Category: mail order brides

I LOVE STORIES ABOUT THE WILD WEST

  We’re delighted to welcome our guest,  Anne Greene.  Anne has graciously offered to give away three autographed copies of SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE. (Sweepstake guidelines apply)

I love stories about the wild west, and horses, feisty women, and best of all cowboys. I live in Texas, and though most of the men I meet in my fast-growing town are regular-type men wearing business suits or jogging outfits or casual wear, on occasion I run into a real cowboy. I gape at him with his tight jeans, fitted shirt, cowboy boots, rodeo trophy belt buckle, and black Stetson.

But today the modern cowboy, rather than ride a horse, drives an enormous black truck with a rifle slung across the back window of his double-cab. I wrote about such a cowboy, except he rode a black Harley motorcycle, in my soon to be released book, Mystery At Dead Broke Ranch.

When I was single I even dated a real cowboy, and he delighted in showing me his trophy belt buckle and talking about his rodeo exploits. He was handsome too. So much so that I didn’t feel we were a match. But the few dates I allowed with him were fun. He even let me ride his horse.

My newest released book, Firecracker Bride, takes place in Texas, near the historic Alamo. Cat Divine resists stage robbers, her demanding father, gossiping neighbors, and flash floods. But can she resist Travis McGuire, a hero with a heart and bravery as big as his Texas home?

Seems many of my books are set in Wyoming rather than Texas. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I love Texas, but I enjoy visiting Wyoming. My book, A Christmas Belle, is set in Wyoming. Amanda is a southern belle who becomes a Mail Order Bride. She expects to marry a Wyoming cowboy, but the Wyoming Sheriff puts duty before love.

Felicity discovers Ben at Fort Laramie in A Groom For Christmas.

When I’m not writing about sheriffs, I’m writing about stagecoach drivers. In today’s give-away book, SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE, heiress Abby Hollister’s Papa demands she stop toying with young men’s hearts and marry within a month or be disinherited. She determines to become a mail-order bride and travel to untamed Laramie, Wyoming. Abby creates a list of characteristics she expects for her prospective husband and sets off to claim the perfect mate and secure her personal fortune.

Stage coach driver, Zach Tyler likes his exciting job where he outsmarts robbers and Indians and keeps the stage running regardless of weather, break-downs, and ornery passengers. But passenger Abby Hollister proves to be an unusual challenge. He protects her on the journey to Laramie, but in that town women are as scarce as a bird’s nest in a cuckoo clock, and men go crazy when the beauty arrives seeking a husband.

My own hero husband isn’t a cowboy, but he looks like one when we go Texas Two-Stepping. He wears his tight jeans, fitted shirt, and cowboy boots. And he’s tall, lanky, and laid-back. But he’s not the strong, silent type. He’s the strong, talkative type. And I love him with all my heart. And he rides a Harley.

But, I am certain I shall write many more western stories because I do so love cowboys!

Be sure to visit me at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

So what do you like most about cowboys?

 

 

ABOUT ANNE GREENE: My home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. My dear husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. My little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares my writing space, curled at my feet. I have four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep me running.

I’ve traveled in every location of each book I’ve written, and each book is a book of my heart. Besides my first love, writing, I enjoy travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” Whether writing contemporary or historical, my books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives.

 

Updated: June 23, 2017 — 11:26 am

Mail Order Brides on the Texas Prairie

Miss Jamie Adams is obsessed with Texas. And Ranches. And cowboys. And cowboys on ranches in Texas. How could we not be glad to have her visit Wildflower Junction again?

By Jamie Adams

Corralling the Cowboy 2The last time I had the privilege of visiting with the gals here at Petticoats and Pistols we talked about cowboys. It’s been a while, but back then I used Toby Keith’s song “Should have been a Cowboy” to open up a discussion on our favorite men on horseback. This time I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about something different . . . like life on a ranch . . . in Texas . . . with Cowboys.

Who am I trying to kid?  I have a hopeless obsession with the handsome, brave men who tamed the Wild West. Good thing for me I have friends that share that same fascination or at least they pretend they do to keep me happy.

This past year I convinced some talented writers (MidwestChristianRomanceAuthors) to join me in creating a mail-order-bride box set series set on a ranch in Texas. When a widower Texas rancher is told he has a short time to live, he decides the best way to rein in his three rambunctious sons is to find them wives. He means business too. They have to marry within three months or lose their inheritance. A very substantial inheritance.

Mesquite Gulch is a small town where the men outnumber the women tenfold. Actually that’s an exaggerated guess. The last census was taken in 1880 and they skipped our little town. Just trust me. There aren’t any marrying age women in town. But that’s not a problem, not when you have only to put an ad in the paper, or if you’re a wealthy rancher you can have your lawyer take care of things for you. Mr. Logan wants to see his sons safely hitched, but if he doesn’t live long enough, his trusted lawyer will carry out his wishes. The father hears wedding bells in the future, but it resembles a dirge to the sons.

Now take several young women fresh out of an orphanage in Chicago and put them on a ranch in Texas and you have the Texas Brides Series. The young ladies have never stepped foot outside the city, and ranch life is rougher than they’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared them for the reception their given. Their prospective grooms are as welcoming as the wicked cactus dotting the landscape.  Didn’t they send for a bride? They had a strange way of showing affection. Who’d want to marry one of them?

Shotgunwedding 3a-A Bride by Christmas (1) 4a-The Substitute Groom (1) TBMOS5

Three rugged cowboys have no idea what is about to hit them and I have to admit it is so much fun to watch them be taken down one by one. This is a five book series. Yep that’s right, five not three. Things seldom go as planned. We’ve got twist and turns that we hope our readers will enjoy.

Just to show how excited we are to introduce ya’ll to the Logan family we’re going to give away a digital box set. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

 

About Jamie

JamieJamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.

A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.

The parents of three teenagers, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.

You can connect with Jamie on Facebook and Amazon.

 

Guest Beverly Wells is Here–With a Book Giveaway!

Bev2I’ve read numerous mail order bride stories over the years and often tried to put myself in their places. Deciding to become a one had to be one of the most difficult decisions for a woman of any age to make. Think about it. Even if the lady was in dire straits, had her life threatened, had no other recourse, come hell or high water, it undoubtedly had to be an act of sheer desperation.

I mean, really, if a woman simply needed or wanted a change from her current living arrangement, longed to start a family, detested the town, whatever, why wouldn’t she simply go down the road? Why in heaven’s name would she venture across the vast, treacherous country, exposing herself to probable unknown perils along the way or once there, and better yet, who she would be meeting to spend the rest of her life in what, marital bliss? Most hailed from eastern or southern states and answered the ad from a man anywhere throughout the entire west.

Okay, so you think she possibly lacked money to simply toddle to the next town, or maybe lacked any skill to support herself once there? Or, maybe there weren’t any men to her liking anywhere in sight for her wheedle herself into any of their hearts for matrimony? Endless possibilities that we could discuss forever.

So let’s take a gander at exactly what type of woman fled the scene, and actually took off for an area totally foreign to her, knowing not what awaited her as far as a roof over her head, or the man who would change her life forever.

Three words come to mind. Determined, tenacious, and courageous. Ah, yes there’s so many more we could 0930 sunset email (2)discuss that would portray that woman who ventured out of her realm and pioneered to the unknown, but we’d be here until the end of 2016. So I’ve chosen three that shout that person of the female gender thought to be submissive and inferior to the male species was no thin-skinned, whimpering, milksop.

Determined to leave everyone and everything she’d known behind, determined to withstand inevitable perils she’d face during the long, difficult journey and at her destination, determined to change her ways and start a new life, that was the woman who fled to the Wild West hoping and praying for a new and better life.

Tenacious as a bulldog, once she arrived she persevered, being relentless in her strive to make her role as wife, mother and partner in each walk of life. She’d perform farm chores, work the soil, tend the home, cook and manage the household as she reared her children and stood by her man, yet managed to do community service and lent a hand to needing neighbors.

Courageous doesn’t begin to describe her driving force to withstand the hardships of undeveloped lands, battling the unforgiving rough weather, or enduring the lack of items she took for granted in her previous life.
Yes, the mail order bride though she might lacked the height or muscle to equal a man, stood tall, persevered through thick and thin, remained resolute to do her best and make a good living for all. She had guts, grit and pluck to make her the pioneer woman who set the stage for those who followed.

So please come along with me to meet Morgan in my blurb of A LOVE SO STRONG. Lacking any domestic skills, her antics are sure to give you a good chuckle or two, hopefully more. And boy if she isn’t determined, tenacious and courageous.

A Love So Strong B Wells WebA LOVE SO STRONG

Searching for true happiness, as well as escape from a controlling family, Morgan Prescott answers a Brides Wanted ad, and leaves New York City’s High society life for the wilds of Washington Territory. Her spirit and intelligence carries her through the rude awakening—streets of ankle deep mud, life in a one-room cabin, the hazards of cooking—but they lend no help when she loses her heart to the one man she can’t have.
Private investigator Luke Kincaid, a major stockholder in the Union Pacific Railroad, goes undercover as a logging camp foreman to apprehend the saboteurs of the railroad. All he needs is a mock wife to strengthen his act, but once he agrees to Morgan filling the role, he finds himself longing for much more—a love he’s forbidden to accept or give.

Filled with humor, suspense, a heartwarming, poignant sisterly bond with the other woman, and a love between Luke and Morgan that cannot be denied. Written in memory of one special lady and to raise awareness of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.A Love So Strong B Wells Web

I hope you’ll take a moment and leave a comment so we can chat. And I’ll be giving away either an ebook (free coupon through Smashword), or a print book of A LOVE SO STRONG including a post-it booklet with my logo to a randomly drawn winner.

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Meet Beverly Wells

For many years, Beverly Wells devoted her life to family and the medical world. As a nurse in homecare and clinics, she also served on the medical reserve corps, a part of Homeland Security, so her reading focused on medical books and journals. That’s until she finally discovered romance novels. Once hooked, she took the plunge and wrote one. Now as an award winning author you’ll find her hammering away another humorous, sensuous (from sweet to spicy) historical romance while incorporating a lesson learned or maybe raising awareness of an important issue. Living in the Finger Lakes Region of NYS with her husband and rescued dog, Jamie, she enjoys volunteering at the local shelter—she loves all animals yet dogs hold a special place in her heart—anything Nascar, flower gardening so she can get her hands good and dirty and cooking for gathered friends and family. She adores her two granddaughters to no end. And of course chocolate—that’s a given.

For more information regarding Bev, visit her at the following links or gmail her at beverlywellsauthor@gmail.com. She’d love to hear from you.

 Website

Blog
Facebook
Author Page
Author Page: Prairie Rose Publications

 

 

 

 

Updated: February 1, 2016 — 6:21 pm

Bread Pudding: From Frugal to Fancy (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Many dishes that are prides of the American table today once were ways to avoid wasting food. Shipping of all but basic staples didn’t begin until the latter half of the 19th century; perishables weren’t shipped at all until refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” were invented in 1869. Even then, perishable cargo could be carried only a few miles before the ice melted.

The first successful long-distance reefer transport occurred in the early 1880s. The first grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.

Happy Cowboy ChristmasConsequently, settlers on the American frontier and American Indians used every part of the animals and plants they grew or gathered in order to avoid starvation. Frontier and farming families stewed poultry necks, tails, and wings because the meat and bones offered precious protein. Slaves in the American south prepared animal innards like chitterlings (intestines) and vegetable leavings like potato skins in a variety of ways because their masters considered those things offal. Anyone who has visited a restaurant in the past twenty years recognizes chicken wings and potato skins as trendy appetizers. At “soul food” eateries, chitlins are standard fare. (Yes, I have eaten them. No, I won’t do so again.)

Because carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy, bread, too, was a precious commodity. Many frontier families baked with cornmeal or corn flour. The latter was obtained by repeatedly pouring cornmeal from burlap sack to burlap sack and shaking loose the fine powder left clinging to the bags. Bread made with wheat flour was a treat…even though merchants in frontier towns often “extended” wheat flour by adding plaster dust. Frontier families might make a multi-day journey into town for supplies once or twice a year.

savory bread pudding

savory bread pudding

Since the early 11th century, “po’ folks” have turned stale bread into bread pudding in order to use every last ounce of food they could scrounge. Originally, the concoction was a savory main dish containing bread, water, and suet. Scraps of meat and vegetables might be added if the cook had those on hand.

What we think of as bread pudding today came into its own in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Creative cooks turned the dish into a dessert by combining stale bread with eggs, milk, spices, and a sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar. Some also included bits of fruit, berries, and/or nuts.

My family and friends talk me into baking bread pudding each Christmas, and sometimes for other special occasions during the rest of the year. They don’t have to do much arm-twisting, because the rich dessert is easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.

bread pudding dessert

bread pudding dessert

One thing to know about bread pudding: Making it “wrong” is darn nigh impossible. Any kind of bread can be used, including sweet breads like donuts and croissants. Likewise, spices are left to the cook’s imagination, fruits and nuts are optional, and sauces are a matter of “pour something over the top.”

Through years of trial and error, I’ve created a recipe that works for me. Have fun experimenting with the basics (bread, milk, butter, and eggs) until you come up with one that works for you. I prefer mine fairly plain, but you may want to add or top with raisins (a New Orleans classic), chocolate, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, rum sauce, caramel sauce, powdered-sugar drizzle, or almost anything else you can imagine.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
(can be doubled for a crowd)

Pudding
(makes 10-12 servings)

3 large eggs
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1 16oz. loaf stale French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes

Heat oven to 325.

Stir together eggs, cream, granulated and brown sugars, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Place bread cubes into a lightly buttered 13×9-inch pan.

Heat milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Do not boil.

Stir ¼ cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. When well-combined, slowly add remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. For a fluffier pudding, lightly press bread into egg mixture so all bread cubes are coated with the liquid. For a dense pudding, allow the pan to sit for 20 mins. before baking.

Bake for 45-55 mins., until top is browned and no liquid is visible around the edges. (The center will look soft. Don’t bother with the toothpick test—it won’t tell you anything.)

Allow pudding to stand for 20-30 mins. Top with bourbon sauce and serve.

Bourbon Sauce
(This will knock folks across the room, so be careful how much you pour on each pudding serving. 2 tsp. vanilla or other extract may be substituted for bourbon, if desired.)

1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk together corn starch and water, then add the mixture to the cream, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Whisk and simmer until thickened, taking care not to scorch the cream on the bottom.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add more sugar and/or bourbon to taste.

Ladle sauce over each serving of warm-from-the-oven or room-temperature pudding.

Serve and enjoy!

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALBread pudding wouldn’t be on the menu in the dingy cafe on the wrong side of Fort Worth where the heroine in my latest story works. The job is a big step down from her previous life as a pampered socialite. “A Long Way from St. Louis” appears with stories from seven other authors—including filly sisters Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—in Prairie Rose Publications’ new holiday anthology, A Mail-Order Christmas Bride.

A Long Way from St. Louis
Cast out by St. Louis society after her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger when she discovers the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the back-alley brawler collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

Here’s an excerpt:

If the lazy beast lounging on a bench beside the depot’s doors were any indication, the west was neither wooly nor wild. As a porter took her hand to assist her from the railway car, Elizabeth Adair stared. The cowboy’s worn boots crossed at the ends of denim-clad legs slung way out in front of him. Chin resting on his chest, hat covering his face, the man presented the perfect picture of indolence.

Surely her husband-to-be employed a more industrious type of Texan.

Her gaze fixed on the cowboy’s peculiar hat. A broad brim surrounded a crown with a dent carved down the center. Sweat stains decorated the buff-colored felt. Splotches of drying mud decorated the rest of him.

Lazy and slovenly.

Pellets of ice sprinkled from the gray sky, melting the instant they touched her traveling cloak. Already she shivered. Another few minutes in this horrid weather, and the garment would be soaked through.

The porter raised his voice over the din of the bustling crowd. “Miss, let’s get you inside before you take a chill. I’ll bring your trunks right away.”

Taking her by the elbow, he hastened toward doors fitted with dozens of glass panes. Ragtag children darted among the passengers hurrying for shelter. Without overcoats, the urchins must be freezing.

She glanced around the platform. Where was her groom? She had assumed a wealthy rancher would meet his fiancée upon her arrival. Perhaps he waited within the depot’s presumed warmth. Her hope for a smattering of sophistication dwindled, but a woman in her circumstances could ill afford to be picky.

A group of ragamuffins gathered around the cowboy. As the porter hustled her past, the Texan reached into his sheepskin jacket and withdrew a handful of peppermint sticks. A whiff of the candy’s scent evoked the memory of a young man she once knew—a ne’er-do-well removed from St. Louis at her father’s insistence, and none too soon.

After depositing her beside a potbellied stove, the porter disappeared into the multitude. The tang of wood smoke drifted around her, so much more pleasant than the oily stench of coal. Peering through the throng, she slipped her hands from her muff and allowed the hand-warmer to settle against her waist on its long chain. She’d best reserve the accessory for special occasions. Judging by the people milling about the room, she doubted she’d find Persian lamb in Fort Worth unless she stooped to ordering from a mail-order catalog.

Mail-order. At least the marriage contract removed her from the whispered speculation, the piteous glances.

The shame heaped upon her by the parents she’d tried so hard to please.

Elizabeth put her back to the frigid gusts that swept in every time the doors opened, extending gloved palms toward the warmth cast by the stove.

Heavy steps tromped up behind her. Peppermint tickled her nose.

“Bets?”

A gasp leapt down her throat, colliding with her heart’s upward surge. Her palm flew to the base of her collar. Bets? Deep and smooth, the voice triggered a ten-year-old memory: If ye were aulder, little girl, I’d teach ye more than how to kiss.

She whirled to find the lazy cowboy, his stained hat dangling from one hand. Her gaze rose to a face weathered by the elements, but the blue eyes, the crooked nose…

Brendan Sheppard.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? I’ll give an ebook copy of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

Welcome Guest – Linda Hubalek!!

Linda_HubalekLilly: Bride of Illinois,

What does the Union Stockyards in Chicago, have to do with a mail-order bride story set in 1890?

I needed a place in Illinois, where a woman from Massachusetts, could meet a man from Kansas. While doing research, I found out the American Horse Show was held in The Yards on Nov. 1-8, 1890 (125 years ago!). The setting and dates were perfect for my contribution, Lilly: Bride of Illinois, book twenty-one, in the American Mail-Order Bride Series, which debuted Dec. 9th. This book is a spin-off of my Brides with Grit Series featuring one of Pastor and Kaitlyn Reagan’s boys, Seth, as an adult.

The Union Stockyards was established in 1865 and became the point where livestock raised in the west, were shipped and processed. Then the meat was shipped on to the Eastern States. (This is where the Texas cattle were shipped to after arriving in the Kansas cow towns.)

Union_stock_yards_chicago_1870s_locThis color lithograph was made by Charles Rascher, and published by Walsh & Co., c1878.

Caption below title on lithograph: Packing houses in the distance. Covered pens for hogs and sheep; open pens for cattle. Area of yards, 75 acres; 50 miles railroad tracks. Daily capacity: 25,000 head cattle, 160,000 hogs, 10,000 sheep, and 1,000 horses.

A tidbit from Wikipedia: Processing two million animals yearly by 1870, in two decades the number rose to nine million by 1890. Between 1865 and 1900, approximately 400 million livestock were butchered within the confines of the Yards. By the start of the 20th century, the stockyards employed 25,000 people and produced 82 percent of the domestic meat consumed nationally.

Eventually, the expanded 375-acre site had 2300 separate livestock pens, but closed in 1971.

 

Lilly-Bride-of-IllinoisHere’s the story line for Lilly: Bride of Illinois.

Lilly Lind was forced to emigrate from Sweden two years ago, due to circumstances beyond her control. She finds a job as a garment maker in the Brown Textile Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, finally feeling as though she is settling in her new country. Then a suspicious fire burns the mill, making Lilly seek another way to survive. She answers a mail–order bride ad in the Grooms’ Gazette and sets off for Chicago, believing she will be a business owner’s wife.

Kansas rancher Seth Reagan travels to the Union Stockyards in Chicago to attend the 1890 American Fat Stock Show, the American Horse Show, and to purchase horseflesh to augment his herd. When arriving at the train station, he overhears a conversation between a young woman and a shady–looking man. Seth becomes concerned for the mail–order bride who is whisked away to a saloon, not to her new husband’s home.

When Seth goes to the saloon to check on the young woman, he finds her in trouble and offers to help her escape. While buying horses and arranging their return travel to Kansas, Seth realizes he would like to bring Lilly home with him, too, but she is still being hunted by the saloon owner’s thugs.

Lilly’s good fortune in meeting Seth makes her want to start a life with this man, but he came to Illinois for horses, not a bride. Would he want her after he learns of her secrets?

 

I’m giving away a Kindle version of Lilly to someone who comments on…If you could visit Chicago, what would you like to do and see there?

AMOBBanner468x60

The American Mail-Order Brides Series is a joint venture with 45 total authors representing all 50 states. On fifty consecutive days beginning November 19, 2015, a romance will be published featuring a mail order bride, one set in each of the fifty states and released in the order the states were admitted to the union. The stories all take place in 1890, when a factory fire in the East burns to the ground, leaving these women unemployed. These women answer mail-order bride ads in the Grooms’ Gazette, and then head out to find their groom.

To see the other books in this series, head over to the American Mail-Order Brides Website.

About the Author

Linda writes historical fiction and sweet western romance books about pioneer women who homesteaded in Kansas between 1854 to the early 1900s, often using her Swedish immigrant ancestors in the storyline.

Sign up for her newsletter at www.LindaHubalek.com.to hear about the release of future books, contests and more. Linda loves to connect with her readers, so please contact her through one of these social media sites.

Author website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

All Hail Texas Pecans! (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams headerIn Texas, pecans are a Big Deal. The trees are native to the state, and according the archaeological record, they’ve been here since long before humans arrived. When people did arrive, they glommed onto the nuts right away as an excellent source of essential vitamins (19 of them, in fact), fats, and proteins. Comanches and other American Indians considered the nuts a dietary staple, combining pecans with fruits and other nuts to make a sort of “trail mix.” They also used pecan milk to make an energy drink and thickened stews and soups with the ground meat. Most Indians carried stores of the nuts with them when they traveled long distances, because pecans would sustain them when no other food sources were available.

Pecans

Texas pecans

An individual Texas pecan tree may live for more than 1,000 years. Some grow to more than 100 feet tall.

Pecans have been an important agricultural product in Texas since the mid-1800s. In 1850, 1,525 bushels left the Port of Galveston; just four years later, the number of bushels exceeded 13,000. In 1866, the ports at Galveston, Indianola, and Port Lavaca combined shipped more than 20,000 barrels of pecans.

Nevertheless, as the state’s population exploded, pecan groves dwindled. Trees were cut to clear fields for cotton. Pecan wood was used to make wagon parts and farm implements. One of Texas’s great natural resources was depleted so quickly that in 1904, the legislature considered passing laws to prevent the complete disappearance of the pecan.

Left alone to regenerate for a couple of decades, Texas pecan groves came back bigger than ever. Until 1945, Texas trees produced more 30 percent of the U.S. pecan crop. In 1910, pecan production in the state reached nearly 6 million pounds, and the trees grew in all but eight counties. During the 1920s, Texas exported 500 railcar loads per year, and that was only 75 percent of the state’s crop. The average annual production between 1936 and 1946 was just shy of 27 million pounds; in 1948, a banner year for pecan production, the crop zoomed to 43 million pounds produced by 3,212,633 trees. In 1972, the harvest reached a whopping 75 million pounds.

Texas pecan orchard

Texas pecan orchard

During the Great Depression, the pecan industry provided jobs for many Texans. The nuts had to be harvested and shelled. Shelling employed 12,000 to 15,000 people in San Antonio alone.

The Texas legislature designated the pecan the official state tree in 1919. Between then and now, pecan nuts became Texas’s official state health food (Texas has an official health food?), and pecan pie became the state’s official pie (and my official favorite pie). Pecan wood is used to make baseball bats, hammer handles, furniture, wall paneling, flooring, carvings, and firewood.

Yep. Pecans have always been, and continue to be, a Big Deal in Texas—especially during the holidays. I’d be surprised if any native Texans don’t bake at least one pecan pie for either Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or both.

Texas pecan pie. Do you see how dark and luscious that is? Milk-custard, my hind leg.

Texas pecan pie. Do you see how dark and luscious that is? Milk-custard, my hind leg.

The first known appearance of a pecan pie recipe in print can be found on page 95 in the February 6, 1886, issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I’ll bet Texans were baking the pies long before that, though—and I’ll bet even back then Texas pecan pies weren’t the wimpy little milk-custard-based, meringue-covered things Harper’s recommended. In Texas, we make our pecan pies with brown sugar, molasses or corn syrup, butter, eggs, a whole bunch of pecans, and sometimes bourbon.

Another thing Texans have been making with pecans for a long, long time is cinnamon-pecan cake—another treat lots of folks enjoy around the holidays. My family doesn’t put bourbon in this dessert. Instead, we pour a delicious whiskey sauce over each slice. (It occurs to me that for a passel of Baptists, my family sure cooks with a lot of liquor. See the old family recipe for muscadine wine here.)

On to the cake recipe!

 

PecanCakeCinnamon Pecan Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
Additional chopped pecans or pecan halves for topping, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

In large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beating at low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

At low speed, alternately add milk and flour mixture into sugar mixture, beating just until blended. Fold in pecans. Spread in pans. Sprinkle chopped pecans or arrange pecan halves on top, if desired.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

 

VanillaWhiskeySauceWhiskey Sauce

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk cornstarch and water together and add to cream while whisking constantly.

Bring to a boil, whisk and simmer until thickened (taking care not to scorch the mixture on the bottom). Remove from heat.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add sugar and whiskey to adjust sweetness and flavor, if desired.

 

Folks in Fort Worth in the 1880s would’ve eaten this cake—or something very similar—during the holidays. That’s exactly when and where “A Long Way from St. Louis,” my contribution to Prairie Rose Publications’s Christmas anthology A Mail-Order Christmas Bride, takes place. The book—with stories by fellow fillies Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—bows November 27, but it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon.

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALHere’s a little about “A Long Way from St. Louis”:

Cast out by St. Louis society when her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger over the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the ne’er-do-well collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

 

So, readers… What dish—dessert, main course, side, or appetizer—absolutely must be part of your holidays? I’ll give an ebook version of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

 

THAT’S SUCH A CLICHE! by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041webClichés are the bane of a writer’s existence. (I think I just used a cliché!) They’re so easy to fall back on because we’ve heard them all of our lives and they’ve become a part of our speech patterns—so, of course, when we write, they invade our work there, as well.

I really didn’t notice how often clichés appeared in the books I read until I wrote my own book, and my editor sent me a very nice note telling me I needed to go through and remove the clichés and find a different way of wording some of the passages…I had never seen so much red ink in my life!

 

(Here’s my first iteration of Fire Eyes–the one I had to take all the clichés out of!)

FireEyes_w2475_300I got better as time has gone on, but there are still instances when I think, “Nothing else will do!” And I have to tell myself, “Yes. You’ll think of a different way to say it.”

As a reader, I do notice those clichés more now than I did before. And if there are too many of them, I have been known to lay the book down…for good. You might think such a thing isn’t a HUGE deal, but for me, being aware of it tends to jerk me out of the story when I see too many of them.

I subscribe to a newsletter called “QUORA” – it’s a fun little online publication, where people write in with questions and other people answer them. The rest of us can “upvote” the answers if we agree.

Yesterday I came across this question: What are the most common clichés in fiction writing? Author Ellen Vrana gives these answers—and they’re darn good! I had to laugh—I’ve used plenty of these. Take a look:

RICK BURGESS--GNARLED TREE PLUM ORCHARD LAKE

 

 

 

 

(PHOTO by Rick Burgess http://our-wv.com/photography/photographers/rick-burgess-photography/west-virginia-water-colors-2016-calendar/ )

Every oak tree is gnarled. Every gentle wave is lapping upon the shore. Every mountain town is nestled in a valley, every chimney produces curled rings of smoke.

Every politician is slick, every banker is soulless. Journalists are moral and hardworking. Teachers are worn out. Every woman is unsatisfied, every man is flippant. Mothers are worn out too, but the fathers are emotionless.

Every woman has jet black hair and every day starts with bitter coffee (which might also be scorching) and ends with whiskey (who drinks whiskey?) and ice that clinks. (Or is it chinks? My eyes glaze over . . . )

In the city there are cars honking, lights blinking and there are many things that are incessant; noise, screams, cries, honking. Oh, and blaring lights. Lots of blaring lights which sometimes flicker.

The country has chirping crickets and waving grass. Parched earth abounds, there is lots and lots and lots of dust. The moon is always bathing things, the fog is always thick or dense, sometimes both. Thunderstorms rage while thunder cracks. Lighting illuminates, what, I don’t know. The sun shines down, as opposed to up, and clouds really don’t do anything except move.

Waves crash. Cars don’t. Tears roll down cheeks and faces break into smiles while the eyes always crinkle, when they aren’t sparkling, or flashing. Hair shines or curls, always curls. People are clad in clothing, never just clothed in it. Necklaces dangle and bracelets chink. Arms are thick and strong and eyes meet more than people.

Thoughts race or sometimes pervade while anger boils. Chills run up or down spines, depending on where you live, and ideas aren’t just clear, they are crystal clear. What is crystal? It’s what you drink your whiskey in. With the ice that clinks.

Things are notably pale, thick, greasy, cold, strong and dry which don’t need to be. If it’s a pillow we know it’s soft. Ditto Coke and cold. Words like eat and ran and speak are passed over for gobbled and raced and exclaimed. People can’t just hold they have to clasp, they can’t cry they have to sob and they can’t stop they have to come to a halt.

I’m not tired, I’m fatigued. I’m not messy, I’m disheveled. I’m not sad, I’m despondent. Ah whatever, at least I’m not gasping for breath or not sleeping a wink over the use of clichés. Every writer falls for them, at some time or another. Every oak tree is gnarled. Even this one.

(There was a reason I picked this particular photo that Rick did–the “gnarled tree”, the colors that looked “as though they were painted”, and the water that reflects those colors “like a mirror”…)

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALI’m giving away a digital copy of the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS’ upcoming Christmas anthology for 2015—A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE! This fantastic collection of stories will be available on November 27. It’s got a fabulous line up of authors, including fillies Kathleen Rice Adams, Tanya Hanson, and me, along with debut author Jesse J Elliot, Patti Sherry-Crews, Jacquie Rogers, Meg Mims, and Livia J Washburn.

Here’s the link to PRE-ORDER this fabulous collection, and receive it on your Kindle on November 27!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0182FEYU6/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

What cliché grates on your nerves or holds fond memories for you? Leave a comment about it to be entered in this wonderful give-away!

(Petticoats and Pistols contest rules do apply.)

Black Jack Ketchum: An Outlaw Meets a Gruesome End

Kathleen Rice Adams header

“Can’t you hurry this up a bit? I hear they eat dinner in Hades at twelve sharp, and I don’t aim to be late.” —Black Jack Ketchum

"Black Jack" Ketchum as a young man. (Image: University of New Mexico)

Black Jack Ketchum as a young man. (Image: University of New Mexico)

Whether or not he aimed to be late, Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum missed the dinner bell by more than an hour on April 26, 1901. In fact, his original 9 a.m. appointment on the gallows was delayed by more than four hours while authorities tried to ensure Ketchum’s execution was both humane and permanent.

They got the permanent part right.

Ketchum, the youngest of five children, was born in San Saba County, Texas, on Halloween 1863. His father, a prosperous farmer, died when Black Jack was five years old; his mother when he was ten. Because the family’s property went to the eldest son, Black Jack and his other brother, Sam, made their living cowboying in Texas. The work never suited either of them. By 1890, both had left the state.

By 1892, they were robbing trains.

Together with a gang of other young men—all of whom were described as well-mannered and well-dressed, riding good horses, and flashing plenty of money—between 1892 and 1899 the Ketchum gang liberated payrolls and other large sums of cash from trains passing through the Four Corners area of the Southwest. In 1895 and 1896, the gang included Kid Curry and his brother Lonnie Curry, who reportedly departed after a dispute over the division of proceeds from a holdup.

(Image: Herzstein Memorial Museum, Union County, New Mexico)

(Image: Herzstein Memorial Museum,
Union County, New Mexico)

In 1897 alone, the Ketchums heisted more than $100,000: $42,000 from a Wells Fargo safe outside Langtry, Texas, in May and another $60,000 in gold and silver near Twin Mountain, New Mexico Territory, in September.

Two years later, in July 1899, Sam Ketchum partnered with Wild Bunch members Will Carver and William Ellsworth “Elzy” Lay to rob the Twin Mountain train a second time. A posse chased the outlaws into Turkey Creek Canyon near Cimarron, New Mexico, where Sam was wounded in a shootout. He died of his wounds in Santa Fe Territorial Prison a few weeks later.

In August 1899, unaware of his elder brother’s fate, Black Jack lost his right arm to a shotgun blast fired by the conductor of a train he attempted to rob alone. “The handsome train robber” didn’t resist when either a posse or a railroad crew (there’s a dispute) found him near the tracks the following morning.

At trial, Ketchum was sentenced to hang, but the date of execution was delayed several times by arguments about where final justice should take place, since several towns wanted the honor. Finally, reacting to a rumor that the old gang planned to break Black Jack out of jail, the hanging became the center of a carnival in Clayton, Union County, New Mexico. Despite an extended debate about the length and strength of the rope necessary for the deed, something went horribly wrong.

"Black Jack" Ketchum, center. (Image: National Archives)

Black Jack Ketchum, center. (Image: National Archives)

Shortly after 1 p.m., the scaffold’s trapdoor opened and Ketchum, 37, plunged through. He died instantly, decapitated by the fall.

Black Jack Ketchum bears the dubious distinction of being the only man sentenced to die in New Mexico for “felonious assault upon a railway train.” Apparently his botched execution set the residents of Union County back a mite, because Black Jack also was the only man ever hanged in Union County. Until serial murderer Eva Dugan suffered the same fate at the Pinal County, Arizona, prison in 1930, Black Jack Ketchum was the only person in the U.S. who literally lost his head to a hangman’s noose ordered by a court.

****

No train robberies or grisly executions take place in the Civil War-era duet The Dumont Brand, although the hanging of a cattle rustler in her past plays a role in one heroine’s present. The book, which contains two stories about two brothers, debuted July 24. It’s the first in a trilogy about a Southeast Texas ranching dynasty with more skeletons than you can shake a stick at in its closets. Links and excerpts are on my website.

Here’s the blurb, and below that is a video trailer.

The Dumont BrandThe Civil War burned Texas…and fanned the flames of love.

On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until one son finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy: To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace: After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

What is it with Sisters? ~Tanya Hanson

Anybody who knows me knows that reading Little Women when I was eight set my goal to be a writer. Someday, somehow.

lw antique cover

Celebrating my recent release, Sisters--two stories in one! I decided to regale you with trivia about those March sisters and their stories. See how well you do. (answers at the end.) And please leave a comment today…I’m giving away three Kindle copies of Sisters.

  1. Who is the oldest March sister:  a) Amy; b) Jo; c) Meg; d) Beth.

 

  1. Jo works for: a) Aunt March;   b) The Boston Beacon;   c) the Weekly Volcano;   d) Mr. Laurence.

 

  1. When Amy burns Joe’s treasured manuscript (horrors! No back-up or Dropbox…) what melts Jo’s fury?   a) Amy marries Laurie so Jo doesn’t have to.   b) Amy contracts scarlet fever.   c)Aunt March threatens to send Amy to art school in Paris.   d) Amy falls through the ice on a frozen pond.

 

  1. Beth becomes ill with:   a) consumption;    b) scarlet fever;    c) influenza;    d) appendicitis.

 

  1. Meg marries:  a) Ned Moffat;  b) John Brooke;  c) Friedrich Bhaer;  d) No, she doesn’t. She remains single.

lw cover

  1. Beth dies at age:  a) 19;  b) 18;  c) 17;  d) 16.  
  1. Originally a two-parter, the second half of Little Women (Part 2 today) was called:  a) Good Wives;  b) Army Wives (this was, after all, Civil War times.)  c) Little Children;  d) The Last March.

 

  1. Aunt March’s home is called:  a) Fruitlands;  b) Orchard House;  c) Apple Farm;  d) Plumfield.

 

  1. Meg’s children are officially christened:  a) Jack and Jill;   b) Jack and Daisy;  c) John and Jane;  d) John and Margaret.

 

  1. Little Women led to two sequels:  a) Little Men, and Little Children;  b) Jo’s Boys, and Meg’s   Twins;  c) The Finale March, and The Final Chapter;  d) Little Men, and Jo’s Boys.

Louisa_May_Alcott_headshot

So, what’s with Sisters? Well, in Her Hurry-up Husband, debutante Elspeth Maroney leaves her stinkin’, cheatin’ bridegroom at the altar, but realizes she needs a husband for just one month. And by then, she just might need to run screaming from her bridegroom’s crazy granny…

 

However, she finds her heart fluttering when her intended, handsome Colorado rancher Hezekiah Steller wants a wife for life. And an heir as quick as possible.  Sigh. How can they let each other go?

 

Anyway, my editor (the talented, ever patient and most excellent Cheryl Pierson) flat out said…Elspeth’s sister Judith has GOT to get away from their awful mama. Hence…(this this is an important word in the story…) Judith has her own set of adventures and romance in Her Thief of Hearts. Beautiful socialite (her). Darling orphan and…An outlaw! Bad-boy “Black Ankles” holds up a speeding train, and she’s on it. Along with Elspeth’s spurned bridegroom and the sisters’ former childhood governess! Oh no. Can her beloved Tremaine rescue her in time?

Tanya Sisters Double 2 Web (2)

So, both stories are now together in one pretty package. And  to make it more fun, Tremaine’s brother Ronnie has his own love story coming out at Christmas…because he’s really outlaw Black Ankles and so needs love and redemption.

All right. Here are the answers!

1-c; 2-a; 3-d; 4-b; 5-b; 6-a; 7-a; 8-d; 9-d; 10-d

 

Now, who’s your favorite March sister and why?

Updated: August 5, 2015 — 5:03 pm

Love in the Time of Miscegenation

Kathleen Rice Adams header

She’s the sweetest rose of color this darky ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee.

Those are the original words to the chorus of “The Yellow Rose Texas,” a folksong dating to early colonial Texas. The first known transcribed version—handwritten on a piece of plain paper—appeared around the time of the Texian victory at San Jacinto in April 1836.

Marie Laveau 1774-1881 Marie Laveau by Franck Schneider

“New Orleans’ Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau (1774-1881) was a free Creole of mixed race.

In its original form, the song tells the story of a black man (“darky”) who has been separated from his sweetheart and longs to reunite with her. The lyrics indicate the sweetheart was a free mulatto woman—a person of mixed black and white heritage. In those days, “person of color” was considered a polite way to refer to black people who were not slaves. “Yellow” was a common term for people of mixed race.

During the Civil War, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” became a popular marching tune for troops all over the Confederacy; consequently, the lyrics changed. White Confederates were not eager to refer to themselves as darkies, so “darky” became “soldier.” In addition, “rose of color” became “little flower.”

Aside from the obvious racist reasons for the modifications, legal doctrine played into the picture as well. Until the U.S. Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in 1967, all eleven formerly Confederate states plus Delaware, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia outlawed marriage and sexual relations between whites and blacks. In four of the former Confederate states—Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—marriage or sexual relations between whites and any non-white was labeled a felony. Such laws were called anti-miscegenation laws, or simply miscegenation laws. In order to draw what attorneys term a “bright line” between legal and illegal behavior, many states codified the “single-drop rule,” which held that a person with a single drop of Negro blood was black, regardless the color of his or her skin.

Texas’s miscegenation law, enacted in 1837, prescribed among the most severe penalties nationwide: A white person convicted of marrying, attempting to marry, or having sex with a person of another ethnicity was subject to a prison sentence of two to five years. Well into the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for the non-white half of the illicit relationship to be severely beaten or killed by irate local citizens.

The first American miscegenation laws arose in the colonies in the 1600s. The laws breathed their last gasp in 2001, when Alabama finally removed the anti-miscegenation clause from its state constitution after a referendum barely passed with only sixty percent of the popular vote.

Texas’s miscegenation law plays a role in “The Big Uneasy,” one half of the duet of stories in my new release, The Dumont Brand. The father of the heroine’s intended “lives in sin” with a free Creole of color. Under a tradition known as plaçage, wealthy white men openly kept well-bred women of color as mistresses in the heroine’s hometown, New Orleans. Texans frowned on the practice nonetheless. The situation causes no end of heartache for the heroine.

The Dumont Brand releases Friday, along with 20 other books, as part of Prairie Rose PublicationsChristmas in July event. About half of the books are holiday tales (like The Last Three Miles), and the other half are stories set in other seasons (like The Dumont Brand). Each of them will warm readers’ hearts all year long. Prairie Rose will host an extra-special Facebook fandango to celebrate the mountain of releases July 28-29. You can RSVP here. Did I mention the Prairie Roses will be giving away free books, jewelry, and other fun prizes?

The Dumont Brand 2 Web

 

On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until Amon Collier finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother Ben’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy: To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace: After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

 

The-Last-3-Miles-Kathleen-2-Web_FinalThe Last Three Miles also will debut Friday as part of PRP’s Christmas in July:

When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive. Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly finished track die.

The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.

You can read excerpts from both books and peruse a complete list of the titles that are part of PRP’s Christmas in July event here.

 

To do a little celebrating of my own, I’ll give an e-copy of The Dumont Brand to one of today’s commenters and an e-copy of The Last Three Miles to another.

Please note: Both are available only as ebooks.

 

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015