Friday, December 28, 2018

Quiltmaking as a Necessity

Not every quilt made by our foremothers was a piece of beauty. Some were utilitarian and so necessary to ward off the cold in log cabins or sod houses or clapboard houses with no insulation in the walls. Often, they were constructed of the scraps left from when dresses or shirts were cut from whole cloth or the salvageable parts of ripped or worn clothing. Many quilts were of uneven fabric weights and the corners of the squares didn’t exactly match, but on a cold night, any cover was welcomed.

Some women (apologies to anyone whose male ancestor was a quilter) enjoyed a higher standard of living and purchased yard goods for the express purpose of designing and sewing a quilt. Those are the items that have most often been passed down within families or which have survived more than a hundred years and are curated in a museum. Women used quilts as an outlet for their creativity—inventing patterns around sights or events important to their lives. Patterns are named Rocky Road to California, Flying Geese, Tumbling Blocks, Mariner’s Compass, and Pinwheel.

In my latest release, Freedom’s Path, I included a plot thread of how quilts were used on The Underground Railroad. Although a federal law existed that forbade people from aiding an escaped slave, many people disagreed with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852. Not much could be done if a slave was apprehended because the bounty hunters wanted their fee, as did the crooked judges. But abolitionist women set out quilts either on a fence or hung them on a clothesline to be a signal to escaping slaves as to which path was the safest and/or if the way was clear for them to proceed farther along the route. After reading Hidden in Plain View about these efforts, I couldn’t wait to include this fact in a story.

Abolitionist Sidonie Demers must keep her efforts secret in her work as a mail at the Deerbourne Inn. Corporal Colin Crawford searches for abolitionist activity while posing as a salesman. What will happen when their secret identities are revealed?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

History UP Close and Personal

The Diary, Letters.
These are the things that give us a look into the everyday life throughout history. As we witness history being rewritten to further differing agendas, the personal diaries and letters of those from days gone by give us a picture on what it was really like ~ at least to that person.

While history is very subjective to those living in it, we can draw from other's experiences as they lived it. Just think in a hundred years, the things we have written about will be history. What lessons will those in 2100 glean from the letters, diaries, blogs, and videos of today?

I've never been one to keep a journal or diary, yet, I see how wonderful it is to open a book from the past and read about their lives. So many of us either don't have grandparents near or really don't know them. But if they'd written a diary, we could see into their lives ~ the good, bad, and ugly.

With the advent of film, we do have a better view of life in the past. But before 1900, we have to go by pictures, diaries, and letters. And even then, think of the legacy of teen age Anne Frank.

Perhaps it's time to think of future generations. What wisdom would you want to pass onto them?

Make this a year to give out wisdom. Tell of your experiences. What have you seen growing up? What warnings would you pass on?

Another fun thing to write about is your Word for the Year.
2019 my word is Intentional.  I write and live by the seat of my pants. this coming year, I intend to be more intentional about my life.

How about you? Do you have a word for the year? Do you have a diary or journal you want to pass down to future generations? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Reading Material in the 1800s


Christmas Reading Material in the 1800s

The joy of reading to a child or sitting in front of the fire listening to someone's voice tell a story as the snow falls outside and a warm crackling fire inside sounds so wonderful. Without Television or any type of electronics, settlers in the west kept reading material at the ready. It was an enjoyment most little ones and adults looked forward to, especially at the end of a busy day.

In 1823 The Night Before Christmas changed the lives of many as they read the wondrous story written by Clement Clark Moore. The original poem was titled, A Visit From St. Nicholas. It is said this story alone developed the character of Santa Claus to so many. Clement wrote the poem in 1822 and it was said a dear friend of his sent the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem on the condition the author would remain anonymous. Finally, in 1843, Clement acknowledged he was the author of the now famous poem. Enjoy this delightful poem:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Then, a story that to this day is still a favorite all over the world that has many scrambling to read the story or watch the movie during the holidays. A Christmas Carol was written in 1843 by Charles Dickens. The story is an interesting tale and even more interesting is how this book came to be published by a wealthy man who was looking for a way to get the book published by a certain deadline. When his publisher gave him too many demands, he handed them the advance back and published it himself. Most know the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but even more so is the story behind the making of this marvelous tale. 

There are many other stories, books and poems that were found in the hands of those who forged westward, but the two above were the most popular then. Others, such as A Cradle Song by William Blake, Christmas Trees by Robert Frost and Christmas At Sea by Robert Louise Stevenson are some other popular reads in the 1800's. 

Do you remember any others? Or, some you may have read from your own childhood?

Christmas stories are wonderful to read and listen to especially around the holidays. I love writing them as well. In this story, I've written about a sheriff who is hurt and doesn't believe he can do his job. His best friend decides to teach him that you don't need to be whole to love and live. 

The setting is the 1800's in a small town called Belle, Wyoming. The ancient Christmas Jingle Bells that hung on the oxen of the founding settler was kept safe and only brought out during the holiday season. This series has 5 stories and during each book there is mention of the bells that have gone missing. It isn't until the last book when we find out what happened to them and who took them. You can find this story on Amazon: A Tin Star for Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2018

Wishing All a Joyful Christmas

From the authors of the 
Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, 
we wish you all a joyful Christmas 
and happy holiday season.


Friday, December 21, 2018

The Travelers

The Travelers ~ by Barbara Goss

I’ve always wanted to write a book about Gypsy’s, since to me, are the epitome of romance:  the dancers, the dark beauty, and their mystique.  Every time I start a story about them, I’m stymied by the lack of research material.  It seems the Roma’s don’t really like their stories told.  They hate being depicted as thieves and fake fortune tellers.  If I ever do succeed in writing about them, I’ll be sure to put them in a better light.  Every nationality has it’s less than desirable people and the Roma’s are no different.  

The term Gypsy derives from Egyptian, reflecting a mistaken assumption of the origins of the people who refer to themselves as the Roma. Ethnic Gypsies are the descendants of diverse groups of people who were assembled in northern India as a military force to resist the eastward movement of Islam.
Gypsies have come to the United States for reasons similar to those of other immigrants; however, since European powers have tended to oppose Gypsies, this hostility has hastened Gypsy emigrations.  
Many Americans have romanticized Gypsies as exotic foreigners. Some Americans draw on the supposedly romantic appeals of Gypsy traditions—especially traditions of dancing and music-making, lives on the road, and maintaining a traveling culture. Often, established Americans maintain or adopt European prejudices against Gypsies and treat Gypsy immigrants poorly.  Just as Europeans have often attributed the fortune-telling skills of Gypsies to “black magic,” Gypsy traders have been accused of fencing stolen goods, and of stealing their goods themselves.  Laws attempting to deter, prevent, and punish fortune-tellers and thieves in America have singled out Gypsy Americans.   

Some Things You May Not Know About Gypsies
Ideas about health and illness among the Rom are closely related to a world view, which includes notions of good and bad luck, purity and impurity, inclusion and exclusion.  These basic concepts affect everyday life in many ways including cultural rules about washing food, clothes, the house, fasting, conducting rituals such as baptism and diagnosing illness and prescribing home remedies. In Gypsy custom, ritual purification is the road to health.
The most powerful Gypsy cure is a substance called coxai, or ghost vomit.  According to Gypsy legends, Mamorioor “little grandmother” is a dirty, sickness-bringing ghost who eats people, then vomits on garbage piles. There, Gypsies find and gather what scientists call slime mold, and bake it with flour into rocks.  Gypsies also use asafetida, also referred to as devil’s dung, which has a long association with healing and spiritualism in India; according to experts, it has been used in Western medicine as an antispasmodic, expectorant, and laxative.
Gypsy women will not launder a male’s clothes with female clothing. They consider this unclean.

Gypsies of marriageable age may travel with their parents to meet prospective spouses and arrange a marriage.  In making a good match, money, and the ability to earn more of it, tend to be factors more important than romance. A Gypsy woman who marries a noni-Gypsy can expect her community to expel her permanently.  A Gypsy man, however, may eventually get permission to return to his people with his non-Gypsy wife.  Once married, a new daughter-in-law must subject herself to the commands of her husband’s family, until her first pregnancy.  With the birth of her first child, she fully enters womanhood.
Gypsy cultural practices attempt to prevent Gypsy children from learning non-Gypsy ways, and to facilitate raising them as Gypsies. Gypsy children, or at least post-adolescents, generally do not go to school, day-care centers, or babysitters who are not friends or relatives.  Furthermore, Gypsy culture forbids them to play with non-Gypsies.  Instead, they socialize with Gypsies of all ages. Formal schooling, as such, is minimal. Traditionally, Gypsies devalue education from outside their own culture. They educate their own children within extended families.  An important reason Gypsies do not like to send their children to school is that they will have to violate Gypsy taboos: they will have to use public restrooms, and the boys and girls will come into contact too closely in classrooms and on the playgrounds.  Many Gypsy Americans send their children to schools until the age of ten or eleven, at which time the parents permanently remove them from school.  Then they learn the family business, often at home.  Many Gypsies marry and become partners in family businesses by their late teens.  For example, daughters, but not sons, or a fortune teller train early to become fortune-tellers.  Boys may train to sell cars.
Many Gypsy contributors to American culture have been performers.  Among English Gypsies who lived some in America, we can count Charlie Chaplin and Rita Hayworth.  Ava Gardner, Michael Cain, and Sean Connery are reported to have Gypsy ancestry. Freddy Prinze (born Freddy Preutzel), the late comedian and television star on Chico and the Man was Hungarian Gypsy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


As we prepare for the upcoming Christmas celebration, I thought it might be interesting to see what people thought was important about the holiday and their lives in Colorado prior to 1900. Here is a sampling, through newspaper articles throughout the state, along with some background and history thrown in.

Train station in Silver Plume
From Wikipedia, Silver Plume's train station
From the December 19, 1885 Silver Standard, a paper from Silver Plume, Colorado we have a collection of weather proverbs and sayings. At an elevation of 9100 feet, it is located near Clear Creek off of Interstate 70. In the early days it was quite the boom town and has a rich history, which is shares with Georgetown.

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Image result for images of Salida Colorado
1882 map of Salida Colorado.
Even School children were into telling Christmas stories. Here is the announcement from the Salida Mail, Salida Colorado on December 25, 1984. Salida is located along the Arkansas river and is now known for its arts community. The Denver & Rio Grande was instrumental in starting the town when they ran tracks through there on the way to the ore rich mines near Leadville and Lake/Chaffee counties.

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Georgetown 1867 from Wikicommons
In Georgetown, Colorado in 1870, Christmas was celebrated in style according to the Colorado Miner of December 29 of that year. As mentioned in the information about Silver Plume, Georgetown as also in the center of mining activity in the early days of Colorado. It was Georgetown that was one of the first areas where gold was found, but silver is what made it the town it was. Today, there is still a train ride, 'The Georgetown Loop' that thrills many a visitor.

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And finally from the Colorado Springs Gazette of December 27, 1873. Founded in 1871 as a resort town, Colorado Springs sits on the base of Pikes Peak. The Summit house was built on Pikes Peak as a weather station by the Army Signal Corps. Imagine living at 14, 115 during the cold, windy winter months, and it is very windy up there at that time of year.
Pikes Peak Signal Station from Library of Congress
"A Merry Christmas to everybody" was sent down by telegraph from the summit of Pike's Peak last Wednesday evening.

These and other stories influence my own writing. The novella, "Gift of Forgiveness" takes place on the back side of Pikes Peak, during Christmas time, near the area of Lake George. Here is a short excerpt:

     Nettie couldn't deny how much John meant to all of them. She even admitted she was starting to rely on John being around, and it frightened her. All those who she'd relied on were now dead, and she didn't want that for John. It's better that I rely upon myself. That way, if anything goes wrong, I have only myself to blame, Nettie thought. It's also an easier way to get through life. If you don't expect anything of anyone, you are never disappointed. But that thought left her feeling empty. Shaking such thoughts out of her head, Nettie saw that Albert was busy showing off his find. The drummer, Leonard Shiesley, was admiring it. "Where did you find such a fine specimen?" he asked.
     "Out a ways from here, over in one of the gulches."
     "Perhaps, if the weather holds, and your mother wouldn't mind, you could show me?" Shiesley asked. "If this is what I think it is, you may have found something pretty valuable."
     "You mean, diamonds?" Albert asked, excitement showing on his face.
     "Not diamonds, but it may be topaz. I'll know more after I see where you found it."
     "Well, what do ya know about that, you just may soon be a well-off young man," John said, ruffling Albert's hair.
     "Well, I'd give most of it to Mother and Ila, and keep just a little for myself," Albert insisted.
     "Let's not count our money before we know for sure," cautioned Nettie.
     "Listen to your mother, young man," Miss Ehbert added. "She knows what she's talking about."
     Nettie was surprised at Lida Ehbert's statement. So far, she had always been silent, except for requesting something she needed. She had been a pleasant, but quiet boarder.
     "Thank you Miss Ehbert," Nettie told Lida. "It is exciting, but…"
     "I know," was Lida's cryptic reply.
     "Can I go, Mother? Please?" Albert asked.
     "If the weather holds."
     "You're the bestest."
     "I'll make sure nothing happens," Shiesley declared.

purchase here from Amazon
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

Writing as 
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Caring for Horses in the 1800's Winter

Besides writing full-time, my husband and I also run a horse riding stable in the middle of a suburban/city area. We are surrounded by concrete and businesses and most people don't know about our seven acres nestled right off a major highway in Virginia. Right now, in modern times, taking care of the animals on a farm is a full time job, and they are our livelihood, not just a hobby, like they might be for others.

According to the American Horse Council, there are currently about 9 million horses in the US, but in 1869 the number was closer to 13 million. Horses were much more common, used for transportation and work. So their daily care was of great importance to farmers and ranchers.

In the winter time, the most important precaution that horse owners needed to take during the harsh winter months was to make sure that horses had fresh water available. This often meant heating buckets on their wood stoves and then carrying them out to pour into troughs that were iced over, unless they had a running stream on the property.

Most horsemen and farmers fed their horses oats and barley, as those two feeds were higher in nutrient value and safer for the horses than straight corn or bran. In the summer months, they had to collect and bale hay to store for the winter months, because in order to maintain their weight, horses need to eat 1.5-2% of their body weight daily (depending on their level of work). And horses are grazers, which means that they eat little amounts all day long. So when the grasses they normally ate were unavailable, ranchers would need to drop bales of hay out for the horses to eat

When it snows, things get a bit trickier for horse owners. Many owners, during the harshest parts of the winter, would pull their horses' shoes off, so that the horses didn't collect ice and snow balls in their shoes which would make it difficult for the horses to move about without possibly pulling a tendon or ligament.

Even when horses were not able to fulfill their duties for traveling or working the farm, their caretakers still had to provide food, water, and care for them daily. (Reference for this article: The Horse: Its Keep and Management by William Cook 1891)

P. Creeden is the Sweet Romance and mystery pen name for USA Today Bestselling author, Pauline Creeden. Animals are the supporting characters of many of her stories, because they occupy her daily life on the farm, too. From dogs, cats, and goldfish to horses, chickens, and geckos -- she believes life around pets is so much better, even if they are fictional. 

Get her latest historical romance set in 1880 Wyoming:

Monday, December 17, 2018

His Protective Wings

By Sophie Dawson

Tomorrow, Dec. 18 brings the release of a book many of my readers have been clamoring for.

If you don't know of this series, it's a spinoff of my Stones Creek series. Eight ladies come from Sanctuary Place Mission for Women in Iowa and move into Sanctuary House in Stones Creek, Colorado. They bring their children with them. Many of the women have dubious backgrounds.

Several of the Ladies are married in the introductory book Chloe's Sanctuary (Stones Creek #3). Others have to wait until their stories are written. So far, there have been two books in the series: Laundry Lady's Love and Music of Her Heart.

His Protective Wings is Ruth and Massot's story and deals with a sensitive subject. Ruth was stalked and raped as a teenager and has a daughter, Kathryn. Understandably, she's reluctant to become involved with a man. Massot is the town's carpenter and somewhat of a growly recluse.

Ruth's story deals with previous assault and stalking. If you are sensitive to these issues, know that they are not demonstrated in a detailed manner.

Stones Creek, Colorado

Ruth Naylor is always sure someone is watching her. Is it true or just her imagination? Fearful of another assault that left her expecting and homeless years ago, Ruth struggles to simply make ends meet and raise her daughter.

Arty Massot is Stones Creek’s curmudgeon carpenter. His growly nature keeps most people away. There’s something in the woods not far from Stones Creek no one but he knows about, and he likes it that way.

There’s something about the shy, pretty lady that brings out the protectiveness in Massot.

Can God bring these two lonely people together? Is someone watching Ruth as she fears? Or will specters from their pasts keep them apart?

There will be at least two more books in the series. At least, that's what stories are in my head right now.

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Western Christmas Homecoming

by Kathryn Albright

Have you ever had to forgive someone who hurt you?

The ups and downs of emotions when a boy desires a girl -- and a girl wants a boy -- 
but the past has painted a less than rosy memory...  How do they ever get beyond 
the hurt and perceptions of the past? 

Perhaps romance writers are eternal optimists...the way they believe that in the end 
kindness, forgiveness, and love matter more. It's been said that holding on to 
past hurts and grudges cripples the one with the strong grip. 

Abigail, in Christmas With the Outlaw, can be a bit … prickly. It's her way of coping, her way of staving off disappointments and protecting herself. The only one she has ever let close is her brother, Teddy, but now he has married and is starting a family of his own. She is quite alone -- 
with the heavy cloak of her sharp attitude pulled tight around her.

In the last story of the Oak Grove Series, I thought it was high time Abigail White, 
intrepid reporter, had her own … Happy Ever After. 

~ Excerpt from Christmas With the Outlaw 
(in A Western Christmas Homecoming)

Russ drained the cup on his next sip. It wasn’t very big—a woman’s dainty, painted teacup. He was glad that she held it. In his hand, it might shatter. Well…maybe not so much now considering how weak he felt. He lay back against the pillow as a wave of gratitude washed over him that she’d been here…that Teddy had been here. “So… I made it to Oak Grove.”
    “You wouldn’t have made it an inch farther. What in the world happened?”
    He was still trying to sort that part out. “A lot. I…uh…appreciate you taking me in.” She hadn’t wanted to. He remembered hearing that much during a lucid moment.
    Startled, she met his gaze. “Russ… Of course, you are welcome. We’ve had our differences, but I would never want you…”
    “Dead?” He gave a half laugh to cover his frustration. His life had suddenly come undone. To hell with the teacup, his life was what was shattered, and he’d played a part in letting it happen. “We didn’t get on all that well, you and me. Guess you’re entitled to your own opinion.”
    They were harsh words, but honest.
    She avoided his gaze. Where was her patent keen retort? Her silence now could only mean one of two things. Either he’d been so near expiring that he really had frightened her or, which was more likely, her opinion of him was still mired in the mud. Unspoken, but heavy in the room, was their last parting.
    She set the teacup aside. “How is Tim?”
    So it was still Tim. He blew out a breath, a sense of unease weighting his gut. “He’s married now. Loves ranching. He and his wife are expecting their first baby.”
    She pulled back, her composure stiff. “Then he’s content living in Colorado.”
    “Abby. He wasn’t for you.”
    She pressed her lips together. “That really isn’t any of your business. Then or now.”
    Why was she still angry with him after all this time? Didn’t she realize that she had deserved someone who was more her match? Someone stronger, with more grit than Timothy. Someone a heck more like himself. “If he had really wanted to stay, he would have.”
    “You’re implying I should be grateful that you whisked him away?”
    “Yeah. Maybe you should.” Tim was too easily swayed. She would have been bored after a month of marriage. Russ figured he’d saved her from a pile of grief and he wasn’t one bit sorry about it. “It proved his mettle.”
    A moment passed as she mulled over his words. “Teddy once said the same thing.”
    “There you go.”
    She met his gaze. “No one calls me Abby here. When we moved here, I asked Teddy to introduce me as Abigail. It’s more professional.”
    “Hmph. I like Abby.” She’d always be Abby to him.
    Amusement flashed in her eyes. “You would.” Then her entire demeanor softened as she lowered her shoulders. “I suppose I like it too. And Russ…I’m glad you felt you could come to Teddy…come to us for help. Friends are…so very important.”
    As long as they don’t shoot you, he thought bitterly. How long had it been since then? “What day is it?”
    “Early Wednesday. Morning has just broken. I found you yesterday in our storage room.”
    Four days then. McCabe was shot on Saturday. Word would be out about him.
    She studied him, her dark brows knitting together. “The important thing now is that you are better. You are going to be all right.” She stood. “I’ll see to some breakfast for us.”
    He wasn’t used to having anyone worry over him—not since his own mother. Yet he couldn’t deny that it felt good to be among friends he could trust, friends who cared. “Sounds good. I’m starving.”
    A wry smile formed on her lips, revealing dimples on each cheek.
    He remembered those dimples. At thirteen, they’d been inconsistent with the rest of her sharp-edged personality and she hadn't showed them much anyway. Now? Hmm…
    “Starving it is? Then you must be feeling better. Perhaps you won’t even mind my cooking.”
    How difficult could it be to whip together toast and eggs? “You’ve got to be teasing.” And then it struck him. Abby? Teasing?
    Her cheeks flamed pink. “No. Actually, I’m telling the truth.” She scooted from the room.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Thank you for stopping by Sweet Americana Sweethearts. 

In this season of love and giving, I want to wish you a very, merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Christmas Melody

By Shanna Hatfield

With the holiday season upon, I love to think about what it would have been like to be preparing for the holidays a hundred or so years ago. I especially enjoy dreaming about what the characters in my Hardman Holidays series might be doing.

Would they be making medallion decorations, filling paper cones with treats, baking cookies and sweets? Would there be skating parties and sledding and programs at the school and church in their small town?

Because I love this little town that was once a booming stage stop and is now a ghost town, I couldn’t let the holiday season pass by without writing another book in the series.

The Christmas Melody will release Dec. 28, but you can pre-order it now! Please CLICK HERE.

The story is about a socialite from Philadelphia and a man living in a secluded cabin in the woods with his adorable, precocious four-year-old daughter.

He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one

Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.

All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.

With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season. 

Purchase The Christmas Melody, now on preorder, and enjoy this delightful Christmas romance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Just in Time for Christmas

Mail order brides were a real thing in the nineteenth century. Though the romances we write and read today are embellished or refined to add true love and happy endings, those who love true love and happy endings are happy to get those things in a mail order bride story. Stories of the actual experiences of some mail order brides back in the day aren't new to most of us who love western history. We've heard the sad tales of cheating and lying and women left to find their own way in places that were vastly different than what they knew.

Rather than retelling some of the stories of what happened to the women who went west for a husband, I'm thinking about the women who chose to become mail order brides. The women who answered ads were adventurers, dreamers, or desperate souls looking for a way out of bad situations.

What woman in her right mind would leave the comforts of a big eastern city and head through the wilderness to unknown people and circumstances? The adventurers and dreamers would do just that. A woman in an abusive or poor situation would choose to leave the first chance they got at what they hoped was a happier life. What better option did some of them have? Did the opportunity to create a new life turn a desperate woman into a dreamer? In the right setting, I don't see how it could be avoided.

Christmas is a happy time for even the poorest. A time of celebration of faith and salvation. A time of forgiveness and fresh starts. Christmas can be a milestone or a target in a timeline. It's hard to know sometimes if a mail order bride was running to her future or away from a path she didn't want to be on.

In my Christmas story, Running to Christmas, Rose Bailey had her eye on Christmas. All she could think of was leaving the Whitney home where she was a servant. She couldn't stand the thought of spending another holiday in their employ. She had a plan. She was a dreamer who was intent on making her dreams come true. She was running from servitude, but she was also running to a happy future she knew was waiting for her in another place.

Here's an excerpt.


If I had known that my first Christmas without Thomas or Father would be anything like this…
Her lower lip trembled, and she squeezed her palms together. Not now. They wouldn’t want to know that you spend most nights crying. Besides, what will you do if Mr. Whitney catches you crying?
There was a sharp knock on the door and Rose twisted on the hard wooden chair in front of the rickety vanity that had been shoved against the wall. Her breath caught in her throat as the door pushed open and Mr. Whitney cast his dark-eyed gaze on her.
“Miss Bailey.”
Rose flattened her palms against her thighs and sat up straight, “Yes, sir?”
“I didn’t appreciate how long you spent in the parlor after you served lunch. Now, if you were an ordinary servant, I’d see how you feel about sleeping near the front door, where the draft is.” He smirked and said, “Like a dog.”
I wouldn’t put it past to him to think of the poor as dogs. Mr. Whitney had been wealthy his entire life, he was a descendant of one of the travelers that had come to America nearly a hundred years before. Mr. Whitney had made it clear that were a few things that bothered him more than the poor and new money, which may as well have been poor, to him.
Rose nodded, her neck stiffened, and her mouth went dry. “What will my punishment be, sir?” She knew enough by now to go ahead and ask in advance as this normally lessened the punishment at least a little bit.
He pretended to consider this for a moment and said, “You’re aware that Christmas is in just two months, correct?”
Her lips were smoothed into a thin line as he went on, “Nicholas would like some expensive things. We’ll be making sure that we can provide those for him. I’ll be cutting your weekly wages in half from now till Christmas Eve. How does that sound?”
Fire burned in her belly and she felt like she was going to be sick, right in front of Mr. Whitney. She’d been planning on purchasing a carriage ride to her visit her father and brother’s graves. Now that outing would be impossible.
Mr. Whitney’s eyes flew across her face before she said, “That sounds fair, sir.”
She lowered her eyes to the floor and the floorboards creaked as Mr. Whitney stepped backward, and into the hallway.
“I believe it sounds more than fair, Miss Bailey. Indeed, I am a generous man.”
The door slammed shut and her shoulders began to tremble before his hard footsteps had even moved halfway down the hall.
Tears raced down her cheeks as she slipped off of the chair in front of the vanity and moved over to the bed. Why is he like this?
There was a rumor that years ago, Rose’s father had stolen her mother right from under Whitney’s nose, and he hadn’t forgotten about it. She remembered rolling her eyes when Miss Wilson had broached this to her shortly before she made her way to the carriage that waited to take her to Mr. Whitney’s extravagant home.
She crept into bed, with her petticoats still on, and covered her face with her open palms.
Please Lord, if You see fit, please don’t make me spend Christmas in this place with these people.  I just don’t think I can bear it.

Find Running to Christmas on Amazon. It's available in Kindle Unlimited if you prefer to read with your subscription.


Annie Boone writes sweet western historical romance with a happy ending guaranteed in every single story. Inspiration comes in many forms and Annie finds more than one way to make her stories entertain and inspire.

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