Tag: sweet western historical romance

First Kiss ~ An Excerpt

Do you remember your first kiss?

A first kiss can be quite memorable ~ whether it is anticipated, unexpected, desired…or not.
It can be fireworks and sparklers or, unfortunately, it can be the opposite ~ a bit disappointing.

 

Abigail, in Christmas with the Outlaw, can be a bit … prickly. It’s her way of coping, her way of staving off disappointments and protecting herself. The only one she has ever let close is her brother. I thought it was high time she had her own book and her own Happy Ever After. With this in mind, I’d like to share a scene from my story in the Oak Grove Series ~ Abigail and Russ’s first kiss.

 

Excerpt ~ Christmas with the Outlaw

 

Every moment she spent with him increased the fullness in her heart and made her aware of how special, how important he was to her.

“I never meant to hurt you.” His voice—gentle and full of remorse—melted the last vestige of hurt inside.

“I’m glad you explained yourself. Let’s put it behind us. It’s over. No more regrets.” Even though neither of them had said the words I’m sorry, Abigail felt immeasurably better. She reached for the tray, intending to carry it downstairs.

“When I left the mine, all I could think about was getting away from Barton. If the first train that arrived had been going to Denver I would have ended up there.”

“I realize that.”

He rose to his feet. “It’s important that you understand. Seeing you again after all these years—it might have been chance…” He took her hand and seemed to search for the words he wanted to say.

Her arm tingled from his touch. “I do. Russ. But…it’s difficult to concentrate on what you’re saying when you touch me.”

Amusement flashed on his face, but then he grew serious again, his startling blue eyes earnest. “I’m glad that train came here. Very glad.”

Her heartbeat sped up. “I am too.”

He drew closer. “I’ve missed you, Abby. I didn’t know how much until I saw you again.”

The deep timbre of his voice thrilled her. His words thrilled her. She swallowed. “I feel the same.”

His gaze drifted to her lips.

A shiver of desire raced through her body. “Russ…” she whispered. “What…?”

He smiled. “Must you always analyze things? Come closer and I’ll show you.”

He wanted to kiss her! Her heart beat triple time. She couldn’t have taken a deep breath if she had wanted to.

He brushed aside a wisp of her hair, his light touch sending tingles over her temple. “Your thoughts are still churning. I can see it on your face. You know me, Abby. I won’t hurt you. I promise. Not ever again.”

“You will leave.”

His eyes clouded over. “Not because I want to.”

She leaned closer.

He slipped his hand behind her neck and pulled her toward him, closing the last inch between them. His lips met hers, warm and gentle and firm. Her breathing stopped…and then started again. And she melted inside. Everywhere he touched, he caressed, causing tingles to spread through her. A whirlwind swirled inside her. This…this was right. This was wonderful!

Her first kiss…

 ** ** ** 

His pulse kicked up as he breathed in the scent of cinnamon that was Abby. She relaxed, softening against him. Innocent. Honest in her feelings. She wasn’t like the other women he’d known. She didn’t flirt. She didn’t tease. She was a breath of fresh air. And precious. Little Abby!

He dropped light kisses across her cheek and delighted when he heard her sigh. Then he came back to her lips, wanting more of her. There was no maybe about it. He was getting in over his head. She had intrigued him as a girl and now she bewitched him as a woman.

Reluctantly, he pulled away.

That stub of a pencil still balanced on her ear. Seeing it, seeing her, a tenderness came over him that he’d never known before. He cared for her. Really cared for her. And he didn’t want to hurt her. He waited for her to speak.

Her cheeks were a bit flushed, her eyes overly bright. “Uh—”

Abby? At a loss for words? It was so unlike her that he grinned.

She swallowed. “Do you mind if we don’t talk about this? I’m afraid it will ruin things. And it was rather…special.”

He grew serious. It was special, whatever this was between them, and he wanted more of it. She was the type of woman who would expect a future. His was murky at best. He had no idea what his held, but he knew in this moment that he wanted it to hold her. “I don’t mind at all.”

“I’ll just take your tray down,” she said, her face, her eyes, still dazed.

“Any dessert?”

She smiled softly. “You just had it.” Then she disappeared around the corner.

  ** ** ** ** ** ** 

Christmas with the Outlaw (A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology)

© by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! And I hope you will check out my newest story,
Christmas with the Outlaw in A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology!

 

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Researching the 1880’s Newspaper Office

 

Composing sticks, tympans, and friskets…Oh My! What do these all have in common? 

They are all parts that make up an Old West newspaper office. 

When I decided to write Abigail White’s story as the last addition to The Oak Grove Series, my research into the early newspaper office of the 1880’s took me back to my local “living history village” where I was able to glean information on American small-town newspapers from our local historian and docent. As you can see — it was a foggy, damp, day in early March.

For a town like Oak Grove, situated on the Kansas plains, paper was ordered and arrived on large rolls by wagon or by train. Once delivered, it was cut to the desired size.

                                                

Type was made of a composite of cast iron and steel. The most common were Wisconsin type and Hamilton type. Type was stored in type-cases – large drawers with many different sized compartments. The higher or upper case held capital letters. The lower case held… you got it…lower-case type.

The composer stick was the width of the column that would be used in the paper. The one at Midway Village was manufactured in Chicago by the H.B. Rouse Company which was a common national supplier of these devices in the U.S. The type would first be arranged in this and then transferred to a large frame. 

The compositor or typesetter (or in my story – Abigail or her brother, Teddy White) – removes a piece of type from one of the compartments of the type case and places it in the composing stick. Not so difficult until you realize this had to be done working from left to right and bottom to top, placing the letters upside-down! Can you tell what this type says? (Answer at bottom of post.)

Composing Stick ~ Photo by Wilhei [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The composer stick was the width of the column that would be used in the paper. The one at Midway Village was manufactured in Chicago by the H.B. Rouse Company which was a common national supplier of these devices in the U.S. The type would first be arranged in this and then transferred to a large frame. 

For pictures, the newspaper office would purchase a few etchings from a factory, and then used them in numerous ways. For example – an etching of pine trees to be used at Christmastime or a fancy United States Flag etching to be used on National Holidays such as the Fourth of July. Local companies that used the newspaper for sale announcements would have their own etchings made and supply them to the newspapers to be used frequently over the years.

Printer’s ink was oil-based, thick and tarry. It won’t spill if turned upside down. On cold days, the ink didn’t flow well and would become so thick that it would create a blob on the letters and thus on the paper if used. A blade would be used to scoop it up and spread it on a flat plate. Here you can see the round, disk-like flat plate.

Oak Grove Gazette Printing Press

With the linotypes of the 1870s and 1880s, “printer’s disease” was a danger.  It was contracted by working with lead in the linotype. The workers would absorb the lead through their skin and get lead poisoning. These types of printers were in the larger cities and so I didn’t make mention of it in Christmas With the Outlaw. The plate would be pressed against the letters and then against a piece of paper. A rhythm would start up, and if not very careful, the plate could easily smash fingers. For newspapermen, it was the middle two fingers that most often were smashed or severed.

A “galley proof” or test copy was always made before any further papers were printed. This was to ensure that the type had been set accurately. A piece of type could accidentally be stored in the wrong case and as rapidly as the apprentice had to work, it could end up being placed back into a composing stick. The metal type, being comparably soft, could also become damaged or worn.

A cylinder printing press

Once the galley proof was checked and last-minute corrections were incorporated, the type would be fixed in the frame to ready it for printing.

A rope stretched across the length of the newspaper office so that once printed, pages could be placed over the rope for drying. Once the ink was dry on the “front,” the back side of the paper could then be printed upon.

It was a dirty job and as you’ve read…could be dangerous. The large paper cutters could easily cut off fingers that got in the way! Newspaper men had ink-stained fingers and they often worked overnight to get the paper out in the morning.

In Christmas With the Outlaw (in A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology,) siblings Teddy and Abigail put out a weekly paper along with flyers for town events. They inherited their printing press from their parents and transported it by wagon to Oak Grove, looking for a fresh start in a growing new town. Abigail is also the town reporter and takes her job seriously.

Oh yes! And the answer to the above type in the composing stick is:  

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and feels
as if he were in the seventh heaven of typography. 

Leave a comment for your name to be entered into the drawing for an autographed copy of my just out ~

 A Western Christmas Homecoming!

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CATTLE DRIVES — On the Trail


Cattle Drives – On the Trail

(Research for The Oak Grove Series)

By Kathryn Albright

Oak Grove, Kansas, the fictional town and setting of the Oak Grove Series that I am writing with Laurie Robinson, is the end of the trail for the Texas cattle drives. The town grows and prospers with the cattle industry in the 1880s much like Dodge City, Ellsworth, and Abilene. With its stockyards and a train depot, I knew some of the inhabitants would have to have jobs that involved the cattle business.

 

Cattle Drives

The era of cattle drives in American history began at the end of the Civil War and lasted into the 1890s. Demand for beef in the big cities in the east as well as an abundance of cattle in Texas (five million!) created an opportunity for hard-working men. In Texas, a steer was worth about $3, whereas in Chicago, that same steer would fetch an average of $20, although demand would sometimes push its value to $40. Other reasons for moving the cattle north were to feed the miners in Colorado and California, or to stock ranches as far as Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming.

Some herds were as large as 3,000 cattle. Along with the cattle, extra horses were also included on the drive so that when one horse tired and needed to rest, another could be saddled and used. Cattle could stretch out for a mile on the trail and to manage the herd, cowboys had certain positions.

Cattle Drives

 

Duties of each Cowboy —

  • Point – Rode out in front and helped guide the herd.
  • Swing – Rode along the flanks of the herd to keep them gathered in.
  • Flank – Rode behind the Swing and performed the same job.
  • Drag – Rode behind the herd and kept stragglers from being lost or falling behind. A dusty job.
  • Wrangler – Took care of the remuda of extra horses. Lowest paid position.
  • Cook – Drove the chuck-wagon, cooked the meals. Next to the boss, he was the highest paid man on the drive.

These were not gentle milking cows! Longhorns were cantankerous and bad-tempered. The horns on a steer spread an average of five feet from tip to tip. Rounding up cattle, branding them to establish ownership, and getting them to head in one direction as a group was not without mishaps and sometimes dire consequences. Then there were the dangers along the trail.

Cattle Drives - Longhorn Steer

Range cattle were not smart. They got lost in gullies. They headed out into snowstorms rather than seeking shelter. They were easily spooked and alarmed. A flash of lightning, the boom of thunder, or even an odd odor could initiate a stampede where the herd would run for miles. The only way to stop a stampede was for the cowboys to get out in front of the herd and fire their pistols, wave their hats and yell in a effort to confuse and frighten the cattle into slowing and circling until they calmed down.  One wrong decision and in an instant a rider could be impaled on a horn or trampled to death under hooves. Stampedes were the chief threat and worry for a cowboy on a trail drive.

Another danger could occur at river crossings. Should a cow or steer panic, they could drown and take a cowboy down with them.

Then there were the predators. Rustlers—men who would steal the cattle and, although much less common, Indians on the reservations who attacked the drive. Animals such as the American Timber wolf, cougars, brown bears, and farther north…grizzly bears where also a threat. Rattlers and scorpions bothered the men. Although their bite or sting was not usually fatal to a healthy young man, it could still cause horrible pain. A smart cowboy checked their bedroll before bedding down at night, and in the morning, checked their shoes or boots before putting them on.

Cattle Drives Weather was also a danger. Freezing temperatures and blazing heat were both enemies to the herd and to the cowboys. Finding water along the trail was a matter of life and death. Traveling this way, a drive from San Antonio to Kansas would take about two months. No matter how careful the cowboys were, there was always a percentage of cattle that did not make it to the stockyards.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In spite of the danger and the dust, I believe many cowboys enjoyed the camaraderie of driving cattle to the stockyards. Sleeping on the hard earth after a long day’ work, however, is not so appealing. I am thankful for my comfy bed!

What, in this season of Thanksgiving, are you thankful for?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of  Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In the book that will be released in December — The Prairie Doctor’s Bride — a character has an accident along the trail, leaving behind unfinished business in Oak Grove. More on this in a future post…For now, Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, the first book in the Oak Grove Series, is available.

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Kathryn Albright writes sweet historical Americana Romance.
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COWBOYS, HISTORY, AND ROOTS BY KAY P. DAWSON

 

Kay P. Dawson has tied up her pony in the corral and is here to sit a spell and tell us a bit about herself and her writing journey. She’s also offering a few of her books and items to one lucky individual who comments.
Please give her a warm filly welcome! 

Kay Dawson roots
I grew up on a farm, and spent a great deal of my early life hanging around my grandparent’s farms. (We come from a long line of farmers, and my younger brothers are carrying on the tradition).
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In the fall, we even used to have an old-fashioned “thrashing” day when my great-uncle would fire up the old steam engine and all of us kids would follow along in the fields throwing the hay up onto the horse-drawn wagon.
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So, hearing the stories of when my grandparents were young, and when their parents were young always fascinated me.  I used to imagine being back in the times they were talking about, scenes that I would play out in my mind as I pretended to be a pioneer.  Of course, right around this time, Little House on the Prairie was a massive hit on our one channel TV, and I was drawn to the stories playing on the screen.  (I always pretended to be Laura, and my sister was Mary.  Sometimes I’d drag my brothers and my cousin in to play too, although I don’t think they were as excited about it as me.)
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                                              Cowboys, History and Roots     Cowboys, History, and Roots
Writing historical western romance was natural for me.  I began reading the old western love stories when I was a teenager, at the same time everyone was reading the Sweet Valley High books.  Something about the past intrigued me, and when my grandparents would tell a story about how they’d lived, I couldn’t get enough.
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 The part I love the most about being able to write western romance is the time I get to spend researching.  Sometimes, I can lose a whole day of writing because I’ve found something else fascinating that takes me off the path I was originally looking up.
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I’ve recently started writing some contemporary stories too, but all of my books have a “western” or small-town, rural feel to them.  That’s all I really know, so that’s what I like to write about.
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Cowboys, History and Roots by Kay P. DawsonWhen I was a little girl, I had a great uncle Rob who was the truest cowboy you could ever meet.  He used to let me and my friend hang out in the stables with his horses for hours on end, and never once lost his patience with us.  He had a smile for every one he met, and he had a soft, quiet voice you’d have to strain to hear.  I always remember him with a cowboy hat on his head, and his dusty blue jeans.
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So much of what goes into my books is taken from the people I’ve known and where I’ve grown up. Even though I’ve had stories take place in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Kansas, Texas…and now British Columbia and Yukon in the early 1900’s – I’ve never been to these places.  I’ve had to research and learn, and spend some time getting a “feel” for the places I’m writing about.
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But they all have a common element, and that’s family, small town, rural roots.  Those are the virtues that have defined me as I grew up, and that’s what I know best.  Something about the call of home and family, where neighbors look out for each other and life moves at a slower pace.

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 What about you?  Have you noticed how much of your own upbringing and the people and places you spent time around as you grew up has defined what you do today?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

For those who comment, Felicia Filly plans to draw one of your names
for this sweet giveaway offer from Kay P. Dawson!

Kay Dawson

Thank you to everyone – all of the authors of the Petticoats & Pistols blog and the readers – for letting me hang out with you all today!
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I have a variety of books out at the moment – Mail Order Brides, Oregon Trail, and even a cattle drive romance!  I also have some contemporary stories that take place in rural, small towns and a couple western time travel stories.  (These I really enjoyed because it was so fun to imagine being able to actually travel back to the times I write about!)
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Kay P. DawsonYou can find all of my books listed on my website or Amazon author page:
Kay P. Dawson Author Page:  amazon.com/author/kaypdawson
If you’d like to join my fan group – http://www.facebook.com/groups/kaypdawsonfans/
You can also sign up for my newsletter at http://kaypdawson.com/newsletter/
**I have a book releasing today in the popular Mail Order Mounties series…you can see all of the newest releases as soon as they are available by joining the readers group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/MailOrderMounties/

Native American Legends of the Eclipse

 

Legends of the EclipseWhat an historic event is taking place today! Here at Wildflower Junction, I want to talk about the fascinating legends of the eclipse that came by way of our Native Americans.

The earliest record of a solar eclipse — recorded on clay tablets in Babylonia — took place on May 3, 1375 BCE. They predicted it, so it can be assumed people had been studying them even earlier.

Many ancient cultures have fascinating legends to explain what happens during an eclipse. Beasts and demons swallow the sun. Many cultures thought it meant that the gods were angry with humanity. Yet many Native American legends had a different spin…

Tewa (Pueblo) Native Americans of New Mexico:  The angry sun was leaving the sky to visit his home in the underworld.

Pomo Band of Northern California: A bear is eating the sun. To get the bear to stop and leave, the people must make as much noise as they can until it gets scared and runs away. Some of the Cherokee have this legend also, but instead of a bear, they attribute it to a frog eating the sun.

Tlingit Tribe of Alaska:  The sun and moon were getting together to create more children which were the stars and planets.

Legends of the Eclipse

The Cree (Canada, North Dakota, Montana), the Menomini (Wisconsin), the Choctaw (Southeastern U.S.) tribes:  A boy has trapped the sun in a net because it burned him or a favorite robe. He refuses to release it. An animal then comes along and chews the net open.

The Cherokee (southern Allegheny mountains, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama): Many years ago, the daughter of the sun was killed and the sun became dark in her grief. Seven men were charged with the task to go to the land of ghosts and bring back the daughter. They did so, placing her in a box for travel. The girl begged to see out and finally the men lifted the lid, releasing a flash of red. This became the world’s first cardinal. Then, still trying to bring back the sun, the people sent dancers to dance before the sun. Finally, the sun peeked out and the upper and lower worlds were once again in balance.

Legends of the Eclipse

The Algonquin Tribe (Michigan, Ontario, Quebec):  A young boy, seeing an unusual track in the snow, decided to set his snare and catch the animal. The track belonged to the sun, and the next day when the sun came by, it was caught in the snare. The next day, the sun didn’t rise, and the earth was dark. The people found out about the boy’s snare and went to free the sun, but couldn’t get near it without getting burned. Many other animals tried to cut the cord too. Finally, the mouse was able to cut the cord with his teeth and release the sun. That is why, to this day, the mouse’s teeth are brown.

From my home, I can expect to see about 87% of the eclipse, with the deepest darkness at 1:15pm CDT.

If you are reading this early in the day, check HERE to find out the best time for you to see the peak darkness in your area.  However, unless you have purchased special glasses DO NOT look directly at the sun!

Do you have any “eclipse” legends from your own heritage?

What will YOU be doing when the eclipse happens?

I hope you take the time to experience it and feel a bit of awe and wonder!

 

Kathryn’s newest release!

Twin sisters say “I do” in the Wild West!

Sweet, sassy and double the trouble ~ twins Mary and Maggie
sign contracts to become mail-order brides
with every intention of escaping before the actual wedding!

Pick up your copy at

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