Pass the Ketchup, Please

With a need to eat more wisely as I age, I spend a lot of time in the grocery store reading labels. While I have eliminated some foods from my shopping list that used to be standards, one staple I still insist on having is ketchup. However, when I realized how much sugar and salt go into my favorite condiment, I wondered if I could make it at home. And because I love history—and the history of the American west in particular–the next thought was ‘where was ketchup created’ and did they have it in the old west?

The origins of ketchup are thought to be in a Chinese pickled fish sauce or brine made in the late 1600s. The British brought the table sauce back from their explorations of Malay states—present day Malaysia and Singapore—and by 1740 it was a staple in their cuisine. The Malay word for the sauce was k?chap, which evolved into “ketchup” and became “catchup” and “catsup” in America.

Original versions of “ketchup” were made from lots of different savory items. One very popular one in America was mushrooms. The 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines catchup as “a table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc.”

Tomatoes weren’t used in making the sauce until the early 1800s. A recipe published in 1801 seems to be the first making what you and I would recognize as ketchup—although I doubt it would taste the same. Cooks didn’t begin adding sugar to the mixture until later in the century.

Most families made their own ketchup. In 1837, a man named Jonas Yerks is credited with making tomato ketchup a national food by producing and distributing his product across the U.S. It wasn’t long before other companies joined the rush, including H.J. Heinz, who launched their brand of ketchup in 1869.

Early versions were thin and watery, more like the fish sauce than the thick tomato product we’re accustomed to, but had less vinegar than the modern recipe. In fact, I doubt we’d recognize the jar of ketchup served by a Harvey Girl in a Harvey House Restaurant in the 1880s as the same product Americans have come to love–but it’s fun to know it was there.

Kat Martin’s Winner


What a wonderful guest. Miss Kat really has some interesting things to say.

I folded each name up real careful like and put them in my ten gallon hat.

The winner of MIDNIGHT SUN is………….


Woo-Hoo! I’m tickled pink for you, Patricia. Someone will contact you for your mailing particulars so keep your eye peeled.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you down the road a spell.

Filly New Release Update – May 2012


Listed below are the upcoming releases from our talented writers here at Wildflower Junction. To purchase any of these fine books, just click on the book covers. And to learn more about the authors, click on thier names.


THE LAST REAL COWBOY (Cadence Creek Cowboys)
By Donna Alward


From the moment he turned up late to her charity’s meeting, placating everyone with
a tip of his Stetson and a lazy smile, Angela Beck knew that Sam Diamond was going to
be Trouble with a capital T.

Angela is the prickliest woman Sam’s ever met—let alone had to work with! He’d love to
still her sharp tongue with a kiss, but first he has to get close enough to awaken the complex
woman beneath the deliberately cool exterior.

And that’s something only a real cowboy can do.…


Multi-author Anthology

No one holds a special place in the heart quite like a mother—but moms need romance, too! This Mother’s Day, enjoy four heartwarming contemporary romance novellas from Harlequin about the greatest gift of all: love!

The Greatest Gift: A Mother’s Day Collection includes:

    • Second-Chance Mother by Donna Alward
    • Unexpected Gifts by Tanya Michaels
    • A Mother’s Day Match by Katherine Garbera
    • Her First Mother’s Day by Kathleen O’Brien


Multi-author Anthology

Three stories of cowboys who find love, by three exceptional authors of western romance, Lisa Plumley, Elizabeth Lane and Kate Welsh

From author Elizabeth Lane
The Hand-Me-Down-Bride

Arabella Spencer’s trip west was supposed to end in marriage to her longtime sweetheart-not with the discovery that he’d made someone else his wife! Can rancher Stewart McIntyre convince Arabella that Montana can still be her dream come true, with a new groom for this hand-me-down bride?




WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH (Blackfoot Warrior Series) by Karen Kay — Samhain Publishing — Retro Romance

Two worlds.   They came from different world — she, the wealthy English socialite traveling deep into Indian territory; he the proud and powerful Blackfoot warrior who once saved her life.  White Eagle is captivated by Katrina Wellington’s shimmering loveliness, but the little girl he once called “Shines Like Moonlight” is now a grown woman, betrothed to another.  And although she moves his soul like no other, he knows he can never have her.

ONE LOVE — Raised in civilized society, Katrina never wanted to return to the West.  The hard, dangerous life had killed her parents and, if it weren’t for White Eagle’s bravery, she might have died too.  But her learned disdain for White Eagle’s people soon gives way as they discover that the spark of love from their childhood had blaed into an all-consuming passion.  But is it enough to sustain a love that both their worlds call…forbidden?


NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE (Blackfoot Warrior Series) by Karen Kay — Samhain Publishing — Retro Romance

His wife in every way…  He had promised to protect the beautiful white woman.  But a Blackfoot warrior must never raise a hand against his own brothers, even if they ean to harm and disgrace a helpless captive.  There was only one thing a man of honor like Night Thunder could do; claim Rebecca Cothern as his wife.

From the moment Rebecca stepped into Night Thunder’s powerful embrace in full view of his tribe — making his marriage vow true in their eyes — she knew her life would never be the same.  How could she travel among his people as his “wife” and share his bed without succumbing to the desire that burned so fiercely in her breast?  Night Thunder swore that she would truly be his bride in every way, if only Rebecca would give herself to him freely and without remorse.  But could she sacrifice the only life she’d ever known — and the future she’d always dreamed of — for a deep, satisfying taste of forbidden passion?

Covers–How Important Are They?

   New York Times bestselling author



K A T   M A R T I N 


 Historical Romance ·Contemporary · Romantic Suspense



The cover of a novel is the single most important ingredient in the success or failure of a book.  This isn’t something authors want to hear and it’s not always true.  If the book is special enough and it gets lots of word-of-mouth, even a bad cover can’t stop the book from being a success. 

If the author’s name is well known–and I am speaking of New York Times bestsellers with very large print runs–a bad cover can’t stop the book from being a success.

However most of us fall in the category where a cover can make the difference between success and failure. 

Over the years, I’ve had good covers and bad.  One of the prettiest covers I ever had was on a book called MIDNIGHT RIDER.  The problem was the cover was completely white.  The lovely embossed bird on the front didn’t show up until the reader picked up the book.  Not many did!   

The title may have been another part of the problem.  It was chosen by the publisher and no amount of talking could convince them to change it.  The combination of bad cover and bad title was lethal.   The book was my biggest failure and I think it was one of my better books.

Starting May 1st, my Sinclair Sisters Trilogy is going to be re-issued.  The first in the series is MIDNIGHT SUN, a fish-out of water Romantic Suspense set in Alaska.  The covers on these three books were extremely plain, just colors and the title.  And I have to admit the title, MIDNIGHT SUN, isn’t that exciting.   I’ve never been particularly good at titles, which makes the cover even more important. 

Since changing a book title is very confusing to readers, the publisher is simply changing the cover, putting a guy on the front, which has become sort of a brand for my Romantic Suspense books.   I’m not crazy about the new cover for MIDNIGHT SUN.  For one thing, I just met the cover model, Lynn Gunn and he his absolutely gorgeous–and a terrific guy.  I don’t think the cover does him justice.  Still, it’s interesting, and I’m hoping readers will pick it up and give the book a try.

If you enjoy Romantic Suspense and haven’t read MIDNIGHT SUN, I hope you’ll give it a try.  The other books in the series are DESERT HEAT and DEEP BLUE and they get new covers, as well.  Hope you enjoy them all and that you also watch for my new releases.  You can reach me on my website:

 Very best wishes, Kat



 Kat is giving away a copy of Midnight Sun to one lucky commentator!



Now here’s an except from Kat’s exciting novel:





  Manhattan, New York

     “I don’t believe it.  You can’t actually mean to go through with this.”  Jeremy paced over to the dresser in the bedroom where Charity stood studying each piece of clothing she intended to take on her trip.      

     “You can’t possibly mean to quit your job, give up your apartment, and go off to some godforsaken town in the wilderness.”

      Charity flicked him only the briefest of glances and continued to fold her sweatshirt, a red one with a little red-and-white-checked collar she thought was particularly warm.

     “It isn’t as if you didn’t know this was going to happen,” she said.  “I’ve been planning this for weeks.  I told you the day I made the decision to leave.  As you do with anything that doesn’t fit into your plans, you simply chose not to believe it.”

     His crossed the room and reached for her, turned her to face him.  “Think about what you’re doing, Charity.  Think what you’re giving up.  You’ve got a good job at Glenbrook Publishing.  You just got promoted to senior editor, forgodsake.”

     “I gave them notice weeks ago, Jeremy.  They’ve already replaced the position.”

      “They’d take you back in a heartbeat and you know it.  You’re destroying your career, but if that isn’t enough–what about me?” 

      At five foot ten, with his perfectly styled jet-black hair and deep green eyes, Jeremy Hauser was undeniably attractive.  When Charity had met him at a literacy fundraiser two years ago, she had fallen like a rock for his debonair good looks, Wall Street polish and charm.  After dating him–practically living with him in his swanky Eastside apartment–she knew how self-centered, how totally self-absorbed he could be.

      She caught the hand he raised to her cheek and drew it away.  “We’ve had two years, Jeremy.  We’ve shared good times and bad, but you know as well as I do, things haven’t been great with us for the last six months.  Maybe putting some space between us will help decide where our relationship is headed.”

      Or if, as Charity suspected, it was headed nowhere at all.

      “There’s nothing wrong with our relationship.  I’ll admit I’ve been a little stressed-out lately.  I’m up for that promotion and you know how much I want it.”  He gave her one of his most charming smiles.  “I realize I haven’t been very good company, but give up this crazy scheme of yours and I’ll make it up to you–I promise.”

      “I’m sorry, Jeremy.  I think this goes way beyond being good company.  We haven’t even made love in nearly a month.”

      He paled a little at hearing her come right out and say it.  Jeremy had always been reserved in the bedroom, which in the beginning she’d found rather sweet.  The truth was, sex just wasn’t a driving factor in Jeremy’s life.  He was always too tired, too busy, too rushed.  Mostly, he was just too preoccupied with his own needs to care all that much about hers.

      She turned away from him, reached for a pair of Liz Claiborne jeans and started to roll them up.  Jeremy leaned over and gently blew against her ear.

      “Don’t go,” he said softly, kissing the side of her neck.  “We’ll work things out, I swear it.”

      Charity eased away from him.  “Don’t, Jeremy, please.  Not now.”

      “All right, what do you want me to do?  What do I have to say to make you give up this crazy idea and stay in Manhattan?  You want to move in with me?  Okay, that’s what we’ll do.  Finish packing your things and I’ll have a moving truck her to pick them up tomorrow afternoon.”

      There was a time that was exactly what she had wanted.  She had believed Jeremy Hauser was the man of her dreams.  It hadn’t taken long to discover he wasn’t.  She still didn’t know how she’d convinced herself for more than a year that he would change and things would work out between them.

      “I don’t want to move in with you, Jeremy.  I want to do exactly what I’ve got planned.  I want to fly out of JFK on Canada Airlines tomorrow morning at seven twenty-nine a.m.  I want to land in Vancouver, change planes and fly to Whitehorse, where, after nearly eleven hours in the air and a two-hour layover, I’ll be so exhausted I’ll crawl into my bed at the River View Motel without even turning on the TV.  The following day, I want to pick up the Ford Explorer I’ve leased from National Rent-A-Car and be on my way to Dawson City.” 

      He looked so stunned Charity reached out and caught hold of his hand.  “I know this is hard for you to understand, but I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve never done a single thing that’s really exciting.  Just once, I want to have an adventure.  Haven’t you ever wanted to do something a little bit crazy?  Something you’ve secretly wanted to do but never had the nerve?”


      She sighed.  “Both my sisters are doing things that are interesting and exciting.  Patience is getting ready to go on the rodeo circuit and Hope is traveling around the country, writing freelance magazine articles.  They’re living their dreams and I want to live mine, too.”

      “Patience is doing research for her PHD,” Jeremy argued, “and Hope is trying to salvage her flagging writing career.  You have a very successful career.  You’re a fiction editor at a well-respected publishing house.  You should be happy with that.”

     “Well, I’m not, and I’m tired of arguing with you about it.”  She turned and ushered him out of the bedroom, tugged him across her small living room to the front door.  “Go home, Jeremy.”  She removed the chain lock and pulled the door open.  “I have a feeling that as soon as I’m gone, you’re going to realize our relationship wasn’t going anywhere anyway.  You might even be grateful to have your freedom again.”

      Jeremy’s mouth thinned but he didn’t argue.  He wasn’t in love with her and deep down he knew it–she was simply a convenience.  That kind of relationship was enough for Jeremy but not for her.

      “You’re going to be sorry, Charity,” he said stepping out into the hallway.  “Unfortunately, by the time you figure that out, it’s going to be too late.”


To order just click on the book cover!


A Texas Bonanaza

Quiz time!

What was the leading industry in Texas at the turn of the 20th century?

Oil? – No, that came later.

Cattle? Cotton?

The answer: Lumber.


Lumber? Are you kidding? I live in Texas. There are no trees. Oh, we’ve got some scrubby little mesquite and an occasional oak, but nothing that this California native would call a tree. So how in the world did the lumber industry out-perform cattle and cotton, two Texas staples?

A virgin stand of longleaf pine in the East Texas Piney Woods region, 1908.

Well, as anyone who has ever driven across this great state can tell you, Texas is a big place. Yes we have desert regions and prairie and grassland and hill country, but over in the southeast is a lovely section called the Piney Woods. And as the railroad worked it’s way west in the 1870’s and 1880’s, lumber men from Pennsylvania like Henry Lutcher and G. Bedell Moore saw the virgin forests of east Texas as a gold mine. Local boys like John Henry Kirby got in on the action, too, buying up and consolidating individual sawmills into complete lumber manufacturing plants. Kirby rose to success so quickly, he became known as the “Prince of the Pines,” having become the largest lumber manufacturer in the state by combining 14 sawmills into the Kirby Lumber Company in 1901.

Not only did the railroad boom make travel to the Texas woods easier, it was also one of the biggest  sources of demand for timber. Railroads needed lumber to construct rail cars, stations, fences, and cross ties in addition to the massive amounts of wood they burned for fuel. Each year railroads needed some 73 million ties for the construction of new rail lines and the maintenance of old ones, estimated by the magazine Scientific American in 1890. From the 1870s to 1900, railroads used as much as a fourth of national timber production.

This combination of supply and demand fueled a “bonanza era” for the Texas lumber industry that lasted 50 years, from 1880 until the Great Depression. During this time, Texas became the third largest lumber-producing state in the nation.

Northern investors swooped in to buy up land, sometimes even taking advantage of “use and possession laws” to seize property from families who had owned it for generations. Corruption abounded as logging companies controlled their workers, paying them only in vouchers for the company store despite the incredibly hazardous working conditions. These “cut and get out” operations left acres of land decimated.

This is the climate in which my next book, Short-Straw Bride, is set. Travis Archer and his brothers own a prime piece of forested land that also happens to be the key to connecting investor Roy Mitchell’s holdings to the railroad. Mitchell wants the ranch and is willing to get it any way he can. But the woman he’s been courting (to get his hands on her inheritance, which just happens to be more piney woods land) overhears him plotting to take the Archers out. Meredith Hayes has secretly carried a torch for Travis since he rescued her when she was a girl of ten. When she hears the threat, she knows she has to warn Travis. Unfortunately, her good deed goes awry and she ends up with more trouble than she bargained for. She ends up a short-straw bride.

Short-Straw Bride releases June 1st. If you’d like to read the first two chapters, click here.

Kat Martin Visits Us Saturday


Hello Darlin’s,

The Fillies will welcome Miss Kat Martin back on Saturday, April 28th.

Miss Kat always knows how to show her readers a good time. She’s a dear talented lady full of interesting information. This time she’s here to tell us about the re-release of an earlier suspense. Midnight Sun is the title. If you missed it when it came out before you’ll have another chance to read it.

My mama used to say that old books never die, they’re just recycled. And Lord if that ain’t the truth.

So hightail it over to the Junction on Saturday. You won’t regret it.

You may even have a chance to win an paperback copy.

What Are You Reading Right Now?

I’m smack in the middle of a deadline race, so this blog is going to be on the short side. And it’s going to be about what we all love–books, reading and romance. Leave a comment, and I’ll add your name to the hat for a drawing for a copy of “Brides of the West,” the April “spring wedding” anthology from Love Inspired Historicals. I’m in it with Janet Dean and Pamela Nissen.

Let’s get started:

Question: What are you reading right now? I just finished this month’s selection for the Flippin’ Pages Book Club. It’s called “Beaded Hope” and is about a group of women who travel to Africa on a mission trip to assist women with AIDS.  Thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s women’s fiction rather than romance, but the story tugged at every heartstring.  It’s easy to take life for granted until you read about people coping with serious illness.

I also just finished a Kindle freebie about the Titanic:  Lifeboat 8: The Untold Story.  The tale of that great ship is always compelling. Hubris and heroism are an interesting mix. 

What about you? What’s are you reading at the moment?

Question: Kindle / Nook Time. What’s the last book you bought or downloaded?  I recently cleaned up on Filly freebies. I downloaded books by Margaret Brownley and Mary Connealy / Mary Nealy.  When I finish the current ms, guess what I’m going to do for two solid weeks?  I’m going to read nonstop. A blanket on the grass in the sun sounds really nice after months cooped up in the office.

What about you? What’s the latest book you purchased or downloaded?

Question:  What’s your all time favorite western romance?  It’s funny how a particular book will stay with you forever. For me, it’s The Outsider  by Penelope Williamson. I read it when it first came out, 1997 or so, and I still think back to the story and how it inspired me.  After all this time, it’s still my No. 1 favorite.

What about you? What’s your favorite western romance?

Leave a comment and I’ll add your name to the hat for the drawing. Now back to it . . . I’m on the very last chapter of the new ms. This is my favorite part of the whole process. Can’t wait to type “The End!”

Brides of the West . . . Available now at Amazon!



Have you ever tried to write a dream sequence or a flashback in your novels?  What did you think of it when you were finished?  Were you happy with the end result, or did it leave you feeling a little flat when you read back over it? 

The school of thought on dreams and flashbacks is divided.  Some believe that the use of these devices exhibit the writer’s immature efforts at crafting backstory and plugging it in, resulting in an amateurish debut into the literary world. 

If not done well, this could prove true. 

But why pick on flashbacks and dreams?  Even plain storytelling without the use of these literary devices can sometimes result in what dissolves into, at best, a “freshman effort.”  It’s not necessarily due to using these tools, though some critics may call upon this as their “rule of thumb” to judge by. 

Another argument against flashbacks and dreams is that they lead the reader out of the actual moment of the story, and may somehow “confuse the reader.” 

 Oh, come on.

 The only bit of confusion that might occur is not the result of the dream or flashback itself; rather, the inability of the writer to make his meaning clear–again, resulting in an immature presentation.

 Yes, flashbacks and dreams are sometimes tough to transition to and from, and make that transition “work.”  But they can be invaluable tools in creating your backstory.

 What are the advantages of dream sequences?  They can foreshadow events to come, or provide information about events that the dreamer witnessed.

 In my book, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is being tortured by a band of renegades, so he isn’t paying attention to some of the details of events and conversation that is taking place around him at the time.  But later, when he’s safely recovering, he dreams about what happened to him.  This dream does two things for the reader:

1.)  It lets us know what, exactly, was being done to Kaed through the conversation and actions of the participants.  We see and hear what is happening, as if we are there, in the moment, without Kaed having to re-tell it to someone.

2.)  It allows Kaed (and the reader) to seize upon a very important piece of information that’s pertinent to the plot.

He was not aware of it consciously, but his subconscious thoughts had picked it up, and it was revealed in the dream.

If you are writing a story with psychic or paranormal happenings, dreams could be a shared link between characters.  This device is used often in novels that include time travel, as well.

 One thing to consider when writing a dream sequence is the way your character sees life, and what his or her culture is.  Make your dreams and flashbacks reflect this appropriately.  In Native American culture, an owl is a symbol of impending death–not wisdom.  It might mean different things to people from other cultures.  Yet, a raven will probably hold much the same symbolism for everyone.

 Your characters can solve problems in their dreams.  This happens in reality–it can happen in fiction.

 Remember, like the presentation of a gourmet meal, a seamless story is in the telling, or the writing.  Backstory is sometimes essential, as are clues to the story that might not be able to be presented any other way.  Make your transitions to the past, or in and out of the dream state, as flawless as possible.

 If you do this, your readers won’t be confused, and you’ll hold them spellbound as they see the story unfold along with your characters.

 Do you use dreams and flashbacks in your writing?  I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on this. I personally love both dreams and flashbacks, and use both quite frequently in my writing.  Let me hear from you!

FIRE EYES will be re-released through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER publishing this summer with a brand new cover and some changes to the story that were left out of the original version.


We Have Three Winners!

Good Evening!

We had quite a turn out today on the blog, and I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here today and sharing your own stories with me — it’s been a very uplifting day.  To pick the winners, I write each name on a sheet of paper and draw the names at random.

Well, we have 3 winners today — and they are…  Nichole, Laurie G. and Monica.  In order to get these books to you, I’ll need you each one to email me privately so that we can figure out this ebook thing — or we might go with one of the mass market books.  We’ll see.  My email address is:  karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.  Put a . in the place where it says (dot) and and @ in the place where it says (at).

My sincere thanks again to each one of you who came here today!  Have a beautiful and blessed night.