Friday, December 23, 2016

Melting Pot Themes in My Stories

One aspect of frontier stories that I love is the “melting pot” society of immigrant populations. Family genealogy tells me most of my ancestors were already in the United States by the 1700s.  But in those years most people didn’t travel far from where they were born, because travel was by horse and wagon. In order for the plots of putting a character into an unknown situation (which I love), I need time periods when stagecoach lines and train routes had been established. Hence, my favorite periods are post-Civil War and settings are west of the Mississippi. I’m a California native, and I’ve visited lots of places in the western states so I have visuals of lots of different places in my memories.

Why am I writing all this? Because all of the above came in to play when I developed my plot for Ione’s Dilemma. I wanted to take a young woman of a more-privileged-than-most lifestyle (daughter of a Des Moines’ surgeon) and throw her into a working class situation where she had to fend for herself away from everything she’d known. On top of those obstacles, she has to deal with a small-town Texas carpenter aspiring to expand his business who thinks because she comes from a big city, she’ll have great ideas. Sound like maybe some tension is created?

Ione’s Dilemma is currently on preorder for 99 cents. Price will increase to $2.99 on January 17th. (Although the book is Book 6 of the Dorado, Texas series, it can be enjoyed without reading the previous stories. They are how several other characters in the town who may appear in this story met and fell in love.)

When Ione Forrester calls off her wedding, she becomes the social pariah of Des Moines. Much to her society parents’ chagrin. To escape the gossip, Ione accepts a teaching job in Dorado, Texas, vowing to avoid scandal at all costs. Relocating from a doctor’s household with cook and maids to a room in a boarding house is quite an adjustment. Then she has to face her biggest challenge—a schoolhouse full of students.

Carpenter Morgan Shipley has been working hard to build his business and now he’s looking for companionship in his life. An ad for a mail-order bride brings a deluge of letters, and Morgan adopts the role of matchmaker to share the wealth among other Dorado bachelors. To his surprise, an intriguing woman from a big city arrives in his small Texas town. Correspondence is nothing like interacting with a flesh-and-blood woman every day. But Ione wants nothing to do with Morgan’s attempts at courting, which makes him try even harder. (Book 6 of the “Dorado, Texas” series)
I hope you enjoy my story.­­­­

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Brides, Romance, & Quilts

Romance, Brides, & Quilts

Feast your eyes on this!  Twelve, that's 12 books centered around one family. How fun is that. You will be able to read them in order or randomly. Each story is stand alone with references to their siblings.

Right now, a few are on preorder for only 0.99 with the others soon to follow. (Price will go up once each book goes live. So get them now and save.) 

You can keep track of all the goings on on our FB Group Page

As for me? Yes, I have a book in the series. Zebulon's Bride

He’s vowed not to marry until he reaches Montana. Then he meets Amy, and she has other ideas.

Zebulon Benton dreams of going to Montana, but he’s the only son and his mother doesn’t want him to go and his father needs help with the family store. Unknown to Zeb, his mother sends off for a mail order bride. After all, if Zeb marries and settles down, he won’t want to leave.

Enter Amy Gordon from New York. She appears to be the perfect bride for Zeb. Except she also wants to go to Montana and nothing is going to stop her including her love for Zeb.

I am furiously typing away as Zeb and Amy reveal their story to me. Whew! These two are something else!

Be watching for updates, and I'll let you know as soon as Zebulon's Bride is on Amazon. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Resolutions and Revolutions

Post (C) Angela Raines
This New Year will see many of you making resolutions. A number of us made a decision/resolution to bring to readers a series of stories of the descendents of one wonderful lady. If you've been reading this post, you will know some of the story. You can even pre-order the stories. This was made possible by the revolution in publishing and the resolutions of the writers. Don't miss out, and think about your own idea of resolutions or should we say revolution.
Here is the cover to my own story in the series, "Josie's Dream"

The New Year comes at a time when the days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere, the sun rises higher in the sky, and we are ready to rid ourselves of the chill of winter. So also a time of resolution for what we wish to change, to accomplish, and be.
A search for the definition of Resolution brings up this: a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Searching for the definition of Revolution brings up the following: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
Now I’m not advocating overthrowing a government, or even our social order, but in the case of resolutions, I am advocating throwing over the old system of making resolutions that most of us can’t/don’t keep for a new system. So what you may ask do I wish to replace the old system with?
How about we give ourselves a break? It is silly to try to change a lifetime of habits, of learning, in one day, one week or even one month. Instead, let’s take the time to ponder where we really want to go,be and do. Let’s be realistic, let’s be pro-active and let’s be kind to ourselves and others as we make decisions.
  1. Ask yourself, what is realistic for me to achieve in said day, week, month and year
  2. Acknowledge we are human, and that life is full of interruptions
  3. Decide the one dream/hope/goal that is most important
  4. Break it down into steps/ideas that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
The system can be adjusted to each person’s needs. Through time, we know what works for us. Experience had taught us what our limits are, what our stumbling blocks are. This does not mean we don’t stretch, don’t try something new. It does mean, we don’t set ourselves up for failure.
For three plus years I’ve written a haiku five days a week. I still love that poetic form, but 2017 will see me cutting back on that practice. I will replace it with writing short stories/novellas and one novel. These are realistic and achievable. Are they written in stone, NO! Life can change in a heartbeat, but having something that brings you joy, that you can share with the world, that is what my revolution against resolutions is about. Sure semantics play a part in this, but semantics, the use of words has power. Chose them wisely.
Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Watch for the release of her novel “Josie’s Dream”, part of a series mid-January 2017. Doris also writes haiku that can be found at – Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Welcome Annie Boone

Sweet Americana Sweethearts 
is excited to introduce you to Annie Boone, the latest author to join our ranks of monthly contributors. 
Annie Boone will be sharing a post with you on the second Wednesday of the month beginning in February. Due to a special Grandma’s Wedding Quilts book series event in January, that month Annie will share her first post on Wednesday, January 25th.

About Annie Boone:

Annie Boone grew up going to museums and watching historical movies with her family. Her dad was a history buff, so there weren’t many other choices. Her vow to never watch another historical movie or go to a Civil War museum again fell by the wayside when she married a man who loved history as much as her father.  
Annie has been writing romance since high school and she loves to write Western Historical Romance stories today. Annie enjoys naming some of her characters after people who have been or are currently important in her life. Grandparents, former teachers, and childhood friends are found in some of her books, at least by name if not always a complete personality match.

Annie lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two cats. She loves to travel and spend time with family and friends when she’s not writing.

Connect with Annie Boone:

Annie's Most Recent Books: 

Love Conquers All – part of the Cutter’s Creek Series

Lana Garrett has met the man of her dreams. As luck would have it, there's a problem. He lives across the country. Will that keep them apart forever? Maybe.

When Lana met Max Tolbert, she was intrigued. When he met her, he fell for her right away. But alas, they only had a short time together before he left Cutter's Creek to return to New York, his job, and his life. They promised to write and they did. For almost a year they poured their hearts out in letters back and forth.

Then, the letters stopped. Lana's heartbroken. She has no idea why her love would just drop her with no warning and no explanation. She decides that maybe she should move on. Her family reminds her that the relationship wasn't likely to work, anyway, since they lived so far apart. When she does finally agree to spend time with another man, she's sorely disappointed.

Then, a suitor she had discarded does her a favor that will change her life. The information he shares leads her to places she never thought she'd see and into a world that changes who she is.

Find out how love for a soulmate, love for sweet stories, and a caring heart leads Lana to her future.

CLICK HERE to purchase Love Conquers All on Amazon.


Bianca Hawkins is an orphan. She's lived the last few years trying to repay those who have helped her. She owns nothing, but still feels thankful and joyful. When she finds out there are no funds available for her to stay in the church she dutifully serves, where will she go?

Pastor Elgin finds a new place for her. Another church that needs someone like her to do chores and keep the place in order. The problem is that it's almost a world away. The Colorado Territory is going to be her new home.

Decker Tilton goes to work every day in the grist mill happy to be able to stay busy. A hard work schedule is supposed to keep him from his memories. It doesn't. His guilt is nearly too much to bear.

Despite his best efforts to avoid the new girl in town, Decker is intrigued by her. She's practically determined to be his friend, but he's skeptical since she's from the east. Jane was from the east and he can't have that kind of woman in his life.

Bianca recognizes that Decker needs someone. A friend. She's attracted to him, but they can't ever be more than friends. She has nothing to bring to a marriage and he has too much pain.

As this unlikely pair falls quietly in love, will his past and her insecurities keep them from being just what the other needs?

CLICK HERE to purchase Belonging on Amazon.

Welcome, Annie!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Cowboys, Cattle Drives & An Irish Chain

By now, you’ve likely been reading through the posts by the others and realize just how wonderful this Grandma’s Wedding Quilts Series is going to be.  (If you haven’t, you’ll just need to scroll down and read the past posts!)

Coming together with the other ladies of the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog has been an amazing experience.  And now, after months of discussion, planning and writing - we are all on pins and needles waiting to release the books! 

They will all be starting to go on pre-order over the next few days, so if you'd like to get them lined up and ready to be delivered to your Kindle as soon as they release, head to the Grandma's Wedding Quilts Amazon page, (just click the name under the titles of our books on Amazon and you'll get taken to the page!) - you can find all of the books that are already on preorder, and be notified of new ones as they're added!

Jesse's Bargain

My book features some cowboys, and a lady who has to make a decision that I’m not sure many of us would ever be able to do…to dress up as a boy and head across country on a cattle drive with a bunch of cowboys.  

So how does a wedding quilt from Grandma tie into a book about cowboys and cattle drives?

Well, the hero in my story, Jesse Attwell, is Grandma Mary’s first grandson.  She’s been busy working on his quilt while he took this last big job, hoping to get enough money to pay for some land next to his family land, and right near his dear Grandma Mary.

His sweetheart had finally given him an ultimatum - settle down and buy some land, or she’d marry a man who would.

Grandma Mary started working on the quilt, believing he’d be marrying as soon as he returned.  Imagine her surprise when he shows up with a tired woman who he feels an obligation to look after until her sister can come to get her.

When Cora arrives, Grandma Mary offers her a place to stay for the night.  While sitting next to the fireplace, she pulls out her quilt to work on - and Cora offers to help her.  While spending some time with her, Grandma Mary realizes something…and finally understands why her heart felt that the Irish Chain pattern was meant for Jesse.

Of course, you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

Photo Courtesy of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting
I’m like a few of the other authors in the series, who has to confess to not knowing a great deal about quilting, so it was fun to do the research and learn a bit more.

The Irish Chain patterns are striking and beautiful - and can be in a single chain up to an intricate three chain pattern.

I had a Great Aunt who made quilts, and I still have the wonderful one she made me when I was just a child.  She’d used old scraps of fabric, and that quilt covered my bed the entire time I was growing up.  Some of the squares had started to fall apart and fray because it had been washed and loved so much.

I imagine the love that went into making this quilt for me, was the same as the love Grandma Mary is putting into all of the wedding quilts for her grandchildren.  And, I’d imagine they’ve all held onto those priceless treasures, passing them down through generations.

We all hope you enjoy this new series - it is truly one of a kind, and we have stitched the stories together to show the love of Grandma Mary, and how these quilts have touched the lives of the people who you will meet in our stories.

Jesse's Bargain is now available for here to get your copy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Quilt, an Amateur Sleuth, and a Handsome Texas Ranger

In Monica's Mystery, book #5 in the Grandma's Wedding Quilts series, a quilt, amateur sleuth (Monica), and a very handsome Texas Ranger come together with humor, mystery, and a whole lot of tension thrown in.

If you're familiar with my books, you know that there is always a strong female character leading the way, and often stumbling into romance, even when it is the last thing she's looking for.

Will Monica's Mystery be the same way? Well, it releases on January 12th, (and will be available for pre-order on December 20th), so there's only one way to know that for sure...

Grandma Mary's Quilt for Monica
Here's a photo of the quilt Grandma Mary quilted for Monica in the story. Although I am not personally familiar with quilting, I have a great deal of admiration for the women who have quilted beautiful blankets for family and friends, passed on to bring warmth and cheer to generation after generation. My grandmother crocheted blankets for each person in our family, and then their children, and although I do not have a quilt, I have beautiful crocheted blankets that warm my heart and remind me of her strength and love every time I see them and use them.

When the incredible authors in the Grandma's Wedding Quilts series came together to write this intriguing and beautiful series of books, the story premise resonated with me, and truthfully, I jumped with joy at the opportunity to be part of it. Now that I am, I can't imagine a more wonderful group of women to collaborate with; I'm grateful.

Please scroll below to check out the previous blog posts written by other authors in this series, each providing a sneak peek into their story, and the quilt Grandma lovingly made for the wedding of each of her grandchildren. Each story is wonderfully unique, weaving the history of grandma's quilts and influence into each of the lives she touched. You won't want to miss even one.

Do you have something special that your grandmother made and handed down to you? If so, we would LOVE to hear about it in the comments!

We have a fun Facebook contest that is coming with some great giveaways, and we hope you will join us for that. Stay tuned to the Sweet Americana Sweetheart blog for more updates, sneak peeks, announcements, and giveaways!

Here's a peek of what you can expect in Monica's Mystery
Monica has to leave home, fast. Her parents are planning to marry her off and although all her friends are marrying, that is definitely not what she wants. She’s seventeen, an amateur sleuth, and sees no reason why she can’t join the ranks of the local lawman, or even become a Texas Ranger, should she choose! 

Monica's Mystery, Grandma's-Wedding-Quilts-Series-a-sweet-americana-historical-western-romance

What will happen when she visits her best friend in Texas, only to find herself face-to-face with a handsome Texas Ranger, and knee-deep meddling in territory she has no idea how to navigate? 

Visit my website to sign up for the launch notification list, and let's connect on Facebook, too!

Stay tuned right here for more updates on the Grandma's Wedding Quilts series. 

#quiltromance #sweetromance #historicalromance #grandmasweddingquilts #texasromance


Monday, December 12, 2016

Grandma, Genealogy, Quilts & Cover Reveal

If you have been paying attention to recent posts by Sweet Americana Sweethearts authors, you are aware there is something in the air. And I'm not talking about Birds In the Air, which is a well-known quilt block pattern.

It involves quilts. It involves wedding quilts. It involves Grandma’s Wedding Quilts.

Who is Grandma?

Shhhh! It’s not up to me to tell her story. However, as the author of the book about Grandma’s oldest grandchild, Kizzie, I feel within my rights to give you a few hints.

Grandma’s first name was Mary. She had three surnames during her lifetime. That must have been fun for future genealogists to find since two of the names she had before the wonderful 1850 census which was the first time the government called for enumerators to list everyone, male and female, who lived in a household. Good thing Grandma Mary left us some other clues.

Grandma was born in 1805 and raised in Ohio. Those of you who do genealogy may recognize that Ohio during Colonial days was Indian Territory. It was definitely on the frontier west of civilization. After the American Revolution, along with most of the Great Lakes region, it was designated as bounty land and used to pay soldiers who fought the war. In a country where money was scarce and land was plentiful, that is just how it was done in those days.

However, by the early 1860’s, the time in which her granddaughter I write about, Kizzie, was almost of age to marry, the Louisiana Territory had been purchased. The war against Mexico had been won and a big section from that nation added to the United States. The question of who would own the Pacific Northwest had been settled. California and Oregon were states, and the land between them and the Mississippi River were territories. And, before the century was over, Grandma Mary’s children and grandchildren found themselves living from north to south, east to west. Some even spent some time right smack-dab in the middle—Kansas and Missouri.

So, how does Grandma keep track of her far-flung family? Genealogists know if they are lucky, to fill their pedigree charts, they may find their ancestors on the census and marriage records kept back in the day. Or on land records. If they are really lucky, they may find a family Bible with the family details listed. However, Grandma Mary used her talent for quilting to leave clues about her posterity.

Perhaps when Grandma Mary started quilting, she used homespun. Above is a photo of an easy quilt out of green, red and tan homespun I am currently working on. Originally, homespun was, well—spun at home. Threads were created using a spinning wheel and then woven into fabric at home on a loom. In fact, although many people think of Civil War Confederate soldiers dressed in gray, reality was, many were dressed in butternut-colored uniforms made from homespun fabric woven and sewn by family members.

By Civil War times, fabric was produced en masse back east in commercial fabric mills. The cotton threads were finer and the weave tighter. Detailed designs were often printed on the finished fabrics. 

Since I am a retired rural letter carrier, one of my goals in life is to make a “Civil War Notes from Home” quilt such as the one above from Civil War Reproduction fabrics. In 1862 through 1865, the time period of Kizzie’s story, Grandma Mary would have had access to fabrics in these colors and designs.

The following quilt design by Barbara Brackman of Civil War Quilts blog (used with permission) was included in my cover design. This four-square on point design was popular during the Civil War era.

And, one last clue about Grandma Mary: Many quilts are made of blocks in all one pattern. Some are what are called a sampler quilt. In other words, the colors may be the same, or at least coordinated, but each block design is different, An example is this modern sampler quilt by an unknown artist/quilter. The stories of Grandma Mary’s Wedding Quilts involves a sampler quilt.

And now—Ta! Da!—I present to you the cover of Kizzie’s Kisses about the oldest of Grandma Mary’s grandchildren.