Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope you all had a very joyous Christmas and a fun-filled New Year’s celebration.
Last year I took a break from writing western historicals to pen a contemporary short story. It is titled A Crossword Puzzle Christmas and is part of the Christmas Roses anthology. As the title of the story hints, my heroine is a crossword puzzle enthusiast. Which got me to wondering about the origins of the crossword puzzle itself. So of course I immediately dug in and did some research on the subject and here are a few tidbits I found.
Crossword puzzles are a relatively new pastime. The first one was published on 12/21/1913 in the New York World newspaper. The creator of this first puzzle was a journalist by the name of Arthur Wynne who hailed from Liverpool. You can see a reproduction of his original puzzle below.
Arthur came up with the idea for these puzzles when he was trying to think up a new kind of game for the newspaper’s Christmas edition. He adapted it from a popular children’s game called ‘word squares’, transforming it into something more challenging for an adult readership.
The original puzzle was well received, so much so that Arthur created new puzzles for the next two Sunday editions. In fact, when the New York World tried to drop the feature, readers complained so strenuously that the owners of the paper decided to make it a permanent part of the puzzle page.
Arthur Wynne originally dubbed his puzzle a Word-Cross puzzle. However, several weeks after the puzzles debut, typesetters accidentally transposed the title and printed it as Cross-Word. For whatever reason, the name stuck.
Though readers loved the puzzles, newspaper editors had the opposite reaction. The puzzles were difficult to print and they were prone to typographical errors. It was such a problem that no other newspaper wanted anything to do with them. As a result, for the next decade the only newspaper to carry the popular crossword puzzle was the New York World.
Believe it or not, the crossword puzzle was responsible for launching publishing powerhouse Simon & Schuster. Popular lore has it that Richard Simon’s Aunt Wixie wondered aloud to him whether there was a book of these puzzles that she could purchase for her daughter. Simon, who was trying to break into publishing with his friend M. Lincoln Schuester, latched onto the idea as a way to kick start his business. The pair approached the New York World’s crossword puzzle editors and reached an agreement with them. For $25 each, they purchased the rights to publish the best puzzles in a book. They then sunk all their money into printing The Cross Word Puzzle Book. By year end they had sold more than 300,000 books and Simon & Schuester had become a major force in the publishing industry.
As you can see from the puzzle above, the grid was originally diamond shaped. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the puzzles began to take the block form we’re familiar with today.
It was also in the 1920s that crossword puzzles really took off in America. The puzzle craze inspired a Broadway plat titled Games of 1925 and a hit song called Crossword Mama, You Puzzle Me (don’t you just love it!).
Despite their 20th century origin, crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular and widespread of word games in the world today.
There you have it – a brief history of the Crossword Puzzle.
So which of these tidbits surprise you the most? And how do you feel about crossword puzzles – do you love them? Hate them? Feel indifferent? Are there other types of puzzles you prefer?
And since this is my first post of the new year, I thought I’d celebrate by doing a giveaway. Everyone who leaves a comment on today’s post before noon on Tuesday will be entered into a drawing – the winner will have their choice of any book in my backlist
Today is one of the happiest days for children and adults, outside of Christmas and birthdays. Or at least that’s my opinion. I’m fortunate to share my blog with Fellow Filly Shanna Hatfield. I’m going to blog about some history and fun facts; before turning it over to Shanna to tell you a little about her special Pumpkins Cookies, yummy!
To my surprise, Halloween has roots in age-old European traditions. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
In the late 1800’s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.
Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion, yes with a “B”, annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you all about how Halloween traditions fit in with young women identifying their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday…with luck by next Halloween…be married. In the 18th century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.
Another fascinating tradition was when young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; and, some also tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water.
One of the beloved events is our church’s Trunk or Treat which is a safe and fun environment for kids to go trick or treating out of the trunk of member’s cars in the parking lot. It’s open to the public, not just the youth of our home church.
I’m happy to have Shanna Hatfield chiming in with one of her favorite Halloween treats.
“I’m a pumpkin fanatic! The fascination with pumpkin treats started with my aunt’s decadent pumpkin roll and ends with pumpkin pie (which I would eat any time of year). This recipe for pumpkin cookies is a fast, easy way to satisfy a pumpkin craving… and a sweet tooth! Happy Haunting!”
From Shanna Hatfield, USA Today Bestselling Author
1 box of spice cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin pie filling
1 cup cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cake mix and pumpkin until thoroughly blended.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment and drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet.
Bake about ten minutes, until the cookies are just set, but not yet starting to brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Warm cream cheese frosting in the microwave for about 12 seconds, or until thin enough to pour. Drizzle over cookies. Top with toffee bits, cinnamon, sprinkles or candied nuts if you want to get all fancy-pants (which I generally do).
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will give away a copy
of any of my eBooks from Amazon! Happy Holiday, Phyliss
And, thank you, Shanna, for sharing your recipe with us.
Most of the romantic series I’ve written are family sagas, with the stories centering around one set of family members or friends and usually, (but not always) the stories are set in the same town, territory, or city. But the key factor is how to tie in the stories, while still making the plot easy to follow for readers who have not read the other books. Authors often say the books are part of a series, but they can also be read as a STAND ALONE, meaning they have all the elements in the story to make for a satisfying read even if you haven’t read the other books. It’s the task and joy for the writer to make sure the story holds up and is a cohesive enough to stand alone.
My series are usually a set of three stories, but sometimes as I’m writing, another character pops up that needs his or her to be told. So there’s no hard and fast rule about how many books can be in a series. If an author has a vision for six or ten or fifteen stories and the readers are invested enough and love the stories, the writing, and the setting, more the better.
What’s Fun About Writing a Series:
The Setting—once the town or ranch or territory is established, readers (and the authors) love to revisit familiar places from the earlier books. In my Forever Texan series we often see the Bluebonnet Bakery and Wishing Wells and 2 Hope Ranch.
Taming the Texas Cowboy
The Characters—it’s fun to see the characters interact together from one story to another. Brothers, sisters, cousins, moms and dads and best friends all play a role, but the writers strive to make sure the romance between the hero and heroine is the main event in every story. The secondary characters often get their own stories later down the road.
The Theme – Often there’s an underlying theme that connects the stories. It can something as simple as a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas maybe, or a special event such as a rodeo coming to town. It can also be a wedding or a pregnancy that connects the stories. The themes know no bounds. I was once part of a multi-author series about a Bachelor Auction. I’ve also written a series centered around a winery called Napa Valley Vows, a series centered around a hotel called Suite Secrets and around a ranching family called The Slades of Sunset Ranch.
The Love– Not between hero and heroine, because that’s a given, but for the author. Once I’ve established my town and the people in it and yes, even the stories I plot and plan out, I sorta fall in love with the whole idea. These people are my friends, this town is somewhere I’d love to live and it’s the journey and the challenge to make the series click and stick, as I say. One thing I know for certain, once the love is gone, once the writer tires of the setting or runs out of story, it’s time to move on, to be inspired once again.
I’m really proud of my new Forever Texan story set in Hope Wells, Texas. The stories center around two cousins and their best friend. It’s been a labor of love for me, as I started this series long ago and have finally found the right time and place to publish this trio of amazing Texans. I’ve been lucky enough to have input in the covers, the titles and series name. It makes this all the more special for me.
You may already know the first book in the series Taming the Texas Cowboy starring Trey and Maddie Walker, but I’m happy to say the second book in the series (Jack and Jillian’s story) is available for pre-order. And this is the OFFICIAL COVER REVEAL for Loving the Texas Lawman. I know, it’s a hardship looking at this guy, isn’t it?
The last thing honorable Sheriff Jack Walker needs is a blast from the past, but that’s exactly what he gets when his high school love, now sexy lingerie designer, Jillian Lane arrives on his doorstep needing his help and protection.
Jillian is desperate to save her company, Barely There and turning to Jack Walker, the town hero, is her only option. The trouble she left behind in California has followed her home, leaving Jack no choice but to protect her. Unwittingly, Jillian’s put everything Jack has ever wanted in life at risk.
The years have not made it easier for Jack to say no to his first love, but saying yes may threaten all he holds dear. Jack may have a solution: marriage–the temporary kind. And how can a girl from the wrong side of the tracks refuse a marriage proposal from her one-time love?
For Fun: Take a guess at the names of my hero and heroine from FOREVER TEXAN Book 3 titled, Redeeming the Texas Rancher coming this August. Post either number ONE, TWO OR THREE and be entered into a random drawing to win a backlist book of your choice, either print or digital from my available titles. Random drawing winner will be posted later tonight. Be sure to stop by again!
Gambling has been a popular way to fill empty time almost as long as people have existed. Many modern words related to gambling saw their genesis in the 1300s. “Pasteboards,” slang for playing cards, arose in the 1540s because the cards were made of layers of paper pasted together. Roulette, in the gambling sense, originated in about 1725. Terms like “game of chance” (1920), “snake eyes” (1930), and Lady Luck (1935), on the other hand, didn’t arrive until the early 20th Century.
Gamblers, c. 1900. Artist unknown.
The following words and phrases, most of them slang appropriations of previously mundane words and phrases, sneaked into the language during the 1800s.
Ante: opening bet; American English poker slang. Noun form arose 1838; verb, 1846. Both are based, appropriately, on the Latin ante, meaning before.
Baccarat: As a card game, arose 1848. Variant spelling of the French word for the same game, baccara, which is of unknown origin.
Bank: to put money on. American colloquial usage arose c. 1884, based on the 1833 meaning “to deposit in a bank.”
Bankroll: roll of bank notes. American slang from 1887 as a conflation of “bank” and “roll,” the latter of which gained the slang meaning “quantity of paper money” in 1846.
Beginner’s luck: explanation for wins by the inexperienced. American slang c. 1897.
Big deal: in poker, a game-changing turn of the cards. Arose mid-19th century. The sarcastic phrase meaning “So what?” is American English from 1965.
Bilk: a cheat or to cheat. Although the 1651 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as a cribbage term meaning to spoil an opponent’s score by playing unusable cards, in the western U.S. after the Civil War, calling someone a bilk was about the worst insult one man could bestow upon another. “[T]he most degrading epithet that one can apply to another is to pronounce him ‘a bilk.’ No Western man of pluck will fail to resent such concentrated vituperation.” (A.K. McClure, Three Thousand Miles Through the Rocky Mountains, 1869)
Blackleg: gambler or swindler. Popular in the American West 1835-1870.
Bottom dollar: the last of one’s money; from 1882.
Bluff: the noun meaning subterfuge in cards dates to 1839 in the U.S., perhaps from the Dutch bluffen (to brag or boast) or verbluffin (to baffle or mislead). Bluff as an alternative name for poker is American slang from 1844. The verb bluffing, meaning misleading in poker, arose c. 1845; later generalized to misleading in any context.
“Gambling Down Below,” illustration from the Mark Twain story of the same name, 1883
Card sharp: shortened form of the American slang term card-sharper, which entered the lexicon in 1859.
Chip: counter used in a game of chance. Americanism; first recorded in print 1840. “When the chips are down” is from the 1940s as a reference to the pile of poker chips on the table after all bets are made.
Cleaned out: left penniless by losses; arose c. 1812.
Craps: game of chance employing dice. American English from the Louisiana French craps (“play a dangerous game”), based on an 18th-century Continental French corruption of the British “crabs,” which was slang for the lowest dice throw: two or three.
Crap out: a losing throw of two, three, or twelve in the dice game of craps. American slang, 1835-1845. Called “seven-out” when the player threw a seven instead of making his “point.”
Dead-man’s hand: a poker hand including two aces, two eights, and any other card. Yes, it really is based on the hand Wild Bill Hickock held at the moment of his 1876 assassination by Jack McCall.
Dough: money. From 1851.
Down on [one’s] luck: at a low point financially or personally. From 1832; possibly borrowed from gambling. “Be in luck” first appeared in print in 1900 but may be older; “push [one’s] luck” first appeared in 1911.
Draw a blank: come up with nothing. The image is from lotteries, c. 1825.
Face card: jack, queen, or king; c. 1826. Also called “court cards” because of the royal images.
Four-flusher: a cheater or sneak. Arose 1896 from the earlier verb four-flush (origin uncertain), meaning to bluff a flush while holding only four cards in the same suit.
Full house: poker term for three of a kind and a pair. 1887 American version of the 1850s British term “full hand.”
Gamble: a risky venture. Arose as slang in 1823. By 1879, the act of gambling. Apparently a remnant of the dialectical Middle English gamel (1590s), “to play games.” The B may have been added due to confusion with “gambol.”
Gouge: to cheat, swindle, or extort. Verb form attested 1880, probably from the 1560s gouge, meaning to cut with the tool of the same name.
Grand slam: in suit-based card games, to win a series of games; 1814. First use as a bridge term 1892.
“The Gaming Table,” Thomas Rowlandson, 1801
Have a card up [one’s] sleeve: originally, the poker term was literal. Poker players would hide a winning card under their sleeve cuff and exchange it for a losing card the sly. Arose c. 1898.
High-roller: extravagant spender. American slang by 1873, probably originally as a reference to throwing dice.
Jackpot/jack-pot: big prize. From 1881, a series of antes that results when no player has an opening hand consisting of two jacks or better. The slot machine sense arose 1932; slang for a big win in any situation from about 1944.
Joker: non-royal face card in a poker deck, 1868. Probably a reference to the generic British slang use of the word to mean any man, fellow, or chap. Black Joke, a card game in which all face cards were called jokers, is mentioned in Hoyle’s 1857 edition of Games.
Kitty: pool of money in a card game. Arose 1887 from 1833 “kit,” meaning a collection of necessary supplies, with a possible contribution from the 1825 British slang “kit,” meaning prison or jail.
Lucky break/lucky strike: in billiards, at least one ball landing in a pocket after the opening collision of cue ball with the rack. Attested from 1884. Earlier meaning “fortunate failure” arose 1872. Lucky Strike as the name for a brand of pre-rolled cigarettes, 1872.
Monte: a particular card game, so called because of the heap of cards left after the deal. The game arose 1824, with the name probably borrowed from monte, Spanish for mountain. The game was especially popular during the California gold rush. Three-card version arose in Mexico in 1877.
Pass the buck: American slang, originally literal, 1865. A bone-handled knife, or “buck,” was laid on the table in front of the dealer to keep track during poker games. As the game progressed, the deal passed from player to player around the table, and so did the knife. Figurative sense “shift responsibility” first recorded in print 1912.
Penny-ante: insignificant; American slang. Originally an 1855 poker term for small stakes.
Play the trump card: slang for an unexpected winning move; from 1886. Originally “play the Orange card,” which meant “appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment for political advantage.”
Poker: a particular card game that arose in America in 1834. Origin of the term is unknown, but perhaps from the German pochen, “to brag,” which itself arose from a slang corruption of the verb spelled the same way which meant “to knock or rap.” May also be related to French poque, a card game similar to poker, though that is undocumented.
Poker face: expressionless by intent. 1874 slang from a poker tactic disguising a bluff.
“Monte in the Mines,” J.D.Borthwick, 1851
Risky: dangerous. Arose 1825 from “risk,” which itself was a 1728 anglicized version of the 1660s French risqué. “Risk-taker” is from 1894.
Showdown/show-down: lay down a poker hand face-up. From 1873; American slang. Figurative “final confrontation” arose 1904.
Stack the deck: cheat by unfairly arranging the cards in a deck before the deal. First recorded 1825.
Straight: a poker hand containing any sequential run of cards from different suits; arose 1841 from 1640s use of the term to mean “level.” By 1864, “straight” became slang for the straight part of a horse-racing track.
Straightaway: the flat, straight home stretch of a horse-racing track; 1839.
Stud poker: a form of poker in which the first card is dealt face-down and the others face-up. From 1864; antecedents unknown. The related term “hole card,” meaning the card dealt face-down, is an Americanism from 1905.
Swindle: cheat out of money. American English colloquialism from 1826.
Take a chance/take chances: do something with an uncertain outcome. From the 1815 usage meaning “participate in a lottery.” The related “take a risk” is first documented 1826, but may be older.
Tinhorn: of no value, but flashy. By 1857, from the earlier use referring to low-class gamblers who used a tin can to shake dice.
In my new release THE TEXAN’S ONE-NIGHT STANDOFF, my heroine Ruby Lopez is an expert horse wrangler and trainer. As a result I had to do some extensive research on the subject of training horses. I found some inspiration in the Australian television series Downunder Horseman, a tutorial on how to train horses. Believe it or not, horses aren’t exactly docile and they have many fears that they need to overcome, such as approaching a body of water, or going into the water. It is not necessarily an inherent trait. Ruby is a gentle soul when it comes to animals, but she’s a spitfire and an independent woman, who isn’t opposed to flipping a man over her shoulders when he deserves it. She was so much fun to write, seeing how the man she nicknamed Galahad, because he rushed to her defense one night, softens her rough edges.
How many of these fun horse facts did you know? I was amazed at some of them!
Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
Horses can run shortly after birth.
Domestic horses have a lifespan of around 25 years.
A 19th century horse named ‘Old Billy’ is said to have lived 62 years.
Horses have around 205 bones in their skeleton
Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years
A horse’s teeth take up more space in the head than a horse’s brain.
Horses drink at least 25 gallons of water a day, more in hotter climates.
Horses are herbivores (plant eaters).
Because horse’s eyes are on the side of their head they are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time.
Horses gallop at around 27 mph.
The fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse was 55 mph.
Estimates suggest that there are around 60 million horses in the world.
Scientists believe that horses have evolved over the past 50 million years from much smaller creatures.
When horses look like they’re laughing, they’re actually engaging in a special nose-enhancing technique known as “flehmen” to determine if the smell is bad or good.
Horses have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land. (That’s amazing!)
I’ve been running this fun prize package on Facebook, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Prize includes DVD, Bracelet Bling, two Charlene Sands’ books and Santa Kisses! Please stop by and enter to win my Twelve Days of Desire Giveaway!
It is a pleasure and a treat to be a guest once again here at Petticoats and Pistols. Thank you to all the fillies for hosting me today. I’ll be giving away THREE ecopies of The Christmas Quandary, so please leave a comment.
I love history and digging into tidbits of the past as I research details for my sweet western romances.
A zoetrope is one of several animation devices (pre-motion pictures) that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs, shown in progressive phases of motion.
The name Zoetrope was composed from the Greek root words “life” and “wheel” – meaning “wheel of life.”
A cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides is the basic component of the zoetrope. The inner surface of the cylinder features a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures. The slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.
A 5,000-year-old earthenware bowl from Iran is considered a predecessor of the zoetrope. The bowl, decorated in a series of sequential images, portrays a goat jumping toward a tree and eating its leaves.
Variations existed on the idea of the zoetrope, but it wasn’t until December 1866, when an American company, Milton Bradley and Co., advertised a zoetrope.
Zoetropes were eventually displaced by more advanced technology, notably film and later television. Today, some zoetropes can still be found in special art projects and performances.
In The Christmas Quandary, one of the characters purchases a zoetrope for his daughter’s Christmas present. The only quandary surrounding the gift is whether or not the child’s uncles will wear it out before Christmas morning since they can’t seem to stop playing with it.
Have you ever been in a quandary? Had a dilemma?
Share your answers for a chance to win one of three copies of The Christmas Quandary(Book 5 in the Hardman Holidays series).
And if you haven’t read any of the Hardman books, The Christmas Bargain (book 1) will be available for free digital downloads on Monday!
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
As I watched CMA’s Music Festival from the comfort of my own home the other evening, I was smiling and singing along with the artists as they sashayed across a stage that reached thousands in the audience and millions through their television screens.
Gosh, I love country music so much that it never occurred to me that there were so many different variations of what was once known as hillbilly music. As I delved into country music’s bright history, I learned that this new form of music derived in the southern United States was brought forth in the 1920’s and originated in Atlanta, Georgia, not Nashville, Tennessee. It has been argued that Atlanta be known for the birth of Country Music. Country music was delivered by way of working class Americans bringing their own backgrounds and culture to the city by blending popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, blues, cowboy songs and traditional ballads. And nearly a century later country music has climbed the ranks to become the most listened to rush hour music during the evening commute, coming a close second to the most listened to morning rush hour commute.
Some of the most renowned artists of the 1920’s were “Fiddlin’ John Carson in 1923 (Okey Records) and Samantha Bumgarner in 1924 (Columbia Records) and then in 1927 RCA Victor Records (remember them?) recorded the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. During the Great Depression radio sales were down, but country music became a very popular form of entertainment with “barn dance” shows that transmitted all over the South and from Chicago to California. In 1925 the Grand Ole Opry made its debut from Nashville and it continues on in glorious fashion today.
The first commercial recordings of what was considered country music were “Arkansas Traveler” and “Turkey in the Straw” on June 30, 1922, for Victor Records and released in April 1923. Columbia began issuing records with “hillbilly” music (series 15000D “Old Familiar Tunes”) as early as 1924.
And later, the popularity of movie westerns only seemed to spur on (pardon the pun) the country music industry. But like everything else in the world, country music evolved and branched off into different genres from bluegrass to gospel, from hillbilly to country boogie, from honkytonk to rockabilly and country rock. In 1956 the number two, three and four songs on Billboard’s charts for that year were Elvis Presley, “Heartbreak Hotel“; Johnny Cash, “I Walk the Line“; and Carl Perkins, “Blue Suede Shoes“.
Willie Nelson helped coin the genre “country outlaw” and megastars like Taylor Swift have delivered us “pop country.” While Carrie Underwood (my favorite female vocalist) has been branded a “country rock” musician. I might also mention icons such as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell, who all made an indelible mark on country music.
Do you remember Barbara Mandrell sayin’ “I was country when country wasn’t cool.”
So much music, so little time!
Do you like country music? What type of country appeals to you most? And if you could meet one of the legends of country either living or dead, who would you choose? Can you guess who I’d choose? Play along for a chance to win a copy of one of my available backlist books of your choice! Winner chosen at random on Saturday so be sure to check back!
(PS, not Carrie, although I would love to meet her!)
Grand Ole Opry pic by Deirdre 11:55, 27 February 2007 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
We’re so happy to have Anita Mae Draper visit the Junction. She’s giving away a copy of Romantic Refinements (Austen in Austin Vol. 1) so leave a comment!
Carousels have always been my favorite midway attraction, so when I decided to include the Texas State Fair into my latest story, Romantic Refinements, it was only natural that a carousel be added to the scene. Happily, I hit the research trail. My first stumble however, was when all the information pointed to Dallas holding the state fair and not Austin. My persistence paid off though and I found several sources to confirm the State Fair of Texas was held in Hyde Park in Austin from 1875 to 1884.
Caption: State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park. Racetrack, grandstands and spectators; undated; Courtesy of Austin History Center – Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection
Since my story takes place in Austin in 1882, I was ready to go carousel hunting. As you can imagine finding images of a carousel that early was difficult, especially since part of my scene involved the brass ring that the carousel riders strive to collect. According to Wikipedia, ring devices were introduced about 1880, and while most of the rings were made out of iron, a couple on each ride consisted of brass. Some carousels had a clown designed on the side and you could toss your iron rings into its open mouth—no prize, but one way to make returning the rings exciting. Other carousels simply collected the rings in a container at the end of ride. However, if you managed to latch onto the brass ring, you were given a free ticket for the next ride.
Watching several YouTube videos showing riders going after the brass ring, I have to agree with them. Check out this video on Knoebel’s Carousel in Elysburg, PA to see the brass ring dispenser in action:
In the carousel scene in my Romantic Refinements story, there is a little girl who wants to catch that brass ring more than anything. The main problem with the ring dispenser, however, is that it’s the same distance for everyone and a bit out of her reach. But she tries ever so hard as can be seen in this photo which was my inspiration for this scene:
But the brass ring dispenser is just out of her reach. So the little girl does what she sees bigger kids doing—and that’s when disaster strikes. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that the events in my story will affect how the little girl handles life and romance when she re-appears as an adult in Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, the final novella in Austen in Austin Volume 2.
Perhaps I’ll take a moment to explain that Austen in Austin contains 8 novellas in 2 volumes, all based on heroines of Jane Austen’s novels. Although we changed the stories to reflect historical Austin in the late 19th century, and took away some relationships such as the familial relationship between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, readers have still been able to identify their Austen counterparts. This is how we can have a little girl in my story grow and appear as an adult in Lisa’s story which takes place seventeen years later. This also gave us the chance for cameos to update characters as each novella progressed—like an ongoing epilogue where you see what happens after they are married. I love revisiting characters after reading their story ends, don’t you?
Have you ever ridden on a carousel? Where? Did you pick a horse or some other animal? Did you catch the brass ring?
Leave a comment for a chance to win Austen in Austin Volume 1 – winner’s choice print or digital.
Thanks for visiting me here today. You can find me at the following online sites:
Austen in Austin Volume 2 – Available for PRE-Order
Anita Mae Draper’s stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita’s current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at www.anitamaedraper.com