Donaldina Cameron – Chinese Women Crusader & Activist by Pam Crooks

While writing my historical western romance, BROKEN BLOSSOMS, I relied heavily on my research with the U. S. Customs Service and their tireless fight against the never-ending smuggling of opium by the Chinese into our country. While immersed in my study, I learned that opium wasn’t the only vice smuggled in. Young, desperate Chinese women were, too, brought over to live the horrors of enslavement in San Francisco’s Chinatown brothels.

A brief mention of a woman who had dedicated her life to rescuing these women was a young missionary by the name of Donaldina Cameron. While grieving over a broken engagement, Donaldina quit her studies to be a teacher and found herself in a career of an entirely different sort, that of doing missionary work at the Mission House, a safe place for young Chinese women run by the Presbyterian Church.

Initially, she taught the girls sewing and helped run the House, but after the manager died, Donaldina took over. Supremely devoted to the protection and nurturing of the Asian women, she kept them on a strict schedule and taught them household skills, Christian prayers and beliefs, how to interact socially in society, and so on. A fierce guardian, she fought the courts against frivolous charges to keep them out of jail and free of prostitution and the physical abuse that came with it, even going so far as to physically rescue them from brothels herself.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the practice of allowing women to do missionary work was growing and deeply appreciated. Donaldina herself accepted the Chinese culture, allowing the women their accustomed foods and decorations, yet enforcing a balance of Anglo-American customs, too, such as wearing a white dress when marrying instead of the traditional red worn by the Chinese. A somewhat amazing accomplishment since wearing white was customary at Chinese funerals, not weddings!

Donaldina never married or had children of her own. Ironically, after living in San Francisco’s Chinatown for forty years, she never learned the Chinese language. She died in 1968 at the age of 98 years. Before her death, her beloved Mission House’s name was changed to the Donaldina Cameron House, and she is credited with saving more 3,000 Chinese women from horrific enslavement.

Here’s an excerpt in BROKEN BLOSSOMS taken from my research with the U. S. Customs Service and the realistic depiction of the arrival of the Chinese into the San Francisco harbor at the time.

A horde of Chinese men, mostly in their twenties, trod next down the gangway. All of them were dressed in clean blue cotton blouses and baggy trousers. Their foreheads were shaved, and their glossy black hair was braided with silk into long queues. Carleigh recognized them as coolies, or laborers, who would work in any one of a variety of low-paying industries. They carried long bamboo poles across their shoulders. Baskets attached at each end contained their meager possessions.

A dozen or so Chinese girls followed. Though they wore tunics and trousers like other Chinese women, theirs were obviously of poorer quality; their cheeks and lips were painted a gaudy red. On their heads, they wore checked cotton handkerchiefs, the chevron of prostitution.

Ignorant of morals and the contracts they signed in China, they would service their masters in a slavery more horrible than any human being should endure. After an indelicate search by the officers, their purchasers delivered them into the charge of sallow old hags, dressed in black and carrying rings of keys at their waists.

Carleigh’s heart ached for how these girls would live. Would they ever know the warm intimacy a man’s love could give them? Would their lives always be so hopeless?

99¢ for this blog only! (Returning to full price this weekend!)

AMAZON

 

If you could dedicate your life in service to one thing, what would it be?

 

My Favorite Thing – Our Cabin at the Lake!

 

Living in a land-locked state like Nebraska, big bodies of water are scarce.  We do have rivers and smaller lakes, though, so as you can imagine, water-front property is a high commodity.  There is very little turn-over since families hang onto their land for generations.  If someone does want to sell, the properties are snatched up so fast by word-of-mouth, a realtor isn’t even needed.

Hence, my dream of finding a cabin on a lake was no easy venture.  I looked for 15 years before I found one that I wanted to buy.  Either the property was too far away, too expensive, too junky-looking, on a river (which I didn’t want – too prone to flooding and fast current), or was a permanent home (which I also didn’t want because I, well, already had a permanent home.)

Then, one day, on Craigslist, I found a listing with an affordable price only 45 minutes from our home.  It had a few decorating issues, but when my husband (who tends to be a nay-sayer) checked the construction and muttered the place “had good bones,” I knew we’d found the cabin I’d long wanted.

As coincidence would have it, we were retiring in a matter of weeks.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  My husband had all the time he needed to do some remodeling, and I had a blast decorating.  It wasn’t long until our little cabin and beach became firmly entrenched in our hearts.

Our family treasure.

Here are a few pictures:

The wildlife is fun to see, most of which, of course, I don’t get photos of.

But here’s a couple of big fish right off our dock.

And the granddarlings fishing with their Grandpa:

                                                               

Of course, the fun in the water:

Four grandsons canoeing in their great-grandfather’s canoe.

And doing flips off the dock.

The paddleboard is a kid favorite.  They have more balance than I do, let me tell you!

Afterward, supper set out on long tables under the trees.

With bellies full, my son-in-law and our Golden Retriever lounging after supper.

Good times and precious memories, for sure!

Do you have a special place that your family holds dear in their hearts? 

What does your family do – or where do they go – to make fun memories together?

Why are Coins on Military Headstones? By Pam Crooks

 

Have you ever strolled through a cemetery and noticed a few (or a lot!) coins left on a monument?

Of course, it’s not unusual for loved ones and friends to leave sentimental items like a can of Dr. Pepper, a travel-size bottle of spirits, stones, a cross, and of course, flowers.

But money?

When we noticed several coins last year that had been glued on a headstone in our family’s cemetery, we found it odd.  Turns out, those coins have deep meaning, and if you see any, it’s very likely the headstone belonged to a member of the military.

Those coins are a sentimental gesture, not only from the person who left them, but to the family of the service member as well. It shows that others have been by to pay their respects, and they are showing great pride in someone who is no longer with them.

Per the Department of Military Affairs, the custom began during the Roman Empire when coins were placed in the mouths of soldiers for protection and payment into the world of the dead.  Here in the US, the custom especially grew in popularity during the Vietnam War, which of course was a controversial war.  Leaving the coins was a quiet way to honor and respect the fallen soldiers.

As you might guess, those coins are not left behind randomly.  Each one has special significance.

A penny means that a person has visited the headstone and is showing gratitude for the deceased’s service. There is no stipulation on who should leave the penny.  Anyone can.

A nickel means that the visitor had once attended boot camp with the deceased.

A dime signifies that the one who left it served in the military with the deceased.

A quarter – and this one is especially moving – means the visitor had been with the soldier when he or she passed away.

Wow.

With Memorial Day only a couple of weeks away, now you know why those coins are there, and if you’re like me, you’ll be especially moved by the gesture. They are a lovely way to show thanks for service and friendship – when the service member cannot hear us say the words.

Omaha National Cemetery

 

Have you ever seen coins on a headstone? 

Have you or a child left a memento on a loved one’s grave? 

What is the most unusual or moving thing you’ve seen on someone’s grave?

The Gypsy Life – Then and Now ~ by Pam Crooks

When I wrote LADY GYPSY a number of years ago, I–as always–surrounded myself with a pile of research books. It’s always been important to me to write a book as historically accurate as possible, not only to give the story realism but to teach my readers a little something, too. After all, if one reads historical romance, one can assume they love the history, too, right?

I read those research books cover to cover, and by the time I immersed myself in Liza and Reese’s story, I had a good feel for Liza as a character. It was easy to weave in tidbits of Gypsy information that helped Liza be as different from Reese (a non-Gypsy, of course) as she could be, shaping the conflict that is important to any well-written storyline. Every book that I write, I hope to make my readers wonder “How will these two ever overcome the obstacles that are keeping them apart? How can they reach their happy-ever-after?”

Trust me, Liza and Reese do. 🙂

It’s believed by some that the Gypsies first originated in Egypt centuries ago, hence their name, though others claim India even earlier than that. Regardless, this nomadic ethnic group came to America in the 1500s as slaves, then eventually migrated across the country living their itinerant lifestyle, becoming such a curiosity that they were often feared and mostly despised. They disdained formal education and community rules, shunned foreigners in their midst, often got into trouble with the law from their thievery and drinking, and generally made nuisances of themselves upon their arrival.

Interestingly, the Gypsies are still alive and thriving today, although some prefer to be called ‘Romani’ instead of Gypsy. They cling to their old traditions, embrace strong family ties, and still travel in large ‘kumpanias‘ or family groups. The high-wheeled wagons have been replaced by campers pulled by pickup trucks and sedans. They snap selfies of themselves and have embraced much of the American and European lifestyles. They believe in God but also believe in ghosts and evil spells. Upon reaching their destinations, they live in Gypsy camps located in the periphery of the city and stay for days at a time, much to the dismay of the local police and city leaders.

The modern-day Gypsy has certainly evolved from the way they lived in the 1800s, as I’ve depicted them. They are better educated, more affluent, less transient.  They labor at jobs like roofing, laying blacktop, or training horses. The older generation insist that the younger marry Gypsies to protect their race. Of course, as is inevitable, the youth follow their own minds, and the bloodlines have become diluted from inter-marrying.

Still, they have a fascinating history that time will never take away.

Until next time . . . Baxt hai sastimos tiri patragi – Romani for “Wishing luck and good health”

Have you ever met a Gypsy?

(My mother has told how they would come to her family’s farm for food, and my grandmother always gave them something to eat.)

Do you or your family have any quirks the rest of us would think a bit strange?

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Sale extended for this blog!

Liza was born to roam the land with her mother’s people, but she is shamed by the sin that made her forever different.

Reese has set down roots deep in the Nebraska prairie.  His dreams are sure to come true with a new railroad and a proper wife and child.

But Liza is accused unfairly by Reese’s people, and she is forced to flee the security of her world to see safety in his.  When Reese’s careful plans for success are threatened, he must fight to save all he’s ever worked for.

Will it cost him the love he’s found with the beautiful, black-eyed woman with red-gold hair?  His Lady Gypsy?

#kindleunlimited

 

AI and Virtual Voice. Love it or Hate it? By Pam Crooks

No doubt our forefathers of yesteryear would have been unable to comprehend what we call artificial intelligence today.  That is, the ability of machines and software to emulate the human mind, our intelligence, and problem-solving abilities.  They’d probably think such a thing was laughable and so farfetched, it was ridiculous to even talk about.

But it’s here today, and in a big way.

With anything as hugely complex and powerful as artificial intelligence, misuse is bound to happen. Examples are fraud, forgery, data manipulation, malware attacks, and so on.  Ditto with some student using AI to do his homework for him.

But there’s benefits from AI, too. You might have heard the recent story about the Vesuvius Challenge where college students worked together to decipher ancient papyrus scrolls that had been carbonized to ashes in Pompeii in 79 A.D. To try to unroll the scrolls would have destroyed them, but this team worked tirelessly to interpret them and succeeded with AI.  They won the $700,000 prize for their efforts, too. I was fascinated by this particular story because one of the students attended our state university less than an hour away from me.  AI also provides huge benefits in medical imaging that can help with more accurate diagnosis in, say, cancers.

There’s a popular site called ChaptGPT where one can ask a question like… “I have lettuce, tomatoes, and hamburger.  Make me a recipe.”  And voila!  One appears.

Another example. Prompt with “Write a story about a cowboy in Montana.”  Again, the words stream across the screen.

Of course, if an author uses AI to write her book, that’s fraudulent and terribly unfair to the reader. I do know some authors use AI to help them with blurbs and taglines. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that, but maybe some would.

I never paid too much attention to AI, however, until last month when Amazon contacted me with an invitation to participate in their Virtual Voice audiobooks.  Amazon launched this capability in November, but I hadn’t heard of it until the invitation arrived in my Inbox in February.  Not everyone got the offer (I checked), but I was quick to give it a try.

Amazon’s motivation was that, in all the hundreds of thousands of books they offer, only 4% are in audiobooks.  No doubt they are trying to increase their income stream, and one can’t blame them, especially when they make the offer too good for an author to ignore.

I found the experience pretty amazing.  With the touch of a keystroke, I could change the virtual voice from man to woman, or from American to British.  Within seconds.  The audiobook is hooked with my ebook.  If I make a change in the ebook, it automatically carries over to the audiobook.  Pretty slick.

The biggest complaint from authors is the lack of human inflections. I get that.  Some claim the virtual voice is too monotone.  Somewhat, yes, but not bad, and truly, you get used to it.

There were parts where I wish my villains sounded harsher than what they did.  But I felt that way with human narrators, too.  There are human narrators who are female and try to imitate a man’s voice and vice versa.  A little amusing, so both ways aren’t perfect, by any means.

Yes, a change this big is hard to accept.  I’ve been in this business a long, long time.  I remember in 2007, the first e-reader was introduced.  No one I knew had ever heard of such a thing, but a techy writer named Connie Crow, who belonged to my Romance Writers of America chapter, was one of the first to have her book available on an e-reader.  She took the publishing world–and Romance Writers of America–by storm, let me tell you.  Many authors decried the use of e-readers as being detrimental to brick and mortar stores and even the timber industry.  Readers refused to read off an electronic device, determined to keep hard copies of books in their hands and on their shelves.  Heck, I was the same way at first.

Suffice to say, the Kindle and Nook grew in huge popularity, changed MANY opinions, and none of us can imagine a world now without them.  There are some that are saying the virtual voice audiobook will be the same way, and at a huge savings to authors (albeit at the cost of narrators losing their jobs, as with the Kindle). Like the Kindle’s technology has evolved, so will the virtual voice audiobooks’. It’s been said that these virtual voice audiobooks “is poised to revolutionize the audiobook industry.”  (Hidden Gems Books)

I invite you to listen and decide for yourself.

So far, I’ve made three books as audiobooks (WYOMING WILDFLOWER, HANNAH’S VOW, and CHRISTIANA) with virtual voice.  Amazon makes very clear to the consumer about it, so she knows what she’s getting.

Please take a look.  ARMED & MARVELOUS is narrated by a human.  HANNAH’S VOW is narrated by virtual voice.  Just click the image for a brief sample, located below the cover on Amazon.

 

Virtual Voice vs Human Voice.  I’d love to know what you think!

Wanted: Homes for Orphan Children – by Pam Crooks

Perhaps it’s the mother in me, but the story of the orphan trains has always captivated and dug into my innermost sympathies.  Images of dirty-faced, solemn-eyed children huddling together in the streets without parents to care for them would tug at anyone’s heartstrings.

Back in the 1850s, when New York was being flooded with immigrants, cheap housing became scarce. Poverty raged, and parents, either due to illness, death, or lack of jobs, compelled their children to fend for themselves on the streets.  These desperate children sold matches, rags, or newspapers to survive. As one would think inevitable, they fell victim to gangs and crimes. Overwhelmed police would capture the vagrant children and lock them up in jail with adults.

The Reverence Charles Brace, himself from an affluent family, took pity on the children and founded the Children’s Aid Society in 1853. He raised money for schools, lodging, and education.  Yet even with all this, the illiteracy and truancy was rampant, and the reverend’s solution was to get them out of the deplorable living conditions in New York and give them a new start by finding them fresh homes in the west, with good Christian families who would love and care for them.

Using funds donated by wealthy New Yorkers, the children were given new clothes and sturdy shoes, then put onto trains. With no formal social welfare system in place, parents signed agreements allowing the children to be taken to new homes, but with the caveat that they could return if the adoption didn’t work out.

Some children were pre-placed into homes and went directly to their new families upon arriving to the appropriate town.

For the others, however, handbills announced their impending arrival.  The public gathered in front of makeshift stages to check the children out. Reverend Brace’s intention was to place them in the country where they could work in farm families.

And this is what inspired my book, WYOMING WILDFLOWER. Here’s the scene where my hero, Lance Harmon, finally gets chosen:

The wind howled and whistled outside Omaha’s Old Opera House, but the men and women crowded inside had long ago forgotten the snow-driven cold. Children occupied their full attention, orphan children newly arrived on the train from New York.

Already, under the scrutinizing eyes of the adults, they’d paraded through the aisles before standing in a semicircle on the stage, and already most of them had been picked.

Only Lance remained. Unchosen. Alone.

Humiliation seared him. He stared straight ahead. So what if no one wanted him? So what if no one cared enough to take him in for a little while? He was fifteen, the oldest of the orphans here. Only two more years and he’d be on his own.

So what?

He’d survived nearly five years at the Children’s Aid Society. Nearly five years without Ma, of selling matches and newspapers and helping the Reverend Brace take care of the younger boys.

He could survive a couple more.

The western agent in charge would simply take him to the next scheduled stop. And there, as now, he’d stand perfectly still while everyone gawked at him in his stupid orphan uniform and tried to decide whether or not to take him.

Alone. He would survive.

Lance dragged his gaze to a burly-chested man waiting expectantly before him. Snow dusted the shoulders of his thick sheepskin coat and collected on the brim of his big hat. He moved closer, emanating an obscure vapor of cool, fresh air.

After a long moment, the man reached out and poked Lance’s biceps, then tilted his chin upward as if to inspect his coloring.

“A little scrawny,” he murmured. Offended, Lance stiffened and pulled away. The man smiled. “But nothing honest work and square meals won’t cure. You got a good appetite?”

Lance didn’t tell him he couldn’t get his fill at the orphanage, that there always seemed to be someone younger and hungrier than himself at the table. He tried to ignore the glimmer of hope flickering within him.

The man stroked his pencil-thin mustache. Lance, growing uneasy from the silence, shifted from one foot to the other.

“So you’re looking for a home, eh?” the man asked finally.

Lance swallowed his pride. “Yes, sir.”

“And I’m looking for a son.” His features softened, and he nodded in approval. He extended his hand. “Name’s Mancuso. Vince Mancuso.”

The Children’s Aid Society had many success stories of children placed in loving homes, notably Andrew Burke and John Brady who once lived on the streets, but were adopted out and grew up to become governors of North Dakota and of Alaska.  Other stories weren’t so happy and speak of abuse or rejection by adoptive parents, children used only as cheap labor who eventually just ran away.

All in all, the Reverend Brace’s vision endured until 1929. By then, 250,000 children had been placed on those trains and chugged down the tracks toward new homes.  After 75 years, his efforts were the forerunner of modern foster care.

Buy on AMAZON

#kindleunlimited

(Only 99¢ but this sale is ending VERY soon!)

WYOMING WILDFLOWER is one of my earlier releases that I have given significant edits to fit the sweet romance genre.  This book has once again come alive for me in a new market, and yet still depicts the grittiness of the Old West as well as plenty of romance between a hero and a heroine who couldn’t be more different.

The Reverence Brace is to be commended for his vision and passion to help orphaned children. If you could raise the money and resources, what passion or vision do YOU have that you could use those resources for?

You could win an ebook copy of WYOMING WILDFLOWER!

 

The Making of an Audiobook ~ by Pam Crooks

Even with my long career as a published writer, I’ve never had an audio made of my books.

In my own defense, though, audiobooks were never much of a thing until the last few years.  Amazon and their Audible program is much to credit for that, and writers are constantly looking for ways to market their books.  With electronics such a major part of our lives, it was inevitable that readers would grab their ear buds to ‘read’ a book instead of holding one in their hand.

So after being inspired by Linda Broday, who just launched her own audiobooks for the first time, I took the plunge with ARMED & MARVELOUS.

I had no clue what to do, but Linda was always there to answer my questions.  Once I opened an account in ACX, the Audible website for authors, I fumbled my way around to learn the site and get the ball rolling.

Step number one. Submit a few pages to be read by a narrator.  In my case, I split the pages with points of view of both the hero and the heroine since I wanted to hear how the narrator read both the male and female voice.

Second, decide how much to offer a narrator.  There were three tiers, and I chose the lowest because I had no idea what to expect.  (Trust me, it’s hard to shell out money when you’re standing on the edge of a black hole with no idea how your investment is going to pay off.)

Immediately, I got 4 narrators, all female, who were interested.  The first one did a great job, but she had a strong southern accent, which I didn’t think was a good fit for my Kansas heroine.  The second one spoke clearly and slowly.  The third only read half of my submission – the female part and none of the male.  When she mispronounced a common word, that was a definite ‘no’ for me.  And finally, the fourth one just offered to read for me if I didn’t have a narrator chosen yet, which was also a quick ‘no’ because she wasn’t even willing to put in the work for an audition.

So that left Narrator #2 whose name was Virginia Nelson.  After a brief communication where I told her I’d like the narration done before a Facebook party I had coming up, she was willing to try.  I offered her the top of the tier, and she accepted the offer.  I sent her a test chapter, she narrated it, I approved it, and the rest of the book followed.  We were off and running.

Once all the chapters were narrated, she uploaded the files for me to approve.  With Linda’s great advice, I followed along in my book to make sure nothing was missed.  It was the perfect way to relive my book through my narrator’s voice.  It took about four hours or so, but it was great fun.  I especially loved Virginia’s baying howl when she read my heroine’s dog in the story.

As I followed along, when I found an error – maybe words were transposed or the inflection wasn’t quite right – I noted it as well as the exact time on the file.  It wasn’t logical to expect no mistakes.  There was a lot of reading and a lot of hours of talking.  Heck, sometimes I can’t even speak a sentence without getting something mixed up!

Once through the book, I sent my notations as a message in ACX.  Virginia was a dream to communicate with, and she started on the edits right away, then resent the corrected files to me.  Once again, I went through the entire book, and the edits she made were absolutely seamless.  I was blown away.  No one would know the parts that were a re-do.

While we didn’t make my tight deadline, Virginia had done her best and worked loyally for me.  By the end of our project, I felt completely comfortable asking her to do a brief interview for this blog.  She was a quick ‘yes.’

1. Where is your studio located?  Do you rent space or have your studio in your home?

I’ve made a makeshift, tiny sound booth in my basement laundry area, using insulation as a soundproofing material. It isn’t fancy by any means, but it works quite well. With a small desk in there, it’s more comfortable than trying to find a space in a closet, which I know many people have to do.

2. Are your hours your own?

Absolutely! I only audition and accept projects when I know I have time to do them. Since I share my house with my 2 kids and husband, and it’s impossible to record with noisy kids in the house, I have to plan around when they are in school. My husband and I also run a lodging business, so recording is very part-time for me.

3. Are you considered self-employed, or are you employed by ACX?

Yes, self-employed. I’m in charge of reporting all income on my taxes.

4. How many hours did it take you to narrate ARMED & MARVELOUS?

I didn’t calculate exactly how many hours A&M took, but I have kept track on a few other projects, so I know it takes me approximately 3 hours of recording and editing per finished hour. So I think A&M came out to a little over 4 hours, therefore likely in the 12+ hour range.

5. How many books do you record in a week?

Because of my other job, I only would ever accept one project a week. That usually leaves a little time to audition for other projects, while working on the current one, so that I hopefully have something lined up for the future. 

6. Can you give a quick description of how you do edits?

Because I have limited time without other people making noise in the house, I tend to record as much as I can, then use a dog clicker when I make a mistake so it makes a mark on the audio map, then repeat the sentence. After recording, I go back and delete all the messed up parts. Some narrators fix mistakes as they go so when they finish recording a chapter, say, they have a fully edited file already.

It’s a bit harder for the mistakes that the author sends and wants fixed after the file is finished. For that process, I’d go back to the raw file, re-record the full sentence that the mistake is in, then cut and paste it where it goes. It typically requires more tweaking with volume since the mic might be in a different place, or recording the mistake again and again until I get my tone, pacing, etc. to match the audio around it. I have pre-set effects that help with noise reduction, mouth clicks, etc., and I’m able to apply those to the new segments, which really helps keep a consistent sound since they are the same every time.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

There you have it.  My first experience with a narrator and an audiobook!

AUDIO BOOK ON AMAZON

One last thing I learned.  ACX offers codes for the author to distribute free copies of the audiobook to readers to help build reviews.  I’m giving away some of those codes today.  It’s taking a bit for ACX to show the codes have been redeemed, so I will update throughout the day.  I have more, as well as separate codes for UK readers. Redeem the one-time use code below at https://www.audible.com/acx-promo

All the codes have been redeemed!  If you’d like one, please message me!

If you take a code and listen to ARMED & MARVELOUS, I’d greatly appreciate a ranking or review on Amazon afterward.  Thank you, friends.

How do you feel about audiobooks?  Do you listen to them?  What do you think are pros and cons of an audiobook?

Cowboys & Mistletoe – Pam Crooks

(POST  3 of 3  for Wednesday)

Now that our Cowboys & Mistletoe celebration is in full swing, I hope you’ve been enjoying the fun and silliness of trying to determine if we are telling you the truth – or lying right at you!!

It’s hard to beat a romantic Christmas story, isn’t it?  I’ve written several, but today I’m featuring THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE, Book 2 of my Wells Cattle Co. trilogy.

After Allethaire Gibson was kidnapped several years earlier in the wilds of Montana Territory, she tries hard to put her life back together in civilized Minnesota. She almost succeeds—until she’s framed for a crime she didn’t commit. With her reputation in shreds, she flees back to Montana to seek her father’s help in proving her innocence.

Mick Vasco never expects to see Allethaire again, but when he finds her in the middle of a train-robbery-in-progress, he has no choice but to kidnap her—again.

Together they race against time to find crucial answers. But during the blessed season of Christmas, they find wondrous gifts of forgiveness and love instead.

Find The Cattleman’s Christmas Bride on Amazon

Only 99¢

Find the Wells Cattle Company Series on Amazon

(Note: Book 1 and Book 3 are not sweet romances.)

TO WIN A $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD . . . 

 

Below you will find three statements, two are true, one is not. 

Guess which is the lie in the comments to be entered in the drawings.

Winners and answers will be announced on Sunday 12/03.

1. I once celebrated Christmas with my family in a bike shop.

2. A couple of years ago, we made 18 pans of the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls as gifts, and none of them raised.

3. My Christmas dinner was once delayed for several hours because the fresh turkey just wouldn’t get done.

Handy Features Explained! by Pam Crooks

1. What is the purpose of the little hole in padlocks?

It allows water to drain if the padlock is left outside or whatever.  Also, if you’re afraid the padlock will jam up, just pour a little oil in that hole so it won’t!

2. Why are headrests detachable?

This was the only one my husband didn’t know (that I asked him about.)  One might want to detach the headrest for his own reason, but an important tip is that if (God forbid) you are trapped in your car, removing the headrest will allow you to use the metal posts to break open the window to escape.

3. What is the purpose of the can’s tab?

Besides opening your beverage, that is!  Just turn the tab around, and it will be a straw-holder for you!  (I honestly had no idea!!  I just put the straw in the main hole!)

4. Why does a tube of toothpaste have these colored blocks at the end?

 

These blocks will come in either blue, red, green, or black.  (Yep, my tube of Crest had a red block!)  They are “eye marks” that machines in the factory will read to know when and where to cut the tube, then seal for packaging.

5. Why do some garments come with little swatches of fabric?

One might think the extra fabric is used for mending, which is what the buttons are for, right?  But nope.  The little swatches are to be used for washing to test for shrinkage or color bleeding.  Although, I would certainly use it for mending a little hole if I had to!

Did you guess all five correctly?

Bet You Didn’t Know This! (Or Did You?) by Pam Crooks

I’d like to think I’m an observant person, but after preparing for this blog, I’m more clueless than I ever realized.  Some things I see, I just don’t question.  Things that are just THERE, and they go over my head in importance.

Here’s a few:

The little hole in the side of a pen.

Most of us grew up with Bic pens, right?  I used to buy them in 10-packs for the girls.  Of course, I saw the hole, but I never realized without it, the pen would be completely airtight, which would prevent the ink from flowing to the tip, and you couldn’t write.  Also, in really low pressure areas like planes, the pen could explode, spraying ink everywhere.

The hole in the cap of a pen.

Without it, air gets trapped in the cap, creating pressure that will push ink out of the tip.  But more importantly, if someone accidentally swallowed the cap (who among us haven’t chewed on that cap while doing schoolwork?) the hole will help you breathe until it can be surgically removed.  Who knew?

 

 

 

The circle on milk jugs.

 

Since milk is filled to the very brim (customers want absolutely full cartons, you know), in case the jug is dropped, the inverted circle (or a similar design) will expand to prevent bursting.  Also, if you leave the milk in the ‘fridge too long, it will build up gas and expand.  That circle will help there, too.  Ditto when freezing milk, although I always remove about 1/2 cup of milk to allow for plenty of expanding.

The hole in airplane windows.

Have you ever noticed one?  I never have!  But my husband has, and he knew that it is meant to allow air to flow into the plane and regulate pressure.

Arrow on the gas gauge in your car.

Another one I never knew.  Heck, I never even noticed that arrow, at least not enough to question why it was there.  But starting in 2010, all cars were required to have this arrow, which indicates which side the gas tank is located.  Now isn’t that handy?  Especially if you’re driving a rental car or are in long lines waiting to get gas.  Much easier (and less embarrassing) to get on the correct side to fill up the tank!

Why men’s buttons are on the opposite side of women’s.

While buttons have been around since the Middle Ages, they weren’t produced en masse until the industrial age in the late 1800s.  Before then, mostly the wealthy had buttons, and they had maids who dressed them up in those buttons.  So, for the ease of the maids, the buttons were put on the left, but since men mostly dressed themselves, they were put on the right side.  Also, by having the buttons on that side, it was beneficial as men removed their swords during war.  (Okay, I admit – I don’t get that part.)

Tabs on foil or plastic wrap.

I’ve been a housewife for a long, long time, and I never knew this!  In fact, I had to leave my office and check out my foil, wax paper, and cling wrap, and sure enough, the perforated tabs were there, on both ends of each box.  But they are so much a part of the design, and the perforations were hard to see, I’d always missed them.  You can bet I’ll remember now, and they will be a big help in keeping the rolls in their box!

Let’s test YOUR knowledge, okay?  See if you know these handy tips, and I’ll post the answers tonight!  (Please, no Googling!)

1. What is the purpose of the little hole in padlocks?

 

2. Why are headrests detachable?

 

3. What is the purpose of the can’s tab?

 

4. Why does a tube of toothpaste have these colored blocks at the end?

 

5. Why do some garments come with little swatches of fabric?

 

Be sure to check back tonight, and I’ll tell you why!