Had to share these lovely bluebirds for spring from Freeda Baker Nichols. Enjoy

Originally posted on Freeda Baker Nichols:

Female Bluebird

Though not as colorful as he,
she’s still a lovely sight to see.

They make a very handsome pair
on the ground or in the air.

Bluebirds Build Nest (2)Bluebird

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It Had to do With Sex


Belle depicted as Sexy

Belle depicted as Sexy

Do you know why women were expected to ride side saddle in the old days?

Read on and I’ll tell you. March is women’s history month, which is a perfect time for a writer of western historical romance. The feminine mystique makes an interesting topic anytime, as does the history of women’s accomplishments. Since lists are boring, let’s talk about a few of the women who have done some fascinating things in spite of being tied down by society’s strict views.

Let’s look at the wild and somewhat daring Calamity Jane, who never settled for the norm. One can imagine she probably was what was often called a “tomboy” all of her life. But as she grew into a woman, she embraced everything she was told well behaved women were forbidden to do. She cussed (cursed) up a storm, drank most men under the table and could outshoot many of them. You don’t think these are accomplishments? Consider that she grew up when women were slaves to men in most situations.

Calamity Jane Astride

Calamity Jane Astride

I’ve always thought the reason men designers kept women dressed in such restrictive garments in those long ago days was to make sure none of them could break free of their expected behavior. Could you jog in a marathon wearing Victorian garb? Nor could you play basketball, go for a swim or any of the sports women enjoy today. Even riding a horse was restricted to a side saddle to keep all those blooming skirts under control. Even when they did wear pants, as shown in this photo, they bloomed. Keep reading the answer is coming.

They did wear pants

They did wear pants

Calamity saw right away that she would have to wear britches if she were going to do the things she wanted to do. I was reading something in We Pointed Them North by E.C. Abbott, otherwise known as Teddy Blue. He objected to movies showing women wearing pants in the days he was a cowpuncher, late 1800s to early 1900s. Said you’d never see a woman dressed that way in the western days of the past. Not entirely true, but ….

Here it is, the answer you’ve been waiting for. I’ve been told that the reason women were not supposed to ride astride a horse was that doing so tended to arouse them sexually. And God forbid if a woman felt aroused. That was something reserved for men only.

I guess Calamity was probably one sexy dish in that case. Another brave and wild woman, and one closer to home for me, was Belle Starr. She lived much of her life in Ft. Smith, the rest of it over in Indian Territory. Her daughter Pearl owned a home in Winslow, Arkansas, where I’ve lived for 42 years.

Some of the photos of Belle show her in dresses and riding sidesaddle, but that didn’t stop her from liking her men. After several affairs, she finally fell for Sam Starr, a handsome Cherokee who was also an outlaw. Some stories say she had other affairs while with Sam, but who knows about that? It’s a common failing of upper society to make up stories to downgrade even more those they see as already beneath them.

Belle Starr Side Saddle

Belle Starr Side Saddle

History is a dicey thing in that it’s difficult to dig up all the facts. As stories are told and retold, exaggeration comes into play. Not only that, everyone sees something with different eyes and so their telling disagrees with someone else’s. Only some things can be proven for sure.

Next week, more about women who misbehaved and became famous.

Now a bit about the book I’m working on because the heroine is patterned after Calamity Jane who spent some time in Hays City, Kansas with Wild Bill Hickok. My heroine lives in Victoria and she is the star of the third book in THE VICTORIANS. Her name is Tyra Duncan and if you’ve read the first two books, WILDA’S OUTLAW and ROWENA’S HELLION, (Check out their pages here on Word Press) you know she’s quite spunky and not at all like her two cousins. From the time Tyra stepped off the train in Victoria she embraced the ways of the west. And she is not one who behaves. Readers will like her. Some have already mentioned her in their reviews saying they can’t wait to read her story. Well, it’s coming soon.

Check out this marvelous site showing the garb of Victorian women including trousers.



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Throwing A Conference




We talk about throwing a party a lot, but today I’d like to write just a bit about what it takes to throw a conference.  Our Critique group decided over ten years ago that we might like to have an all-day conference and make it free. We’d heard so many people coming into our group saying they could not afford conference prices, plus a motel and eats and gas. So we decided to take the conference price out of the equation.

Could we pull it off? That would depend on whether we could get good speakers willing to give their time free to help us teach. We decided right away we would need about three speakers, then the two of us who had lots of experience in giving workshops, and guest speaking at conferences could fill up the afternoon. Right away we obtained the speakers, generous writers, editors and people in other facets of the business stepped up to share their knowledge. And we have been able, over the years, to find a place to hold our conferences without charge. The past seven or eight years, Ozarks Electric in Fayetteville, AR has given us a room well equipped and large enough for our needs.




Sometimes I think there are no people more generous than writers. Most will help newbies, mentor writers struggling with their first novels, short stories and the like, or help edit manuscripts, often without cost. Dusty Richards and I have been mentoring writers for thirty years, which goes back to us not knowing much more than anyone else just starting in the business. But we attended conferences, returned to our group to share handouts and our own notes with those who couldn’t go.

This past Saturday we held what we’re sure is our 11th or 12th free conference. Yeah, we didn’t keep records. Hey, we’re writers not secretaries or CPAs or the like. Each year we’ve hosted anywhere from 35 to 75 attendees. We provide tables for any authors with books to sell, and more recently have had two small publishers represented for writers to talk to.

It’s been a lot of fun, we’ve met so many people, and we hope we have helped struggling writers in some small way. Our critique group is Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop and we’ve been around since the early 1980s, meeting weekly to help emerging writers. Check our website for a list of our membership and other information, or our Facebook page Northwest Arkansas writers workshop for more information. Anyone in need of professional speakers for special events may contact us as well.

A panel of speakers

A panel of speakers

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Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Describe in words

Describe in words


Most writers don’t want to hear that nonsense. We like to believe that our words are so clever that we can outdo any picture in capturing the attention of a reading audience. Well, yes, our books must sing in such a way that our readers see pictures in their minds, but when it comes to capturing their attention first, it takes something more visual than words.

Where can we put these pictures? Of course, there’s Facebook, where it is said that posts accompanied by a picture are liked, shared and seen more than those with just words. Then there’s Instagram, which I haven’t taken a liking to yet because charts etc. frankly bore me. But the fastest growing site where pictures are the main source of attraction is Pinterest. No, I am not being paid for this. And it’s come to my attention that Ogmaniacs have not yet embraced this picture driven promotional site.

The main difference between Pinterest and Facebook, picture wise is that we as authors may have a business page, which means we can promote our work 24/7 without being penalized. Learning to put this exciting new promotional tool to work without letting it suck the devil out of your time is the secret, along with knowing how to utilize it to your best advantage.

The best way for you to see how this works is for you to tool around on Pinterest and see how others are using it. My Pinterest business boards are all slanted to interest those who might want to read my books. There are boards for all my books, sure, but then there are boards covering what I’ve read. My readers want to know these things about me. My hobbies, what kind of animals I love (this is a biggie), clothing I like, where I live, things I’d like to do that I haven’t yet done, sexy men because everyone loves that. Well, almost everyone. Photo of your cat

Now, let’s back up a bit and talk about the boards for my books. It isn’t enough to have a cover and the 500 character blurb and a purchase link. The Victorian board has photos of clothing, for instance, castles, anything I can think of to relate to the series. Beyond The Moon has a collection of moon photos I’ve pinned from various posts, there are all sorts of photos of the Vietnam War and veterans, pictures of both the hero and heroine, or how my mind imagines them, etc.

sexy cowboy

Because I only changed over to a business site recently, it is still a work in progress. Shop around for other business sites by searching on the Pinterest page for specific subjects and seeing how these businesses are promoting online.

Keep in mind, you may be a writer first, but you also run a small business that needs to sell its product to make good. Have fun with the site, think of some kinky things to do to attract attention to your work and get busy.  There are other boards that will invite you to have a board on their site. Oghma Creative Media is one, but you have to have your own boards first. This muscular cowboy attracts a lot of attention posted on my board “Heroes to Die For.” He gets my readers excited about what I write.

Caveat: Don’t spend too much time shopping around yourself. Go there maybe once or twice a week to pin something new, or pin something when it pops up somewhere and you know you can use it. No copyright infringements, please. Ask permission if its posted on someone’s FB page, blog, etc. The rest of the time remember, public figures are all fair game. So are images you purchase for use. Otherwise, be careful. And pin from other Pinterest boards a lot to get a larger collection.

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Harper Lee and Me

Originally posted on Buried Under Books:

Sunny Frazier 4Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to talk about Harper Lee’s re-emergence as an author and how her own writing career got off track for a while.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, will be released on January 24, 2015.   //


You heard the news that Harper Lee has a new book coming out in July, right? After 55 years the author is following up the success of her Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (actually, she wrote Go Set a Watchman prior to Mockingbird and it’s set 20 years AFTER Mockingbird).

Fifty-five years! And here I was feeling guilty for taking six years to complete and release my third Christy Bristol novel, A Snitch…

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It’s All You


This touched me and thought my readers would enjoy reading it.

Originally posted on thelongandwritingroad:

Here’s a quick thought for your Thursday:

Be careful who you emulate and try your best not to imitate others in your path to fulfillment. That will mar your steps and muddle the awareness of your goals. Riding on the coattails of others will make your journey not truly your own. Know that you are enough and you have everything it takes to make your road to success authentic and genuine.

~A. Weaver


Have a wonderful day!

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

Until next time…

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Jim writes and tight suspense novel. While you’re checking out ebooks, don’t forget those on Kindle, like my Montana Series.

Originally posted on Author J. M. Davis:

March 1st through March 7th is read an eBook week


You can download all of my eBooks for #FREE this week.

Click here to download PORTRAIT OF CONSPIRACY or any of my other stories. Use promotion code RW100 to get 100% off the purchase price. I appreciate your support.

Portrait of Conspiracy

Philip Lewellan discovers a mysterious painting. He’s sure it’s proof his missing wife is alive … and may be living somewhere with a child, his daughter. The thought of being a father is more than enough to get Philip to turn to the one person who might believe him.

Sandra Copeland, the original detective assigned to the missing-persons case, chased far too many bogus leads, after Philip—against her advice—offered a million dollar reward. Legitimate private investigators quit taking Philip’s money. Nothing could be found, or any evidence to indicate Renée might be alive. Copeland is…

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Women As Myth-Makers


I adamantly second this advice. It’s good for one and all.

Originally posted on Staci Troilo:

Day 5 of the Oghma Creative Media Blog-a-Thon, by Sylvia Dickey Smith
Reblogged from

Women As Myth-Makers

imagesI make no bones about it; I am a lover of myth, folklore—story. Over the years, it seems to resonate at a deeper and deeper core of my being. I read folklore, and get chill bumps. The deeper meaning of the myth and the art of the storyteller come together to thrill my soul.

Story—myth—is what holds societies together. It creates full-spectrum color out of what would otherwise be a black and white world. Story adds meaning, excitement, hope, focus, inspiration, commitment, dedication, renewal, and foundation to our life. (To name a few. The list is endless)

We create not only our present, but also our future, by the stories we recount to others, and sometimes to ourselves, about who we are and where we…

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Women’s Role in the West

Oghma Blog-a-thon

She was often a cowhand

She was often a cowhand


In the days of the westward movement women were second class citizens. It’s important to remember that when writing historical stories, whether they be romances or westerns. With few exceptions women weren’t much more than slaves. So a heroine would probably be trapped in this sort of situation. The man, her master, may be her father or an elder brother who’s now the head of the family or even someone her family sold her to. He might be the man she works for, as in cooking, cleaning, washing. Or she could be an innocent girl caught up in the life of a “soiled dove,” or a widow battling being alone again.

Consider the set-up of a few of my books to see how these poor ladies are situated: In IMAGES IN SCARLET, my heroine, Allison Caine, lives in Missouri. It’s 1866. Her family died during the Civil War, and her father, a photographer of famous people during the war, has died.  Trained by him to be a photographer, she sets out alone with her camera equipment in what was known as a “what’s it” wagon to go to Santa Fe where she wants to set up a photography business. But she knows she can’t travel the trail alone, so she plans to join up with a wagon train. Oh, I forgot to tell you, she’s armed with a Navy Colt, just in case.

Young ladies 1800s

Young ladies 1800s

In MONTANA PROMISES, seventeen-year-old Tressie buries her mother and a stillborn child and is left alone on the prairie. She is obsessed with getting revenge on her father who deserted them to go hunt for gold. The only way she can do this is with some help from a man. And in rides Reed Bannon, badly wounded and slightly flawed, but the answer to her needs. Except he doesn’t want to take her with him. She must figure out a way to change his mind. Women could not travel alone without dire consequences.

And so the stories go. If they are to be a tad realistic, then the women’s lives should be depicted much as they were. I prefer to write more realistic romances than many writers do, but leaving out the bedbugs and lice is probably a good idea. Hard to write a convincing love scene between two people who haven’t bathed in weeks, maybe months, and are infested with bugs. I get around this by having a lot of heroine-and-hero in-the-water scenes just to get them cleaned off a bit before they crawl into bed together.

typical swimming and washing hole

typical swimming and washing hole

So there, now you know what Sexy, Dark, and Gritty really means.


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Oghmaniac Blog-a-Thon Post on Writing by Staci Troilo


Staci embraces family history for her books much as I embrace my experiences for mine. This blog was posted in the Ogmaniacs Blog-o-thon

Originally posted on oghmacreative:

Today’s post is by Staci Troilo. Visit her website or click the link to visit her blog: How Embracing Family History Can Result in Poignant Stories (reproduced below).

How Embracing Family History Can Result in Poignant Stories

italian american
Click image to be directed to PBS:
The Italian-Americans.

There’s a lot of buzz in Pittsburgh right now about a PBS special called The Italian Americans. It’s not just running in Pittsburgh; I was able to watch the series here. I just don’t think people are talking about it here like they are at home. (Probably because my family and I are the only Italians in Arkansas. Hyperbole, anyone?)

My husband and I watch the History Channel a lot, so watching a documentary on PBS isn’t much different from our usual viewing. What was different, however, was my visceral response to the program. I was…

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