Thursday, June 24, 2010

HERE’S A PEEK. . . .

An excerpt from 
By Stephen Bly

A 10-year-old boy with red straw cowboy hat, cap gun, and silver-painted wooden bullets. Six story-telling, cribbage playing old cowboys. A ’49 Plymouth with open trunk. A damsel in distress. All the fixings for a summer’s day adventure at the Matador Hotel in 1954 Albuquerque.

Maybe you weren’t born 100 years too late!


The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they didn’t bother burying it until last fall.

New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin.  The kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don’t ponder much except in the shower.  I reckon that four-bladed overhead fan that squeaked like an unfed cat failed to console Shorty McGuire.    

Doc Boyce said he passed on durin’ the night, but no one discerned it until they observed the empty back table at the Round-Up Café.  For the last nineteen years of his life, Shorty lived in a second-floor room at The Matador.  At straight up 6:00 a.m. ever’ mornin’ he ate two eggs fried hard under the faded picture of Theodore Roosevelt leading the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill.

As a boy, I calculated that Shorty McGuire and the others must be pushing a hundred-years-old when I met them for the first time in 1954.

I reckon I surmised wrong.

The Albuquerque Herald  reported that Hadley (Shorty) McGuire was only 86 when he died on that July day in 1965.  The Herald  is right most of the time.

As the last of that bunch at the Matador, there was no one left to take his trappings, so Whip Johnson and me cleaned out Shorty’s goods a few days after his funeral.  Whip managed the hotel in the 60s for his Uncle Durwood Johnson who gained some fame in the Southwest on the rodeo circuit after the war.  He won the hotel on a bet on a black half-thoroughbred stallion down in Magdalena.

The floor of Shorty’s little room with one four-pane slide-up window was carpeted solid with six to eight inches of newspapers, not a one newer than 1939.  He claimed that cowboyin’ didn’t provide the time to read much, so he saved them for his retirement.  I never did know if he got caught up.

We didn’t have the nerve to give his tattered clothing to the Rescue Mission, so we chucked them into the hotel incinerator.  We crated his boots, wooly chaps and battered Stetson, then donated them to the state museum.   I had a notion they would want to display the gear of an old-time cowboy.  But they stored them in a back room for a few years, then sold them at an auction to raise money for a modern art statue that looks like the scrap-iron pile out behind my barn.  If I’d known they were selling Shorty’s belongings, I’d have bought those suckers myself and buried them, rather than let some car dealer in Denver drive off with ‘em.  But that’s the way the past is.  You can’t hang on to it all.  What survives gets stolen by strangers who have no blasted idea of what they hold in their hands.

The tobacco-stained furniture in Shorty’s room belonged to the hotel, but Whip decided to replace it all and re-carpet.  So they moved in newer furniture, but I don’t think the room was ever repainted.  Whip and me always thought that room smelled like Lordsburg, but that might be its location on the south side of the hotel, facing the Santa Fe tracks.

I never went back to the hotel after that day.  The hippies ran it in the early 70s, then some drug dealers.  I think one of them big moving companies bought the place and used it for storage for a decade or two before they tore it down last year.  All them red bricks got shipped to the west side for deluxe estate fencing around an upscale gated community.  I hear they decided to build urban condos on the old hotel site for rich city folks, but I can’t figure what kind of people would want to live in downtown Albuquerque. 
At least, not nowadays.

I still have Shorty’s rim-fire saddle hangin’ in my tack room.   It was one of the first ones Estaban Chavez built, when he still had that shop behind the Chinese laundry in Las Cruces.  Lots of folks have wanted to buy it over the years, but it doesn’t belong to me.  Some day Shorty’s kin will show up wantin’ his things, and I’ll have it ready.  I keep the leather oiled.  Shorty died almost forty years ago, but I’ll hang onto it for him.

That’s the way things are done around this part of the country.

It’s one of the lessons I learned in the lobby of the Matador Hotel.
Excerpt from Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon by Stephen Bly, Copyright©2010 by Stephen Bly. All rights reserved. 

 Comments about previous Stephen Bly novels:
"I have always been a fan of Louis L'Amour but I must say your book is as good if not better than anything of his. I shall remain a fan of Stephen Bly." --Jimmy Dickens, Grand Ole Opry 

“Bly offers a kinder, gentler Western that should appeal to fans of Louis L’Amour.”  -- Library Journal


Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point Publishing, June 2010) Support your local bookstore! Ask them to order Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon from Ingram Distributors or order online through or or your local library.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A MATTER OF CHARACTER, new historical romance by ROBIN LEE HATCHER

Who says a woman can’t keep a secret?
It's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs. But Daphne has a secret.

A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers. Nobody in Bethlehem Springs knows the man behind the stories … except Daphne.

When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life.

About the Author:
The author of over 60 books, best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family and her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet. She invites you to drop by her website and her Facebook Page to learn more about her and her books.

Web site:

Read about Robin’s “Faith Story”:

Click on the book trailer below!

Note: offer a prayer for Robin as she convalesces from surgery after suffering a shattered ankle recently.

Book Trailer for Robin Lee Hatcher's new historical romance, A MATTER OF CHARACTER



We just returned from a trip to Wyoming and took photos of bursts of blooming color in fields and city streets all along the way. 

We love bushes and flowers, but don't have the time or resources for fussing with them much. With a very short growing season where we live in north-central Idaho, we've discovered that petunias are one of the few hardy flowers we count on lasting through summer. 

Until the temps hit below freezing some  night. . .which can be anytime. Or the first snows hit. . .most any fall day. 

The rest of the year we're surrounded by about 60 ponderosa pines. After the beautiful snow scenes melt, we enjoy the splays of summer light and the silhouettes at dusk through the tall trees. 

But we miss the blush of pinks & reds or flush of purples.

As has become our habit, we just hung some of those pre-potted petunia Wal-Mart specials on hooks around our house. Love their sturdy staying power and the ease of instant gardening!

So, what are you doing this summer to provide a bit of landscape for your yard?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Her Abundant Joy
by Lyn Cote
Final book in the Texas Star of Destiny series
Avon Inspire

Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

In 1846, young widow Mariel Wolfe survived the grueling voyage from Germany to start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Forced by circumstances to become a servant, Mariel is now determined to quit a ,harsh master. But how can a single woman face the frontier on her own?

Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of German immigrants safely through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high in spite of everything, he will stop at nothing to protect her.

But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes? Will the tide of history sweep them far from peace, far from a life together?

Monday, June 14, 2010


Janet Chester Bly

It seems unreasonable to not be full of concern. . .most every day. There’s so much wrong in the world and it’s in our face. . .most all the time. But we can release the brain-breaking burden, at least some part of it.

You and I can’t take on everyone’s problems. Not even of those we love most. But there’s also the fears and frets within, as well as pressures without.  

Here’s something to do today: part with one peace blocker. Refuse to take it back. Give up what dams up the rivers of sparkling, living streams of peace and calm inside you.

Consider whether you lack peace because you. . .like to be in control and you aren’t. . .haven’t been grateful for all that’s good and right in your world for a long time. . .tend to judge and be critical and it comes back to harangue you.

Friend Gail sings a lilting soprano so lovely that she’s often asked to perform at public events. But she tends to decline, much to everyone’s loss. “I can’t bear to sing solos in front of anyone but those close to me,” she explains. “It’s terrifying. It's like I've hung a 'no singing' sign on the home wall of my heart.”

During a weekend retreat, something the speaker said helped her realize: “I’m very critical of others who sing, since I’ve had a lot of voice training.” She concluded that her harsh assessments of others tumbled over to the sounds of self-critic in her own ear. “I assume the same kind of treatment from those who listen to me.”

Gail began by being gracious to herself and lifting her voice to God and for his glory. That got her attention on the right focus. Now her singing’s more than a trained talent. It’s a spiritual gift.

How have you wrangled a worry or blocked a peace buster lately?

"I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler" (Isaiah 60:17b NIV).


To download a free copy of the whole article, “31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace,” go to:

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Stephen Bly

Over 100 years ago, the entire city council and mayor of Big Rock, Colorado, almost got tarred, feathered and run out of town because they delayed fixing the ‘excuse-me-ma’ams,’ that is, the potholes and bumps in the roadways.

Trails out west consisted of wagon ruts worn deep by men in a hurry to get someplace else. The city streets, especially in mining towns, seldom rated better. Few wanted to take the time to grade a road or smooth a street.  So, they remained muddy impassible in the spring and fall, icy slick in the winter, and a ball of choking dust in the summer.  That is, until the women moved to town. Then the code of the west kicked in.
To the men out west, it was an insult and beneath any woman’s dignity to hit a pothole or bump in the road.  The gentleman in the coach tipped his hat and apologized with an “Excuse me, ma’am.” As far as he was concerned, the way should have been made smooth for her.

John the Baptist claimed a similar responsibility as his spiritual role. He came to make the way smooth for Jesus. And he enlisted others to be way-pavers too. “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Mark 1:3).

So many obstacles keep people from Christ and his eternal truth. It’s too simple. Or it’s too hard to understand. It doesn’t relate anymore. Or they once knew a Christian who turned them off. Or religion got forced down their throats. Or they’re just too busy. Or too sick. Or they’re worn to a frazzle by trials and tragedies. Nothing makes sense anymore. On and on the list goes. . .potholes, bumps, dips, falling rocks, frost heaves along the spiritual journey.

What can you do to remove obstacles for someone near and dear to you?

Note: Just received the first box of copies of Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon. Now’s a great time to order!

Friday, June 11, 2010

SIMPLE SECRETS, a new mystery novel by NANCY MEHL

Book #1 in The Harmony Series
320 pages, softcover from Barbour.

Gracie Temple loves city life and her job as a graphic designer. But when a reclusive uncle dies and leaves her his house in a quiet Kansas Mennonite community, she inherits a dark legacy, strange neighbors---and farmer Sam Goodrich. Will Gracie be enticed by the small town's charm---or intimidated by its deadly secrets? 
"Simple Secrets" is well written with depth and detail, fast paced and a page turner. This small Mennonite town is warm, caring, has a truckload of secrets, but this would be a wonderful town to live in, grow up in and raise a family. The characters are also warm, caring and will pull you into the story and feel their heartbreak, their joys, their triumphs and hurt. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy Mennonite stories..."  April Renn - My Book Addiction and More
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman, her son, Danny, and her very active puggle, Watson. She runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on two new series for Barbour Publishing.

Nancy’s novels have all been set in Kansas. “I love Kansas,” she says. “We’re a lot more interesting than people think. Using Kansas in my novels is easy. We have everything - big cities, small towns, rolling hills, rich farmland, culture, history, odd locations (look up The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas!) and a friendly hometown feeling.  We also enjoy all four seasons. This allows me to set my stories in different weather conditions. Winter is my favorite season. Throw lots of snow in a story and your plot can suddenly go in an interesting direction.” 

God is number one in Nancy's life. “I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”
You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

Nancy Mehl
June 2010 - Simple Secrets: The Harmony Series
August 2010 - Missing Mabel: The Curl Up and Dye Series
December 2010 - Simple Deceit: The Harmony Series

Wednesday, June 09, 2010



One thing about growing older that quite surprises me. . .crankiness gets harder, not easier to control. That sure dampens calm and cool and collected.  

But personal peace is still possible. . .because it's a choice. If you're controlled by cranky, here's my take. Convert at least one negative meditation habit. Become your own mind control police.

One suggestion: dull an inordinate passion by switching to an opposite spirit. For example, in place of jealousy. . .try gratitude. Bitterness. . .show kindness. Anger. . .put on compassion. Practice this over and over until it's second nature.

Counselors like Byron Paulus of Life Action Ministries claim that a deep root of bitterness and unforgiveness infests the vast majority of their tens of thousands of clients. The consequences spread the globe. A counselor or mentor or friend might help you cleanse foul feelings or raging responses which poison your well of peace.

God can help. But you must cooperate. You've got to really want to convert. Grab the reins to your mind and give them to Him. That might mean action, such as. . .
Spend less time with angry, jealous, bitter folks. 
Set boundaries for acting out your emotions.

Redirect your feelings to positive channels.

Rather than rancid revenge, opt for sweet pardon.

Instead of rampant reprisals, quickly forgive.

Easy to write. Hard to do. But it's so worth it. For the sake of inner peace. Do it for you.

-- What surprises you most as you grow older?

-- What one effective action on your part assists you to get a grip, to convert your energy-sapping attitude to a positive one?

For a free download of the article "31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace," go to   

Monday, June 07, 2010


Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense

"I'll be seeing you again. . . ."

The attacker's words still ring in Deputy Megan Peters' ears. Her attempt to trap the serial rapist terrorizing Lost Falls failed, but she has succeeded in becoming the target of his attention. Undaunted, Megan moves forward in her investigation, and Scott Anders, the only newcomer in town, draws her suspicion. Is his gentleness just an act? Yet as Megan and Scott grow closer, she finds herself questioning her instincts. What will she believe--her heart or the evidence that seems to be mounting against Scott? 

"I won't stop until I find this guy, Anna." Seeing the raw pain in her friend's eyes, Megan Peters took a deep breath and forced back the memories threatening to swamp her. "I promise."

"How?" Anna lashed out, pulling her hands away from Megan's. "I didn't see his face. I don't know who it was, and neither did the other woman who got away. And the two dead girls won't be talking."

The bitterness in Anna's voice stung Megan as if she'd been slapped. "No. But the DNA--"

"Hasn't matched anyone in the system so far, and probably never will, right? This guy will never be caught."

"But it does connect the crimes, so when we get him, we'll be able to send him away for good. There'll be a time when someone pics up on a clue. Someone else who escapes."

They both fell silent, Megan's words a chilling reminder of the two women who had been raped and murdered within the past six months. If a group of noisy hikers hadn't come by and scared off her attacker, Anna might have been number three.

An excerpt is available at:

Friday, June 04, 2010


Stephen Bly
Pete and Pauline own a three-room cabin on the Grade next to the old highway down below their ranch. It came with property they bought years ago. Pete showed it to me one time with a “it’s not much” comment. There’s no electricity, but it’s got running water and a working wood stove.

          “Who lives here?” I asked.
          “Well, we let old Marv Whitman stay here. Of course we don’t charge him rent or nothin’ like that. Marv is trying to get by on his pension check and always has a pile of doctor bills.”
          “Is he a relative?”
          “A former hired man?”
          “Nope, he never worked for us, but he spent most of his life cowboyin’ up here on the prairie. We just figured he was entitled to a warm corner.”

          That’s the Western way...whether sharing a campfire or a part of the bunkhouse. And a cowman who faithfully performed his duty and grew old in that service had certainly earned the right for a bit of comfort. Pete and Pauline didn’t think of it as charity. It’s a cinch Marv didn’t see it that way either. It’s the Code of the West way of thinking...just doing what’s right by a man.

          Every town’s got a few like that—folks who’ve worked hard, but down on their lot or worn out from years of giving out. Someone needs to reach out some way and provide a warm corner. The Good Book’s got much to say about “contributing to the needs of others” (Romans 12:8)

Pete and Pauline sure got it right.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010



"There are moments on the course when heaven is only a short step away."

"Some days I feel like Adam, before he ate the apple."

"Like heaven, you can't work your way into Augusta National. . .you get there by the grace of God."

"Like spiritual perfection, Pebble Beach seems always one step out of my reach."

"The deeper the bunker, the further away I seem from God."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Janet Chester Bly

I’ve been feeling a bit tensed and rushed this week. No peace at my core. 

Today I decided to pay attention to my own advice from my “31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace.”* 

So, I followed these steps:

Took a dozen slow, deep breaths.

Slowed down every racing thought. Cleared the jumble of my overwrought mind. (That took a while.)

Closed my eyes and thought through one positive action, no matter how small, that could help me accomplish something or come alongside someone in need. Such as, to clean out my office closet. Or spritz up a bathroom. Or pay for someone’s coffee or lunch. Or concentrate on one mess, like the pile of papers on my desk. Or do some other productive or reaching out exercise.

I find it very helpful to keep asking myself, “What's ONE next thing that needs to be done?” For my spouse. For my kids or grandkids. For a friend or neighbor. For my job. I keep it simple and focused until it’s done. Then, I find another, then another. Three important tasks a day keeps stress away.

When I’m dragged out or depressed, I file a dozen papers…or iron six shirts. If I’m surrounded by clutter, I spend a minimum one hour to tuck in a drawer, stuff into thrift bags, or toss out.

Then I force myself to embrace, to fully enjoy the satisfaction. . .of getting some things done. I refuse to think about all the stuff left. That’s tomorrow’s worry. I insist on a respite of contentment, a close cousin of peace.

Sure does help. Thank you, Lord!

Be glad for all God is planning for you.
Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.
Romans 12:12, TLB

Don’t burn out;
Keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Romans 12:12, MSG

* ”31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace” available for free download at: