The Fillies give a big welcome to Janice Cole Hopkins. She’s a long-time P&P follower and a lover of history as well as historical western romance. Janice writes her own books many of which are series! Now that’s a big Yee-Haw!
As wagon trains began making the trek west, more of the West opened to settlers. The midwestern states were once the frontier to be settled. However, the discovery of gold in California and the rich, fertile land in Oregon brought larger numbers.
To help protect the pioneers against hostile Indians and to give them a trading post along the way, forts were built. Forts Laramie, Bridger, and Hall in what is now Wyoming were constructed of logs, mostly cottonwood. Fort Kearney in Nebraska was built using adobe, sod, logs, and boards. Fort Boise in Idaho first used adobe. Travelers were excited to visit a fort and break the austere, often monotonous life on the trail. Yet, they found the prices outrageous because it cost to transport the goods there.
In my new release, A Few Bumps in the Road, Judith Johnson takes her younger brother and travels along a portion of the Oregon Trail to Kansas as a mail-order bride after their parents die. She meets her intended and his brother at Fort Ferguson, a fictitious fort based on most of the others I researched. Her husband, although handsome and charming, turns out to be a womanizer and has a drinking problem. Judith is determined to make her marriage work, however, and she keeps telling herself her situation could be worse. At least Calvin’s older brother is stable and responsible, providing a home for all of them on the farm. But farm life on the prairie can be hard in 1850, and Calvin’s attitude makes the struggles even worse. But she knew one thing. After the harsh conditions on the Oregon Trail, she never planned to go back, and she hadn’t even gone all the way to Oregon like most of the others were doing.
Although A Few Bumps in the Road is part of the Idioms & Clichés series, like all my books, it can also be read as a standalone. These books are loosely connected by one family’s generations. It is available in print, Audible, and Kindle.
Here’s an excerpt:
Judith’s eyes began to sweep around the fort when she saw a tall man striding their way. Despite his long steps he didn’t appear to be in any hurry to get there.
Mr. Davis took a few steps forward to meet him and extended his hand. Robbie followed Mr. Davis, so Judith did too.
“Good to see you again,” Mr. Davis said. “Allow me to present to you Miss Judith Johnson and her brother Robert, better known as Robbie. Miss Johnson, this is Matthew Miller.”
A momentary flash of surprise flickered over Matthew’s face, but he tipped his hat and nodded. “A pleasure, Miss. Welcome, Robbie. I hope you both will be very happy here.”
She looked around wondering where Calvin could be. She didn’t see another man who fit what she knew of her fiancé.
“Cal woke up not feeling well and needed some extra time. He sent me on out to meet you, but he should be coming along soon.” Matthew must have seen her search.
“I hope nothing’s wrong.”
“No, we came into the fort yesterday evening. Cal woke up with a headache and queasy stomach this morning.”
Judith’s worry deepened, but she didn’t say anything.
“Come and we’ll go over to the building they use for a church. Cal will meet us there.”
You can read more of A Few Bumps in the Road in the Amazon sample and get more information by clicking here.
If anyone would like a free code for an Audible copy for A Few Bumps in the Road, message me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (You must have the free Audible account activated to redeem the code.)
For a chance to win a Kindle copy of A Few Bumps in the Road, what do you think would be ONE of the biggest hazards to living on the Kansas frontier in 1850?
Well, today I’m going to do something that is considered a no-no in the promotional world of books. I’m going to tell you a bit about an older title of mine, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH, which will be coming out in the next few days as a 25th Anniversary book.
Let me explain: This book was originally written for AVON books in 1996-97 and published in 1998 (I think that’s right.) My husband and I were married in 1996 and so in the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with my husband. We had married in a whirlwind and so it was after we were married that we really started to get to know each other.
This is the new cover for the book. The male model, by the way, is Lakota Indian. And, he models under the name of “Lakota.”
In these anniversary books, we are correcting errors made when the book was converted to e-book from the original mass market. There is no plot change or anything like that. It’s just correcting computer errors made in the conversion. Also, I might give the book a few better word choices here and there.
But, it was in the editing of this book that I began to see how much I was (at that time) falling deeper and deeper in love with this man I had married. It’s there in the conversations between White Eagle and the heroine, Katrina. Both of them are changing in regards to each other. More love. More understanding. And, at that time, I guess I couldn’t help but write about how deeply I was in love with this man.
Our courtship (my husband and me) is pretty well illustrated in the first book in this series, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. But this book goes one step further.
So, in ending, I’ll leave the blurb for the book and an excerpt. Hope you’ll enjoy!
WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH
Two worlds. Forbidden love.
Blackfoot Warrior, Book 2
Katrina Wellington is vexed. She must marry to obtain the rest of her inheritance. But her uncle, who left her in New York with a governess to make his fortune out West, has suddenly decided he must approve of her fiancé before he will loosen the purse strings to her dowry.
Swallowing her outrage, the socialite treks to the same wilderness that claimed her parents’ lives years ago. Some small part of her is crestfallen that her uncle is not waiting with open arms. Only three guides, Indian guides, await her, and one of them is far too handsome for his own good.
At first, White Eagle does not like the spoiled, willful niece of the white trader. When he catches a glimpse of the vulnerability behind her prickly exterior, he can’t resist challenging the dazzling beauty to rediscover her true inheritance—the inner strength bequeathed to her by her parents.
Close contact on the trail soon arouses a soul-stirring passion and in its turn, love. But love may not be enough to sustain a relationship that is forbidden in both their worlds.
This book has been previously published.
Warning: Sensuous Romance that contains a captivating passion that could lead to a romantic evening spent in the company of one’s own love.
This is the original cover done for AVON Books. The excerpt is the first meeting between White Eagle and Katrina in the book (and after many years of being apart).
June 25, 1833
“I say, what vision of loveliness descends upon us now? Is she a princess, a queen? Do you think I should bow? Or is she a mere fleeting whiff of my fancy? Oh, dear, I don’t think I can rhyme fancy…can you see?” The Marquess of Leicester chuckled before he put a finger over one nostril, taking a sniff of the powder which he held in a box in his hand. “What do you say, my friends? Am I poetic?”
The marquess’s two friends murmured polite words of agreement at all the appropriate places, while the marquess, pocketing his snuffbox, paced forward to take hold of Katrina’s hand. “Ah, my dear, you look stunning, simply ravishing, rather.”
“Thank you, Lord Leicester.” Katrina suffered her hand to be kissed by lips which looked as though they bore more rouge than her own. She pulled her hand back as quickly as possible, but failed to loosen his grip. “Are we prepared to meet the new guides?”
“Yes, I say,” the marquess replied, setting her hand onto one of his lacy cuffs.
Katrina smiled at him.
“Am I to understand, my dear, that the guides of which you speak are to escort me to yet another fort?”
“Yes, that is correct. My uncle has been delayed, and he asks that you join him at a place called Fort McKenzie. The scouts are to take you safely to him.”
“Quite unusual, wouldn’t you say? But I must ask you: The hunting, is there good hunting at this fort? After all, mustn’t disappoint the dogs, don’t you know? Brought the hounds all this way to hunt, and hunt we shall. Why, do you know that I have met the most interesting fellow, a Mr. Hamilton, although I don’t believe that Hamilton is his real name. A right good sort of chap. English, I say. Says he has been here at this fort for several years. Seems to like it here, though he does appear to hate Indians.”
“Yes, rather. Well, now, come along, my dear. Mr. McKenzie informs me that his clerk is awaiting us outside the house here to escort us to the guides on the other side of the gate. A monstrous proposal, I must say. That is why I have asked Mr. Hamilton to make the introductions. I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by Mr. McKenzie’s manners. A clerk to see to us, indeed. Ah, here is Mr. Hamilton now. Come along, my dear. Let us get these introductions over with.”
“Yes,” said Katrina, “let us.”
And with little more said, she allowed Mr. Hamilton and the marquess to lead her out into the sunshine of a new day. That the marquess’s friends followed the three of them wherever they went, that the marquess’s men kept murmuring always agreeable tidbits concerning Lord Leicester’s undoubtedly brilliant humor, did little more than annoy her.
At least for now.
McKenzie’s clerk, Thomas, was waiting for their entire party just outside the gate. And what a party they made. Not only were the marquess, his two friends and Hamilton in their group, somehow the marquess’s dogs, barking loudly, had joined them.
“Come this way, Gov’nor, the men ’ee seek are by the wall over thyar,” Thomas said.
“Over thyar, do ’ee not see?”
Conversation ceased, replaced with silence. Dead silence.
Their entire entourage, even the dogs, stopped completely still. No one said a word; no one moved. Then the dogs started to whine, and the shuffle of feet could be heard—moving away.
It was he, the Indian she had glimpsed from the boat, along with a few companions.
“Why, Thomas,” said one of the men, “they are—”
Now, it wasn’t as though their party had never seen an Indian until this moment, nor was it possible that anyone in this party had thought never to encounter an Indian in this country. After all, they had glimpsed enough of the native population from the steamboat as it had made its way up the Missouri.
But never had the people in this group seen primitives such as these—at least not so close to their own person. Warriors, all, were these savages and, by the looks of the heathens, dangerous.
But Katrina stared at none other than him.
She opened her mouth as though to utter something…some scathing comment, perhaps. But when no words issued forth, she closed her lips.
“This one hyar’s name’s White Eagle.” Only Thomas seemed able to speak. “Them three behind him are Night Thunder and Good Dancer. The woman is married to Good Dancer, near as this ole coot can tell. Blackfeet, they are. Gov’nor?”
“Indians?” This from Katrina, at last, her glance never wavering from him.
“Yes, ma’am. But they’ll get ’ee through Blackfoot country all safe. They knows the way.”
“He goes too far!” She glanced toward the clerk.
“My uncle goes too far this time.”
“You tell the man,” the marquess spoke up from behind her. “Yes, my dear, tell the man.”
Katrina gazed over her shoulder. The marquess had positioned himself to her rear, his own men standing, as though in a line, behind him.
“Does your uncle not think favorably of you, Miss Wellington?” This from Hamilton, who seemed as dumbfounded as the rest.
She ignored the Englishman, glancing instead at him, the Indian, the same one who had so disturbed her thoughts, the one called… “What is this man’s name again, Thomas?”
“This one hyar, ma’am? He’s White Eagle. He’s their leader, near as I can tell, a chief maybe.”
White Eagle. So, that was his name. Katrina stared at the Indian. He, back at her. The man looked dangerous—foreign, frightening…handsome. Handsome?
He still wore no shirt, exposing to her view that muscular chest she had glimpsed the previous day. And she would have looked at it, at him, had she been of the mind. But she wasn’t.
She swallowed with difficulty and, allowing her gaze to drop no farther than the bridge of the Indian’s nose, asked of him, “Does my uncle bring word to me?”
The Indian just stared at her. No grin, no recognition of her, no intimation that he had seen her, too, the previous day—nothing, not even an acknowledgment that she had spoken.
She raised her chin. “Do these Indians not speak English, Thomas?”
“Guess they do well enough, ma’am. They been tradin’ with us long enough now to have learnt it. But ’ee is a woman. No Blackfeet is goin’ to speak to ’ee b’cause of that, beg pardon.”
Katrina looked at the Indian from down the end of her nose. She said, “Then ask him for me if he brings me word of my uncle.”
Thomas stepped up to her side. “Very well, ma’am. ’Ee heard her, Injun. Does the lady’s uncle send word?”
The Indian didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t even shift his weight. He just stared, his glance never wavering from her.
“Speak up there, you primitive animal,” Hamilton demanded.
None of the three Indians, and especially not White Eagle, paid the Englishman the least attention.
“Are ’ee sent here from the woman’s uncle?”
Nothing. No response at all, until, at last, piercing Katrina with his glance, the Indian said, “I have news for the woman alone.” Oddly enough, the man spoke in unbroken English and, Katrina noted, his voice, low and baritone, was peculiarly pleasant, almost melodic.
“Alone?” Hamilton again spoke up from a safe distance away. “Is the Indian mad? Does he presume to think we would leave the lady unaccompanied with him, so filthy a creature as he is?”
The Indian didn’t move a muscle, nor did he indicate in any way that he’d even heard Hamilton’s comments.
Katrina stepped forward, away from the crowd. Glancing around behind her, she ordered, “Leave us.”
“What?” This from all five men.
“Leave us, but take this man’s Indian friends with you. I will do as he asks and speak with him, but only with him. Here, Mr. Hamilton, give me your pistol that I may defend myself, if I must.”
“But milady,” Hamilton protested, “surely you can’t mean to—”
“Mr. Hamilton, your pistol, please.”
The Englishman looked as though he might protest further, though he nevertheless pulled the weapon from his coat and handed it to Katrina.
“Leave us.” Again she addressed the men who remained behind her without turning toward them. “I warn you, Indian,” she said confidently, “I can use this firearm Mr. Hamilton has given me as skillfully as any man. So do not think me defenseless that you might take advantage of me.”
The Indian said nothing, nor did he give her any sort of acknowledgment, not even by the bend of his head or a flicker of emotion across his features.
Katrina listened to the fading footsteps of the men behind her. After a nod from White Eagle, the Indian’s two companions followed.
The deference shown to this man did not escape her notice, but when she spoke, she made no mention of it, saying only, “What you ask is highly irregular and impolite. Hear me now, Indian, I am humoring you only because I wish to know what my uncle has to say. That is all.”
Glancing directly at her, he replied, “I will speak to the white woman only within the walls of the fort.”
“You will not,” Katrina countered. “You asked for an audience with me alone. You have it now.”
The Indian didn’t utter another word, just gave her a peculiar look and made to move away from her.
She reached out, grabbing at his arm, effectively staying him. He glanced down at her hand as it lay upon his arm, then back up at her. Something…some little excitement passed between them as they stared at one another, the intensity causing Katrina’s knees to buckle. Several moments passed as they stood there, sizing one another up.
At last, Katrina stuck out her chin and asked, “Who do you think you are, Indian, that you gape at me? Do you not know it is impolite to do so? Now, you will tell me what it is you have to say to me, right here and now…or not at all. Do I make myself clear to you?”
The Indian had become perfectly still as she spoke; his gaze roamed from the top of her bonnet to the very bottom of her skirts. Katrina watched him, ignoring the tingling sensation which spread throughout her nervous system. Fear, she supposed.
Odd, too, but she noticed he smelled good: of wood and smoke, of grass and mint—she had heard that the Indians chewed the leaves of the mint plant to stave off hunger, as well as to scent their breath.
His skin felt warm, too, moist and…strange, there was no hair upon the flesh of his arm where she touched him.
He was close to her, too close. The wind suddenly blew a lock of his long raven hair over her hand where she still touched him. The feel of those strands against her skin was fleeting, sensual, its effect sending shivers through her body.
She glanced up, startled, and wondered if the Indian had felt it, too, this strange sensation, but his expression revealed nothing.
She didn’t know how it was possible, yet she considered this man, this Indian, handsome almost beyond belief, in a primitive sort of way, of course. Not a man she would ever admit to being attracted to, particularly since he was nothing more than one of the savages that this country produced. And yet, she couldn’t help but admire the straight, imposing figure he cut as she looked up to where he stood over her. With his shoulders back, displaying his sculptured form, he looked as though he were a work of art, not a person of substance.
Something within her reached out to him, and she felt as though she knew him, his thoughts, his passions. It was as though there were a part of him that matched her perfectly…
She gave herself a shake. What was wrong with her? This was not the first time she’d felt as if there were something between them. It had happened the first time she’d glimpsed him, there from the boat…
She stared up at him then, in silent challenge, if only to purge this sensation from her consciousness. Yet, all the while, her touch upon his arm never relinquished its hold. His eyes were black, she noted, the darkest eyes she had ever seen, and they revealed nothing.
Suddenly, his look turned sardonic, and he broke eye contact with her, pulling his arm back, out and away from her grasp.
He turned from her then, suddenly and without warning. He began walking away from her at a steady gait, following on the footfalls of the other men. The Indian was treading, it would appear, toward the main entrance of the fort.
Katrina stood still for several moments, watching him, until she suddenly realized what he was doing. This man—this mere Indian—was defying her. She had made demands of him; he had told her nothing. Nothing!
Somehow this fact disturbed her more than any other detail she had observed about him. Blast!
She had to try to detain him. She took one step forward, and called out, “It was you who demanded to speak to me alone, Indian.”
No response, not even a catch in his stride.
“If you wish to talk to me, do it now, for I will not see you once we are in the fort.”
The man didn’t turn around, nor did he say or do anything further, except to present her with the view of his backside as he continued to walk away. She should have been appalled by the man’s bad manners and by his dress, or rather, its lack thereof. In truth, she was…almost.
She watched him, his lean, sculpted figure an unusually strange and exciting sight. And then she saw it, the man’s breechcloth fell apart from the outline of his leggings now and again, presenting her with an occasional view of a portion of hard, muscular buttocks.
Katrina was almost struck dumb with the observation. Never, not once in her life, had she ever witnessed so much of a man’s anatomy.
How utterly heathen. How primitive.
She didn’t, however, glance away. “I won’t meet with you,” she announced again. “And that’s my final word on the subject.”
Her challenge had no effect on the Indian’s actions.
Katrina was fuming. She felt like shouting at the man; she felt like pummeling him, but she refused to reduce herself to a show of temper.
She did, however, stamp her foot. The insolent barbarian. And to think she had been admiring his looks.
She picked up the front of her skirt, her white petticoats contrasting oddly with the brown of the earth beneath her feet. She would follow that Indian back into the fort. Not because she had to, she reminded herself. After all, she was residing within the walls of the fort. She had a right to be there. This Indian did not.
Oh, but she didn’t like this. It was she who should be the person putting forth demands. It was she, not this man, White Eagle, who was the civilized one here, the more intelligent one.
So why was she the one left staring after him?
Well, it made no difference. There was at least one action she would take as soon as she met with this man: She would ensure he would hear her opinions of him and his insolence—that is, if she met with him.
She wasn’t certain at this moment that she would even permit the man an interview. There must be some other way of soliciting news of her uncle.
The Indian turned around at that exact moment, catching her staring at him, and goodness, but it looked as though he smiled at her. Did he know her thoughts? Could he see her frustration? Worse yet, had he felt her gaze upon that more intimate portion of his anatomy?
How dare he! Oh, what a wicked, wicked man!
She threw back her head and thrust out her chin. Ah, but it would please her to tell this Indian what she thought of him…and soon!
Make no mistake.
White Eagle turned his back on the woman and walked away from her, a grin tugging up the corners of his mouth.
In truth, he had enjoyed the confrontation with Shines Like Moonlight…but he would never let her know it. Not when she had dared to try to command him, a Blackfoot warrior. Such was the height of bad manners.
Yet, he could appreciate her spirit, her courage in confronting him when even the men who had surrounded her had shied away from him. Too, he acknowledged her unusual beauty; in truth, she had overwhelmed him with the allure of her feminine charm, more pleasing in close proximity than from a distance. He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her, hear the silvery timbre of her voice, and if it hadn’t been for her lack of manners…
Certainly, she was fairer than he’d anticipated she would be, but this wasn’t what bothered him about her. No, it was her touch, the simple graze of her hand upon his arm. With that touch…
He grimaced. And he wondered if she knew she had stirred something to life within him, something sweet, something carnal, something completely sexual. It was one of the reasons he had turned his back on her—that, and her insolence.
Hánnia! He should have more control. He was not some young boy, unable to control the physical urges of his body; and yet, even now he could feel the result of her effect on him down there in the junction between his legs. It was good that he had left her before his physical reaction to her became more pronounced.
Did she remember him?
A picture flashed in his mind, an image of a child, frightened and crying, clinging to him as he had hung onto the crest of a hill, both he and the child watching the gushing floodwaters rush past them, its danger only a short distance away. He had almost lost her in those waters.
He remembered again that he had clasped her to him then, whispering to her, giving her as much comfort as he was able, until long after the danger had passed. But that had been much too long ago. They had both been different people then, children.
That the child in her had grown up was evident. That she had reached adulthood without the guidance of a mother or a father to point out the necessity of courtesy and good manners was even more conspicuous.
Would she remember him given more time?
White Eagle thought back to the world he had known so long ago, to the people he had befriended, to a little white girl he had admired—a girl with yellowish-gold hair—to the child’s father and her mother.
They had perished, her parents. The girl had barely survived, and her father’s brother had sent her away long ago.
So, her uncle had been right about her. The woman he had met today was spoiled, a person completely devoid of maidenly gentleness. She spoke when not asked, demanded when a man’s mind was already settled; in truth, her spirit towered over the white men who had accompanied her.
Did she rise above these men because she had bullied them into submission with the same womanly harping and angry tongue she had shown to him? Or was she merely stronger-willed than they?
Whatever the reason, White Eagle despaired of the intervening years since he had last seen her.
If he reminded her of it, would she remember?
It was doubtful. She had been before the age when a child comes into its senses, and he had been no more than a young boy. He’d kept a lonely girl company during those times when her father and uncle had journeyed to his tribe on trading excursions. If he told her what he knew of her, of her family, would any good come from it?
He did not think so. This person he had observed today had been as someone alien to him—certainly not the girl he had remembered…had once known.
In truth, he had caught her looking upon him with not only a womanly sort of attention, but with contempt, the same sort of foreign attitude that White Eagle had witnessed upon the countenance of the white man.
He didn’t like it.
No, it was better that he keep what he knew of her to himself. It was apparent she did not recall her life before the white man’s world, and he was certain she would not care to hear what he had to say to her.
So be it.
He entered the fort, taking his place amongst his friends. Good Dancer’s wife had already started setting up their camping lodges in the area surrounding the fort’s flagpole. One for himself and Night Thunder, the other for herself and her husband, Good Dancer. That Good Dancer’s new wife had demanded to accompany them on their journey did not bother White Eagle, nor did it seem strange to him.
The young couple had just been married, after an unusually long courtship. Of course they would want to be together now. Such was to be understood. Such were the ways of married people.
Besides, he’d wanted a woman along to keep Shines Like Moonlight company and to provide her with a chaperone. White Eagle grimaced as he adjusted his breechcloth, certain Shines Like Moonlight would need that chaperone.
He glanced around him, at his place within the fort. He had noticed, when he had first come here, that several half-breed hunters resided within the tepees around the flagpole. This seemed only right to White Eagle; that these half-white, half-Indian men chose to live not in the square, wooden houses of the white man, but rather in the more comfortable lodges of his own people.
At least this is how it appeared to White Eagle.
He could not know, nor would he understand that to some within the fort, the mixed-bloods were not on an equal footing with the more European breed of men, that such would not be allowed the right to live in the square, wooden houses.
And so, not knowing, White Eagle settled down, content for the moment, to initiate the necessary chores needed for the return journey to Fort McKenzie. Indeed, the time consumed in fashioning arrowheads, making a new shield and manufacturing a new spear was time well spent.
He was certain that Shines Like Moonlight would delay a meeting with him for as long as she was able. This didn’t bother him. Why should it? Time was not an enemy to him, and White Eagle was full-blooded Indian; he was a patient man.
He smiled. Perhaps here was something else he could admire about this woman: She had a stubborn strength of character. And this was good.
She would not be one to come a cropper in an emergency. Such people were few. Such people were valuable.
He shrugged. Whatever the case, his next few days within this fort promised to be far from dull.
Well, that’s all for now. Look for the book in a few days. At present, it’s undergoing the final proof reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and this is the cover to the left is the cover of the book currently up at Amazon. This cover was done when I was writing for Samhain Publishing.
Indeed, all of these covers have a special place in my heart. I am, however, extremely drawn to the new cover. Hope you’ll like it, too.
We all know what an anvil is but do we all know what an anvil does? There’s that flat top and it’s heavy. Beyond that, we don’t know much. But all those curves, the pointy nose–called a horn, there are significant holes located here and there.
They all mean something.
I watched a blacksmith work at a living history day at a nearby restored fort. Fort Atkinson in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. Do NOT ask me why the town isn’t called Fort Atkinson, too.
It was just so interesting. He kept bending things. I just loved watching him and, there were three blacksmiths and they seemed to love talking about their passion for the historically accurate reenactment of their hobby.
The man standing there was one of the blacksmiths but what I wanted to talk about in this picture is the wall of tools. There were dozens of them. Tongs and hammers. Strangely shaped things that iron could be hammered on and bend around. And a blacksmith makes all his own tools, I was told.
More shapes. Heavy iron circles that looked like links in a massive chain. Tongs of every size and shape.
This man in the front is another blacksmith.
He said he’s mostly retired now. He talked a lot to me.
Beside him is a clamp or vise. He had many sizes of vises, too.
This pan really interested me. I don’t know if you can see it, but there is a hinge on the handle.
This way a cowboy can carry a frying pan more easily in his saddle bags, because he can fold the handle over.
At the end of the handle it’s a circle and a cowboy can shove a stick in there so the pan gets hot and he doesn’t burn his fingers.
Beside the pan were other things a blacksmith makes, spoons, ladles and spatulas.
When I said, “What about horseshoes?” They said blacksmiths didn’t even make horseshoes. That was the job of a farrier.
My blacksmith in my book is going to also be the town farrier.
He might be the town wheelwright and the town cooper, too.
A cooper makes wooden buckets, butter churns and barrels. There was a cooper there at the living history day, too. Hard at work.
I took this picture over my head.
Those iron bars up there in many shapes and lengths and weights, are the raw material for the blacksmith’s work.
They also worked with sheets of iron.
That skillet i had a picture of…above was made by bending a sheet. he could also punch holes in iron and cut shapes.
The guy farthest left was working the whole time he talked, the whole time anybody talked.
He was so knowledgeable it was humbling.
My book is going to be better for spending an hour with these guys.
They move into a restored Fort Atkinson for the weekend.
They sleep and eat there, dress in historically accurate clothes and just live the life of a frontiersman
for most of the weekends of the summer.
Overhead, I don’t know if you can quite see it but it’s a bellows.
The rope hanging down is easily reached by the blacksmith.
He pulls, releases, pulls, releases…he does it over and over.
The flames in the forge get bigger and the iron he’s laid into the fire turns red hot, then white hot.
I knew there was a bellows but I didn’t quite have it pictured.
The bellows was almost the first thing I noticed and it was so interesting looking at it.
And here is your intrepid blacksmith in training (okay, blacksmith KNOWLEDGE in training.
I’m not actually getting really close to that red hot iron.
I’m standing in this handy pictures frame. I also learned there is a timer on my phone and how to use it. Surprise!
Yep, I’m putting a blacksmith in my book. A WOMAN blacksmith.
Honestly the work that blacksmith was doing wasn’t overly HEAVY work.
Rods or iron, the hammer wasn’t huge. A woman could do it.
The blacksmith at the fort said a farrier…shoe-ing horses did much more heavy work so I’m not sure how I’m going to make her do that.
This is all for my next book. I have a current release that is brand new!
Falling for someone who doesn’t want to get married is soon be the least of Wyatt Hunt’s concerns.
While his brothers and their new wives search for who shot him, Wyatt is temporarily bedridden and completely miserable. Somehow Molly Garner’s limited skills have made her the most qualified in their circle to care for Wyatt. But by the time he’s healed, she’s fed up with him and the whole ungrateful family. For even worse than his grumpiness were the few unguarded moments when he pulled at her heartstrings, and she has been long determined to never repeat her mother’s mistakes.
When alternate plans of finding her own independent life fall through, Molly volunteers to work for the Pinkertons and help investigate nearby ranch owner Oliver Hawkins. She signs on to be his housekeeper, hoping to find clues to prove his nefarious, and possibly murderous, past. Wyatt refuses to let her risk it alone and offers to act as Hawkins’s new foreman.
But when another Pinkerton agent gets shot, they realize Hawkins isn’t the only danger. The Hunt brothers will have to band together to face all the troubles of life and love that suddenly surround them.
The heroes in my two-book connected series, THE MERCENARY’S KISS and HER LONE PROTECTOR, are soldiers. Mercenaries, specifically. They were soldiers for hire who commanded a handsome price from the War Department to fight for America’s freedoms in their own way. Undercover, nonconforming, but no less effective.
Both educated in West Point Military Academy, their dreams to be a soldier in the traditional sense fall apart, but they remain fierce patriots. They travel throughout the world to fight with skills and daring few soldiers could imagine. Their life isn’t easy–or safe. They battle betrayal, harsh environments, malaria . . . and emerge victorious.
Soldiers throughout the nineteenth century didn’t have it any easier. Worse, most likely. Oh, my, many of these soldiers were young. Late teens, fresh-faced, and eager to serve. It wasn’t long before their determination is tested, for sure.
A typical routine for a calvary on the march would be like this:
4:45 am – First Call. No hitting the snooze button. Soldiers had to get up and moving NOW.
4:55 am – Reveille and Stable Call. They came to order, saddled the horses, and harnessed the mules.
5:00 am – Mess Call. Breakfast, both prepared and eaten.
5:30 am – Strike Camp – meaning take down tents and store equipment.
5:45 am – Boots & Saddles – the soldiers mount up.
5:55 am – Fall In – Calvary is assembled and ready to march.
6:00 am – Forward March!
An hour and fifteen minutes to accomplish all this! No dawdling allowed.
Some days, they traveled thirty, maybe sixty miles. Imagine sitting in the saddle that long! The men rode in columns of four when the terrain allowed. Single file, if it didn’t. If the wind and snow blew hard, they rode hunched in the saddle, their eyes slitted against the stinging wind, their hats pulled low over their eyes.
At night, they might have to sleep on snow. If they didn’t die of pneumonia, frostbite and gangrene often set in, and Army surgeons chopped off blackened fingers and toes. In the South, the heat was brutal, water scarce, and the flying insects merciless. The feared threat of an Indian attack was constant.
Fresh meat was in short supply. Soldiers reported the meat putrid and “sticky”. Yuck! Clean water was a precious commodity, too. Soldiers suffering extreme thirst desperately drank water wherever they could find it, even if it was green with slime, which only brought on instantaneous vomiting when they were already weak and dehydrated.
Even if decent water could be found, their canteens were lacking.
Wooden canteens tended to leak and/or dry out.
The water in India rubber canteens tasted terrible.
Tin canteens were probably best, but in extreme heat, the water got hot.
If a soldier was pulled out of the field and ordered to a post, amenities were minimal. Barracks at a fort were small, overcrowded, poorly constructed, poorly ventilated, cold in winter and hot in summer. Privacy was non-existent for most. Privies were outside and bathhouses rare. In fact, despite the War Department’s stipulation that the men should bathe at least once a week, one officer reported that after 30 years in the Army, not once had he seen a bathhouse at a fort.
Still, not every soldier thought his time in service to his country was endlessly miserable. One young lieutenant wrote his mother, “I could live such a life for years and years without becoming tired of it. There is a great deal of hardship, but we have our own fun. If we have to get up and start long before daybreak, we make up for it when we gather around campfires at night. You never saw such a merry set as we are–we criticize the Generals, laugh and swear at the mustangs and volunteers, smoke our cigars and drink our brandy, when we have any.”
I like his attitude, don’t you?
What is the farthest you’ve ever traveled? Have you ever had a miserable trip?
A number of years ago, to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I traveled to Cape Cod in the fall, hopeful to see the beautiful colors. Alas, it had been too warm and rainy that year, and we didn’t see a SINGLE leaf that had turned color. Worse, on the way home, more stormy weather cancelled flights, and we were forced to spend the night at the Boston airport. I can still remember those creaky cots they gave us to sleep on. Although my husband slept, I couldn’t relax out of fear someone would steal our luggage. I was in tears checking my watch constantly. I can’t remember being more miserable, and that night is still vivid in my memory.
Let’s chat, and I’ll give away an ebook copy of THE MERCENARY’S KISS to a winning commenter.
Please join me in welcoming guest author Krystal Anderson to the Junction.
There’s something about standing in front an old western fort that brings that bygone era to life. The chipped stone walls and thick timbers tell a story of conflicts withstood, the battlements and gun ports atop eighteen-foot walls a sense of strength and security.
For many traveling through America’s untamed west, forts were among the only places of safety from Indian attack and harsh elements and were utilized by mail carriers, stagecoach operators, and weary travelers alike. Some, such as Fort Vancouver in Washington, weren’t even established with defense in mind, but industry and commerce. Others served as way stations along main travel routes, such as Fort Benton along the Missouri River in central Montana, or Fort Bridger, Wyoming, which became a vital resupply point for those traveling the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.
In my little corner of Utah there are plenty of old forts to explore, some only remains of crumbled stone wall, that were constructed to protect the herds and homes of local settlers during the Black Hawk War (1865-1870). Recently I took my children to explore historic Cove Fort in central Utah and boy, did it fuel my imagination! Details from that visit will likely carry into many of my future stories.
Cove Fort is rectangular in shape and made of volcanic rock with six rooms on each of the long sides, each with its own chimney. A central courtyard opens in the center, and when those thick wood doors were closed, I don’t see how anything or anyone could have gotten through. Just outside the fort, which also served as a ranch, was a bunkhouse, vegetable garden, ice house, blacksmith shop, derrick, livestock barn, and supply store. It was to imagine how people were able to labor and live in such a place, but I’m certain it was immensely difficult. The women spun their own thread and fashioned rugs and blankets on a loom, scrubbed the laundry, and tended to the fort’s guests in addition to their own families. Years of harsh winters were spent enveloped in the fort’s cold stone walls. Do you think you would have possessed the fortitude to live in a remote, rugged western fort without many of the comforts of the day?
With that fort in mind, I created a fictional fort on the coast of Oregon for my latest story titled Her Keeper’s Heart. Fort Donnelly, I called it, stationed somewhere in Tillamook County. The book’s heroine, a mail-order bride named Orissa, is making her way to the Oregon coast from Connecticut via sailing around Cape Horn when catastrophe strikes. I won’t divulge the details (no spoilers here!), but she and the sailors find sanctuary at industrious Fort Donnelly. And that’s not all she finds there…
I’d like to give away a signed paperback copy of Her Keeper’s Heart to one of you lovely people. To enter, tell me something you couldn’t live without should you have been called upon to man an old western fort. I look forward to reading your responses, and thank.
HER KEEPER’S HEART
Living as the assistant keeper at the Puffin Point lighthouse for four years, Leonard Tarby admires everything about his coastal home: sweeping ocean seascapes, lush, tangled forests, and unobstructed views of the stars he enjoys charting. There was only one thing Leonard would change, and that is the absence of a loving bride by his side. Certain the only way to achieve that goal is to send for a bride through the mail, Leonard sits back to wait for her arrival, dreaming of a life of wedded bliss soon to come.
The young lady is soon on her way to Puffin Point but goes missing en route. Is there foul play involved or did she simply get cold feet? Will Leonard ever have a bride of his own?
Find out in this sweet historical romance full of dangers, intrigue, and love, all beneath the ever-watchful beam of a Pacific lighthouse.
AND WHEREVER EBOOKS ARE SOLD, THIS ONE IS SOLD FOR
FREE FREE FREE.
Just so you all know there are always new generations coming up that like all things western!
Case in point, my granddaughter. This is cut from a video–which I could NOT get to load on here, and in it she says, among other things YEEHAW.
I’ve watched it about fifty times already. She’s 19 months old and talking up a storm.
Now that I’ve given you all a free books.
And let you see my beautiful granddaughter (as if that isn’t enough!!!)
I had an outing this week, not so usual anymore. I went to Fort Randall in Pickstown, South Dakota.
Some of these old forts are preserved, some are all new and reconstructed.
This one is largely gone.
Almost all that’s there are these sign posts telling about what was located at each spot.
The signs covered all the main points about the fort. What women’s roles were.
Some were officer’s wifes. Some were employed there. The picture within my picture shows a snapshot of life for women at the fort.
How they got supplies…which, being right along the Missouri River, well duh, send supplies up the river. Except the Missouri River, that far north, was unnavigate-able during parts of the years. And the river was very broad and shallow, often with sandbars just barely under the surface, easy for ships to run aground.
We walked a half mile circuit around the edge of the parade grounds and saw signs like this. And there was foundation stone left here and there, or depressions in the earth.
Funny to think how close the soldiers lived to the commanders and yet they lived very differently. The commander, and the lower ranked officers, in much nicer digs than the rank and file.
They needed medical care and not just for injuries in battle. The lost a large group of soldiers the first year to scurvy. Meanwhile the native people around them, mainly the Sioux Indians, found, with no scientific or medical help, a well rounded diet on land the soldiers were surrounded by.
I hope you can enlarge these pictures to see them well. Read them. When I go to a museum, I want to READ. I want to see what it’s all about, set it in history. That’s what I love. So signs about the bakery, the doctor, what the soldiers did for fun, how they lived, are perfect for me. Maybe better than the buildings. I found it solemn and fascinating and a little big spooky.
Being blessed with a vivid imagination, I can see the soldiers marching around. Feel them overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter. Wonder how women coped with all the hard work they had to do…and do it all wearing a skirt.
It was a wonderful, if madly hot, day.
The only building still standing was a church
My day at Fort Randall. Do you go to museums? I actually love them, though it seems like I do most of my research online these days.
I came away with story ideas, but also I felt like everything I learned and saw and imagined helps ground my stories in how things really were back then. And hopefully that brings my work authenticity rooted in solid research.
Tell me about your favorite museum. And go grab a free book!
Are you familiar with Fort Bridger? While it’s not as famous as Fort Laramie on the opposite side of the state, Fort Bridger has a colorful history that includes disputes over ownership, being burned, contributing to the creation of Wyoming’s first millionaire, and a somewhat surprising use in the early twentieth century. If you don’t believe me, the large sign that greets visitors to the museum depicts the various eras of the fort’s history.
It all started in 1843 when Mountain Man Jim Bridger and his partner Louis Vasquez decided to establish a trading post in what is now southwestern Wyoming. Realizing that emigrants traveling the Oregon/California and Mormon Trails would need supplies, Bridger and Vasquez cobbled together a modest fort whose blacksmith’s shop was perhaps more valuable to the pioneers than the limited supplies available in the fort’s store.
When Mormon pioneers arrived in the valley four years after Bridger built his fort and found the store’s prices exorbitant, tensions began to rise between the settlers and Bridger. These culminated in the Mormons’ accusing Bridger of violating federal law by selling both ammunition and liquor to the native Americans. Unwilling to be arrested, when Bridger learned that the Mormon militia were coming after him, he fled, and the Mormons assumed control of the fort until 1857 when they burned it to prevent the United States Army from seizing control during what is sometimes called the Utah War.
A year later, the Army reestablished Fort Bridger, giving control of the commercial aspects of the fort to Judge William Alexander Carter. That proved to be a profitable association for Carter, who as sutler (fort trader) became Wyoming’s first millionaire, but the benefits were not only financial. When he rebuilt the fort, Carter established Wyoming’s first schoolhouse so that his children – both boys and girls – could be educated, and the education was so complete that students were readily accepted into Eastern colleges.
The site was an active Army fort until 1878, when it was closed for two years. After it reopened in 1880, it remained open until its final closure in 1890. As you can see from the picture of the commanding officer’s home, the late nineteenth century fort bore little resemblance to Bridger’s trading post.
Lincoln Highway Stop
Although many of the fort’s buildings were sold and dismantled, its history did not end in 1890. With the advent of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road of the automobile era, the area around Fort Bridger had a new purpose: serving travelers. As someone who enjoys traveling by car, I’ll admit that the “garage camp cabins” were my favorite part of this trip. Not only did I find their bright orange color eye-catching, but I was intrigued by the fact that the garages were right next to the cabins themselves. The dark spots next to the doors are the garages.
As you might expect from the era (this was the 1930s), the interior was less appealing. While there was heat and electric light, you’ll notice the lack of running water. No wonder they called it a camp. Still, these cabins must have felt like pure luxury compared to sleeping in a tent.
So, what does all this have to do with my latest release? Absolutely nothing. Out of the Embers takes place in the Texas Hill Country with not an Army fort or garage camp cabin in sight. The heroine’s an orphan who winds up opening a restaurant, while the hero raises some of the finest quarter horses in the state but dreams of a very different life.
Does fort life intrigue you? Have you ever toured any of these old forts? I’m offering a signed copy to one person who comments. (Giveaway rules apply.)
A young woman with a tragic past has arrived in town . . . and trouble is following close behind
Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds shelter in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.
At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?
Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.
Amanda Cabot’s dream of selling a book before her thirtieth birthday came true, and she’s now the author of more than thirty-five novels as well as eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city. Her inspirational romances have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, have garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and have been nominated for the ACFW Carol, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers Best awards. A popular workshop presenter, Amanda takes pleasure in helping other writers achieve their dreams of publication.