Tag: Inspirational western historical romance

Our Guest Blogger, Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is giving away a print copy of A Love Transformed to one lucky commenter. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see if…her winner is you!

tracie-peterson-author-photoAfter writing 110 books, most of which are historical in setting, I’m often called The Queen of Christian Historicals. Anybody who knows me, knows that historical research for my stories is important to me. I work hard for accuracy and sometimes that means getting my hands dirty to learn something I want my historical characters to do. In keeping with that I’ve learned to drive a stage coach, tat, make soap and candles, handle firearms, skin a deer, studied and use centuries old patterns for clothing and the list goes on. I once had a wanna-be writer say to me, “Why bother – it’s just fiction?” My response? Because it matters!me-spinning-1

Nothing ruins a story faster for me than an author who hasn’t bothered to do their research. For example, one book I read had characters on a railroad line that didn’t exist. It might have been okay to create a fictional rail line, but the author had a railroad in the west before railroads had been established. I read a story once where the hero and heroine were eating at a famous hotel restaurant – only the restaurant wouldn’t be a part of the hotel for another twenty years. It’s things like that that make me throw books against the wall. Of course, I realize many readers will never know the difference, but to me it’s a sacred trust we the author have with the reader to make the books as accurate as possible. It doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. I make plenty, but we owe it to our readers to give our very best.

Recently, I decided to have a character who finds healing and consolation in working with sheep. She enjoys herding the sheep and then learns to card and spin wool into yarn and so I thought I should do the same. I found someone with sheep who also worked with the raw wool. The smelly stuff had to be washed, dyed and carded and so I learned all about that. Next, I found a wonderful woman who is a historical weaver and spinner. She taught me to spindle spin. My yarn wasn’t very even, but it was good enough to use in crocheting a hat.carding

Once I had spindle spinning under my belt, I found a friend who taught me to spin on a wheel. What fun! I found I really took to the process. I loved the feel of the wool in my hands and the methodic, relaxing process of sitting at and operating the wheel. I found it to be great time for prayer. Better still, it allowed me to be able to share the process in my story. Sure, I could have just plunked my character down at the spinning wheel and said “she spun” but I felt that knowing more allowed me to really bring that action alive.spindle-spinning-1

To me learning new things for the sake of the story is important, whether it’s new writing techniques or old day-to-day processes that kept a family alive and well. I love to talk to people who know their history and craft. To me one of the most important aspects of our job as writers is to weave history seamlessly into the story so that the reader finds themselves swept up in the time-period and lives of the characters. My favorite authors are those who can draw me into the story so completely that I feel like I’m there—right alongside the characters. Those are the very best stories of all. So if you ever wonder if the extra research is worth the effort—it is.

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WEALTH AND WATER WAY OUT WEST AND A TWO-BOOK GIVEAWAY by KELI GWYN

BLOG Keli Gwyn Author Photo-LgKeli Gwyn here to whisk you back in time. Imagine this. It’s 1866. You own a hydraulic mining operation in California. It’s the middle of the summer. There’s been no rain since May. Rivers are running low. Streams and creeks are drying up. But you need water to operate your mine. What do you do? Read on to find out how two bright men of yesteryear, who lived where I do now, came up with a solution.

The easy-to-find placer (surface) gold had been mined in the early years of the Gold Rush, forcing miners to use different methods. In 1853, hydraulic mining came into play. Water cannons with streams of water shooting up to 500 could blast away entire hillsides. The gold-rich quartz veins were revealed, the ore crushed and the precious metal extracted.

BLOG Keli Hydraulic MiningMine owners were happy…provided they had water. In order to get that precious commodity, ditches (canals) were built to divert water from the sources to the mines. The ditches might be able to supply enough water for smaller operations, but the big hydraulic mines needed more than that. John Kirk, an engineer from Pennsylvania, had anticipated this need. A forward thinker, he bought the water rights to many Sierra lakes high above the Gold Country. He and his partner, surveyor Francis A. Bishop, envisioned a canal that would bring water from the mountains to the foothills below. Although their plan for the canal was well thought-out, they’d completed less than one mile when they ran out of funds in 1871.

Kirk and Bishop sold their water rights and property to the newly formed El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company for $60,000. Incorporated in 1873, the Company assumed control of the project, following the plans laid by Kirk and Bishop.

The building of the El Dorado Canal was one of the most ambitious undertakings in the state of California up to that time. When it was completed, just in time for the U.S. Centennial celebration in July 1876, the canal was about thirty miles long. Four miles of that was wooden flumes resting on elevated rock walls.

BLOG Keli El Dorado Canal WorkersThe monumental task required a massive workforce. Over one thousand Chinese laborers came up from San Francisco, assisted by about a hundred Euro-Americans, mostly Italian. The canal cost the Company between $650,000 and $700,000, or about $25,000 per mile.

When I learned about the construction of the El Dorado Canal, I was impressed. Every time I turn on the tap to fill my glass with water, I’m benefitting from the work done one hundred forty years ago by engineers who had nothing more than slide rules and workmen wielding hammers, saws, shovels and pickaxes. Although the canal has been renovated and upgraded numerous times, the path the water travels today is much the same as it was then.

El Dorado Canal - FlumeI was so impressed by the men who designed and built the El Dorado Canal that I decided to honor them in my August 2016 release, Make-Believe Beau. The hero and heroine of my latest book, Flynt and Jessie, work for the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company. I took fictional license in staffing the engineering department. Flynt is the engineer. Jessie is his newly hired draftswoman, which creates a stir in the office. While the story focuses on their romance—both the feigned one and the real one—I worked in as much of the history of the El Dorado Canal as I could. I’m sneaky that way. 🙂

 

Question fBLOG KELI bookcoveror You:

Drinking water today has become far more sophisticated than it used to be. Here in the U.S., many people prefer bottled water to tap water. There are flavored waters, carbonated waters, energy waters and more. We can also add ice if we like. I’m a tap water gal myself, since we get clean, clear water from the Sierras delivered right to our home, and I add plenty of ice.

When it comes to drinking water, what is your favorite kind?

Giveaway

I’m so excited about Flynt and Jessie’s story that I’m offering not one, but two print copies as giveaway prizes. Leave a comment, and be sure to leave your contact info in case you win!

My Upcoming Releases

DANICA FAVORITE: THE LAWMAN’S REDEMPTION!

DANICA headshotIt is such an honor to be visiting the Petticoats and Pistols blog today. Is it all right if I have a fan girl moment here for a few moments? (Pretend I’m super squee-ing and getting all excited!) Phew! I’m done. No, okay, wait… EEE!!! I’m so happy to be here with so many of my favorite authors!!

Okay, now I’m really done, because you didn’t invite me here to say how fabulous you are! You wanted to hear about some cool historical stuff.

I write books set in Leadville, Colorado. My husband’s family settled there near the dawn of the 20th century. Since then, they’ve maintained ties to the area. It’s one of my favorite places, and I’m so glad to be able to share it with my readers.

Leadville’s claim to fame is the silver boom that happened from 1879 until 1893. During those years, what amounts to billions of dollars in today’s money came out of the Leadville area. Some of the wealthiest families in America, such as the Guggenheims, found their start in Leadville. Doc Holliday spent some time in Leadville, as did Molly Brown of the Unsinkable Molly Brown fame. It always surprises me when I read something about Leadville and find the name of one more famous person who spent time there.

It’s tempting to base my books on real history, and in some ways, I do. But I also fictionalize things and change them up a bit because many of the old-timers, folks who have generational ties to Leadville, know the stories, and in some cases, have differing versions of the story.

For example, the story of Baby Doe Tabor’s later years. Baby Doe Tabor, if you’re not familiar with the story, is a rags to riches to rags tale. She married Horace Tabor, one of Leadville’s wealthiest men, after his scandalous divorce from his first wife. They lived extravagantly, and were ill-prepared for the silver crash in 1893. Overnight, the Tabors lost everything, and when Horace died, Baby Doe was left penniless.

DANICA inside cabin

As the story goes, Horace’s deathbed wish to Baby Doe was to “hang on to the Matchless.” The Matchless was one of Tabor’s silver mines, and Horace believed it would someday make money again.

 

Many historical sources say “hang on to the Matchless” was not what Tabor said, however, after Horace’s death, Baby Doe ended up living in poverty in a little shack at the mine. She became a recluse, and had little contact with the outside world. She allowed very few people to come visit her, and this is where the old-timers all have a tale to tell.

DANICA outside cabinOne of the few people allowed to visit Baby Doe was the grocery delivery boy, who would occasionally bring her groceries. I’ve met so many people who will tell you that their relative was the delivery boy. Of course, I have it on very good authority from my husband’s late great-aunt, that the delivery boy was her brother! But if only one delivery boy was allowed access, you can see where that might be a problem!

 

So, as you can see, real history, real people… well, let’s just say it’s safer to make it up!

DANICA Matchless mine with cabinBut there are always touches of the real in my books, because what I love about Leadville is the adventurous spirit that comes with living in a rough place in a rough time. After all, isn’t that what makes the west so great?

Now it’s your turn… do you have any fun historical claims to fame? Even if you don’t, I’d love to hear a fun history story passed down in your family. Share your story for a chance to win a copy of The Lawman’s Redemption.

If you’re interested in seeing some more of our family historical ties to Leadville, stop by my website, where I have some fun videos posted in the extras section:

http://danicafavorite.com/extras/leadville_research

 

DANICA Bookcover

About the book:

Lawman on a Mission 

Former deputy Will Lawson is fighting to regain his reputation—and Mary Stone is his only lead to the bandit who framed him. Now that he’s tracked Mary to Leadville, Colorado, Will needs the proud beauty to reveal her past. Instead, his efforts spark a mighty inconvenient attraction…

Mary’s only real crime is that she once believed an outlaw’s lies. Still, she fears disclosing the truth to Will may land her in jail—and leave her young siblings without protection. Now she must choose between honesty and safeguarding her family. And if Will does clear his own name, can he convince the woman he loves to share it?

Click HERE for the Amazon link!

 

I’m giving away one print copy of THE LAWMAN’S REDEMPTION! Leave a comment to get your name in the pot.

 

LONGHORN CATTLE … IN CALIFORNIA? By Guest Blogger Keli Gwyn

Keli Gwyn Historical Author PhotoBefore James Marshall discovered those shiny nuggets at Sutter’s Mill that sparked the Gold Rush and made the precious metal the focus of fortune-seekers around the globe, longhorn cattle were California’s primary product. Sadly they were raised for their hides and tallow. Much of the meat was left to rot on the beaches while the valued items were loaded on longboats anchored off shore.

That changed in 1849 when California was overrun by miners pouring in by the thousands. Food was scarce in the gold fields of the north, so the cattle ranchers of the south found a ready market for their beef. At that point, nearly half a million head of longhorn roamed the countryside in the sparsely populated area around Los Angeles.

Some believe the California longhorn was closely related to its Texas counterpart, with both tracing their heritage to the Andalusian Iberian longhorn of southwestern Spain. The records kept at the time didn’t document the physical appearance or attributes of the California longhorn, so one can only speculate.

A series of droughts in the mid-1800s all but obliterated the herds. The disastrous drought of 1864 brought about the loss of 50-75% of the longhorn cattle in Los Angeles County due to thirst or starvation. The remaining cattle ranches were broken up into smaller ranches, with many of the ranchers diversifying into more stable and financially beneficial agricultural ventures.

One rancher, Henry Miller, originally a butcher in San Francisco, did well despite the disastrous losses of others. He expanded his herd and his holdings. It’s thought he might have been the largest owner of private lands in the state. Miller was one of the first to bring in Durham and Hereford bulls to breed with the longhorn cows, providing the public with beef from the British breeds the rapidly increasing population preferred. And thus the end of the longhorn legacy in California came about.

Cattle ranching increased in northern California as gold became harder to find and more expensive to extract. The small town of Shingle Springs, in which my debut Love Inspired Historical, Family of Her Dreams, takes place, shifted from mining to cattle ranching. Sprawling ranches sprang up in the area, and cattle could be seen grazing there for much of the year.

During the hot, dry summers, ranchers herded their cattle up the mountain to pastures high in the Sierras.longhorn-529572_640 Oftentimes the womenfolk would stay with the herds while the men remained in the valley and saw to things there. Since the temperatures in the valley can top one hundred for a number of days each summer, I think the ladies got the better end of the deal.

In my story, the hero, Spencer Abbott, dreams of leaving his stationmaster duties behind and becoming a cattle rancher, as was his father back in Texas. Spencer pays to have a longhorn bull brought to him, which he intends to breed. With payment in calves, he plans to grow a herd of his own. Whether or not he succeeds shall remain a mystery—until you read the story anyhow. 🙂

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Family of Her Dreams, just leave a comment with the  answer to one (or more) of the questions below by midnight EDT on Saturday, June 20.

  • Do you like rancher heroes in romances?
  • How prevalent are cattle ranches in your part of the country?
  • Have you ever seen a longhorn bull in person? If so, what was your impression of it?

Keli Gwyn Contemporary Author Photo (3)

 

Award-winning author Keli Gwyn, a native Californian, transports readers to the early days of the Golden State. She and her husband live in the heart of California’s Gold Country. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, historical museums and other Gold Rush-era towns. Keli loves hearing from readers and invites you to visit her Victorian-style cyber home at www.keligwyn.com, where you’ll find her contact information.

A Family to Cherish 

Headstrong Tess Grimsby loves her new job caring for the children of a recently widowed man. But she never imagined that she’d fall for her handsome employer. Yet Spencer Abbott is as caring as he is attractive, and Tess can’t help but feel for him and his family. Though, for the sake of her job, she’ll keep any emotions about her boss to herself.

Between his stationmaster responsibilities in a gold-rush town and trying to put his family back together, Spencer has his hands full. He soon finds his new hire’s kind personality warming his frosty exterior. But could he ever admit to seeing her as more than just an employee?

Leave a comment to enter her drawing on here for an autographed copy of Family of Her Dreams.

Copyright © 2015 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

June 19 - Keli Gwyn Petticoats & Pistols Giveaway

 

http://keligwyn.com/library/my-books will take you directly to Keli’s “My Book” page of her website, where she has a number of retailers’ links.

 

Crossing Cultural Frontiers: The Wild, Wild… East? by Lori Benton

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Lori Benton

 

Long before the California Gold Rush, before Louisiana was purchased and Lewis & Clark made their epic journey there and back again, there was an American frontier. We now call it the East.

In the last decades of the 18th century, colonists living in what would become the United States thought of the West as what lay just beyond the Appalachian Mountain range. These mountains were meant to serve as a barrier to colonial expansion. The land to the west was reserved by the British Crown for the Native nations who called it home. How quickly that frontier shifted as colonists ignored the barrier—and shifted back again as indigenous nations resisted being overrun. One place this process unfolded dramatically and with complex consequences for the people who lived there was western New York in the 1770s.

The Woods EdgeWhile researching New York history for my novel, Burning Sky, set in 1784, I learned of the division that occurred among the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Those six nations are, east to west as they dwelled across what is now New York State, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. My focus during the Burning Sky research was on the Mohawks, but time and again the Oneidas snagged my attention. For one conspicuous reason—they went against the majority of the pro-British Six Nations and sided with the Americans during the war, serving as scouts, spies, and in some cases officers in the Continental Army. This decision on the Oneidas’ part broke a confederacy that had existed for centuries.

Why did the Oneidas make this choice? Decades before war’s outbreak, the seeds of division that would force the Oneidas to this momentous decision were being planted among the confederacy nations, seeds carried in the minds and hearts of individuals who chose to cross that first western frontier: traders, interpreters, explorers, and missionaries.

BurningSkyFrom as early as the 17th century, the Iroquois had welcomed French Jesuits among them. This resulted in groups of Native converts leaving their native Mohawk Valley and moving north to live on reserves along the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec. In 1710, sachems (peace chiefs) on a visit to England requested Queen Anne send Anglican missionaries to help guard against more of the people converting to Catholicism and decamping for Canada. Queen Anne complied. Soon the Anglican Church made its converts, especially among the Mohawks. Later in the 18th century, Presbyterian missionaries from New England ventured among the Iroquois. Among these was the staunchly patriotic Samuel Kirkland, who settled in the Oneida town of Kanowalohale and ministered among them for a decade before the Revolutionary War. By that time he’d gained the devotion of many Oneidas, including many chief warriors.

As conflict with the colonies escalated into war, the British pressured the Six Nations to honor what was known as the Covenant Chain of Friendship, but the Oneidas were increasingly drawing support, both material and spiritual, from Kirkland’s patriotic American friends. As time passed and loyalties became entrenched, there was very little middle ground upon which these polarizing nations could meet. Once war reached the Six Nations’ homeland, there could be no standing to the side while the King and his rebellious children (the colonials) fought it out, not when it came to protecting their own towns and hunting grounds. The Oneidas made their choice with heavy hearts, and for the next several years the frontier became a place of harrowing violence for natives and whites alike.

As I came to grasp the tremendous pressure the Oneidas found themselves under during this tumultuous time, the contributions they made to the founding of an American nation, and the devastating price they paid for following their convictions, I couldn’t resist attempting to tell their story. In The Wood’s Edge and its sequel, A Flight of Arrows (spring 2016), readers will meet two families, one white and the other Oneida, who become linked forever by tragedy and grace, as one young woman and one young man find the courage to cross the daunting frontier between them and meet in a middle ground of their own hearts’ making.

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Did it surprise you to learn the Oneidas were allies of the Americans during the Revolutionary War? Leave a comment with your thoughts on this post and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of The Wood’s Edge.

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The Wood’s Edge

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

 

2 Chapter Sneak Peek: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Woods-Edge2.pdf

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Buy Link for The Wood’s Edge:  Click HERE

Contact:

Lori’s website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com/

Lori’s Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLoriBenton#

Helen Gray & The Three R’s for Authors

The Three R’s for Authors

Ridin’, ‘Ritin’, and Ropin’

R&R

Most of our western characters ride horses. So, whether we personally ride or not, we have to know enough about riding to write about it realistically.

Ridin’ and Ritin’

To get started riding, you have to get on the horse.
To get started writing, you have to start the book. Now, how profound is that?

Come up with your plot. Establish a unique story line. Do some research. Historical research will help you understand motives for your characters as well as provide a sense of realism to your story.

Leave a map of your route when riding out on the trail.
When writing, an outline will help, even if it’s only a skeleton. You can flesh it out, seat of the saddle, as you go.

Establish a regular practice routine.
Likewise, work on your book every day. Choose a place to write that is different from where you do other activities. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they would not have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. The only way you get good is with practice.

Horseback riding is a dangerous sport. The safest way to learn to ride is with an experienced riding instructor or coach.
The same applies to writing. Acquire a mentor, someone who can guide you along the learning path. Then listen and follow instructions. Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Focus on visual details and be descriptive. Include description of colors, what the lighting is like, sounds and smells. Try to transport your reader to the scenes you picture. Don’t rush. You can’t rush inspiration, and rushing can cause mistakes. Write what you know.

When working with a horse, pay attention to rhythm.
The same thing applies to writing. We all work at different paces. But there are some habits we should develop. Give yourself daily or weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, page count, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable. No matter what, finish the book. Then send it to a publisher or agent. Just don’t put it in your drawer.

Riding too long can cause aches and pains and increase our grumpiness.
Sitting at the computer too long can do the same. Take regular breaks.

Check tack frequently for signs of wear and weakness.
Keep your computer in good shape. And don’t forget to make backups

The hardest thing about learning to ride is the ground. Learn how to fall. Then get up and get back on!
Do the same with writing. Embrace failure. Sure, it will hurt when it happens. But give yourself grace, room to learn. Then write another book.

Ropin’

Ropin

To rope an animal:

  • Enter the box.
  • Mount your horse.
  • Prime the lariat.
  • Clench the piggin’ string firmly in your teeth.
  • Nod your head to signat the animal’s release and start the clock.
  • Charge into the arena.
  • Leap off your horse and throw your loop.

Once your novel is finished:

  • Have friends and family read through it.
  • Share your work with professional colleagues or hire an editor.
  • When it’s ready, send it out into the publishing arena.
  • Swing a wide loop. Round up those readers!

I fell off my horse. Well, actually, my horse died. His name was Heartsong.

I had six books with my editor when the Heartsong Presents line closed. Now I’m trying to get up, brush myself off and learn the ropes of indie publishing by putting out a couple of those manuscripts myself.

Bandit Bride is a free download today. Help yourself. And if you enjoy it, a review would be greeted with a yeehaw!!

BanditBride

Prairie Bride, the second book of this duo, releases tomorrow.

PrairieBride
HelenGray

Helen Brown grew up in a small Missouri town and changed colors when she married her pastor and became Helen Gray. They have three grown children. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015