Category: Current events

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

My favorite time period to write about is between 1880 and 1890. In many ways, the cowboys of yesteryear struggled with some of the same issues we currently face and that’s what makes the time period so fascinating to me.

They aren’t paying attention to each other. They’re too intent on the wireless.

For example, technology in the way of telephones and electricity changed the way people lived in the 19th century, just as new technology does today.  The Victorians even had their own Internet.  It was called the telegraph, and this opened-up a whole new world to them.

What, for that matter, is a text message but a telegram, the high cost of which forced people in the past to be brief and to the point?

In the past, our ancestors worried about losing their jobs to machinery.  Today, there’s a real possibility that robots will make us obsolete.

Sears and Roebuck was the Amazon of the Gilded Age. The catalogue featured a wide selection of products at clearly marked prices. No more haggling.  Customers were drawn to the easy-to-read, warm, friendly language used to describe goods, and the catalogue proved an instant success. Our ancestors could even order a house through the catalog and that’s something we can’t do on Amazon.

The Victorians worried about books like we worry about iPhones. We worry about screen time damaging the eyes.  Victorians were certain that the mass rise of books due to printing presses would make everyone blind. 

Then as now, women fought for equal rights.  Our early sisters fought for property ownership, employment opportunities and the right to vote. Women have come a long way since those early days, but challenges still exist, especially in matters of economics and power.

Nothing has changed much in the area of courting

Almost every single I know subscribes to at least one dating site.  These are very similar to the Mail-Order Bride catalogs of yesteryear.

Did our Victorian ancestors worry about climate change?  You bet they did! The Florida Agriculturist published an article addressing the problem in 1890. The article stated: “Most all the states of the union in succession of their settlement have experienced a falling off in their average temperatures of several degrees.  A change from an evenly tempered climate has resulted in long droughts, sudden floods, heavy frost and suffocating heat.”

Nothing much has changed in the world of politics. Today, the Republicans and Democrats are still battling it out, just as they did in the nineteenth century. We still haven’t elected a female president, though Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood tried to change that when she ran in 1884 and again, in 1888.

What about environmental concerns? Today we’re concerned that plastic bags and straws are harming our oceans.  Our Victorian ancestors worried about tomato cans. That’s because a German scientist told the New York Times in 1881 that the careless deposit of tin cans was “bringing the earth closer to the sun and hastening the day of the final and fatal collision.”

During the 1800s, horses were taken to task for messing up the streets.  (Oddly, enough, it was once thought that automobiles were good for the environment.)  Today, cattle are under fire for the methane in their you-know-whats. Oh, boy, I can only imagine how that would have gone over with those old-time ranch owners.

We have Coronavirus, but that’s nothing compared to what our ancestors battled.  The 1894 Hong Kong plague was a major outbreak and became the third pandemic in the world. The rapid outbreak and spread of the plague was caused by infected fleas. Repressive government actions to control the plague led the Pune nationalists to criticize the Chinese publicly. Sound familiar?  The plague killed more than 10 million people in India, alone. 

As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Reading how people in the past survived and, yes, even prospered during tough times inspires me and gives me hope for the future.  I hope it does the same to my readers.

This list is nowhere near complete, but what did you find the most surprising?

Attorney Ben Heywood didn’t expect to get shot on his wedding day–and certainly not by his mail order bride.—Pistol-Packin’ Bride/Mail Order Standoff collection.

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Updated: February 27, 2020 — 10:30 am

A Blast From My Past

In addition to writing, I substitute teach in elementary school. This week is Read Across America, with schools celebrate reading, and particularly, Dr. Seuss. The program is encouraging supporters to take a selfie with their favorite childhood book and post it to social media. I decided to take it one step further and write this month’s blog about my choice.

But before I start talking about that, I must issue a quick apology, because my favorite childhood book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, isn’t western related. For those who don’t know the story, it’s about a selfish, spoiled girl raised in India whose life is overturned when her parents die, forcing her to move to England to live with an uncle she’s never met.

I can’t remember what grade it was in elementary school or who my teacher was, which I truly regret, but one my teachers read The Secret Garden aloud to my class. From the moment she cracked the book open, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for afternoon to arrive so I could head to the English countryside to spend time with poor Mary Lennox. After we finished the story, I bought a copy from Scholastic and reread the book repeatedly.

I loved seeing Mary growing more confident and content as she connected with the moors. Her budding relationship with Dickon captivated me. Even then I possessed the heart of a romance novelists, because I envisioned after the story ended, them living happily ever after on their own land, with a beautiful garden they lovingly tended together, and of course, they were still best friends with Colin. (BTW, I still want to know how their lives turned out. Hmmm. Maybe there’s a western fan fiction story in there!)

The mystery surrounding the cries in Misselthwaite Manor and why everyone insisted Mary was imagining things held me mesmerized. When Mary found her cousin Colin, and they and Dickon started exploring the secret garden, I was there too, sharing in their adventures.

For me, The Secret Garden had it all—romance, mystery, a heroine with a tragic past in need of a home, family, love and belonging. All themes that are intertwined in the books I write today. The Secret Garden hooked me on reading and started me dreaming about writing my own stories.

But how about you? Leave me a comment about your favorite childhood book to be entered to win the snack set and a copy of To Love A Texas Cowboy. Ironically, like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, To Love A Texas Cowboy is my story about a tragically orphaned little girl. Though she’s not the main character, Ella being orphaned, like Mary, sets the story into motion.

Now go. I’m excited to hear about your favorite childhood book and why it means so much to you!

Updated: February 27, 2018 — 8:09 pm

Life is Tough. Read Romance.

Why do I write romance? I haven’t been asked that question as much as I expected, but there’s a simple answer. Life is tough.

I’m sitting at Starbucks staring out the window at the gray, misty world around me, and realize the weather matches my mood. As usual, life and my procrastination means I’m writing this closer to my deadline than I’d hoped, and recent events are weighing heavy on my mind and my heart.

Yup, life is darn tough. Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, et al have wreaked havoc with people’s lives. While those natural disasters are devastating, what truly tears at my heart is what destruction we inflict on each other. When did we get to the point where so many people believe the answer to their problems is violence against their fellow man? Someone cuts you off on my highway? Pull out a gun and shoot ‘em. Gone is a girl about to be a college freshman, along with all the good she could have done in the world. Something not right in your life? Take an arsenal with you to a Las Vegas hotel room and kill fifty-nine people who’ve done absolutely nothing to you. My heart breaks for the lives lost and those irreversibly changed because of the violence we perpetrate on each other.

Which brings me back to why I write romance. When I read, I don’t want to come away depressed. Life has a way of doing that on its own. The lyrics to Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” have run through my head since his death on the heels of the Vegas tragedy. “No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around. And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.” I write romance for the same reason I read it—to keep the world from draggin’ me down.

In my books my characters have been knocked around by life. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, when Cassie’s sister and brother-in-law are killed in a plane crash, she moves from New York to Texas because she become guardian to her niece. In Roping the Rancher, Colt, a single father to a teenage girl who’s left the military, struggles to find purpose and meaning in his life.

I write about characters discovering a strength they never knew they possessed and receiving help when they least expect it, but need it the most. Themes of finding an untraditional family when theirs has failed them time and time again run through my stories. Good always triumphs. The bad guys always get what they deserve in true Western fashion. My characters face life’s difficulties, but receive the reward for facing them and getting through the dark tunnel. At the end they find love, strength and happiness.

So that’s why I write romance—because life is tough. I hope when people read my books they escaped for a little while, and maybe they are filled with hope that they too, can find their happy ending.

Comment and let me know why you read romance to be entered in the drawing to win a Texas Starbucks mug, a gift card and either Roping the Rancher or To Love a Texas Cowboy.

 

Updated: October 3, 2017 — 7:58 pm