"I love your books, both of them...have given them as gifts, loaned them to neighbors...I feel like you’ve connected me to the women you’ve written about."
Texas Ranch Women: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie.
Stories of some 20 Texas women who, beneath sunbonnets, Stetsons or high-fashion couture carved out ranches, breathed new life into spreads and expanded acreage when husbands, sons and fathers fell. Throughout the centuries, they defended home and hearth with canon and shot. They rescued hostages. They nurtured livestock through hard winters and long droughts and drove them up the trails. They built communities and saw to it that faith and education prevailed for their children and those of others.
These women pioneered the reaches of Texas from the sand dunes of the coast to the timbers of the central region, to the mountains, plains and deserts of the west. The book explores their adventures, their individualism as rugged as any man’s and across cultures—Indian, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo. We peek into the long ago past, come forward through Texas battles for Independence, and then Statehood, the Civil War and through World War II.
No matter the era or the area, these women fended off volleys from Mother Nature of droughts and blizzards, of market cattle pricing peaks and valleys, as well as those who would rob, raid and plunder. Throughout, they hung on to land, cattle...and family.All the while, they reared children—theirs and others—and built communities with schools and churches.
How they lived, what they encountered, what they contributed, how they tamed these vast lands—these are questions I asked and Texas Ranch Women delivers the answers for women sometimes ignored by history...or long forgotten.
Texas Ranch Women: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie. IBSN 978-1-62619-598-1 from The History Press, Sept 2014.) Available at www.historypress.net, Amazon and bookstores.
Story of the Story
Texas Ranch Women: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie began over coffee with a friend who said, ͞Why don’t you write a book about Texas Ranch women. So, I talked with one ranch woman and then another who said, You need to include...talk to...learn about...etc.͟That led to treks around the state, following their leads and developing others at courthouse squares, community cafes and evolving from tales of long ago family and neighbors, not to mention hours of archival and library research.
As it happened, stories blossomed from every encounter of person, museum or courthouse. Some stories fit Texas Ranch Women in that they were women who ran and operated ranches as single women. Others, however, proved just as engaging but did not fit...
"Thank you for what a tremendous work you have created…I’m thankful for your delightful stories, reminiscing Texas stories"— said Charles Murphy, Houston songwriter.
Texas Dames: Sassy and Savvy Women Throughout Lone Star History
recounts how these “Dames” broke gender and racial barriers in every facet of life. Some led the way as heroines while others slid headlong into notoriety, but nearly all exhibited similar strands of courage and determination to wrest a country, a state and a region from the wilds.
From early Tejas to 20th Century Texas, their stories unfold as they notched “firsts” as physicians, mayors (before women got the vote), scientists, bankers, lawyers, preachers and politicians. Texas Dames describes 53 women who wrestled their way into history by their accomplishments, whether in agriculture or banking, opera or circus, Civil War spies and gamblers, educators and aviators.
It’s surprising how early in Texas history these women notched their achievements. The History Press of Charleston published Texas Dames: Sassy and Savvy Women Throughout Lone Star History, Oct. 2012 (ISBN 978-1-60949-812-2).
Story of the Story
First I started a column, “Texas Dames,” that ran in about three dozen community newspapers. And then, a California publisher said, “why don’t you turn them into a book.” I did. And it came out first because a publisher of Texas books called, asking, “Do you have something on Texas?” I did.
To this date, the Texas Women I’ve had the privilege of telling these stories to claim their own “sassy” and “savvy” natures as Texas dames. Their husbands agree.
"…If you haven’t read this yet you are missing a really nice read. Ladies I never knew existed impacted our Texas History in startling ways."— Max Ratheal, sheriff of the Fort Worth Corral of Westerners, Intl. told his members about Texas Dames: Sassy and Savvy Women Throughout Lone Star History.
Both books are available on the publisher’s web site: www.historypress.net, bookstores and of course, Amazon.
In the mill…
WHISPERING SPIRIT, a family saga set in 1817—Marseilles, FR to Charleston, S.C., the story of one family’s beginnings in America and the difficulties they found arriving as children, orphaned. Catherine Marie DeSpain takes on the task of keeping what’s left of her family—her younger brother—together with her despite forces that seek to rip them apart. She draws on letters between her Huguenot grandparents and their Huguenot faith to guide her, along with some spirit helpers that bond her with the Cherokee.
Story of the Story
This tale loosely tracks family stories told and retold over the years. However, research into old sailing ships—a fascination of mine—the time and place of Marseilles and France, the Huguenot traditions and migrations, as well as the Cherokee have allowed me to tell the tale of a spunky young girl, her difficulties and victories with accuracy of time, place and characters—the history.
Status: Polished and submitting.
TWO PATHS and WHERE THE RIVER BENDS, volumes 2 and 3 in the DeSpain Family Saga, although written to stand alone, these novels trace Catherine’s path with the Cherokee from Arkansas to Texas where she takes a stand to move no more, but to recapture her “anglo” status. She operates a ferry and primitive lodging on the Red River, inserts herself into the Anglo community until a circuit riding preacher notices telltales that this Catherine (now with a Cherokee name) may be the long lost girl he had been sent from Marseilles to find. Childhood friends, they marry but her mysticism and Cherokee spiritual life are at odds with his primitive and fundamental Christianity. The differences lead her away from him to be reunited with her Cherokee clan on a reservation in Oklahoma, about 1852.
Status: Rough drafts, Ideation, Research complete.
TRAPPED a contemporary suspense novel about human trafficking.
Status: RResearch and ideation in progress.