Category: Winnie Griggs

Chapel Cars – Reprise

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I have a book due at the end of this month and the last few weeks heading toward a deadline are always pretty intense for me. So I hope you will forgive me for pulling out an old post and dusting it off to share once again. This one appeared during my first year as a filly, 2009. Wow, hard to believe I’ve been part of this fabulous fun group for 11 years now!! Time really does pass fast when you’re having fun 🙂

 

‘Saving’ The West

I came across an article when researching circuit preachers for a minor story thread in one of my books.  The article covered a unique tool utilized by missionaries who were attempting to do their own brand of ‘taming the west’ – namely Chapel Cars.

These were railroad cars that were modified to serve as traveling churches.  They rode the rails from town to town, shifting over to sidings for as long as they were needed, then continuing on to the next stop.  They included modest living quarters for the missionary and, if he had one, his wife.  The rest of the space was utilized for the church itself.

Most western movies and tales glorify the gun-toting lawman or vigilante, portraying them as the tamers of the wild and woolly west.  In actuality, the peace-minded missionaries who rode the rails played a larger, more influential part in bringing peace to the lawless west than any of their more aggressive counterparts.  They traveled in their mobile churches to remote areas of the country, bringing spiritual direction and a civilizing influence to people who were starved for something to offset the violence and loneliness of their existence.

These Chapel Cars traveled throughout the west and mid-west – including North Dakota, Nevada, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Colorado.  They stopped at mining towns and logging camps, tent cities and newly established towns, bringing their gospel message and the reminder of civilization to people who had seen neither for a long time – if ever.

And, given the unfettered existence of those in the camps and towns, their appearance was surprisingly well received more often than not – especially by the ladies of the area.  The arrival of these Chapel Cars signaled not only the chance to attend Sunday services, but brought with them someone to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms and also a welcome excuse for social gatherings.  In addition, many a rough and tough cowboy who would have balked at attending a traditional church, seemed to feel differently about these side rail services.  In fact, the very novelty of the Chapel Car brought folks from miles around just to have a look.

Of course, they didn’t always receive a warm welcome.  There are recorded instances of the Chapel Cars being pelted with eggs and refuse, defaced with graffiti and even set on fire.  But these were rare instances and the cars and their custodians survived to continue their mission.

These repurposed rail cars were furnished with pews, a lectern, an altar table and in some cases an organ.  Depending on the construction, they could seat over 70 people inside.  The Chapel Car was a multipurpose unit, serving as a home, church, Sunday School, social hall, library and meeting place.  They carried bibles and tracts which were distributed all along the lines.  The missionary and his wife, in addition to their usual ministerial duties, were expected to function as singer, musician, janitor and cook.  They helped organize permanent churches, including raising the necessary funds and helping to construct the buildings.

There are records to support the existence of eleven Chapel Cars in all, though there is some evidence there may have been as many as seventeen.  Of the eleven known cars, three were utilized by Catholics, seven by Baptists and one by the Episcopalians.

Chapel cars remained in use throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  With the advent of World War I, however, the railroad tracks had to be kept clear for troop movement.  In addition, new regulations prohibited the railroad companies from giving ‘free rides’ to the Chapel Cars, something that had been common practice up until that time.  And as paved roads and the automobile became more prevalent it became easier for folks to travel longer distances on their own to attend church.  Thus, the Chapel Cars that had brought their spiritual message and civilizing influence to the rough and tumble west faded into history.

So, where’s the most memorable place you’ve attended a church service?

 

And on the good news front, Love Inspired is re-releasing one of my previous titles this month in a 2-in-1 volume with former Filly Cheryl St.John.  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy.

 

SECOND CHANCE FAMILY

Mitch Hammond is a man of his word. And as far as Cora Beth Collins is concerned, that’s a problem. The stubborn sheriff has vowed never to love again, for fear of wounding someone else. The most he can offer Cora Beth is marriage in name only. And with no other way to adopt two runaway orphans and keep her patchwork family together, she accepts.

Mitch is doing the honorable thing. So why does it feel so wrong? Despite his intentions, Mitch is starting to want more from Cora Beth…and from himself. For in her trusting eyes he sees everything he hopes to be—as a lawman, a father and a husband.

 

 

Updated: March 9, 2020 — 12:31 am

Laura Ingalls Wilder Trivia and Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder and in her honor I thought I’d share a bit of trivia about her life and accomplishments.

 

  • Laura was 65 when the first of her Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. It was 11 years later, when she was 76, that the 8th and final book in the series was published.
  • Laura received her teaching certificate at age 15 and taught in one room schoolhouses until she married Almanzo Wilder at age 18.
  • The Little House books were not her first paid writing accomplishments. At age 42 she went to work for the St. Louis Farmer as their poultry columnist. She eventually went on to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist, McCall’s Magazine and The Country Gentleman. In order to give her writing more credibility with male readers, her columns were published under the name A.J.Wilder.

 

 

  • As a young child, she lived through a devastating invasion of over 3.5 TRILLION locusts. It was one of the worst natural disasters the country had ever faced to that date, causing an estimated $116 billion worth of damage and causing near starvation for many settlers,, including her own family. The culprits, the Rocky Mountain locusts went extinct about 1902, though no one knows the reason why.
  • Laura had some interesting leaves on her family tree. One ancestor, Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier, was hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.  She was also related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through her great grandmother, Margaret Delano Ingalls.

 

  • She was once told that writing for children was a waste of time. I’m so glad she ignored that advice! Her Little House books have remained in print continuously since the 1930s and the series has sold over 60 million copies and have been published in 26 languages.
  • Laura received lots of fan mail over the course of her writing life. After her Little House series took off she averaged about 50 pieces of mail per day. In fact, on her last birthday she received over 1000 bits of correspondence.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was established in 1954 by the American Library Association. Its purpose was to honor authors and illustrators whose children’s books have made a major impact on children’s literature. Laura was, of course, the first recipient. Since then, other recipients have included Theodor Geisal (Dr. Seuss), Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary. However, the organization announced in June 2018 that it planned to change the name of the award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the way Laura portrayed Native Americans in her books. In their statement the organization added this caveat: “Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder’s works or suppress discussion about them. Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children.”

  • Prior to the establishment of her namesake award, Laura had already won Newberry Honors on four of her Little House books.
  • A fun little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia – In the summer of 2017, Laura (in her young pig-tailed girl persona) was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth.
  • Laura died on February 10, 1957, just 3 day after her 90th birthday. She was survived by her daughter and only child, Rose. Rose never had any children of her own, but Roger MacBride whom she met when he was a teenager and who later became her lawyer and literary agent, became her heir. He inherited an estate  that has a present day value of over $100 million and was responsible for licensing the television rights to the Little House books.

So there you have it, some interesting tidbits from the life of one of the most beloved of children authors. Were any of these new to you? Do you have some fun facts of your own to add? Have you read the books yourself?  

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

Winnie’s Winner

 

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to discuss amusement parks with me. I had a lot of fun finding out about all of your likes and dislikes.

I’ve tossed everyone’s name in the hat and the name I pulled out was

C O L L E E N !

Congratulations Colleen. Just drop by my website to decide which of my books you want then email me with the title and your mailing address and I’ll get it right on out to you. 

 

 

Updated: January 15, 2020 — 3:03 am

Amusement Park Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I spent most of last week with one of my daughters at Disney World in Orlando. She had plans to run in the Disney marathon and I went along to cheer her on and to do some playing.

Spending time at the park got me to thinking about theme parks in general and I decided to look up some info on the history and trivia related to them. And while this is technically not Western Romance related, I thought I’d share a little of what I found with you.

Roller Coasters – my daughter is a big fan and rode quite a few of them – I chose to watch <g>. But here are some fun facts associated with these thrill rides

  • The earliest record of something approaching a modern day roller coaster can be traced back to 18th century Russia. It is said that Catherine the Great while in residence at the Imperial Summer Palace, devised a pastime where people boarded a vehicle which was then rolled down hillsides. She apparently got the idea from the ice slides that were popular in the region during the 16th century.
  • Another early precursor of the modern roller coaster were mine tracks. A coal mine in Pennsylvania created a gravity railroad for moving its product. On days when the facility was not needed to move coal, locals would asks for rides in the carts. Before long, folks were willing to pay for the chance to ride.
  • The world’s longest roller coaster is the Steel Dragon 2000 found at Nagashima Spa Land just outside of Nagoya Japan. It is 8,133 feet long. The ride lasts 4 minutes and reaches speeds of 95 mph
  • The prize for the world’s fastest roller coaster goes to Formula Rossa in Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. It can reach top speeds of 149 mph Its acceleration rate is even more impressive – it can go from 0 to 149 in just 5 seconds. It’s so fast that riders have to wear the same type of protective glasses that skydivers use.
  • The tallest roller coaster is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. It stands an impressive 456 feet in height it shoots you 90 degrees straight up and then plummets back down in a 270 degree spiral!
  • Some roller coasters get recycled. This is not done out of an effort to save the environment as to save money. It can cost as 80 percent less to dismantle and reuse an old roller coaster than to build a new one.  There is one roller coaster, The Tsunami has been used by four different amusement parks since 1986.
  • Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio bills itself as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. It is home to a number of roller coasters that are among some of the world’s longest, tallest and fastest coasters.
  • The Smiler, a roller coaster located in the United Kingdom, holds the record for having the most loops – an impressive 14! The next closest count is 10.
  • There are currently approximately 5000 roller coasters in existence worldwide.

Ferris Wheels

  • Early precursors to the modern Ferris Wheel were around as early as the 17th century. During that period in Bulgaria there was a contraption known as the pleasure wheel which had chairs hung from rings and it was powered by strongmen.
  • The modern day Ferris Wheel made it’s debut at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
  • The oldest Ferris Wheel still in use can be found in Austria. It was built in 1897 and was scheduled to be torn down in 1916, but a lack of funds to carry out the demolition saved it and it is still in operation today.
  • The High Roller Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas is the world’s tallest – it stands 550 feet high

Random Facts about the Disney theme parks

  • The Pirates of the Caribbean Ride originally used real skeletons. The original ride’s creators were dissatisfied with the quality of the fake skeletons that were available at the time. So they contacted the UCLA Medical Center who were willing to provide some actual human skeletons.  Eventually the real skeletons were replaced with fakes and the real ones were “returned to their countries of origin and given a proper burial,” according to former Disney producer Jason Surrell.
  • Since fireworks are classified as explosives, Disney is the second biggest purchaser of explosives in the US, second only to the US government. Estimates are that they spend upwards of $45,000 per show.
  • A restaurant at a Disneyland park is credited with the creation of Doritos. The story is that rather than wastefully throwing out unused tortillas, they created the crispy treat.
  • Disney makes two times as much money from their amusement parks than they make from their movies.
  • You may already know that there are a series of tunnels that run under the parks. These are used to help the cast members get from place to place without setting foot in the ‘wrong’ place – so a character from Toy Storyland will never show up in Star Wars land. But did you know that those tunnels in Disneyworld were actually built at ground level? Because it was built over a swamp, it was set on the surface and then excavated dirt from projects like the Lagoon was spread on top.  Most of the attractions are actually on the second or even third story of the park.
  • The world’s most expensive roller coaster can be found at Disney World in Florida. Everest Expedition, because of the attention to detail used in fashioning a replica of Mt. Everest, cost $100 million to construct.

And just for fun – here is a picture of me and my daughter at Hollywood Studios

So what about you? Do you have a favorite amusement park or park ride? Do you have any fun bits of trivia that I missed here? Did any of these tidbits surprise you

Join the discussion to be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist

 

New Release – Sawyer

Hello Everyone, Winnie Griggs here. 

I’m taking a break from my series on female law enforcement trail blazers this month to post on something a little more personal.  I’m excited to announce that, as of Nov 1, I have a new release out.

This one, SAWYER,  is part of the Bachelors and Babies series, Book 6 to be exact.  I was really excited to be invited to take part in this series – the authors are all great and it was the first time I’ve had the chance to be involved in a project like this. It also gave me the opportunity to try my hand at an indy work. I did one last spring, The Unexpected Bride, but it was a little different since that was an old backlist work I was tweaking, repackaging and reissuing. Sawyer is an entirely shiny new work and one I had a lot of fun writing. And I must say this has been a great, and sometimes scary, learning experience.

There will be 14 books in this series, coming out one a month, and while they are all standalone, they share a common theme – what happens when a bachelor in the old west suddenly finds himself unexpectedly saddled with a baby. And this series is certainly a showcase for the saying that if you give a dozen people a story idea you’ll end up with a dozen different stories. I’ve read the first five books of the series and they are all very different, coming at the theme from a number of different angles.

As you can see from this graphic, there are some familiar names among the participating authors, including my Filly-sister Pam Crooks who kicked off the series with TRACE, former Filly Cheryl St.John who’ll wrap us up with TANNER, and several authors who have popped up here in the past as guests.

 

Here’s a little more info about Sawyer:

Sawyer Flynn vows to see that the man who murdered his brother pays for his crimes, but becoming the sole caretaker of an orphaned infant sidetracks him from the mission. Sawyer can’t do it all—run his mercantile, care for the baby, and find justice for his brother. He needs help. But not from Emma Jean Gilley.

When her father flees town after killing a man, Emma Jean is left alone to care for her kid brother, but her father’s crime has made her a pariah and no one will give her a job. Learning of Sawyer’s need, Emma Jean makes her case to step in as nanny.

Sawyer is outraged by Emma Jean’s offer, but he’s also desperate and he reluctantly agrees to a temporary trial. Working together brings understanding, and maybe something more. But just when things heat up between Sawyer and Emma Jean, the specter of her father’s crimes threatens to drive them apart forever.

 

You can get your copy at this link on AMAZON  

When I was writing this book I set up a Pinterest board to save images of how I imagined my characters would look, as well as their homes and the mercantile where the hero works. You can view it HERE if you’re interested.

If you’re interested in reading an excerpt, you can find one on my website HERE

And you can join the Bachelors & Babies Readers Group on Facebook to meet all the authors and learn about upcoming releases!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143576775865837/

So let’s chat

How do you feel about series like this one that are connected by theme rather than more tightly connected by location or family or some such?
When there is a long running one like this, do you normally stick with it all the way through or at some point do you feel like you’ve had enough, and if so what is that tipping point for you?
Is there some theme you haven’t seen recently that you’d like to see a series built around?

Comment here and you just might find yourself on the winning end of a signed copy of Sawyer!

(FYI – I’ll be traveling until early afternoon, so my responses may be sparse until I get home but I promise to answer every comment  whenever I have access to the internet)

 

 

Updated: November 1, 2019 — 12:34 am

Constance Kopp – Determined Heroine Turned Law Enforcement Officer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Back in January I started a series of articles about several amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

 

Today I want to discuss Constance Kopp, who is the very definition of a feisty woman. Even within this series of trailblazing women, Constance’s story is a remarkable one.

Constance’s father wasn’t in the picture much and was an alcoholic) Early in her life Constance was determined to have a career outside the home and attempted to study both law and medicine. Her mother, however, wouldn’t allow her to complete her studies, leaving Constance frustrated and rebellious. It is rumored that the youngest sister, Fleurette (love that name!) was actually her daughter, the result of a youthful indiscretion.

Constance, however, was no shrinking violet. Standing a good 6ft tall and weighing in at 180lbs, she was a formidable presence, one who loomed over most men of that time. That, coupled with her forceful personality and her father’s frequent absences, was likely why she became the de facto head of household, the person the rest of the family turned to for guidance when things turned bleak – which they did soon enough.

The extraordinary trouble entered the Kopp women’s lives in July of 1914, when Constance was 35, with what should have been a simply resolved traffic accident. Henry Kaufman, the wealthy owner of a silk factory, crashed his car into the Kopp family carriage that Constance and her two sisters were riding in. The accident resulted in damage to the carriage, including breaking the shaft.

Constance made several attempts to get Mr. Kaufman to pay for the damages. When he refused, Constance, not one to back down when she was in the right, decided to file a lawsuit. The courts awarded her $50. Kaufman was outraged to be held accountable and at one point accosted Constance on the streets. Undeterred, Constance promptly had him arrested.

But that was only the beginning of the man’s unreasonable reaction. Prowlers began roaming around the Kopp home, where the three sisters lived with their widowed mother. Vandals broke in and damaged furnishings. The Kopps received threatening letters. One threatened to burn down their home, another demanded $1000 with the threat of dire consequences if they refused, and still another threatened to kidnap Fleurette, still a teen, and sell her into white slavery. And while all this was happening they also had to deal with random shots being fired into their home.

Constance turned to Sheriff Robert Heath for help. Luckily Heath was a progressive minded man. He not only took the situation very seriously – the only person on the police force who did so – but he immediately armed the three sisters with revolvers.

Constance agreed to go ‘undercover’, agreeing to meet the writer of the threatening letters on not one but two separate occasions. They ultimately found enough evidence to convict Kaufman and he was forced  to pay a $1000 fine ad was warned he would serve jail time if the harassment of the Kopps didn’t cease immediately.

Sheriff Heath was very impressed with Constance’s bravery and determination, so much so  that he offered her the position of Under Sheriff, making her the first woman ever to hold that position. And this was no sham title. One of Constance’s early cases was to track down an escaped prisoner, something she handled with unexpected ease. She held the job for two years, losing it only after Sheriff Heath was replaced by someone less progressively-minded.

Her story was virtually forgotten until an author, researching some information for a book she was writing, stumbled across an article in some old newspaper archives, that led her down an unexpected trail. Amy Stewart eventually wrote several books that were fictionalized accounts of the Kopp sisters’ experiences, starting with Girl Waits With Gun.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There you have it, another very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of a brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

 

 

I’m very excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest western romance, Sawyer. Sawyer is the 6th book in the Bachelors & Babies series – another Filly, Pam Crooks, had the lead off book, Trace. These books are all stand alone but have been proving to be popular with readers – fingers crossed that my book will continue that trend! Sawyer will officially release on Nov 1 and is now available for preorder.

 

Sawyer Flynn vows to see that the man who murdered his brother pays for his crimes, but becoming the sole caretaker of an orphaned infant sidetracks him from the mission. Sawyer can’t do it all—run his mercantile, care for the baby, and find justice for his brother. He needs help. But not from Emma Jean Gilley.

When her father flees town after killing a man, Emma Jean is left alone to care for her kid brother, but her father’s crime has made her a pariah and no one will give her a job. Learning of Sawyer’s need, Emma Jean makes her case to step in as nanny.

Sawyer is outraged by Emma Jean’s offer, but he’s also desperate and he reluctantly agrees to a temporary trial. Working together brings understanding, and maybe something more. But just when things heat up between Sawyer and Emma Jean, the specter of her father’s crimes threatens to drive them apart forever.

To learn more or pre-order, click HERE

Updated: October 6, 2019 — 1:08 pm