Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Please Welcome Donna Schlachter

To celebrate the release of The Pony Express Romance Collection, we're highlighting the date the first Pony Express run began -- April 3rd -- and looking at other dates in history to see what happened.
On April 3rd, 1953, the "TV Guide" was first published. During the 1940s, TV Guide magazine was comprised of three magazines, Chicago’s Television Forecast, Philadelphia’s Local Telviser, and New York’s Television Guide. They eventually merged and on April 3, 1953, the first national edition of TV Guide was released. The photo on the first edition of the newly formed TV Guide featured Desi Arnaz Jr., the baby of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
By the 1960s, TV Guide became one of the most circulated and read magazine in the country and in 1974, TV Guide became the first magazine in history to sell a billion copies.[1]
While it may be difficult to imagine a world without television, the truth is that before the 1950's, televisions were a luxury, and in 1945, for example, there were probably less than 10,000 TV's in the entire country. But by 1960, 90 percent of households had at least 1 set. [2]
This meant television shows had to be produced to fill those broadcast hours. Westerns have always been popular with the reading public, and so it seemed common sense that television viewers would also like to watch their favorite stars riding and bucking and shooting.
It should come as no surprise that several series have aired, including "The Pony Express" in 1959[3] as well as "The Overland Mail" and others[4]. The topic was also popular in a number of movies.
For a company that delivered mail for just over eighteen months, the legacy of the Pony Express still lives on. Perhaps it's the lure of the unknown, the desire to make a difference, or simply the romantic notion that the Wild West was a better way of life. Whatever the reason, here's to the ongoing interest in this nugget of American history.
Giveaway: One lucky winner will be chosen from those who leave a comment, and you will receive a free print copy of The Pony Express Romance Collection (US address only, please)

Echoes of the Heart
Catherine Malloy, an orphan girl running from a compromising situation in Boston, answers a personal ad in a magazine, on behalf of her illiterate friend. Through his letters, she finds herself falling in love with this stranger. Benjamin Troudt is crippled and illiterate, and knows nothing of this ad. His route supervisor, Warton, who was helping Benjamin with the paperwork, has been given only a short time to live, and knows Benjamin needs help, so he places the ad. Can Catherine overcome her belief that the God of her parents has abandoned her? And can Benjamin allow God to open his eyes and his heart to love?

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. Donna is a ghostwriter, editor of fiction and non-fiction, judges in a number of writing contests, and teaches online courses.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Please Welcome Cynthia Hickey

Now Jesse James doesn’t play a role in my story, Her Lonely Heart, but there are outlaws and shooting, not to mention the role of young men determined to be pony express riders.

Jesse James was only fifteen when he joined a guerrilla band led by William Quantrill. Many pony express riders were younger by a year or two.

The Quantrill gang terrorized Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War. After the war, Jesse, his brother Frank, and brothers Cole, James, and Robert Younger moved to armed robbery. During the next 16 years, the gang became America’s most notorious outlaws. In 1976 the Younger brothers were captured. The James brothers escaped and didn’t rob another train until 1880, the same year a reward was posted wanting the James brothers dead or alive. Gang member Robert Ford decided the bounty was worth more than loyalty and shot Jesse James in the back.
 On the morning of April 3, 1882, while planning one last robbery with Bob and Charles Ford that would net him enough money to settle down permanently, Jesse reportedly stood in a chair to straighten a crooked picture on the wall.

Bob Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head just below his right ear. His children and wife, Zerelda, ran into the room, but it was too late. Jesse James was dead at 34 years of age.

There has been speculation since he died that his death was staged and that he lived the rest of his days in peace under an assumed name. In 1947, a 102 year old man named J. Frank Dalton claimed to be Jesse James. His claim was never verified and DNA testing on the supposed grave of Jesse James has been inconclusive.

In Her Lonely Heart, there is a change of lifestyle, not by a killer, but by a bitter man set in his ways. I hope you enjoy this trip back into history, not only from this post, but from reading Pony Express Brides.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Please Welcome Mary Davis

By Mary Davis

On April 3, 1860 two horseback riders raced across the West, one westbound from St. Joseph, Missouri and the other eastbound from Sacramento, California. And the PONY EXPRESS was born, filling a much needed gap until the telegraph line could be completed. The telegraph was finished on October 24, 1861, rendering the Pony Express obsolete.

As a rider would approach a station, a lookout called, “RIDER COMING IN!” A special “bare bones” saddle was strapped onto a fresh horse and stood ready. The incoming rider would jump down, the four-pocket, leather mochila transferred to the waiting horse, the timecard marked, and the same rider or a new one would leap up and race off. The exchange took about two minutes.

Pony Express stations were set up 10-15 miles apart with fresh horses. A rider typically rode 75-100 miles. Bob Haslam is reported to have once ridden 380 miles in 36 hours. Buffalo Bill Cody claims the longest ride by four miles.

Though postage cost $10 an ounce at the start and $2 by the end, the Pony Express grossed only $90,000 and lost as much as $200,000.

The Pony Express was mostly used by the military as the Civil War approached and began. Because of the high cost, ordinary folks almost never used the Pony Express.

“The story of the Pony Express is one of the most romanticized events in the history of the United States. In some ways, the Pony Express could be considered one of the most famous financial failures about which little is truly known, but much is told.” (Here Comes the Pony! By William E. Hill)

Story Blub:
In An Unlikely Hero, BethAnn along with her little sister are running from a mistake and finds security at a Pony Express station and love in the quiet affection of a shy Pony Express rider known as the “Fox.”

Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and
contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and one grandchild.
Amazon link:
Barbour link:
Barns & Noble link:

First Page:

Chapter One
June 1861
No one would likely be following them tonight. BethAnn White tightened her hold around her twelve-year-old sister as the eastbound stagecoach came to a lurching stop.
The driver called out, “Head of Echo Canyon Stagecoach and Pony Express Station.
BethAnn accepted the offered hand and stepped down from the stage, then turned to help Molly. She gazed in the direction they’d come from. The sun was just dipping behind the western ridge.
She heard rapidly approaching hoofbeats but couldn’t tell which direction they were coming from in the dimming evening light. The sound bounced off the canyon walls, making the sound appear to be coming from everywhere.
“Rider coming in!” someone yelled. That, too, bounced around and came from everywhere.
This could be exciting to see a Pony Express rider exchange. She searched the area around her. Where was Molly?
The hoofbeats grew louder, and station personnel scurried around.
Molly would not want to miss this. Where was she? BethAnn stepped out in front of the stagecoach team and saw the outline of the rider racing in from the east.
Then she saw her.
Her baby sister.
Her only family.

In the path of a several-hundred-pound charging animal.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Please Welcome, Barbara Tifft Blakey

April 3, 1993:  Norman Rockwell Museum opens at its new site in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Art has been a part of civilization for thousands of years if cave drawings are any indication. And, like other cultural elements such as music and dance, art has developed over the centuries. One of the favorite American artists was Norman Rockwell. He spent the last twenty-five years of his life in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and donated his studio to the city for a museum. The studio is kept in its original state, although it has been moved to the thirty+ acre site that the museum now occupies. Visitors are treated not just to original Rockwell paintings, but to many of his sketches and drawings as well.
People are attracted to Rockwell’s work because of the connection they feel to his subjects. He captured small town America and his pictures tell stories. His most famous are a series of four “freedom” pictures:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want.
In my contribution to the Pony Express Collection, A Place to Belong, Abigail has neither studio nor paints, but draws the Express riders and scenes around the ranch. She treasures her mother’s sketchbook, with its own story, believing one of the images is of the home left behind before her parents were killed when she was six years old. Now, at nineteen, the sketchbook has become a connection to her mother and feeds her dream to return to the house in the book, much like Rockwell’s artwork feeds our nostalgia for a by-gone era.

Barbara Tifft Blakey is the developer of Total Language Plus, a literature-inspired language arts program used by private Christian schools and homeschoolers for over twenty years. She writes inspirational historical fiction from her tree-surrounded home in the Pacific Northwest.