Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: MATT'S STORY

Matt's Story ~ Book 3 of the Mail-Order Brides of Black Horse Mesa.

Have you ever had a dream die in front of you? That's what happened to Matt. To deal with the disappointment, he leaves his brothers and rides along with his US Marshal Uncle, Big John Logan.

And then they rescue Hannah.

This is a story of dreams redeemed etched against the wild west backdrop of Texas after the civil war.


Hannah opened her eyes.

Two men were talking near her, but she didn’t hear Gunther’s voice. She lay still and listened. The older one had a gruff voice. He was a hard man but honest. The younger one, the one she first saw, he was kind and gentle, but there was a strength and sadness in him.

She relaxed. They weren’t outlaws. In her spirit, she knew that. Her pain lessened. She pushed down on the straw mattress and sat up. The cabin spun. She closed her eyes and rested. Thirsty, she cleared her throat. “Could I have a drink?”

The two men jumped up.

The younger one grabbed a cup and his canteen before rushing to her. He poured the water and then handed the tin cup to her. “Here. Take it easy.”

The water cooled her parched throat. With a nod, she handed the cup back to him. “More, please.”

The second cup helped her strength return. “Thank you. My husband?” Hannah saw the truth on their faces. He was gone. Poor Gunther, life had turned so sourly upon him. She prayed he’d seen the savior’s face at his last breath.

“Sorry ma’am. He was dead.” The younger man spoke, looking sadder than she felt.

She stared at him, trying to feel, to cry. “I think I need to lie down.”

He jumped to help support her and eased her down gently. “Best thing for you. We’ll be here. Call out if you need anything.”

She looked into his brown eyes and nodded. Yes, she could trust this one. She was so tired. Gunther was gone. She should cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Maybe after she rested she could give Gunther the sorrow and grief she owed him.

As she closed her eyes, Gunther’s image didn’t fill her mind. It was the kind face of the strong, gentle man with the brown eyes. She didn’t even know his name.


Matt stared at Big John and cringed. His uncle had that lecturing look.

Big John stood. “One thing you don’t want to do is bounce to another woman after losing one. She was married to a man and lost him. You owe her nothing. You don’t even know her.”

Matt matched the big man’s glare. “I just want her to have a chance. You’re right, I don’t know her. I just want to get her to a doctor, not like I asked her to marry me.”

“Yeah, just keep it that way. Females can be awful needy when they’re on their own. This farm doesn’t look like it’s worth a thing. She’s likely destitute. You just make sure she doesn’t get her claws in you.”

“Her name is Hannah. She’s not like that. You just worry about yourself. Worry about becoming a grumpy, old man.”

Big John guffawed and slapped his knee. “Well, young Matt, you and me have a lot in common. I’d say we were cut from the same cloth. You watch out that you don’t become a grumpy, young man.”

Matt's Story is available on Amazon and can be purchased by clicking here

Patricia PacJac Carroll here. I am blessed beyond my imagination. 

I live in the Dallas - Fort Worth area of Texas with my sweet, supportive husband and wonderful son. Oh, yes, there is that ornery little papillion. 

I love to write and am blessed with a stable of stories that are somewhat patiently waiting for me to get to them. Yet, they keep coming.  

My hope is that readers are entertained, encouraged, and left with a warm heart after reading my stories.

You can find more of my books on Amazon here.

Also, I am so excited to join this wonderful group of talented authors. You'll see my posts on the fourth Thursday of the month beginning February 25th.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cattle Drives ... and a New Release!

Every single book I write gives me the opportunity to learn something new.

When I sat down to write A Narrow Road, Kansas Crossroads #8, I realized I hadn't yet written about a cowboy. That seemed rather shortsighted of me - I'm writing Western romance, but I hadn't written about a cowboy yet? I decided to remedy that by making the main male character a cowboy, and I sent him off on a cattle drive.

My first idea was to have the cattle shipped into San Francisco, as much livestock was at the time. But a quick chat with my mentor, Kirsten Osbourne, helped me realize that driving the cattle up from Texas would be a much better choice. She pointed me to some articles, one of which was about the Chisholm Trail.

Courtesy of http://states.phillipmartin.info
The Chisholm Trail was a well-traversed path by which cattle drivers would move their stock north after purchasing it in Texas. That state was famous for its Longhorns, and ranchers from everywhere were anxious to purchase the animals and start breeding them. One thing Kirsten taught me was that the cattle were tough and stringy from being on the move so much, and they didn't produce juicy meat until they'd been fattened up at their respective ranches. Chicken fried steak came from these long cattle drives - the cooks needed a way to make the tough meat palatable, so they'd pound it, season it, and fry it.

This trail was pretty tough. There were rivers to cross, hills and mountains, and gorges, but it was the most direct way to get the animals from the stockyards in Texas up to the stockyards in Kansas, where they would then be shipped all over the country. One of the most expensive parts of the journey was paying the dime-a-head toll to the Indians for the right to pass through Oklahoma without harassment, as it was still Indian territory at the time the Chisholm Trail was in use.  Despite this tax, the cattlemen still made a profit, as the cattle would sell for three times their purchase price elsewhere.

Courtesy of www.redriverhistorian.com
The cowboys who ran these drives had to be tough and used to all conditions. The food wasn't great, they'd take turns sitting up for guard duty, and they were exposed to all the weather. They'd take just what they could carry on horseback and hope it was enough to keep them warm and dry - or, during the summer months, protected from the sun. These men were often sunburned and wiry, not unlike the cattle they drove.

If the cattle stampeded, that could mean the loss of some of the herd, which was costly, so the cowboys stood guard, ready to guide the animals and calm them if they became upset.

When at last the cowboys reached their destination, they'd often turn right around and look for their next cattle-driving job. They loved being out of doors and appreciated nature in all its beauty. Because of them and the cattle drives, we have cows all over the nation today.
If you'd like to learn more about A Narrow Road and read about Wade's cattle drive, you can pick up a copy here

Amelia C. Adams is the author of the Kansas Crossroads series and also of the Nurses of New York series, as well as two volumes in the acclaimed American Mail-Order Brides series. You can learn more about her by visiting her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter.

By clicking this link, you can download a copy of her first Kansas Crossroads novel free!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ethnic Valentine’s Day Customs

When I started writing When My Heart Knew aimed for a Valentine’s-themed call for submissions, I knew I wanted to include a holiday custom from the heritage of one of the main characters. So I started in on my research. Because this story would also take place in the setting of two other recent stories I'd created, I wanted the heritage different than what I’d used for those characters. Vevina, my heroine in Wandering Home is Irish, and Kell the hero is Norwegian. My heroine in Storybook Hero is of French descent, and for Trevor the hero, the subject doesn’t come up but I thought of him as a generic mix of Northern European.
I chose Scotland as the home country for hero Dylan MacInnes where he lived for the first twenty years of his life until immigrating to his uncle’s T-south Texas ranch five years earlier. So he was raised around the lore and customs taught by beloved family members from both his Scottish father and his Welsh mother. The tradition from his mother’s family he wishes to carry forward into the budding relationship he has with the heroine, Maisie Treadwell, is that of the lovespoon. The item is tangible evidence of his romantic intent-the wood carving displays his abilities, and the symbols indicate promises he’s making or represent special aspects or events of the couple’s relationship. For example: bells were for marriage, cross for faith, heart for love, horseshoe for luck, lock for security, and wheel for supporting a loved one.
I was quite happy with how I worked this tradition into the storyline.

BLURB:  For When My Heart Knew in Cowboy Kisses anthology from Prairie Rose Publications
Tomboy Maisie Treadwell meets her match in cowboy Dylan MacInnes. From the moment they meet, the sparks and words fly. Of course, if she hadn’t knocked him down and caused an ankle sprain, their relationship might have gone more smoothly. To avoid damaging the reputation of the family’s boarding house, Maisie is ordered to be at the mercy of meeting Dylan’s demands. When they discover a shared interest in adventure stories, a bond is struck. Soon, Maisie can’t wait to spend time reading aloud to the virile man confined to a bed. Until the afternoon she overhears him explaining that his demands were meant to teach her a lesson. Can Dylan find a way to gain her trust again?
Other authors with titles in the anthology are:
C. Marie Bowen, Lorrie Farrelly, Tanya Hanson, Gail L. Jenner, Kristy McCaffrey, Gil McDonald, and Beverly Wells
For more information on this and my other titles, go to my website

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Heart of Everything that Is- The Fight for the Black Hills

Nestled in the southwest corner of South Dakota, a mountain range rises from the prairie and badlands in a forest of vivid greens and granite peaks. They house a shrine to American democracy, and one of the wild west's most notorious towns. Breathtaking views, mountain streams and glorious falls rushing down canyon walls. 

They are the Black Hills, the Paha Sapa, The Heart of Everything That Is.

Roughlock Falls

The Needle

Long before white men ever encountered the hills, they were a sacred place for the Native Americans. A place not to inhabit, but to seek visions, perform rituals and hold ceremonies.  The birthplace of the Lakota nation. Holy Grounds.

For centuries, the Black Hills belonged to the Native Americans, unseen and untouched my white men. That would all begin to unravel in 1743, and the next two centuries would see a continuous battle for ownership.

In 1743, an expedition consisting of French men, led by Indian scouts, first laid eyes on these sacred mountains. This expedition was the first known account of anyone other than the natives nearing the area. However, they would not step foot in the lands, as their Indian guides refused to take them further.

In 1823, Jedidiah Smith ventured to the Black Hill with 15 other men. During this golden age of trapping, some other men did venture into the hills, but many kept out, respectful of their sacredness.

Spearfish Canyon
As America pushed west, more settlers came to the area. In 1851, the US Government brought together representatives from many of the Plains tribes, including the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Hidasta, Arikar, Assiniboine, Crow and Mandan. The result of this council was the first Ft. Laramie Treaty, in which the Sioux were granted sixty million acres of land, including the Black Hills, that could not be settled by white men and in exchange, safe passage through would be allowed. 

By the mid-1860's, rumors of gold began to circulate. Citizens from what is now eastern South Dakota appealed to congress for exploratory and mining expeditions. In 1867, General Sherman denounced these efforts, and said not only would there be no expeditions, the army would not protect any civilians who went in on their own. 

Tensions continued to rise and in 1868 the second Ft. Laramie treated was signed, and is the one to which all current actions refer. In this treaty, Lakota land was reduced to twenty million acres, from the previous sixty. Miners and settlers were once again prohibited from entering without authorization, and in return, raids on nearby homesteads and trains would cease. 
Rainy Day Views
Among ever-rising tensions and further reports of gold, General Custer led an exploratory expedition to decide on the feasibility of establishing a fort. The true intentions are oft debated since he also brought a geologist and miner.  On July 30, 1870, gold was found near the present day town of Custer. With rumors now verified, hopeful men rushed to the hills. By 1876, there were over ten thousand men, where there had been only hundreds in the few years prior.

Despite an attempt to negotiate peace, no agreements could be reached when several leading Chiefs were called to Washington. In 1875, in a decision kept quiet, President Grant declared there would be no more military intervention.  With their sacred lands being trampled, tensions reached a boiling point, leading to the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, infamously knows as Custer's Last Stand.

Though it was a major victory for Lakota and other tribes, it proved to be the beginning of the end.  In August of 1876, a new treaty was enacted in retaliation for Little Big Horn. This treaty claimed the Black Hills for the US government, and while it was never signed by three-quarters of the Native leaders as required, a few did sign out of threat of starvation.  This would lead to bleak times for the Lakota people.

Today, markers are all that remain on an otherwise serene land to remind of the bloodshed that occurred at the Battle of Litte Big Horn.
The twentieth century saw a series of lawsuits, meant to return this sacred land to the Lakota, culminating in a 1980 Supreme Court Decision that said the Black Hills were illegally seized and the US must pay for the land, amount of gold and natural resources illegally removed, plus interest.

The Lakota have refused this money, as that would end their bid to have the Black Hills returned to their ownership. Currently, the money sits in an account under the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with a sum exceeding one billion dollars.

This is a very brief summary of a very complex issues, but an enlightening part of our history. The Black Hills are a stunning plot of land and within them, an ethereal quality lurks behind the pines and aspens, spruces and birch, under the rocks and in the meadows. When you go, take a moment to find silence. Close your eyes, listen to the quiet, and you might just hear the whistle of an ancient flute. 

Author of the Bestselling Brides of Weatherton Series

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A forgotten Founder

Post copyright by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

William Sharpless Jackson: A Forgotten Founder

Jackson is most remembered as the husband of Helen Hunt Jackson, the author from the 1800's who wrote Ramona among so many other works. Jackson was that but so much more that has been lost though time.
William Sharpless Jackson

Born in Pennsylvania to Caleb S Jackson and Mary Ann Gause Jackson. His parents were involved in the Underground Railway, their home being a stop on that historic line, in Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His parents were also Quakers, the faith that William Jackson Palmer, one of the founders of Colorado Springs, also belonged to.

Jackson received his education in Pennsylvania at the Greenwood Dell and Eaton Academies and then went on to learn the trade of machinist. After returning to school at the Eaton Academy he was offered a position of clerk and business manager at the firm he was working at as a machinist. His rise was rather quick after this point.

He had a partnership with a car building and lumber business in Pennsylvania. He later took a position as a treasurer with the Lake Superior and Mississippi railroad being build in Minnesota, where he lived in St. Paul until moving to Denver.

The move to Denver was precipitated by the job Jackson took with the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. (D&RG) Jackson had been elected as treasurer of the new company. Shortly after taking on his new duties, Jackson moved to Colorado Springs where he remained until his death.

As a member of the bachelors club, when he married Helen [ in1875 ] the secretary of that organization wrote “W. S. Jackson has left the noble bank of Bachelorhood and joined the soothing one of matrimony. His name is hereby stricken from the rolls. A bill for back dues has been sent.” This ended his membership in the Bachelors Club.

Jackson left the D&RG in 1878 to pursue his other interest one of which was the founding of the El Paso Bank. What made this pursuit unique for Colorado Springs is the fact that he started the bank at the height of the financial crisis of 1873. His bank was a success due in part to the abilities of its founders.

IN 1884 when the D&RG went into receivership, Jackson was appointed to oversee the process. As a result of his foresight and business savvy, when the company was returned after reorganization the companies equipment was a top shape and the treasury had $1,000,000 in its coffers.

Throughout his life Jackson's ability in the area of finance was one of his greatest gifts to Colorado, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. Yes, he was married to Helen Hunt Jackson, and by all accounts it was a union of love and respect, but William Sharpless Jackson was so much more. He was a member of the El Paso Club, was on the board for the Colorado Springs Summer School, a charter member of Colorado Colleges Board of Trustees. This is the same institution to which he left many letters from both himself and Helen. A treasure trove for researches from yesterday and today.

"One Christmas Knight" Medieval Anthology

"Angel of Salvation Valley"



Author Page: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

Doris Gardner-McCraw 
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: DREAMS OF A RICH LIFE

Today’s Blog Tour Tuesday features Iris Kelly and her Dreams of a Rich Life, Book One in the Brides of Cheyenne series.

     About the Book:

Virginia Bellamy is an ambitious, well-to-do socialite who aspires to marry into Boston’s most elite social circles. But when she fails to attract a proposal that meets her high standards, she agrees to become the mail order bride to a wealthy Cheyenne businessman. He promises her a life of luxury and status. It appeals to her to be one of the most important families in the city - even if that city is Cheyenne.

Lewis Carlyle has worked tirelessly for fifteen years to amass a fortune. It was really all a means to an end - a foundation for the remarkable wife and happy family he hoped to have. But in the weeks before Virginia’s arrival, Lewis is besieged with the worst onslaught of bad fortune; Virginia arrives to find herself betrothed to a pauper.

It is a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude on both sides. What can Lewis do to make amends for the unforgivable situation he has put Virginia in? Is the social hierarchy in Cheyenne as rigid and unforgiving as that of Boston? And most importantly, will it ever be possible for this determined social climber to love a man who has nothing to offer but his heart?


“I had hoped to put you up at one of Cheyenne’s most elegant hotels. But the cost is now beyond me. The most reasonable accommodation I could find was a room in a boardinghouse. The proprietor is a Miss Mabel Harper, but everyone simply calls her Miss Mabel. You will find her manners a bit rough, but she’s quite fair and trustworthy. And her meals are good, particularly the beef stew and the pies. She’s rather proud of them. The rooms are clean but plain. Very plain. I don’t think that you would ever have seen anything like it, but it is best viewed as a very temporary circumstance. I am sure you can make the best of it.”

It sounded unimaginably bleak to Virginia. Miss Mabel. What a coarse, common name. And a boardinghouse? Isn’t that where laborers stayed? How could this be happening to her? What had she been thinking? The West was every bit as wild and as savage as the tales she had heard in childhood. Bank robbers. Thieving, cheating grifters who had just stolen her future, her security, and yes, her money. Money that was meant to be spent on her house, her dresses, her wine cellar, her parties, her furniture . . .

And who was this man, whom she had thought to marry? Mr. Carlyle walked briskly beside her, clearly dejected and consumed with remorse. She was furious with him, of course, for putting her in this monstrous position. And yet his own life had been shattered as well, with the rewards of a lifetime of work cruelly snatched from him. She had to pity him.

And he did seem to be a man of real conscience. She could actually believe that her loss of security weighed more heavily on him than his own. He had promised to help her out of these frightening circumstances. Well, she would hold him to it, but she could not see a way out of this nightmare. Was that because there wasn’t one?

The Cheyenne Mail Order Bride Dreams of a Rich Life is available on Amazon.  You may purchase it by clicking HERE.

     About the Author:

Iris Kelly is a former community college instructor and has had a lifelong affinity for Westerns, dating back to reading every book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series, and watching every episode of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.

She is fascinated by autobiographical accounts of women’s lives in the Old West; particularly the divide between popular myth and surprising realities.

Author LinksIris Kelly's Facebook Page  ~  Goodreads

Tweet this blog post:  She could not see a way out of this nightmare. Iris Kelly & DREAMS OF A RICH LIFE http://bit.ly/1nu0ajg #SweetAmerSweethearts