some characters and places that figure in the story -



Katherine Kennedy has it all; she’s beautiful, she’s wealthy, and she’s engaged to the perfect man: Antonio D'Salvatore. There’s just one problem. She can’t marry him. Worse yet, she has no idea why. All she knows is there is suddenly nothing she wants, not Antonio, or any of the other hundred thousand things money can buy.

Jack McCabe comes home from the war with a pretty medal and a lot of ugly pictures in his head. He has little in the way of possessions, less in the way of wealth, nowhere to go and no one to go anywhere with. All he has is a vague sense of discontent, a restlessness that will not abate.

Separately, they are drawn to Paradise Tours on the privately owned Cristobel Island. There they meet Louis Cade, a man who offers them the unimaginable, something neither can quite believe until they actually find themselves over 125 years in the past, 1881 to be exact.

For Jack McCabe it’s the adventure he always dreamed of – until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal – until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her.

Set in the old west, this is a tale of mistaken identity, romance, and murder.

 ***


There's a link to buy at the top of my sidebar, just above the link to the A- Z list, should you be interested, but I'll try NOT to keep mentioning the fact because that would be BORING!

Now, what are you doing this month? Taking a well-deserved break from blogging? Joining in the A - Z fun? Just happy it's finally Spring? Do tell.

 I can't wait to have flowers on my porch like this again.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ice Dogs

I read this book courtesy of Terry Lynn Johnson and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit of Call of the Wild, one of my favorite books.

It begins with fourteen-year old Victoria, a self-reliant girl who has recently lost her father who taught her everything she knew. But when a routine trek with her dogs (and what a crew; I LOVED the dogs!) collides with a snowstorm and an injured boy from "away," well, let's just say things get interesting from there, and then, just when I thought they were safe, wham! They weren't. I really liked this book and think it would appeal to almost anyone who likes a good adventure in the freezing cold of Alaska...brrr.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My very first Guest Post or, Are you sick of me yet?

See? This what happens once you get to be a famous author like me. People actually ask you to do a guest post on their blog!!! Can you believe it?! Okay. So maybe I'm not quite famous - yet - but if I keep guest posting, I could be, right?

Anyway, before I carry myself away to the land of authors' fantasies, you can find me in two places today: here's where I really am today: Confessions of a Watery Tart (guest post) and over at Ellie's place (author interview).

And may I just add, I was thrilled to be asked by both Ellie and Hart; they are both fabulous people.




Monday, March 24, 2014

Blackbird sessions




Last Thursday morning I saw my first Red-winged Blackbird of the season. It always makes me happy when they come back in the spring; I just love their song. If you have a minute, close your eyes and listen. I'll wait.


There. Don't you feel better? Oh, and if you listen longer than a  minute you'll a hear the Sora piping up in the background.

And if you just can't get enough of me? Dianne Salerni is interviewing me over at her blog today where I'll be answering some fun questions and showing off you know what.

Finally, the winners of West of Paradise are:

1. Liza
2. LG
3. Liz

Please email me with your addresses so I can send :)


Friday, March 21, 2014

Joy


Sorry. I know I said I wasn't going blab about my book (much) but when I opened the box and saw them, these real books I could pick up and touch, with MY name on them, well, I just had to mention it. Briefly.





 My very first book! Ten of them! Honestly guys, they looks fabulous live and feel divine with a slightly muted cover finish so the bright colors don't glare in the light. Very cool! And because I'm so happy I want to share the joy. If you are interested in reading, let me know in the comments. I'll draw three names and announce the winners on Monday.



Have a wicked fun weekend ;)