Are you a road trip person? In late 2021 my husband started thinking about the epic summer vacation he wanted to take in 2022.
I am a person who thrives on routines. But our kids are at a fun age for travel now and so I couldn’t say no. And thus the epic trip was on.
We flew to Vegas (didn’t stay there) and spent a day driving to the Grand Canyon. It was epic thing #1. Then we drove to Sequoia National Park and stayed a few days. Drove to Yosemite and stayed a few days. Then drove to the coast. It was a lot of driving.
But it was probably the most fun we’ve had on a road trip. My older kids love to read. They also watch movies in the car. And sometimes create their own imaginary adventures. And sometimes annoy each other!
We’ve had much more challenging road trips (including a two-day trip to Florida with three under age 5). Can you imagine a months-long road trip? My new series Wagon Train Matches takes place on a journey from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It took approximately five months. Pioneers walks most of the way while oxen or horses pulled wagons full of their belongings. It was hot, cold, rainy, stormy, and everything in between.
And some people did it with small children. I am writing these books and still finding it difficult to imagine just what they endured.
My new series starts with A TRAIL SO LONESOME. What it’s about:
Spending five months eating trail dust wasn’t Leo Spencer’s first choice. Or his second. He’s not one to run away, but some situations can’t be fixed and his family—two brothers and a sister—needs to start over. Which is how he finds himself on a westbound wagon train.
Evangeline has a secret, one that has sent her on a journey across the plains on the Oregon Trail. When her father is badly hurt and she needs help, Leo is there. A deal is struck and the two unlikely friends form an alliance… that leads to more.
But Evangeline’s secret looms over her… and Leo’s family troubles are far from over.
I would love to give away a $10 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of A TRAIL SO LONESOME. Leave me a comment and tell me about your best or worst road trip.
Thanks for chatting today! -Lacy
Lacy Williams wishes her writing career was more like what you see on Hallmark movies: dreamy brainstorming from a French chateau or a few minutes at the computer in a million-dollar New York City penthouse. In reality, she’s up before the sun, putting words on the page before her kids wake up for the day. Those early-morning and late-night writing sessions add up, and Lacy has published fifty books in almost a decade, first with a big five publisher and then as an indie author. When she needs to refill the well, you can find Lacy birdwatching, gardening, biking with the kiddos, or walking the dog. Find tons of bonus scenes and reader extras by becoming a VIP reader at http://www.lacywilliams.net/vip.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, an actress was considered little more than a prostitute. In the mid-19th century, attitudes began to change. It became popular among the wealthy to entertain leading actors and actresses.
The life of actors and actresses was difficult, requiring great physical stamina. In addition to a grueling performance schedule, actors had to withstand stagecoach, early riverboat travel, and makeshift lodgings. Actors often rehearsed three plays a day and then prepared for the night’s performance. By the Civil War, the season was varied and demanding. A season could consist of 40 to 130 plays, changing nightly. Utility actors in a company might be expected to know over 100 parts. The famous actress Charlotte Cushman could offer 200 different lead roles. Actors often had only two days or overnight to learn a new script.
In the antebellum period, beginning actors’ salaries ranged from $3 to $6 per week; utility players’ salaries from $7 to $15 per week; “walking” ladies and gentlemen, $15 to $30; and lead actors earned anywhere from $35 to $100 per week. Traveling stars could command $150 to $500 per 7- to 10-day engagement, plus one or more benefits. Except for the lowest ranks of actors, salaries were good at this time, especially for women, though they were paid less than men in comparable roles and must furnish their own costumes.
Many 19th-century actors and actresses came from theatrical backgrounds and started as child actors. “Child stars are an American tradition…but no period surpasses the mid-1800s for the sheer number of children appearing in live theatrical events or the degree of seriousness with which they were taken.
“Because the theatre has been remarkably free-thinking, women in the profession have always been relatively equal to their male colleagues. Bad managers have absconded with their salaries equally; audiences booed them equally; they starved equally between engagements; and their contributions to the traditions of the theatre have been equally forgotten.”(Turner) Women’s roles became somewhat ambiguous. Tradition required women to be delicate, fragile, and dependent. But, to withstand the rigors of the acting profession, they needed to be resilient, independent, strong-willed, and determined.
One more almost pleasant expectation was the dealing with fashions of the day. Clara Morris recounted that long trains on dresses were particularly vexing. She tells a story of Fanny Davenport moving continually on a crowded stage during a comedy scene and ending up with her trailing skirts tangled around a chair so that when she exited the stage, the chair went with her.
Neither Bernhardt or Duse had a promising start. Duse was born to a family of street musicians, making her professional debut at age four when she was pushed onto a stage to play Cosette in an early Les Misérables. Bernhardt, the daughter of a high-class courtesan, used her mother’s connections to get a spot with the famed Comédie-Française, only to suffer such terrible stage fright that she was let go.
Bernhardt excelled in the dramatic poses and exaggerated gestures early 19th-century actors used to convey character’s emotions so that even audience members in the cheap seats could follow what was going on. Her mastery of the technique won her devoted fans. Oscar Wilde wrote Salome for her, and Mark Twain raved, “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses—and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.”
Bernhardt traveled with a menagerie of exotic animals, marketed merchandise bearing her likeness from souvenir cards to bottled drinks, gave provocative interviews about her sex life, had herself photographed sleeping in a coffin, and, during her first U.S. tour in 1880, demanded $1,000 a performance (about $25,000 today).
Less flashy, Duse’s name might have been less familiar to modern audiences, but some considered her acting style more influential. Fourteen years younger than Bernhardt and more of an introvert by nature, Duse adopted a form of acting that sought to disappear within the characters she played. Thus, her gestures tended to be smaller and more naturalistic than most. Instead, she relied on the expressiveness of her face, which the newly introduced gas lighting helped illuminate.
But despite their acclaim, both women faced obstacles in pursuing their careers. Bernhardt, whose mother was Jewish, experienced anti-Semitism. Duse suffered from depression and bad choices in men, several of whom spent her money and left her in debt.
Men saw actresses either as mystical goddesses or trollops to socialize with in a more dignified way than visiting the local whorehouse.
From 1870-1880 the number of women listing “actress” as their profession rose from 780 to 4,652 (596%). By 1910, 15,432. This influx of women saw 25 new women to every new man, indicating economic opportunity, social and sexual independence. Women obtained wealth, mobility, and social power through the theater.
Stars could command a salary of up to $150 a week, while most chorus or ballet girls made between ten and twenty-five. Few were paid for rehearsal time, and players had long layoffs since the theater season lasted for thirty to forty weeks a year. Costumes cost between three hundred and four hundred dollars a season.
For all the apparent drawbacks of life on stage, there was also glamour, excitement, and public admiration. The theater lured women and gave those usually stuck in unrewarding jobs money, fame, and an opportunity to become a star.
Do you like reading about women trying to become actresses in the old west?
Would you have liked to be an actress in the old west?
I will do a giveaway of one ebook of my latest western, LULA MAE, one of my fantasy, A KISS AND A DARE, and also, a $5 Amazon card. Each of three winners will get one of these.
Charlene likes to say she began her fiction career in the third grade when she told the class, during Show and Tell, that a black widow spider came down from the garage roof and bit her (non-existent) little sister to death.
After two years of college as a fine arts major, and a divorce, she moved to Utah, planning to wow the world with her watercolor landscapes—until her sister introduced her to romance novels. She never picked up a paint brush again.
Originally published by Kensington in the ‘90s, Charlene is an Indie author now. She writes Victorian/western historical romance, except for one unpublished contemporary fantasy. It’s a frog princess story about a man napping beside a pond, who awakens when a frog jumps on his chest. The frog kisses him and voila!—he has a naked medieval princess sprawled over him. Charlene has a vivid imagination and a romantic soul.
Please excuse her now. She just heard a husky whisper from one of the dusty, shadowed corners of her office. Someone lurks there, someone long, lanky and lascivious, beckoning to her. She has no intention of playing coy.
Two of my recent novels are set near Lake Tahoe. This is a fascinating lake that sits on the Nevada-California border and is known for its great scenic beauty, photo opportunities, and panoramic views. It’s also famous for crystal, clear water that reflects the blue sky. More than 75% of its watershed is in National Forests. Today, as you can imagine, Lake Tahoe is a major, year-round tourist destination.
The lake itself was formed more than two million years ago, during the Ice Age. It is the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. Sierra Nevada Range and the largest alpine lake in North America. At 1,645 feet deep, it is the second deepest one in the United States, with only Crater Lake being deeper. It is 6,225 feet above sea level and has more water volume than any other, except for the Great Lakes.
I had always wanted to go to a writers’ retreat, and when the chance came to go to Lake Tahoe with writers like MaryLu Tyndall and Tamara Leigh for a reasonable price, I jumped at it. At that time (2015), I had only published one book, but I knew there would be many more to come, and I welcomed this amazing opportunity.
Besides the fact that I was up for 25 hours straight on the trip out and the start of the retreat, it turned out to be a wonderful experience on many different levels. The gourmet-type food prepared for us as part of the retreat was wonderful, the friendships formed, heart-warming, and the place, picture-perfect. We not only had writing time but also sessions with suggestions and instruction. The advice that has stuck with me the longest and proved to be true came from MaryLu. She told me not to expect to make a lot of money on any one book, but to publish a lot of books and the royalties would add up. Since all my profits go to a scholarship fund for missionary children, this was important to me. I want to fund as many students’ tuitions as possible. Since that time, I have published 52 books.
This year, I had the opportunity to use this gorgeous setting in two of my most recent books, Sauerkraut Cake by Sophie and A Christmas Snow for Sadie. In the first novel, Sophie Zimmermann and her father leave Illinois to make the long, hard journey west on the California Trail to Genoa, near Lake Tahoe in Utah Territory. Sophie meets two special men who want to court her, but she has a hard time deciding which is best. Can Sophie’s unusual recipe for Sauerkraut Cake show her what to do? (And yes, the recipe is included in the book.)
A Christmas Snow for Sadie is set on the California side of Lake Tahoe. Sadie Alexander’s employer dies, and she knows she’ll need to leave the household at once. Mrs. Ludlow’s son has already made improper advances, and it will be hard to avoid him now. Desperate, she seizes the opportunity to travel to California to become a mail-order bride. However, when she finally arrives, Mr. Laird is away on business, and his older friend comes to meet her.
Sawyer Laid couldn’t believe that he’d finally gotten a response to his advertisement for a bride after all this time, and it couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. He still has construction contracts to fulfill in Placerville, a rough, gold-mining town that’s no place for a lady. Well, she’d just have to wait for a spell, so he hoped she’d be the understanding sort.
Any western historical romance storyteller worth her salt (pun intended) knows that a wholesome and entertaining story will contain a number of things to which their reader can relate. Most often in my own books, it’s food. I grew up in a family where holidays and other celebrations, e.g., birthdays, all revolved around togetherness, and togetherness meant food.
I can recite verbatim what filled my Tennessee-born mother’s dinner table on Christmas, from my childhood years back in the stone age, up until my two sons’ last holiday with their grandmother. I’m thankful every day for the time they had with her, and for the fact that they’ve both developed her cooking talents and, in some cases, tastes.
Given mine (and my family’s) love of food, I knew I wanted to write about researching food in the time period and western location of my upcoming holiday book. The story takes place in 1895, in what was then the real town of Castlerock, Oregon. So, being a stickler for research I went looking for what might have been included on the average family’s holiday table. Lo and behold, my search took me back to the book archives at my own alma mater, Michigan State University, and to the Boston Cooking School Cook Book, written by none other than Fannie Farmer. Even though the book wasn’t published until 1896, it covered recipes from pre-Civil War through that year. I imagine all the foods listed in their holiday meal would have been readily available in a western town for the time period.
The recommended menu for an 1895 Christmas Dinner includes: Consommé, bread sticks, celery, olives, and salted pecans for starters. Followed by roast goose, potato stuffing, applesauce, Duchess potatoes, cream of lima beans, chicken croquettes with green peas, and dressed lettuce with cheese straws. Desserts included plum pudding with brandy sauce, frozen pudding, assorted cakes, bonbons, crackers, cheese and Café Noir.
Satisfied with my chosen Christmas meal, I moved on to the next phase of my research. An integral part of this upcoming book is quilting. Just so you know, my sewing talent lends more to button replacement and very limited hemming. Thankfully, I have friends who quilt.
In Audrey (Christmas Quilt Brides) my hero, who also happens to be the new doctor in town, is asked to judge the holiday quilt competition. One of my first questions was: What should he be looking in an award-winning quilt? Most of what I could find related to modern day machine quilting, rather than the hand quilting that would have taken place in the 1890s. Time to ‘phone a friend,’ a lady of a certain age who began quilting before the fancy machines took over. I believe we settled on a fair judge’s sheet for my heroine’s first attempt at joining the quilting circle.
I’ll give away an autographed copy of my previous year’s western holiday romance, “A Christmas Baby for Beatrice” along with some swag to winners in the U.S. or Canada. International winners will get an ebook copy.
In line with my research, I thought I’d put two questions to your readers. They’re welcome to answer one, or both, or neither as it suits them.
Question #1 pertains to food: What’s the most sought-after staple on your holiday table? For my family, it’s Heart Attack Potatoes for the adults and Banana Pudding for the grandchildren.
Question #2 pertains to quilting: Have you ever made a quilt by hand? And, if so, what did you find to be the most challenging part?
Thank you so much for hosting my visit today. I look forward to returning throughout the day to interact with readers. And, hopefully, visiting again sometime in the future. May you all have a blessed and joyous holiday, no matter which you celebrate!
NANCY FRASER is a bestselling and award-winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.
Nancy was named Canadian writer of the year for 2021 by N.N. Lights’ Book Heaven, and her western historical romance, An Honorable Man for Katarina, won the National Excellent in Story Telling (NEST) award for sweet romance. She was also named a “bright new voice in sweet/inspirational romance” by Independently Reviewed.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Earlier this year, the lovely Zina Abbott asked if I would be interested in being part of a historical MAPs that would feature quilts and Christmas. Gosh! As an avid quilter what could be better? Maybe a rugged cowboy? I answered with a very enthusiastic “Yes!”
While history books, almanacs, and memoirs chronicled the West as a man’s world full of adventure and clashes with nature and man, it should be noted women also played a vital role in the migration and taming of the frontier.
Prior to leaving for the journey, female friends in the East came together to stitch a quilt for the departing woman. These “quiltings” became farewell gatherings, united in purpose as well as in friendship. Thus the “friendship quilts”, squares inscribed with names, dates, and heartfelt sentiments became popular.
As preparations continued, the women gathered all the quilts, blankets and tied comforters they could make or acquire. While special quilts were packed in a trunk, or used to wrap fragile keepsakes, everyday quilts were left out for bedding or padding on the wagon seat. When the winds rose up and blew across the dusty plains, quilts were used to cover the cracks that let the dust inside the wagon.
Since most of the women walked alongside the wagon, little quilting was done on the trail. More often the women knitted or mended clothing during the short breaks or occasional layovers. Besides, the poor light of a campfire would not have been conducive to stitching blocks together.
Quilts often reflected the adventures the of the family. “Road to California”, “Crossing the Plains” and “Log Cabin” (my personal favorite!) often indicated memories of home and hearth, the trail looming up before them, or the movement of the wind across the plains.
As the journey continued, quilts were needed for far more serious purposes than simple comfort and dust control. They were hung on the exposed side of the wagons for protection against Indian attacks. Loss of life from sickness and injury was inevitable, and wood for building a coffin was scarce along the trail as well as time-consuming. Wrapping a beloved mother, child or husband in a quilt for burial gave the family comfort knowing that something symbolizing family love enfolded their dear one in that lonely grave along the trail.
Once a pioneer family reached their destination, quilts and blankets were needed to keep the elements out of their windows and doors of log cabins or dugouts. Quilts also gave emotional sustenance as well. Putting a favorite quilt on the bed gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life, and something of beauty in her desolate home.
A Swedish woman settled in Kansas in the early 1850s, and recalled an invitation to a sewing circle. Being new to the country and the territory, she took this as an offer of friendship. Pioneer quilting had become an opportunity to express creativity and cultivate friendships in the new land.
Today is release day for Noelle – Christmas Quilt Brides, Book 8. If you’d like to read an excerpt, PLEASE CLICK HERE
Jo-Ann will be giving away two ebook copies of Noelle. For a chance to win one, leave a comment about the type of crafting you enjoy most ( quilting, knitting, sewing, cake decorating, wreathing-making, etc.). If you’re not a crafter, what crafty skill to admire most in others?
Many thanks to the P&P authors for extending an invitation to their blog. I love sharing my love of the West and sweet historical romance!
Whether you get a big bonus at work or flat out win the lottery, what do you start planning immediately? For most people, they make plans for a vacation to one of those fancy theme parks.
The citizens of Joplin, Missouri, were no different.
The little mining town of Joplin had, after a fashion, won the lottery. Situated on the nation’s richest lead and zinc fields, what had been only a small camp site and scattered farms after the Civil War was producing seventy-five percent of America’s zinc by 1895. For every railroad car of ore shipped out of Jasper County, bags of money were rolling back in. But instead of visiting a theme park, Joplin decide to build their own.
In the 1890s, successful brewer Charles Schifferdecker purchased a dairy farm on the outskirts of Joplin. Seeing an opportunity with his new land acquisition, he leased ten acres to some businessmen for the formation of an amusement park. Eventually Schifferdecker transferred more land to the partnership until Schifferdecker Park had expanded to 160 acres and became the premier attraction in the area.
Over 12,000 people attended the Park’s grand opening on June 10, 1909, making it the largest gathering ever in the Tri-State District. On that day, visitors could tour the extensive gardens, slide or dive into the pool, boat across the lagoon, roller skate at the rink, play tennis, attend concerts and animal exhibitions, and enjoy Schifferdecker’s brew at the biergarten in a replica German village.
And just twenty years after the invention of the roller coaster, upstart Joplin had three of them. In my book Engaging Deception, Olive and Maxfield have a thrilling encounter on the Dazy Dazer.
I thought it better to put them on the Dazy Dazer than the Figure 8, which was demolished in 1916 for being “a menace to safety.” Roller coasters, animal shows and roller skating, but what Schifferdecker Park became famous for was its amazing light display.
Schifferdecker Park became known as the Electric Park because of the 40,000 incandescent bulbs installed on its structures. At a time when electricity was used sparingly and cautiously, Joplin had a Tower of Light that was 125 feet high and covered in 10,000 light bulbs. It was a marvelous feat of engineering and a source of pride for everyone in the region.
While Schifferdecker and Joplin had the riches to build the magnificent Electric Park, it did not have the population to sustain it. With the vast grounds, attractions and electricity usage, the Park was horribly expensive to maintain. Schifferdecker’s Electric Park was closed in 1913 and Schifferdecker donated 40 acres of the property to the City of Joplin with the understanding that it would always be used as a public park. Although the Tower of Lights is long gone, people still gather on Schifferdecker’s land for fun and relaxation.
Speaking of fun and relaxation, you could use a break! Take a literary trip to turn-of-the-century Joplin with Engaging Deception. It releases December 13 and is available for pre-order now. Not only that, but the first two books in the series (Courting Misfortune and Proposing Mischief) are on ebook sale for the month of November. Only 99 cents and $2.99 for them!
To win a paperback copy of Engaging Deception, leave a comment below letting me know which theme park is your favorite! The fillies will pick a winner and you’ll get a copy in the mail after the release date. (US residents only, please.)
Howdy! Thank you for having me here for a visit today. I first wanted to say happy Veteran’s Day and thank you to all of those who’ve served in the military or are currently serving. We appreciate you.
So, you may be wondering how a ranch of guinea pigs can possibly tie into a western theme. 🙂 And is there such a thing as a ranch of guinea pigs? When I set out to work on book three of my current series I’m writing, I ended up researching guinea pigs. My heroine’s name is Gertrude Miller. Many years ago, when my boys were still living at home, I had a picture frame sitting on a table and had yet to put a photo in it. Instead, it had a photo of a woman that the frame came with when we bought it at the store. We jokingly named her Aunt Gertrude. Eventually I spun a story about her living on a ranch in Texas and how she was raising guinea pigs. Many, many guinea pigs.
When my sons found out the name of my next heroine, they teased me about having a guinea pig featured as part of her story. They sent me photos of cowboys riding guinea pigs, while also corralling guinea pigs into fenced areas. They found videos of people who have hundreds of guinea pigs they are raising. I’ve since learned that in Peru, guinea pigs are often eaten, but we won’t go there.
I thought it would be fun to add a guinea pig to Gertrude’s story since she lives in Kansas in the 1870s in honor of my sons. The question I had to answer, was it feasible? Research showed these little critters first came from South America. They ran wild and were eventually domesticated. They were introduced to Europe and North America in the 16th Century. They became pets of the wealthy and elite. It’s believed that even Queen Elizabeth I had one as a pet. There’s a painting in the National Portrait Gallery in London of Elizabeth as a young girl holding a guinea pig.
Several sites I checked into mentioned that they were shipped to America in 1627 to Jamestown, Virginia. Others stated they were first introduced as part of the exotic pet trade during this time period. I had enough information to realize that while unusual, it definitely was possible and believable to have a guinea pig or two be featured in Gertrude’s story.
I also decided to make mention of Queen Elizabeth I having one as a pet. I always love when I can introduce fun historical facts in a story I’m writing. I enjoy discovering fun things like this when I read historical romance books. I decided to go one step more and have Gertrude make an off-handed comment about wouldn’t it be nice to have a ranch of guinea pigs. It was a humorous way to honor my sons and our family joke.
In honor of Veteran’s Day and being exactly one year since the release of Protecting Annie, I’ll be giving away a print copy of it (US only), or ebook for international readers.
Leave a comment by answering this question: What amusing stories and history do you like to see included in historical romances?
After twenty years living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem is, she no longer requires his protecting.
After the death of her father, Annie McPherson needs a change. She accepts a position as schoolmarm hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky lawman who creates confrontations at every turn and continually questions her ability to adjust to life in the west.
When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging Josh into the turmoil, he has to decide who he’s willing to defend.
Have you ever been let down or even betrayed by someone you trusted? How did you respond and did it differ from how Scripture instructs us to respond? This is the major theme of my interquel novella Cakes and Kisses. So when I discovered the following event described in the June 9, 1854 edition of the Daily Alta California I knew it was perfect for my story.
“Another Squatter Disturbance — At a squatter disturbance, which occurred yesterday morning on Front street below Mission, a woman who lived in a house which a party were endeavoring to take down, became so incensed that she laid her baby down, picked up a shovel, and attacked Capt. Folsom. After she was disarmed of this weapon she went into the house and brought out a revolver, with which she endeavored to shoot the same party. The police interfered and prevented the woman from doing harm.” [spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have been maintained from the original article]
During my research I have encountered many similar “squatter riots” or “disturbances,” as the newspapers referred to them, but this one caught my attention because of the lone woman and child facing a group of men determined to see her homeless. Not only did it closely parallel the essence of the situation my heroine found herself in, it brought to mind the numerous accounts I have read of women being abandoned in San Francisco by husbands who headed for the gold fields—sometimes never to be heard from again. While some of these women were widowed by the harsh mining conditions, others were permanently abandoned by husbands who found themselves weary of being married. These women faced the daunting challenge of learning to survive in a burgeoning town fraught with criminal activity, an insufficient police force, and a frequently corrupt justice system.
Daily Alta California, November 22, 1851 — …the present police force is not sufficiently large to guard effectually against the commission of crime…
Daily Alta California, February 24, 1854 — …we think the force is scarcely sufficient, that our growing city demands a larger one…
All of this dark history fit well with my theme.
However, not all of San Francisco’s history is dark and gloomy. One of my favorite parts of the city’s history involves the world famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. No doubt you’ve seen Ghirardelli chocolates in your local store and may even have received a Ghirardelli chocolate or two in your Christmas stocking. What you may not know is that the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has been around since the nineteenth century and was founded in San Francisco, California, by Domingo Ghirardelli.
Born in 1817 Rapallo, Italy, as Domenico Ghirardelli, he apprenticed with a local candy maker at a young age. He later sailed to Uruguay with his wife to work in a chocolate and coffee business and changed his Italian first name to the Spanish equivalent, Domingo. In 1847 Ghirardelli was operating a store in Peru when his neighbor, James Lick, moved to San Francisco, bringing with him 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate.
Like many men, Ghirardelli left his family behind to join the rush of 1849 and seek gold among California’s hills. Not long after arriving, he gave up prospecting and opened a tent-based general store in Stockton, California where he offered supplies as well as confections to minors. In 1850 he opened a second store in San Francisco but in 1851 both stores burned to the ground.
Demonstrating incredible resilience, Ghirardelli used what he had left to open the Cairo Coffee House in San Francisco. Unfortunately his coffee house proved unsuccessful. So he acquired a partner and opened a new store named “Ghirardelli and Girard,” again in San Francisco. This store did well enough that by 1851 Ghirardelli was able to send for his family to join him in California. In 1852, the company changed its name “D. Ghirardelli & Co. “ and was incorporated. It has been in continuous operation ever since—eventually becoming the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.
I’ve been fascinated by this sweet part of San Francisco’s history for more than two decades, so incorporating Ghirardelli’s chocolate and his San Francisco store into my novella, Cakes and Kisses, was a piece of cake. (I couldn’t resist.)
Cakes and Kisses (~49,000 words) releases December 1, 2022 and will be available for FREE to my newsletter subscribers for thirty days. After which, it will be available for purchase through Amazon. Click here to subscribe!
To win an ebook copy of my debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness, (which introduces the heroine of Cakes and Kisses), leave a comment below letting me know which type of chocolate you prefer.
NOTE: All newspaper quotes used in this post are in the public domain and were found at: California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, <http://cdnc.ucr.edu>.
Happy Fall, y’all! Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to guest blog for Petticoats & Pistols! It’s so awesome to be here among those who love history. Like many of you, I’m drawn to all things historical. Hubby and I recently spent a weekend “glamping” in the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky near the Cumberland Falls State Park in a covered wagon.
The wagons were so fun! We roasted marshmallows on the campfire and made skillet steaks one evening. Our wagon had two electric lights, a mini fridge, a microwave/toaster oven, a desk area, USB chargers built into the nightstands, a king size bed with heating pads, bunkbeds, and a fireplace!
As you can see by these smiles, we found the wagons charming and comfortable. I fell in love with the desk countertop and could easily have spent a week writing there. On our second day here, we also went hiking along the Cumberland River to see Cumberland Falls, take in the autumn scenery, and photograph the wildflowers.
Would you enjoy an outing like this? I had to laugh because the state park has hiking trails everywhere, but one of the signs said, if you see a black bear, run away, and make lots of noise. The bear will think you are weird and leave you alone.
I’m also giving away to one commenter a paperback of Cherry Crossing, Book 1 from my new series, Montana Meadows. The series follows the story of three orphaned sisters surviving on the claim their Pa proved up in Montana Territory in the 1870s, Jocelyn (Josie), Jacqueline (Jackie), and Jillian (Jill). Each book focuses on a different sister. Readers tell me the characters come to life and really jump off the pages. Book 2 is titled Sparrow’s Hope, and Book 3, Silver Mountain. These sisters are quite independent. They can shoot like Annie Oakley and look out after themselves. Although each heroine clashes with their strong heroes, circumstances eventually lead to love as they find their “happy ever afters.”
Ask me about our glamping getaway or anything about my writing and one random participant will win a signed paperback copy of Cherry Crossing! You can find out more about my books and sign up for my newsletter at https://www.LisaPrysock.com.
And here’s a link to Cheltowee Trace Adventure Resortif you’re interested in rafting, kayaking, hiking and reserving one of these wagons or a cabin in Kentucky to experience a similar adventure to experience the pioneer life for yourself.
It seems so early to be discussing a Christmas book! And yet, here we are.
My latest release, the seventh book set in Grand, MT and number four in The Endeavour Ranch series, involves a retired professional bull rider, a cute baby, and a perky blonde elf.
A lot of The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby talks about forming new Christmas traditions. The perky blonde elf heroine, Tate, has lost her twin brother. The retired rodeo hero, Miles, finds himself starting a new chapter in his life with a brand-new daughter he didn’t anticipate. Miles and Tate both love their family traditions from Christmases past. Both recognize the need to move forward and create new ones—for the people they love.
I’d like to talk about traditions; more importantly, the role women have played in the creation of them. This is going to take a little backtracking on my part, so bear with me.
I have a degree in Social Anthropology, so even though I write contemporary western romance, when I want to understand the mindset of a culture or society, I look at its origins.
Montana’s history is fascinating.
If you’ve read Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour, or watched old western movies on television, you’ve no doubt seen the litter of old pianos and heavy furniture left behind on the trail as wagon trains crossing rivers and deserts are forced to lighten their loads. You’re also familiar with the absurdity of it—why would anyone think these frivolous things are important for survival when traveling into the wild west?
As it turns out, these weren’t frivolous items at all. They played a significant role in survival.
While doing research, I stumbled across a master’s thesis from the University of Montana: “A Little Bit of Paradise”: Women’s Search for Comfort in Late-Nineteenth Century Montana by Allison Badger (May 2003). The study focuses on middle class women, who history often overlooks because they don’t appear to have much at stake. That doesn’t mean triumphs and struggles didn’t exist for them.
The thesis talks about colorful handkerchiefs tied to poles so women on the prairie could tell which way the wind blew as a means of preserving their sanity.
But the author challenges this observation. One quote caught my attention:
“Western domesticity allowed Montana women to continue operating in their feminine sphere and gave women the means to cope with their circumstances.”
Not every woman who came west wanted to dress and act like a man or become another Annie Oakley. Many women saw turning their backs on civility and the rules of society as defeat. Clinging to things that made everyday life more familiar and “normal” came with a sense of pride—things such as social etiquette, home furnishings, and fashion. These women knew how to turn a house into a home.
I like to write my western heroines feminine as well as strong, to take after the women who blazed trails for them. I think Tate Shannahan fits their model quite nicely as she struggles to rekindle the joy in Christmas for others, even though she believes the magic is lost to her forever.
For a chance to win a copy of The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby, drop one of your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments below.
THE COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS BABY
Rodeo champion and buckle-bunny favorite Miles Decker is the “face” of professional bull riding. So when his famous face is badly scarred in a bull riding accident, he retires from public life and returns to Grand, Montana, to manage the new circuit rodeo on the Endeavour Ranch. He has few regrets—he’s made his money and has had his fill of beautiful women. But his future is upended when a surprise Christmas gift lands on his doorstep: an eight-month-old baby girl with his eyes and smile.
Local girl Tate Shannahan just lost her elf job, so being hired as the caregiver for Miles Decker’s baby is a godsend for an already difficult Christmas. Her twin brother’s death in a bull riding accident fractured Tate’s family, leaving her and her older brother to continue the Shannahan traditions alone—or not, as her brother decides. The baby is a joy, but working for a man who represents everything her family has lost isn’t easy.
Miracles happen at Christmas though, and as Miles and Tate discover new traditions together, can love grow where they least expect it?
You can purchase a copy of The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby here.