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Western Word of the Week - Biscuit - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...

Biscuit - a colloquial term for the saddle horn

Other names for saddle horn include "apple", "handle", and "Lizzy".

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

Western Word of the Week - Bar Dog - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...

Bar Dog - a colloquial term for a bartender

Some interesting notes found in this book under "Saloons": while North American colonists had preferred rum, western cowboys preferred harder drinks like whiskey (or "bitters"). By the end of the 19th century, beer became more popular in the west with the availability of breweries.

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

Western Word of the Week - Bangtail - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...

Bangtail - colloquial term for a wild or untamed horse, such as a Mustang

Other names for untamed horses include "bronc", "bronco", and "broncho"

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

Western Word of the Week - Axle Grease - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...

Axle Grease - a humorous term for butter

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

Western Word of the Week - Air Tights - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Welcome to our Weekly Western Word of the Day...

Air Tights - another name for canned goods, especially canned beans (that are basically air tight).

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

Western Word of the Week - Aftosa - #WesternWordoftheWeek

Howdy!

Thought I'd start something new and fun in between my research posts - Western Words of the Week (posted on Wednesday). Obviously I really like W-words!

The idea came to me while I was researching cowboys and I found a bunch of funny (and weird-sounding) colloquialisms and I couldn't figure out how I could fit them into my current WIP (work in progress), so I decided to share them with you instead. :-)

Aftosa - a cattle/goat/sheep disease also known as hoof-and-mouth or foot-and-mouth where the animal is inflicted with sores in the mouth and hooves.

Source:
The Cowboy Encyclopedia by Richard W Slatta; ISBN#0-87436-738-7

U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves - Celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth

Bass Reeves



US Marshal and Bounty Hunter in the Indian Territory of the 1870s/1880s (before it became the state Oklahoma)

He was born in 1838 into a slave family working for the Reeves family. During his youth, he was given special privilege to care for the Reeves' artillery and guns, which suggests he might possibly be the owner's illegitimate son. Working with guns, he became an excellent marksman.

At age 23, he was taken with his master to fight in the Civil War. At some point he fled into Indian Territory (the future Oklahoma) and lived among the different Indian tribes there, learning their customs and language. Outlaws and ex-rebels thrived in this area making it very lawless.

At Fort Smith, Judge Isaac Parker ("Hanging Judge") hired 200 marshals, including Reeves. Bass and Isaac had similar personalities, work ethics, and got along very well.

Bass often went undercover because criminals/white men could not believe a black man was a U.S. Marshal. He became talented at bounty hunting.

In 1884, Bass was arrested for accidentally shooting his hired cook while cleaning his gun (back in 1882). The testimony of one of his companion's wives vindicated him from hanging. Amazingly, he went right back to work afterwards.

In 1902, Bass's son, Benjamin, killed his unfaithful wife. No other marshal wanted to arrest and bring the young man in, so they gave the order to Bass, who convinced his son to come willingly. Judge Parker gave him life in prison instead of demanding his execution, which proved a blessing to the Reeves family, as the young man proved he was redeemed and eventually was pardoned. He became a barber in Muskogee.

Oklahoma becomes a state. Jim Crow laws go into affect stripping Bass of his U.S. Marshal badge. He came a police officer and patrolled in black areas.

In 1910, Bass died at age 72 and was buried in Muskogee. There's a 25 foot statue dedicated to him at Fort Smith.

Picture Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_Reeves

Research from video, "Bounty Hunters of the Old West", 2006.

For Writers - How to Not Write a Bad Novel (or, How to Avoid Looking Like an Amateur Writer)

I found a romance novel in my bedside table drawer written by a woman who consistently receives good reviews (I found at least 10 novels by her on Amazon, all with 4+ stars). So I assumed this particular novel would be really good.
Well, the story line was pretty good/believable and there was plenty of conflict: Highland laird who distrusts women. English woman who needs protection.
So far so good. However, upon reading it I struggled through so many flaws (which screamed "amateur") that I decided to post this brief article in hopes of guiding other writers in not making these same horrendous mistakes, because now I've crossed this author's name off my shopping list. Keep in mind, I'm not an expert, but I am an avid reader with a big opinion.
  1. Extreme Head-Hopping POV - In some scenes, the POV flipped from head to head to head and back again. It becomes so confusing to keep up with whose head the reader is in when there are more than 2 characters in a scene. Plus it's just plain annoying.
  2. Going into Minor Character's Heads POV - Do I really care what the maid thinks if it's not that vital to the plot/story? All it does is distract.
  3. Dumping Research on the Reader - This particular author made the research sound like copy and paste from a reference book (for example, "In 1305 the river flooded"). It pulls the reader out of the story and frankly I rolled my eyes. Who talks like that?
  4. Having a Character Ask How Things Work - This book was full of these. The character would ask "How does that work?" so that the author can dump more research on the poor reader. Of course the facts are interesting but save those for your blog/website and not your novel. Another eye-roll.
  5. Using the Same "Big" Word or Phrase in the Same Paragraph - This shows a lack of editing skills IMO. If I read "bizarre" in one sentence and then it appears again in the next sentence (without a valid reason) then I'm going to assume you didn't spend enough time self-editing. Then I'm going to think the publisher was in too big a hurry to edit it either. The first time it happens, I can forgive. But in this particular book, it happened again and again, especially towards the end giving the impression they were rushing to finish the book.
  6. Unbelievable Solution to Conflict - In this book, the villain has been pursuing the heroine for ill reasons and is a violent, temperamental man. So it's extremely unbelievable that he would simply go away in the end without a fight because the hero uses the name "Robert the Bruce" to intimidate him.

I hope these little pointers will help your writing be stronger and not allow the reader so many eye rolls. ;-)

The Real #GeorgeWashington - #NationalGeographic Channel



The Real George Washington

2008

Description:
Of all the legendary figures in American history, George Washington is in a class by himself. Founding father, Commander of the Continental Army, and Americas first president his face is as familiar as the dollar bill. Most everyone knows this great man, or thinks they do. But were starting to learn that much of what we thought is fact, is actually fiction. Today, archaeologists, scientists, and historians are uncovering new clues about the real George Washington. Their hi-tech tools and scientific techniques are peeling back the layers on this famous American, revealing the true man behind the myth - George Washington, the founding father we hardly knew.

Highlights:
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia - site of George's childhood home, 40 miles south of Mount Vernon
  • George's family was considered the second-tier gentry of Virginia
  • When he was 8 years old, Christmas Eve 1740, a fire broke out and destroyed most of his home.
  • At 16 years old, George was charting/surveying properties of te wealthy
  • At 21 years, George joined the Virginia Militia
  • At 26 years old, George targets Martha Cuscus, one of the wealthiest and prettiest widows of Virginia. Secretly, George was infatuated with his friend's wife, Sally Fairfax, and even sent her a note. Eventually his own marriage becomes a love match.
  • July 9, 1755 - George (at 33 years old) accompanies English advanced guard in French and Indian War. Indians attack. General Braddock is killed. Officers are dead or wounded, leaving George to lead remaining soldiers out.
  • December 26, 1776 - Washington crossed the Delaware River. George knew frost would arrive during the night and his group could evacuate so they leave behind decoy campfires to trick English General Cornwallis. At 8am, Cornwallis attacks but Washington and his men are gone; George surprise attacks them and defeats them.
  • Washington was around slaves his whole life. He had 300 slaves at Mount Vernon (6 days a week) and brought slaves to the Executive Mansion (precursor to the White House).
  • Washington dies at 10:20 and the clock is stopped to mark the time. In his will, he requests all his slaves be freed and educated but only after Martha's death. She actually frees them early.


CLICK HERE for the official website

Check your local library for a copy or you can view via online streaming through Amazon here:

#Diggers - Wyatt Earp #WildWest - #NationalGeographic Channel


Diggers - Wyatt Earp Wild West (Season 3, Episode 11)

2014

Description:
Two quirky pals scour the country for lost relics and riches of American history. In this episode, the guys go to Dodge City, once home to the Wild West's famous lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

Highlights:
  • Tombstone, Arizona - 1879 Wyatt Earp moves in from Dodge City. October 1880 - cowboys high on opium shoot their guns into the air; Marshal White was killed by "Curly" Bill Brocius while trying to disarm the group; Virgil Earp became marshal at 37 years old after White's death; town council banned guns and slapped anyone with a gun a $25 fine (about $600 in today's money)
  • October 26, 1881 - The Earps and Doc Holliday approached 5 Cowboys (Billy Claiborne, Billy and Ike Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury) and ordered them to disarm. 30 rounds were shot in 30 seconds. 3 cowboys were killed (Frank and Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton) while the other two fled. Only Wyatt Earp made it thorugh unharmed. "OK" stands for "Old Kindersley" who were the previous owners of the property.
  • Fort Barclay, Watrous, New Mexico - built in late 1840's and included a mercantile, blacksmith and stables; was abandoned late 1800's when railroad bypassed it completely. The Diggers find an Eagle Button with a "C" in the center to indicate "calvary". They also find an oval U.S. belt buckle which was added to the standard uniform in 1839.
  • Naco, Arizona - 1916 Pancho Villa raided New Mexico and was pushed back into Mexico; the Diggers find a pin with crossed canons motif (which was for the artillery, known as "King of Battle"); the Arizona Army National Guard was formed in 1865 almost 50 years before Arizona became a state; the U.S. set over 5,000 troops to the border to protect against Villa. Pancho Villa had a contract with Hollywood to film his battlefield exploits.


Check your local library for a copy or you can view via online streaming through Amazon here:

#Diggers - The #GoldRush - #NationalGeographic Channel


Diggers - Gold Rush (Season 3, Episode 16)

2014

Description:
Two quirky pals scour the country for lost relics and riches of American history. In this episode, the guys explore mines that produced a fortune in silver and gold during the prospecting frenzy.
This show is really fun to watch because these are "ordinary" guys just running around with their metal detectors (with permission, of course) uncovering cool artifacts in the ground. It's interesting to see the history behind the quest's topic (in this case, the Gold Rush), what types of things they find and what the experts say. Take some of their antics with a grain of salt and you will enjoy it.

Highlights:
  • Matchless Mine, Leadville, Colorado - Silver mining capital between 1878 and 1880 with production around $50,000 per day. Mules were used to pull the cars (loaded with silver).
  • Toughnut Mine, Tombstone, Arizona - 5.4 million ounces were mined here; deep tunnels; danger of poisonous gases and cave-ins; paths were irregular as the miners followed the vein of ore; Sears catalog pages were used as toilet paper (ouch!); drilling was often a two-man job with one working the drill steel and the other working the hammer
  • Kennedy Mine, Jackson, California - 6000 feet deep; 1.75 million ounces (worth $1.5 Billion today); largest gold nugget ever discovered weighed 210 lbs (worth over $4.2 million today)


CLICK HERE for Nat Geo's official Diggers series website

Check your local library for a copy or you can view via online streaming through Amazon here:

10 Things You Don't Know About The #GoldRush - #HistoryChannel

I found this neat series on the History Channel called "10 Things You Don't About..." and each episode focuses on a different historic topic, event, person or group ranging from the Gold Rush (reviewed here) to the Founding Fathers to Adolph Hitler and reveals interesting tidbits that we never learned in history class.


10 Things You Don't Know About - The Gold Rush (Season 3, Episode 10)

2014

Description:
In Season 3 of 10 Things You Don't Know About on H2, punk icon Henry Rollins continues to uncover crazy new twists and facts about historic eras, figures and places in American history that you thought you knew.

Highlights:
  • John Sutter is given credit for discovery gold (at Sutter's Mill) but it was actually carpenter James Marshall who actually discovered it in January of 1848. Sutter tells Mariano Vallego (California Military Commander) about the gold and word spreads. Eventually people just flood Sutter's land holding (11,000 acres) and squat. Sutter eventually sells all but 600 acres.
  • Colorado had a gold rush around 1858. It was considered the richest square mile on Earth (worth about $8-$10 billion today)
  • William Thomas invested a wind-powered wago. It could go 25 mph, carry 25-30 people, and had 12 foot wheels. But too much wind caused the axels to overheat and the brakes went out.
  • More people got rich from selling water and supplies than finding gold.
  • 1850 - Ships sailed into Yerba Buena cover (San Francisco). 500 ships were abandoned in the cover creating a "forest of masts". People bought the discarded ships to build up "land" with the broken-down lumber (creating very unstable holdings).
  • Malakoff Diggins - 1853 - hydraulic mining (using water canons). The levees broke and flooded the town. By 1882, the destruction was so bad that the farmers sued. The case went to Federal Court and eventually the first environmental law went into effect.


CLICK HERE to view Full Episodes from the 3 seasons. "The Gold Rush" is featured in Season 3, Episode 10 (CLICK HERE to view)

If you can't view the online video, check your local library if they have a copy or you can watch it via Amazon here:


Picture Credit: The History Channel