Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Evolution of Photography

I find photographs very useful as I'm researching. I enjoy creating the setting of the places I write about, and when I can see what those places looked like over a hundred years ago, it ignites my imagination and allows me to place my characters there.

Take, for instance, these pictures I found of Boston 1885 - 1900.

Can't you just imagine walking along those streets to run an errand and then returning home to one of these row houses? Or riding in a carriage because the distance was too great? I'm so glad photography was invented in the era I like to write about.

In fact, photography was becoming quite the thing by 1839, which is known as the birth year of "practical photography." (I don't know if that means photography before that time was impractical ...) The shifting from the metal-based daguerreotype process to the paper-based calotype negative and salt print processes invented by Henry Fox Talbot meant that it was more feasible to take photographs, and it was now much more possible to give copies of those photographs to your sweetheart to carry around with them or perhaps put on their dresser in a frame. (We all need something to swoon over from time to time . . .)

I mean, not bad - not bad at all, right?

That's certainly progress from the first pictures ever taken:

Wikipedia says this is the oldest surviving camera photograph, taken in 1826 or 1827 in France.

I remember when I was about ten and getting my first camera. It held 110 film, and you had to buy separate flashes, like so:

This isn't my exact camera, but you get the picture. (Get it? Ha ha ha ...) You could only use each flash once and then you had to discard the cartridge, so you'd better be sure you liked that thing enough to take a picture of it.

Then I moved up in the world and got a 110 camera with a built-in flash. I thought I was so awesome.

What was awesomer than awesome, though, was 35mm film. That was so ... high-tech! I got my first 35mm camera when I was fifteen. I thought nothing could be cooler than that.

Today, of course, we have digital cameras that can take pictures of things on a microscopic level. It's fun to think about all the steps of progression from then and now, and all the things we can learn from the pictures of the past.

Amelia C. Adams is the author of the Kansas Crossroads series, the Nurses of New York series, and now the Hearts of Nashville series. She has two books in the American Mail-Order Bride series as well. You can learn more about her at, and her first novel is free for your enjoyment by clicking here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Welcome Kate Cambridge

Sweet Americana Sweethearts welcomes
Kate Cambridge 
as our newest monthly contributing author.
Kate will be writing on the blog on the third Friday of each month.

Kate is the author of the Suffragettes Choice Brides Agency series set in the 1890's and other books.

To learn more about Kate Cambridge and her books, you can click on the tab above with her name or you can access that page by CLICKING HERE.


You've Got Mail !

SO, we write historical romance. Our characters are in love, but what if they are an ocean apart?

< This is a Ship Letter from Liverpool. When the ship docked in the colonies, the the captain would post a notice of mail he had on board in a local newspaper and the recipients had to show up and pay for it.

Think of it, Sweet Charlotte pining away for William, who had sailed away to the New World to make his fortune, sends him a letter that he must come and save her from the evil Count Bascom as her father has died and she is being married to him to repay the family debt.
 Handsome William is working hard when a friend tells him that his name is in the paper. William puts down his wheelwright tools, steps away from the fire, and pictures Charlotte and then Annie, who is the lovely maid he met at church. There is a letter. He scrapes together some coins to redeem the letter. Should he? He thinks of Annie's beautiful face.
Well, you get the idea. No instant text messages. Talk about long distance romance. I'll leave it up to you if William pays for the letter and sails back to England or not.

The postal system developed as a haphazard mix of private companies until after the Revolutionary War.  Of course, you have heard of Benjamin Franklin our first Postmaster General. There was a time that both sender and receiver paid for the postage. And it was determined by ounce and distance. Sending a letter wasn't cheap. In 1816, it cost 6 cents an ounce for 30 miles or less. And 25 cents an ounce for over 450 miles. Of course at the time our country was small.

Move forward and the first adhesive stamp was put out by the US Postal service in 1847 in 5 and 10 cent denominations.

In 1869, you could send a letter with a 2 cent stamp commemorating the Pony Express.

Just think, Randy went west to make his fortune.
Molly stayed at the home town and worked as a dressmaker. She dutifully sent Randy letters.
Dear Randy,
I hope you are doing well. Darling, I have the  money to go west. I have purchased tickets for the train to meet you in Denver, Colorado. I love you so. The moon and the sun pale in tears when I think of how long we have been apart. I am coming to you my love.

Randy shaves his long beard, washes his clothes, and tidies up the cabin he had built. On the ride to the depot, his thoughts turn to his love. Soon, he'll be with his Molly.

In 1885, the Special Delivery stamp was issued. If you were near one of the 555 offices you could get your letter delivered. As our mode of transportation changed so did the runner on the special delivery stamp going to  bicycle in 1902 - Think a bicycle built for two. ~~~~
In 1922 it was the motorcycle and in 1925 the truck.

So the next time you text your sweetie, think back to the troubles and cost our historical lovers had to go to in order to send their love letters.

OK, I have to get back to my writing.
I have stories demanding to be written.

I hope you enjoyed this little post down memory lane.
You can find me and my books on Amazon and on my page here on this blog: Patricia PacJac Carroll.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

19th Century Corporate Espionage

When creating the hero for my latest release, Laced By Love, I wanted him to have a skill that allowed him to set up a shop wherever he traveled. Because I was writing a story set in a pre-established world (Montana Sky Kindle World) of a Montana Territory mining town, I already knew any characters coming to this town needed to be ready to build their own house quickly. The town’s boarding house and individuals cabins were for those who worked in the mines.

So I decided to make him a saddler and started on the path of researching tanning hides and working with leather. What I learned was fascinating (as often is with research). When asked about quality leather most people think of Italian or Cordovan leather. But I discovered in the 18th century the highest quality leather was considered to be of Russian manufacture. Not only was the leather supple and cross-hatched, rich in color, it was also water resistant and it repelled insects. Plus it contained a distinctive sweet odor.  To keep the value high, the Russians were very secretive about the tanning process, even though spies were sent from Europe to attempt to learn the secrets.

In this case, what was learned was the hides soaked for 4 months in a pre-tanning solution, then they were turned or mixed daily for up to an additional 6 months. The hides were then transferred to vats   filled with water and bark from various trees (oaks, larch, poplar, willow) where they sat for up to 18 months. Afterward the hides were dried, pounded with mallets, shaved to a uniform thinness, pulled over sharp rings  to create the cross hatching, and finally dressed with oils—the secret ingredients of which was never discovered before the Russian Revolution of 1917 when the factories and all the records were destroyed.
shaving the hide

The concept of corporate spies in the 18th and 19th centuries intrigued me. So my hero became a leather worker whose family had plied the trade for several generations. His father first arrived in America as a tanner for the Russian settlements along the Pacific coast in the 1850-1860s. Spies came snooping about the family’s San Francisco business, so the father sent his three sons in separate directions until the patent received final approval. My hero, Nicolai, had moved three times in the past year to avoid suspected spies and keep the formula secret. With hopes of settling in Morgan’s Crossing, Nic builds a shop with living quarters in the back. And he’s just opened business when the vaudeville troupe the heroine, Cinnia, performs with arrives.

The element of subterfuge and secrecy adds another layer to the conflict that I hope intrigues readers.

Linda Carroll-Bradd writes both contemporaries and historical romance with a touch of humor and a bit of sass. More information on other titles can be found on her website or Amazon author page. To keep current on upcoming releases, subscribe to her newsletter.

If you’re so inclined, please tweet this blog post.
19th Century Corporate Espionage in LACED BY LOVE @lcarrollbradd #SweetAmerSweethearts

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: A HEART ON HOLD

This week's Blog Tour Tuesday features
A Heart on Hold
by Sara Barnard

Book Description:

Charlotte Adamsland is separated from her husband, Sanderson Redding, the day after their marriage. A captain in the Confederate Army, Sanderson must return to his unit, leaving Charlotte alone on their Arkansas homestead to fend for herself. Yankees camp around the town of Altrose, bringing their own kind of lawless danger. And then, one dark day, a Southern soldier arrives with terrible news…Sanderson has been killed trying to escape a Yankee prison.

Sanderson has found salvation and hell in a single turn of events he could never have imagined—his much-younger brother, Jackson, is his Yankee guard. When Jackson’s cruel commanding officer learns of the brothers’ family ties, he devises a wicked plan to see them both dead. Jackson is determined to get his brother to safety—but a last-minute betrayal by another prisoner could be the death of both brothers.

Charlotte can’t accept the news of Sanderson’s death—he promised to come back to her. She heads north armed with only her faith in God and her beloved horse to bring her love home—one way or the other. Will she be able to rescue him? Or will her love remained locked forever in A HEART ON HOLD…

Book Review by Zina Abbott:

I love Civil War novels, and was anxious to read this one. Sanderson, Charlotte and others in the book were great characters--well written, not cookie cutter personalities. Like many sweethearts in their time, Sanderson and Charlotte planned to wed, but the war that intruded on their lives threatened to put everything on hold. The first part tells of the conflicts they faced and their decision before Sanderson went off to war fighting for the South.

Later, Sanderson came to the aid of some of his men. It almost cost him his life. But instead of being killed, his Union assailant recognized him. It was Jackson, his younger brother who had stayed in the north with a relative instead of returning to Arkansas with Sanderson.

Then the story moved to the second section which starts with definitions of Romany (gypsy) words. I thought, what? Gypsies in the Civil War? What is happening here? I'm so happy I patiently kept reading until I found the connection and watched as another great group of characters were introduced and another sweet romance evolved. (I was also happy that list of definitions had been included.) Unfortunately, disease, the killer that took as many if not more lives than bullets in this war struck the gypsy community. As for Sanderson, he soon learned not only are all opponents not his enemy, not all those fighting on the same side are his friends. I was quite impressed with how the author wrote the conclusion of this section as both Jackson and Sanderson faced death from the same Union prison camp officer.

In the last section, this story once again returned to Charlotte who searched for Sanderson in spite of the challenges of avoiding those who took advantage of war to pursue criminal activity. Some characters Charlotte and Sanderson met as they travel they had crossed paths with more than once, but the way Charlotte and Sanderson seem to almost cross paths without meeting kept me guessing if they would ever reconnectI loved the ending.  

This is a sweet romance. It exposes some gritty aspects of the reality of war. I highly recommend the book.   

You may purchase this book on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

About the Author:

Sara Barnard is mother to four beautiful children, daughter to a pair of awesome parents who have become two of her best friends over the years, wife to a handsome Texan, student to her Master's of Arts in European History classes, and friend to many. Oh, she writes some, too.

Sara began writing in the third grade, but became serious about becoming published after watching Eclipse with her friend, Rochelle. Rochelle mentioned that Ms. Meyer was a housewife with many children, so Sara decided that since she was back home while her husband was deployed, she would put pen to paper and see what happened. Wow. She started writing in 2009 and hasn't stopped since! This has led to her finding her publisher, 5 Prince Publishing, and her awesome Warrior Princess editor!
Her debut novel, A Heart on Hold, was published in 2012 and quickly became a series. Books 2 and 3, A Heart Broken and A Heart at Home, were published in January 2013 and June 2013 respectively, with book 4, A Heart Forever Wild, forthcoming! Book 1, A Heart on Hold, made it to the top three finalists for the best of 2012 American Historical RONE award and became an Amazon bestseller! Book 2, A Heart Broken, appears to be following in the same path. On a different note, set to release in November is Sara's debut Amish romance novella, Rebekah's Quilt.

Author Links:

Please tweet this blog post:
Charlotte can’t accept the news of Sanderson’s death-A HEART ON HOLD @TheSaraBarnard #SweetAmerSweethearts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Post by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

Let's talk Colorado. It's called the Centennial state. Colorado joined the Union, August 1876.

Although Colorado has a thriving population today, it was late to be settled. One reason may be due to the fact that as folks were heading to California for the gold rush, or Oregon, many felt the mountains in this state were impassable. It is understandable, for Colorado has over fifty peaks above 14,000' and they literally cut the state in half. Most of the passes are 10,000+ to get from Eastern to Western Colorado.
Pikes Peak from the West
When the early settlers arrived in what is now Colorado, the Utes were living in the mountain areas, and the plains had the Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Arapaho.

Bent's fort was one of the early significant step to settlement. It dates from about 1833 and at the time, it was just men who built and inhabited the site. Those who did marry, it was usually with Indian women. Near the Santa Fe trail, the first non native women is now considered to be Mary Donohoe in 1833.

In 1851, San Luis was settled by Hispanic settlers from the Taos, New Mexico area. At the time that part of Colorado was part of New Mexico. San Luis is considered the first permanent town to be settled in what is Colorado. To put this in perspective, my college was founded in 1850.

In 1846 a group of Mormons had an encampment near the business fort of Fort Pueblo. They grew crops and harvested them before moving on to Utah in 1847.

Imagine Traveling in the stagecoach
Denver Colorado was founded around 1858, and Colorado City 1859. Colorado Springs 1871. This is when non-Native and non-Hispanics began arriving to settle.

For a quick overview, here is a quick read :

Most of my stories take place in Colorado in the fictional town of Agate Gulch, set in the high country just west of Pikes Peak.

Agate Gulch is where Clara's past catches up with her and Sam finds he must do what he can to save her.


“Hey,” Sam said, “you look like you’re going to cry.”
He wrapped strong arms around her, pulled her close, bent his head to kiss her forehead. He looked into her eyes, and without warning, put his hand under her chin and raised her lips to his. Clara stiffened at his touch. Then, he was kissing her. Clara put her arms to his shoulders. She relaxed, leaned into his strong chest. Their lips touched, breath slowing until nothing else existed except the two of them. It felt so good to think someone cared, someone loved her…even if it wasn’t really true.
Sam drew back, his breath deep, as if swimming for the surface of the water. He stared into Clara’s eyes, as though he were trying to see if she had felt what he did. Lightening the moment, he stepped back, but continued to gently hold onto her.

“Whoa, if I knew that kissing you...well I’d have done it a lot sooner.” He smiled.

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: