Category: Firefighting

Cause for Alarm & Book Giveaway

 MargaretBrownley-header

Today I’m giving away a copy of Prairie Summer Brides, which includes my story, The Dog Days of Summer Bride.  P&P giveaway guidelines apply.

Fire is very much on my mind this month for two reasons; One, California has been plagued with massive wildfires this summer.  None were close to me, but the air quality has been poor and there were days when we couldn’t see the sun because of smoke-filled skies.

The second reason that fire is on my mind is due to a firefire in the fictional town of Two-Time, Texas (book three of my Match Made it Texas series) and I’ve been writing and rewriting the scene all week.

During the 19th century, fire was one of the biggest environment threats facing the nation.  Something as simple as a dropped candle or overturned lamp could wipe out an entire town or city in a flash.

When a fire broke out in those early days, a bell (usually the church bell) rang, and volunteer firemen dropped what they were doing and raced to join the bucket brigade.  Volunteers were a mixed bunch and included immigrants and native-born, merchants and laborers.

Being a volunteer fire-fighter was considered an honor and united men in a brotherhood of masculinity andtucson skill.  It provided men from all walks of life with an elevated social status.

Surprisingly, women started serving as volunteer firefighters as early as 1818. The first known woman to do so was a black slave named Molly Williams.

The main challenges firefighters faced in those early days were poorly constructed wood buildings and lack of equipment and training. The appearance of fire insurance companies in the mid-1800s created yet another challenge.

old fire mark plaque

Fire mark plaque showing business is insured.

Some fire brigades were either owned or paid for by insurance companies. Homes and businesses with paid fire insurance were issued a fire mark plaque. These fire marks were made out of metal and placed outside doors. The payment to insurers would help support fire-fighting brigades.  The fire brigade that arrived at a burning building first would get the insurance money.

Competition between brigades was so severe, that fistfights often occurred while a building burned to the ground.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the New York city companies sent runners ahead to cover fire hydrants with barrels to prevent other brigades from using them.

bucket

Old firefighting bucket. Rounded bottoms prevented buckets from being stolen and used for other purposes.

Firefighting has come a long way since the first volunteer fire department in America was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1736. Fire equipment back then was basically leather buckets for dousing flames with water and linen bags for collecting valuables from inside of burning houses.

I was surprised to learn that today, more than two-hundred and eighty years later, sixty-nine percent of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers. Unfortunately,  their numbers are dwindling.  It’s getting harder to recruit new members. People no longer live in the heart of town like they once did, so distance is a problem.  Also fewer people are willing to take time away from work and family to run into burning buildings without pay. (Can’t say I blame them, there.)

Despite these challenges, modern volunteer firefighters are well-trained and save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Best of all, fistfights are now a thing of the past.  Firefighting sure isn’t what it used to be and we can all thank God for that.

Are the firemen in your town volunteers or professionals?

                                                                                              

                              Left at the Altar

LeftattheAltarfinalcoverWelcome to Two-Time Texas:

Where tempers burn hot

Love runs deep

And a single marriage can unite a feuding town

…or tear it apart for good.

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Updated: August 23, 2016 — 11:12 am

Surprises in History (and a Boxed-Set Giveaway)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Research is one of the most important tools of the fiction author’s trade. Regardless what an author writes—historical, contemporary, fantasy, science fiction—he or she must have some knowledge of the real world in order to create a world in which characters live and breathe.

A Kiss to RememberGood authors don’t beat readers over the head with their research, but what they dig up informs every aspect of their stories. Much of what we discover doesn’t make it into our books. Instead, the information clutters up our heads and trickles out at odd times.

This is one of those times.

Each of the five authors who contributed to Prairie Rose Publications’s new release, the boxed set A Kiss to Remember, uncovered historical tidbits that surprised, charmed, or saddened her. Since all of us are good authors and would never dream of beating readers over the head with our research in our books, we’re taking the opportunity to beat readers over the head with our research in a blog post. We can be sneaky that way.

Without further ado…

 

Her SanctuaryHer Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible.

Tracy: I’m a “cradle Lutheran,” meaning I was born into a Lutheran family, baptized in the Lutheran church… You get the idea. Imagine my surprise when I began researching the history of the church in Missouri and found they’d been in the state a lot longer than I thought. It was fun, though.

 

Gabriels LawGabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

Cheryl: Orphanages of the 1800s and early 1900s were mainly what I needed to research. And what sad research it was! The Indian orphanages and “schools” were the worst. The Indian children were forced to “assimilate”: cut their hair, wear white man’s clothing, and speak only English. Punishment was swift and sure if they were caught speaking their native tongues. In essence, they were taught they had to forget everything they knew—even their families—and adopt the ways of the whites completely. This only ensured they would never be wholly at ease in either world, white or Indian.

 

Outlaw HeartOutlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

Tanya: The research that fascinated me the most was meeting and getting to know Dr. John Henry Holliday. What a guy. I’ve quite fallen in love with him. This handsome, soft-spoken, peaches-n-cream Southern gentleman can bring me to tears. He died slowly from tuberculosis for fifteen years after losing his beloved mother to the disease when he was 15. Talented pianist, multilingual, skilled surgeon who won awards for denture design… Most of his “deadly dentist” stuff was contrived. He needed a bad reputation to keep himself safe from angry gamblers. I was thrilled and honored both when he asked to be a character in Outlaw Heart.

 

The Dumont WayThe Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

Kathleen: Did you realize George Armstrong Custer was part of the Union occupation force in Texas after the Civil War? Neither did I. While I was double-checking my facts about Reconstruction-era Texas, I ran across that little tidbit. Texans may not have liked him any better than any other Yankee, but they were grateful for his kindness. During his five months in Texas, Custer was disliked by his own men because he strictly enforced Army regulations about “foraging” (read “stealing”) and poor treatment of civilians. I must admit I’m one of those who tended to view Custer as one of history’s real-life bad guys, but that one tidbit softened my impression. Funny how little things can make a big difference, isn’t it?

 

YESTERDAYS FLAMEYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

Livia: I really enjoyed learning about the firefighting companies in San Francisco. The massive earthquake in 1906 was followed by an equally devastating fire, and there were a lot of heroes among those early firefighters.

 

Have you ever been surprised, charmed, alarmed, or vexed by something you’ve read—in either fiction or non-fiction? What was it? We’d love to hear! One brave soul who shares her or his discovery in the comments will win a digital copy of the brand-new boxed set A Kiss to Remember before it’s available to the public! The five books comprise more than 1,000 pages of heart-melting western historical romance…and that’s a fact.

 

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Valerie Hansen – Rescuing the Heiress

Howdy!

I told you the last time I visited that there was going to be an earthquake and terrible fire in San Francisco in April of 1906. See? I was right.

RESCUING THE HEIRESS is a book I’ve wanted to write since I began researching early California history. By the time of the devastating, historical quake, electric lights were beginning to replace gas flames in the more affluent neighborhoods and quite a few motorcars had joined the countless horse-drawn carriages, wagons and streetcars crowding the busy streets.

Rigid class distinctions still existed and so did the chasm between the rights of men versus women. It was high time for the suffragette movement to blossom and wealthy, sheltered women like Tess Clark were more than ready to take part. High society insisted that Tess associate with only those born to her elite class, so the heroic man who made her heart beat faster was definitely off-limits. Then, the ground began to tremble and literal walls weren’t the only kind that collapsed.

Not surprisingly, underhanded political dealings also played a part in the much of the ultimate destruction. Many details only came to light years later but there was a power struggle going on at the same time that innocent people were fighting for their lives and their city was collapsing around them.

One of the pictures I’ve included is of me when my church was having an old-fashioned day with “dinner on the ground”. My long, blue skirt had a bustle but I quickly realized that I couldn’t even fit behind the wheel of my car while wearing it! No wonder fancy-dressed ladies had to be helped into carriages. 🙂 I would have been a prime candidate for bloomers if I’d had to dress this way all the time.

I know firsthand about earthquakes because I spent many years in Southern California and experienced some quakes that were so strong it was impossible to even stand, let alone walk. We lived in the foothills and, like Tess’s house, ours was built on more solid ground. That didn’t keep it from shaking but it did change the way the vibrations affected the structure.

I also identify strongly with Tess because my husband was a firefighter. Loving a fireman can be scary but there are also plenty of laughs. Like the time he rescued a basket of kittens from a burning building and was still being teased about it years later. Or the time my kids, both volunteer firefighters, collided in the hallway at home while responding to a nighttime alarm and their father jumped over their prone bodies and kept on going! He beat them to the fire station, too. 🙂

Until we meet again, you’ll find me getting into trouble in contemporary times because I write suspense and romance for Love Inspired as well as historical novels. I’ll be giving away two autographed copies of RESCUING THE HEIRESS plus two of my previous Western historical titles so be sure to enter to win one of them while you’re here! 

Thanks to Petticoats and Pistols for inviting me to blog.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015