Scalp Mountain, first chapter

Colum McNeal was almost out of luck. He was running from his father’s hired killers, from an old acquaintance who hated him but wouldn’t say why, and from an Apache with a grudge.

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Our Dirty Little Secret

Here’s a dirty little secret we historical novelists share. We cannot reproduce the past, which is made up of endless detail, social habits, ways of thought and culture we don’t even know about anymore. And if we did, it would be impossible to reproduce all of it. For instance, in the nineteenth century, men often used their…

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Historical Novelist Despairs Because She Can’t Stop Researching

I’m writing, or at least I thought I was until I discovered I didn’t know if a flannel cavalry uniform shirt was made with cotton or wool. Answer, wool. I had to rename one of my characters (in fact, had called two different characters by the same last name). I searched for a Civil War…

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What did the first people think?

A group of art lovers disdain Howard Terpning; a famous artist who has painted hundreds of canvases depicting tribal peoples, especially  the first peoples on this continent. These canvases are considered romantic illustrations, thus cheap. Personally, I’ve learned a lot from Terpning. Tribal peoples had no science, therefore they didn’t know why it rained, or what caused…

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Here’s a new thing friends

Hi, from now on, I’m posting most days, except Saturday, and most days my Facebook post and this blog will be identical. Not all. Read ’em and weep. Hey friends: I wrote this morning and part of the afternoon on my new novel and then decided to take a bath. The water was so nice and warm…

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Billy the Kid, Almost Home

   I know why Billy the Kid didn’t leave New Mexico when Pat Garrett was hunting him.    Because Billy was home; the only home he had ever had.    Before Lincoln and Fort Sumner, the Kid’s mother, Catherine McCarty, moved the family from New York to Indianapolis, to Wichita and Denver, to Santa Fe and Silver City,…

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Texas Guitar Man

I was in West Texas, driving through long stretches of nothing, then little towns where stores on the dusty main street were empty and closed: Windows still advertised sales ending five years ago. The only living buildings were churches, and  convenience stores on the highway. Then I saw a man sitting on a bench, playing a…

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Rocky Mountain Christmas: John Monnett and his Yuletide Stories

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!! This month I’m interviewing historian and author John Monnett about his book Rocky Mountain Christmas: Yuletide Stories of the West, published in 1987. Monnett filled the book with everything from the “Bill of Fare” John Fremont’s men “enjoyed” for Christmas dinner in 1848, to what prairie pioneers gave each other when pickings were slim.  …

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Trump, Wyatt Earp and Thomas Jefferson

                                     I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and yet I understand why many people did: They were punishing our intellectual elites. Since the election, pundits have said this very thing. That media, politicians and the highest paid professionals don’t understand…

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The Captured: Children Kidnapped by Comanches

Former Comanche captives, taken as children, did not do well after their release: They couldn’t stay married, they couldn’t keep a job, some of them never learned to read and write, they couldn’t stay in one place, they had a hard time communicating and generally seemed like unhappy people.

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