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Buckshot Bryant thinks it is time to remind y’all…she is still here !!!


Buckshot early in her career…

Joanne “Buckshot” Bryant was a notorious bank and train robber and is possibly best-remembered as the Queen of the Rustlers in the American West of the 1800′s. It could truly be said that this queen came from a family of outlaw aristocracy. Her parents ran the infamous Bryant Gang in Australia and may have even known the outback bandit Mad Dog Morgan before he earned his enormous reputation. When you consider the fact that the later Kelly Gang, Australia’s most well-known gang of outlaws, often pointed to the Bryant Gang as their biggest inspiration and their own personal heroes, Buckshot Bryant came from the most blue-blooded bandit stock imaginable.

Joanne, or “Jo’s” parents settled in America to live in comfortable retirement from their ill-gotten wealth from Down Under. Jo was always a handful, a very willfull and adventurous young lady who caused her parents no end of trouble. In 1861 Bryant’s parents left Missouri (where Jo was born) to escape the freshly-started Civil War and traveled east. While her family hobnobbed with various east-coast gentry Jo herself purportedly began a fling with THE Samuel Colt, a newly commissioned colonel in the Union army. Colonel Colt never saw action in the field, doing mostly administrative work, but that left him with plenty of time to frolic with the beautiful young lady he had fallen in love with. Jo was in her late teens or very early twenties (accounts vary) and Colt was as old or older than her father. When Jo’s family moved on in their travels Jo insisted on staying behind to be with her lover, remaining with him until his death in 1862.

Rather than return to her parents at this time Jo’s adventurous nature led her to begin frequenting east coast rail lines, bedecked in fashionable outfits and luring well-to-do men with amorous intentions into her coachroom, where she would immediately pull a revolver on them and force them to undress and give her all their valuables. She would then slip out of the room and off the train. When the high-living young beauty was running out of the funds from her latest haul she would once again start riding the rails, relying on her sultry looks and her well-dressed appearance to draw another victim her way. One passenger she did not rob during that period of her life was a young Union officer named Humphrey Bogart,

Humphrey Bogart

with whom she supposedly had a brief fling. Bogart would later marry Amarillo Rose, the most colorful figure of the Amarillo Range War.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War Bryant traveled to Missouri, siezed with an uncharacteristically nostalgic desire to once again see the home where she had spent her childhood, Kiwi Aussie Manor. She found the place a gutted shell because the abandoned home had been used as a headquarters by Confederate forces and then burned during a Union raid. Feeling more rootless than ever Jo boarded a train headed west, planning to resume her usual criminal activities. As fate would have it, once the train got into eastern Kansas it was boarded and robbed by the James-Younger Gang.

Top: Jesse James, Cole Younger, John Younger – Bottom: Frank James, Clell Miller, and Bob Younger.

As various members of the gang made their way through the train cars relieving the passengers of their valuables, Jo sprang into action and nearly shot Frank James right between the eyes before being grabbed from behind by Frank’s buddy Cole Younger. While the now-disarmed Jo stood there cursing the two outlaws in the foulest language imaginable they both stood there eyeing the gorgeous young thing before them with just one thing on their minds and it wasn’t Reconstruction Era politics. Calming down, Jo further charmed Cole and Frank by shrewdly telling them how her home had been burned by Union troops and about her railroad scam. Soon Jesse himself was on the scene ogling Jo and listening to his brother and Cole fill him in on this unexpected development. Jesse offered Jo a place in the James-Younger “organization” and she accepted, riding off with the outlaws.

Jo started out serving as a “plant” on trains the James-Younger Gang intended to rob. Dressed in finery she would pose as a passenger, then once the gang began their assault she would produce a gun or two to keep the passengers in line and accomodate the heist in any other way she could. Ever fiery, however, Jo soon tired of that role and began taking a more active part in the robberies, toting a shotgun and even dressing in the gang’s legendary long dusters and dark cowboy hats like the other notorious woman in the gang, Belle Starr

Belle Starr

(though since this was before her marriage to Sam Starr she was still known as Belle Shirley). Jo and Belle got along famously and Belle herself gave Bryant her nickname following a legendary incident. Bob Ford, a fringe character in the Missouri outlaw world, was often trying to force himself on Jo. After one such incident Jo began loading her shotgun, swearing she would blow off Ford’s manhood so he would stop troubling her once and for all. Bob Ford fled as quickly as he could but Jo still fired off a barrel full of buckshot at his retreating form to drive home her point. Ford was far enough away that the shot wasn’t fatal but it caught him full on the buttocks, making it difficult for him to sit down for several days. Belle laughed uproariously and began calling Jo “Buckshot” Bryant, the name she would be known by forever after.

Buckshot spent a few happy years with the James-Younger Gang, enjoying dalliances with Cole Younger and the two James brothers, sometimes both at once according to Belle Starr in her memoirs. All that Hell-raising took place in between daring bank and train robberies. Eventually, however, Buckshot Bryant wanted to lead a gang of her own and headed west along with her latest lover and fellow gang member Kevin “Colorado” Costner.

Kevin ‘Colorado’ Costner

In Texas, Buckshot and Colorado gathered around them the nucleus of the bank and train robbing gang that became known as the Poker Studs. That name for the gang came about because of Buckshot Bryant’s ever-roaming eye for handsome young men, whom she grew to love having around her as her subordinates. Treating these young men as her male harem, Buckshot was so desired by all of them that she took to having the young studs play poker for the privilege of sleeping with her each night. Thus, they became known as the Poker Studs, a name which was supposedly inverted and became the namesake of the game called Stud Poker, in a Burnside/Sideburns kind of way.

Colorado Costner grew increasingly jealous of this behavior and after a furious argument with Buckshot, blurted out his love for her and rode off. Bryant was surprised by Costner’s declaration of love since she thought he saw it as just fun and games like she did. Sad but too proud to chase after him, Buckshot watched him ride off, not realizing they were destined to meet again.

Oddly stirred by the depth of Colorado’s feelings for her, Bryant tried losing herself in booze, loveplay with her Poker Studs and non-stop larcenous behavior. Eventually feeling that banks worth robbing were a bit too far apart this far out west compared to back in the Missouri-Kansas area, Buckshot decided to move into rustling instead of bank robbing, though the gang would still keep their hand in train robbing with occassional heists. Sitting tall in the saddle and with her trusty shotgun always at her side, Buckshot Bryant molded her Poker Studs into a very lucrative operation. The gang would rustle cattle from ranches throughout Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, herd them below the border into Mexico where they would be either sold or traded for horses, which could then be sold back in the U.S. for a profit.

Once, after rustling some livestock from the High Chaparral, the gang was pursued by Manolito Montoya himself, who attacked the band of rustlers single-handed.


Intrigued by this foohardy courage, Buckshot ordered her Poker Studs not to kill the handsome Latino, with whom she checked into a Tucson hotel. There the two reached some form of accomodation, with the result that Jo promised to stop rustling from the High Chaparral and Manolito promised to never reveal the location of the desert hideout that he had trailed the gang to.

Sometimes Buckshot and the Poker Studs would rustle just a few cattle for the gang’s personal consumption and would have a massive cookout under the nighttime desert skies, the beef accompanied by tortillas, rice and beans, all washed down with gutrot whiskey. Bryant would revel in these festivities, comfortable and very pleased, surrounded as she was by a gaggle of toughened hombres who all desired and feared her at the same time.

Joining in the fun with Jo at these events would be Poker Studs like:

Dancin’ Pat Swayze, formerly of the Point Break Gang, who joined Buckshot’s gang when she sheltered him from the Texas Rangers who were pursuing him

Dancin’ Pat Swayze

Lariat Leo DiCaprio, the experienced rustler, fresh out of prison, who helped educate Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs in the ways of rustling. His specialty was altering cattle brands

Lariat Leo DiCaprio

Colin “Wild Irish” Farrell, who fancied the rustling trade (and himself) as a continuation of the ancient Irish “art” of rustling as depicted in Celtic Mythology.

Colin ‘Wild Irish’ Farrell.

During this period of her career the Queen of the Rustlers enjoyed tweaking the forces of the law in the frontier as they ineffectually tried to bring her to justice. In the New Mexico Territory Buckshot Bryant made it her personal mission to confound the best efforts of Pat Garrett as she continually bested him at the mental chess game they played. Jo made him look so foolish that she is considered the main reason why he eventually lost reelection as sheriff and moved to Texas.

Bryant held Judge Roy Bean in particular contempt and loathed him as the epitome of the hypocritical, self-serving and corrupt system of law enforcement in the Wild West. Bean had vowed that if Buckshot was brought before him he would sentence her in one minute and hang her in two. Once, when Dancin’ Pat and Wild Irish had been captured and Bean had sentenced them to the gallows Jo mounted and executed what would today be called a commando-style raid to free her imprisoned Poker Studs. This escapade infuriated Judge Bean so much that Bryant took to freeing many of the other prisoners Bean had sentenced to death. She was so successful at this that, from then on, despite the many felons given a capital sentence by the power-crazed Judge only one was ever actually hanged. One of the men Jo rescued from Bean’s demented form of “justice” was the wandering gunfighter Juniper Johnny Depp, said to be a descendant of the notorious pirate captain Jack Sparrow. Depp and Bryant had a brief affair, which ended when the next paying client for his skill at gunplay came along and he rode off.

Juniper Johnny Depp

Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs are still a very sore subject with the Texas Rangers since no other band of outlaws was as skilled at foiling their pursuit. If cornered Jo and her minions were more than happy to resort to gunplay and Bryant’s shotgun sent many a law enforcement officer or bounty hunter to their graves.

Ranger William Wallace

Ranger William “Bigfoot” Wallace so admired Buckshot’s pluck that he had an unofficial “truce” with the rustling queen and would often get together with her and the Poker Studs across the border in Mexico to raise Hell in saloons.

Texas Ranger Mark Wahlberg

Texas Ranger Mark Wahlberg came the closest to actually bringing Buckshot Bryant in, but, supposedly smitten with his gorgeous quarry, he let her go free instead. Unable to reconcile this with his devotion to law enforcement Wahlberg shot himself to death after watching Bryant ride off.

Poker Alice

Buckshot’s friendship with Poker Alice, the frequently widowed card-player who roamed the west, is legendary. Bryant was far too shrewd to ever get involved in a poker game with the gun-toting mistress of the card tables but the two loved tearing up the saloons during the many times their paths crossed, often with mutual friend Doc Holliday present as well.

Doc Holliday

The biggest strain on their friendship came when Poker Alice was working as a dealer in a saloon owned by Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James and the would-be lothario whose antics had led to Buckshot being so named during their years in Missouri. Jo threatened to blow Ford away for his betrayal of Jesse and had to be physically restrained by Poker Alice to prevent her from killing Ford in front of a room full of witnesses. Alice persuaded her old, dear friend to leave, but Bryant vowed to never speak to Poker Alice again as long as she worked for Ford. That promise was kept but after Alice wandered on to another location the friendship between the two legends resumed.

Many books have been written about Buckshot Bryant’s involvement with various Native American leaders. Debate over her motives for assisting them in their battles with the bluecoats of the U.S. army continues to this day. Bryant would see to it that meat from rustled cattle would find its way to hostile chiefs like Red Cloud, Geronimo and Cochise to keep their people fed during hard times. Not only that but horses that she obtained in Mexico in exchange for rustled livestock would sometimes be given to those same chiefs to help fuel their war effort. In exchange the chiefs would help Jo and her gang to hide from particularly dangerous pursuit.

Red Cloud

Buckshot was especially close to Cochise, who named her “Shoots Deadly Woman”, and the Queen of the Rustlers was foolhardy enough to visit Cochise in disguise when her old friend was on his deathbed in 1874. Bryant even accompanied the burial party and was said to be the only white person who ever knew Cochise’s exact resting place.

With the death of this friend of hers, Buckshot Bryant’s conviction to assist the warring Native American leaders was doubled. She took to leading her Poker Studs in running guns to the Sioux during the Sioux uprising. These activities led her into contact with former Lieutenant John Dunbar, noted for his years living with Native Americans, who named him Dances With Wolves.

John Dunbar

Dunbar had once been mistakenly arrested for a few days because of his uncanny resemblance to Bryant’s old beau Colorado Costner. Dunbar’s philosophical musings about the plight of the Native Americans helped strengthen Jo’s resolve.

One day in the 1880′s who should come riding into the canyon hideout of Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs but that same Colorado Costner. He hadn’t lost his touch, and had tracked the gang down and penetrated their lair without them so much as noticing. He and Buckshot embraced and he related to her how he had been caught and arrested less than a year after riding off following their argument long ago. Luckily, when he left them the gang was not yet under a death sentence so he was not hanged but he had served a long prison term. His sentence was lengthened by his refusal to cooperate by giving law enforcement any information that would help them locate the woman he loved. Kevin told Jo how the thought of being able to one day hold her in his arms again was the only thing that kept him going during his time suffering in the hellish prison conditions of the time. This time Jo wasn’t too proud to admit her feelings for this man who had endured so much for her sake and the two were supposedly wed, although no records to support that assertion have ever been found.

Kevin ‘Colorado’ Costner

Costner enthusiastically embraced his true love’s desire to aid Native American resistance and the two spent several happy years devoted to each other (the gang was now the Poker Studs in name only since Jo and Kevin were deeply in love). Their lives were filled with rustling, periodic train robberies, hair’s-breadth escapes from the law and with providing surreptitious aid to the Native American cause. The two felt a tight bond with the Native Americans, whom they saw as kindred spirits in living on their own terms against the power of outside forces.

In 1890 events came crashing down on Buckshot Bryant and Colorado Costner. After the gang was very nearly caught while running a supply of fresh beef to a suffering Native American community, the Poker Studs were fed up with risking their necks in such endeavors and abandoned Jo and Kevin. The two spent a few weeks in the village and therefore got to be first hand witnesses when the Ghost Dance spread into the community. The Ghost Dance has been classified as a semi-ecstatic state in which the participants were encouraged to believe all the dead Native Americans of the past, as well as all the dead buffalo, were going to return and the white people would all be driven away. This was all misinterpreted as another uprising and troops were sent to squelch it.

Thus it was that Buckshot Bryant and Colorado Costner were on hand at Wounded Knee when the army moved in to massacre the Ghost Dancers, who were all dancing, not fighting. From what has been reconstructed of the scene, Bryant and Costner, presumably sickened at what they were witnessing, savagely fought off the attacking bluecoats for as long as they could before the overwhelming odds caught up with them and they perished alongside the people with whom they had shared their strongest bond of kinship.

Buckshot Bryant has been portrayed in films by…

Rita Hayworth,

Rita Hayworth

Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

and Angelina Jolie.

Angelina Jolie

Tristan Ludlow himself was said to be inspired with his interest in the Native Amerian lifestyle by reading dime novels and history books about the legendary Queen of the Rustlers.

Tristan Ludlow


The Blackwater Kid

Buckshot not long before The Wounded Knee Massacre



Now admittedly I have posted this in the early days of my blog. But Ed [who wrote this masterpiece] and I got talking on his recent post about: TEN NEGLECTED GUNSLINGERS: COUNTDOWN TO FRONTIERADO and Buckshot, as she tends to do when Ed and I get talking, made a few waves about being forgotten. So…to keep her quiet while I work, I gave in…and I hope those of you who have not met her before will enjoy her adventures as much as I do !!!

If you want your own saga then contact the Balladeer here.

To The Blackwater Kid – thanks for this great story from your friend Buckshot Bryant.

Buckshot is mentioned in The Amazing Saga of Lady London.

And although she plays no part in these sagas – Buckshot recommends you check them out:

Doc Robin and Kid Equus

Cactus Cathy

Buckshot did manage to get her adventures with the Winchesters chronicled: Buckshot Rides Again…with the Winchester Boys. Well worth a read if you ask me.

HAPPY FRONTIERADO! It is one holiday you shouldn’t miss. And to get you in the mood for it…



Another vavavavoom lady for you to enjoy – complete with her own brand of Poker Studs !!!!

Related posts

Hatfields & McCoys

Buckshot rides again…with the Winchester boys !!!!!

Laminated List

Kevin – Part One – The Early Years


Marionette – My Thoughts

T B MarkinsonSome of you may know the lovely lady above. T B Markinson is her name for those of you who do not.

I recently got my hands on a copy of her newest book…MARIONETTE.

I was a bit hesitant about reading a book from someone I know…ye Gods…what if I hate it ?? Especially when you are dealing with subject matter such as this book does…attempted suicide, homosexuality, hiding who you are and dysfunctional family bonds.

Suicide has touched my life…and in every case…every single one…those left behind are broken and shattered and struggle to find their way past the moment that the person who took their life passed the burden on to them.

I grew up trying to be the perfect daughter, wife, mother…never trusting that the real me was good enough. I hid behind a veneer of what I perceived was acceptable.

As for dysfunctional family bonds…I am writing a book on those. From experience.

Thus…when I started reading Marionette…I was like…oh no !!! Because the beginning of the book starts with a failed suicide attempt.

Then…wham bamm thank you ma’am, you step right in to her crazy family where Paige hides everything important about herself.

Three out of four boxes I know about…Marionette was hitting close to home.

Paige Alexander is a young woman who has lived her life with parents who frankly…need shooting on sight. Seriously. These are the sort of people that were they dogs…then they would be euthanized to protect the community .

Paige loves Jessica. Secretly. Why you may ask ? Well, for that you need to read Marionette.

What can be a problem with books such as this one, I have found at least, is making the characters believable. Too many writers turn the people in their books in to cardboard cutouts that have no real dimension to them.

As Paige goes off to college, and to counseling, piece by piece we get to travel within [think Fantastic Voyage] her until we finally end up completely in Paige’s head, really knowing her.

Along the way we also get to know Jess better. Quite early on you wonder a bit about whether Jess is all she seems. I am not going to give any spoilers here, so if you want to know the answer to that…you know the drill…get the book. Why does this older, educated, confident, funny woman want to be with the younger, damaged Paige ?

The other characters in the book, except for the completely hellish parents, are all well written complementary characters. Not that the parents aren’t well conceived, they are just downright evil people.

Liddy, Paige’s counselor, is one of my favourites in the book. Slowly through Liddy, we the reader get to know Paige.

Then there are the college friends. Audrey [the roommate], aptly nick named ‘Minnie Mouse’ by Paige. Jenna and Karen [the suite mates]. Jewels, Emily, Tom, Ben and Aaron. Paige’s relationship with Tom provides a few nice twists.

Then there are:

  • Mel and Wesley. Talk about a couple who need a swift kick.
  • Alex. Paige’s childhood friend. This was one of the saddest but most unexpected relationships in Marionette.
  • Abbie. Paige’s sister. Abbie has more than her share of demons too.
  • Julia. Who runs a diner and through her food has become part of Jess’s family and so therefore also Paige’s.

This is a book about relationships. How they can grow and surprise you. How you can survive the ugly ones and rejoice in the ones that lift your spirit. It is also about secrets.

I read Marionette in one sitting. Then I went back to read it again for this review and was just as delighted the second time.

Thank goodness it has also been edited and proofread. Self published books that haven’t are sadly too many to name these days. They do little to serve the readers or the authors who can’t be bothered to make sure that their finished book actually is that – finished.

I look forward to reading the next of T B Markinson’s efforts after this.


This article was originally published on BlogCritics: Book Review ‘Marionette’ by T B Markinson.

Day thirteen and I am going a little nuts. Well a little more than usual !!!!

You might be wondering how NaNoWriMo is going ??

I would have shown you a photo of me writing…but I look a little scary these days. Too much caffeine, late nights, hating my writing and a lot of head banging will do that !!!

It has its moments. I am really struggling with not being able to edit as I go. It is a very bad habit I hope NaNoWriMo will cure me of…but I am really finding it hard.

I feel like everything coming out is crap…which I know most first drafts are. And all I want to do is work on it until it is better. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr…habits are very hard things to break.

So here is some more of Chapter I. The next excerpt will have someone going over a cliff…who will it be and will they survive is the BIG question.


Chapter I Scenes VI & VII

Zak approaches, he is alone. “Other than the customary inhabitants, we are on our own here.”


“Our cautious friend is laying out a warning system.” he stares up at the mountain. “I want to go with you.”


“Deveron. I know what you seek.”

“You do?”

“You are not the only one Father has told the stories to.” I do not tell him that they are not just stories for me.

“Then you also know what waits on the mountain. Not everyone who seeks the Phoenix comes down again.” And now I do not tell him that anyone with me when I find the Phoenix King is in even more danger.

“If I am old enough to be here, then I think I am old enough for that as well.” His eyes bore into mine, and I realise that he is now as tall as I.

“I promised Father that you would return. I intend to keep my word Zak.” I understand his eagerness for this, his first real adventure. “If I allow you this, your death will likely follow.” I hope, foolishly perhaps, to make him understand. “No-one is allowed into their realm, I must go alone.” There were only deadly mistakes from this point, how could I make him see that.

“I will not be a disappointment to you.”

“I am not worried about disappointment.” Evijan arrives at the lake as the other men set about making camp for the night. He carries with him two large water birds slung over his shoulders, and tosses them to Zak. “I speak to you no longer as your brother Zarek, but as your commander.”


“Enough. You stay behind. Speak no more of this.”


“We are quite alone here,” Evijan announces, as he sets about making a fire. “Time to make yourself useful,” he nods to Zak to sit by him, hoping to distract him I know. “Jareth is tracking a herd of hippus.” These small grey animals are equally at home on land or in the water. Their tough round bodies make them seem slow, but when threatened their speed makes them difficult to catch. Jareth is one of a few hunters who can boast of bringing one down. Their flesh is a delicacy, and my mouth waters in anticipation of the forthcoming meal.

Zak glares at me as he throws himself  on to a log beside Evijan. Eventually, everyone returns to the camp, Jareth, Adsel, Ryder, Cato, Gye, and Nils return, their kills hanging from poles they carry between them and we sit together in a sociable peace. Each face is a portrait of a part of myself, and I wonder how many of these bold companions will return home. Throughout the meal my brother remains silent, never looking in my direction. Evijan watches him as closely as I. When Zak is finished he nudges him slightly and smiles in Jareth’s direction.

“Did you purposely seek out the smallest of the herd? Or did they by chance hear you coming – oh grand hunter of the Opinouwi? Evijan is smiling at me as he taunts Jareth. “Lucky for those of us with hearty appetites, others were able to provide.” I watch as Jareth’s eyes narrow. “Perhaps I should…” Jareth pounces and Evijan is sent sprawling in the dirt.

“Perhaps you should keep your thoughts inside that minute brain of yours…friend.” Jareth sits atop of Evijan, their arms flailing as each tries to gain the advantage. I see Zak smile for the first time since our discussion, and silently thank both men. It troubles me that I must now force our minds back to our task.

“Quiet,” I hold up my hands to silence the men. Immediately all are still, and I began to outline my preparations. “Should I not return within eight days Evijan, you are to lead them on. Wraith will give you aid in finding another way.”

“There is no other way Deveron,” Evijan shakes his head.

“Then you shall have to make one. You cannot go into the Devil’s Den if I do not return…and you must not come seeking me. I want your word. Eight days and you all leave. “Understood?” He does not look pleased.

“If two of us were to go…” Zak begins.

“No. I go alone. Give me your word Evijan.” Zak’s eyes flash in the firelight as he lowers them.

“Arrogant fool,” he protests before walking away.


“You have my word, but I trust it will not be needed,” he reaches out grasping my arm. “He will be alright.” His hold stops me from following my brother.

“He is too impetuous,” I silently wish I had been able to sway my father from allowing him to come on this journey. “I should have made him stay behind. He is too young, too eager for adventure. He will take too many risks.”

“He reminds me of someone I used to know,” he says, lifting his brows. “I shall just have to keep my eyes on him. And use my persuasive manner. Do not worry. Zak is like a brother to me.” I stare at the hand still firmly grasping my arm.

“Leave him,” Evijan can read my thoughts almost as well as Wraith. “Allow him to master his feelings.” Zak stays just outside the firelight, and my sleep is uneasy.


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The Draco Stone continues…

Chapter I Scene IV

He turns immediately to the left and begins picking his way through the dim brush. We proceed single file. For many hours we trek with only the unicorns’ sight to guide us through the darkness. As we go deeper, even though the sun would be rising, it does not reach onto the forest floor. The gloom transmits itself, and I feel the weight of the task creep under my skin.

What is it you doubt Deveron?

We are but nine Wraith.

And the Sadistiens are but six.

I fear for them. I should have come alone.

Are you so absolute in your view of yourself?

No, but I am not sure that we shall be successful.


My choice of them may be their death.

Arrogance. It does not suit you my friend.

Not arrogance Wraith, foreboding, and regret.

You must know that there is not one man here that you could have stopped from coming.

I did not try.

No, but it makes no difference, they each have the right, as do you, to be part of this.

If we fail, they will be needed more than ever.

Your lack of faith does them discredit Deveron. We are only just begun, and you sound worse than the bleakest doomsayer. Have faith, my friend.

Was it not you Wraith, who just warned me that some might not survive the Devil’s Den?

It is true. You should know by now Deveron, Unicorns always prepare for the worst. It is our way. It does not mean anything other than that. We are not blessed with vision. Were that so, we would not have been almost annihilated ourselves.

I’m sorry for it Wraith.

I begin to fear for you more than the others Deveron. You must not enter the Devil’s Den with so much weighing on your soul.

I shall feel better once I have spoken with the Phoenix King.

I hope so.


Chapter I Scene V

Wraith looks doubtful, but keeps any further thoughts to himself as he leads the way through the forest. Talking is impossible, the deeper we go the louder the noises from the inhabitants become. From deep within the underbrush to the highest canopy they call to each other of our passing. It is almost time for the sun to leave the sky when we reach Lissiom Lake. I will have to circumvent it to reach the bottom of Fire-Bird Mountain. I call a halt.

“Evijan, have a look around and make sure that we are alone here. Adsel, take Ryder…” before I finish the twins spring from their mounts and make off around the lake’s edge. Both adept hunters, we would soon have fresh food to fill our bellies.

We will leave as the sun rises? Wraith’s tone is troubled.



I know Wraith.

The King will not be happy to see you.

 No, but he will not kill me.

Are you so sure?

No. But I hope.

How long?

With good fortune, four days, no longer should things go well.

And if they don’t?

I shall leave Evijan with instructions to leave after eight days. You will need to help them find another way. If I do not return, they cannot travel through the Devil’s Den.

Then we must hope that you do my friend.

I look out over the lake to Fire-Bird Mountain. In the dusk, fog circles the base rising to a third of the way up. The face of it appears sheer, but I know that inside there is a single path that leads up to a secret gateway to the clandestine realm of the Phoenix people.


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Day 6 of NaNoWriMo

Well you may be asking how it is all going.

I had to take the weekend off to wizz up to Auckland…which provided lots of photo taking opportunities. It also provided a chance to get dressed up. Gilly tells me I should make the following photo my gravatar – instead of [as she very politely puts it] hiding behind the camera.

When I mentioned I didn’t like my ‘scrunched up eyes’ she let go of polite with a resounding ‘STOP IT !!!!’. We all have it though…that one feature we don’t really like about ourselves. Well, mine is my eyes. It’s hard to smile and stretch your eyes open at the same time. Believe me I know. Ah well…could be worse. I might have to tuck my boobs in to my belt…oh wait…I do !!!

Shit !!!

I even wore make-up and heels. I ate, I drank, I danced, and I met lots of fabulously fun people.

I arrived home shattered. So yesterday I got back in to it. I have some very pissed off horses at the moment. They recently told Wraith just how pissed they were about being taken in to Gryphe territory as Gryphes love horses…to eat. Wraith wasn’t to happy about it either, being a cousin of the horse.

And so…Scenes II  & III of Chapter I are here for your thoughts. And please…no matter how you think I sound when I reply to comments…I DO WANT your thoughts. If you don’t like something/don’t get it/think it’s shit…say so. I am more than happy to take on board what you say.

A wonderful tutor once told me: “If your readers aren’t getting it, it has nothing to do with them. It is all about you not writing it so that they can ‘GET IT’, so rewrite it until they do the first time they read it…or you’ve lost them forever.” Very wise man my tutor !!!


Read on…

“Stop,” I murmur, as we reach the first rise outside the City. Wraith halts and I turn back.

“Brother?” Zak pulls up beside me.

“Is it not a wonder?” I ask. As the gates draw close the city shimmers, moonbeams bouncing off the rooftops back into the air above.

“He does this each time we leave.” Evijan is laughing. “Your brother would have us believe that he possesses no tender traits, and yet I see a softness in his eyes every time we farewell the Elusive City.” As we watch, the city fades until there is no trace of it under the night sky.

“Evijan.” My thoughts are of the missing Stone. “Only one of the Opinouwi can open the City. Whoever took the Stone had help to enter. From one of us.”

“Runolf will discover those responsible,” Evijan replies. “And punish them, while we shall recover it and return it to the Citadel.”

“If they knew who was to track them…they would not have been so foolish,” Zak sounds younger than he looks. His pale blonde hair hangs loose about his shoulders, and his eyes, so like our mother’s, have not been marked with misfortune or sin.

# # #

Silent, I urge Wraith on. It feels good to be out of the city. With the moon out, I no longer need to rely on Wraith to pick a path, and I push him hard. His body relaxes as he hits his stride.

Hold on Deveron, he tells me. We ride hard for many miles and reach the forest before light. I call a halt when we pass the first trees.

Evijan slides to the ground immediately and begins to search. He is an accomplished seeker; I know without him we would waste valuable time. He waves to Zak to join him, and quietly begins to speak as he points to traces only he can see.

“Here,” he says to Zak kneeling beside him.

“I see nothing, old man,” Zak teases.

“Look,” Evijan runs his hand over the ground. “The dust flows back toward the clearing, something has passed over in haste.” He turns to lay his ear upon the earth, and holds up a finger to silence Zak. “There are five of them. No six, two are riding the same beast.” He looks up at me. “They ride toward the Devil’s Den.”

“Then we must prepare.”

I do not like this Deveron. The Devil’s Den can drive men to madness. Some of your men…I do not know if they can make it through.

 I know Wraith.

“Are the stories true?” Zak looks from Evijan to me.

“No brother, they do not begin to tell of the malevolence that lives there.”

“I thought they were just tales, told to scare children,” he swings back on to his mount. “What must we do then, to prepare? Deveron?”

“We shall need to hunt while we are in the forest.” I look about. “If we do not touch the food stores, perhaps we shall have enough to get us through.”

We must find the Phoenix King Deveron.

I look up at Wraith’s words. It will mean a detour that will delay us, but I know he is right. Hidden deep in the forest there rises a solitary peak.

“But first, we must make our way to Fire-Bird Mountain. Come.”

Find us a way there Wraith. The quickest way please.


Word Count: 8596…which means I need to catch up.

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12.01 am

It is impossible to sleep. I have worked myself right in to this whole NaNoWriMo thing. So what the heck…I am starting right now. Well as soon as I post this I am. Not even going to look online until I have done as much as I need to. I need to get a little ahead as I am off to a wedding this weekend in Auckland. I am leaving Saturday morning and will be away until later Sunday…so I won’t get any writing done Saturday.

Just to keep you entertained…here is Scene 1 from Chapter 1. Remember this is only a first draft guys so it needs…well it needs work.

Chapter 1


Where there is great love, there exists great tragedy. It is the tragedy that opens the enormous capacity inside of men for devotion to another that is greater than their instinct for self preservation.



Darkness shrouds the city. The light from the Citadel window falls on the bleached skulls that pave the square below and refracts back illuminating the men and their mounts as they wait. Beside me my brother reins in his mount, both impatient to be off.

He is my mirror image, except for the eyes. Zak’s eyes are a soft clear blue, like the inside curve of a wave, our mother’s eyes. His face no longer sprouting the first soft downy hairs of youth but bristled and more defined as he enters his manhood. His eyes are bright, and his smile full and easily given. The sight of him mounted and ready to leave brings a pain to my chest.

“I’ll keep you safe brother,” I swear quietly. I shall bring you home untarnished, if I must die in doing so, I silently add. Beside him is Evijan. Our mothers had birthed us on the same day; we had played together as children. We had passed through our manhood rites together, hunted together, lain with our first woman on the same night, fought our first battle by each other’s side. After he breathed in, I would breathe out. As he ran his gaze over Zak, he nodded slightly and I knew my brother would be protected should I fall.

A young groom appears and hands me Wraith’s halter. He is out of breath and dishevelled.

“I see he has been up to his usual trickery.” Wraith’s stark white coat is broken up with slashes of black and silver, running from his backbone vertically down his legs, as well as spiralling together in his great horn. “Do not worry lad, he has bested many besides you.”  The unicorn had been a gift from my father. I had wondered many times if there was a meaning behind the gift. Wraith is the most complex of the creatures, but I trust him as I do my own limbs.

“Wraith,” I ask him, “will you carry me on this journey?” His black eyes study mine before he lowers his head. Springing on his back I feel his muscles undulate as they fit to my body. Another six men form two rows behind us, the last of them leading our pack animals.

“Why is it I am always gifted with a view of your behind?’ Jareth asks, older than I by two cycles he is the most experienced hunter amongst the party. His keen eyesight and sense of smell had often kept my belly full, and his good humour is quick to raise the dourest of spirits.

“So I do not have your incessant babble constantly in my ears.”

“Oh my friend, you wound me,” I can feel his smile.

Go,” I whisper to Wraith in my head, and he begins to fly over the ground. I let him lead, winding his way through the dark city. We make no sound and his hooves leave no imprint in the earth beneath them. Passing through the city gates I see the moon begin to rise.

# # #

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The short story that morphed in to a novel.

Tomorrow NaNoWriMo begins. As does my task of taking Deveron on his journey to retrieve the Draco Stone and return it to the Opinouwi. For now I would like to share with you the short story that started it all.

Actually it is not soooooooo short…2,967 words to be exact.

I hope you will get settled with a coffee, or a cup of tea, curl your feet under you, let the cat out, turn off the phone and read.

I really would love to hear your thoughts on this. Of all that I have done so far…this story is a defining moment for me. For it set me on a previously unimagined path. The one of trying to become a published author. If you hate it…don’t worry. It was written long ago…and I know it needs improving in many areas. I thought though that I should put it up as it was. Also, I am Australian born. We have thick skins. I have also lived in New Zealand for nearly 20 years. Kiwis don’t say much…they are very…hmmmm…stoic. It’s rubbing off on me. So feel free to let me have it either way. Just don’t stay silent. I NEED your thoughts to improve as a writer.

The Draco Stone…by Jo Bryant

Behind their green-eyed leader the troop rode in formation, rows two wide, as they entered the Elusive City. Streamers of flowers waved them along the path, floating down to lay entangled in their hair, as they made their way to the Citadel. Underneath the hooves of the unicorns the road crunched as they landed on the bones of their ancient enemy, the Sadistiens. Though worn and compacted, the outlines of their bleached skulls from a century of warfare were still visible.

Leading the march was Deveron. His hair brushed his shoulders as he rode, the streamers so thick they hung about him like a rainbow cape. Sitting tall and straight, his eyes focussed ahead, ignoring the wall of sound that surrounded them. As he passed, he noticed how the children were all pointing in his direction. This did not surprise him, he knew for many it was their first sighting of a unicorn. Wraith was enjoying the attention. The sound of Wraith’s voice inside his head startled Deveron out of his own thoughts.

‘They scream your name Deveron.’

‘Only because they do not realise…’

‘It does you no good to blame yourself.’

‘I know that your intention is good Wraith.’

‘You would rather I kept my thoughts to myself.’

‘I do not need you in my head. I must…’


At that, the unicorn closed the connection between their minds.

Wraith’s stark white coat was broken up with great slashes of black and silver, running from his backbone vertically down to his feet. His markings were unique. He had been a gift from his father. Deveron wondered if there was a meaning behind the gift, Wraith was often the most complex of the creatures, but he trusted him as he did his own limbs.

As they approached the Citadel, he urged him into a gallop and left the deafening mass behind. Waiting on the stairs outside stood a group of Officials. Deveron grabbed a bag from his saddle, before kneeling on the stairs bowing his head. A young groom stepped forward to take Wraith’s halter.

Wraith’s ebony eyes looked over the groom with amusement.

Do not bedevil the lad Wraith,’ Deveron warned, glaring at him. The groom’s hand trembled as he took Wraith’s halter from Deveron.

“Be careful lad,” he advised. “He is likely to draw on trickery to get his way. Make sure he is settled and bedded before leaving. I should hate to have to scold you on my first day home.” The groom’s eyes widened and he quivered, Deveron smiled at him. “It’s all right lad. I’m much too weary to be stern today.” He stood up and turned his attention back to the Officials before him.

“Deveron,” the tallest one spoke holding out his hand. “It is wonderful to see you, but you look weighted, my son.”

“Thank you, Father. It is a great honour that you would welcome me publicly. I had not expected it,” he looked away from his father’s face as it searched his. Pain flitted briefly across Runolf’s eyes.

“Come,” Runolf’s voice wavered as he turned and led the way into the Citadel. “We have much to discuss.” Inside the entrance, under massive carved crevasses running vertically from floor to ceiling, stood large stone vases. Deveron and his father stared into the dim recesses, before looking to each other.

“We’ll leave you Runolf,” said one of the Officials. Bowing slightly to both men, they mounted a large stairwell. Deveron and his father waited until they were no longer visible before turning into an open doorway.

“Wait,” his father urged, closing the door. “For old men, some still have unaccountably good hearing.”

The room they entered had a window from floor to ceiling, as wide as four men – their arms stretched wide between them. The walls were white and grey marble, long slender rectangles bordered by light green. In between each panel, slits – the width of a man’s hand – ran vertically. Steam rose continuously in the panels, warming the room and refreshing the air.

“Come, sit with me,” his father sat on a divan near the large window. He waved for Deveron to sit opposite. Reaching out he took a decanter from the table between them. “A toast,” he said pouring the dark red liquid into two glasses. “To your return…and to those who did not.”  Deveron placed the saddle bag on the ground. Taking a glass he downed the liquid, sat, laid his head back, and closed his eyes. His father watched, and remained silent.

“You would like me to speak of it?” Deveron asked.

“I, yes,” Runolf paused. “I need you to speak of it.”

Keeping his eyes closed Deveron ran a hand through his thick russet hair. His chest rose as he sighed deeply.

“Then there is much to tell.” Opening his eyes he sat up. For many breaths he was silent, looking past his father, through the glass to the city spread out before him. The only sound came from the steam bubbling up through the crevasses. His father waited, and watched his son’s green eyes flicker with emotions. Deveron held out his glass and Runolf filled it. Emptying it in one movement, he set it aside and looked directly at his father.

“We journeyed for weeks after we left, with no sign of them. It seemed as if they were just an imagined thing, a delusion in the Elder’s minds. We crossed the Symian Desert and saw no tracks before us, not one grain of sand turned over and pressed down under their feet, though there was a flavour to the air that spoke of their passing.” He paused to pour more liquid into his glass then raised it to his lips. Runolf remained motionless, waiting for Deveron to resume his tale.

“We were at the Abyss Lakes before we found evidence of their passage, a patch of compacted grass, a footprint by the shore, a branch fractured or bent, slivers of hair caught between thorns. Small things; so small I wondered if I was looking too hard. We pushed forward, stopping only when night forced us to.” He paused, his eyes closing again, as if he could no longer bear to look at Runolf.

“It was on the fourth night at the lakes that we knew. The men were tired, so we stopped early. We let the unicorns loose, and as we ate the night settled around us. It was during the second watch.” He paused, and dropped his head into his hands.

“Zak was drawn away from the camp. I can only guess that some disturbance made him curious, but that it seemed minor. He roused no-one. I found him as dawn broke. He lay on his back as if asleep.” Deveron lifted his head and stared at his father.

“His sword was sheathed, and I made to rouse him. My intention was to…when I saw a thin line of red on his neck. There was so little blood, I still believed, but he was no longer a part of this world.” Both men had tears forming as he continued.

“I could not bring myself to leave him. I held his head on my lap and told him to be valiant. I spoke to him; telling him that I would make sure his crossing would be easy. I prayed for his spirit, and spoke the words of the departed for him. I was almost finished when Jareth found us. The men were fortunate that Zak’s murderers had left the area – perhaps they thought him a lone seeker – for I had spoken not one word of warning.” Deveron bowed his head.

“Forgive me Father. I have dishonoured us, and cost the life of a beloved son. My arrogance, my belief that we were indomitable, is the reason Zak is gone.”

“You are not to blame,” Runolf held up a hand to stop his son from speaking. “I should not have allowed Zak to go. My pride…is at fault. I sought glory for both my sons, selfishly. I demanded our legacy to be one of courage and honour.” He stopped, swallowing hard. “Living should have been enough.” Nodding at his son, he signalled that Deveron should continue.

“Zak’s interment delayed us. I am sorry we could not bring him home, but I did all that I could to make his journey a swift one. I swear to you Father, that I performed the proper rites. After we lay Zak to rest we began to search in earnest. Evijan found traces of their camp some two hundred luerons from the lakes.”

“Many cycles passed but finally we knew that we were closing the distance. They no longer took as much care trying to obliterate traces of their whereabouts.”

Outside, the light began to fade. As darkness crept into the room Runolf held up his palm and stood. Deveron observed that his father seemed to have shrunk in the time he had been seated.

“I shall arrange for something to eat. I feel the need for a respite.” He walked over to a large desk and pressed a button. “We shall continue with your chronicle, after,” he said, looking away from his son. “Age,” he pursed his lips outward. “It demands you take more mind of what you do.”

Within minutes a young woman glided into the room, pushing a trolley laden with food and a full decanter. She bowed deeply before leaving. Deveron made no move towards it.

“Come, eat something. I had them prepare some things you like.”

“I have little appetite these days Father,” he replied. Runolf approached his son and sat on the small table.

“Son, I share your grief, but Zak was eager to go with you. We have…lost a part of us forever.” Leaning forward he placed his palms on each side of Deveron’s face. “And yet we go on. Do not waste what you still have by letting this overwhelm you. He would not want that for you.” Taking his son’s hand he pulled him upright.

They ate in silence. When finished, the first of the three moons had risen and the city was dotted with tiny orbs of light from the dwellings of the populace. A small circle of light cocooned around them in the otherwise dark room. Deveron leant forward and began the rest of his tale.

“Evijan was convinced that they had entered the Devil’s Den. We approached the opening from the right side of Malodorous Bay,” his frame shuddered slightly.

“I’ve never seen such a place of despair. Evil emanates from every surface. Even the unicorns were affected; in the end we dismounted to guide them. Not until we were through did we find any more signs. For twenty eight cycles we kept moving. None of us wanted to rest until we were out.

The Cross Mountains are the first thing you see when you leave that foul place. They are a balm to your soul after the Devil’s Den. Evijan found traces of them and although none of us had slept, we spurred the unicorns on. As we closed the distance we could feel them, the stench from their tainted bodies left a trail as clear as a signpost. Every trace of fatigue was gone.

Far off, a spiral of smoke drew our attention. We dismounted some five luerons from it and let the unicorns loose. I sent five men to circle around the right of them, and five to the left. Jareth and Evijan came with me, as we followed their tracks.

Each group got as close as we dared, and then we waited until the second moon was high. Their sentries were disposed of quietly, one by one. I counted fifteen asleep; they were spread out around the fire. We worked as silently as possible, slowly dispatching them by slicing their throats, as they had done to Zak.” Both Deveron and his father drew a deep breath at the mention of Zak. Runolf nodded for his son to continue.

“Their leader was easy to discern, and my group approached him while the others continued sending the rest of them to hell. Jareth tapped him with his sword. It was laughable, the surprise on his fetid features when he realised what we were about. Beside the fire lay a satchel. It seemed impossible to me, that they would be so cavalier with the stone. Yet the way the leader looked, I knew that it lay inside.

As I bent to retrieve it he went mad, foul sounds poured out of his mouth, and he rushed to stop me. Jareth and Evijan held him at the point of their swords, and he began screaming. Once I had the satchel, I opened it. The stone fell out into my hand. The beast knew that it was over. I nodded to Jareth, and he drove his sword through its neck.”

“May I see it now?” Runolf asked. Deveron lifted the bag and handed it over. Gently Runolf laid the bag on his lap and reached inside. As he withdrew his hand he smiled the first real smile in hours.

“It is more beautiful than I remember.” In his hands the stone threw off a modest luminous glow. Etched into it was the figure of a dragon with a woman’s upper body. The deep lines seemed to move so that the creature swayed and her long tresses wafted around her.

“I’ve never seen the stone out of its place. Intriguing isn’t it? I did not know there was a carving of Draco on it.”

“I too was surprised by it at first,” Deveron replied. “But it seems logical, that she would not leave us… completely. That the stone would bear something, to mark it forever, as her gift to us.”

“We must return her to the chapel. It is a great thing you have done my son. You and your men have bought home the heart that beats inside our people’s essence.” Runolf stood, reverently clasping the stone. “I should like for you to be there for this,” he said. He made to leave, stopped, and turned to walk back towards Deveron. “Hold out your hands,” he commanded. As the younger man did, he placed the stone in them.

“You have risked much and have paid a high price to bring this back. To you must go the honour of putting it in its place.”

“Father?” Deveron’s brow furrowed. “Will the Elders permit this?”

“They will do as I say,” Runolf replied. Walking before his son, they made their way into the great hall. They passed through a large door and began to ascend a marble spiral staircase. On each step, a warrior stood clad in blood red armour. As the men passed they beat a single fist to their chest. Reaching the top they were greeted by a party of ten Elders, their faces masked by purple hoods.

“Runolf.” the tallest of the Elders spoke. “Welcome.” When he saw Deveron behind him, he pulled off his hood and walked closer. “Why are you not alone? Deveron is not allowed here. You know that well.” The other Elders formed a guard stopping both men from advancing.

“Adsel,” Runolf raised his body to its full height, dwarfing the other man. ‘If not for my son, we would still be without the stone. Our civilisation would suffer, wither and die wretchedly, without its heart. I should not have to ask that he be granted the status he deserves.”

“Runolf,” the Elder shook his head with displeasure, raising his hands to quiet the others who were speaking among themselves.

“I have given a son for this Adsel. This gives me the right,” Runolf interrupted. Leaning closer he bent his head. Adsel appeared to be swallowed up by his body. The little man shrunk backwards. “If needed…I will bring this matter before the Senate.” Adsel looked up, and his brow creased.

“I do not think that will be necessary,” he replied, and turned to the other Elders. Each man nodded slightly before standing back. Adsel moved to the side. “Perhaps you have a point,” he ceded. Runolf and Deveron bowed their heads at the Elders before moving on.

They made their way through two large archways and continued along the hall. They came to another stairwell, which ended in a darkened room. They crossed the room to an altar that reached three times their height. Level with their heads was a deep hole. Runolf stepped aside and waved his son on.

Deveron raised his arms and placed the stone in the hole, then stepped back. A light began to pulse out from it and the air around vibrated. They could hear a humming sound. A brilliant flash burst out from the stone, and beams of light raced through the air touching markings on each wall. The markings glowed, then bounced into the air and floated free. New markings appeared to replace them; they too quickly rebounded about the room. This process became a continuous occurrence.

“It is good to have our history returned to us,” Runolf spoke softly. “Without it, so much would be lost.” He pointed to a series of markings glowing more vibrantly than the rest.

“Already the chronicle of your deed has been added.” A face with eyes exactly like Deveron’s could be seen in the air near the symbols depicting the Stone’s return. “He shall never be forgotten,” Runolf drew his son toward him. “Into one, shall all men journey,” he said.

“And all journeys shall become one,” Deveron replied. They looked at each other for a time, and before leaving the chapel they stared around, their faces glowing under the light show. Runolf placed his arm around his son’s shoulder and squeezed.

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Buckshot rides again…with the Winchester boys !!!!!!

Now Friday the 3rd of August is officially Frontierado Day.

What’s that you ask ???

 Ed explains it here.

There are recipes and Frontierado Poker and Silverado.

Due to some glitches with the computer I have been lax this year in promoting what has to be one of the best thought out holidays there ever was.

And due to Ed…it just got better.

Sam: “Hey Dean, are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
Dean “Wow they weren’t kidding…Buckshot is amazing.”

Because Buckshot has been spending time with TBs. Oh yes she did !!!

Dean “How do you think she does THAT?”
Sam “Who cares as long as we can watch.”

Ain’t time travel wonderful ????

For those of you wondering who Buckshot Bryant is...head here to catch up.

And if you perchance want your own WILD WEST SAGA after reading mine then ask Ed nicely. He has done a few for us bloggers out there, as well as a few other folk.

It’s a tale like no other. Rustling, train robbing, and having her own harem of boys (The Poker Studs) is all in a day’s work for Buckshot.

Some of Buckshot’s Poker Studs were…

Dancin’ Pat Swayze


Lariat Leo DiCaprio


Colin ‘Wild Irish’ Farrell.

Considered such a badass that Cochise named her “Shoots Deadly Woman”.


Even when she settles down with the love of her life Buckshot remains a force to be reckoned with.

Kevin ‘Colorado’ Costner…Buckshot’s one true love.

But…yes there is always a but…Buckshot and Colorado Costner came to a bloody end…as all good swashbuckling love stories should.

It seems that there is more though.

Here is a snippet from the previously unknown saga of Buckshot and her time with Sam and Dean Winchester as they…well if you want to know more you’ll just have to head on over to Ed’s.

Courtesy of a package mailed to me by the late George MacDonald Fraser several years ago, but which wasn’t delivered until a few days ago (you know the mail service) I am in possession of a long-forgotten 1800′s newspaper account of a heretofore unknown adventure of Joanne “Buckshot” Bryant, the woman who keeps the spirit of Frontierado alive all year ’round!

(Clipping from the Dallas Morning News. The headline was like confetti in my hands, but I could see the date was April 19th. The year, unfortunately, could not be made out)

(indecipherable) maintains it was Buckshot Bryant herself, the Queen of the Rustlers, sitting at a table and drinking fine Kentucky bourbon. The two young men who burst into the saloon, supposedly named Sam and Dean, carried Winchester rifles and were dressed in garb the like of which none of the cowpokes or farmers in town had ever seen before.

Now read more…

Find out just how far Buckshot went with The Boys to get what she wanted…and visa versa.

Find out whether The Boys made it out in one piece !!!!!!!!!!

And because she is born on the same day I was (exactly), and is a cowboy slapping, high stepping wench…

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Create A World Writing Contest.

Click on this photo to be redirected to the voting page.

Sorry guys…I’m back chasing People’s Choice votes again.

This time I entered a story over at The Dark Globe.

It is an edited version of an earlier story I posted in my fiction pages.

Less wordy and I hope better than the original: The Dragonflies Loop.

I am interested to hear your opinion !!!

You can vote for up to three stories.

Just make sure one of them is Submission #35 !!!!!!

You do need to have a website in order to vote.

And here is my entry.


Dragonfly Pond

(C) Jo Bryant

Ariki hovers over the mirrored water, obscured behind a battered Matai branch felled in a furious summer storm. Silver ferns, heavily curved with raindrops, dangle their leaves breaking the water’s surface. They vie with each other for space along its edges. Spider webs shimmer in the mottled sunlight. Spreading his wings wide; he circles over the damp domain silently disturbing the surrounding air. Searching the area for male interlopers, he checks for mosquitoes as well.

Smiling at the vista below he rises higher, wanting the certainty he has enough distance. With the sun losing height in the sky he knows that soon he will be able to hunt; for now, he has time to have some fun. Satisfied with his starting position he descends, rapidly building his speed till he reaches fifty kilometres per hour. Positioning his wings he begins to loop-the-loop. Three times he performs the manoeuvre, each loop tighter than the one before. As he manoeuvres out of the third loop his mouth curls with pleasure. Ariki positions his wings for a synchronised movement, them plummets, doubling his speed before he reaches the mirrored face of the pond.

Before he hits the water he pulls out of the dive and soars horizontally. His 360 aids his visual sweeping of the area. A familiar form, partially hidden in the sword-like leaves of a harakeke plant looks unswervingly toward him with large slate eyes. Marama’s gaze sends a tremor undulating through his body. Relax, take a deep breath, he tells himself. Nonchalance okay. His antennae however, ripple slightly with excitement.

“Hello,” he says manoeuvring to land in front of her.

“Hello,” she replies. Her voice tinkles like water descending over smooth river stones he thinks. Mesmerised by its sound he stays silent.

“Ariki?” Marama smiles joyfully and his legs feel like tadpole blubber. Lowering her antennae she mischievously swats him on the head. “Anybody in there?”

“Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I was a little distracted.”  He watches her smile widen. Nice comeback dunce head, he thinks.

“Distracted Ariki?” she teases. “What has you…so distracted?”

“I was, umm, wondering.”

“Anything I could help you with?” Marama is enjoying his discomfort. She can’t resist stretching out her wings so that they glisten red-gold from the setting sun. Changing the subject she remarks on his flight. “That was an especially fine loop-the-loop you just did.”


“Do you think you could coach me a little? I’m afraid I’m not getting it right. My loops are rather sloppy.”

“I’d love to help,” he’s unable to take his eyes away from her wings as they flash in the light. “You’re not as bad as you think. You have a lovely exit, I mean…” Ariki realises he’s admitting he’s been watching her. “You’re probably not getting up enough speed before you start.”

“Do you think that we could start now?” she asks, graciously ignoring his admission.

“Now? Sure.”

Marama stretches her wings, giving them a shake.

“C’mon then. I’ll race you to the other side,” she calls out. Her laughter rolls back on the breeze as Ariki realises she’s managed a head start.

“Cheat,” he shouts, flexing his wings he flies after her. She really is glorious he thinks as he watches her soar effortlessly. Reaching the other side Marama hovers above the flax lining the bank.

“Ha, I beat you.” Her smile softens the words. “But now I’ll let you show off a little while you teach me.”

“Sounds fair,” he replies. “Watch what I do. Then we’ll try it together.” Ariki ascends, signalling for her to follow; he stays close so she can see his movements. Building speed they race skyward. “Here goes,” he yells as he turns and drops. Trailing closely Marama is overwhelmed by the splendour of his movements. God, he’s stunning, she thinks as he goes into another loop. Finishing, he turns and waits for her to join him.

“Oh Ariki, that was more beautiful than before. I could hover here and watch you do that forever.”

“It’s nothing really,” he stammers. “We’ll have you doing it better than me in no time.” Secretly he is pleased. “Want to try? I’ll watch and then we’ll know what you need to work on. I think if you can go faster, before you start, you’ll be much better.”

Together they rise and fall perfectly synchronised. Beams of brilliant gold sunlight add drama to their dance.

“Marama,” Ariki pulls back and hisses at her. “Wasps. By the tree. Fly. Now!” He pushes her with his body. “Go,” he whispers, searching for somewhere to hide in the leaves of a manuka tree. “Higher, we need to get higher.” Keeping an eye on the activity below, they watch as the wasps search in vain between the red flax flowers.

“Ariki, what are they doing? Can you still see them?” Marama slows until he is beside her.

“Keep going,” he turns to look behind. “I can’t see them, but it doesn’t mean they’re not around.” He uses all his thirty thousand lenses to try and track any trace of the wasps’ path. “Keep going.” He hovers while urging Marama on. “Go higher. I don’t want them to see us if they are still around.” With a turn of her wings she soars away. Remaining behind he scans the area below. Satisfied that the wasps have not followed, he follows her path into the security of the manuka branches.

“I don’t think they saw us,” he says drawing level. Surveying the sinking sun he adds, “Don’t worry, they will be heading home soon.”

“Damn filthy bugs,” she shudders. “I hate them.”

“At least we are faster,” Ariki moves closer to her, “and smarter. Some of us are prettier as well,” he said waggling his antennae at her. Marama’s laugh jingles softly as she nods her head in answer to an unspoken question. Encouraged, he strokes her body with his wing.

Together they wait for the sun to set before leaving the security of the manuka. Adjusting his wings Ariki flies in reverse until he is behind her and waits for her reaction. When she slows her flight, he moves to join himself to her. Hovering, their bodies twisting, they form a perfect circle. He grasps the top of Marama’s head as she reaches around with her abdomen to allow him access to her.

“Is this what you were wondering about,” she quietly murmurs. Ariki’s body responds immediately and together they spin around; a shimmering ferris-wheel freewheeling through the softening dusk air, their wings flickering in the reflected light off the water. They slowly rotate until they are within millimetres of the pond’s surface, still joined to him Marama searches for a suitable place to lay her eggs. She seeks out an area by the side of the pond where vegetation is thick. Together they hover just above the surface as Marama expels her now fertilised eggs into a space between the plant’s green foliage.

“I think they will be safer here,” she whispers. Ariki nods in agreement. Once Marama has laid all of her eggs, he slowly withdraws and glides up beside her.

Without looking back they both speed off, leaving the pond’s next generation waiting to hatch.


For more info on the NZ dragonfly click on this photo.

Just a BTW – Harry from dribblingpensioner has a story in it as well: Submission #4


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A Taste of Honey – Part III

Her name was Honey Murray. You were named after her.” Daddy hands me the photo. “She was different. As she grew up, she felt it more and more. While other girls fantasized about Elvis, or the boy down the road, she found herself having thoughts, about…other girls. Puberty was a horrible time. She hated watching her breasts grow; she used to tie a strap around them, trying to hide them. It was a different time. Homosexuality was a crime. At sixteen she ran away to the city.

She got a job, and after a couple of years she met your mother. They worked in the same hotel. Your mother was on reception, while Honey worked in the bar. They became friends and decided to get a flat together. Finally, one day, Honey confided in your Mother. She was astounded at your Mother’s reaction. She said she’d already figured it out.”

As he speaks I look at the photo in my hands. I wish I’d known the woman Mother was then.

Are you sure we’re talking about the same woman?”

I imagine it’s hard to believe, but your Mother wasn’t always so…your Mother.”

How do you know all this?”

Because…” But I already know what he’s going to say. Staring out at me from the photo are those beautiful greenstone eyes. The hair’s longer, and the features softer, but I realise why I’d always thought I was missing something that was right there. “Honey was me.”

You’re a woman?” Could this get any weirder?

On paper. Yes.”

This is not…what I expected…coming here. A woman? Really? And Mother, Mother was a…my Mother. Really?” I was beginning to feel like the ice cube again.

Honey, are you okay?” He sounds worried.

No. No, I don’t think I am. But I think – before I run screaming from this house – you better…tell me the rest.”

I was in love with your mother, and unbelievably, she felt the same. We had to be careful, being against the law, and socially, well…we kept it secret. It was harder for her, she was raised Catholic. In the beginning, I think that was part of the attraction. As it went on, she started having doubts, damn Catholic guilt. Then she wanted a baby.”

Oh, right, your brother.”


The rest of your family, do they know?’

I don’t know, maybe. They disowned me when I told them what I was feeling.”

But you look like…”

A man? I am in all the ways that count. I just wasn’t born that way.”



Hormones? Really? Even then?”

Loving me went against everything your mother knew. She tried, but when she started having doubts, that’s when I decided to get treatment. There was a trial. A doctor in Switzerland. I applied, got accepted. I thought if I looked like a man, we could make it work. Honestly, I wanted it too. I’d never had a typical girlie figure, but when things started changing, for the first time…I felt right. That’s the only way to explain it.

Once I looked the part, we moved. Started again, where no-one knew us. It wasn’t enough though. I loved your mother, but she was dying of guilt because of what we were. And I started dying as well.”

Hormones. Did all this?” Wow. “You still take them?”

Hormones did a lot, and yes. But there are other things you can do.”

“Other things?” He looks like he is about to answer so I shake my head. I’m not ready for that conversation just yet. “If you stop, taking the hormones I mean…you’ll look more like a woman?” This was the weirdest conversation. God, I’d really like a look at his life thread about now.

Some of the changes are permanent, some not so.”

This is a lot to take in.” I am the master of understatement. “Wow. It’s a lot. A real lot.” Babbling understatement.

I understand. My question is, do you want to?” He…she…no…he, was looking at me with those beautiful greenstone eyes. My Daddy’s eyes, and I automatically stroke my necklace.

You still have that?” He sounds surprised. I reach out to caress his face.

Every night, I hung it on the bed-head. It made me feel like you were watching me.” And there, before me, are the eyes that had loved me. I realise that those eyes, like his heart, are my father’s. That they had once belonged to a woman – I’ll need to work on that – but this is my parent. He hadn’t left me. “I’m going to need…a little time.” I still have questions, so many questions.

You’re okay with this?” he asks.

I don’t know if okay, is the right word for it. But, hey…it’s the seventies; besides, I don’t want to lose you a second time.”

Do you want to stay? I’ve got room. I’ll make us dinner, we can talk. All night if you want.”

Dinner sounds good, but I’ve got a motel.”

Honey, you don’t…”

No, I think I do. I want some time to sort through all this. You. Mother. Everything’s spinning. Everything is not what it was.” Please, please understand.

Okay. I get that.” His fingers trace the line of my jaw. “You get that from my side of the family,” Daddy smiles. “And that’s definitely our nose.”

Maybe you shouldn’t push that so much. I don’t much like my nose.” He pulls me up. “C’mon, you can watch me cook. I make a mean lasagne.”

I remember.”

I was hoping you would,” he says. “I always hoped.”

So did I Dad.”


A Taste of Honey – Part I

A Taste of Honey – Part II


I am experimenting with Split Toning in Gimp…some successes…some duds. The photo above was a picture I liked, felt had potential…but it wasn’t special…so here is the original.

Love to know what you think !!!