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Western Women: Janet Bly

Image by Brittany Colpitts from Pixabay


Ready to meet another Inspirational Western Woman?

I’m thrilled for you to get to know this gal. She hales from Idaho and is such a sweet, giving lady.

With that…

I’d like to welcome one of this month’s Inspirational Western Women, Janet Bly.

On Mother’s Day, a year ago, I finally decided to start the process. I’d leave my mountain top home and move to the valley, closer to family. A very tough call to make, but the next step, a part of the seasons of my life.

Until a few weeks ago, I resided in a tiny (350 pop.), north-central Idaho country town, at 4200-foot elevation, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. Here is where we served a loving church family, wrote many books, and embraced the delights of the great outdoors. Then I released this fulfilling lifestyle I once shared over thirty years with my late husband, western author Stephen Bly, and navigated on my own for ten years, overcoming many challenges.

Born a California city girl, I discovered I held country in my heart. Stephen drew that out, the farm boy who sat next to me all four years of high school English class. After we married, we traveled thousands of adventurous miles before we settled in the rugged hills of Idaho, to get as close to pioneer as we could and write of bygone days.

Now, I’m left with lots of memories, most of them good ones . . .

Listening to wind in barbed wires.

Enjoying solitude, squirrel chatter, and time to unscatter.

Orange beams exploding over purple sunsets.

Watching the snows drift, spray, and sparkle.

Shoveling the final dump of snow from the last spring blizzard.

Old coffee pots simmering on Broken Arrow Crossing campfires.

Carting all those hundreds of sticky piles of Ponderosa pine needles and cones away.

Surrounded by Syringa blossoms, cottonwoods, and wheat fields that blanket the high mountain prairie and a dirt road town with reluctant spring thaws and sprawling fences.

Horses grazing in peaceful pastures and then corral dancing, running with the rumble of stony hoof beats, whiplashes of speed, manes and tails flowing, muscles rippling with grace and power. The reminder that any tame horse is not far from being wild and free.

The horses and corrals sold, the Winchester Lake Lodge purchased Broken Arrow Crossing, the 1880s false front town my husband built, and the adjoining property, to rent for events as an AirB&B. They will now sponsor family reunions, concerts, retreats, weddings, and other events in the place we called home. The goodbyes have been said to long-time friends, as well as to Butch and Sundance, my carved watch-bears. And in another sense, once again to Stephen.

Meanwhile, I’m adjusting to residential life again—curious about the traffic, joggers, and dog walkers passing my home; the invasion of daytime construction noises and assorted night lights; and the nameless neighbors who sometimes wave. And I’m bombarded with city songs while keeping country tunes in my heart.


Janet Chester Bly is author and co-author with Stephen Bly of 40 nonfiction and fiction books for adults and kids (8-12 years). Titles include The Hidden West Series and The Carson City Chronicles. Her most recent releases: Wind in the Wires, Down Squash Blossom Road and Beneath A Camperdown Elm, the Trails of Reba Cahill series, contemporary western mysteries with a touch of romance. She now lives near her three married sons and their families in Lewiston, Idaho. She and Russell, Michael, and Aaron finished Stephen’s final novel for him, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, Book 7, Stuart Brannon Series, which became a Selah Award Finalist.


*~* If you are a western woman or have someone in mind who can share their stories with us, please pass on their name and contact information to me. I’d love to include them on this journey.

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  1. Change is something we shy away from but tend to be drawn to by God’s loving. hands. As Janet’s sister, I have seen first hand how Steve and Janet were called by God to Winchester, getting their home built, all the adventures through the years for them and their family, Stephen’s home-going 10 years ago and God’s amazing gifts of grace in the years since. We all have our own journey’s to walk and I am thankful to be able to see God’s hand in each step.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Connie, thank you for sharing your sentiments. God is good! And he has richly blessed the Blys. What an honor to walk with them. Be blessed.

  2. Carmen: Thanks so very much for including me in your Western Women blog series! A great privilege! Blessings, Janet

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Janet, I’m thrilled you accepted the invitation! You have richly blessed me.

  3. What a wonderful read about Janet Bly. I was privileged to meet her and Stephen at a writer’s conference so many years ago. I don’t even recall where it was at. Somewhere in Washington state. A few of us women there got to sit with Janet and Stephen at a table for breakfast. What fun to visit with real authors, of which I was not much of one at the time. But they were so fun and cordial. They would look out over the restaurant and make up possible stories right on the spot. It made me realize how a story could come from anywhere. That has stayed with me and helped enhance my own writing. Thank you, Janet and Carmen, for this post.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Oh, Judy, what a blessing for you! I never did get to meet Stephen. He’d recently passed when I had met Janet. We did a book-signing together in Clarkston. She’s a wonderful woman.

      1. Thank you for answering back. It was a special time for me to meet both you and Stephen. I’m so glad you and your family were able to finish his series.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      You’d love her Mary. She’s one of two friends who had suggested for me to become a member of WWW! 🙂