Cowboys and Cattle Drives

Cowboys and Cattle Drives

Natalie Bright


For western history fans, I stumbled on two excellent books that capture the spirit and hard work of cowboys who pushed herds of Longhorns north to market.

One is FREE and you can read it online now, A TEXAS COWBOY or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony by Charles A. Siringo. Here’s the link:

This vivid, action-packed memoir begins in Dodge City, where a young Siringo grew up as the son of immigrants, an Italian father and an Irish mother. Early Texas was a dangerous and adventurous place, and Siringo lives on his own trying his hand at various jobs, always managing to send money back to his mother. His stories of the trail are amazing accounts of stampedes, weather, and hard luck. He eventually settled down to become a store merchant when he published this autobiography at the age of thirty in 1885.

The other cowboy book that has emerged somewhat as the most realistic, is WE POINTED THEM NORTH: RECOLLECTIONS OF A COWPUNCHER by E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott, written with Helena Huntington Smith. Published in 1939, Abbott was 78 years old and with Smith’s help, he wanted to “set the record straight” about the cattle trailing days. Arriving with his family from Norfolk, England to Nebraska, Abbott’s father was the second son of a wealthy British family, hoping to find better opportunities in America. The first thing he did was to travel to Texas and buy cattle, leaving a ten-year-old Abbott to join the outfit that brought their newly purchased herd north. Abbott’s father returned to the Nebraska frontier by train. Abbott was a friend of the western artist Charles Russell, and his life is believed to have been the inspiration for LONESOME DOVE. This is a raw, honest, bare-bones look at early Texas.

The thing that both of these accounts have in common is the practice of allowing young men to fend for  themselves in the Texas Frontier. Everyone had to work for money and food, and learn to survive. A good horse, a saddle and the clothes on their back was all they needed. Can you imagine leaving town at trails end to find more work with no money or food in your pocket? There is no whining or complaining in either of these memoirs. They faced the situation head on and did they best they could. These people were amazingly tough and resourceful.

I am deep into research about Texas history and the great Texas Longhorn migration. My next nonfiction book KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, will be out in 2020. It will feature the history of the chuck wagon and authentic recipes from the cattle drive era.


Natalie Recommends – WRITER GET NOTICED

Natalie Recommends




Have you been writing for years, but feel like no one notices? Have you published your stories, only to gain a handful of readers? Do your marketing efforts feel like shouting into a void?

Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

There are more books out there than ever before, and readers have many other things vying for their attention. A writer can feel like a needle in a haystack, and throwing money at the problem rarely helps. What does work is creating a platform that stands out, but in a sea of a million platforms, how is one to do that?

Writer Get Noticed! takes a new approach, dispelling the notion that fixing your writing flaws and expanding your social media reach will get you the readers you deserve. Instead, discover a myriad of strengths you didn’t know you had, then use them to find your author theme, power up your platform, and create a new author business blueprint, all while gaining insight into what sets you apart as a writer and creative artist.




Lynnette Jalufka


This is the nickname of a novel that changed the way I write. First off, the cover is blue. Second, the spine is two inches thick in hardback. It’s also an unusual read for me because it contains magic, which is not the type of fantasy I like. But an author who can write an 870-page magical fantasy and keep me hanging on every word did something very right. I got goosebumps when I finished it the first time. This is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The plot is rich with many twists and turns as fifteen-year-old Harry, who to this point has reacted to trouble, starts causing it. When the government takes over Harry’s school, he goes underground to teach his classmates how to fight in the coming battle against his enemy, Voldemort. Rowling does a remarkable job of weaving school life—exams, sports, and romance—into the bigger threat of Voldemort’s return to power and the government covering it up.

What impressed me the most about the book was the emotion in it. Rowling beautifully describes everything from the relief of a Saturday off after a disastrous first week of school to the wonders of a first kiss to the horrific depths of grief. I discovered that emotion was what I was missing in my own stories. Since then, my writing has not been the same.

“The Long Walk” Review

“The Long Walk” Review

by Adam Huddleston

As many of you probably know, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.  Although he has written a multitude of top-selling books, my best-loved is “The Long Walk”.  

Written under his pseudonym, Richard Bauchman, “The Long Walk” is a tale set in a not-too-distant dystopian future.  Told in first-person point of view, the main character is a teenager who competes in a deadly marathon where those who fall behind are killed along the way.  King does an excellent job of moving the plot along while developing the main characters.  

If you are a fan of horror, or even dark thrillers, I highly recommend “The Long Walk.”

Charles Frazier: Thirteen Moons

Charles Frazier: Thirteen Moons

Rory C Keel

Thirteen Moons is a wonderful historical fiction. Young Will Cooper is sold as a bound boy to serve an owner of a trading post near the Cherokee nation.

Without a family, Will Cooper finds a father figure in a Cherokee elder named Bear. 

This novel will take you through the settings of early Appalachia and the hardships of the 1800s, yet it will affirm that the struggles of the human heart are timeless.

Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?

Book Review: Any Zombie Fans?

Natalie Bright

One of my favorite things about writing conferences is meeting other writers and being exposed to genres that I never would read otherwise. Case in point, I met Mr. Ray Weeks at the Canadian River Valley Writer’s Workshop several weeks ago. He happened to take a seat across the table from me. Ray had returned to his home town of Canadian to run the movie theatre in town, and he writes stories. More specifically, short stories and stories about zombies. I bought his book EAT ME for my son. It’s autographed, “To David. Eat ‘Till your dead and then some.” My plan was to read the first few pages, but then I couldn’t put it down.

As a zombie fan, you may think that you have read every possible scenario involving zombies. After all we’ve been reading about the fictional undead since 1929, with the book THE MAGIC ISLAND by W. B. Seabrook. Horror, fantasy, science fiction – the genres can be varied but the scenario is basically the same. An undead man-eating creature destroys humanity. I thought I had read enough to last me a lifetime until I picked up this book by Ray Weeks.

EAT ME is a unique, highly inappropriate, often gross and shocking collection of zombie short stories. I love this book! His writing is brilliant.

You will be entertained by original premises from humans living in the tree tops to a zombie animal, which has always been impossible. Animals can’t be zombies. It’s unheard of. Not in the world where Mr. Weeks resides.

Buy this book. You will not regret it. In fact, order some extra copies for your friends. They will love you for it. Here’s the link for Amazon.

Eat Me: A Zombie Story Collection




Lynnette Jalufka

I have loved this novel ever since I was assigned to read it in high school. In all the times I’ve read it since then, it has not disappointed, the hallmark of a great book. Filled with action and adventure, it’s about a group of young male rabbits who, led by Hazel, leave their home and make a perilous journey to Watership Down to start their own warren. Their troubles don’t stop once they’ve arrived. The only way the new warren can grow is for them to find female rabbits. That results in a vicious battle with another warren on Watership Down.

Hazel is one of my favorite heroes. He’s courageous, compassionate, and smart. He uses the various talents of different rabbits to accomplish a goal. His leadership earns him the suffix “rah” added to his name, which denotes a chief rabbit. Nevertheless, Hazel-rah is not infallible. When he goes against the advice of his prophetic brother, his deed cripples him, just as the warren faces its greatest threat.

The book has some lengthy descriptions, but Adams does an amazing job of creating the rabbit world, including their own terminology and folk hero. The novel was so real that I was shocked to learn it was classified as a fantasy. After all, it is about rabbits. I highly recommend it.

Authors Reviewing Authors

Middle Grade Mondays

Authors Reviewing Authors

by Natalie Bright

Writers write and writers read. And most successful writers I know read a lot, which brings me to the question of book reviews.

Should authors be reviewing other authors? The messages are mixed.

Some say no because if you’re going to do a book review, you need to be honest. If you have to give a bad review, why would you want to jeopardize relationships with other authors?  There are professional reviewers who can give honest, unbiased reviews of books. That is their job. The point being, do you want to write novels or post reviews?

The other side argues why wouldn’t you want to help a local author or friend? The gesture will be returned in kind, and everyone wins with the additional promotion. One author told me she only gives blurbs or reviews if she is absolutely blown away by the story and by the writing talent. Most authors post reviews for their friends and the question remains if they’ve taken the time to even read it.


I am beginning to rely on Goodreads more and more. It’s like a humongous book club where everyone loves stories and books, and those that don’t like a book aren’t afraid to say so. I read a lot, and I usually post reviews for stories that I absolutely love. For every book I love there are probably two or three that I couldn’t get past the first chapter, which makes me sad. Does that give me license to trash that author’s work? I don’t think so.

Now that eBooks have become an impulse buy and in my opinion, GoodReads offers varied and honest opinions to guide me in my purchases. My eReader is running over and that’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful time to be a book junky.

Subjective Opinions

The shocking realization that publishing is such a highly subjective business and people are so varied in their personal tastes came to light for me through a contest. One of my very first middle grade manuscripts was submitted to two different contests with varying results.

The first had a $50 contest fee, and came back with scathing comments. This judge did not like my characters, the setting, with the added notation that this should NEVER be in print even as a manuscript. Seriously, one entire page, single-spaced, of why and how much he detested this story. My investment to learn about story craft came back as hate mail.

How about a notation to subscribe to a market listing for magazines?  Your goal will be to actively study submission opportunities and submit X number of freelance articles during 2013.

What about your goals in social media and promotion? These are difficult to measure because the connections you make this year may not reap benefits for months, even years from now. I’ve had invitations to speak come from a contacts I made years before at a chance meeting.

You can define specific activities, for example, actively participating on twitter during the next year, setting up a Facebook fan page, or uploading your inspiration to a Pinterest page. Authors are utilizing Pinterest in unique ways and it’s loads of fun.

Dreaming Big

Add to your worksheet one “dream big” goal. List something you hope to achieve that seems totally impossible. Go ahead and put the “NYT Bestselling list” here if that’s what you want more than anything.

I’m excited to announce that my dream big goal from way back in 2010 was realized this past year in 2012: I signed with a literary agent. Don’t be shy or doubt your abilities. Dream away.

Thanks for Following our Blog

Good luck and Happy New Years, and thanks to all of you who have followed this blog, Wordsmithsix, during the past year. We really appreciate you. Sending out our best wishes that you achieve your writing goals in 2013!