A BALLAD FOR SALLIE
Longhair Jim Courtright had been both a marshal and a desperado-and in Hell’s Half Acre, the roughest part of Fort Worth, he was a living legend. His skill with a gun had made him a hero in some people’s eyes…and a killer in others’.
Scrappy Lizzie Jones was one tough kid. She had to be. If she didn’t look out for herself, no one would do it for her. But she still had a few hard lessons to learn if she wanted to survive.
As soon as young widow Sallie McNutt stepped off the stage from Tennessee, her refined manners and proper attire set her apart from the other women of the Half Acre. And it wasn’t long before something else set her apart-someone wanted her dead.
Excerpt: I knew that history would make a plaything of Autie, and when that happened, all my battles would be lost again. Autie rarely lost a battle – save that last big one-and his fights were always glorious, painted on a broad screen by the clamoring newsmen if not by himself. My battles were small and silent and private, but oh! they were important to me, and I had managed to hold the line. I would not see it all wiped away with the muckraking cry that Autie’s overweening ambition had led him to disaster at Little Bighorn. I would make sure that the world saw the George Armstrong Custer I wanted seen. Only this private journal-to be burned upon my death-records my own wars.
Twelve years is not very long in a lifetime, yet it seemed my whole life was lived in those brief years of marriage. I had fought battles of my own, hard battles, to marry Autie, and once married, I thought myself the happiest and luckiest of women-married to the great boy-general, the hero of the Civil War. We would, I knew, grow old together, savoring the best of life, the last for which the first was made, so the poet wrote. I’m not sure when, exactly, that I knew that dream was not to be, that a love as intense as ours could not survive, that two people as willful as we could not be bound so tightly together. And yet, when all was said and done, I would not have traded those twelve years for anything on earth. Were they worth a lifetime? There is no answer, but even to think about it, I must begin earlier, back in Monroe…. I remember yet one snowy night when I was but sixteen years old.
Excerpt: My mother was an unmarried mother, fallen woman, they called her back in Princeton, Missouri. They called her that and a lot worse names, most of which I didn’t understand at the time, thank goodness. It wasn’t just that Mama made one mistake—me—but I had a little brother, Will Henry, and neither of us had a father that we knew about. Will Henry was seven years younger than me, and you’d think I’d remember a man being around the house about that time to account for my brother’s appearance, but I didn’t. I used to wonder if Mama had somehow gotten caught in the great war just passed or if my father had fought in that war. For much of my growing-up years, Mama never told us if we had the same father or not. When either of us asked, Mama became flustered and impatient and usually just said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” There would be tears in her eyes that made me feel guilty and cruel, so I would abandon the subject. … Download the rest of Chapter 1 excerpt
SUE ELLEN LEARNS TO DANCE AND OTHER STORIES
Fifteen stories that are funny and sad, modern and historical, urban and rural. They focus on women in the American West speaking in their own voices, sharing the universal female complexities of time and place. Characters – old women, ingenue, bride, mother, lover, widow, homemaker, teacher, adventuress-in settings of dance hall, ranch, town, wilderness, and home, each on a journey of finding self, getting by, making do, becoming, longing, recognizing sorrow, rejoicing.
Excerpt: My mother doesn’t make candles any more. Her candles used to be the smoothest and straightest in North Texas. They burned bright with an even flame and never smoked. Ma ran candles in late fall, when Pa had killed a steer and she had rendered the fallow. … Download the rest of this excerpt
SUNDANCE, BUTCH AND ME
She was born Martha Baird, but history will always remember her as Etta Place, the woman who rode with the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Sundance, Butch and Me is history transformed into an exciting fiction a novel that captures all the drama, passion, and adventure of one of the West’s most amazing lives…