Category Archives: Writing

Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Clara Bow

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Named the first ever “It girl,” Clara Bow made a huge impact in the roaring twenties and was known as one of the decade’s leading sex symbols.

In 1921, at sixteen years old, she entered a nationwide acting contest called “Fame and Fortune.”

Showing up in her tomboyish sweater, lackluster skirt, and with absolutely no experience, Clara’s chances of winning were slim. But when she turned on the emotion, she won the judges over. She walked away with a silver trophy and an evening gown.

After the contest, Clara dropped out of high school to pursue her dreams. Then with two Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveemovies under her belt, Clara felt she was on her way, but then tragedy struck. Her mother’s mental health began to deteriorate after a diagnosis of epilepsy. Her father offered little help and left Clara alone to deal with her mother’s erratic fits of rage and temper. One night, Clara woke up to her mother holding a knife to her throat. Clara’s father had his wife committed. Even though Clara knew this was in her best interest, it still caused her great distress and in 1923, her mother died.

That same year, Clara left her father and New York and headed for Hollywood. She secured several other silent film roles and charmed audiences with her perky personality and her bold sexuality. She portrayed the perfect, adorable and charming “flapper” and the motion picture world took notice.

In 1926 she signed her first big movie contract with Paramount Pictures, and in 1927 she landed the lead role in a movie called It. The film was an instant box office success and Clara Bow became America’s first “It girl.”

Clara starred in 46 silent films, and eleven “talkies.” Her star burned bright, but at age 26, the actress burned out and started to show signs of mental instability, much like her mother. In 1931, Clara married Rex Bell, a rancher from Texas. She dropped out of Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeHollywood and went to his ranch to recuperate. She starred in two more movies, but then officially retired from acting two years later to devote her life to her husband and sons.

But, Clara’s gradual slide into mental illness culminated in a suicide attempt in 1944. She was  diagnosed with schizophrenia. When she was released from the hospital, she did not return to the ranch but instead bought a modest bungalow where she lived out the rest of her days until she succumbed to a heart attack in 1965.

Clara Bow became one of America’s best-loved film icons and the highest paid actress of her day. She influenced some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and also the common woman who wanted to personify the loveable flapper with her “Clara Bow heart-shaped lips” and her charming down-to-earth realism and individuality.

9 Historical Mystery Novels you Don't Want to Miss


9 Historical Mystery Books You Don’t Want to Miss

 

While modern day mystery novels are relatable and exciting to read, there is a greater extent of escapism to historical mystery books. Here are a few of my favorites:

Award winning historical mystery books by Kari Bovée Girl with a Gun by Kari Bovee

Annie Oakley joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to become an American Icon. But when a string of crimes takes place during their travels, including the murder of her Indian assistant, Annie fears someone is out to get her. With the help of a sassy, blue-blooded reporter, Annie sets out as an amateur sleuth to solve the crimes that threaten her good name.

This is the first of my Historical Mystery Books and  the Winner of the 2019 Hillerman Southwest Fiction Award

Read more about Kari Bovée’s historical mystery books HERE…

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - Historical Mystery Books Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward’s death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that her husband was murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers damning evidence for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring the murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward’s demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Read more about Deanna Raybourn’s historical mystery books HERE…

Sick of Shadows - A Historical Mystery Books by M.C. BeatonSick of Shadows by M.C. Beaton

Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart have an engagement of convenience to keep her from India and failed debutantes. She befriends newly arrived Miss Dolly Tremaine, stabbed to death and floating in a boat on the Serpentine River, and barely survives an attempt on her own life. Harry is summoned and the duo uncover deceptions, secrets, and the killer.

Read more about M.C. Beaton’s historical mystery books HERE…

 

 

A Little Night Murder by Neil Richards and Matthew Costello - Historical Mystery BooksMydworth Mystery – A Little Night Murder by Neil Richards and Matthew Costello

A young poacher is found shot dead in the woods of a grand estate near Mydworth. A sad accident it would seem. But the boy’s mother is convinced it is murder and when Harry and Kat investigate, they find the poacher’s life was not as innocent as he made out …

Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), have been writing together since the mid-90s, creating innovative content and working on major projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos, and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and the best-selling mystery series Cherringham. Their latest series project is called Mydworth Mysteries.

Read more about these historical mystery books HERE…

A Terrible Beaty by Tasha Alexander - Historical Mystery BooksA Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

In this thrilling new novel in the New York Times bestselling series, Lady Emily travels to Greece where a ghost from her past returns to haunt her amid the ruins.

Lady Emily retreats to her villa on the island of Santorini for a brief respite from London. But when she arrives, the housekeeper informs her that the master of the house has returned—Emily’s first husband who died a decade earlier…

Read more about Tasha Alexander’s historical mystery books HERE…

A Tale of Two Murders - Historical Mystery Books by Heather RedmondA Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond

In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper’s co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss’s daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors’ home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help–using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .

Read more about Heather Redmond’s historical mystery books HERE…

Murder in a Mill Town by P.B. Ryan - Historical Mystery BooksMurder in a Mill Town by P.B. Ryan

Nell Sweeney, a young Irish-born governess in post-Civil War Boston, may not have much, but she does possess both a keen mind and a brave heart. As governess to the wealthy Hewitt family, she finds plenty of opportunities to use both—especially when the seamy side of society shows itself…

The lowborn Fallons come to Viola Hewitt with a desperate plea for help. Their wayward daughter, Bridget, a pretty young employee of Hewitt Mills and Dye Works, hasn’t been seen for days. Mrs. Fallon, unwilling to believe that Bridget would just run off without a word, fears that she’s come to a bad end—possibly at the hands of her ex-con lover. Viola, confined to a wheelchair, enlists Nell to locate the missing mill girl. Working with Viola’s black sheep son, Will, Nell uncovers a web of schemes and greed and dark obsession… and what she knows may just be the death of her.

Read more about P.B. Ryan’s historical mystery books HERE…

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc - Historical Mystery Books by Jennifer KincheloeeThe Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

It’s 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era’s rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she’ll get fired; if her father finds out, he’ll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he’ll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father’s collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief’s son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail. Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

Read more about Jennifer Kincheloe’s historical mystery books HERE…

Treacherous is the Night - Historical Mystery Books by Anna Lee Huber Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber

In 1919 England, in the shadow of The Great War, many look to the spirit world for answers. But it will take an all too earthbound intrigue to draw in the discerning heroine of Anna Lee Huber’s latest mystery . . .

It’s not that Verity Kent doesn’t sympathize with those eager to make contact with lost loved ones. After all, she once believed herself a war widow. But now that she’s discovered Sidney is very much alive, Verity is having enough trouble connecting with her estranged husband, never mind the dead. Still, at a friend’s behest, Verity attends a séance, where she encounters the man who still looms between her and Sidney—and a medium who channels a woman Verity once worked with in the Secret Service. Refusing to believe her former fellow spy is dead, Verity is determined to uncover the source of the spiritualist’s top secret revelation.

Then the medium is murdered—and Verity’s investigation is suddenly thwarted. Even Secret Service agents she once trusted turn their backs on her. Undaunted, Verity heads to war-torn Belgium, with Sidney by her side. But as they draw ever closer to the danger, Verity wonders if she’s about to learn the true meaning of till death do us part . . .

Read more about Anna Lee Huber’s historical mystery books HERE…

Which of these have you read? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

9 Historical Mystery Books You Won't Want to Miss

historical mystery novel books grace in the wings 1920s interview kari bovee

The Authors Show Interview

WHAT IS “THE AUTHORS SHOW®”?

The Authors Show is a professional interview podcast created in 2005 that offers participants multiple benefits that authors who are serious about marketing their work need to consider, especially inasmuch as these benefits have long lasting effects. The Authors Show broadcasts interviews on multiple “channels”, each featuring one individual author for a full 24hrs Monday through Thursday, and 3-day weekends (Fri/Sat/Sun).

Grace in the Wings

Grace in the Wings a historical mystery series - Historical Fiction Book by Kari BoveeGrace Michelle has everything she wants; a home, a family, and a future career as a costume designer for the Ziegfeld Follies. Pretty good for a girl who was orphaned at a young age and living on the streets of New York City during prohibition. But when her sister Sophia, the star of the show is murdered, Grace’s once protected life is shattered.

Beholden to Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., the man who saved her from the streets, shy and introverted Grace must fill her sister’s Broadway shoes to save the fledging show and ultimately find Sophia’s killer. But on a transcontinental publicity train tour to California, it becomes clear that Grace’s life too, is in danger. Who could want her and Sophia dead? Flo Ziegfeld who is gaining publicity from the murder? His jealous wife? The man she and Sophia almost killed while on the streets? Grace has nowhere to go and no one to trust, even the Private Investigator, Chet Riker, who’s been hired to protect her. She is exposed to the dark nature of the era and shady characters of the prohibition.

Chet Riker is trying to piece his life back together after return from the battlefield in France. But he has a problem, a big one. In an attempt to save his estranged mother’s life, he’s become indebted to prohibition era mob-boss Joe Marciano. Marciano wants him to pay up, or else. Chet goes to former client Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.,  for work who just happens to need a body guard for his new star. Chet’s hardened theory that love only produces pain is tested when he meets the mysterious and innocent Grace.

When things get desperate for the show, Ziegfeld turns to wealthy and ruthless Marciano for a fast fix, but there is a price. Chet’s debt and the mob-bosses access to the beautiful Grace Michelle. When things go wrong and Marciano kidnaps Grace and neutralizes Chet, Grace must find a way to avenge her sister’s death, save herself, and the man she’s grown to love in the age of prohibition.

writers voices interview kari bovee historical fiction writer author

Murder at Ziegfeld follies – Writer’s Voices Interview

“If you have something in you, I want to encourage people to get that out, that’s part of who you are and yes it’s scary, it really scary to put yourself out there.”

historical fiction books kari bovee historical mystery interview wally on the weekend

Wally on the Weekend Interview

Author Kari Bovee https://karibovee.com/

Author Kari Bovee https://karibovee.com/ visits with Wally On The Weekend about her award winning work.

Posted by Wally on the Weekend on Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Wally on the Weekend – tune in as we discuss the Annie Oakley Mystery Series, my writing and some of my recent awards!

Tragic Beauty Olive Thomas

 

Olive Thomas
fanpix.famousfix.com

The ethereal beauty, Olive Thomas, is the inspiration for one of the secondary characters in my novel, Grace in the Wings, a Daphne du Maurier unpublished contest winner. The novel  is the first book in a mystery series that is currently being shopped by my agent for purchase.

Sophia Michelle is the older sister of my protagonist, Grace Michelle. Orphaned at 15, Sophia vowed that she and Grace would always have a roof over their heads, never go hungry and never live in an orphanage. She relied on the only asset she possessed at the time, her captivating beauty. She spent many nights “out” but always provided for her sister until she was discovered by the famous show-man, Florenz Ziegfeld, who took the girls under his wing and made Sophia a star. When Sophia is murdered, Grace is devastated and sets out to discover who killer her sister.

****

Olive Thomas was born Olivia R. Duffy, October 20, 1894, to a working class Irish American family in Pennsylvania. At 15 years of age she was forced to leave school to help support the family.  At 16 she married Bernard Krush Thomas. The marriage lasted two years. After her divorce she moved to New York City, lived with a family member, and worked in a Harlem department store. In 1914, she won “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest and landed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Having caught the public’s attention, and the eye of the famous Florenz Ziegfeld, Olive was hired to perform in his wildly popular Ziegfeld Follies. It wasn’t long before Olive had star billing in the Midnight Frolic, a show at one of Ziegfeld’s favored venues, the Roof Top Theater of the New Amsterdam Hotel. The Frolic catered primarily to well-known male patrons. The girls’ costumes, often just a few strategically arranged balloons, allowed amusement for the gentlemen who would pop the balloons with their cigars. The beauty of Olive Thomas became legendary and she was pursued by a number of wealthy men. She is said to have had “lovely violet-blue eyes, fringed with dark lashes that seemed darker because of the translucent pallor of her skin.”

Known for her beauty, Olive was also known for her wild ways. That free spiritedness became more pronounced when she became involved with Jack Pickford of the famous Pickford family. Alcohol and cocaine became part of her partying repertoire and it proved to be reckless. She had three automobile accidents in one year. After that, she hired a chauffeur.

Jack Pickford & Olive Thomas
Broadway Scene

Screenwriter Frances Marion later remarked, “…I had seen her often at the Pickford home, for she was engaged to Mary’s brother, Jack. Two innocent-looking children, they were the gayest, wildest brats who ever stirred the stardust on Broadway. Both were talented, but they were much more interested in playing the roulette of life than in concentrating on their careers.”

The marriage to Pickford caused much trouble for both parties. For Jack, his high-brow famous family did not approve of Olive’s work in the Frolics, and for Olive, her employer Florenz Ziegfeld accused Jack of taking her away from his entertainment dynasty. There were rumors that Flo and Olive were also romantically involved.

The relationship with Pickford could even have been said to contribute to her sudden death in 1920.  After a long night of dancing, drinking, and drugs, Olive and Jack went back to their hotel room. Suddenly, from the bathroom, Jack heard Olive scream, “Oh God!”  According to Jack’s account, Olive had accidentally drank from a bottle of something marked “poison”.  After a trip to the hospital and having her stomach pumped three times to no avail, Olive Thomas died. The autopsy stated that she died of a mixture of mercury bichloride and alcohol. Mercury bichloride was the prescribed tonic for Jack’s persistant and cronic syphyllis.

Olive Thomas had a short, but successful career. She worked for the Ziegfeld Follies and Midnight Frolic and she starred in over twenty motion pictures. She was also one of the first actresses to be termed “a flapper,” along with Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and Joan Crawford.

A Born Rebel – Belle “La Rebelle” Boyd – This Month in History

There is something very endearing about women in history who defied social norms and stepped outside of the boundaries the world imposed on them to fight for their causes, their faith, their family, or their beliefs.

Belle Boyd is one such woman. This month in history, on December 1, 1863, Belle Boyd, a Confederate spy, was released from prison in Washington, D.C. She was only 19 years old.

Belle Boyd Education & Resources - National Women's History Museum - NWHM
Belle Boyd
Education & Resources – National Women’s History Museum – NWHM

I am always scouring the internet for interesting stories about empowered women in history. Belle’s story caught my eye because I also write about a Confederate spy in my novel, Girl with a Gun—the fictionalization of Annie Oakley as an amateur sleuth (now being marketed by my agent for publication.) My spy is not as crafty and endearing as Belle, nor is he female, but he shares the same rebellious and cause-driven nature.

Belle’s story begins in 1844 in Bunker Hill, VA (now West Virginia) where she was born to Benjamin Boyd, a tobacco farmer and shopkeeper, and his wife Mary Boyd. In 1855 the family moved to nearby Martinsburg. The oldest of 8 children, Belle seemed to come out of the womb a rebel. At the age of 10, Belle defied her social status—and the law—by teaching Eliza Corsey, one of her family’s slaves, to read and write. Belle and Eliza had become fast friends growing up together, and Belle wanted Eliza to enjoy some of the rights denied to her because of her color. She later states in her memoir Belle Boyd, in Camp and Prison, published 1865, “Slavery, like all other imperfect forms of society, will have its day, but the time for its final extinction in the Confederate States of America has not yet arrived.”

Always quick-witted and bright beyond her years, at age 11, it is reputed that Belle, in rebellion to being denied attendance at one of her parent’s parties because of her age, rode her horse into the family’s living room during the party. She is said to have stated, “my horse is old enough, isn’t he?”

At 12 years old, Belle’s parents sent her to the esteemed Mount Washington Female College of Baltimore. After graduating at 16, Belle enjoyed a life of dancing and parties as a debutant in Washington, D.C. This must have been when she honed her skills as a flirt and expert communicator. After a season, she returned to her life and family in Martinsburg.

Martinsburg was a town supported by the Union cause, but Belle’s family were true southerners and devoted to the Confederacy. Her 45-year old father enlisted in the Virginia Infantry under Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Belle and her mother supported the cause by sewing clothing and raising funds for the Confederate soldiers.

In July 1861, Union soldiers captured Martinsburg, invading homes and businesses. When a group of drunken Union soldiers tried to hang a Union flag over the entrance to the Boyd’s family home, Mary, Belle’s mother, intervened. When one of the soldiers accosted Mary, Belle grabbed a Colt pocket pistol and shot him dead. Thus began her career as a “rebel spy” at the tender age of 17.

Realizing her feminine power, and having mastered the art of flirting, Belle knew that she could fly under the radar of suspicion and through family connections began gathering information from Union soldiers. With the help of Eliza, Belle would send the information to the Confederate side. When one of her letters was intercepted, Belle was arrested but managed to get off with a warning for a crime that was usually punishable by death.

belleboydcivilwar.weebly.com
belleboydcivilwar.weebly.com

Undaunted, Belle ramped up her support for the South by becoming a messenger for Confederal generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Belle used her feminine wiles to steal weapons from Union camps and smuggle precious quinine, a medicine used for malaria, across the Potomac River to secessionist towns in Maryland. One of her most significant missions was to obtain crucial information that would allow Stonewall Jackson’s forces to recapture the town of Front Royal.

In society, Belle became known as the sort of girl a boy wouldn’t want to take home to mother. She worked at seducing both Confederate and Union officers and was considered the lowest form of “camp follower” around. Not a beautiful woman, Belle had a confidence that made her looks secondary to her charms. She also had no qualms about impersonating Confederate soldiers to further garner information from Union officers.

Whether dressed as a man or a woman, Belle never wavered from her devotion to the Southern cause and that transparency became a part of her persona. It was only a matter of time before Union officials saw Belle as a potential threat. Shortly after her contribution to the recapture of Front Royal, Belle was again arrested and sent to Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. where she spent a month in prison, and then subsequently spent another five months in prison after yet another arrest. After several more arrests, Belle met and married one of her Union captors, an officer named Samuel Hardinge. The two were married and had a daughter. Although unable to completely convert Hardinge to the Southern cause, he did serve time in prison for giving aid to Belle.

Belle eventually made her way to England where she wrote her memoir and launched a career as an actress. Several years later, Belle returned to the United States and married twice more, had four more children, became estranged from her oldest daughter, and spent time in a mental institution. She died in 1900, during a performance on stage in Wisconsin.

Although Belle’s life did not end on a happy note, in her later years she learned that her efforts had not been in vain. Women all across the South had taken to impersonating her, claiming to be Belle Boyd, the “Siren of the Shenandoah” or the “Cleopatra of the Secession.” She had become a symbol of feminine empowerment and an inspiration to future generations.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and an empowered female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!

 

 

Sources:

National Women’s History Museum https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/belleboyd/

Bio. http://www.biography.com/people/belle-boyd

“The ‘Siren of the Shenandoah'” by Karen Abbot, New York Times, May 23, 2012, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/the-siren-of-the-shenendoah/?-r=0

 

The “Gentle Ghost” of Santa Fe

Halloween is again upon us and so closes my series of ghost stories for October. I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the ghosts of Hawaii and New Mexico. I have saved my favorite ghost for last.

Julia Schuster Staab was the wife of Abraham Staab, a Jewish German immigrant, who came to New Mexico in 1846 to establish himself as a merchant on the Santa Fe Trail. After Abraham became a wealthy businessman, he went home to Germany to find a bride. He found Julia Schuster, the daughter of a wealthy merchant from his home village of Ludge. Having come from the same small village, it is thought that perhaps Abraham knew Julia’s family before he left to find his riches in America. With great expectations he brought Julia back to his new home in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1865.

Young Julia Staab and Julia & Abraham
jwi.org

Completely out of place in the village of Santa Fe with its mud houses and arid landscape, Julia had been accustomed to more a more elegant lifestyle and grand home. Eager to make his wife happy, Abraham built Julia a beautiful white mansion. The Staab House, a Victorian masterpiece with a large ballroom on the third floor, suited Julia’s excellent taste.

Original Staab House Jewishbookcouncil.org
Original Staab House
Jewishbookcouncil.org

The couple had seven children, but at the death of their eighth, Julia changed both physically and mentally. She became sad, depressed, chronically ill and inconsolable. It is said her hair turned grey overnight. Her grief took a toll on the couple and they slowly grew apart. This did not help Julia’s situation and some say she went insane. She spent most of her latter days locked in her bedroom until she died in 1896, under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Rumors of Abraham’s extramarital affairs and Julia’s possible murder or suicide were never proven.

In the 1920’s a fire burned through the Staab house, destroying the third floor. When the house was rebuilt as a stuccoed, Pueblo-style hotel, the builders simply built around the remains of the mansion and then added charming casitas across the 7-acre plot as additional guest rooms.

Although she died in 1896, Julia’s ghostly presence had not been reported until the 1970’s. A janitor at the hotel stated that he saw a translucent dark eyed woman in a white Victorian gown, with white, upswept hair standing near the fireplace. From that moment on, more sightings of the same woman were reported. Staff and guests alike saw her wandering the hallways, lounging in a chair in the downstairs sitting room or standing near the fireplace.

The excerpt below is from the book American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus, great-great granddaughter to Julia Staab. The book is an enthralling read and I highly recommend it.

“Strange things began to happen in the hotel. Gas fireplaces turned off and on repeatedly, though nobody was flipping the switch. Chandeliers swayed and revolved. Vases of flowers moved to new locations. Glasses tumbled from shelves in the bar. A waitress, not known for her clumsiness, began droppings trays and explained that she felt as if someone were pushing them from underneath. Guests heard dancing footsteps on the third story, where the ballroom had once been—though the third floor had burned years earlier. A woman’s voice, distant and foreign sounding, called the switchboard over and over. ‘Hallo?’ ‘Hallo?’ ‘Hallo?’”

One guest decided to test Julia when he and his wife requested to stay in Julia’s room. Hearing that Julia’s ghost was very particular about things in her room, he purposely left the top dresser drawer opened. Later that night, he and his wife were awakened by the sound of the drawer being slowly closed.

Entrance to Staab House from La Posada lobby www.10best.com
Entrance to Staab House from La Posada lobby
www.10best.com

I became fascinated with the story of the La Posada Hotel after our daughter decided she wanted to be married there last year. She, her fiancé and I took the hour long drive to Santa Fe to stay the night in the hotel and speak to the event planner who worked there. As luck would have it, the engaged couple was put up in one of the casitas, and I was assigned to a room on the second floor of the mansion—the room right next door to Julia’s. I had heard some stories that the hotel was haunted, but at the time, I didn’t know Julia’s story. Which is probably a good thing. Fortunately, the only thing that kept me up that night was the rowdy party in the bar at the foot of the stairs to my room.

La Posada Hotel today View from the garden
La Posada Hotel today
View from the garden

Months later, after our daughter and her new husband’s stunning wedding, I wandered into the lobby and saw Nordhaus’ book sitting on the concierge’s desk. When I asked the woman sitting at the desk about the book, she proceeded to give me the highlights and told me some of the fascinating stories other staff and guests had told about Julia’s ghost. I asked if she had any similar experiences and she said she hadn’t, although she wanted to. After her last chemo treatment, she and her daughter decided to celebrate with a weekend stay at the hotel. They requested Julia’s room in hopes they would get a visit from the familiar “gentle ghost” and sat up all night waiting for her. In the wee hours of the morning they fell asleep and slept undisturbed. The concierge believed that Julia was too shy to make an appearance when someone was expecting her. She said she’d rent the room again sometime.

That concierge is braver than I am. Now that I know the story, I’m not sure I’d request to stay in the main house again. In fact, I would definitely request one of the casitas.

If you ever get to New Mexico, a stay at the La Posada Hotel is a must. Even if you don’t get Julia’s room.

Building a Better Relationship – Annie Oakley Style

 

oakley-indians
Annie Oakley doing what she did best!

Building a better relationship. It’s something we all should strive for. In our marriages, with our kids, friends, family, co-workers, employees, the list goes on. But, often in our busy lives, we are so focused on getting things done or achieving things, that we don’t focus on our relationships. Through time and neglect, those relationships begin to sour or drift away.

A couple of years ago, I saw this happening in my relationships with my horses and I knew I had to fix it.

I grew up in New Mexico with horses in my backyard. I spent much of my youth with my favorite horse, Flying Mok (I don’t know where the name came from). We covered miles of trail along the Rio Grande and spent hours in the arena. When not riding, I would sit on a large branch of the cottonwood tree that shaded his corral and just watch him eat. I participated in some horse shows and took home my share of ribbons, but the main objective was to have fun, and we did, and our relationship proved it.

As an adult, after college and more financial stability, I got back into horses via my teenage daughter who needed a hobby and a sport. I took her to one of the local barns and her love affair with horses began and mine was resurrected. She wanted to focus on showing, so we did. It was something we enjoyed together – a mother/daughter bonding experience that softened the angst of her teenage years. When she went to college, I was left with some very lovely, very expensive horses, so I decided to go into showing full boat. My love for horses and my competitive nature fit together like a custom-made glove and I was all in.

My horses and I did very well for several years, but after a while, it seemed like my whole life became all about the next show. Sometimes I’d go to shows twice a month, often traveling far from home in search of the rainbow of ribbons. After a while, I noticed that my horses didn’t seem to be making much improvement, their neurosis and fears increased, and I became more and more frustrated. It wasn’t fun anymore.

I’d been introduced to Natural Horsemanship via a Parelli Horse and Soul Tour some years earlier. I enjoyed the demonstrations and respected the training methods and philosophy the Parelli’s espoused, but I didn’t have time to embrace the philosophy. I had to prepare for the next show!

After more years of showing, anxiety, and frustration with minimal improvement, I finally realized that my love affair with horses was dying. I decided to look at this Natural Horsemanship closer. I had to nurture my relationship with my horses because those relationships and spending time with my horses had always been my “soul food” and I was starving.

I ventured to the “mecca” of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, the Colorado Ranch Campus, for the first time in 2014, for a four-week course. I took my horse Chaco, who had been my greatest challenge to date. Chaco was energetic, athletic, spooky, unpredictable, uncomfortable with contact, and quite frankly, a bit scary to me. Other people may not have felt the same about him, but that didn’t matter. He was scary to me, and our relationship had miles to go.

What I learned in that four-week course assured me with absolute certainty that Natural Horsemanship was the path I needed to pursue, to better myself as a horsewoman and as a person. I learned that like people, horses needed to be treated as individuals. They have fears, quirks, moods, aches, pains, and NEEDS that I had been ignoring. I’d been so focused on achieving better scores, more ribbons, more awards with my horses that all I’d done was damage the relationship.

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Chaco and me watching a demo at the Parelli campus. June 2016

Three courses and two years later, I am a different horsewoman. I have a long way to go, but I am becoming more confident, more patient, and more understanding of my horses’ NEEDS and they, in turn, are starting to enjoy being with me. I can tell when I get out of the car and they come to greet me. I can tell when they are so willing to be a partner that they ask questions and trust me with the answers. I can tell when they are calm, connected, and responsive when I am working with them on the ground or under saddle. The love affair is reborn.

In the first book of my historical mystery series, Girl with a Gun, one of the sub-plots centers on the relationship between a woman and her horse. The protagonist, the not-yet-famous Annie Oakley, has a special bond with Buck, a golden horse with a midnight-black mane and tail. While Buck doesn’t exactly help her solve the murder, his relationship with Annie carries her through some tumultuous times and proves to be one that she cannot live without.

In my book series, I’ve created the ultimate horse/human relationship with Annie and Buck. It’s something I will strive for and work toward as long as I have my equine friends with me. I’m taking a break from showing for the time being, but when I return, it won’t be about achievements and ribbons. It will be about building a better relationship and that is a guaranteed win.