Tag: historical western romance

Have Telegram Will Travel

 

There are a few things I put into almost every book of mine and the telegraph is one. It was the “email” of the 19th and early 20th centuries. People needed a fast way to send a message, and in the early 1800s, Samuel Morse gave them the telegraph—a machine that sent a series of dots and dashes over a wire.

In April 1856, Western Union began operating and reached peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than call long distance.

They charged by the word and the cost of a 10-word telegram in 1870 was around $1.00, depending on the distance.

It was customary to use the word STOP in place of a period. I found one reason for this being that it was cheaper than a period but I’m not so sure. I couldn’t find the cost of a period listed anywhere. Another source mentioned that it was to clarify the message and since they were sent in a series of dots and dashes, distinguishing periods would’ve been difficult. I believe this.

In any event, messages weren’t that cheap, so people used the fewest words possible.

In my Men of Legend series, Stoker Legend installed his own telegraph on the huge ranch so he could get messages quickly since headquarters was a good thirty miles from the nearest town.

And in my latest book, The Mail Order Bride’s Secret, Tait Trinity used the telegraph to send for Melanie Dunbar, the mail order bride he’d been writing.

* * * *

Now I have an offer for you. From today 5-19-20 to 6-02-20 my Texas Heroes series (digital only) goes on sale everywhere online!

Knight on the Texas Plains is FREE

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE  KOBO

The Cowboy Who Came Calling — $1.99

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE KOBO

To Catch a Texas Star — $2.99

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE  |  KOBO

So if you missed one or all of the series now is your chance.

 

Would you have made use of the telegraph system back then? Or would you have just written a letter? The cost of a letter was about 4 cents. Do you know of anyone who received a telegram?

A Blacksmith is a Blacksmith, Right?

Ask our guest Jennifer Uhlarik that question. She’ll tell you!

 

Blacksmiths—those who work to shape metal into useful tools, decorative pieces, or bits of jewelry—have been around since our earliest history. In the Old West, a blacksmith was a highly valued member of any community, as at some point, most people would find a reason to visit his shop to have a new tool crafted or an old one fixed or restored. A well-trained blacksmith would earn good pay for his craft. But it might surprise you to learn that not all blacksmiths could do all types of metalwork. Quite the contrary. Some were very specialized in their skills while others had a rather broad ability to work in many areas. Here’s a quick primer in the various types of smiths:

 

  1. Blacksmith—one who works with iron and steel. Going back to the Colonial days of America (and far earlier), blacksmiths made most of the metal tools anyone could dream of. Plows, hoes, shovels, door hinges, metal chains, and everything in between. Your typical village blacksmith had a wide range of knowledge and could work on lots of types of projects.

 

  1. Farrier—a smith who shaped and fit horseshoes. Since the Industrial Revolution, horseshoes have been mass-produced, but before that, shoeing horses required someone with the skill to be able to shape the iron into the horseshoe as well as adhere them to the horse’s hooves. In addition, this type of smith would have to have knowledge of how to clean, shape, and trim the horse’s hooves. Many farriers were general blacksmiths, but not all blacksmiths were farriers.

 

  1. Wheelwright—a craftsman who could create or work on wooden wheels or wagons and other conveyances. This included crafting the metal wheel rims and other metal parts of wagons, carriages, and the like.

 

  1. Locksmith—someone who forged locks from metal. Initially, locks were made from wood, but as man learned ways to craft with metal, the locksmiths changed their chosen media. They would work for hours, cutting and filing small pieces to create the inner workings of the locks.

 

  1. Gunsmith—one who designed, built, repaired, and/or modified guns. In addition, they might also apply decorative engraving or finishes to the completed firearm. Gunsmiths still have a place in modern society, working in gun-manufacturing factories, armories, and gun shops.

 

  1. Bladesmith—as you might guess, a bladesmith was someone who used blacksmithing techniques to shape metal into knives, swords, and other bladed implements. In addition, this smith would have knowledge of shaping wood for blade handles, as well as some leatherworking ability for creating knife sheaths, etc.

 

  1. Swordsmith—an even more specialized form of bladesmith, who worked only on swords.

 

  1. Coppersmith (also known as a Brazier)—this craftsman worked mainly with copper and brass, creating anything from jewelry to plates/platters to sculptures and more.

 

  1. Silversmith—a smith whose chosen metal was silver. An interesting tidbit about silversmithing: in this craft, the metal is worked cold, unlike iron which requires great heat. As it is hammered and shaped, it becomes “work-hardened”, and if it isn’t periodically “annealed” (heated to soften it again) the silver will crack and weaken.

 

  1. Goldsmith—Closely related to a silversmith, a goldsmith worked with gold and other precious metals to create silverware, jewelry, goblets, service trays, and even religious or ceremonial pieces.

 

There are other types of smiths, but these are some of the most common.

 

For the most part, the skill, craft, and artwork of the blacksmith is a thing of the past, though you can find working blacksmith shops in some places today. Sometimes they are part of historic sites or living history museums, meant to show what life was like in a given time period. Others are meant to introduce today’s culture to the craft of blacksmithing through simple hands-on classes where you can make an easy project in a few hours. Most common in today’s culture, those with smithing skills work in jewelry designing/sales, the firearm industry, or as locksmiths.

 

It’s your turn: Did it surprise you to learn that not all smiths could do all types of work? Which type of smithing work intrigues you the most? Leave me a comment with your thoughts, and I’ll give one commenter a signed copy of my latest release, The Blacksmith Brides, with four fun romances all containing blacksmith heroes.

 

Available now on Amazon!

Blacksmith Brides: 4 Love Stories Forged by Hard Work

 

Hearts Are Forged by the Flames of Gentle Love in 4 Historical Stories
 
Worth Fighting For (1774—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) by Pegg Thomas
Talk of war has surrounded Meg McCracken, including her father and four brothers. Alexander Ogilvie doesn’t care about the coming war; his plans are to head west. When Meg comes to his smithy, sparks fly off more than the forge. But can they build anything during unstable times?
 
Forging Forever (1798—Cornwall, England) by Amanda Barratt
When the actions of Elowyn Brody’s father force her into a marriage of convenience with blacksmith Josiah Hendrick, she consigns love to a bygone dream. But as Elowyn comes to know her new husband, her flame of hope begins to burn again. Until heartache threatens to sever the future forged between them.
 
A Tempered Heart (1861—Charlottesville, Virginia) By Angela K. Couch
Buried under a debt that is not his own, Thomas Flynn’s only focus is gaining his freedom. He has learned to keep his head low and not pay attention to the troubles of others, until a peculiar boy and his widowed mother show him how empty his life has become. After years of protecting her son from slights and neglect of the people closest them, Esther Mathews is not sure how to trust the local blacksmith with her child…or her heart.
 
A Malleable Heart (California—1870) by Jennifer Uhlarik
A hard-hearted blacksmith finds acceptance with the town laundress. But when his past comes to call, will he resist love’s softening or allow God to hammer his ruined life into something of worth?

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

The Meaning of Colors

Color is all around us and writers use a lot of color in telling a story. Readers visualize the characters knowing the color of their eyes, hair, and clothes. Animals, landscape, foods–it’s impossible to write a story without using the various shades and hues.

There’s a reason why hospitals use a lot of blue, churches employ white, firetrucks are red, and nobility wear purple.

Here’s a little of what I discovered:

WHITE – purity, innocence, and wisdom. i.e. angels

BLACK – negativity and judgment

RED – energy, vigor, power, strength

PINK – love and compassion

PURPLE – royalty, blending of mind and spirit, uplifts

BLUE – prime healing color, relaxation, sleep, peace

BROWN – the earth, commitment

GREEN – balance and harmony, sensitivity, abundance

YELLOW – the emotional self, cleansing, creativity

ORANGE – cheerful and uplifting, warmth

TURQUOISE – brotherhood, friendly, the color of the freed soul

* * * * *

My new book – THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET – will release on Jan. 28th. This is Book 3 of my Outlaw Mail Order Bride series and tells Tait Trinity’s and Melanie Dunbar’s story.

Melanie has turquoise (green/blue) eyes and Tait describes them as the color of ancient stones. His eyes are an icy gray, the color of quicksilver. Her hair is red and his sun-streaked brown. Color says a lot about these two.

Tait is an outlaw and has a large bounty on his head for a string of train robberies so when his sister’s twin boys and four-year-old daughter appear on his doorstep, he’s totally unprepared for the responsibility. The last thing he needs are children to raise, yet he can’t let them go to an orphanage. His friends advise him to send for the mail order bride he’s been writing, but when she arrives, she’s nothing like what he expects.

Melanie is thrown as well to see there are kids involved. She lets him know right off that she’s not going to be his nanny, housekeeper, laundress, or cook while he rides out and stays gone for weeks or months at a time. Wife is the role she’s agreed to, but she comes with secrets—big juicy ones.

How long will it be before Tait figures out her true reason for marrying him? And he does.

I hope you give this book a try. The children provide ample humor and the ending is the most powerful I’ve ever written. The old western series Paradise provided a lot of inspiration. Book 4 will release the end of the year and complete the series with Ridge Steele and Addie Jancy.

Question: How does color affect your life? Do you have a favorite and why?

Giveaway: Two people who comment will win a copy (their choice of format.)

Cover Reveal and a Giveaway

 

Sometimes a book creates a life of its own and the author simply goes along for the ride. That’s the case with my January release, The Mail Order Bride’s Secret (Book #3 Outlaw Mail Order Brides.) Outlaw Tait Trinity finds himself the guardian to twin nephews and a four-year-old niece. He doesn’t want the job but it seems he’s the last resort.

What did a wanted man with a price on his head do with three children?

He takes his friend’s advice and sends for a mail order bride and she can’t come soon enough.

Yet, when Melanie Dunbar arrives with a whiskey flask in her pocket and a secret agenda, the woman gambler is anything but childrearing material.

This is the biggest gamble of her life and it’s anyone’s guess how it turns out.

I got the inspiration for this story from the old western series Paradise that starred Lee Horsley. That series was fresh and different. If memory serves, there were four children and they were a bit older. But Ethan Cord shares a lot of similarities with Tait Trinity. Both have a violent past and an unsure future with the law breathing down their necks.

Although married life gets off to a rocky start, Melanie is committed to making it work—at least until she gets the stolen money to save her sister. She just didn’t count on the children worming their way into her heart and falling in love with her handsome husband.

Plans have a way of changing for both Tait and Melanie.

This story has a lot of twists and turns and just when you think you have it all figured out, it takes off in a new direction. I think readers will love this story of love, redemption, and hope.

This book releases on January 28, 2020 and is available for preorder. The fourth and final book of this series will come out later in the year.

AMAZON  |  B&N APPLE  |  INDIEBOUND

 

Question: What do you think about secrets? Are there any good ones?

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to someone who comments.

The Oregon Trail Trading Post with Jennifer Uhlarik!

Hi everyone. Jennifer Uhlarik here. Have you ever thought of what traveling along the Oregon Trail is like? While I am fascinated with the idea of our forefathers traveling months along the path to make a life in the wilds of Oregon or other western places, the thought of being that far from civilization—particularly someplace to replenish supplies—is a frightening one. Keeping it real here: I live 2 miles from the grocery store, and it’s waaaaayyyyyy too easy for me to wait until 5 pm some nights to decide what I’m making for dinner, then rush off to the store for supplies. Our ancestors on the Oregon Trail didn’t have such luxuries! They had to pack enough stores to do life until they reached a trading post or fort to buy more.

So how did these trading posts get their start and what were they like?

As early as the 1500’s, French and English fishermen were sailing to the coast of Newfoundland to fish for cod. It was here that they encountered some local Indian tribes who were anxious to trade for metal goods. In order to obtain the iron pots, pans, knives and tools they coveted, the Indians offered beaver pelts, which they could provide in great quantities. It took the fishermen little time to sell the pelts once they returned home, and people quickly realized that the soft underfur of a beaver pelt made a wonderful felt for hat-making. With a growing demand for beaver pelts, both France and England began to explore North America with the intent to colonize it. Not long after, France began setting up trading posts in Quebec. Of course, England’s Hudson Bay Company moved into the area as well, sending traders and trappers across parts of Canada and the American frontier. Wherever they went, Hudson Bay Company set up trading posts to barter with the native population.

As life on the frontier changed from a focus on the fur trade to a focus on Westward Expansion, many of the old trading posts lived on. The owners of the posts continued to trade with the Indian tribes, but they also became outposts where white travels and settlers could get supplies. These small outposts provided staples like coffee, tea, rice, tins of hardtack biscuits, dried fruit, or canned goods. They also offered tools and utensils, such as cast iron pots, kettles, knives, and axes, saddles, and flint and steel for starting fires. Customers could trade for textiles, such as beaver-felt hats, blankets, bandanas, ribbon, thread, needles, and fabric. Ornamental or decorative supplies were commonly found, anything from silver to beads and beyond. And of course, guns, ammunition, and other shooting supplies were a common item found in these trading posts.

I’m sure you can imagine, life on the frontier could be lonely and supplies might be hard to come by. You had to learn to live with what you had…and make do until you could restock. Often, these trading posts were lifesavers, keeping people from starving or doing without until they reached the next major stop on their journey west. Or they might have prevented settlers from having to make a long trek to the nearest town or city, which might be days or weeks away. They certainly weren’t as convenient as today’s 7-Eleven, but I’m betting they were welcome stopovers to more than a few of our ancestors.

 

It’s your turn: If you had lived in times past, would you have liked to live on the frontier where a trading post might be your nearest source of supplies, or would you have preferred to live in a town or city? I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection to one reader who leaves a comment.

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Follow Jennifer at bit.ly.UhlarikNews

 

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

 

Click HERE to buy

 

Courting Candles

Courting in your ancestors’ days was entirely different from now. Suitors first called on the girl’s father and got his permission and a time was set. There was no pulling up in front of the house and honking the horn. Nope. There were rules to be obeyed.

At the appointed time of the young man’s arrival, the father would get out a courting candle—a metal contraption that consisted of a heavy coil. He’d set a taper in it and adjust it by turning the candle to whatever height he saw fit. It was purely at his discretion. He’d then place it either in the parlor or on the porch.

If he liked the suitor, he might set the candle high so it would burn for a while.

If he didn’t approve of the boy, he’d set the candle low.

But whether high or low, when the candle burned down to the top of the coil, time was up and the father would show the young man to the door. If the suitor argued about it, the dad might show him the toe of his boot! I’m sure many a one left that way.

On rare occasions when the suitor met with joyous approval, the father might let a second candle burn after the first was all the way down.

These courting candles were used by rich and poor families alike and set boundaries that must be adhered to. They provided a quiet yet firm reminder that the girl’s father was boss and his word was final.

I sort of like this old tradition where no words needed to be said. The candle spoke loud and clear.

The most recent courting scene that I wrote was in Catch a Texas Star when Roan Penny courted Marley Rose McClain. Duel didn’t much want them to see each other because Roan was a drifter. Roan didn’t like it a lot when Duel told him he’d have to prove he’d stick around. Which he did.

Longing for a Cowboy Christmas is out and I’m so happy. My story, The Christmas Wedding, is about Rebel and Travis from the outlaw town of Hope’s Crossing. To take her mind off the fact that Travis has been captured by a bounty hunter and she hasn’t seen him in months, she and the other women decide to celebrate the Advent and make the entire town the calendar.

Do you have a courting story to share or maybe one in a scene from a book? I’ll give away a copy of Longing for a Cowboy Christmas and will draw the winner on Saturday.

 

Marriage Advice in 1894

 

“Give little, give seldom, and give grudgingly.”

This was what Ruth Smythers, wife of Reverend L.D. Smythers, wrote in 1894 in her advice book for husbands and wives. She went on to tell women that unbridled passion in bed even within marriage was seen as a dangerous pastime and should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s more:

“Finding joy in the act and overindulgence can lead to cancer and other illnesses.”

“Refrain from having careers because working is vulgar and demeaning to husbands, declaring him incompetent and unable to provide.”

Furthermore, she instructed the wife to turn a blind eye if a husband strayed because that lifted her marriage burden.

These archaic ideas are too funny and definitely not what any of my characters adhere to. Nor did I.

Jack and Nora in Saving the Mail Order Bride (#2 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides) share a healthy marriage and view each other as equals even down to taking care of the children. Jack loves kids and sees Sawyer and Willow as his own and he adores Nora—even when she dyes his hair blonde.

In The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride (#1 of the series), Clay and Tally struggle to learn how to trust. Both had been betrayed so the lesson didn’t come easy. However, they have no trouble in bed. 🙂

In my years of living, which have been considerable, I have a little advice of my own. However, I don’t claim to be an expert. No, no.

But maybe I’ll do better than Ruth Smythers. Here we go:

  • Develop mutual respect and make it the cornerstone of your marriage.
  • Marriage is a partnership.
  • Share all aspects of your lives. Never keep secrets.
  • Share the chores and the care of the children.
  • Talk
  • Share the finances equally.
  • Never go to bed angry.
  • Find joy in being together and make time every day.
  • Have a date night each week or several times a month.

 

These are just a few things I’ve learned after two marriages. Okay, it’s your turn. What is your advice? I’ll give both books of my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series to one commenter.

Gina Danna: The Frugal Housewife

The Fillies welcome historical author Gina Danna to the Junction. She has a giveaway at the bottom so leave a comment to get in the drawing.

 

Last winter in Texas, it was cold enough I pulled out my favorite Polo sweaters to wear and found holes! Moth holes! I pulled a couple more & the little buggers were chomping on most of my Polo and Izod sweaters. They love wool and here they’ve got good – expensive – taste but oh I was sooo mad! What do people do today when this happens? After muttering a few colorful metaphors, the sweater gets tossed, as we’ve become a throwaway society. Broken, buy new! But that’s not how people used to be…

For centuries, many people did not have the wardrobes we have today. Unless you were rich, the majority had a few articles for everyday and one dressy piece for church. During the time of the American Civil War, a great deal of men’s clothing was made of wool. Pants, frockcoats and waistcoats were wool. Why? Because wool is a great durable fabric. Made of tightly woven fibers, it held dirt, mud, and anything else on the surface unlike cotton, which absorbed it. If mud got on wool trousers or skirt, it’d be allowed to dry then a fabric beater, like a carpet beater, would be struck on the item and the dried wool would flake off.

For ladies with those long skirts that hit the floor, what did they do to make them not fray or mar with dirt? Many put a ruffle around the bottom and it took the filth off the streets, sidewalks and home. If it didn’t wash out, the ruffle was torn from the skirt and a new one attached. A new ruffle made of another color or new trims, made the skirt look new. Or they lined the bottom with twill-tape, sewn on the inside so only a glimpse of it showed on the hemline. Colored to match the skirt, this piece saved the hem from dirt and once it was beyond redemption, it was an easy to remove and cheap to replace.

During the Civil War, Southern ladies had to become the Frugal Housewife and find alternatives as the Union naval blockade kept imports out. Therefore, fabric from the North or England wasn’t available, neither were many notions such as stays for corsets, etc. So they redesigned what they had. Fixed their hoops by narrowing them or reverting to corded petticoats. They streamlined their skirts, cutting fabric to repair another area, thus making the skirt not as wide as fashion dictated. Pagoda sleeves were made narrow, cuffs and collars made from other scraps and they reversed the fabric to give it a ‘fresh’ appearance. Women already used shank buttons on their bodices. These buttons were not truly sewn on but the shank went through the slit at the buttonhole and was held there by a ribbon that ran the length of the bodice. To give a change of appearance, they pulled the ribbon, releasing the buttons and they threaded different ones in their place. Quite the ingenious way to make one outfit look like five.

Surprisingly enough, The Gone With The Wind portrayal of using curtains for material wasn’t that far off the norm.

During this time, ladies changed clothing many times a day. During the winter, it may be 3-5 times, summer 7-9 depending. They had their morning gown, working gown, cooking dress, traveling outfit, day dress as well as one for evening supper, evening party and ballgowns. It might sound insane to change but it was a way to keep the outfits cleaner than wearing one all day.

Laundry was a nightmare – an all day affair literally. Washed by hand with a scrub board and soap, it was a task assigned to Mondays. Whites were done in boiling water, colors in cold. Dresses were roughly 7-8 yards of fabric. A big piece to wash so they deconstructed it – bodice from skirt, sleeves from bodice – so smaller pieces to scrub and to dry. Drying was on clothesline outside. Whites placed in sunlight to bleach them whiter; colors turned inside out and hung in the shade to keep from fading. Ironing was with a cast-iron iron like we see for decoration today. It had to warm enough to iron but not hot enough to burn. Regardless of societal class, when they could afford to, they hired a 12 year old to do it for them. I read an account of a lady who wore a new dress in May and didn’t wash it until August! Yet some had to be done and it was much easier to wash collars and cuffs, which get noticeably dirty.

But what about those moth holes? They FIXED them. Women learned how to sew – whether they were good or not didn’t matter. They learned it enough to be able to repair things. Knitting was also a skill majority had. With that knowledge, and using things like cedar chests, they could keep most of their woolen fabric safe.

So what about my moth-holed sweaters? When my mother was alive, she fixed them. My mother was a Depression era child. These children were educated about getting by on nothing and making things last. My mother was great at sewing. Made all my childhood clothes. I remember wishing for store bought clothes…difficult being the one with the pretty – and unique – outfit. She also knitted and for these, she knew how to get into the sweater and reknit the holes closed. Alas, I never acquired those skills…

So, I did the best I could – I used needle and thread to sew them close.

There actually is a book on how to be a frugal housewife: The American Frugal Housewife, Dedicated To Those Who Are Not Ashamed Of Economy by Mrs. Child, 1833. A fascinating read.

Makes you wonder – could you become a “frugal housewife”? I’m giving away one digital copy of RAGS AND HOPE to someone who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.

* * * *

RAGS & HOPE –
 

Widower Colonel Pierce Duval only wants return to his Union command in Tennessee. A chance and harrowing encounter with a true-blue Southern belle stirs emotions he thought long buried. When her safety is at stake, how can he not help her? 

Cerisa Fontaine ran away for a new life far from her family’s awful secret. But her controversial marriage and southern drawl make her a pariah in the North. With her husband death, Cerisa is forced to seek employment at the only establishment that will accept her: a brothel.

To survive, Pierce and Cerisa embark on a journey to Tennessee posing as a married couple. But as secrets stand between them, passion wages its war within them. Do they  remain loyal to their cause, or give in to their heart’s desire?

 

AMAZON  |  iBOOK KOBO  |  Nook 

 

 

Left Foot, Right Foot

 

Do you remember what it was like to put your foot into the wrong shoe? Young children do this all the time. I still remember how uncomfortable it felt when I got in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention. Shoot, sometimes I still do this! It feels horrible.

But did you know that up until as late as 1850 shoemakers didn’t differentiate between the left and the right? They made both shoes straight with no curve in them. I can only imagine how awful they were to wear.

Change came with the invention of machinery for making shoes and they were finally able to produce left and right shoes.

I had so much fun writing SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE that releases in two weeks. Nora and Jack are so funny. Nora has a real problem with her shoes and the pair she wears coming West to marry are very worn. The heels are shaky and the shoes are too narrow.

The book opens with a stagecoach carrying her and an outlaw who’d just been arrested. Everything is so new to her.

Complication #1. He’s attached to a marshal by manacles (which are two handcuffs separated by a six-inch chain.) When the stagecoach wrecks and kills the marshal, Jack Bowdre asks Nora to get the key from the dead lawman’s pocket.

Complication #2. The second Nora unlocks the cuffs she slaps them around her own wrist and tosses the key away because she’s terrified Jack’ll leave her at the mercy of the man who’s following her.

To put it mildly, Jack is furious. Now he’s handcuffed to a woman he’s never seen and he’s about to lose his one chance of escape.

Before leaving the wreck, he removes the marshal’s boots, thinking they might come in handy. He and Nora spend a little time searching for the key but can’t find it and he hears riders up above the ravine, so he rushes her away.

Complication #3. Nora can’t keep up because of her shoes. He stops and yanks them off, wraps her feet in one of her petticoats, and puts the dead marshal’s boots on her. They can move much faster. Then later on, she switches those boots for a smaller pair that belong to the man chasing her.

They’re afoot with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a posse close behind. It’s five days to reach the safety of the outlaw town and the rugged terrain is unforgiving. The odds are stacked against them.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Jack didn’t tell her he’s an outlaw—one of several things he left out of his letters. Nora has her trials.

I think you’ll love this fast-paced fun story, the second in my Outlaw Mail Order Brides.

Click HERE for a link to an excerpt.

I also have a Spring Sweepstakes going on. Enter to win an e-reader plus 25 historical western romances. Margaret Brownley has hers in this too. Click on the image to enter.

 

I have a huge problem with shoes myself because my feet and ankles swell. Dressy shoes are the hardest to find. I just can’t find any that fit well, look decent, and are comfortable. Boots really are the best but not with a dress. I’ve finally gone to the Clark’s brand and they work pretty well. Do any of you have a similar problem? What do you wear for everyday and dressy?

I’m giving away an autographed copy of the book to three people who comment.

  

Bustles & Prairie Fires & Why We Wear Pants

Is this really only a hundred and twenty-five years???? We’ve come a long way, baby! 

 

The whole idea of puffy dresses and prairie life became a GREAT part of my intro to “Second Chance Christmas“, the second novella of “The Sewing Sisters’ Society” collection, and part of the overall Prairie Brides series…

Because claim shacks were small.

Folks didn’t always allow enough safe room around wood stoves and/or fireplaces.

Bustles made skirts wider.

In a world governed by mathematics and physics, A + B = C.

And C = skirts catching fire!

For practicality’s sake women in the west had to adjust their longing for European and Eastern fashion and slim down their skirts.

Tapered, not bustled….

Slim, not voluminous….

And then… shortened….

And then shortened some more….

And then…

Wait for it:

Skirts and pants…..

By the mid 20th Century a World War changed so much… Men went off to war.

So did women.

Women couldn’t wear skirts in all areas…. so they were issued trousers….

Women at home went to work manning the manufacturing processes…. and wore pants.

 

Today’s school teachers don’t look like this, do they? And yet… there’s something absolutely fetching about this look!

And a new shape was born from necessity, from self-reliance, from role reversal. And it’s never gone back, has it?

Here’s a great article about women and pants and how Calamity Jane set the Western tone for horse-ridin’ women:

“Women in Pants…”

When we look back and see how for millennia women wore dresses… That it would have been considered out-of-this-world in-your-face to dress down… 

Even into the 20th century…

Suffragists didn’t just fight for our long-awaited right to vote. They set a bar for an equality that we can never take lightly… but not at the expense of our respect, right?

I love getting dressed up. I love pretty dresses. But the other side of me is so totally down with blue-jean-casual… when I’m writing a story or running a power saw or cleaning a donkey pen or painting a house or room… or making jam to sell at our roadside stand.

So tell me, what’s your fashion fave and why? Is it how it makes you feel? Or how you like to be seen by others?  Or would you just love to go back, back, back and dress in those ladylike fashions once more?

No right or wrong answers here, and there’s a Kindle copy of my new full-length historical

“A Most Inconvenient Love for one lucky person today. Leave a comment below…