Category: Behind the Book

Fake News and Feuding Editors

Accuracy to a newspaper is what virtue is to a lady;

but a newspaper can always print a retraction.

                                                                                                       –Adlai E. Stevenson     

My March release, How the West was Wed, follows the story of two rivaling newspaper editors.  JOSIE LOCKWOOD is the successful editor of the town’s only newspaper until the very charming, very handsome BRANDON WADE moves to town to start his own newspaper. At first Josie welcomes the competition, but she soon learns that readers prefer Wade’s bold hyperbole to her more serious type of journalism.

I especially enjoyed writing about a Victorian newspaper woman. Women editors date back to colonial times, and some edited publications in the east during the first half of the nineteenth century. Still, in those early days, the newspaper business was primarily a male occupation.

This changed somewhat during the westward movement. The late eighteen-hundreds saw some 300 females editing 250 publications in eleven western states. California led the way with 129 known female editors. No doubt there were more, but some female publishers sought credibility by listing a husband’s name on a masthead.

Newspaperwomen covered everything from national and local news to household hints.

Newspapers at the time also carried what today might be called fake news. Along with their morning cup of Arbuckle’s, Victorian readers were regaled with stories of mysterious creatures, flying objects, ghosts, extraterrestrials and other strange phenomena.

It’s not hard to see why the news business would attract female interest. Having control over editorial content afforded women the opportunity to lead a crusade, promote religious and educational activities, and bring a community together. Women still didn’t have the vote, of course, but some female publishers had strong political views which they were all too glad to share with readers.

Editorial disputes like the one between Brandon and Josie were common in the Old West, but not all had such a happy ending. Sometimes things went too far.  In some instances, the feud ended in gunfire.

Most feuds, however, were carried out with a war-of-words. Rival editors prided themselves on the quality and quantity of their insults. Typesetting was a tedious job. It took less time and effort to call someone an idiot or numbskull in print than to find a gentler approach.

If editors weren’t fighting each other, they were fighting readers. Any editor printing an inflammatory story could expect to be accosted at the local saloon or challenged to a duel. Things got so bad that an editor of a Kansas newspaper wrote: “What this community needs just now is a society for the prevention of cruelty to writing men, otherwise editors.”

After one man was acquitted of killing the editor of the Leavenworth Times, the Marion County Record wrote, “That’s just the way with some juries—they think it no more harm to shoot an editor than a jack-rabbit.”

Fortunately, today’s disgruntled readers are more likely to drop a subscription than drop an editor, but one thing hasn’t changed; For more than a 150 years, the death of newspapers has been predicted.  It was once thought that the telegraph would do the ghastly deed.  Today, the Internet is taking the blame.  Whether it fully succeeds is anyone’s guess.

So, what do you think?  Are newspapers still relevant?

 

Meet the Brides of Two-Time, Texas!

            

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Updated: February 18, 2018 — 9:59 am

Fact-Checking Historical Westerns

 

Fact-Checking Historical Westerns

I imagine that most of us read a historical romance for enjoyment first, and then some learning on the side about what life was like back in the day. It is fiction, after all, not a scholarly history book. However, words, items, and phrases that are untrue to the setting can pull the reader out of the story and possibly make them quit reading the book altogether. As an author, I feel I owe the past and my ancestors, the respect of portraying them as truthfully and authentically as I am able.

I just finished up the rough-draft of my next book and am in the middle of fact-checking to make sure that I have everything correct.To double-check the initial usage of words, I use my ancient Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary on my desk or I pull up Dictionary.com. I must make sure that the things my characters say and the items they use, actually existed in the time and setting of my historical romance. Thank goodness for the internet! It is so much easier today than when I first started my career as a writer. (The internet is always right…Right?) I do find though, that in this part of the writing process, I get sucked into checking out all sorts of strange, fascinating and downright weird tidbits that never make it into any of my stories.

The Rebel and the Lady

The Rebel and the Lady

When I first started writing westerns, I peppered my second book, The Rebel and the Lady (set at the Alamo) with Stetsons and blue jeans, only to find out upon fact-checking that those items didn’t exist in 1836. The John B. Stetson Hat Company started making the Stetson in Philadelphia in 1865, almost thirty years LATER! Arrrgh!

Denim pants were around, but were called “waist overalls” in 1873. They weren’t dubbed “jeans” until 1890.

Stetson Hat used in the Army

 

In the book I am currently writing, I recently made the correction about my hero hitching his thumbs on his belt loops. Although belts have been around for centuries in various forms, the kind we think of today, along with belt loops, began catching on with the general population slowly. They were on some Civil War uniforms, but wearing them really took off in 1922 when they were placed on Levi jeans. Before that, suspenders were the norm. (I kind of like the look of suspenders. How about you?)

Standard Civil War Infantry Waist Belt

I was sucked down the rabbit-hole again when I wondered if a small town like Oak Grove would have water-closets in each of their businesses along the main street. I mean…people lived on the second floor and had their business on the first floor. In a city like Chicago or New York there would be a sewer system. But what about a one-horse town like Oak Grove that is just starting out? Would each business have an outhouse behind it? Would there be any type of communal cistern? What about communal privies?

 

Not only is it items that I need to check the existence of, it is words and phrases. Although “fetch” has existed since before the 12th century, the use of it meaning someone attractive or pleasing to look at (fetching) wasn’t common usage until 1880 (according to some dictionaries.) My story is set in 1879 and my editor caught this one. I still insisted on its use though. It characterized one of my characters perfectly. And my thoughts are that people used it for awhile before the dictionary made it an official word. Just as “google” was used as a verb for searching the internet several years before it was admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006. (My! Has it been around that long already?)

The words, phrases and items that I don’t catch when I fact-check are usually caught by the eagle-eye of my copy editor in London. She is hyper-critical and an amazing editor. It would be great to send in a completed manuscript and have it so “clean” that she can’t find any issues. So far, that day has not happened. ?

 

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The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, is my newest release.

Look for it at:

And visit me anytime on my website or Facebook!

 

Come With Me To Santa Anna!

Settings are very important to me in my stories and when I can, I go to visit the land. I stand, close my eyes and listen to what the wind tells me. Often I hear voices long past whispering in the breeze and I know this is what I’m supposed to write.

In the back of The Cowboy Who Came Calling, I explain that everything I put in the story is historical fact. I think readers want to know that.

This story is set in the small town of Santa Anna, Texas in the central part of the state. Both the town and the nearby mountain were named for the Comanche war chief, Santanna. He was an important chief and the first of his tribe to visit Washington, D.C. There, he saw what his people were up against and began advocating for peace. He was struck down and died in a cholera epidemic in 1849.

Here are the Santa Anna Mountains in the distance. Not very high at all. Most probably wouldn’t even call them a mountain range.

This monument was erected by the state to mark the site of Camp Colorado. It was part of a line of forts built in the 1800s to protect settlers against the Indians. There wasn’t anything left when I last visited here. It’s on private land now. Luke McClain joins a gang who use the old fort as a hideout in my story.

The town (only 8 miles from Coleman, TX) was never very large and today the population is a little over a thousand people. Here is a very old building and an old crumbling wall.

 

The picture below shows the thick vegetation and in the distance, the ridge of Santa Anna Mountains above the treeline.

Below is Bead Mountain that I mention in the story is actually a sacred Indian burial ground. When it rains, colorful beads wash down the sides. It’s actually reputed to be haunted.

Okay, that’s a quick look at my setting. I apologize for the poor quality pictures.

Here’s your question: How often do you look on the map for the place a story is set when you’re reading? Do you feel cheated just a bit when you find it’s a made-up place? I’m giving away four copies (winner’s choice of print or ebook) of The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Comment to enter the drawing.

OF BROKEN BONES & BONESETTERS

Welcome to Wildflower Junction and another year of chatting about wonderful books and the Wild West. Looks like we have a great line-up of guest authors coming our way on Fridays this year!

To start the year off right, I am offering a give-away at the bottom of this post, so keep reading!

I am currently writing the OAK GROVE SERIES which is shared with Lauri Robinson. It started last May 2017 with MAIL-ORDER BRIDES OF OAK GROVE. A complete listing of all the books in the series can be found at http://kathrynalbright.com/about-the-books/oak-grove-series/

My newest book in the series, THE PRAIRIE DOCTOR’S BRIDE has just been released. (YAY!) Since the hero is a doctor, I had to portray him doing doctorly things. In books or movies about the Old West, someone with a broken leg or arm will often have their injury splinted with sticks for immobilization. Usually this is “out in the bush,” and although Doctor Nelson Graham could certainly do this method I wanted him showing off his education a bit. Doc Graham was not a lay doctor or a bone-setter (a barber or in a pinch the local blacksmith.) He attended a prestigious school in Boston, and then had several years of experience, employed by the Kansas-Pacific Railroad Company to attend the men building the railroad. He had his own home-office in Oak Grove, Kansas. So, I had to find about a little more about the history and care for fractures.

Hippocrates

HIPPOCRATES

The earliest known care for a broken bone (after resetting) dates back to the early Egyptians of the 5th Dynasty (2400 B.C.) Hippocrates, a physician of the 4th century BC, wrote about immobilizing the bone to let it heal and also having the injured person do specific exercises to prevent atrophy of the muscles. His writings spoke of using cloth soaked in resin and wax. A little later on, starch was added to assist with quicker hardening. Throughout the next 1500 years, different solutions and pastes were used, such as egg whites, clay, and gum mixtures. If a person had a broken bone, they did a LOT of laying around.

Plaster of Paris had been used as a building material for centuries, but in the early 19th century, it became widely used for immobilizing broken bones. The injured limb would be reset and placed inside a wooden box and then the plaster poured over it, encasing the leg or arm in a rigid sleeve. This was heavy and made it impossible for the injured person to move.

Then in the 1830s, Louis Seutin, a doctor in the Belgian army, used strips of linen and carton (or pasteboard) splints that were wet and molded to the limb. The limb was then wrapped in bandages and coated with a starch solution and allowed to dry.

GAUZE COATED WITH PLASTER OF PARIS

Building on Seutin’s work, Antonious Mathijsen, a medical doctor in the Dutch army, found that strips of coarse cotton cloth into which dry plaster of Paris had been rubbed, could be applied and then moistened with a sponge or brush. The cast would harden as it was rubbed and would dry in minutes. Another version of this would be to very carefully dip the dressing or cloth into a bucket of water, so as not to dislodge the plaster of Paris already rubbed into the cloth, and then apply it to the limb. This lighter-weight, smaller cast made it possible for a person to move about while a bone healed.

WALKING CAST

Mathijsent wrote about his method and it was published in 1852 in a medical magazine, Repertorium. This became the standard for setting broken bones until 1950 with only a few minor changes—ie: the use of shellac to make the cast water-resistant. And alterations such as this picture–with a stub to enable walking and yet keeping the cast dry and clean.

So – knowing this – I could finally write the scene where Doc Graham took care of Wally Brown’s arm and actually used a plaster of Paris cast! Since I was a nurse in my past life and the history of medicine has always fascinated me, I had to be careful not to “talk technical” as I wrote the medical passages but to remember to use regular words. Instead of “new, granulation tissue” I described the skin as reddened, a bit puffy, and without any sign of purulence.

If you are interested in finding out more, here are a few links to check out:

http://hankeringforhistory.com/history-of-the-cast/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5420179
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/setting-a-broken-bone-19th-century-medical-treatment-was-not-for-sissies

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Now for the Giveaway!

How about telling me what book you are reading this first month of the year!
Those who comment will have their names put into my Stetson for a drawing for my new release!

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THE PRAIRIE DOCTOR’S BRIDE

Nelson Graham has had every advantage in life.
Is it possible for this Boston-trained doctor and a woman who “lives off the land”
to find any common ground?

  • * * * * * * * * 

“This book was a pure delight.” San Francisco Review of Books

 

For more information on this book and others, please visit and follow ~

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  |  BOOKBUB

 

Welcome Guest – Amanda Renee

 

Farrier Fascination

Happy New Year and Happy early Valentine’s Day!

I’ve wanted to write a Valentine’s story for years, and was lucky enough to do so before my beloved Harlequin Western Romance line closes this year. WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY is not only a holiday romance, it has allowed me to share my fascination with the age-old art of farriering.

Many moons ago, I worked on a large reining horse ranch in Northern New Jersey. Up until that point I had always thought of farriers as people who trimmed hooves and put shoes on horses. I hadn’t realized that many farriers work alongside equine veterinarians and provide therapeutic and corrective shoeing to horses suffering from hoof disorders, trauma, neglect and other injuries.

The reddish orange glow of our resident farrier’s forge drew me in and I became captivated watching him precisely sculpt each shoe with what seemed like the most primitive of tools. From the first rise of steam when the shoe met the horse’s hoof, I knew I wanted to write a farrier story. Back then I had always assumed it would be about a male farrier because that’s all I had ever heard about. Years later, I moved to the deep south and discovered most of the farriers in my area are women. The story idea once again began to rattle around in my brain, but I hadn’t given it the attention it deserved until I stumbled across a photo of country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves with her horse Mismo. The name Delta Grace immediately sprung to mind and I knew I had my female farrier. I just needed a rugged family man to round out my story…and like a sign from above, singer Luke Bryant began playing on the radio. The man epitomizes family and I had all the inspiration I needed to write WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY. While this is by far my most heart wrenching story to date, it was one of my favorites to write. I hope you enjoy reading it.

FALLING HEAD OVER BOOTS…

Farrier Delta Grace has a strict rule about not getting involved with clients. Rugged ranch owner Garrett Slade is exactly why. The attraction between them is instant. He’s also her biggest client and the epitome of complicated. A widowed father of two, he’s moved back to Saddle Ridge, Montana, for a fresh start.

Despite her better judgment, Delta can’t stay away from Garrett or his kids. And it’s not long before her heart melts completely, along with her rules. However, when life deals Delta a devastating blow, she needs to distance herself from Garrett—their family has already experienced too much heartache. All is not lost, though, because with Valentine’s Day around the corner, love may actually conquer all!

Want to win a copy of WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY?

Tell me what fascinates you most about ranch life in the comments section and one winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy (your choice: digital or paperback).

*****

Amanda Renee was raised in the Northeast and now wriggles her toes in the warm coastal Carolina sands. Her career began when she was discovered through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. When not creating stories about love and laughter, she enjoys the company of her schnoodle—Duffy—camping, playing guitar and piano, photography and anything involving animals. You can visit her at amandarenee.com.

The Indian Agent’s Wife

Regina Jennings

Secluded from civilization, grossly outnumbered by hostile neighbors, but expected to keep up the appearance of a proper Victorian household—that was the task of an Indian Agent’s wife.

While Mrs. Daniel (Ida) Dyer’s white “verandahed” house was charming, just past her lawn was open prairie with hundreds of white tepees. In her book Picturesque Cheyenne and Arrapahoe Army Life before the Opening of Oklahoma, Mrs. Dyer notes that the village consisted of many noted warriors—warriors that were discontent with reservation life and not very fond of her husband. Also surrounding the agency town of Darlington were thousands of bleached and rotting bones that had accumulated over the years when the Indians tore apart their weekly beef rations. Not what the granddaughter of a U.S. Representative and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois was expecting out of married life, but Ida Dyer was made of stern stuff.

Even though Darlington in the 1880s included a hotel, a commissary, a mission school and a newspaper office, its population was limited to white people who had government permission to live there. Even visitors were sent away unless they had authorization. Mrs. Dyer and the agency employees did have a social life consisting of occasional parties and gatherings with the officers’ families from nearby Fort Reno, but entertainment came second to survival. While the wives of the officers at the fort could count on military protection, the agent’s wife was to offer a level of hospitality to the Indians that often left her vulnerable.

In one instance (which is included in my latest book Holding the Fort), an outlaw band of Cheyenne warriors took up arms. The agency employees and missionaries left Darlington and raced to the fort, but Ida remained at her husband’s side as he worked to get the proper reports completed before abandoning his post. Daylight disappeared and with it their hopes for safe passage to Fort Reno. The streets belonged to the Cheyenne, but the Dyer’s trusted Arapaho friends convinced the rebels that the Dyers had already fled. Understaffed and hopelessly outnumbered, the troopers at Fort Reno didn’t dare leave the fort to attempt a rescue. That left the Dyers as prisoners in their own home for two weeks, crawling past windows and unable to even light a fire for fear of being discovered.

But despite her fear, Ida found much to admire about the people she and her husband were serving. Thanks to her eye for detail and her amusing anecdotes, we can see her love for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and her concern over the difficulties being forced upon them. Unfortunately, her husband’s ineptitude led to a short tenure as the agent in Darlington. Years later, when he read her published account of their experiences, he gathered every copy of the books he could acquire, burned them, and then divorced Ida. Thankfully, a few copies survived.

While Agent Dyer didn’t appreciate Ida’s recollections, we certainly can. Thanks to Ida Dyer’s firsthand account, we get to meet many women of the west who would’ve otherwise gone unsung.

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for Holding the Fort, Regina’s new release.

Award-winning author Regina Jennings is a homeschooling mother of four from Oklahoma. She enjoys watching musicals with her kids, traveling with her husband and reading by herself. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. Her latest release, Holding the Fort is the first book of the Fort Reno Series.

She loves to hear from readers at her website – http://www.reginajennings.com and on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Holding the Fort

Fort Reno Series Book #1

Jennings Winningly Combines Humor, History, and Romance

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out. 

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

Welcome Guest – E. E. Burke

Thank you for having me back as a guest on Petticoats & Pistols!

This December, I have the privilege of being part of an exciting new series inspired by a familiar Christmas carol.

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year.

Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms.

Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle? The countdown starts on Christmas Day.

Where’s Noelle?

The mining town where the Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides series is set is a fictional place, but we drew inspiration from the history of Leadville, Colorado. This mountain boomtown located ten thousand feet high in a valley of the Rockies, became famous for its silver mine. But the town actually got its start when gold was discovered there around 1860. The stream gorge, named California Gulch, instantly became the site of a 49er’s style gold rush, with crude dwellings and businesses (supplies, saloons and whorehouses) springing up along the narrow gulch.

Two years later, the gold ran out and miners abandoned the town in droves. It stood deserted for thirteen years until another prospector became curious about the black sand and underlying rock and had a sample assayed, which proved to be carbonate of lead rich with silver.

By 1877, the silver rush was on! The town’s name came from its lead and silver mining. Later, copper and zinc would be shipped out of the mineral-rich valley.

The story of mining communities like Leadville and even our little fictional town of Noelle are strikingly similar. The moment precious ore was discovered, the town would boom, almost overnight. But few of these towns survived past the initial rush. Those that did faced another challenge: connecting their towns to the rest of the world. As the railroads advanced across the country, connecting east to west and establishing a faster, cheaper way to move goods and people, communities vied to attract the railroad, knowing it would make the difference between thriving or becoming a ghost town.

In our series, Noelle faces both of these challenges, and the men living there come up with a clever plan to save their town.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, written by twelve bestselling authors, put a new twist on an old song in a heartwarming historical romance series.

The Partridge by Kit Morgan – A clever man’s plan becomes a matchmaking disaster…and the countdown begins to save the town of Noelle.

The Dove by Shanna Hatfield – A bewitching gypsy and a beguiled blacksmith tangle over a hidden treasure…with only eleven days left to save the town.

The Hens by Merry Famer – A wandering woman finds exactly who she was looking for, but not who she was expecting…with only ten days left to save the town.

The Calling Birds by Jacqui Nelson – A wanted woman’s flight leads to a man in pursuit of honesty not stolen gold…with only nine days left to save the town.

The Gold Ring by Caroline Lee – A dangerous masquerade and a twist of fate put Noelle’s future at risk…with only eight days left to save the town

The Goose by Peggy Henderson – A woman on the run, a man who doesn’t want to be caught—it’s one wild goose chase…with only seven days left to save the town.

The Swan by Piper Hugely – A beautiful woman with secrets comes to Noelle to confront a powerful person with the truth…and only six days left to save the town.

The Maid by Rachel Wesson – A convicted murderer, a young maid on the run…with five days left to save the town.

The Dancing Lady by Mimi Milan – A desirous diner owner and a disguised dancer waltz their way to love…and only four days left to save the town.

The Lord by Danica Favorite – An assayer and a ladies maid, each living a lie. Will the truth ruin everything…with only three days left to save the town?

The Piper by Amanda McIntyre – A determined matchmaker, a stubborn mountain man…and only two days left to save the town!

The Drum by E.E. Burke – A bad luck bride, an exploding disaster…can Noelle be saved in just one day?

You can check out this series by joining our awesome Facebook group. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire just for joining!

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? What is it, and why is it your favorite?

I’ll give away a copy of the first book in this series, The Partridge, to one lucky commenter!

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical and contemporary romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in. Find out more about this author and her books:

Website | Amazon | BookBub

Welcome Guest – Karen Kirst

CHRISTMAS AND ROMANCE GO HAND IN HAND

There’s something magical about falling in love at Christmas. When I write Christmas romances, I strive to inject special touches that bring the holiday spirit alive for the reader. A Lawman for Christmas is my fifteenth book for Love Inspired Historical and the final installment of my long-running Smoky Mountain Matches series. While secrets abound, as well as a mystery that isn’t solved until the end, I tried to weave in elements that celebrated the season. My hero and heroine—the town flirt and an avowed spinster—join other young people for a ride through Gatlinburg’s mountains on a crisp December night, serenading local farmers in exchange for hot spiced cider. What could be more romantic than cozying up to a handsome deputy in a hay-strewn wagon bed, singing Christmas carols together beneath a canopy of stars?

Once a lost little boy is introduced into the story, there are many opportunities for traditional holiday past times. Baking cookies, sipping on cinnamon-laced hot cocoa, riding into the mountains in search of evergreen boughs. I enjoyed describing the characters making pomanders, which are oranges and apples decorated with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. I could almost smell the fragrant fruit.

One particular winter scene consisted of snow before Christmas—not common in this area of East Tennessee, but hey, it’s my story—and an injured little boy longing to go outside and play. Like a true hero, Deputy Ben fills a copper basin with snow and brings it inside. He and Eli make miniature snowmen together, a kind act that thaws Isabel’s heart.

There are gifts exchanged and of course, mistletoe. A holiday story time for the children, followed by sweet treats to delight young and old. A Christmas Eve pageant that celebrates the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the true reason for the season. I hope that I succeeded in imbuing the story with the joy, goodwill and hope that characterizes the holidays.

The Gift of Family 

Committed to her spinsterhood, Isabel Flores isn’t about to trust a man with her hard-won independence or her heart—especially not lawman Ben MacGregor. But when a little boy is abandoned on her property, the so-called “Debonair Deputy” of their small Tennessee town helps her care for the child. And Isabel begins to hope he might be more than just a handsome flirt.

Ben is well aware of Isabel’s aversion to love and has his own secret reasons for avoiding relationships. But as he and Isabel do their best to make the holiday special for their young ward, Ben wonders if he could be a family man after all. Will this Christmas be the first of many for Isabel and Ben’s little instant family?

*****

Karen is giving away one copy of A Lawman for Christmas. For a chance to win, leave a comment about what you like best about Christmas romances.

Oh, there are so many things . . .

SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS–AND A GIVEAWAY! BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl PiersonHi everyone!  Here come the holidays! The impending season and all the preparation for the meals has got me thinking, as it does each year–and I know I’m not alone.

Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment.

Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it.

It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how.

Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.)

Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life.

Sweet Texas ChristmasMy mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them.

It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR.

Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? Be sure to leave a comment along with your contact information for a chance to WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS!

I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.

• ? •

My latest WHR novella, KIDNAPPING KALLI, appears in the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS Christmas anthology, SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS. This anthology contains four SWEET Christmas tales that mention a sweet Christmas treat somewhere in the story–and the recipes for those wonderful goodies are also included. My heroine, Kalli, is half-Cherokee, half-Irish. She makes Cherokee fry bread–and if you’ve never had good, hot fry bread you don’t know what you’re missing! Other authors in this anthology are Stacey Coverstone, Sarah J. McNeal, and Marie Piper.

What happens when a former Texas Ranger is hired to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy landowner–or else? He does it–but then finds himself in quite a predicament. Here’s what happens when he goes for water in the darkness:

EXCERPT:

As Shiloh neared the creek, he stepped on something in the darkness. He heard the rattles just as the surprised snake sank its fangs into the side of his leg, two inches above the top of his right boot.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” He stepped back quickly, his mind only just now absorbing the fact he’d been struck—and there was no doubt, it was a rattler. No point in trying to shoot it—he couldn’t see in the darkness. He pulled the matches out and struck one, but the snake had slithered away.

Numbly, he knelt and filled the coffee pot. Probably the last brew he’d have in this world.

Stuck in the mountains with a girl he’d kidnapped who spoke no English. Damn it. He’d not figured on living to a ripe old age, but sure as hell hadn’t thought to cash it all in at twenty-eight, either.

As he hurriedly stumbled back into the firelight, he saw Kalliroe had spread his bedroll on the ground near the fire and was adding more wood.

She glanced up, and instantly was on her feet, running to him, taking the coffee pot from his nerveless fingers. So much for keeping calm—she’d read something on his face—and he hoped to hell it wasn’t the harsh terror he felt. He tried to calm himself.

“Kalli…listen…I got snakebit—a rattler—” He pointed to the place in his denims where the fangs had penetrated. Would she light a shuck out of here? Leave him to die alone? He couldn’t blame her if she did, could he?

Maybe…dammit. If he could only make her understand why he’d taken her…for a father that loved her…

“There’s…a cave a couple more miles from here, but I’m not sure if it’s clear—safe—got animals in it—” He was talking fast, trying to get it all said—and for what? She didn’t understand. And she wouldn’t be needing shelter—she’d be heading back to Talihina…

Was she even listening? Of course not. Time was running out. Snow was on the way, now—he could smell it.

“Show me,” she said.

He cocked his head, wondering if the venom was working on him already. But she’d rolled up his bedroll and had begun to put the fire out. She gathered the wood they’d not used yet, and located a rope on his saddle, lashing it together quickly and tying it to her horse.

Pouring the water into their canteens to fill them, she looked at him again. “We need to go,” she said softly.

“Shiloh. Shiloh Barrett.” He moistened dry lips. “Just in case.”

Impatiently, she shook her head, understanding he thought she might need to know his name for the undertaker. “Let’s go, Shiloh Barrett. I will help you. And you will tell me what this is all about. 

• ? •

I’m giving away two digital copies of SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS, but just in case you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link!   http://amzn.to/2hrasn5

 

 

Welcome Guest – Erica Vetsch!!!

Are you anticipating Christmas yet? Only about six weeks to go. (I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but…Christmas!!)

This month, my newest novel, A Child’s Christmas Wish released. This story is set in the pioneer town of Berne, Minnesota, and the characters are immigrants from Switzerland. And if anyone knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s the Swiss. Even in the harsh realities of frontier living, they found a way to celebrate the joys of the season.

One of the Swiss Christmas traditions I found most interesting was the widespread use of Advent Calendars. Swiss parents use Advent Calendars to teach their children patience and anticipation in equal measure. They want their children to learn that anticipating an event can heighten the joy of its arrival.

Swiss Advent calendars can take many forms from opening a little window to reveal the day to lighting a new candle each night to building a Christmas train, adding a car each day.

In fact, in some Swiss villages, the whole town becomes an Advent Calendar. Each evening beginning on the first of December, a different citizen hosts the day’s Advent party by decorating and opening one of the ground-floor windows of their home. Hot drinks and treats are served through the window to their friends and neighbors, carols are sung, and much fun is had by all. The next night, it is someone else’s turn to host.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to bring a neighborhood together?

I love that so many of these traditions were brought to this country by immigrants brave enough to strike out for the New World, bringing the best of the Old World with them as they traveled.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you have any Christmas Traditions based upon your family’s origins?
  2. Do you have a special Christmas recipe that you only bring out during the holidays?
  3. Do you use an Advent Calendar?

Answer any or all of these questions in the comments to be entered to win a copy of A Child’s Christmas Wish.

About the book:

A Baby for Christmas The only Christmas gift Oscar Rabb’s four-year-old daughter prays for is one the widower can’t provide: a baby sibling. And when his neighbor’s house burns down, he’s willing to open his home to pregnant and widowed Kate Amaker and her in-laws—but not his heart. Even if his little girl’s convinced Kate’s unborn child is the answer to her wish.

Kate quickly sees the generous but aloof Oscar has little interest in growing closer to his houseguests. Still, she intends to make the coming Christmas a season to remember for his daughter. And as Oscar starts to open up to her, Kate can’t help picturing just how wonderful the holidays—and a future together—might be.

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015