Friday, September 23, 2016

How Setting Affects Character Building

When I chose Wyoming for the setting of Dreams of Gold, a western historical novella, I did so because WY is known as the equality state. Even before the territory gained admission to the United States, legislation was passed in 1869 that granted women the right to vote, serve on juries, and hold elected office. The territorial document was the first time a government had granted “female suffrage” and became law upon Governor A.J. Campbell’s signature on December 10, 1869.

Within three months, Esther Hobart Morris had been appointed justice of the peace in South Pass City (a site of gold strikes) to fill out a term for a man who’d been ousted. Her “courtroom” consisted of a wooden slab bench in her log cabin. Although she had no legal training, she had been the owner of a successful millinery business in her prior home state of New York. In her first case, she arrested J.W. Stillman, the man who had served in the position but refused to relinquish his court docket. She served for nine months and gave decision on 27 cases, 9 of which were criminal in nature. Her appointment as a judge garnered national attention, and she’s credited with encouraging (perhaps even co-authoring) the woman’s suffrage bill put before the legislation.
Esther courtesy of Wikipedia

Also noteworthy was that on September 6, 1870 in Laramie, Mrs. Louisa Swain was the first woman to cast a vote in a general election. She was 69 years old and described as “a gentle white-haired housewife.”

These facts were important because such events would have appeared in newspapers across the nation, establishing Wyoming as an area with a progressive attitude toward women’s rights. My heroine, Ciara Morrissey, grew to adulthood in the east, Massachusetts in particular. Living in an area of higher population gave her access to a wider number of opportunities—ways to support herself, as well as gatherings, colleges, and public meetings that educated and informed. Raised by a liberal-minded mother, Ciara had attended both anti-slavery and suffrage meetings since she was a child. Therefore, she arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1871 with expectations on how to conduct her business that were a bit more open-minded than the hometown sheriff, Quinn Riley, was used to. And the sparks flew…

BLURB: Sheriff Quinn Riley is tracking an Irish swindler and sticking close to the opinionated woman from the runaway stagecoach. Within hours, easterner Ciara Morrissey puts the town in an uproar by inquiring about his prime suspect.  He’s duty-bound to keep her safe, even when being close to the green-eyed beauty sets off a stampede in his heart.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Forgotten

Post by Angela Raines-author (c)

How many times have we driven by a cemetery and wondered about the people whose lives are now part of the past? Do you ever wonder who they were? What were their dreams, hopes? What were their lives like?

I've spoken many times about my fascination with the history contained in these final resting places. I've worried about the vandals who wipe out traces of people who no longer have anyone to care about who they were. Many a time I've wandered amongst the stones reading what family and friends thought was important by having it carved on the monument. Join me as I tell you a few stories of those 'forgotten' people.

A number of years ago, I captured on film one of the remaining wooden headstones in the Silver Cliff, Colorado cemetery. The name had started to fade, but the headstone started my search of the history in the Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado.In the 1870s Silver Cliff was a booming town, with expectations the DR&G would put a station there. Unfortunately for them, in 1881 the looked for station was placed a mile west and the town of Westcliffe came into being. Many people moved their houses and businesses to the new town and Silver Cliff went from a thriving community to 'ghost town' almost overnight.

Silver Cliff Cemetery -home of the Ghost Lights

The town of Rosita, near these two communities, was the setting for Helen (Hunt) Jackson's children's book "Nellie's Silver Mine". This story was one of the first, if not the first children's book to have setting as a character.

Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs where Helen (Hunt) Jackson is buried
Closer to home are the headstones in El Paso County. I walk the cemetery roads, reading headstones, the stories, then whenever possible, attempt to locate resources to for the rest of the story. In the case of the Lamont's I found more than I expected. Duncan Lamont was born in Scotland in 1865. He came to the United States, locating in Colorado City (now Old Colorado City) where he ministered at the Baptist church. He and his wife Katherine, who was from the Midwest, did their best to save the souls in that rowdy town. Katherine was involved in the WCTU and had offices on the south side of Colorado Avenue. That side of the street consisted of saloons and tunnels running to the crib houses on the street behind. When a fire broke out in February 1907 the good Reverend ran through the streets shouting "Praise the Lord". Unfortunately the fireman did not appreciate his fervor or being in their way. They turned their hoses on him, literally freezing him. His parishioners took him back to the church and thawed him out. He later was appointed postmaster in Victor Colorado and became a state senator in Colorado.

Headstone of Duncan Lamont-Fairview Cemetery, Colorado Springs, CO
These are just a few of the pieces of history I acquired from walking the final resting places of people that most would consider forgotten. Perhaps I can bring some of their stories to life in my novels, blog posts and even non-fiction writing. If it weren't for them, we would not be who we are.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: DIANNA

Today's Blog Tour Tuesday features 
by Josephine Blake

About Dianna (Brittler Sisters Book 1):

A pull here. A tug there. Something is calling out to Dianna from a distance.

While her younger sister begins planning her marriage to the son of a wealthy business man, Dianna discovers a yearning within her soul the likes of which she has never known. Having brushed aside the many suitors presented to her over the course of her adolescence, Dianna refuses to fall quietly into spinsterhood.

Her cravings for adventure and change overpower her strong sense of logic and she journeys forth to marry a man she knows only from a handful of letters.

This change is good.This is the life for her. Isn't it?


Manhattan, 1885

“Tell me right now, Dianna. This instant!” Sarah made a grab at the papers that her sister was holding behind her back and missed.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with you, Sarah Jane, now mind your own business.” Dianna smoothed her honeyed locks back from her face with one hand. It had come loose from its pins during the tussle.

“What are you up to?” grumbled Sarah, propping an irritated fist on her hip as she surveyed Dianna with a suspicious glare.

Dianna huffed and straightened the pinstriped gown she wore over her tightly laced corset. She turned from her sister, still holding the sheaf of parchment away from her body, expecting another attempt to wrest it from her fingers.

“I repeat,” she said, tucking the letter away into her nightstand and locking the drawer with a small key. “It is none of your business,” Dianna slid the tiny bronze key into the neck of her dress and strode past Sarah, who was looking mightily offended. She glanced back at her younger sister as she made her way out of her bedroom. “Come down for dinner, you. Mother will be in the foulest of moods if we’re both late.”

Sarah was still staring grumpily towards Dianna’s bedside table, as though she might be able to force it open with the sheer power of her will. Behind her, the bedroom window was closed firmly against the autumn chill. Orange and brown leaves, fallen from the aged oak tree in the front garden, swirled past the glass. An ancient rope and plank swing could be heard squawking over the rustling of the wind.

Dianna rolled her eyes and returned to her sister’s side. She took hold of Sarah’s arm and steered her from the room, through the hallway, and down the sweeping staircase of their Manhattan family home.

“You’ve never kept a secret from me before,” muttered Sarah, the most pitiful note of woe in her voice.

Dianna rolled her eyes again, although this was perfectly true. “You’ll know if anything comes of it,” she said, and she gave her sister’s hand a pat. This comment only seemed to cause further irritation. Sarah’s frown deepened and she opened her mouth. Dianna cut her off before she could start again: “You’ll know soon enough,” she repeated, giving her a quelling look. Sarah glared at her, but closed her mouth.

You may purchase Dianna on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

About the Author:

Josephine Blake is a historical fiction writer from Portland, OR. Her debut novel 'Dianna' hit the shelves in August of 2016. Before publishing her own work, she worked as a freelance fiction and ghost writer for numerous clients. Josephine Blake is happily married, and freely admits that her husband is the inspiration for every bit of romance she ever writes.

 Connect with Josephine Blake:


Monday, September 19, 2016

Camels In the US Army

Sometimes when working on a book, the research we do can uncover things that we had never heard of before.  Currently, I’m working on a book with some of the members of my fan group, and I ended up finding out something I’d never heard mentioned before in any of the history I’ve learned over the years.  Perhaps it’s something you knew of, but for any others like me, I thought it was interesting enough to share with you today.

The project I’m working on with my fan club has my readers offering their suggestions and ideas for a book, and then I’m in charge of putting it together into a story.  They have given me so many fun things to include in the book, but one of them was for certain animals to be on a ranch that we’ve created.

Would There Be Camels In US History?

Gwinn Heap's illustration for Jefferson Davis' (at that time Secretary of War) report to the U.S. Congress in 1857. The drawings illustrated the journey of the camels to the United States. Gwinn Heap [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of these animals was suggested to be a camel.

Well, I couldn’t figure out how I’d get a camel to the United States (Kansas) in the 1800’s.  But, thanks to the internet…I was able to start researching any possible suggestions to make it work.

I thought it would take some creative thinking to make it happen - so imagine my surprise when I discovered that camels HAD actually been brought over and used by the US army as an experiment to see how useful they could be as pack animals.

And - by some strange twist - after the years of experiments and use of the animals, they were eventually sold off at auctions, with many ending up in circuses and private ranches!

So, being able to write this into my story was surprisingly much easier than I’d anticipated.

While I read through the stories about how they were used, I was so shocked to see how favourable they had been, and how they had actually been very successful at proving their worth.  However, for whatever reason, they didn’t keep using them.

One of the best accounts I read of the animals being used, was found at

These animals formed the US Army Camel Corps, and spent years under experiment to see their usefulness.

Thy summed up perfectly how these animals ended up, after being brought over here with such promise, then being abandoned:

Eventually, when the curiosity wore off or their new owners simply did not want or need them anymore, many of the camels were turned loose in the wild to fend for themselves.  They were seen for many years afterward, wandering the deserts and plains of the Southwest.  The last of the original Army camels, Topsy, was reported to have died in April 1934, at Griffith Park, Los Angeles, at the age of eighty, but accounts of camel sightings continued for decades.  Although never officially designated, “U.S. Army Camel Corps,” this is how the Army’s camel experiment has been remembered.  Ignored and abandoned, it was an ignominious and unfortunate end for these noble “ships of the desert.” 


As for me, I’m still in shock at some of the interesting things I uncover while researching books.  And, another reason why I love history so much - you just never know what you will learn :)

Check out Kay P. Dawson's new series - 'Love's a Gamble' - Book One "A Gambler's Heart" is now available....

Kay also has a fun FB group just for fans - you have to request to join, so send your request to

Join us for some fun discussions, great contests and special offers just for fans of Kay P. Dawson.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: CELESTRE'S SONG

Today's Blog Tour Tuesday features 
Celestre's Song 
by Danni Roan
About Celestre’s Song:

Leaving behind the dark shadow of her late husband Celestre Smythe strikes out for a new life in Montana: one where security is guaranteed. To her way of thinking she couldn't have asked for a better situation, a simple partnership with taciturn Trevor Wright.

Trevor needs a woman to care for his two young children but wants as little to do with the woman herself as possible. A Montana horse rancher he’s given up on love, God, and anything other than providing for his tiny family. Celestre is a means to an end, a way of meeting the needs of his small son and infant daughter.

Although content with their arrangements for their own reasons Trevor and Celestre soon find that life doesn’t often adhere to our best laid plans. A sweet inspirational story of second chances.


Jake Smythe had never been a good man. He had been a drunk, a gambler, and a cruel, abusive husband. Yet Celestre sat, even now, holding his hand dutifully; fleetingly he wondered if she were praying for him.
            “Are you praying for me?’ he asked, his voice a hollow wheeze.
            “Yes.” Her answer was simple, direct.
            “I suppose you think your God can still save me,” he scoffed.
            “I know he can.” Her reply was flat, but he knew she believed it.
Turning her head toward her husband, Celestre Smythe looked at him carefully. His cheeks were sunken, his parchment-colored skin pulled tight across the ridges and planes of a once handsome face.
            “Do you really believe that?” the man whispered again, a tiny thread of hope edging his words.
“I can pray with you and show you the way,” she replied. There was no sorrow in her voice, no emotion. He couldn’t blame her.
            “Please,” he pleaded.
“You must admit that you are a sinner first,” Celestre looked into his once green eyes and for the first time saw not arrogance and anger, but fear, doubt and shame.
He nodded silently.
“Then you must accept that Christ died for you, for all of your sins and ask Him to forgive you.” She watched as he swallowed and felt his hand tremble in her own.
She strained to hear his mumbled words as his whole body seemed to shiver. Again, he swallowed and looked at her. “And can you forgive me?” his voice was weak.
“I have to,” was all she said as his last breath left him.

Celestre’s  Song is available on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

Author Biography

Danni Roan, born in rural western Pennsylvania, has always loved the country life. Her first work published under her real name, Paula Liddle-Beem, is a collection of folk essays about childhood in the lush, green mountains of PA. Being a teacher of English and English as a Second Language for the past twelve years has only inspired Danni's love of writing Western Historical Fiction. After receiving her Masters of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language she determined to indulge her passion for fiction writing. Teaching both in the USA and abroad has exposed Danni to a wide range of people from all walks of life and she tries to capture that unique character in her work.

Click HERE to reach the Author's Amazon Author Page.