I'm on the road again making presentations and signing Cat's Cafe books! Monday, March 20, I'm off to Springfield to present a program about the Melotte Morse Stained Glass Studio museum-quality restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass in the Dana-Thomas House and to sign copies of Cat's Cafe. It will be a good… Continue reading Ralls Melotte author~ On the road, and a video
The author’s life ~ Mounds of snow on Monday
When I see you, and you ask me why I'm not farther along in Book Two, which I'm confident some of you will (!), I'll mention this, the latest delivery of deep, drifting, lake effect snow on my beloved Wisconsin town ... driveway ... deck ... I've been shoveling snow for what seems like weeks,… Continue reading The author’s life ~ Mounds of snow on Monday
The author’s life — Thank you to the Museum of Idaho
Photo of Museum of Idaho, from Visit Idaho My great thanks to the Museum of Idaho for the wealth of its resources and the helpfulness of the team there. They helped Cat's Cafe, Eagle Rock Trilogy Book One come to life in the most realistic way, and my early research for the trilogy a complete… Continue reading The author’s life — Thank you to the Museum of Idaho
Saloons in the Old West ~ Whiskey and Women (update)
Image from LegendsofAmerica.com In my historical fiction novel, Cat’s Cafe, two saloons compete for hard-drinking rail workers, cowboys, bullwhackers, and others who love a stiff drink as often as they can afford it. In July of 1879, the town of Eagle Rock had just been formed but more saloons would swiftly follow. As an example… Continue reading Saloons in the Old West ~ Whiskey and Women (update)
The author’s life ~ Talks in towns … or, it could snow
The forecast was for Kewaunee and nearby towns on Lake Michigan to be "walloped" night before last. We were. Sideways snow, wind roaring past our upstairs windows. A proper Wisconsin snowstorm. https://videopress.com/v/NW8CtZhe?resizeToParent=true&cover=true&preloadContent=metadata&useAverageColor=true And within several hours, I was to spend a pleasant evening talking to a group and signing books in Algoma. That program was… Continue reading The author’s life ~ Talks in towns … or, it could snow
Saloons in the 1870s Old West ~ And an update: Books and Talks!
Patrick’s Saloon in the historical novel Cat’s Cafe, Eagle Rock Trilogy Book One, wasn't the highly polished, rich mahogany, mirrored saloon depicted in film and television westerns -- at least not in the beginning. Western towns in the 1860s and '70s were thrown up faster than they could be properly built. Only a few buildings… Continue reading Saloons in the 1870s Old West ~ And an update: Books and Talks!
Four Women Who Tamed the Wild West
Welcome to Eagle Rock, Idaho Territory, 1870s Determination and ingenuity brought irrigation to the desert, education and Christianity to pioneer families and Native American children in a Mormon enclave, women's suffrage to the West, and civilization to the small town of Eagle Rock where four remarkable women, based on real life late 19th-century women, lived.… Continue reading Four Women Who Tamed the Wild West
Cat’s Cafe — In stores now!
It's official! Friesen Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (more limited) are now accepting orders for Cat's Cafe, Eagle Rock Trilogy Book One. Paperback and hardcover orders will be fulfilled as soon as the publisher delivers the first orders to warehouses, and digital copies are available NOW! Here's how to get yours. Important note (smiling!)… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe — In stores now!
2023 “IRL” and Virtual Presentations
Ralls is scheduling "In real life" presentations in south central Wisconsin and central Illinois, as well as virtual presentations via Zoom that can be tailored to your group's meeting schedule. All in-person meetings will include time for book signing as well. Contact Ralls to discuss fees and schedules at email@example.com. Presentation list, author information Cat's… Continue reading 2023 “IRL” and Virtual Presentations
Native American women guide the U.S. forward
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, photo from http://www.doi.gov National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe, photo from http://www.neh.gov Native American women now lead the Department of the Interior and National Endowment for the Arts. At last. On January 15th,, 2022 Debra Anne Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, became the… Continue reading Native American women guide the U.S. forward
Cat’s Cafe, reviews and comments
Thank you everyone for the great reviews and comments! “The dramatic center of the story — Catherine finding the inner strength to take on a pile of troubles — is handled with an engaging sense of compassion … A zesty and occasionally touching story of a woman confronting the crude realities of a new life.” … Continue reading Cat’s Cafe, reviews and comments
Cat’s Cafe Review in Illinois Times
Photo of landscape south of Idaho Falls taken in 2021 by Ralls Melotte somewhat similar to what it might have looked like in 1879 but without the barbed wire fence. Photo of early combined bank, dry goods store and post office in Eagle Rock, now Idaho Falls, probably around the mid 1880s. Courtesy of the… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe Review in Illinois Times
Art and the architect
Happily for me, past and present are meeting these days. My newly published AND REVIEWED Cat's Cafe has me on the road sharing my passion for historical fiction, and people are again inviting me to make presentations on significant projects from my architecture career. Both occurred in Springfield last month when Justin Blandford, pictured here,… Continue reading Art and the architect
The first reviews are in!
It takes weeks to get even a paid review. But my first two are finally in and they're good. Interestingly, they don't actually fully agree. One dinged me on the dialect and footnotes, the other really liked it. Until I can actually contractually release the reviews, here are some snippets from each. "... depicts historical… Continue reading The first reviews are in!
Cat’s Cafe, Characters
My brother Rod just finished my book and said he really liked it, but would like it even more if he could look at a "cast of characters" while he was reading. This is for you, Rod! A little late, but better than never. Listed in order of appearance*indicates a true historical individual Edgar Potts… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe, Characters
American Westward Expansion
The 43-star American flag of 1890, as shown on Wikipedia. Five stars were added at this time for Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington states. America went through a major transformation during the thirty year period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century. The Industrial Revolution… Continue reading American Westward Expansion
Purchase Cat’s Cafe
Eagle Rock Trilogy Book One introduces Catherine Callaway and characters, both righteous and ruthless, amidst the raw beauty of a rail town that rises, falls, and rises again — first at the hand of corrupt managers and tycoons, and ultimately from the efforts of entrepreneurs and visionaries who helped lead the town and territory to… Continue reading Purchase Cat’s Cafe
Books in hand!
After years of research, writing, editing and preparation MY BOOKS HAVE ARRIVED! Early release paperback and hardcover copies (printed prior to receiving the professional reviews) of my historical fiction novel Cat’s Café are available now; hardcover copies, paperbacks and digital copies should be available at bookstores and Amazon after Christmas. I am so happy! So,… Continue reading Books in hand!
Volcanos and rapids, the origins of Eagle Rock
Courtesy Library of Congress. Title: Great Falls of Snake River, Idaho territory / TM ; Prang's American Chromo. Contributor Names: L. Prang & Co., Moran, Thomas, 1837-1926, artist. Created / Published c1876. Subject Headings: Waterfalls--Idaho--1870-1880, Cliffs--Idaho--1870-1880, Snake River (Wyo.-Wash.)--1870-1880 The location of Idaho Falls, Idaho, (initially Eagle Rock), along the Snake River in Eastern Idaho… Continue reading Volcanos and rapids, the origins of Eagle Rock
Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh
Grand Teton National Park’s Leigh Lake is named for Beaver Dick. Jenny Lake is named for his wife. Beaver Dick's actual diary transcription available from the University of Wyoming. Fascinating. WYOhistory photo link here. WYOhistory photo link here. Mountain man, Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh, was born in Manchester, England, but immigrated to America with his… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh
Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Robert Anderson and James “Matt” Taylor
Taylor's Crossing, from Bridgehunter.com James Madison “Matt” Taylor is credited to be the founding father of Eagle Rock, which was first called Taylor’s Crossing in 1865. Matt and several partners built the first bridge across the Snake River with the intention of charging a toll to travelers using the California Trail and its northern leg,… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Robert Anderson and James “Matt” Taylor
Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Fred Thomas Dubois
Another historical figure I have included in the first book of the Eagle Rock Trilogy is Fred Dubois. He became a U.S. Marshal and two-term senator in Idaho and is described in The Statesman (August 23, 2015) by Arthur Hart as “a controversial U.S. senator from Idaho, remembered today for his anti-Mormonism and relentless pursuit… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Fred Thomas Dubois
And now this …
My first full week of marketing ~ discoveries and successes I just spent most of a week in central Illinois meeting, greeting, and marketing. It was great! Exhausting, but great. It started with My Dear Editor and Agent's usual arm-length to-do list. I used to think she was going to be a helpful, easygoing hire.… Continue reading And now this …
Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Rebecca Mitchell
Rebecca Mitchell, from BYU Archives Rebecca Mitchell is one of the real people featured in my historical fiction novel Cat’s Café who did live and work in Eagle Rock and influence the warp and weft of life not only in Idaho but throughout the West and, ultimately, the entire United States. Born in 1832 in… Continue reading Cat’s Cafe Who’s Who ~ Rebecca Mitchell
1870s Law and Order, local lockups
This photo, found at Old Prisons, is credited as follows: A strap-iron cage jail at Martinsdale, Montana. Photo montanapictures.net In the Eagle Rock of my new historical fiction novel Cat’s Cafe, the Clancy Clan plagues the town with unrestrained theft and intimidation, Sheriff Zane Gunther is the ineffectual face of the law, and the real… Continue reading 1870s Law and Order, local lockups
Law and order, sheriffs and marshals
We found this great Ken Petts watercolor for sale at https://bookpalace.com/acatalog/info_PettsHoldUpLL.html, with the title Henry Plummer Sheriff and Outlaw. Local lawmen and the U.S. Marshals Service Is Zane Gunther crazy? Possibly. At the very best, he lacks all sense of social propriety and personal responsibility ~ and could use a good speech teacher. With that,… Continue reading Law and order, sheriffs and marshals
1870s Law and Order, firearms
Here is one beguiling beauty and her early concealed carry firearm of choice, the 1849 Colt pocket model. View this photo and many others in Phil Spangenberger's article "Twelve Guns That Tamed the Wild West" at True West Magazine here. For a fascinating look at historic firearms through the decades, visit the National Firearms Museum… Continue reading 1870s Law and Order, firearms
American Westward Migration, riding the Transcontinental RR
The Transcontinental Railroad was the ultimate luxury ~ for some First class passengers boarding the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1870s stepped into an elegant, extravagant world of dark, polished woods, velvet upholstery, and gilt-framed mirrors in palace Pullman cars, slept in private rooms, and enjoyed opulent "feasts of antelope, trout, berries and Champagne," describes History.com,… Continue reading American Westward Migration, riding the Transcontinental RR
American Westward Migration, building the Transcontinental RR
The Transcontinental Railroad, Change and challenge Central Pacific Transcontinental Railroad, Tunnel No. 27 The completion of the monumental task of building almost 1,800 miles of track in the late 1860s had a dramatic impact on the future of the United States. According to James P. Ronda, co-author of The West the Railroads Made, “What the… Continue reading American Westward Migration, building the Transcontinental RR
American Westward Migration, beginnings
Before there were trains on tracks, there were carts and wagons on trails Life and Death on the Trail 30-100 prairie schooners in a caravan4' x 10' size of a prairie schooner wagon15-20 miles per hour a prairie schooner could travel2,170 miles of various routes on the Oregon Trail420,000 pioneers traveled part of the Oregon… Continue reading American Westward Migration, beginnings
Breads that sizzle
Chuck, grub, chow, all names for chuck wagon food in the wagon train and on the cattle drive, featured basic starches and staples cooked over a fire. Beans cooked all night, bread cooked quickly in hot cast iron. Those breads are still popular today, whether cooked over a fire or on top of the stove.… Continue reading Breads that sizzle
Cowboy cooking, chuckwagon style
Photo from Chip Schweiger's Cowboy Lifestyle, used with permission Carl Clancy in the upcoming historical fiction Cat's Cafe lived in the family chuck wagon in the hills above Eagle Rock. He became quite a good cook for himself, and for the seductive Fannie Smiles. Carl Clancy in Cat’s Café grew up as the youngest member… Continue reading Cowboy cooking, chuckwagon style
Pioneer Food, part one
Image by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay Corn+Bread=Sturdy, satisfying survival food Contemporary cookbooks offer all sorts of entertaining and delicious sounding recipes for early American cooking, cowboy cooking, and pioneer cooking. But cooking in the late-1800s American West was really all about survival, not taste and variety. According to Richard Erodos in Saloons of the… Continue reading Pioneer Food, part one