Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What Does Shanna Hatfield Like to Do?

Perhaps I shouldn't love it as much as I do, but there are few things I enjoy as much as attending a good rodeo.
A few weeks ago, Captain Cavedweller and I spent a few days in Pendleton, Oregon, attending the world famous Pendleton Round-Up. The first Pendleton Round-Up was held in the early 1900s and has a long, rich history.

One of the great things about going to the Round-Up is the Westward Ho Parade. There isn't a single motorized vehicle in the parade, but there are oodles of horses and vintage conveyances.
I snap bunches of photos so I can pull them up and study the details when I'm working on a story.

It's not every day you have the opportunity to see horses and mules in harnesses (especially spit and polished for a parade).

And you definitely don't see this everyday. These two characters were one of the most talked about entries in the parade. Later, they hung out in the park and let people take photos on the backs of the these tame giants.

Of course, one of the other things I love about the experience, is the rodeo. Since I write a lot about cowboys in general and rodeos in particular, it provides an opportunity for me to capture hundreds of images I can later use for research purposes.

(And for fun!)

Even if this is at a modern-day rodeo, I could easily use this photo to describe a scene of someone riding a bronc in any time frame.

This was my favorite photo of all those I took. This cowboy almost looks like he's performing some intricately choreographed dance move.

And you gotta have a photo of bull riding, even if this ol' boy was a little snotty.

A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:
ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What the h&$#?????

I just had a heart-attack. Okay, not really, but it certainly felt like I did when I clicked on the icon for Microsoft Word and got an error message that said Office wasn’t available on my computer.


Moment of utter panic, heart pounding its way right into the back of my throat…and then like any one with a lick of common sense would do, I cussed out the computer. Oh, that’s not really common sense, is it? After I called my poor lap top everything but an artificial intelligence, I shut it down, rebooted, and voila! There was Word again, and all the other Office programs.

The whole time the computer was shutting down and the rebooting, I was whispering a mantra of “Be there. You have to be there. Where could you have gone?”

Sometimes, I hate Microsoft. Other times, I really, really hate Microsoft. This was one of those really, really hate moments. But, it’s all good now. I’m able to write this blog post, I’ll get it scheduled to go live, and then I can go back to writing my latest WIP.

Stop freaking me out, Microsoft!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ladies of the Evening in the Old West

The subject of prostitution in the Old West produces a lively conversation that can be intriguing as well as educational. However gritty and dangerous prostitution was, the act was often viewed as a healthy and integral part of life. As more and more male settlers, prospectors, cowboys and speculators ventured West, the need for female companionship ballooned. In lonely mining camps, men sometimes paid just to view female garments, on or off the woman. Many of the few but brave, or perhaps desperate, women who made their way from the East looked for riches in the skin trade. Almost every mining camp, boomtown and whistle-stop housed at least one or two soiled doves, if not an entire, roaring red-light district. This contributed greatly to town economies via business licenses, fees, and fines.
            The financial welfare of prostitutes depended on where they worked. Those living above bars or in seedy brothels rarely made enough money to retire and often ended their lives by suicide, overdoses or illness. Gonorrhea, syphilis, and Chlamydia, potentially fatal maladies, ran rampant during in the 1800s. According to reports from an Idaho hospital, one out of every seven patients suffered from venereal disease. Botched abortions and murder rounded out the number of women who died working as soiled doves.
            Madams, who had more control over their businesses, fared better, but not by much. On the other hand, Mattie Silks of Denver once netted $38,000 running a bordello for three months in Dawson City, Alaska. But when she died in 1929, her assets amounted to no more than a few thousand dollars.
            Despite their black reputations, some whores proved to be, indeed, fallen angels. During her years as a madam, Laura Evens of Salida, Colorado, sheltered abused wives and secretly paid the wages of men recovering from injuries on the job. Still, these women suffered blatant hypocrisy at the hands of local government.
            Towns demanded red light ladies pay monthly fines, fees, and taxes, even as authorities staged raids and arrests. In 1908, officials in Salt Lake City, Utah, hired Dora Topham, the leading madam of Ogden to operate a “legal” red-light district. Appealed with the idea, Topham oversaw construction of the “Stockade,” a high-walled city block housing several cribs, six parlor homes, a dance hall, saloons, a cigar store and a small jail cell. Up to 150 women could work the Stockade at a time. The project failed for several reasons; the lack of cooperation from local prostitutes unwilling to sell out and move to the Stockade; employees who felt stifled by the stringent regulations; and customers hesitant to be seen entering the premises. Plus, the government continued to stage raids to appease county, state and federal laws. In 1911, Topham was accused of working as a madam by the same officials who hired her to do so.

             Prices for services:
            By a Chinese, black or American Indian girl, in Tombstone, Arizona, circa 1880 - $.25
            By a Mexican prostitute in Tombstone, same era - $.50
            By a French girl in Tombstone, same era - $.75
            Service to soldiers at Fort Whipple, Arizona - $1
            Visit to plush parlor house in Tombstone, same era - $10
            Service lasting an entire night in a Tombstone bordello - $30
            Number of customers some women saw in an average payday at the mines – 70
            Weekly salary of a prostitute in Tombstone during the 1800s - $150
            All night stay at Old Homestead in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1890s - $250
            Estate of Madam Mary “Mother Gleim” of Missoula, Montana at time of her death in 1914 - $148,000
            To read more about soiled doves in the Old West, check out

Charlene Raddon is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical romance set in the American West. She is also a cover artist.You can find her at:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mail-Order Brides in the Wild West By Connie Vines

MAIL-ORDER BRIDES in  the Wild West.

We have all watched many a western movie featuring Mail-Order Brides. I also recall a musical
 (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) on stage before becoming a 1950's movie also.

So how historically accurate were these movies and (Here Come The Brides) television shows?

What was I able to uncover during my research?

The term "mail-order bride," as it applies to a marriage arranged via correspondence between American men and women in the Great Plains in the nineteenth century, is largely a misnomer. Twentieth-century folklore has it that a homesteader could peruse the Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs and order a wife to be delivered to his dusty doorstep just as easily as he could order a rifle, stove, or stomach cure, but the truth is far more interesting.

 Arranged long-distance marriage existed in the Plains in a range of communities, took a number of forms, and grew out of a variety of social, economic, and cultural phenomena, but never involved the literal sale, purchase, or ownership of women, as the term "mail-order bride" suggests. (Thank goodness!)

Among Plains Indians, sight-unseen marriage was frequently arranged with the help of a middleman and could involve the payment of a "bride price," intended to compensate the woman's family for the impending loss of her labor. But intercultural marriage was rare. In 1854, at a peace conference at Fort Laramie, a prominent Cheyenne chief requested of the U.S. Army the gift of 100 white women as brides, but the army refused. Russian immigrants brought with them the tradition of koopla, whereby marriage brokers were paid a fee to pair men with potential spouses from the Old Country.

 During the peak years of overland migration, hundreds of thousands of white women traveled west, but the majority were already married, and it was thought that "suitable" single women did not go west alone. While many cowboys eschewed marriage for perpetual bachelorhood, homesteaders believed that married men made better farmers.

From the 1830s until the turn of the twentieth century, settlers pined for "that useful and essential article of household furniture–a wife." So severe was the shortage of single white women of marriageable age in Nebraska, recounts Mari Sandoz in Old Jules (1935), her classic portrait of Plains homesteading, "a man had to marry anything that got off the train."

By 1865 it was estimated that there were as many as 30,000 single women back east, a number augmented by the Civil War widows. The plenitude of bachelors in the Plains–and hence the chance for greater social and economic freedom away from home–beckoned women. Newspapers from Nebraska to Kansas and Wyoming (a state the Ladies Home Journal in 1899 declared a heaven for spinsters and widows) began to serve as forums for matchmaking, running regular "matrimonial columns" of paid advertisements, frequently with accompanying photographs, for example: "A young lady residing in one of the small towns in Central New York is desirous of opening a correspondence with some young man in the West, with a view to a matrimonial engagement. . . . she is about 24 years of age, possesses a good moral character . . . is tolerably well-educated, and thoroughly versed in the mysteries of housekeeping"; or more commonly, "A Bachelor of 40, good appearance and substantial means, wants a wife. She must be under 30, amiable, and musical." Across the Plains there arose a cottage industry of "heart and hand" catalogs, folded double sheets and broadsides devoted entirely to the matrimonial prospects.

Letters were the only means of courtship between potential mates separated by thousands of miles. According to one bride, the Pony Express "took about four weeks to go from east to west," and letters "often came in bundles." Language was a means of persuasion. Illiterate men could dictate their letters to typists who, for a fee, would doctor their sentiments on Remington Standards. Dishonesty was a risk. Men and women could easily misrepresent their physical attributes, their station, or finances. A homesteader who sent his betrothed a train ticket might find that she had turned it in for cash. A 1911 Wahpeton Times article tells of a New York girl for whom, upon arrival in Buford, North Dakota, "the spell was immediately broken" when she saw the face of her intended. ((Not unlike the social media matches of today's cyber world of romance.)

The railroad also played an important role in the western diaspora of single women. In 1882 businessman Fred Harvey sought young rural women "of good character, attractive and intelligent" as waitresses in whistlestop cafés along the Santa Fe rail line. Harvey required that they remain single for a year, live in chaperoned dormitories, and entertain callers in "courting parlors." By the turn of the century, he had married off nearly 5,000 so-called Harvey Girls.

In the 1870s, 80s and 90’S, Matrimonial News, a San Francisco based matchmaking newspaper helped to make love connections between the single men of the West and the statistically disadvantaged, single women back East. For $1.50 a word, people could place classified ads describing themselves and what they wanted in a potential mate. The paper’s goal was to “promote honorable matrimonial engagements and true conjugal felicities for amiable men and women.” If a match resulted in a wedding, both parties were required to pay an additional fee to the newspaper.

Most ads were fairly direct. I haven’t seen a single ad that mentioned enjoying long walks on the beach, but plenty of them were quite open about wanting someone who wasn’t ugly and had a specified amount of money. (At $1.50 a word, it’s a wonder that some ads didn’t read, “Me want woman!”) Interested parties would correspond with each other and often not meet until they were about to head to the altar. It was quite the leap of faith.

I have a feeling "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" was not historically accurate--though a great deal of fun!

What would drive a woman to accept such a proposal?  What recourse did she have if she changed her mind?

If you have any 'family stores', please share in the comments section of this blog.

Happy Reading,

For additional information:
Luchetti, Cathy. "I Do!": Courtship, Love, and Marriage on the American Frontier: A Glimpse at America's Romantic Past through Photographs, Diaries, and Journals, 1715–1915. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996.
Riley, Glenda. Building and Breaking Families in the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Say Hello to Kristy McCaffrey

I'm so excited to share a BRAND NEW, never-before-published short novella ~ The Crow and the Bear. If you read The Crow and the Coyote, a spooky Old West romance that was released last Halloween (in the Cowboys, Creatures and Calico Vol. 2 anthology and more recently as a single sell), then you might remember that hero Jack Boggs had two brothers, Callum and Kit. This tale features Cal. I'm still brewing a story for Kit.

The idea for The Crow and the Bear came to me during the summer when my family and I visited Silverton, Colorado, an old mining town situated in an imposing valley of the Rocky Mountains. While touring the local museum I became fascinated by the Tommyknockers.

Silverton, Colorado
A Tommyknocker is a type of troll spirit who lives underground and was therefore of great concern to miners. The term originated in the British Isles, but superstitions surrounding the beings filtered into other places. Miners in Colorado took great care to appease the Knockers by leaving a bit of their lunch out for the sprites.

Standing about two feet tall with a grizzled appearance, many believe that Snow White’s dwarves were Tommyknockers. They usually wear standard miner’s garb and are responsible for any mischief that might befall a miner, such as losing tools and food.

The name derives from the knocking on mine walls that precedes a cave-in, which is usually just the creaking of earth and timbers before failing. Some miners believed the Knockers were malevolent beings, but others took them to be practical jokers.

In Cornish folklore, the Knockers were spirits of those who had died in previous mine accidents and were now trying to help the living, by warning of impending dangers. As an offering of thanks, miners usually cast the last bite of their lunch pastie (a type of meat pie) into the mines for the Knockers.

In the 1820’s, Welsh immigrants to Pennsylvania brought tales of the Knockers with them and their presence soon spread all the way to California. Belief in the Knockers remained well into the 20th century. During the closing of a mine in 1956, a petition was circulated by the miners to set the Knockers free (so they could move to another mine) before sealing the entrances, and the owners complied.

The Crow Series: Book 2
Short Novella
Bounty hunter Callum Boggs—sometimes called Crow—arrives in the mining town of Silverton on a cold October day in search of a man who has committed unspeakable crimes. Skilled in the technique of dream scouting, Crow has narrowed the location of the criminal to Silas Ravine. No normal man would dare to venture into this region, where so many gruesome and unexplained murders have taken place—a piece of land forever haunted where Death still walks. But Crow is no normal man...

Jennie Livingstone knows her papa is in trouble. When none of the local men will come to her aid, she must accept a newly-arrived stranger—a half-Comanche bounty hunter—as her only ally. As they head into the mountains to track Jennie’s father, she can hear more than the whispers of man. The mines carry spirits, and her only hope in navigating the living and the dead lies with the Crow.

But is Jennie prepared for the consequences of where her fate with Callum Boggs may lead? And is she the woman who can hold fast to the Crow’s heart after all his years alone? Bewitched by the beautiful young woman, Callum must do everything he can to stay one step ahead of the spirits that can’t rest—just to keep Jennie and himself alive.

Don't miss the first one!!

The Crow Series: Book 1
Short Novella
In Arizona Territory, Hannah Dobbin travels through Cañon de Chelly, home to the Navajo, in search of a sorcerer who murdered her pa. Only when she retrieves the silver cross taken from her father's corpse will she be able to free her pa's spirit, and allow him to be at peace.

Bounty Hunter Jack Boggs—known as Crow—is on the trail of a vile Mexican bandito when he discovers Hannah and her companion, a superstitious old Navajo woman. He knows he must protect them, but with the shadows of Hallowtide descending, more dark magic is at hand than any of them know.

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