October 10, 2008


by Maggie Brendan

I’m honored to be a part of Bustle And Spurs blog with all of you wonderful writers that I respect so much. My first historical comes out in January, 2009. Heart of the West Series, book 1-No Place For a Lady. I write under the pen name of Maggie Brendan. The west has always been a fascination to me with its history of trailblazers that endured so much hardship and heartache, and I’m drawn to the romanticism of the American cowboy. I want to share with you several great resources that may be helpful to you in creating your novels.

A Dictionary of the Old West is a favorite of mine. It was written by Peter Watts, published by Promonory Press 1977. His book recorded words and phrases from 1850-1900 belonging to the Old West. If you Google the title, you’ll see that it’s still available online. He gives little guidance to pronunciation of the words because there was no sure way of knowing exactly how the Old Westerner did pronounce his words. It’s good to remember that during the early period, men using these words were not necessarily Westerners in the modern meaning of the word.

Another favorite of mine is From the Pecos to the Powder, as told to Ramon F. Adams by Bob Kennon. University of Oklahoma Press 1965. This autobiography will give you the feel of cowboy’s life and saturate you with the real flavor of what it’s like; from the way they worked to how they spoke and what they did for fun. It’s full of true life events, some humorous. The University of Oklahoma Press has great resources for books on the West that are hard to find. I’ve been able to buy several good books from them.

When I was writing the first book for my The Heart of the West series, I needed a song for a cattle drive that I could quote without having to worry about copyrights. I found it in a book, He Was Singing This Song, that was a gift from my brother. My brother was a guest on the Michael Martin Murphey TV program in Nashville one year and had dedicated one of his westerns novels to Michael Martin Murphey. One of the Murphey’s guests was Jim Bob Tinsley, who was part of the western singing group, The Drifters. He had e sung with other famous western singers, including Gene Autry, Roy Rodgers, and later inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame for his contributions to western heritage through music. The forward is written by none other than the beloved crooner, Gene Autry. The publisher is University of Central Florida Book, 1981. There are about 48 songs with lyrics and music. The history of each song and the date, along with other interesting tidbits are included for each song. This is a beautiful book that I treasure and Tinsley autographed it for me. In it, I found the perfect lyrics for my cattle drive!

Research is imperative when writing a historical and occasionally, I’ll get side-tracked by continuing to read long past the info that I originally was searching for, when I stumble upon something else equally interesting. Does that happen to you? Sometimes it’s hard to find just the right answer, but if we take the time and make the effort to dig deep enough, we’ll find them. In the process we’ll learn a little something new along the way, and have fun learning more about our subject.

Happy Trails…


Tina Dee Books said...

Hi Maggie!

Those books sound very interesting. I'm hoping one of my local libraries will carry one of them. What a treasure.

So did your brother spark your interest in writing, or were you writing then also?

Visited your blog, love your upcoming books cover. Can't wait to read it.

Thanks for the great post!

Tina Dee

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Hi, Tina. I love these books! In answer to your question-No. I was writing before my brother wrote his first novels, but I stopped, raised a family, working, and then started really concentrating on writing, and learning what I could. By that time he was published, but years before, told me that I was a good writer and should pursue it. He was a great mentor to me. Sadly, he passed away 4 yrs ago.
Thanks for visting my blog and your encouraging words.

Tamela Hancock Murray said...

What a fun post -- and a fun blog overall. Maggie, I enjoy your work so much! Your books are great examples of how research can be woven into stories to enrich the reader's experience. I know readers of this blog would love your books! Hugs, Tamela

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Hi, Tamela. I appreicate your comments and especially you as a friend and agent! These are only a few of my books. A lot of research can be done on the internet but I personally enjoy having the actual reading material in my hands.

Vickie McDonough said...


I've already gone to Amazon and ordered one of these books. Thanks for telling us about them.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Hi, Vickie. Which one did you order? I'm sure you'll be pleased no matter which one. :)

Vickie McDonough said...

I ordered A Dictionary of the Old West. It looked to have many things that would help me in writing the West.

Kay said...

You seem to hit the right balance between research being serious work and serious fun. I enjoy reading books where it's obvious the research is real and deep. I like learning about the place and time I'm reading about. I also enjoy authors that care enough to set their characters and stories in authetic situations. Thanks for taking the time and I can't wait to read the results!

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

I appreciate your comments, Kay. I wasn't kidding when I said I'll start researching and then spent a lot of time reading from pure enjoyment at the interesting facts that crop up. So,yes, it is fun!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I ordered my own copy of the Dictionary of the Old West. Can hardly wait until it comes.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Wonderful! I think they've changed the cover, but mine is an old copy and is so nicely embossed that I leave it out on my office desk.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Dear Brenda,
Great article. I am so happy that your career is doing so well. I can say I "knew" you when, and that is alway exciting.