Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Blog Tour Tuesday - Lilly: Bride of Illinois

Today's blog tour hops to Illinois, or I should say to the book, Lilly:Bride of Illinois, I wrote for the American Mail-Order Bride Series. (50 mail-order brides * 50 states * 50 books)

This clean, sweet historical romance set in 1890. Lilly Lind was forced to emigrate from Sweden two years ago, due to circumstances beyond her control. She finds a job as a garment maker in the Brown Textile Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, finally feeling as though she is settling in her new country. Then a suspicious fire burns the mill, making Lilly seek another way to survive. She answers a mail–order bride ad in the Grooms’ Gazette and sets off for Chicago, believing she will be a business owner’s wife.
Kansas rancher Seth Reagan travels to the Union Stockyards in Chicago to attend the 1890 American Fat Stock Show, the American Horse Show, and to purchase horseflesh to augment his herd. When arriving at the train station, he overhears a conversation between a young woman and a shady–looking man. Seth becomes concerned for the mail–order bride who is whisked away to a saloon, not to her new husband’s home.
When Seth goes to the saloon to check on the young woman, he finds her in trouble and offers to help her escape. While buying horses and arranging their return travel to Kansas, Seth realizes he would like to bring Lilly home with him, too, but she is still being hunted by the saloon owner’s thugs.
Lilly’s good fortune in meeting Seth makes her want to start a life with this man, but he came to Illinois for horses, not a bride. Would he want her after he learns of her secrets?

Lilly: Bride of Illinois is available in ebook and paperback  form at Amazon.com.

Here's an excerpt from Lilly: Bride of Illinois
And now it was time for them to go to bed. They might be married, but they weren’t going to consummate it, so…it was making them both nervous and shy all of a sudden.
“Ah, thanks to you buying me a new night gown yesterday, you can have your night shirt back,” Lilly shyly said, still sitting at the table.
“True, but it’s a little colder on the floor so I’ll keep my pants on,” Seth drummed his fingers on the table, not comfortable to meet Lilly’s eyes.
“Seth, why would you sleep on the floor? We’re married now, even though we don’t plan to. …you know… Seth’s eyes widened and looked at Lilly’s red face. He might be thinking about it, but she almost said it out loud.
“Lilly you were hurt again today, I think you need to have the bed to yourself tonight,” Seth rushed through the words.
“Well, okay.” Lilly stood up, and Seth thought she was ready to go to bed.
“I’ll go downstairs then to give you some privacy so you can get into bed,” Seth said standing up, ready to run out the door.
“I could use your help before you go downstairs,” Lilly stopped Seth just as he was about to turn the doorknob.
“With what?”
“Could you please take my hair pins out, brush my hair and braid it? It’s hard to raise my right arm to do it,” she said sweetly. Seth blew out the air he was holding, worried it could have been more than brushing her hair.
“Sure, I’d be glad to help you,” he turned thinking she’d be seated in a chair by the table, but she sat on the far side of the bed with her back turned to him instead. How’d she move so fast to get on the bed?
“Here’s my brush,” Lilly looked over her shoulder at him. “Please put the hair pins on my handkerchief beside me so I can pick them up without dropping any.” Oh, boy. He was going to have to crawl in bed and sit behind her to reach her hair.
Seth, toed off his boots and sat on the bed, but she was still out of reach.
“Wait, I’ll move up a bit so you can sit behind me,” and Seth watched her little behind scoot on the bed.
“You know, I didn’t have any sisters, so I don’t know how to do this…so maybe you can still do it yourself?”
“Seth, I bet you’ve braided rawhide, twine and many other things. It’s not hard,” she glanced over her shoulder at him. She turned back around, but not before he saw her sweet turned–up lips.
Okay, he could do this. Seth moved to sit behind her, then studied her hair. Where’s the best place to start pulling pins?
He gingerly pulled a hairpin out of the bottom of her top clump of curls, trying to do so by only using the tips of his thumb and finger. His big fingers caught some of her hair at the same time and he winced. “Oh, sorry.”
“My hair won’t break off, Seth. Pull the pins out, and then run your fingers through my hair to find any you missed.”
One by one, Seth pulled the pins then gingerly placed his fingers at the base of her neck and ran his fingers up her scalp and out through the length of her waist–long hair, having to pull out sideways because he was so close behind her.
“Pins all out? Here’s the brush to smooth out any tangles. I usually do a hundred strokes every night.”
Seth was sure the first fifteen strokes through Lilly’s hair hurt, but she didn’t say anything. He found a rhythm, enjoying the silky golden strands running across his fingers as he brushed out to the tips of her hair. He lifted her hair to his nose to smell it. It smelled like the Blue Lilies Perfume he gave her, maybe along with a little “cattle” scent from being in the exhibit hall.
Lilly kept quiet, her eyes closed, looking like she was enjoying him brushing her hair as much as he was enjoying doing it for her. What would it be like to do this every night for my wife?
When he got done with the one hundred strokes, he set the brush aside, divided Lilly’s hair in thirds, and slowly braided it. She held a blue ribbon—apparently her favorite color, too—in her hand for him to tie the end of her braid.
“Okay, I’m done, so I’ll go now,” Seth said as he climbed off the bed and reached for his boots.
“Thank you, Seth. It felt so good to have my hair brushed out. Now could you help me out of my clothes?”
“What?!” Good grief, did he just squawk like a fourteen year old whose voice was starting to change?
“I need help out of my clothes and then you can wrap my ribs,” Lilly said as she moved off the bed to stand in front of him.
What did she learn while being in the Emporium? How to seduce a man? Could he do this without looking? But feeling without seeing might heighten his senses instead.
“I unbuttoned my shirtwaist, but I need you to carefully pull it off my shoulders and down my arms.”
Lilly turned away from him, and he slowly slid the shirtwaist off her arms, feeling her bare shoulders in the process. She didn’t have on a corset, or corset cover. She only had on her chemise under her shirtwaist.
“You need your long underwear on,” so I don’t see your bare skin.
“Don’t have any, but I suppose I should buy some for our trip home.”
“Yes, and boots, too. Your shoes are about worn through. We’ll go shopping tomorrow.” Think of a shopping list instead, to get your mind off her skin!
“Please unbutton my side seam on the left side of my skirt and pull it, and my two petticoats, off.”
“Oh no, I shouldn’t be doing that...” I bet my face is so red, I look sunburned.
“I’m afraid you can’t get them down, so you’ll have to pull them up over my head.”
Seth sighed. Just do it. The poor lady’s ribs hurt.
It took a couple of minutes to get everything unbuttoned, separated and up over her head after she slowly raised her arms. Then she stood there in her chemise and drawers, looking at him…waiting for…what?
“How about I slip your nightgown over your…underwear…so you stay warmer tonight?”
“I want to pull up my chemise so we can…”
“Nope, we are not doing anything, so lift up your arms as much as you can again because your nightgown is going on now.”
He might have pulled the gown over her head maybe a little too hard and fast, but it was done and he had his hand on the doorknob again.
“I meant so you could wrap my ribs...”
“Oh.” Now Seth was embarrassed because he’d been thinking of something else besides her injured side.
“And Seth?”
“Can I have a goodnight kiss?”
Lilly laughed so hard she snorted when he looked back incredulously at her. The little tease. But after the little kiss they exchanged at their marriage ceremony today, he wouldn’t mind kissing her again.
 Lilly: Bride of Illinois Copyright 2015 by Linda K. Hubalek

About the Author
While growing up, Linda Hubalek had always planned to be a farmer, like her ancestors who homesteaded the Kansas prairie. But marrying an engineer changed her plans—and state of residence for a few decades.
To ease the homesickness for soil and family until they could move back home, Linda wrote books about her pioneer ancestors.
Linda’s passion for the frontier has also drawn her into writing western romance featuring Kansas’ cattle town days and the women who lived in those times.
Sign up for Linda’s newsletter at www.LindaHubalek.com to hear about the release of future books, contests and more.
Linda loves to connect with her readers, so please contact her through one of these social media sites.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Furnaces and Hot Water Heaters . . .

View off my back deck.
It's cold outside. Like, really cold. And there's a ton of snow. It's been a few days since our huge storm, and the snow is still piled up on our deck as though it just fell.

My husband likes to go out and take walks in the mornings. He just came in, his cheeks red, his lips a little frosty. I sent him in to go take a warm shower. Within minutes, he was back, looking much better.

This is just one of the many things I'm grateful for in this modern age - we have indoor plumbing, warm water, and furnaces. Many houses are still equipped with fireplaces, but those are mostly to supplement our furnaces or even just to decorate, and we aren't dependent on them for our heat or cooking.

Back in the day, on a morning like this, if my husband wanted a warm bath after a walk, first would come the task of collecting enough water. It's cold enough outside that the water would probably be frozen over, and that might put a halt to the idea right there.

Photo courtesy of http://www.txindependence.org
Saying it was possible to get the water (probably by hacking at the ice with an ax), it would then be melted in a pot and then poured into the bathtub. Filling even a small tin bathtub like the one pictured would take several pots of water. In fact, just talking about it is wearing me out - sorry, honey. You'll just need to use a pitcher and washbasin. Much easier.

And I can't even imagine what it would be like trying to do laundry in those conditions. It was hard enough to do laundry back then - hauling the water, heating it, then scrubbing it in a huge tub against a washboard, often with caustic soaps. But when water was even harder to obtain because of the weather? It must have been a nightmare.

Photo courtesy of http://www.oldandinteresting.com
I found this painting depicting wash day in Finland. If she falls through the ice while rinsing out her husband's socks . . . yeah, that would be pretty bad. I imagine that housewives begrudged every bit of laundry that went into their baskets and winced every time one of their children smeared jam on their shirts. My laundry room is heated, and I never even have to touch the water. I'm feeling so particularly spoiled right now.

Yes, I might think that driving through snow is a pain and I might dislike paying the heating bills. Winter's not an easy season. But I'm sure glad I'm not trying to survive winter like the pioneers had to. Although, I admit that taking a sleigh ride does sound like an awful lot of fun.
Amelia C. Adams' most recent releases are Hope: Bride of New Jersey and Tabitha: Bride of Missouri. You can learn more about Amelia at her website, and Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blog Tour Tuesday!

  About the Book:

  Back in the officer's arms… 

 Four years ago, Tom Barrington shared a connection with  Elizabeth  Morley that was like nothing he had  ever experienced.  But as a solitary  soldier, he knew marriage was out of  the  question. 

 So when he strolls back into her life,  Elizabeth can't believe it. He  once  broke her heart, and now he's back—  more irresistible than  ever! And when  the dangers of Tom's lifestyle catch up  with him,  the question remains: can  he be the safe harbor she craves?

My newest release, Familiar     Stranger in Clear Springs, is a sweet,   clean romance that takes place in early San Diego. The inspiration came from research when I learned of the gold runs that would take place from Julian City in the back country to the bank in New San Diego. I also had a character—Elizabeth—who had become quite “real” to me and I knew I wanted to tell her story. Trouble was —she lived in La Playa on the water. How in the world was I going to get her from her comfortable mercantile on the harbor to the gold town of Julian?  (You’ll have to read it to find out.)
Tom Barrington is a special agent whose last government assignment   nearly killed him—and did kill his partner. He’s not sure he has the strength of will or body to do his job anymore—a job he used to feel so passionate about.
The day he strides back into Elizabeth’s life and demands to know about her marriage is the day Elizabeth realizes she never forgave—or forgot—him. And when Elizabeth is caught in the middle of his next dangerous assignment, Tom must confront the enemy who would separate them forever.
Paperback release: Available Now!    Ebook release:  January 1, 2016  

Buy Links:      Harlequin icon  amazon icon  Barnes and Noble  Kobo Icon  Indibound Icon    Google books

 Excerpt ~ First meeting  
Elizabeth moved to the stove and filled the kettle with water. Stuffing kindling and old brown wrap­ping paper into the stove, she struck a match to it. “Just to take the chill off.”
Oh, my. She gave herself a mental shake. Here she was talking to her cat. Again.
Bells tinkled as the front door opened.
“We’re closed for the day,” she called out absently without looking up. A body should know one didn’t do commerce so late in the day. Who would be want­ ing something at this hour?
Odd how a voice could stay in a person’s memory forever. The deep tone sent tremors to the ends of her toes. She nearly dropped the kettle. As it was her hand shook violently. A vision flashed through her mem­ory of the stranger she’d seen riding through town earlier. Now she could put a name to that form Tom. Tom Barrington. She stood frozen to the spot, unable to move for a moment. Then she glanced up.
Despite the thick dark mustache and scruffy beard hiding most of his face, she recognized him. It was his eyes. The blueness that had been so striking all those years ago was still there. His shoulders were broader than she remembered, and his frame taller, leaner, as though he’d lived hard without a lot of the finer comforts. That barely registered. She’d given up on ever seeing him again and now here he was standing before her. She could scarcely remember to breathe.
He stood in the doorway, black Stetson in hand, waiting for permission to enter the store farther. So clearly did the image come to her of the last day she had seen him standing there in his soldier blues that she drew in a shaky breath and set down the kettle. He wasn’t wearing a corporal’s uniform now, but a dark gray leather duster. His clothes had a layer of grit on them at least a half-inch thick. The wind off the ocean had tousled his dark brown, nearly black hair until it was completely lacking its parting on the side—or perhaps he  o longer kept it as he once had when he was in the military. He looked  surprised to see her—perhaps even shocked.
How many times had she hoped he’d walk back through that door over the past four years? One hun­dred? Two hundred? She’d imagined all sorts of sce­ narios. He’d rush in and sweep her off her feet. She’d run to him and throw her arms around him. Always, always, the dreams had ended in a deep kiss.  Of course, that had been when she’d thought he’d re­turn for her upon  receiving her letter. That hope…that dream…had died years ago. And, unlike  Laza­rus, it would not be revived. Four years was too long to wait for anyone.
Oddly, the thought flashed through her mind that she was glad she hadn’t yet changed from her day dress as she so often did once she shut up the store for the night. Usually she anticipated the removal of her corset at the end of a long day much as she imagined a horse reveled in the loss of his cinch and  saddle. For now, the laced binding under her dark plum-colored skirt and  bodice held her upright and firm. Perhaps she had enough layers on to feel    sufficiently armored against his charm now.
After all, he was the one who had left her. With­out word, without a care for what she’d thought they meant to each other, without asking her to wait for him or taking her with him. He’d been a scoundrel…and she hated him for it.
She swallowed. “Mr. Barrington.” The sound of his name came firm and cool. “I assume it is…‘Mr.’ now by the way you are clothed. Not ‘Corporal.’ Not ‘Captain.’”
“‘Mr.’ is fine.” He ducked his head under the door frame and stepped farther into the store. The door swung shut behind him with a solid whump. He didn’t even jump at the sound. In fact, he appeared a bit dazed as he looked at her, almost as though he were seeing a ghost. “What are you doing here?”

Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs
© 2016 Kathryn Albright

About the Author:  

 Golden Heart finalist and recipient of the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, author Kathryn Albright writes American-set historical romance that celebrates the strength of courage, hope and love against all odds.

Visit Kathryn: 
 www.kathrynalbright.com  | Newsletter |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Following Your Heart

Post by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

With a title like Following you Heart you might think this post is about finding love. In a way it is, but not as most would think. To me following you heart is finding what makes your mind, body and soul quiver with joy. It may be someone or something to love. For me it is creation. I love creating stories, be they fiction or non-fiction, performing in front of an audience and have them respond to my words, singing and bringing emotion to my listeners. In the past year I've seen the dream of becoming a published author with my fiction.

My non-fiction research, performing as Helen Hunt Jackson, talking about the early Colorado women doctors all feed a need I didn't realize was so strong. Helen is an inspiration, not only for my haiku, but my writing. In the short time she wrote, she didn't start until her late 30's and passed away at 55, the body of work is amazing. In the women doctors I've found the inspiration to follow that desire to make a difference.

In life I have had the blessing of being able to follow my heart and still succeed at making a living. That continues to this day. 

As a teen, I was able to study with the voice teacher I wanted, even though she was not taking on new students. She'd had me as a student when she was teaching schools and remembered me.

I went to the private college of my choice, even though the financial expense was steep. The experience was worth it at twice the price.

I spent twenty years working in a field that I had chosen at the age of fifteen, and retired at an age that allowed me to continue with my other passions. The field was corrections and I worked with delinquents. Not only was it challenging, but I also learned so much from those teens.

I have met and become friends with people who not only support me with their friendships, but also their encouragement in continuing to follow my passions.  With the Internet, the other authors I've become acquainted with is invaluable, to say nothing of the great stories I know about that would have been lost to me otherwise.

I have decided for me the only way to live is follow my heart and know that in the end I will find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

If you decide to go on this journey remember to keep moving and if the road swerves, follow the swerve, it will only be a learning spot along the way.

Wishing everyone a great Christmas and New Year. Here's to writing, reading and creating the life we desire.

Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, writing as Angela Raines, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.
A photographer, Doris also writes haiku and combines them with her photography.
In here spare time she writes/casts and performs with a local murder mystery company.

"One Christmas Knight" Medieval Anthology

"Angel of Salvation Valley"



Author Page: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Mail Order Bride Story and....Why Iowa????

Good morning, Robyn and thanks so much for letting me barge in today.  

The American Mail Order Bride Series involves a mail order bride for every state in the union!  All 50 stories take place in 1890 and they are all attached, someway, to a prequel.  All these women work at a textile mill in Boston that burns to the ground.  

The manager of the mill, a single woman herself, knows a woman who runs a mail order bride business.  She calls the women together and tells them about this matchmaker.  What other choice do they have?

I was so honored when the group of authors that put together this unprecedented project asked me to be a part of it!  I was born in Iowa, but moved to Arizona at the ripe old age of two.  My mother was raised in West Liberty, IA, where she had fifteen brothers and sisters, which means the small town of West Liberty is comprised of LOTS of my cousins!  LOL!  

Hannah: Bride of Iowa takes place right outside of West Liberty.  It was fun researching the history of where my mom and dad lived.  What really blew my mind is when the editor of The West Liberty Index got wind of my story, he actually interviewed me and I landed on the front page!

This has been a fabulous project to be involved with and I truly enjoyed writing Hannah: Bride of Iowa! It will be released on December 17 but is up for preorder right now!

Samuel Morrison, a farmer from Iowa, is in need of a wife and a mother for Lizzie, his three-year old daughter.  He reads an article from Massachusetts advertising mail order brides. He writes to the agency stating he’s looking for a partner who will work by his side and, hopefully, come to care for him and be a loving mother to Lizzie.
Hannah Brown responds to his letter.  Though she doesn’t say too much about herself, Samuel decides to take a chance and asks her to come to Iowa.
This woman is everything he wants in a wife and more -- or so he thinks.  Hannah has a secret that, if revealed, could devastate their future.
If Hannah tells Samuel, would he send her away?  She could lose all she’s come to cherish with Samuel and Lizzie.  Is Hannah willing to take that chance?

They were halfway home when two riders approached. Maddie’s eyes went wide when, out of nowhere, a rifle appeared on Samuel’s lap. “Just being cautious,” he muttered.
The two men pulled their horses up short when they reached the wagon. “Morrison,” said the rider who looked oldest. His hat sat low on his head covering his eyes, giving Maddie an uneasy feeling.
“Carl.” Samuel’s voice was low. “How’s your pa?”
“Sits in his chair all day not doing a dang thing. Don’t eat much and don’t talk, which is fine with me.”
“Who’s this purty thing you got there, Morrison?” Maddie shivered at the sight of the younger rider. His hair was long and dirty and stuck to the side of his face. He spit a stream of tobacco, a bit stayed behind to make its way down his chin. When he smiled, rotten teeth filled his mouth.
Samuel stiffened, saying nothing to the man. The puppy threw his head back and began to cry and yelp. “I don’t like being not talked to, Morrison, like I’m some sort of white trash. Maybe you couldn’t hear me none cause of this here mutt.” He drew a gun from his holster. “And maybe I should take care of it so you could hear me.”
In a flash, Samuel had the rifle cocked and trained on the man’s heart.
“No!” Lizzy cried, turning to try to get into the back of the wagon. Maddie grabbed her and struggled to hold the screaming little girl on her lap while watching Samuel. She had no doubt he’d kill the man without blinking an eye if he needed to.
“Put your gun away, Chad,” the other rider growled, disgust evident in his tone. “Sometimes you ain’t got no sense at all.”
“There be two of us,” Chad argued loudly.
“I said, put it away.” Carl’s tone was dangerous and Chad did as he was told.

A bit about me…..
I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults.  My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle.

I was a school secretary for 21 years.  My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only. 
More about my books can be found in the following links:

This project has made publishing history and has been more than 6 months in the making. Called The American Mail Order Brides Series, there are 50 books from 45 authors. Starting on November 19, there will one book published per day through to January 7, 2016. Each story is 35K - 40K in length and priced at $2.99.
For more information on release dates, the free prequel which ties the stories together, and each story, visit:   http://www.newwesternromance.com/