The British Are Coming and a Give Away!

The Old West remains an iconic part of our history, conjuring up images of cowboys, saloons, and horse thieves. And then the British aristocracy showed up …

But why? Well, The Union Pacific railroad stretched to Fremont, NE by 1865. Construction continued, and by mid-1867 it reached Cheyenne and joined the Central Pacific in Promontory in 1869, connecting the East and West coasts of the US. Cheyenne became the hub for all those railroad workers, and all of them had to be fed. The wintry grasses proved to be exceptional fodder for the ranchers’ cattle, and they quickly realized they could make a successful business in that region. When the railroad took the cattle east to the markets, that set the stage for Wyoming to become a major cattle ranching area. Then, in 1880, the steamer Strathleven embarked on a voyage with a new kind of cargo: meat preserved with mechanical refrigeration. This was the first time British people had ever encountered the process of ranching. And some were hooked.

Can you imagine an earl or baron chasing after cattle? Well, they did, and some were part of the Wyoming cattle industry from about 1867 to 1887. Though their stint as cowboys was fleeting, their imprint on the area left a lasting impression. It’s one of the reasons I have two fictional towns with British residents. One town, Clear Creek, has a huge cattle ranch nearby owned by a British family, the Cookes. And my newest series, Love in Apple Blossom, also has some British residents. The result of six brothers on holiday in America who happen upon the little town. An entire posse was killed by an outlaw gang and some of the women had to step up to take on their father’s, brother’s, or husband’s roles. Being gentlemen, the brothers stay to help a few of them out before returning to England.

But what, other than the lure of ranching and cowboy adventures, brought the British to America? Well, in short, the British gentleman was passionate about hunting. This was one of the things that drew them to America in the first place. They wanted adventure, excitement, and America had plenty of it. There was nothing like the thrill of a good hunt (weeks and sometimes months’ worth) to bring the English aristocracy to America. But there were other reasons some came, and it wasn’t to chase after elk or bear.

Desperate to escape the freezing grasp of the British Isles, some ventured to the Wild West in search of new health. Others, like Oliver Henry Wallop, scion of an earl, saw the need for a cavalry in the Boer War and set off to Wyoming. He partnered with Malcolm Moncrieffe, progeny of a Scottish baronet, and ran an enourmous 2700-acre ranch that brought the first thoroughbreds to the Western front. In Colorado, another British earl established a ranch and resort not far from Estes Park; a sprawling reminder of his former glory from across the pond. My British family in my fictional town of Clear Creek traveled West to Oregon not for their health, but to start a cattle ranch and ended up as pig farmers. Things obviously didn’t go as planned, but in the end, they fulfilled their dream.

On the other hand, there were some Britannic settlers in America that soon found themselves in a grueling struggle to make a living on the ranches. Cattle needed to be tended to and branded, while horses had to be fed and groomed. There were also everyday ranch chores and other work and dash it all, no servants to help. Even worse, some ranches were a hundred miles or more away from the nearest train station. Rain turned dirt roads into mud pits in summer and unpredictable snowstorms in winter. Both made travel hazardous. Is it any wonder so many high-tailed it back to England?

Thankfully, the Cooke family didn’t, and have appeared in numerous book series of mine and in not only my other pen name’s books, but other author’s books as well. I have a book on the British aristocracy holidaying in America in the 1800s, which was one of the things that inspired me to create a British family in the old west years ago. The rest is history!

Do you like reading about characters from other countries settling in the old west? I’m giving away one free e-copy of my latest release, Wooing the Undertaker, Love in Apple Blossom, Book 4 to one commenter. Here’s a little more about the book:

A Lonely Undertaker
A Man Determined to Go Home
And One Little Library …

After her father was killed by outlaws, Jean Campbell was forced to take on the role of undertaker. Like so many other women in Apple Blossom, she did what had to be done after a devastating tragedy took the lives of an entire posse. But months later, things were becoming hard, and she wasn’t sure what to do. And that’s when theycame to town. Six English brothers who took it upon themselves to help those in need. And so far, three of the brothers had found love. But Jean knew that wasn’t about to happen to her. After all, who wanted to woo an undertaker?

Wallis Darling wasn’t looking for love. He was looking for a way to back to England and with as many of his brothers as possible. Problem was, three were already planning on marrying, and two of them had decided to stay. If Wallis’ older brother Phileas fell in love and stayed on, their father’s dreaded title and estate would fall to him! The thought made him shudder. He liked his freedom and had to make sure his older brother didn’t come under love’s spell. But how? Then he got an idea. What if Phileas thought Wallis was in love? Would he hightail it back to England to do his duty? Wallis hoped so. Now all he had to do was find someone willing to fake a courtship. And then of course, talk her into it.

AMAZON

A New Year: A New Series Begins

I am SO CLOSE to having a cover for book #3! In fact, I’ve seen it. But I don’t have permission to use it yet! Boo!

Book #1 Forged in Love is coming in February. Late in the month. 

The backdrop of the Wyoming Sunrise series is that Wyoming was the first state in the Union to give women the right to vote. They also gave women and people of color, that is to say Native Americans the right to vote.

Black people–no scratch that–black MEN–had already been given suffrage. Suffrage is a lot more than voting. It’s about property rights, inheritance rights, the right to run for office, serve on a jury, lots of stuff. I wrote more about that HERE. 

Okay, after typing this long, I’ve decided I will share the third cover KEEPING IN MIND that it might change.

No, darn it, I’d better not. TEMPTATION IS GNAWING AT ME!

I decided to be a good girl. Grrrrrr……..

My next post will be AFTER permission so hang in there.

Forged in Love is about a woman blacksmith who has a band of vicious stagecoach robbers trying to kill her.

To find out about blacksmiths, especially historical blacksmiths, I spent a day at a nearby Living History Museum set in a restored frontier fort, Fort Atkinson.

I will tell you this…as a person who sometimes needs odd, tiny details for the setting of my books, and a person who is a natural prairie dog who prefers to spend her time in her own hole…occasionally popping my head up, then ducking away when someone comes too close…I know that talking to experts on specific details in a book is just always fun. They LOVE it.

Really? You want to know more about historical laundry?

Yes, please, tell me more about bluing. And did they have to build their own washboards?

Tears of Joy ensue from said living history reenactor. Followed by allllllllllllllllllllllll they know.

Interspersed with me saying, repeat that again? Slow down. I’m trying to get this all down.

More tears of Joy!

It’s fun.

I guess not that many people have follow up questions to the historical blacksmith ‘cuz I talked to him FOREVER and he was just great. I’ve had similar experiences with Lewis and Clark reenactors, gunsmiths, tinsmiths, a cooper (wooden buckets, butter churns, washtubs, etc), a farrier (horse shoeing and blacksmithing are NOT the same job)…there are others. I talked to a guy in charge of a Western Trails museum about the Oregon Trail. A Trails and Rails museum about railroads. And the thing is, the questions are small. Weird little details I didn’t know. 

I—a person who spends a LOT of time in historical reading and research, had weird little questions. And these experts LOVE ANSWERING THEM. 

It’s a symbiotic relationship. 

And yet Mary the prairie dog, drags her heels about doing these things. Why????

Anyway, Blacksmithing. My heroine is a woman blacksmith. Trained at her widowed father’s knee. Her father the town blacksmith/cooper/farrier/wheelwright–it’s a small town. Many people did things for themselves, they didn’t take their horse to the farrier, they shoed their own horse. There wasn’t enough work to keep a lot of people busy.

So she’s learned all these skills from a father who didn’t think it was right, at the same time he needed the help and she insisted, and he didn’t like her being home alone….and now he’s dead.

The whole town is conflicted. A woman shouldn’t be a blacksmith. On the other hand, can you fix my wheel? I need nails. My hinge broke.

So necessity gives Mariah a rather begrudging acceptance. And in the meantime she’s falling in love with the guy running the town diner, who was trained as a chef in New York City and now slings the very BEST hash in the west. Everyone thinks he’s weird for calling Beef Stew, Beef Bourguignon (man, try spelling THAT word three times fast). I’m trying to play against type. Blacksmith heroine, cook hero. But honestly in the west a lot of diners were run by men. Still, it was fun.

And also, in the stagecoach holdup that killed her father and brother, she survived, left for dead by a gang of outlaws that don’t leave witnesses and now someone’s trying to kill her.

And somehow Clint, who’s loved her from afar for a long time, and was working up the nerve to approach her very tough and intimidating father to ask if he can court her (or ask her if he could ever find her alone…he was going to do it!!!) finds himself in the kill zone between the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen and a gang of cutthroats.

And so the fun begins. Forged in Love. Coming in February.

 

Sleigh Bell Serenade

I’ve shared before how inspiration can strike from anywhere when it comes to me writing a story.

Two Christmas seasons ago, I was happily decking my halls for the holidays and listening to a traditional Christmas music station.

A song started to play—one I’d never heard—and I literally stopped in the midst of hanging a holly garland and listened to Bing Crosby croon about a “Sleigh Bell Serenade.” If you’ve never heard the song, it’s so cute and you can listen to it on YouTube.

Anyway,  by the time the song ended, I knew I wanted to write a story with that title and have one of the main characters do something with sleighs or sleigh bells.

It wasn’t until I started writing The Snowman’s Sweetheart, which released in January of last year, that I figured out how to run with the sleigh bell idea. In this book, the hero, Ky, has a best friend named Bo who is a rancher, but also runs a sleigh tour business during the winter months.

Sleigh Bell Serenade is book two in the Winter Wishes sweet romance series, and shares the story of Bowen Jensen and Juniper Haynes, a hot-shot real estate agent who is really ready from a break from her big-city, fast-paced life.

The book releases tomorrow!

He keeps his heart heavily guarded.

She meets everyone with a friendly smile.

Will the attraction sizzling between them pull them into the space between their two worlds?

Burdened by too many responsibilities, Bowen Jensen struggles beneath their overwhelming weight. Between raising his teenage sister, running their family ranch, and managing Sleigh Bell Tours, he barely has time to sleep let alone do something just for himself. He can’t even recall his last date. Then a chance encounter with a beguiling woman leaves him pondering if there isn’t more to life than trudging through one lonely day after another.

Juniper Haynes appears to have it all with a successful real estate career and a picture-perfect life. In reality, she’s tired of dealing with demanding clients, wary of her so-called friends, and secretly longs for the peace she finds at her sister’s mountain home. After a magical New Year’s Eve kiss with a cowboy she barely knows, she realizes true happiness might only be found outside her comfort zone.

Can Bo and Juniper find the courage to embrace change and explore the possibility of a future together?

Find out in this sweet winter romance full of small-town charm, memorable characters, laughter, hope, and love.

 

Annoyed by his infatuation with Juniper, he took a step back, uncertain what to say.

Words had never easily come to him. He was more of a doer than a talker. In his younger years, his best friend, Ky, had always filled the gap since he could talk to anyone, anytime, about anything. Ky had received the gift of gab, while Bo had been given the gift of brawn and endurance.

But at that moment, an idea or two of something witty to say would have been helpful.

“Do you live around here?” Sassy asked as Bo stood there like one of the snow carvings that would fill the town next month at the Winter Fest.

“Cedar lives in Faraday with her husband. I live in Portland,” Juniper said. “I’m just visiting through the holidays.”

“So you’ll be around for New Year’s Eve?” Sassy asked.

Heaven help him if the girl decided to take it upon herself to ask Juniper to go out with him to ring in the new year.

Juniper nodded uncertainly.

“We’re hosting a little gathering of friends that night. Would you like to join us?” Cedar asked, smiling at Bo and then Sassy in invitation. “It’s very casual and informal. We’ll have finger foods and things like pizza and jalapeno poppers, and family-friendly games.”

“Why is this the …” Juniper started to speak, but Cedar gave her a quelling look that made her snap her mouth shut.

Bo might have laughed if he hadn’t been certain there was matchmaking afoot. Under normal circumstances, he would have run in the opposite direction as fast as possible, but he really wanted to see Juniper again. A party with her sister and friends seemed harmless enough.

“We’d love to come,” Sassy said with enthusiasm before he could respond. “Thank you for inviting us.”

Do you have a favorite winter memory?

Sleigh ride? Sledding? Nailing a smug sibling with a snowball? 
Share your comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Sleigh Bell Serenade!

Name that 1955 Song ~ BONUS – Holiday Royalty, too!

You may recall that I’ve got a new book in a new series coming next year.  And that new book is set in 1955, a somewhat rare time frame for romance.  I can’t wait to share more details, but I have to be patient.  In the meantime, I’ve done a couple of blogs on that era, and since I was born in that year, they were a lot of fun.

My “1955 was a Very Good Year” blog featured some of the items that debuted then. (You can view it HERE),

My “1955 Trivia Challenge” poked your memories and proved how really good many of you were at remembering details we once took for granted.  (You can view it HERE)

So a blog on 1955 songs should fit right in, shouldn’t it?

Ah, the 1950s had some of the best music EVER.  The songs were a huge transition from 1940s big band music and evolved from jazz and the blues, gospel and country western, and eventually became known as rock and roll.

Thanks to performers like the Crew-Cuts (Sh-Boom), Sheb Wooley (“The Purple People Eater”), Johnny Horton (“The Battle of New Orleans”), and of COURSE Elvis Presley, rock and roll swelled into popularity in this country and throughout the world.

The music world hasn’t been the same since.

Since I know many of you are familiar with the 1950s, let’s see how good you are at popular 1955 songs, shall we?

Those who guess all 8 songs correctly will be eligible for this adorable set of wintry bookmarks, plus a Christmas ornament of the Nativity I brought back from Bethlehem, made from olive wood that is so popular over there.

 Put on your saddle shoes and bobby socks, dig out your poodle skirt, and let’s rock and roll!

(US Entries Only.)

BONUS!!  Y’all might recall Tanya Hanson, who was a filly awhile back, and once a filly sister, always a filly sister.  I’m happy to give Tanya’s newest book a shout-out today.

Royalty at the Ranch by Tanya Hanson

Merry Christmas, fillies and friends! My years in the Petticoats and Pistols corral are among my happiest writer memories, and best of all are the authors here who still help support my books. I specially need to thank Pam today for letting me piggy-back on her post—I’m flying home from Hawaii (a lock-down trip we had to use now or lose), so I won’t be able to comment…but anybody interested in receiving a complimentary arc to read and afterward leave an honest review at Amazon etc, please email me at tanhanson@aol.com.

Now, I know these are busy days, but Royalty at the Ranch is a short and sweet faith-based (but not judgy) Christmas e-story. How can a prince also be a cowboy? Well, “Brodie” is incognito at Hearts Crossing Ranch until dedicated royal-watcher Addie recognizes him…but knows he’d never be interested in her. Too many scars from a childhood accident. Will she ever be surprised!

I so enjoyed creating my fictional kingdom of Dornfeld and naming my cowboy prince after our little Danish grandson. His mama was our exchange student when she was fourteen. Now married with a family of her own, she still calls us Mom and Dad! Although no DNA, she’s always the daughter of our heart!

AMAZON

Wishing you all tons of holiday blessings!

~Tanya

http://www.tanyahanson.com

 

Guest Blogger Jo-Ann Roberts – Quilts and Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Earlier this year, the lovely Zina Abbott asked if I would be interested in being part of a historical MAPs that would feature quilts and Christmas. Gosh! As an avid quilter what could be better? Maybe a rugged cowboy? I answered with a very enthusiastic “Yes!”

While history books, almanacs, and memoirs chronicled the West as a man’s world full of adventure and clashes with nature and man, it should be noted women also played a vital role in the migration and taming of the frontier.

Prior to leaving for the journey, female friends in the East came together to stitch a quilt for the departing woman. These “quiltings” became farewell gatherings, united in purpose as well as in friendship. Thus the “friendship quilts”, squares inscribed with names, dates, and heartfelt sentiments became popular.

As preparations continued, the women gathered all the quilts, blankets and tied comforters they could make or acquire. While special quilts were packed in a trunk, or used to wrap fragile keepsakes, everyday quilts were left out for bedding or padding on the wagon seat. When the winds rose up and blew across the dusty plains, quilts were used to cover the cracks that let the dust inside the wagon.

Since most of the women walked alongside the wagon, little quilting was done on the trail. More often the women knitted or mended clothing during the short breaks or occasional layovers. Besides, the poor light of a campfire would not have been conducive to stitching blocks together.

Quilts often reflected the adventures the of the family. “Road to California”, “Crossing the Plains” and “Log Cabin” (my personal favorite!) often indicated memories of home and hearth, the trail looming up before them, or the movement of the wind across the plains.

As the journey continued, quilts were needed for far more serious purposes than simple comfort and dust control. They were hung on the exposed side of the wagons for protection against Indian attacks. Loss of life from sickness and injury was inevitable, and wood for building a coffin was scarce along the trail as well as time-consuming. Wrapping a beloved mother, child or husband in a quilt for burial gave the family comfort knowing that something symbolizing family love enfolded their dear one in that lonely grave along the trail.

Once a pioneer family reached their destination, quilts and blankets were needed to keep the elements out of their windows and doors of log cabins or dugouts. Quilts also gave emotional sustenance as well. Putting a favorite quilt on the bed gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life, and something of beauty in her desolate home.

A Swedish woman settled in Kansas in the early 1850s, and recalled an invitation to a sewing circle. Being new to the country and the territory, she took this as an offer of friendship. Pioneer quilting had become an opportunity to express creativity and cultivate friendships in the new land.

Here’s the buy link for Noelle:    Noelle – Christmas Quilt Brides

 

 

On to the fun stuff….

Today is release day for Noelle – Christmas Quilt Brides, Book 8. If you’d like to read an excerpt, PLEASE CLICK HERE

 ***** Giveaway *****

Jo-Ann will be giving away two ebook copies of Noelle. For a chance to win one, leave a comment about the type of crafting you enjoy most ( quilting, knitting, sewing, cake decorating, wreathing-making, etc.). If you’re not a crafter, what crafty skill to admire most in others?

Many thanks to the P&P authors for extending an invitation to their blog. I love sharing my love of the West and sweet historical romance!

 

Christmas Wishes & Cowboy Kisses

 

Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is just too fun to resist.

That was the case when I was invited to be part of the Christmas Wishes and Cowboy Kisses boxed set. It includes 23 never-before-published sweet romance stories that are all about … cowboys and Christmas! Seriously, what could be better?

This boxed set includes second chance romance, small-town sweethearts, swaggering rodeo stars, swoony single dads, and more, written by some of your favorite sweet romance authors including Liz Isaacson, Lacy Williams, Carolyne Aarsen, Melissa McClone, Kit Morgan, Laura Ashwood, Natalie Dean, Terri Lorah, Cynthia Woolf, Kathleen Ball, Macie St. James, Christina Butrum, Terri Grace, April Murdock, Hannah Jo Abbott, Amelia C. Adams, Josephine Blake, Heather Blanton, Catie Cahill, Parker J. Cole, RL Ashly, Christine Sterling, and me!

 

 

The book releases October 25 and you can get all 23 of these sweet stories for just 99 cents! Wow! It’s like Santa came early, right?

Make sure you pre-order now to get the book for just 99 cents. I don’t want you to miss out on this fun Rodeo Romance story or any of the other sweet cowboy romances!

My contribution to the boxed set is Taming Christmas.

Those who have read my Rodeo Romance series will recognize many of the characters. In fact, this story came to be from readers who often asked about one of the secondary characters, a bull rider named Huck. So this is Huck’s story of how he made such a bad first impression on Mara, that he proved to be unforgettable.

Here’s a fun snippet from the story when Huck meets Mara for the first time:

~*~

That left Huck facing the blonde who held a great deal of censure in her gorgeous blue eyes.

Before he could speak to her or offer an apology, though, Cort and Tate flanked him.

Tate removed his hat and politely tipped his head. “We’re so sorry, miss. Huck isn’t completely housebroken. His last girlfriend told him she’d rather bring home a feral cat than let him into her apartment again.”

“He’s been kicked in the head one too many times, miss. Don’t judge him too harshly,” Cort said with a pleading, boyish smile. “He doesn’t have the sense to know better, and he doesn’t possess the ambulatory skills of a drunken baboon.”

Huck’s hand curled into a fist as he considered how much attention it would draw if he tackled Cort and Tate and pummeled them into silence. Cort was several inches taller and many pounds heavier than he was, but as angry as he felt, Huck knew he could take him down.

Before he could start swinging, the blonde woman grinned. “He seems harmless enough, even if he’s about as smooth on his feet as a one-legged ostrich on ice.”

~*~

Read the entire first chapter of Taming Christmas here.

 

What about you?

What do you think would be a

funny way for a couple to meet? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a paperback copy of your choice of one of the Rodeo Romance sweet romances!

A Big Welcome To Guest Chris Martin!

We have guest author Chris Martin with us today and I know everyone will offer their usual warm welcome. And check out the post for info on a giveaway you won’t want to miss.

Hello everyone and Happy High School Homecoming Season!

Yes, High School Homecoming Season has begun and I recently did a little research on its origins and traditions. The whole dressing, dating and dancing routine has changed over the years, yet some traditions remain core.

Where did this tradition start?

The first high school homecoming was an adaptation of the college or university homecoming. Four different colleges claim to have started the tradition: Baylor of Waco, Tx; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne; University of Missouri at Columbus ; and Southwestern University at Georgetown, Tx.  The first homecoming celebration occurred in 1909, 1910, or 1911 according to which school you give the credit to.

About four years later, the tradition was picked up by high schools.  However, unlike the original university homecomings honoring alumni, high school homecomings generally are celebrations of team spirit for current students, particularly the graduating class.

Most high school homecomings include a football game and a dance. And where I’m from, the game schedule is carefully assigned so that the homecoming team plays a weaker team. This doesn’t guarantee a win for the homecoming team, but it certainly helps the odds. I have no idea what happens with the weakest team in the league!

Many schools have a homecoming court, although this tradition has started to wane in a few areas. Rules for choosing the homecoming royalty vary greatly by school. In the school my daughter graduated from, every Senior girl was made official Homecoming Queen and was escorted onto the football field at halftime for presentation. (They won their game.)

Homecoming dance formality varies from school to school, with some now as causal as T-shirts and jeans, while others are still into formal wear.  Part of the traditional dress is the homecoming corsage, typically made from a mum.

Homecoming corsages vary, too, in size and scope. Texas claims they invented the traditional mum corsages, but Missouri also claims that honor.  Evidence, though, strongly points to this being a Texas tradition that then spread to Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The homecoming mum corsage became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  The corsage started off simply enough. A flower with a bit of ribbon to wear pin to a dress and wear at the football game and then the dance. Mums cost about $3 back then.

Now, the traditional mums are silk as well as fresh. Some of these corsages are so huge and heavy, they require thick ribbons to drape them around the wearers neck and can cover the wearer’s whole torso. Pounds and pounds of ribbons and trinkets make the most elaborate corsages heavy, rattling decorations that can cost thousands of dollars!

Despite the pomp, or lack thereof, one thing remains the same about all high school homecomings. They lend excitement and the chance to make memories that students will remember long after graduation day.

In my new second chance romance A Cowboy To Love Again, Sagebrush High School Vice Principal Gina Middleton Maisie has her own personal homecoming and it doesn’t go quite as she’d hoped.

PS Sagebrush Highs School Mustangs are one of those football teams that everyone wants to play for their homecoming game.

A COWBOY TO LOVE AGAIN

Gina took her heart to San Francisco, leaving Zach Rivers behind. After high school graduation, she accepted the first scholarship she could wrangle and headed to university, hoping Zach would follow her.

He would have if he could have. But family troubles kept him at River Ranch as he struggled to save the family legacy.

After a disastrous marriage and divorce, Gina is back in Sagebrush as the high school’s vice principal.

When Zach finds himself in the vice principal’s office, will he pass on this second chance at love, or will he make the grade this time before it’s too late?

 

You can Preorder HERE

What about you? Are there any Homecoming traditions or memories you’d like to share? Or was it not something you paid much attention to? I’ll randomly pick from all the comments posted here and give away two large print paperbacks of my new release, A Cowboy To Love Again, one for the winner and one for the winner to give to a friend or donate to a library. Good luck!

 

 

I’m excited about my new pen name and my new sweet, clean cowboy romance series, Sagebrush. The series kicks off with A Cowboy to Love Again up for preorder and will release Sept 16th anywhere you buy books. Many thanks to Winnie Griggs who let me post in her spot this month to help me celebrate my launch!

 

All four books in this series are now available for Preorder

Follows on Amazon and Bookbub are greatly appreciated!  And to learn more about me and my books, visit my Website

Chris Martin
Just Kisses and Heartstring Tugs

 

 

 

10 Things to Do Before Summer Ends

I don’t know about you, but the summer days are flying past. I’m pretty sure they stir a breeze and make a whirring sound as they whiz past my head.

Before summer bliss turns to cozy days of autumn, I thought I’d share a list of ten things to do before summer winds to an end.

  1. Blow Bubbles. Doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, go blow a few bubbles and see if a few worries and cares don’t float away with the soapy orbs.
  2. Go on a Picnic. It doesn’t matter if you make something elaborate, run by the deli, or grab take-out, pack a blanket and your loved ones and head for a park or picnic area you haven’t visited this summer.

  3. Host a bonfire. Make sure you follow local ordinances and keep a hose handy. And don’t forget to have plenty of S’mores supplies on hand.

  4. Eat a popsicle. It’s cold and sweet and perfectly delightful. Indulge and enjoy. Have a contest to see who can make theirs last the longest.

  5. Pick fresh fruit. Scan the classified ads or ask around for the best “U-pick” fruit location and then go pick something. You’ll be glad you did when you bite into that fresh off-the-tree fruit!

  6. Take a hike or a bike ride. Go somewhere off the beaten path and really look around you. Take in the scenery, the smells, the sounds. It won’t be long until fall paints an entirely different canvas over nature.

  7. Take photos. Although the moments won’t last, the photos and memories will. Take photos of your family and friends enjoying the last days of summer in all their joy and silliness.

  8. Eat watermelon. Take it outside and let the kids munch to their heart’s content, with juice running down their chins and onto their toes. I dare you to join them! There is summer sweetness packed in every juicy sweet bite.

  9. Make homemade ice cream. There is nothing like making your own ice cream and enjoying each cool, creamy bite of frozen confection. Our favorite is banana ice cream.

  10. Enjoy a sunset. There is nothing quite as spectacular as watching the summer sun sink into the western horizon. The pinks, oranges and golds that fill the sky can be breathtaking. Go sit outside and watch nature’s beauty descend. If you are of a mind to keep up the gazing, throw down a blanket and watch the stars.

I’m going to see how many of these I can cross off the list before September arrives!

GIVEAWAY

For a chance to win a mystery prize,

post one thing you are looking forward to doing before summer ends. Or share something fun you’ve already done this summer!

The World of Midwives

Midwives have been around since the beginning of time and they saw lots of joy and sorrow. In 1716, New York City was the first to license midwives and try to legitimize and see them as professionals. At the time, few doctors were formally educated so it made sense for midwives handle births since they did have greater knowledge.

In 1925, a nurse named Mary Breckenridge started the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky. The nurses rode horseback all over the Appalachian Mountains delivering babies mostly but also treating all kinds of sickness and injuries. The service received high praise for the invaluable medical care they provided.

As anesthesia came about and began to be used in the late 1800s and early 1900s, more and more women sought doctors and hospitals for deliveries. They wanted something for the pain and I don’t blame them.

In FANCY, Fancy Dalton used a midwife to deliver her baby, trusting the woman to give her excellent care. But the woman took her baby and told her it had died, giving the infant to her sister who was plagued by miscarriages.

Two years passes and Fancy grieves for the child she never got to see. Then one night during a bad storm, the midwife knocks on her door and confesses her crime in order to live with herself. This sets the journey in motion and changes her life forever.

 

Stolen. The word still brought chills. Fancy set her jaw. She wasn’t going to be a victim anymore. She’d fight and claw and hold on with the last shred of strength until she got back what was hers.

Today, pregnant women are increasingly choosing a midwife over a hospital setting. My niece had a midwife at home with each of her four children. Do you know of someone who opted for a midwife instead if choosing the hospital? I’m giving away three ebook copies of FANCY so leave a comment.

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This sweet historical western romance is #10 of the Love Train series and is on sale now. Only $2.99 for Kindle Unlimited or free to those who have a membership. It’s also available in print for those who prefer that.

I’m on a book blog tour with Lone Star Literary until the 18th. Enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or one of four copies of the book. Click on the image to take you there.

In October, I’ll have a new Christmas novella called HOPE’S ANGEL so you’ll be hearing more about that in the coming days.

The Wiggins Ferry – A Connecting Point Between Eastern and Western Railroads by Jo-Ann Roberts

When I was plotting out the details of Ainsley, Book 8 in the Love Train series, I knew Ainsley MacKenzie was from Boston, and would travel as far as the Mississippi River on regional train lines until she got to East St. Louis, Illinois. In 1872, there were no railroad bridges that spanned the river in that area, so how would she get across to the Union Pacific 1216?

My research discovered the Wiggins Ferry Company. In 1797, Captain James S. Piggott was granted the right to operate a ferry between St. Louis and the opposite shore of the Mississippi River. Passengers loaded into small hollowed-out tree trunks at Piggott’s ferry house just below Market Street and were shuffled across the river by poles or paddles with long sweeps. After a couple changes of hands in the coming years, Piggott’s ferry ended up in the ownership of Samuel Wiggins, whose name would be tied to it for more than a century to come.

The Wiggins ferries, like the one in this painting, had one platform on each side of the pilothouse. Typically, new passengers and cargo loaded onto one side, and outgoing passengers and cargo disembarked on the other. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

In the earliest years of the Wiggins Ferry, crossing the river was a gargantuan task. John Darby, who became mayor of St. Louis in 1835, moved his family and their belongings across to St. Louis in 1818 over a three-day period and for the fee of $50—no small sum of money at the time.

“The ferry consisted of a small keel-boat, which was managed entirely by Frenchmen. Every portion of the body—every muscle, in fact—was brought into play…the vessel rocked so that the trace-chains at the end of the tongue often dipped into the river…meanwhile, the Frenchmen swore in French, ‘prenegard.’ ‘sacre!’—so that the enterprise seemed a dangerous and hazardous undertaking.”

Mr. Wiggins subsequently acquired some 900 acres of land along the Illinois banks of the Mississippi directly across from present day St. Louis, Missouri. The Wiggins Ferry Company not only operated a ferry business for individuals wanting to cross the Mississippi, but it also developed extensive yards, depots, warehouses, railroad tracks and elevators. Eventually, the Wiggins Ferry Company became a major connecting point for the many railroads terminating at East St. Louis, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Through the haze of early 1900s St. Louis, the Eads Bridge looms large over the icy Mississippi River. Murphy Library Special Collections, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.

From those small beginnings and makeshift rafts, the Wiggins Ferry Company built an empire transporting people to and from St. Louis. By the 1820s, Wiggins had a fleet of ferryboats with names fit for battleships, such as Sea Serpent, Rhinoceros, and Antelope. He even experimented with ferries powered by horses on treadmills. In 1830 Wiggins upgraded to steam power, with the St. Clair and Ibez ferries making two regular daily river crossings. By the early 1870s the company was averaging river crossings of 1,500 people, 10,000 bushels of coal, and 750 wagons each day.

Winter river crossings were hazardous to say the least. But in 1839, these crossings became easier thanks to the Icelander and its pointed, ice-smashing iron hull. There were some setbacks, however. In 1851 there was a ferry explosion, and in 1864, four boats were lost to an ice floe (a floating piece of ice causing jams on freshwater rivers) that damaged the hulls.

By 1870, The company’s stock reached $1 million just as the Eads Bridge, St. Louis’s first bridge across the Mississippi, was rising in the middle of the river. As the bridge would not be completed until 1874, I had my answer!

If you’d like to read an excerpt CLICK HERE

I’ll be giving away TWO ebook editions of Ainsley – Love Train Series Book 8 – to two winners!

For a chance to win, answer the question below:

Buy on AMAZON

As an unmarried woman, would you have dismissed the conventions of the 1870s and traveled alone out West by rail or stagecoach? Why or why not?

 

Jo-Ann Roberts was born and raised in western Massachusetts. Fascinated by America’s Old West, she always felt she was destined to travel on a wagon train following the Oregon Trail. She enjoys writing sweet historical romances which take readers back to a simpler time when families and friends help one another find love and happiness.

Website: https://www.jo-annrobertsauthor.com/