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Welcome to our blog! Find out about our current projects and excerpts of our new books and short stories. Here you can also discover our latest specials on freebies and bargain books. For aspiring writers, we will also be including some posts about writing fiction. Please also visit our web page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whispers of the Stones and The Intriguing Mystery of the Pedro Mummy

      When I was living in Laramie, Wyoming, I heard tales of the Pedro Mummy which drew my interest.  According to the stories, a tiny mummy was discovered in the 1930s by miners near Shirley Basin.  The mummified remains of a little man only 14 inches tall was found still sitting cross-legged on a stone ledge in a cave.
     There’s no question that the Pedro Mummy actually existed.  It became an object of curiosity and scientific speculation until its disappearance in the 1950s.  It was not a fake.

U (Life time: 1936) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     The curious little mummy, which was soon nicknamed “Pedro” because he was found in the Pedro Mountains, changed hands several times and was sold and resold.  For a time, it was displayed in a drugstore, then a used car lot, then a cigar shop in Casper.  In the care of Ivan Goodman in the 1950s, the mummy was examined and X-rayed.  It was found the mummy had a definite human rib-cage.
     At the time of the Pedro Mummy’s discovery, it was thought to be the remains of a tiny, ancient little man in his late sixties.  Many people believed that the discovery of the tiny mummy might be proof that the “Little People” of Native American legends actually existed.  The “Little People” are part of the legends and folklore of the Shoshoni, Arapahoe. and many other tribes.  In some tales the tiny men, who remain hidden in caverns and deep in the mountains, are good-natured tricksters, in others they are more mean-spirited and may shoot arrows at their larger counterparts.  In many tales the “Little People” serve as spiritual guides or helpers to lost travelers.
     In the 1980s the original X-rays were carefully studied and scientists indicated that the tiny remains were more likely to be those of a malformed infant who had been left in the cave to die instead of a full-grown man.  The infant might have suffered from anencephaly, which would account for the misshapen head.  But it didn’t explain fully developed rib-cage or reports that the mummy had teeth.  Since the mummy can no longer be found to examine, no one really knows who he was or how he got there.
     The last owner of the mummy was New Yorker Leonard Wadler.  After that, the mummy disappeared from history.  Many articles have appeared about the Pedro Mummy, including stories in the Casper Star Tribune.  Since its disappearance, scientists and collectors have had interest in finding the missing mummy, even offering rewards, so it can be examined.
     All of this caught my interest and after talking it over with my co-author and sister, Loretta, she became interested in the story as well.  We decided to write a mystery starting with the premise: what if some antique dealer actually had the mummy?  What would happen if such an artifact resurfaced?
     In our third Jeff McQuede novel, Whispers of the Stones, Sheriff McQuede investigates such an event.  The details concerning the mummy in this story are as true as we could make them from varying research sources.  The rest, of course, is fiction.

To read more about The Pedro Mummy:

As you read accounts of the Pedro Mummy, you will find many discrepancies, because even in newspapers and journals there are many different accounts of what happened.  When writing our story, we used those dates and sources from what seemed the most reliable references.  Here are some places on the Internet to read more about the Pedro Mummy and the “Little People”.

The Pedro Mummy:

The Little  People:

 Whispers of the Stones

Whispers of the Stones; A Jeff McQuede Mystery by Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sample our Short Stories for Free

Everyone likes a free book or story and my sister and I try to offer one now and then. It's also a good way to sample our work for free.   Right now we have a free mystery short story The Horse in the Corner that can be downloaded from Smashwords.

If you enjoy this story you might also like our Jeff McQuede short story collection A Deal on a Handshake  or full-length novels available on Amazon.

We also have a suspense short story, Faces of Evil on  Smashwords.

Similar collections include Killer at the Door and The Bloody Knife, available on Smashwords.

Today we have a romance short story features at Flurries of Words: Flash Fiction at Five.  
 If you miss it today, the story can be found in the archives later on.

If you enjoy it, check out our clean romantic suspense titles The Vanished Lady, Bitter Melody, Arctic Legacy, Path of the Jaguar and others available on Amazon.  You can view most of our titles at Amazon Author Central 

We hope you will feel free to sample some of our work!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Are Painted Lady Houses?

(By Los Angeles (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons)

 Lovely Victorian Homes painted in multiple layers are often referred to as Painted Ladies.  You will find such a house in our newest mystery, The Vanished Lady. 

What does the term Painted Lady mean?

The term “painted lady” has a double meaning. It is often used to refer to “soiled doves” or fallen women of the Old West, who painted their faces with makeup when respectable women did not wear cosmetics.   Houses of that same era painted in a multi-colored scheme are also often referred to as “Painted Ladies.”  Though the terms are believed to be unrelated, these lovely homes, like our more flamboyant sisters, are the showy peacocks of architecture.  Dating back to the mid to late 1800s, many of these historic homes throughout the United States have been remodeled and turned into bed and breakfasts.   

How to Identify a Painted Lady House

Though many Victorian styles may qualify as Painted Ladies, the architectural style most identified with the Painted Lady is the Queen Anne.  The Queen Anne is usually a smaller home, with three stories and which may have a tower or turret.   Whatever the architectural style, which may range from Greek Revival to Colonial, Painted Ladies can easily be identified not only by their brilliant, rainbow hues but by the intricate detailing on porches, shutters, molding around windows and eaves.  The woodwork is often lacy in appearance.  Because of this detailing, they are sometimes also referred to as “Gingerbread Houses”.  

Originally painted in brilliant colors, many of the old Painted Ladies were coated over with a white or cream color in the early 1900s.  In the 1970s the Painted  Lady made a comeback and many were restored to their original color schemes and brilliance.
According to contemporary standards, to qualify as a true Painted Lady, the house must meet three important criteria.  The house must be a balanced, harmonious blend of color and architecture, it must be painted in three or more contrasting colors, and the colors must be used to bring out the decorative embellishments of the house.

 Many Painted Ladies are done up in brilliant, contrasting colors.  Any color can be used, as long as it draws out the architecture of the house.  Examples of startling, yet successful blends of colors may be slate blue walls with contrasting sea green and mauve trim, or perhaps  rose-colored walls with brilliant green and tan detailing.   Some more sedate painted ladies may have white or tan outer walls with trim of pale pinks, blues, or mauves.  The bolder ladies may be done in shocking pink, blue and orange.

A Resurgence in Popularity

The term Painted Lady, as it refers to houses, is a relatively new one  It originated in the early 1970s when San Francisco residents began painting their Victorian homes in three or more contrasting colors.  The trend spread to other places, such as Colorado, where there are a wealth of Victorian homes still standing.
 Where to See Painted Lady Houses

While examples of this architecture can be found scattered in all parts of the United States from the Northeast to the Southwest, many areas are known for their lovely Painted Lady districts.  A person might come across a Painted Lady anywhere, from the East and West coast to the Midwest, but they will be found in greater number in gold rush towns such as San Francisco where Victorians settled to build.  California has many areas along the coast where Painted Ladies can be seen in abundance.  Though many were destroyed by fire, or demolished, San Francisco has long been known as a place to view this type of architecture. A row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street in San Francisco is one of the most popular areas for these houses.

Colorful and unique Painted Ladies are also prevalent in Denver, Colorado and in the many small, neighboring gold mining towns such as Georgetown.  Loretta and I visited and photographed several of these old houses, which provided inspiration for our book about such a house with a secret. 

Purchase a copy of the romantic suspense The Vanished Lady on Kindle for only $2.99. 
Now also available in PAPERBACK!