Monday, January 31, 2011

Outlaw Tidbits: Win a Gift Card

Jesse James's nickname was Dingus. The legend behind it:  The son of a minister, Jesse, didn't swear.  He would say "Ding it" instead of "Damn it".  The men he rode with during the war, including his older brother, started calling him Dingus.  The nickname stuck with him throughout his life.

Jesse, age 14
Jesse and Frank's father, Robert, graduated from college in 1843 with a degree in art, earned his master of arts degree in 1848. He became one of the founders of William Jewel College near Liberty, Missouri. He was also a licensed Baptist minister.

Jesse and Frank's mother was considered a tomboy, a daring horsewoman and a good dancer in her youth. 

They had two siblings.  A brother, Robert, who died at age 1 month.  And a younger sister, Susan, 1849-1889.  They also had 5 half-siblings born after their widowed mother remarried Dr. Reuben Samuel.

Eight-year-old Archie Samuel, their half-brother, was killed in January 1875, when the Pinkertons threw a bomb through the window of the Samuel home.  The explosion also cost Jesse and Frank's mother her right arm.

Jesse had four children.  A son, Jesse Edward James, 1875-1951, a daughter, Mary Susan James, 1879-1935, and twin sons Gould and Montgomery, who died as infants. They were named after the doctors who tried to save them. 

Jesse was originally buried beside his mother's home so she could keep watch on his grave.  Later, his gravesite was moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery and his daughter, Mary, who lived next to the cemetery, kept watch on his grave.  After her death, souvenir hunters destroyed his gravestone.

Frank could quote Shakespeare at will and he toured with a summer stock company in 1904.

After Jesse's death in 1882, his wife, Zee, wore mourning black the rest of her life.  She died in 1900.

The first movie made about the James gang was filmed in 1908.  In 1921, Jesse's son, starred as his father in a movie about the outlaw.  At least 30 different actors have protrayed Jesse.

During the exhumation of Jesse's body in 1995, security was provided by none other than the Pinkertons, Incorporated. 

The body in the grave was, indeed, Jesse James. 

In closing, I hope you have enjoyed "Outlaw" month.  It's been fun for me and I am going to do my last drawing this week for a $10 iTunes gift card.  Please leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: Melinda Harrison reviews Ride with the Devil

Jack Bull, Sue Lee, Roedel, and Daniel
One of my favorite Civil War films (and an overlooked masterpiece) is Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil. Some other Ang Lee's films include Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain. Lee is known for his vivid landscapes, the haunting silences between characters, and a realism that is combined with Romantic Aesthetics. When Lee decided to tackle the American Civil War, he went to Missouri, a state that fought a very different war from the rest of the country. Missouri was all about Confederate and Union bushwhackers, family loyalties, and personal revenge.

The story is told from the view of a young man named Jake Roedel played perfectly by Tobey Maquire. Roedel joins the Confederate bushwhackers (border ruffians)  along with his friend Jack Bull Chiles after Chiles's family is murdered by Union bushwhackers aka jayhawkers. Yes, we are talking about civilian families being killed by army irregulars. It should be noted that Roedel's father is a German immigrant who supports the Union. But Roedel's friendship and his love and respect for the Chiles family draws him into a war he never planned to fight. The war just takes him and he rides along hoping to survive.

Jack Bull Chiles is played by the wonderful Skeet Ulrich who is known for his role in the TV series Jericho. Note the photo of the red and white shirt. Confederate bushwackers and other irregulars who used guerrilla warfare tactics often wore red shirts and handkerchiefs, a trademark that shows itself today in modern displays of resistance all over the world. Jack Bull and Roedel ride in good weather and during the winter hide out with families that are willing to protect and feed them. During one of their winters, Jack Bull and Roedel meet Sue Lee Shelley played by the singer Jewel. Before the winter is over, Jack Bull falls in love with Sue Lee. Unfortunately he dies of wounds receieved in a skirmish and leaves Sue Lee pregnant. It's up to our hero to see that Sue Lee is left in a safe place while the Missouri guerrilla war continues.

Jack Bull (r) and Roedel (l)  on meeting Sue Lee. Note that 19th century Romanticism.

After Roedel leaves Sue Lee behind, he rides with freed slave Daniel Holt played by Jeffrey Wright. Holt's character is based loosely on John Noland a black confederate who rode with Quantrill and his raiders. Some might wonder why Daniel Holt (Noland) supports the South, but his legacy is like many who lived in Missouri at that time. They fight the people who hurt their friends and family, and Daniel Holt's (Noland) family had been abused by the Union jayhawkers. He wants revenge.

After the death of Jack Bull, Roedel and Daniel form a tight friendship as their perceptions of the war and their place in it start to shift. However they are still in Missouri and can't escape the pull of the war. They end up riding with Quantrill in his raid against Lawrence Kansas. The raid on Lawrence Kansas is one of those ambigious moral moments often found in all wars. Who are the heroes? Who are the villains? There are none. It's just war gone wrong. It's war turned very personal. It's revenge and chaos. And it's not a subject that people find easy to discuss, precisely because it is so ambigious and difficult to label. That's what Ang Lee's film is all about, how ordinary people transform into something else when they are under the stresses of war, starvation, pain, loss, anger, blood and death.

This is the first film that I have watched that mentions why the raid on Lawrence Kansas really happened, in one of those lilliputian but fierce ties that often shape history. Five women are held in a prison in Kansas City and the building collapses and kills them. All of the women are relatives of Missouri bushwhackers and one of them is a fourteen-year-old girl named Josephine Anderson. You can view her grave and read about her death on this page at Find-A-Grave.

Revenge is terrible. When you commit it, you need to dig two graves, one for your victim and one for yourself. The war in Missouri was often about revenge. After the raid on Lawrence, the Union found every member they could of Quantrill's gang and lynched them. The Union also evicted thousands of Missourians who lived on the border with Kansas, then sacked and burned the their lands. Nothing remained.

In the film, after the horrors of Lawrence, both Roedel and Daniel decide to abandon the war and go west, but not before Roedel returns to Sue Lee who has had Jack Bull's baby. The two marry and as we romantics wish, live happily ever after.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Pitt Mackeson and James Caviezel as Black John Ambrose, the former a composite of Cole Younger and Jesse James, the other based on Bloody Bill Anderson.

I can't express enough how much I loved this film, the look of it, the nuanced subtext, the 19th century Southern language. It was chock-full of characters played by some great actors. In closing, here is a vid from You Tube.

by Melinda H Harrison

P.S. The film is based on the book Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell who also wrote Winter's Bone, which is now an Oscar nominated film

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview At Manic Readers

Today I have an interview posted at Manic Reader's Author Blogs.  

Please drop by and leave a comment. You might win a copy of Almost An Outlaw. 

I hope everyone has a great week.  This week on my blog I will be featuring guest blogger, Melinda Harrison, who is going to review the movie, Ride With The Devil.  I will be giving away a $10 iTunes gift card to one lucky winner!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Outlaw and The Schoolteacher

She was a schoolteacher.  A pretty brunette who graduated from college in 1872 with a degree in literature and science.  She came from a well-respected family and she could have married well.  Yet, Ann Ralston eloped with one of the most-wanted outlaws in America.

He was not a handsome man and he shunned the publicity showered on him. Bookish, he was an avid reader and he could quote Shakespeare at will.  It was said he always had novels with him.  Even when he was busy outrunning a posse, his saddlebags contained books.   Is it any wonder Alexander Franklin James fell for a girl with a degree in literature?

The details of how Frank and Annie met and secretly courted remain elusive.  In June of 1874, Annie convinced her parents to let her go visit a relative in Kansas City.   She actually met Frank in Kansas City and went to Omaha with him where they were married.  She sent a note home to her worried parents:  Dear Mother, I am married and going West.  Annie Reynolds.  Her parents had no idea she had married the outlaw, Frank James, until much later.  When her father found out, he disowned her. 

The unlikely marriage would last for 41 years and, according to most accounts, it was a happy marriage.  Frank and Annie got along well   They lived under aliases in Texas, Nashville and Baltimore.  Their only child, Robert, was born in 1878 while they were living in the Nashville area.  After Jesse’s assassination in 1882, Frank turned himself in to the governor of Missouri and Annie wrote her husband a poem called Surrendered.   Frank’s trial earned more publicity than that of the man who killed President McKinley.  He was found not guilty of the charges against him, and he spent the rest of this life as a law-abiding citizen and loving spouse.  “No better husband ever lived,” Ann said of him.

In their later year, Annie and Frank lived on the James farm where Frank sold tours for twenty-five cents.  When he died, he wishes were to be cremated and his ashes stored in a vault until he could be buried with Annie.  She would continue to live on James farm until her death in 1944.  She was 91 when she died. 

Now, the schoolteacher and the outlaw are together again, resting peacefully beneath a simple grave marker.  Frank would have approved.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guest Blogger: Inez Kelley

Dear Guy In Safeway,
I know you don’t know me. You probably don’t even remember me but trust me, I remember you.
 It was 1989, midsummer about 6:30 PM. My BFF and I had spent the day cleaning a house where the tenants had been evicted. It was disgusting, filthy and smelly. Our red, chapped hands ached, a layer of grime coated us both and we were starving. But we’d been paid a buttload of cash, under the table, and whoohooo, we were planning a chick-flick feast.
Both of us were on the heels of nasty break-ups and men were lower than snake-smega to us at that minute.  She had the movie rentals, I had a basket full of snacks and there was liquor in the car. We were just waiting on YOU. You were ahead of us in line. Please, don’t think we minded for a minute because we most certainly did not.
God smiled on us and in front of you was an old man counting coins and using sixty coupons. It gave you the time to flip through a magazine from the rack and time to us to simple look at you. You only had one purchase – BACTINE.  You were a cyclist judging by the helmet hanging from your hand and apparently had taken a spill and scraped your lower leg. Such a sin to mar that luscious limb.
Both she and I stared in unabashed delight while you merely stood there, turning  a page now and then. Never before, and frankly never since, have I ever seen pure manly perfection live and in person. You were sweaty, the artificial store air drying the dark hair along your forehead, but your tee shirt clung to your chest and back in the most beautiful manner. There was dirt on your thigh and, oh my, didn’t I wish I was brave enough to offer to dust it off for you.
You were rugged and sculpted and real. Not perfect, no, that would be overkill. You wore glasses. Cute masculine frames that magnified your blue eyes. Yes, I remember the color and that you had the beginnings of those lines women call crow’s feet. On you, they hinted at laughter, like you smiled a lot. I wondered what you looked like when you smiled.
Mr. Pennies finished his transaction and you put the magazine back. Then you smiled at the clerk and I nearly fainted. Before you were storybook handsome. That smile transformed you into God-like magnificence.
I was not the only one affected. The clerk had to blink twice before ringing you up. You shrugged and admitted you had already opened and used the spray on your leg scrape. The naughty-boy tone in your voice was filled with a tease and my toes curled. You pulled a five-dollar bill from a hidden pocket in your shorts to pay but the total was $5.06.
You turned and asked if I had an extra six cents. I did and gladly gave you a penny and a nickel. The “thank you” you murmured was more decadent than chocolate. You took your purchase and walked away. My best friend, the store clerk and I watched you walk out and the rear view was just as nice as the front.  Then you dropped the receipt the clerk had given you. You bent over to grab it and the clerk literally fanned her face with her hand. It was that good.
Safeway Guy, I have no idea what your name was or who you are but I’ll give credit where credit is due. You planted the seeds for the man who would become John Murphy in SWEET AS SIN. I couldn’t help but see YOU as I wrote his story.
I’m sorry you fell and got hurt but thanks from the bottom of my panties for the visual that spawned a story.
The spare six-cent girl,
She was made for sin. Sin was something he knew intimately.
John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he’s driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.
Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won’t lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she’s as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?
Inez Kelley is a multi-published author of various romance genres. You can visit her at her website  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Life of Cole Younger

“The trouble with these moving pictures and penny-dreadful representations of outlaw life is the glamour they throw about it. No mention is made of the hunted, hounded existence, when every man’s hand is turned against you; the nights filled with dread and the days of suffering. No mention is made of the end of it all, a violent death or prison cell." Cole Younger

Thomas Coleman Younger was born in 1844. His father, Henry Washington Younger was an ambitious businessman and his mother, Bursheba Fristoe, was a judge’s daughter. They were married in 1830. During their marriage the affluent couple was very much a part of Jackson County social circles. Henry’s business interests included a ferry line, a dry goods operation and a livery. He was elected mayor of Harrisonville and by 1856, he owned several thousand acres of land. He and Bursheba were also prolific when it came to children. They had nine daughters and five sons.

Cole was a high-spirited, outgoing boy who loved to hunt and fish. He and his siblings were popular at school. Education was very important to the Youngers and at the urging of his older brother, Richard, Cole applied to Chapel Hill College. Richard died from a sudden illness at age 22 and in 1861, Cole’s life took on a new direction, far from a college campus. One that would last the rest of his life and make a legend of him. Cole summed this up in his book by saying: “Political hatreds are always bitter, but none were ever more bitter than those which existed along the border line of Missouri and Kansas during my boyhood in Jackson county in the former state from 1850 to 1860. These hatreds were soon to make trouble for me of which I had never dreamed."

It was the fall of 1861 and Cole and his younger brother, Jim, accompanied their two sisters to a dance in Harrisonville. Irvin Walley, a member of the militia stationed there, tried to force one of Cole’s sisters to dance with him. Cole came to her defense. Walley demanded to know where Quantrill was and called Cole a liar when he said he did not know Quantrill's location. They fought until other men at the party intervened.

Cole’s father was worried for his son’s safety after he heard about the fight and he sent Cole away. Walley came to the Younger home with his troops, hunting for Cole who was now accused of being a spy for Quantrill. In response, Cole armed himself, which put him in direct violation of Fremont’s orders that no man, not affiliated with a recognized militia group in Missouri, bear arms. Thus, at seventeen, Cole Younger was now an outlaw He joined up with his brother-in-law, John Jarrette, under Quantrill and became a Missouri guerrilla. During this era in his life, he met Frank James and they formed a life-long friendship.

During the war, Cole’s father was ambushed and murdered. When the war ended Henry’s estate was in shambles. Cole tried his hand at cattle ranching in Texas, which he loved but his brothers hated. For a while, he and Jim worked as census takers. Finally they returned to Missouri and joined Frank James and his younger brother, Jesse, to create what would become the most famous outlaw gang of all time. In his book, Cole stated, "I have been shot between twenty and thirty times and am now carrying over a dozen bullets which have never been extracted..."

The blotched bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota landed thirty-two year old Cole in Stillwater prison for twenty-five years. During this time, Cole and his two brothers were model prisoners. Cole worked as the prison librarian, and later when a new prison hospital was built, he became the head nurse. In July of 1901, Cole and his brother, Jim, were released. Their kid brother, Bob, had died in prison.

Jim committed suicide after his release (some say due to a broken heart), and Cole returned to Missouri after he was granted a pardon by the state. The future held promise for the former outlaw, who would make the most of his fame.

Cole was reunited with his former comrade, Frank James, who had been acquitted of all crimes after his brother’s murder. Cole and Frank embarked upon a business venture, The Great Cole Younger and Frank James Wild West Show. Cole, who claimed he wanted to set the record straight, wrote an autobiography, titled The Story of Cole Younger by Himself. The book was published in 1903. He denies being involved in any crimes other than the Northfield Bank Robbery and always insisted Frank and Jesse James were not involved in that robbery.

In 1909, Cole, who loved the spotlight, put together a lecture tour called “What Life Has Taught Me” emphasizing living a good and decent life. He traveled the country speaking to audiences about what he felt were important lessons he had learned from his experiences. Cole may have been one of the first motivational speakers.

By 1915, his health was failing. He had no family, other than his sisters. Although he had always been a favorite with the ladies, he never married. His old friend, Frank James died on Feb 18, 1915 and it was said Cole retreated to his room when he was told the news and sat alone the rest of the day. A year later, on March 21st, Cole Younger passed away quietly in bed.

Almost a century later, Cole continues to live on in movies and books, including my own novella, Almost An Outlaw. Sources and recommended books about Cole:  The Outlaw Youngers by Marley Brant and The Story of Cole Younger by Cole Younger.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And The Winner Is Christine Glover

I got all the names of those who left comments on my blog post at Carina Press, put them in the hat, closed my eyes and drew one.  That resulted in a win for Christine Glover!  I hope you'll enjoy the music, Christine!  

And I am so indebted to all those who took out a moment to leave a comment on my post.  I appreciate all the well-wishes and support so much!  It has been a great start to a new year for me and that means everything to me. 

Hugs to everyone of you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sherry Werth's Chocolate Pie

Sherry got on the ball and actually made a chocolate pie today.  As promised, I am posting the photo of her chocolate. 

Look at that meringue!  It covered the whole pie and it has peaks too. 

Sherry is Martha Stewart made over!

NOTICE:  After cutting and eating a slice, Sherry has declared this is the best chocolate pie ever!

Guest Blogging at Carina Press Today: Outlaws and Chocolate Pie

Come on over to the Carina Press Blog where I am blogging about my new book, Almost An Outlaw, and the heroine's favorite dessert, chocolate pie.

I've included my mother's recipe for chocolate pie. 
Stop by and leave a comment to enter the drawing for an iTunes giftcard.

Links to blog post:



Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowed In? A Great Time To Stay In And Read A Romance

That's a photo of my backyard this morning.  We have not had this much snow in years!  And, according to what I have seen on TV, much of this part of the country is snowed in.

Almost an OutlawOf course, being snowed in is a great time for hot chocolate and a book.  So, I'm going to make a pitch for my novella which goes on sale today. If you're looking for a short read with a tall, dark and handsome rancher, a dazzling heroine, a few famous outlaws, a heartless bad guy, some sexy scenes and some suspenseful moments, you'll enjoy Almost An Outlaw!  You can download it into your e-reader and start reading!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Appreciation of My "Gang"

It  has been a quiet, cold Sunday and I decided to do a post about my best friends/fellow writers that I dedicated my novella to.  Beverly, Edna, Jane and Pat.  I have been blessed to know them and be a part of their life.  I would not be here without them.  They have listened to me gripe, whine and bitch for years!  They've pulled me up when I was down and gave me a pat on the back when I deserved it.  I hope they all know how much I appreciate and love them for everything.  So, I am posting a little poem by Robert Frost in their honor. 

A Time To Talk
Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, 'What is it?'
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And The Winner Is Melanie and Tyrone!

I drew Melanie Dickerson's name out of the hat for the iTunes gift card. 
 Sorry your favorite, Rob, didn't win Melanie. 
It was all about Tyrone, which actually surprised me.
The "Jesse" most of you preferred was handsome Tyrone Power.  Let's give Tyrone a big squeeze.  Hey, I'm including a picture of his grave because I thought that is one impressive monument.
Coming in second place is Brad Pitt, whose protrayal of Jesse James during his last days is a great performance and  I think Brad definitely has the blue eyes!
And Rob Lowe came in third place.
 Colin's Jesse just couldn't overcome the competition.
But I really liked him in Miami Vice.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and all
those who took the time to vote.
I'll be sponsoring more contests this month.