As much as I’d like to regularly get to travel in the West, I only get to visit every few years. So as a writer of contemporary western romance, I look for inspiration in other ways — movies, TV shows, reading other authors’ books. Another way is by reading magazines that focus on various aspects of the West. For instance, in my book Home on the Ranch, the heroine, Ella Garcia, was inspired by Amie and Jolie Sikes, the sister duo behind the junking and repurposed decor empire known as Junk Gypsy. As I watched their TV show, Ella started to form in my head. I sent Amie and Jolie copies of the book dedicated to them when it came out. They were sweet to write me back and send me a Junk Gypsy mug which I drink out of all the time. So when I saw this copy of Cowgirl magazine with them on the cover, I had to pick it up.
Inside was more inspiration for characters’ style choices, whether it be western clothing or jewelry, furniture for their homes, or the homes themselves, as well as articles about western life. There’s even an article in this issue about a cattle drive in Florida, the Great Florida Cattle Drive.
The same can be said of magazines such as Cowboys & Indians. Plus, who can resist Sam Elliott on the cover, right? In this particular issue from a couple of years ago, Elliott talks about his Netflix show The Ranch. There are also articles about camping across the West, Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho, and Muscogee/Creek artist Joy Harjo. Even the ads have beautiful imagery of expansive Western vistas, gorgeous Western-style homes and decor, Wrangler jeans (known to be worn by cowboys far and wide), and useful information such as the list prices for ranches that are for sale.
Sometimes all it takes is one image to set a writer’s mind down a path that ends up with a completed novel. I’m a visual person, so I’m continually inspired by the things I see — whether in person on on the glossy pages of a magazine.
Do you all enjoy Western-themed magazines? What are some of your favorites?
I will admit to scanning online sites every spring and fall to discover the latest fashions trends. My heroine Beth Wallin in Frontier Matchmaker Bride has a greater passion for fashion, even on the frontier of 1875 Washington Territory. Her go-to source, pictured on the cover of her story, is Godey’s Lady’s Book.
Godey’s was the brainchild of Louis A. Godey, who saw the growing need for a magazine tailored specifically to the lady of the house. He hired a female editor, Sarah J. Hale, herself an author (often remembered for writing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), who also ensured the rest of the staff was predominantly female. In fact, Godey boasted at having a corps of 150 female colorers who hand-tinted the fashion plates that started every issue.
The early issues of Godey’s carried articles taken from British women’s magazines. The magazine even had its own reporter simply to chronicle royal activities across the Pond. Though Sarah Hale was purportedly a huge fan of Queen Victoria, she wanted more of an American angle for the magazine. She was also a staunch supporter of women’s rights, believing that women needed to be redeemed from their “inferior” position and placed as an equal helpmate to man in every way.
She therefore commissioned articles, essays, stories, and poetry from American writers including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Male luminaries Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also contributed. Articles covered health and science, crafts, dancing, horseback riding, home decorating, and recipes. Every issue included two pages of new sheet music for the pianoforte.
And women paid for the privilege of reading it. Subscriptions ran three dollars a year when other popular magazines of the time were only two dollars. The magazine was delivered by post all over the United States, from the gilded mansions on Boston’s Beacon Hill to the rustic ranches of the Texas Hill Country and the log cabins of Seattle.
Despite its broad coverage, Godey’s steered clear of politics. The Civil War was never mentioned in its pages. One source I consulted claimed that readership was cut by a third from its high of 150,000 subscribers during the war, implying that it was because of Godey’s non-political stance. I’m more inclined to believe that the magazine’s subscriptions fell during that time because women were counting pennies as husbands and fathers went off to war.
Regardless, Godey’s popularity led it to become a major force in America. The magazine is credited with popularizing a white wedding gown (after Victoria wore one in England), the use of a Christmas tree to crown that celebration, and the creation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
It even inspired Beth Wallin to create gowns far above those usually found on the frontier, thanks to a sister-in-law who is a seamstress and her own good taste. This is one of the gowns I pictured for her.
So, do you consider yourself a fashionista? What’s your go-to source?
Answer in the comments to be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of Beth’s story, Frontier Matchmaker Bride.
The Lawman Meets His Match
Spunky Beth Wallin is determined to find a bride for Deputy Hart McCormick, the man who once spurned her affections.
After tragically losing his sweetheart, Hart vowed never to love again. He might be Beth’s first matchmaking miss, unless they can both admit that she would be his perfect match.
Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first Regency romance novel until she had learned a bit more about writing such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and plot. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing. The Regency romance The Unflappable Miss Fairchild was her first novel to be published (March 1998). In 2011, she was delighted to move into Christian romance with the publication of The Irresistible Earl. Her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese; and a large number have been issued in hardcover, large print editions. She has twice won the prestigious RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice award for best historical Christian romance of its type, for The Heiress’s Homecoming in 2013 and Would-Be Wilderness Wife in 2015.
Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!
I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.
The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.
The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.
Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.
I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.
I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.
Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. First an apology – I’m just off of a series of all nighters as I worked to meet my deadline on my latest work in progress (which I made by a hair) and then a weekend of fun at a family reunion. So this post will be a bit shorter than normal.
That being said, when I looked up Oct 10 on my National Day Of calendar, I noticed that in addition to it being Columbus Day this year, it is also National Handbag Day. So I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of handbag trivia with you and then share some pictures of some of my own handbags.
Handbag Fun Facts:
In the 15th century it was traditional for a bridegroom to give his bride a purse with embroidered pictures of love stories.
Shoulder bags first became popular during WW II
The 1923 Hermes Bolide Bag was the first handbag to feature a zipper
According to a 2008 study done in England, the average 30 year old woman owns 21 handbags and purchases a new one every 3 months
The average weight of a woman’s handbag is over 5 pounds.
A Japanese designer created a handbag in 2008 that is wort more than $2 million. It was crafted of platinum and decorated with over 2,000 diamonds.
This was topped in 2010 by the Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse, valued at almost $4 million
And as promised, here are a few of my favorite purses from my own collection. I’m a big fan of vintage so most of those pictured here were acquired from thrift shops or estate sales
I also happen to be a Winnie The Pooh fan – here are two that reflect that, one was a gift from a good friend who knows me well, and the other was a spur of the moment purchase
So what about you? Do you have a large collection of handbags or just a few? Do you tend toward the large or the small, the designer bags or more utilitarian?