Dancehall Girl to Outlaw

Writing the Good Time Girls

· Wild-Willed Women,Western Fiction,Writing the West,Writing Life,Touring the Past

Let's start with an image of the very first line of The Good Time Girls, written during a PDX Writers workshop on a rainy Saturday morning in Portland, OR. It's the journal entry in the middle: "I'll take a box of Peter Schuyler cheroots."

The prompt was seven minutes, and the words tease, spider, and corner had to be used. I don't know where the cigars came from, or the shop, or the characters. But there Pip and (then) Pearl were. Pip had swaggered her way onto the page and into Pearl's cigar shop and the book was born. I couldn't stop writing scenes. During workshops, outside workshops, these two women and their escapades at the Paradise Saloon and Dancehall and trying to get from Point A to Point B, C, and D in the hinterlands of Kansas made me laugh and so I kept on. I moved from handwriting and loads of loose papers and maps (of course, you know my love of them) and historical photos to plotting the book out using Plottr (image below on right) and then moving my handwritten words into Scrivener (below left) to get some sense of order and sanity.


Which was quite important, for in between that first line about Peter Schuyler's cheroots and somewhere in the middle of Act Two, I also wrote a few dark historical thrillers for Lake Union Publishing. Pip and (now) Ruby had to wait in the wings.

But the girls never left my mind. And any chance I got, I worked on their story. I went to Globe, as you know from previous posts on Pearl Hart's ear. I used it and the environs as inspiration for the mining town of Orinda. You can see below the brutal, beautiful nature of the area. It took a lot of toughness to live here in 1898, when Ruby and Pip graced the stage.

I made my own covers, as I am wont to do, because I'm looking for visuals that inspire me and remind me that this will indeed be a real book someday. The first three below ar mine, made in Canva (when I should have been writing but instead futzed around for hours). The final on the right is the official cover NOT made by me but designed by a professional at - I love it and it truly captures the fun of the book.

More research followed - below is Kansas, which I mostly researched during Covid. I used Google Maps and followed roads, taking screenshots as I went and then higlighting them on a map. Let's just say that the trip was convoluted. They travelled on foot, train, mule, tried a bicycle, stole a 1903 Winton autombile and got lost too many times to count. Someday I want to actually get to Kansas and follow the route, though I'm afraid I might get lost, too.

Did I mention my go-to resource for all things 1904? Probably not. Yes, I called the Train Timetable Collectors Association. Talked to a car enthusiast who assured me my 1903 Model A would confuse readers who did not know Ford made one so early and thus would send them to look up Ford Model A's instead of continuing reading. He urged me to use a 1903 Winton, so I did. But my favorite resource, my be all and end all, is the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalog. If it wasn't in here it did not exist.

Once THE DECEPTION was done and dusted, I turned my attention 100% to Pip and Ruby, and let them tell me their transformation from dancehall girls to outlaws, and the swindlers and damn bastards they met along the way. Now the book is ready for you. I hope you raise a glass with them and give a toast to wild road trips

NEXT POST: The Sears Roebuck Catalogue REVEALED.


K.T. Blakemore grew up in the United States West and never left. Her upcoming novel THE GOOD TIME GIRLS is the first in the Wild-Willed Women of the West Series, featuring women who take no prisoners and succeed through sheer grit, determination, and a parcel of luck. Which you can order now in Kindle, paperback, and hardback.





She has hung her hat in California, Colorado, and currently the Pacific Northwest. The rain does not deter her research whether it be train timetables from 1905 or the best way to catch a loose horse.

Subscribe to her newsletter for an exclusive excerpt of THE GOOD TIME GIRLS *and* a free gift of "How to Survive Cactus" a Good Time Girls short.

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