That’s Plum Crazy!

Hello! I’m Katrina Kyle. I’m thrilled to be here for the first time today, and even more ecstatic to give you a glimpse into my debut novel, Meg’s Motivation. Joining with like-minded readers is something special.

But first, I have a confession. When I set out to write a series about three sisters working to save the family plum orchard, I knew very little about plums. As in, practically nothing at all. The deeper I sank my teeth into the flesh of the matter, the more astounded I became. For instance, did you know that plums are the second-most cultivated fruit in the world and are grown on every continent except Antarctica? Plums are a member of the rose family with varieties that ripen in red, purple, yellow, green, and white. The average life span of cultivated plum trees is 10-30+ years.

Okay. That’s all well and good, but I needed to know about plums in California in particular. You see, that is where the Trudy family orchard called Damson Acres is situated in my series. Like many goods in California, plum production began in the mid-1800’s and really took off as the transcontinental railroad was completed. Today, the San Joaquin Valley in central California produces 95% of domestic fresh plums on 20,000 acres – not to say anything of the 50,000 acres of plums intended to dry for prunes. It takes three pounds of fresh plums to get one pound of prunes. That’s plum crazy! (Alright, that’s the last plum pun I’ll throw in here. I’d like to hear you say ‘plum pun’ ten times fast!)

What could a fictional three-generation farming family possibly do with that many plums? Most of the harvested fruit is packed up and shipped to markets around the country. The rest get processed into juice, spreads, syrup, and desserts made and sold in the Damson Acres Café.

As the eldest Trudy sister, Meg discovers that all is not well financially at the orchard. Money is draining from the accounts much faster than they can make it, and rather than worry her mother and sisters, Meg is motivated to turn things around. She quickly learns, however, that she can’t do so on her own. Enter the handsome travel blogger renting a guest bungalow on the property. Meg’s sisters dare her to kiss him while having lunch at the café, and when Meg finds out who he is, she is mortified! She and Morris are thrown together repeatedly, of course, and as they spend more time together, it’s only natural that they fall in love.

Some surprising twists tangle their relationship until neither is certain they’ll attain a happily-ever-after. But if you know me at all, you’ll understand that a happy ending for two people who are totally good together is a MUST.

I’d love to send a paperback copy of Meg’s Motivation to one lucky reader here today. To enter, tell me about a family legacy or tradition you cherish. I can’t wait to hear about your heritage. (And by the way, if you’d like to share a favorite plum recipe in the comments, I’d love to include it in a collection I’m putting together.)

Guideline rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

So next time you take a bite out of a fresh, juicy plum or open a bag of soft prunes, there’s a 95% chance you’re eating fruit straight off the truck from California. Mm.

Thanks for having me!

Pre-order Meg’s Motivation for only $0.99!
Amazon

Six Things You May Not Know About 19th Century Newspapers and a Give Away!

Hi! Amanda Cabot here. For me, one of the more enjoyable aspects of writing historical fiction is doing the research. I never fail to find at least one tidbit that intrigues me enough to include it in the book. As someone who once aspired to be a newspaper reporter, I had fun researching nineteenth century newspapers while I created a hero who owns a paper. That’s why I thought I’d share six things that might (or maybe won’t) surprise you about newspapers and printing in the mid-nineteenth century.

1. Importance – With the increase of literacy in the US, you’d think people would have had a large supply of things to read. That wasn’t always the case, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas. For them, newspapers were often the only things they had to read besides the Bible. As a result, papers included more than news. It wasn’t unusual to find poems, stories, and recipes in addition to what we would call news.

2. Prices – How much did all this cost the average subscriber? According to my research, an annual subscription to a weekly paper was $5, an amount that was often paid in goods rather than cash. I hope the editor enjoyed hams and jams as well as turnips and apples.

Advertisements frequently had a tiered cost, being priced at $1 for the first time they were run with subsequent weeks at $.50. To put this in perspective, a doctor’s office visit was also $1. Suppose you were running for office and wanted the paper to announce your candidacy. You might think that would be a simple ad at a cost of a dollar. Not so. Political announcements were priced at $10.

3. Revenue – In many cases, subscriptions and ads weren’t enough to support the newspaperman. That’s why he (and, yes, most of them were men) offered personal printing services, providing cards, posters, and stationery to residents.

4. Town Booming – This was a new term for me, but it underscored the power of the press. When towns were first established and sought new residents, they relied on papers to promote the town – sometimes through gross exaggeration – in an effort to attract settlers. One of the first towns to benefit from this practice was Oregon City in 1846 which relied on the Oregon Spectator to tout its attractions to potential residents.

5. Skullduggery – One of the more popular printing presses during the nineteenth century was the Washington Hand Press. Unlike previous presses, it was made of iron rather than wood, making it sturdy. Even more importantly, it could be easily assembled and disassembled – a real plus in the rapidly expanding American West.

For years, Samuel Rust held the patent on the Washington press and refused to sell it to his competitor, P. Hoe and Company. Hoe, however, was determined to obtain the patent and convinced one of his employees to pose as an inventor who wanted to expand on Rust’s design. Rust agreed to sell him the patent, not knowing that it was all a ruse and that the faux inventor would immediately turn the patent over to his boss.

6. Dangers – While the underhanded techniques that robbed Rust of his patent were unfortunate, they weren’t the only danger involved in the newspaper printing business. Sadly, not everything printed in newspapers was true. Many editors, following the practice of their Eastern colleagues, made little distinction between news and opinion. In some cases, diatribes and personal attacks made their way onto the printed page. You can imagine how those were received. Who would have thought that freedom of the press sometimes resulted in death?

Did any of these surprise you? More importantly, did any intrigue you enough to want to explore the world of nineteenth century newspapers? I’ll pick two people from the comments to receive a print copy of Dreams Rekindled (U.S. addresses only.) 

Giveaway Rules Apply: https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

If you’d like more information, my primary sources for this post were Red Blood and Black Ink by David Dary and Passionate Nation by James L. Haley.

About the book:

He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers—until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is.

Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new—and completely uncontroversial—start in the Hill Country.

As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood.

Bio

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.

Buying Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Social Media Links

http://www.amandacabot.com

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot

https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/

http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

 

GRAY HAWK’S LADY — My Own Personal Story of Love and Romance

Howdy!

Ah, February — a true month of love.  At least for me.  My husband and I just celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our first kiss.  So very, very special and I hope you’ll bear with me as I tell you a little about our personal story of finding love.

The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  This is the story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…
 
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
 
But she insisted for a while (several days) and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
 
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
 
The date was good — okay.  I think we were both a little shy of each other.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening, so after about a week, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “No, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
 
I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  He was divorced.  I was divorced.  We could do things together.  (Mind you, he was also very good-looking.)  So I accepted.
 
Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite a kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware of that.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way. 
 
Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man?  This man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
 
Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him.  He proposed to me in March and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
 
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing this book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course this love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.

 
Did I mention that one of my earrings (the night of that first kiss) fell off during the kiss — and I have pierced ears…!
 
In May of this year, we will have been married 25 years.  Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 25 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with a kiss.
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
 
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift?  You bet I will.  I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Welcome Laura Ashwood and a Give Away!

Hi Everyone! My name is Laura Ashwood and I’m writing to you from the chilly state of Minnesota. Having grown up in North Dakota/Minnesota I am no stranger to the occasional winter blizzard, but I’ve thankfully never been through anything like the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888.

In January, 1888, a massive cold air mass with a spread of over 780 miles, moved into the United States from Canada. The temperature on the front end of the cold front in some places dropped from above freezing to -20°F in just hours. The storm was extremely fast moving. It entered Montana in the early morning hours of January 12, swept through Dakota Territory and was in Nebraska by mid-afternoon of that same day. Because of the warm spell preceding the storm and the swiftness with which it moved, most people were ill prepared. In just minutes, the strong winds and powdery snow made for zero visibility. The combination of bitter cold temperatures and high winds resulted in a death toll of 235. 

Another massive blizzard struck Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, which began as a pleasant day in southeast Nebraska. That afternoon, rain moved in and temperatures began to drop. During the night, the wind picked up and by morning eighteen inches of heavy, wet snow had fallen. The storm raged for two more days, finally abating on Wednesday, April 17. Drifts as high as 20 feet had accumulated in some areas. Many people perished, including a woman with an infant that died just feet from her home, along with thousands of head of livestock.

So, why am I telling you about blizzards that happened over one hundred years ago? It’s because I’m part of a multi-author series called The Blizzard Brides. This series is loosely based on both of those blizzards. What happens when nearly all the men in town get killed during a blizzard? What are the women to do? This group of talented authors takes that question to task, each story following the journey of one of the women as she begins to rebuild her life.

This is my second historical romance. One of the things I strive for when I write historical is to make sure that I get as much accurate detail for the time period as I can. In my story, A Groom for Ruby, Cullen Parker has a dark past before he ends up in Last Chance. I got to research such things as train robberies, stagecoach robberies, gold mines, and place like Dodge City and San Francisco. Much of that research doesn’t make it into the book, but I love being able to work in some of that information.

In this book, Cullen is making his way back to Dakota Territory, hoping to get a job at the Homestake Mine in Lead. The Homestake Mine was a real working gold mine during that time period. It was actually the largest, deepest mine of its type in the United States. It was operational until 2001, and two of my uncles worked there in 1950’s and 1960s. So, not only did I get to add a bit of reality to my fiction – I was able to make it personal.

Do you like it when authors do little things like that? Do you want to know about it?

I’d love to give away a copy of A Groom for Ruby, as well as a copy of my first historical, An Agent for Clarissa, which is part of the Pinkerton Matchmaker series.

Please stop by my website, and if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of Snowflakes & Second Chances, a contemporary novelette. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram, and you can find inspiration boards for all my books on my Pinterest.

 

Buy A Groom for Ruby on AMAZON

Those Hunky Colorado Cowboys! (And a Giveaway!) with Jody Hedlund

Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?

No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.

The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!

Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.

One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.

By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle. 

Figure 1 Picture in South Park that I took of a cattle ranch during my research trip

Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”

A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.

If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.

What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com

Guest Julie Lessman and a Give Away!

Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Bonanza!

Howdy, Everybody! My name is Julie Lessman, and I’m wondering if anybody remembers the above musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day, Bonanza? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but it was a staple in our household growing up and not just in ours either. Bonanza is ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and the 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time, still in syndication today.

So … why am I talking about an almost 60-year-old TV show? Well, despite the fact I’m primarily known as an Irish family saga author with novels set during the early 1900s on both coasts, one day I had this Western series percolating in my brain so strong I could smell the chicory coffee. Next I know, the dad-burned thing caught on fire like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.

It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that writing a Western scared the pejeebers outta me because, well, to be honest, I was intimidated by so many wonderful Western authors I love like Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Winnie Griggs, Kit Morgan, and Margaret Brownley, most of which—gulp—are part of this amazing blog!

But once I got into the fascinating research—like the Transcontinental Railroad, which lots of Irish workers helped build (YAY!) and Virginia City, which numbered as many as 115 saloons in its heyday (BOO!), I knew I found a home in the Wild West!

So I’m a-lookin’ to give away some books today, including my latest Western release, Love’s Silver Bullet, which is book 2 in the Silver Lining Ranch Series. Now, to give you the flavor of this novel, my talented artist hubby created a realllllly cool VIDEO/TRAILER that also features pix of my grandchildren, so I hope you check it out.

And if you do and send me an email via my Contact Julie tab on my website telling me where the heroine, Sheridan Donovon, went to school, I will send you a FREE E-COPY of the prequel novel to this series, For Love of Liberty

Have you ever run across some interesting tidbit in history that you wanted to learn more about?

Here’s a sneak peek of my series:

A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.

 

 

Next, here’s a gander at book 1 in the series, Love’s Silver Lining:

She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, my new release, Love’s Silver Bullet:

She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off
in a bull’s-eye of the heart

 

GIVEAWAY!

In addition to my video/trailer giveaway mentioned above, I am ALSO giving away winner’s choice of the entire Silver Lining Ranch series in e-book OR a signed paperback of her choice of one of the novels in the series. So leave a comment, and you’re automatically in the draw!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

Julie

 

Come Along with Alicia Fannin!

Hello, fellow book lovers!

I’m so honored to be here today!  When I received the invitation to write this guest blog post, I was beyond thrilled! So thank you so much for the invitation, Karen!

I thought the best thing to do was tell you about my debut novel which just launched.  

I’ve always been drawn to mail order bride stories.  My heart has felt so compassionate for the women who found themselves in the position of needing to marry for financial survival in times gone by.  I marvel at the bravery of the couples that took that risk.

“The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is such a story.  Meggie James is heartbroken and hopeless when she loses her husband in a tragic accident.  Her options are few and her situation is dire, complicated by the fact that she has a baby on the way.  With little family to turn to, she sees an ad for a mail order bride.

Thomas Kellen has suffered his own losses.  He’s lost his wife and is left with a beautiful little boy to raise on his own.  It’s a task that’s proving to be too much with a ranch to run and he’s desperate for a solution.  Though it’s unconventional, he advertises for a wife. 

When Meggie arrives in Springwater, Texas, there’s a little detail she may have neglected to mention.  She’s expecting and that’s something Thomas never expected!

In addition to that little tidbit, other issues arise.  Thomas can be gruff when afraid, which is practically all the time since he lost his first wife in childbirth and his new wife is facing just that.  He’s also very much a man’s man (don’t we just love those?!) and Meggie has a very independent spirit!  Clashes are bound to happen.

Then there’s the more tender element that they don’t have a matching faith and Meggie is discovering that her hurts can only be healed by The One she’s ran from for so long.

I hope you’ll come along as their story unfolds. 

You’ll also meet other characters that will have their own personal journeys and love stories in books yet to come.  “The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is book one in the “Springwater Sweethearts” series.  

It’s available on both eBook and paperback on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/3nZUltT

                                      Have you ever been caught in an unexpected situation?                                                  

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will send you a copy of

                                                                      “The Expectant Mail Order Bride.”

I’ll see you in Springwater.

Until next time,

Alicia Fannin

P.S. You can follow along my writing journey at https://www.instagram.com/aliciafanninauthor/

Buy a Ticket, Win a Baby

We are pleased to welcome Regina Jennings as our guest blogger today!  No doubt you’ll be amazed with the circumstances surrounding her topic…”Buy a Ticket, Win a Baby.”  Enjoy!

You’ve probably heard of some crazy raffle prizes, but they all pale in comparison to what I found in the Joplin News Herald of 1910. First, some background.

After the Civil War, Joplin became the land of opportunity. It didn’t seem you could dig a hole in the ground without hitting either lead or zinc. Stories were told of poor families traveling through the region who decided to do a little digging around their campfire one night and a few years later they might be living in a mansion in the expensive Murphysburg neighborhood.

But with easy riches came a host of other problems. First off, there were purported to be seventy-five saloons in the newly-settled town, along with gambling dens and houses of ill-repute. Before long, the respectable citizens of Joplin thought to establish a Children’s Home to accommodate the children abandoned by the less-responsible and less-fortunate among them.

Not surprisingly, the Joplin Children’s Home had trouble keeping up with the needs of the community. In an attempt to raise money for the Children’s Home, the Elks planned a charity fair in 1910 and M. B. Peltz, the new manager of the Electric Light Park, offered his services to promote the amusements, including a raffle.

Now, to Mr. Peltz’s thinking, raffling off a baby was a practical solution. Not only would the Children’s Home raise funds, but it would also be left with one less mouth to feed if the raffle was a success. And Mr. Peltz wasn’t alone in his thinking. This was a trend of the times.

In 1911, A Foundling Hospital in Paris had a baby raffle, and in 1909 a baby named Ernest was put up as a prize during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Washington State. Who knows how many other orphaned children were placed in that way? To many early 20th Century humanitarians, it was a pragmatic solution.

But the fine citizens of Joplin wouldn’t hear of such a thing. While the Elks were divided on the idea, the mayor said he’d call out the militia to prevent a baby from being raffled. Despite the threat, Mr. Peltz continued to share the tragic (and often contradictory) history of the orphaned child, along with promoting the other amusements of the charitable fair.

When Peltz failed to disavow the plans, he was arrested, but the publicity only encouraged Peltz. Even after he posted bail and was released from jail, he couldn’t help but drop hints to the newspapers about the poor kid that would be rescued by someone willing to buy a ticket. After all, his goal was to get people talking about the carnival and to raise funds. People were talking all right. A promoter, through and through.

The day of the Joplin fair arrived with its parade, carnival, and games. There was no baby among the raffled items, but the controversy seemed to have achieved its purpose. One thousand and two hundred dollars were raised for the Children’s Home, and Mr. Peltz undoubtedly credited himself and the scandal for the success. How did he explain the absence of a kid to be given away? The newspapers don’t say specifically but stories passed down over the years say he produced a goat “kid” while others say there was a kitten.

While some places might have raffled off a baby, Joplin, for all its scandalous ways, avoided that trespass. But barely. And in my new release Courting Misfortune, a baby raffle does take place, with disastrous consequences.

What are some things you’ve seen raffled off? What would you like to win? What would you refuse?

To one person who leaves a comment I will give away a copy of Courting Misfortune. 

Here’s a quick excerpt of the book.

“Courting Misfortune”– Calista York needs one more successful case as a Pinkerton operative to secure her job. When she’s assigned to find the kidnapped daughter of a mob boss, she’s sent to the rowdy mining town of Joplin, Missouri, despite having extended family in the area. Will their meddling expose her mission and keep Lila Seaton from being recovered?

When Matthew Cook decided to be a missionary, he never expected to be sent only a short train ride away. While fighting against corruption of all sorts, Matthew hears of a baby raffle being held to raise funds for a children’s home. He’ll do what he can to stop it, but he also wants to stop the reckless Miss York, whose bad judgment consistently seems to be putting her in harm’s way.

Calista doesn’t need the handsome pastor interfering with her investigation, and she can’t let her disguise slip. Her job and the life of a young lady depend on keeping Matthew in the dark.  

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s a Christy Award finalist, the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at the Oklahoma National Stockyards. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online. Her link to purchase is: http://www.reginajennings.com/courting-misfortune/  

The First College for Women in the West ~ by Kathleen Denly

When we think of the western frontier, few of us picture a young woman seated at her desk, studying English grammar, yet many would argue that the West was shaped as much by education as by anything else. Thus, when I learned of the pioneering institution known at its inception as the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California, I was immediately intrigued. Established in 1852, it was the first school of higher learning created for women west of the Rockies and continues today as Mills College.

Despite the word seminary in its name, the school’s purpose was not to prepare its pupils to be priests, ministers, or rabbis. It was established to fulfill the perceived educational needs of the daughters of California’s Protestant Christian families. The original trustees were concerned that the pioneering families of the West were forced to choose between forgoing a higher education for their daughters or sending them on a long ocean voyage to New York, potentially severing family ties.

Thus the school was established while the gold rush was still in full swing and Benicia was California’s capital. According to the school’s early catalogues, its aim was “to train healthy, companionable, self-reliant women—those prepared to be useful and acceptable in the school, in the family, and in society.” To that end, the teachers deemed it important for their students to “be able to spell correctly, to read naturally, to write legibly, and to converse intelligently.” The young ladies of the school performed regular recitations at which family and select members of the public were often invited to attend. In addition to an English course of study, the school offered what they called “ornamental branches” of study which included “instrumental music (pianoforte and guitar), drawing, crayoning, painting (in water colors and oils) and ornamental needle work.” (Keep, 1931)

Initially many of the school’s students came from the nearby cities such as San Francisco, Marysville, Sacramento, and Stockton, but most came from Mother Lode camps such as Hangtown, Park’s Bar, Rough and Ready, Angels Camp, and more. A few students also came from the southern part of the Golden State, which is where my heroine, Clarinda Humphrey, hails from in my novel, Sing in the Sunlight. Keeping in mind the incredible fluctuation of fortunes and social status going on in California during this time period, the idea of young women from such varied backgrounds coming to Benicia to learn and live beneath the same roof is fascinating. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall of the Young Ladies’ Seminary in those early days.

I think I’d have planted myself on the shoulder of those early principals first, though. It seems they had a terrible habit of forgoing their duties to pedagogy in favor of matrimony. The romantic in me is incredibly curious about how those courtships began and progressed. Further adding to my curiosity surrounding the school’s romances is the manner in which the school’s students were required to attend church.

Escorted to church each Sunday by their principal, the students were required to sit at the rear of the church in the upper gallery near the organ so that they would be out of sight of the young men present. My guess, though, is that more than one man gained a crick in his neck during services. What do you think?

Source:  Keep, R. (1931) Fourscore Years, A History of Mills College

 

 Preorder https://kathleendenly.com/books/

I’m excited to share with you that Sing in the Sunlight, book two of my Chaparral Hearts series which features the Young Ladies’ Seminary, is currently on preorder.

So today, I’m giving away a signed copy of Waltz in the Wilderness, book one in the series. Leave a comment below to enter. (International Winners will receive a digital copy of the book & signed bookmark in place of printed book. Void where prohibited.)

How influential was your college experience, or lack of it, in creating who you are today?

Buy WALTZ IN THE WILDERNESS on https://kathleendenly.com/books/

A Different Kind of Christmas – by Jodi Thomas

It’s a crazy world out there right now, and Christmas is coming with a warning label to stay away from people. I can’t do that. It won’t be Christmas without the “grands,” I tell myself.

Calm down, I say to myself. I’ll wash my hands another hundred times and put on two masks, not just one. I’ll even jump back if I pass someone in the grocery aisle. I will whisper my new battle cry: I’ll live through this, or not. I’m in the danger zone.

I don’t know about everyone but for me now and then, I just have to relax and have fun or I will go completely nuts. I’m staying in, staying safe and staying up all night watching at least one Hallmark movie a night. And, of course stepping into fiction anytime I can. If I can’t see people, I have to talk to my characters and that’s how I got the idea for a new story.

When I started writing my new novella, THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I wanted to put lots of love and laughter in the story because that’s what we’re all looking for.

So, of course I picked a dark time in Texas to start. In the ten years after the Civil War, almost half the people in Texas died, hard times. I picked a woman with no future and a man down on his luck, a broken soldier. The two get their chance to start a life when they get a job to transport five little girls from Jefferson, Texas, to a ranch north of Dallas.

Now the fun begins. Trapper knows nothing about little girls, and it seems every bad guy in Texas wants to kidnap the rich girls. He teaches them how to survive, and they teach him to care. Trapper risks his life to save them, and they open his heart.

So cuddle up with THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS. I promise you’ll love the journey this story called “Father Goose” takes.

These are my little outlaws last Christmas who inspired the story. We may not all get to see our families this holiday, but if you have a comment about your family at Christmas, I’d love it if you’d share.

Do you have a funny story that happened at Christmas? What is one of your family traditions? (Do you have matching pajamas?) What is a favorite food your family always requests?

Join in, and I will send one lucky winner a copy of the book.

 Let’s all take a minute to remember happy days in the past and know that we’ll get to hug everyone next Christmas.

Until then, read on dear friends. I pray my gift to you this holiday is laughter.

Jodi 

Amazon