Category: western romance

Wild West Words: Ladies’ Night

Kathleen Rice Adams: classic tales of the Old West...that never forget the power of love.March is Women’s History Month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. (Canada celebrates Women’s History Month in October.) Setting aside a special month to celebrate women’s history always has struck me as a mite amusing, because without women there would be no human history.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Women’s History Month traces its origins to the original International Women’s Day, March 8, 1911. In 1980, Jimmy Carter, then President of the United States, expanded the recognition of women’s roles in society to a week. In 1987, the U.S. Congress declared all of March Women’s History Month, but they didn’t make the designation permanent. Each year since (until 2017), the President has proclaimed March Women’s History Month.

Regardless whether Women’s History Month continues in an official capacity or becomes an informal observance, there is no doubt women have changed the world in ways too numerous to mention. Most of us would rather be called “the fairer sex” than “the weaker sex” — but we’ll let men call us whatever (polite) term they desire, because we know who’s really in charge.  😉

Women in 19th Century America knew who was in charge, too. Perhaps nowhere was that more evident than in new vocabulary that entered the lexicon during the period. (How’s that for a segue?) Here are some of the more colorful terms.

Women with "safety bicycles," 1890s

Women with “safety bicycles,” 1890s

California widow: a woman whose husband is away from her for an extended period. Americanism; arose c. 1849 during the California Gold Rush.

Call girl: prostitute who makes appointments by phone; arose c. 1900. To call someone, meaning to use a phone for conversation, arose in 1889 along with the telephone.

Catty: devious and spiteful; c. 1886 from the previous “cattish.” The meaning “pertaining to cats” dates to 1902.

Cute: pretty, 1834 from American English student slang. Previously (1731), as a shortened form of acute, the word meant “clever.”

Drag: women’s clothing worn by a man. 1870s theater slang from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor.

A working girl of the late 1800s

A working girl of the late 1800s

Fancy woman: high-dollar whore or a kept woman; possibly from the 1751 use of “fancy” to mean “ornamental.”

Fast trick: loose woman. Of unknown origin, but possibly related to the 15th Century use of the noun “trick” to mean “trifles,” or pretty things with little value. By 1915, “trick” had come to mean a prostitute’s client.

Feathered out: dressed up.

Filly: a young, unmarried woman (literally, a young mare).

Frump, frumpy: cross, unstylish person; sour-looking, unfashionable. The noun arose c. 1817, possibly imitative of a derisive snort. The adverb followed c. 1825. The slang etymology is a bit obscure, although earlier uses of the noun frump meant “bad temper” (1660s) and “cross-tempered” (1746), both of which may have derived from the verb frump, which in the 1550s meant “to mock or browbeat.” All senses may have descended from the late-14th-Century verb frumple, “to wrinkle; crumple.”

Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's 19th wife. She divorced him.

Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s 19th wife. She divorced him.

Grass widow: divorcee

Gyp: female dog; more polite form of “bitch.” American slang from about 1840 as a shortened form of gypsy, presumably in reference to stray dogs’ wandering nature. By 1889, gyp’s meaning had shifted to “cheat or swindle,” also based on gypsies’ perceived behavior.

High-strung: temperamental, excitable, nervous; c. 1848. Evidently based on earlier (1748) musical term referring to stringed instruments.

Hot flashes: in the menopausal sense, attested from 1887.

Hysteria: mental disorder characterized by volatile emotions and overly dramatic or attention-seeking behavior. When the word arose in 1801 (based on the Latin medical term hysteric), it was applied solely to women and often resulted in their confinement to an asylum. In 1866, clitoridectomy was proposed as a cure.

Lightskirt: woman of questionable virtue. American slang. Date unknown, but most likely from the notion loose women’s skirts lay over fewer petticoats than traditional skirts of the time and therefor were easier to raise.

Dolly Adams, exotic dancer in San Francisco, 1890s

Dolly Adams, exotic dancer in San Francisco, 1890s

Painted lady: any woman who wore obvious makeup, primarily entertainers and prostitutes. From the 1650s use of “paint” to mean makeup or rouge.

Scarlet woman, scarlet lady: prostitute. From the 13th Century use of scarlet to mean “red with shame.”

Soiled dove: prostitute; generally considered the kindest of such terms. Most likely a conflation of the 13th Century definition of “soil” (to defile or pollute with sin) and the Christian use of “dove” to indicate gentleness or deliverance.

Sporting house: brothel. Arose latter half of the 19th Century as a combination of “sporting” (early 1600s for “playful”) and “house.”

Sporting ladies, sporting women: prostitutes. Shortening and modification of 1640s “lady of pleasure” by substitution of early 1600s “sporting” (playful). Arose in America during the latter half of the 19th Century in conjunction with “sporting house.”

Vaulting house: brothel. Conflation of “vault,” meaning a vigorous leap (mid-15th Century), and “house.”

 

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Cattle Rustling Makes a Comeback ~ by Anne Carrole

In The Rancher’s Heart, the third book in my contemporary Hearts of Wyoming series, the hero and heroine own neighboring ranches, both inherited from feuding fathers. The feud goes back generations and has to do with water from the creek that separates their properties. But they quickly realize that each is the solution to the other’s ranching problems, and soon, love knows no boundaries. But cattle rustling and the fallout from that act will soon test both love and loyalty.

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Isn’t this a contemporary western romance, you ask?

While talk of cattle rustling usually conjures up images of the Wild West and memories of 1960s television westerns like Rawhide and Bonanza, the crime of cattle rustling is on the rise in the twenty-first century, driven largely by the rise of beef prices.

A calf can bring upward of $1,000 at market; an uncastrated bull more than $2,500. Calves are particularly susceptible because of the lag time between birth and branding.

One heist in northeast Texas involved 1,121 calves worth over $1.4 million. Four thieves in Waco, Texas, stole 107 calves for a payout of $139,000. But more common, and easier to execute, is theft of a few animals from small ranchers who don’t brand their cattle.

To combat this outbreak of thievery, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has a team of thirty lawmen, described as special rangers, who investigate livestock-related crimes throughout Texas and Oklahoma. Just like their Old West counterparts, these rangers sport six-shooters and cowboy hats but drive pickups instead of ride horses. Rather than relying on tracking skills, these officers use advanced law enforcement tactics, including digital databases that track every head of cattle sold in a state, and they utilize DNA testing to discover the dam and sire in order to ascertain if the cattle have been stolen.

While we no longer hang cattle thieves, stealing even less than ten head of cattle in Texas is considered a third-degree felony and punishable by up to ten years in prison. Texans don’t fool around.

As reported in the Dallas Morning News, Marvin Wills, the special ranger who was in charge of the Waco case, noted “there’s three types of thieves here: there’s family, employees, or someone who knows them.”

You’ll have to read The Rancher’s Heart to find out which of those categories fit the cattle rustlers in the story, but needless to say, suspicion falls on the hero precisely because the Taylors, who own the neighboring ranch, have been feuding with the McKennas for generations, and everyone in town knows the Taylors need the money. The fact Cody Taylor got roped into helping lovely Cat McKenna, who prefers high heels to cowgirl boots, only means he had opportunity. But Cat has fallen for the stubborn rancher, and she will have to decide if she will let either history or circumstantial evidence shake her trust in the man who has captured her heart.

Here’s an excerpt:

Cody placed his shotgun firmly by his side, shaken by the fact he’d pointed it at Cat before he’d realized just who had followed him. Having tied his horse behind the old line shack and camped out on the far side of one of the small hills that mounded the rocky pasture, he had found a spot to watch the herd unobserved. Only to find someone trailing him. With her hair tucked under her hat and her back to him, he hadn’t been able to tell who it was until she’d turned around.

Only then had he realized he could have shot her. He wiped an arm across his brow. Despite the cool air of the higher elevation, he was sweating.

“I’m trying to catch a rustler who I hope isn’t scouting right now, because I’ve certainly blown my cover. I didn’t want to risk you telling someone. I don’t know who the culprit is yet, but I suspect it’s someone who knows Pleasant Valley Ranch pretty damn well. That could mean it is someone working for you.”

Her hands were on her curvy hips, and her chest rose as she took a deep breath. He admired her chest. Perky and perfectly sized.

“That description would include you.”

Cody felt the verbal slap as if his face had met the flat of her hand, sparking anger he struggled to control. A man’s reputation summed up his worth.

And no one had ever trampled on his.

Too furious to speak, he turned on his heel and walked away, toward his gear and the line shack. While the cows lowed in the background, he could feel the steam rising in his blood as his boots crunched along the rocky soil. He didn’t deserve her suspicions. He merited better than this. If she’d been a man calling him out as she had, he’d have decked her.

Despite the loss of money he so desperately needed, better to find out now how little she thought of him than to go on fooling himself that she respected him, maybe even liked him. Enough to find some solace in each other’s arms. What a fool he’d been to even contemplate such an arrangement with a woman who couldn’t hide her disdain for him and the life he valued.

“Cody,” she called from behind him, her voice loud but wavering. He kept walking, taking bigger strides to lengthen the distance between them.

Nope, he’d dodged a bullet.

He heard her boots scuffing along the stony ground at a run as she breathlessly called his name.

He was surprised at how much her lack of faith cut him. Anger was one thing. But her lack of confidence in who he was felt more like betrayal. More like she’d knocked the supports right out from under him, sending him into a free fall of emotion. He’d thought they’d gotten beyond mistrust. Way beyond.

The scuffing noise was getting closer.

He turned. Ready to have it out. She stopped just a few feet away, her breathing ragged.

“I’m sorry. I…” There was desperation in her voice.

“You don’t accuse a man of stealing and then think you can say a few words and all is forgiven. I may not have much in this world. But I do have my reputation. Yet just now you accused me of something no rancher accuses another of unless it’s meant. You either believe in me, or you don’t. There are no shades of gray in this.”

The Rancher’s Heart is the third book in the Hearts of Wyoming series, where love is given a second chance, and is available in either e-book or print on Amazon.

I am guessing we’ve all lost some treasure at one time or another. Could be we valued it for sentimental reasons, for its monetary value, or we just liked it. I’ll gift a Kindle e-book of The Rancher’s Heart to one lucky person who leaves a comment about something they lost or which category they think the cattle rustler in The Rancher’s Heart falls into—family, employee, or acquaintance. And in the comment section, you can also read my note about something I lost and how my hubby became the hero who saved the day.

 

Anne Carrole writes both contemporary and western historical romances. She’s an eastern girl with a western heart who was raised on a farm (yes, they have them in the East) with horses, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and whatever other animals she could convince her parents to shelter. Besides reading and writing romances, she loves western history, rodeo, football, gardening, and tennis. Married to her own urban cowboy, she’s the mother of a college-age cowgirl. Her latest releases are The Rancher’s Heart and an historical short story about a Harvey girl in the Wild West titled When Love Comes Calling, part of the recently released Journey of the Heart Anthology.  Buy Journey of the Heart on Amazon

Updated: February 21, 2017 — 11:47 am

Valentine’s Day – The Day of Love

Today is the day of love and all over the U.S. (probably the world) couples will celebrate. My husband never really liked celebrating too many things but he loved Valentine’s Day. He’d always buy me a box of candy and a card. Never gave me flowers because he had asthma. I think he chose candy because he loved it and always ate at least half of what he gave me.

There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me though. I still have one of the cards that he made by hand (including his own words) and it remains one of my most treasured possessions.

A whopping six million men (and yes women) will propose on this day. And why not? It’s the day of romance and the mating of hearts.

I’ve written a marriage proposal (and/or wedding) into every one of my books. I just love validating the way my characters feel about each other and that’s the perfect way. Love means commitment and spending the rest of your life together. I’ve written two Valentine’s stories. One was “Cupid’s Arrow” in Be My Texas Valentine anthology with Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace. We had great fun writing those stories. By the way, that’s still available online.

The other Valentine’s story was in the Hearts and Spurs anthology published by Prairie Rose. Cheryl Pierson posted about this anthology yesterday. My story’s title is THE WIDOW’S HEART.

Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when a man emerges from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.

Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe….

Hearts and Spurs is FREE this week. Here’s the link to download it.  http://a.co/bBfM69A

And here’s a short excerpt:

Cade Coltrain was a dangerous man. He’d always been someone to reckon with, but adding in the hardness that swept the length of him now he could put the fear of God in a man with only a look.

In her heart, she knew the truth. He’d become an outlaw.

But, it didn’t matter. Nothing did.

A sudden need to be held in those arms washed over her. She rested her head on the thick window pane and let the tears fall.

The loud ticking clock reminded her she had dishes to do. Raising her head, she brushed away her tears. Glancing out the window once more, she found Cade standing beside Matthew’s grave with his head bowed.

What would he say to the brother who’d married the woman Cade had cast aside when adventure called?

She prayed he’d move on soon, before she gave in to the desire that created such a powerful ache in her body.

Just to be held again, feel warm breath on her cheek; lay her palm on the hard muscles that rippled beneath the skin. Those desires were something she couldn’t put a price on. But they were the things she’d buy, if only she could.

Skye wanted to be a woman again. Someone cherished.

* * * *

Download the book and you’ll find lots of wonderful stories by Cheryl Pierson, Tracy Garrett, Phyliss Miranda, Tanya Hanson, Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal, and Jacquie Rogers.

What do you hope to get from your honey for Valentines? Candy? Roses? Or something else?

TEXAS REDEMPTION and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited! TEXAS REDEMPTION will be out on Feb 7th- a week from today! This is a reissue of REDEMPTION that released in 2005. The book never got its due back then so I’m very happy to have it back in readers’ hands.

The climate of the story is during a bad time of our history. It takes place in 1869 –4 years after the Civil War. Texas was living under military occupation and the army was still searching for Confederates, especially the spies. Brodie Yates (legendary spy called Shenandoah during the war) is tired to running and wants to see his brother one more time before he dies. He’s going to make a final stand in his hometown of Redemption, Texas. The town is situated in the swamps of far East Texas.

During the war, he meets a beautiful woman known only to him as Lavender Lil in a brothel and loses his heart. Separated by war and miles, he never keeps his vow to get back for her. His skill with a Colt that hangs from his hip is the only thing keeping him alive. But can it when the army has built a stockade a few miles away?

Laurel James (Lavender Lil) is also in hiding after escaping the brothel where she was taken after being kidnapped from the area of Redemption and her family lives nearby but she can’t reunite with them until she cleanses her soul and regains respectability. She engaged to the town mayor, Murphy Yates.

So Brodie and Laurel are deeply shocked when they come face to face and they realize they’re still in love.  But they can’t hurt Murphy.

It’s a no win situation. Someone is going to lose.

One man offers her the respectability she craves. The other his heart. Which will she choose?

Here are a few pictures that I took when I visited Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in East Texas where this is set. Dark, mysterious, and haunting, the swamp was the perfect place. My camera back in the late 1990s wasn’t very good, so excuse the quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

Their secret pasts hold the power to destroy them and everyone else around. The stage is set. What will be the outcome?

Question for readers—Are you a fan of unrequited love stories between two people who meet, are torn apart by fate then brought together again—only insurmountable odds keep them from taking what they most want?

I’m giving away two copies of the book. Leave a comment. I’ll draw the winners on Sunday!

Updated: January 31, 2017 — 1:46 pm

A Life-Long Love of Westerns

Howdy, everyone! I’m happy to be joining the Petticoats & Pistols as the newest member today, partly because it’s always nice to hang out with other writers and readers but also because of the focus on westerns. You see, I’ve loved westerns for as long as I can remember. I recently had to answer a questionnaire for my publisher, and one of the questions was why I liked cowboy stories. I had to sit and think about it because it was just something that had always been true. As I was growing up in rural western Kentucky, we only had three TV channels and had to go outside to physically turn the antennae if the reception was bad. I distinctly remember that old movies played on Saturday afternoons, and a lot of those were westerns. When I think back on them now, I can identify why they attracted me and why I still love western-set TV shows, movies and books.

  • The landscape was so wide open with impossibly wide skies and a rugged type of beauty. This was completely different than the wooded, rolling hills where I grew up. At that point in my life, I’d barely been out of the state with brief trips a few miles down the road and across the river into Illinois and a Girl Scout trip to Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tenn., both of which looked pretty much like Kentucky. So those western landscapes, even if some of them were created on Hollywood lots, were like a different planet that I longed to visit.
  • Even though it was romanticized and still is to some extent, cowboys were iconic American heroes. They could live off the land, were honest (at least if they were wearing a white or light-colored hat), chivalrous, and a force for good. Even back then in the 1970s and ’80s, I knew that things were rarely that black and white in real life. Reality was more complicated and filled with shades of gray.
  • I love stories set in the past. I haven’t met a costume drama I didn’t love, and westerns — at least for me — fall into that category. It’s a bit like being a time-traveler and being transported to a different time and place, but you don’t have to worry about the lack of hygiene or modern medicine.
  • While I love my modern conveniences, I for some reason have always loved stories about survival and living off the land. When I think about people who set off in wagon trains west, not knowing if they’d make it or if they’d ever seen friends and family again, I’m awed by how much courage that took. Kind of like people who boarded ships in England and sailed for America. Even though modern-day cowboys and ranchers have the modern conveniences the rest of us do, they are still men of the land and work out under those wide-open skies.

While I write contemporary romance, many of which have cowboys as heroes, I still have a great love for western historicals. These were the first romances I read back in high school and continued to read in the years that followed — stories by Lorraine Heath, Kathleen Eagle, Elizabeth Grayson, among others. My first manuscript was even a historical set along the Oregon Trail, inspired partly because of that old video game called Oregon Trail. A friend even got me a shirt once that said, “You have died of dysentery,” which is a familiar phrase to anyone who played the game.

If a new movie comes out that is a western, I do my best to go see it in the theater so they’ll continue to make more. If there’s a western-themed TV series, I’m parked in front of the small screen. My all-time favorite show, Firefly, actually is a mixture of western and my other favorite genre, sci-fi. Yes, space western, and it was awesome!

In the months ahead, I look forward to blogging about various western-themed topics — my trips across the American West, my love for western-themed decor, rodeo, etc. And I look forward to interacting with the readers of Petticoats & Pistols.

Updated: January 23, 2017 — 1:26 am

Julie Lence: The Poinsettia


We’re so delighted to have Julie Lence come to visit our neck of the woods. She always has something interesting to share. She also has a giveaway so please comment. Please make her welcome.

christmas-divider

me-mediumThe Poinsettia is a native Mexican plant. Its origins trace back to present day Taxco. The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and is defined as a female flower, without petals and usually without sepals, surrounded by individual male flowers enclosed in a cup-shaped structure called a cyathium. The Euphorbia genus contains 700-1000 species. The Aztecs in central Mexico cultivated the plant and used the colorful leaves, known as bracts, to make a reddish-purple dye for clothes and makeup. The Poinsettia’s milky sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.

 

joel-roberts-poinsettJoel Roberts Poinsett is credited as the first American to bring the plant to the United States. A botanist from Greenville, South Carolina, Poinsett was also the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. Best remembered as the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, Poinsett traveled to the Taxco area, discovered the colorful plants growing on adjacent hillsides and had some of them shipped to his home, where he grew them in his greenhouse. From there, he gifted some of the plants to his friends and also sent some to botanical gardens and to fellow botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia. Bartram sent the plant to his friend Robert Buist. Buist was a plants-man from Pennsylvania and thought to be the first person to sell the Poinsettia under its original name. Legend has it the Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, became known as the Poinsettia in the 1830’s, after Joel Robert Poinsett.

 

poinsettiaHow did the Poinsettia become known as the Christmas plant? The Aztecs prized the poinsettia and believed it to be a symbol of purity. In the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico incorporated the flower into their Fiesta of Santa Pesbre; a nativity procession. This is the first time the Poinsettia was associated with Christmas, leading Mexico’s Christians to adopt the plant as their Christmas Eve flower. The star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The red leaves represent Christ’s blood and the white leaves symbolize his purity.

 

andrea-sadek-white-poinsettia-figurineOnce the monks included the Poinsettia in their nativity procession, a few legends sprang up as to why and how the plant became associated with Christmas. One is the tale of poor, young Pepita who was upset because she did not have a gift to give to the baby Jesus at Christmas Eve mass. As she made her way to the church, her cousin tried to cheer her up. Pedro told Pepita that even the smallest gift presented to Jesus in love would make the Christ child happy. Pepita picked some weeds and placed them beside the manger. Before everyone’s eyes, the weeds magically transformed into beautiful red flowers. Another tale says it was an angel who told Pepita to pick the weeds and bring them to the church. Regardless, the parishioners swore they’d witnessed a miracle, and from that evening on, the flowers became known as Flores de Noche Buena; Flowers of the Holy Night.

 

short-christmas-stories

Have you gotten a poinsettia this Christmas or have plans to do so? As a Thank You for chatting with me today, I’m gifting 2 lucky winners Kindle copies of each of my 3 short Christmas stories. Merry Christmas Everyone! I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season. Julie

 

**To preview my Christmas stories, please visit Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/author/julielence?tag=pettpist-20

E.E. Burke Is Dreaming of Christmas

EE Burke headshotTwo Brides, Three Wishes…an unforgettable Christmas

Thanks so much for having me back to visit. I’m eager to share about this Western historical romance Christmas collection that’s topped numerous lists at Amazon, including Historical and Western Romance.

 

 

 

amobcc-thumbnailAn American Mail-Order Bride Christmas Collection

 

Victoria, Bride of Kansas (#1 Amazon Bestseller)

Jilted society miss Victoria Lowell travels a thousand miles to marry a suitor whose romantic letters won her heart, unaware she’s been corresponding with the groom’s sister. The man she believes she loves isn’t the one she meets. In fact, he isn’t even expecting her. When the truth finally comes out, it will take a miracle to deliver a happily ever after.

 

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride

On a mission to bring toys to orphans for Christmas schoolteacher Maggie O’Brien is forced to go to her brother’s fiercest business competitor for help. Though he agrees, his benevolent gesture holds one catch—she must find him a bride. Will the love of a determined suitor and the spirit of the holiday capture the matchmaker’s heart?

 

The Christmas Wish

In this short story, a young orphan who has never known love gets his Christmas wish.

 

Some fun facts about this Christmas project

 

Victoria, Bride of Kansas, which became an Amazon bestseller, started as part of an unprecedented project with 45 other authors, the American Mail-Order Brides series. This book, about a lonely socialite who travels over a thousand miles to find true love, was a finalist in the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Awards and a semifinalist in the Kindle Best Book awards.

 

In this story, we meet a little girl, Fannie, who is mute. She hasn’t spoken since her mother left her two years earlier. Desperate to communicate with the troubled child, Victoria gives her a treasured doll and teaches her sign language.

 

girl-with-doll

 

Where did Victoria learn sign language? At the first American School for the Deaf in Hartsford, Conn., which opened its doors in 1817. Within forty years of the opening of the Hartford school, more than twenty other schools for the deaf had been established, the majority residential, teaching manual sign language.

David O’Brien doesn’t react well to Victoria teaching his daughter how to sign. If she doesn’t speak again and relies on sign language, he fears she will be excluded. His feelings reflect the general consensus of the time, which was fired by a fierce debate over the best way to teach the deaf to communicate. “Oralists” argued that the deaf should be taught to read lips and speak (English) in order assimilate into the broader society. Even Alexander Graham Bell, better known for his invention of the telephone, advocated banning sign language. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the deaf were taught both sign language and lip reading.

 

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride is the top-rated sequel. I couldn’t let Victoria’s meddling sister-in-law remain a spinster! This well-intentioned matchmaker has plans for a scheming Santa that backfire, with unexpected consequences. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I can’t wait for you to meet him.

 

This story incorporates a number of American Christmas traditions, including the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable gift-giver has a long history.

 

bishop-st-nicholas

 

Santa started with a real person. Saint Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy, and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

 

colonial-dutch-santa

 

Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from Holland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, who became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys.

 

old-santa-on-roof

 

In 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), took the legend another step. Entitled An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a nod of his head. This is also where we first have references of flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

 

nast-1881-santa-portrait

 

But we have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for the richest legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa his familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, the elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

America’s Victorians were very familiar with Santa and his legend. Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

In fact, the hero in my book, who owns a general store, plays Santa in a parade. He wears what was traditional garb for Santa back then: a long green cape and stocking hat and a long flowing beard.

Santa’s on parade became a popular theme in towns and cities, and in the 1930s, Santa received “contemporary” red costume.

 

1831-santa

 

Yes, Santa’s reputation reaches far back in history, and at the heart of his character we find love and generosity, and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.

 

You can pick up your copy of An American Mail-Order Bride Christmas Collection for only 99 cents until Christmas.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fkw7e9

Nook: http://bit.ly/AMOBCCNook

Apple: http://bit.ly/AMOBCCApple

Google: http://bit.ly/AMOBCCApple

Kobo: http://bit.ly/AMOBCCKobo

Here’s a video to get you in the mood for this heartwarming Christmas read.

 

 

What gift did you treasure when you were a child? Commenters on this post will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the audiobook, Santa’s Mail-Order Bride (US or UK), or the free eBook.

Divider - gingerbread

 

How to Talk Like a Texan, Place Names Edition

Kathleen Rice Adams header

 

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
How Texans pronounce place names ’round here.

Southeast Texas mapIn case y’all haven’t noticed, Texans do things our own way. Pronunciation, for example, is always a crapshoot when you’re from out of state. If you ever get lost in Texas, place names are good to know. Depending upon where you are in the state when you ask for directions using a mispronounced name, at best you’ll get a blank look. At worst, you’ll be laughed out of town.

 

First, a few universal basics:

Any name ending in “-boro” is pronounced “[name]buh-ruh”
Any name ending in “-shire” is pronounced “[name]shur.”
Most names ending in “-ville” are pronounced “[name]vuhl.”
Most names ending “-land” are pronounced “[name]lund.”
In Texas, “bayou” most often is pronounced “BI-oh,” not “BI-yoo.”

 

Mispronouncing any of the following is a dead giveaway you ain’t from around here:

Bexar: Bear

Blanco: BLANK-oh

Boerne: BUR-nee

Bosque: BAHS-key

Bowie: BOO-ee (C’mon, folks. Jim Bowie was one of the heroes of the Alamo. The least we can do is say his name right.)

Texas bayou

Texas bayou

Brazos: BRA-zuhs (short A, as in “gas”)

Eldorado: ell-duh-RAY-doh

Gruene: Green

Guadalupe: GWAH-dah-loop

Humble: UHM-buhl (Leave out the H, people!)

Luckenbach: LEW-ken-bahk (There is absolutely no excuse for getting this one wrong. Merle Haggard sang a number-one country hit about the town, for heaven’s sake.)

Manchaca: MAN-shack

Mexia: Muh-HAY-uh

Palacios: puh-LASH-us

Pecos: PAY-cuss

San Marcos: San MAR-cuss

Seguin: Seh-GEEN

Waxahachie: Wawks-uh-HATCH-ee

 

The following are more obscure.

We’ll forgive you for mispronouncing these. Many are spoken nothing like they’re spelled. Some are Texan-ized Spanish, German, or American Indian. Some are settlers’ surnames. The rest came from Lord only knows where.

Alvarado: Al-vuh-RAY-doh

Agua Dulce: Ah-wah DULE-sih

Anahuac: ANN-uh-wack

Aquilla: Uh-KWILL-uh

Balmorhea: Bal-muh-RAY

Banquete: Ban-KETT-ee

Bedias: BEE-dice

Bogata: Buh-GO-duh

Bolivar: BAHL-iv-er

Bronte: Brahnt

Brookshire: BROOK-shur

Buda: BYOO-duh

Bula: BYOO-luh

Buna: BYOO-nuh

Burnet: BURN-it

Texas bluebonnets at sunset

Texas bluebonnets at sunset

Carmine: Kar-MEEN

Celina: Suh-LIE-nuh

Christoval: Chris-TOE-vuhl

Cibolo: SEE-oh-low

Coahoma: Kuh-HO-muh

Colmesneil: COLE-mess-neel

Comal: KOH-muhl

Del Valle: Del VA-lee (like valley)

Erath: EE-rath

Falfurrias: Fal-FURY-us

Farrar: FAR-uh

Flatonia: Flat-TONE-yuh

Floresville: FLOORS-vuhl

Floydada: Floy-DAY-duh

Fredonia: Free-DOHN-yuh

Fulshear: FULL-shur

Grand Saline: Gran Suh-LEEN

Helotes: Hell-OH-tiss

Hico: HIGH-koh

Hochheim: HO-hime

Iraan: EYE-ruh-ANN

Jardin: JAR-duhn

Jermyn: JER-muhn (like German)

Jiba: HEE-buh

Jourdanton: JERD-n-tuhn

Juliff: JEW-liff

Kleberg: CLAY-berg

Knippa: Kuh-NIP-uh

Kountz: KOONTS

Kosciusko: Kuh-SHOOS-koh

Kuykendal: KIRK-en-doll

Lake Buchanan: Lake Buh-CAN-uhn

Lamarque: Luh-MARK

Lamesa: Luh-MEE-suh

Lampasas: Lam-PASS-us

Latexo: Luh-TEX-oh

Leakey: LAY-key

Levita: Luh-VIE-tuh

Lillian: LILL-yun

horses in pasture near Llano, Texas

horses in pasture near Llano, Texas

Llano: LAN-oh

Lorena: Low-REE-nuh

Manor: MAIN-er

Marathon: MARE-uh-thun

Marquez: mar-KAY

Miami: My-AM-uh (Texas ain’t Florida, after all.)

Medina: Muh-DEE-nuh

Montague: Mahn-TAG

Navarro: Nuh-VARE-uh

Nacogdoches: Nack-uh-DOH-chess

New Berlin: Noo BUR-lin

New Braunfels: New BRAWN-fuls

Nocona: Nuh-KOH-nuh

Olney: ALL-nee

Opelika: OPE-uh-LIKE-uh

Palestine: PAL-uh-steen (Nobody gets that one right unless they’re from Texas.)

Pedernales: Purr-den-AL-ess (Yes, the letters and sounds are all scrambled up. Just go with it.)

Pflugerville: FLOO-ger-ville (One exception to the “-vuhl” rule.)

Poth: POE-th

Quemado: Kuh-MAH-doh

Quitaque: KITTY-qway

Refugio: Reh-FURY-oh

Salado: Suh-LAY-doh

Salinero: Suh-LEEN-yo

Santa Elena: San-tuh LEE-na

Study Butte: STEW-dee BYOOT

Tawakoni: Tuh-WOK-uh-nee

Tivoli: Tih-VOH-luh

Tulia: TOOL-yuh

Uvalde: Yoo-VAL-dee

Weesatche: WEE-sash

Weslaco: WESS-luh-koh

 

Texans, what names aren’t on this list? The rest of y’all: What odd place names occur in your state? Leave a comment and let us know! I’ll give two commenters their choice of the Christmas ebooks Peaches or The Last Three Miles.

 

Peaches, by Kathleen Rice AdamsRunning a ranch and fending off three meddlesome aunts leaves Whit McCandless no time, and even less patience, for the prickly new schoolmarm’s greenhorn carelessness. The teacher needs educating before somebody gets hurt.

Ruth Avery can manage her children and her school just fine without interference from some philistine of a rancher. If he’d pay more attention to his cattle and less to her affairs, they’d both prosper.

He didn’t expect to need rescuing. She never intended to fall in love.

The Last Three Miles, by Kathleen Rice AdamsWhen 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. (spicy)

 

 

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Welcome to Shanna Hatfield–and three books, three winners!

It is a pleasure and a treat to be a guest once again here at Petticoats and Pistols. Thank you to all the fillies for hosting me today. I’ll be giving away THREE ecopies of The Christmas Quandary, so please leave a comment.

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I love history and digging into tidbits of the past as I research details for my sweet western romances.

In my latest release, The Christmas Quandary, I happened upon a toy that captured my interest.

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A zoetrope is one of several animation devices (pre-motion pictures) that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs, shown in progressive phases of motion.

The name Zoetrope was composed from the Greek root words “life” and “wheel” – meaning “wheel of life.”

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A cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides is the basic component of the zoetrope. The inner surface of the cylinder features a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures. The slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.

A 5,000-year-old earthenware bowl from Iran is considered a predecessor of the zoetrope. The bowl, decorated in a series of sequential images, portrays a goat jumping toward a tree and eating its leaves. zoetrope-4

Variations existed on the idea of the zoetrope, but it wasn’t until December 1866, when an American company, Milton Bradley and Co., advertised a zoetrope.

Zoetropes were eventually displaced by more advanced technology, notably film and later television. Today, some zoetropes can still be found in special art projects and performances.

In The Christmas Quandary, one of the characters purchases a zoetrope for his daughter’s Christmas present. The only quandary surrounding the gift is whether or not the child’s uncles will wear it out before Christmas morning since they can’t seem to stop playing with it.

Have you ever been in a quandary? Had a dilemma?

Share your answers for a chance to win one of three copies of The Christmas Quandary (Book 5 in the Hardman Holidays series).

And if you haven’t read any of the Hardman books, The Christmas Bargain (book 1) will be available for free digital downloads on Monday!

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~*~

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.

When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Make sure you sign up for her Newsletter to get the latest on new releases

and exclusive giveaways (including a free short story set in the old west)!

christmas-quandry

Buns & Roses – And a Double Giveaway!!!

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Participating authors with the signed quilt in the background.

Participating authors with the signed quilt in the background. As you can see, there were many hats involved.

Last month, I was honored to participate in the annual Romance Literacy Tea benefiting the Literacy Center in Richardson, Texas. Romance authors from around Texas and around the country, join together for a weekend full of events all set to raise money for the cause of literacy. And since it is in Texas, I had the chance to meet several Western Romance authors who were new to me.

Each author hosts a table and visits with readers who purchase tickets for the event. There are a ton of fabulous giveaways in the silent auction, books are sold, and a gorgeous handmade quilt is raffled. When the numbers were totaled, this year saw a record-breaking donation of over $20,000. YeeHaw!!!

Jill is in the green sweater, my spot is to the left next to another fun author, J.D. Tyler who writes contemporary romance and paranormal romance.

Jill is in the green sweater talking to none other than Lorraine Heath. My spot is to the left, next to another fun author, J.D. Tyler, who writes contemporary and paranormal romance.

The weekend got started with a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble. Thanks to my name being at the end of the alphabet, I was seated next to our keynote speaker, Jill Shalvis. Cool! Such a sweet lady. I enjoyed chatting with her and her husband.

After the book signing, we had dinner at the home of one of the volunteers. We ate yummy lasagne cups, signed our quilt blocks for the raffle, and mingled with the handful of readers who paid extra to join us for this private dinner.

Me and Melody - My surprise Lompoc Buddy.

Me and Melody – My surprise Lompoc buddy.

Now, mingling is not my forte, but when I sat at the table, across from me was an avid reader who was an air force wife. When she started talking about California, I asked her where she met her husband. As it turns out, she grew up in Lompoc, my tiny California hometown where her husband was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Not only that, we both played in the Lompoc HS marching band (flute) and her friend’s sister (who I actually remembered!) graduated in the same class as I did. Talk about a small world! That was so fun!

The big event was on Sunday with the Literacy Tea. Each author brought favors to have on the tables. I gave away books, ladies handkerchiefs, and a variety of pocket watches to match the cover of my latest release, No Other Will Do. I shared a table with the lovely Amy Lillard, so all of our table mates got the bonus of two gifts. Being far more crafty than me, Amy made these fun masks for us to use in our pictures. If you check out the back row, you’ll see Melanie and Brittney, two P&P regulars.

Masks On

Masks On

Masks Off

Masks Off

What a fun event!

Meeting with other inspie authors - Leann Harris and Kellie Coates Gilbert.

Meeting with other inspie authors – Leann Harris and Kellie Coates Gilbert.

One of the lovely Literacy Center volunteers.

One of the lovely Literacy Center volunteers.

Me and Leslie - A book reviewer and avid reader.

Me and Leslie – A book reviewer and avid reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And since I was surrounded by great western romance authors, I couldn’t pass up the chance to support the cause of both literacy and western romance by buying a few books and getting them autographed. And that’s where the giveaway comes in! Jill Shalvis’s book isn’t exactly western but it is small town, so I threw it into the bunch as well.

I have two prize packages that I’ll be giving away. All books included are autographed editions. For a chance to win enter a comment about what the gift of reading has meant to you.

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