Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Blog Tour Tuesday: Walk the Promise Road: A Novel of the Oregon Trail

This week's Blog Tour Tuesday features 
Walk the Promise Road: A Novel of the Oregon Trail 
by Anne Schroeder

About Walk the Promise Road: A Novel of the Oregon Trail 

Mary Rodgers has lost everything—or so she believes. Her entire family has been struck down with influenza, leaving her alone in the world—except for her cousin Philip. But Philip is bound for Oregon to meet up with Laurel, his fiancĂ©e, who’s waiting for him. Though Mary begs him to take her with him on the Oregon Trail, he resists. What would people think?

Mary’s plan is simple. They already share a last name. They will pose as husband and wife. The wagonmaster is a firm man—and if he finds out the truth, he’ll force them to marry, dashing Philip’s dreams of a life with Laurel. But Mary promises it will be their secret, and Philip can’t leave her behind after all she’s lost.

When Luke Sayer, their half-Indian trail scout, begins to spend evenings at their fireside, other travelers notice the obvious mutual attraction between him and Mary. Though Mary denies it, she struggles to keep her promise without bringing harm to either her dear cousin, Philip, who has risked everything for her—or to Luke, the love of her life.

Mary's grit and determination will see her through the hardships and sorrows she encounters, but Luke’s love will give her hope for the future as they WALK THE PROMISE ROAD…

“With exquisite details of wagon trains, women and the West, Anne Schroeder takes us on an authentic journey of love and hope giving us characters to cheer for and moments of meaning to cherish.” — Jane Kirkpatrick, Award-winning author of ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND.

"The most accurate novel I've ever read on the Trail." — Michael Smith, Oregon Trail Preservation Committee.


    MARY SAW A familiar dun horse approaching. The sight of the tall stallion seemed to quicken her blood, but she dismissed the idea as merely anticipation of riding astride in-stead of the bone-jarring pace set by clumsy oxen that moved with the grace of pigs.
     “Morning, ma’am. Ready for that ride?” Luke formed a slow smile that made Mary forget his question. His shirt was not the familiar red flannel of the other men, but a dusky cream doeskin, fringed at the arms and laced up the front with rawhide cords. He seemed dif-ferent today, rugged and dangerous in a way that she couldn’t define, but he looked as if he lived in the type of garb he was wearing; hadn’t chosen it to enhance his mascu-linity, but rather the other way around.
     “Ready and looking forward to it, Mr. Sayer.” She felt suddenly shy in his company and found herself studying his moccasins where they rested in his stirrups.
     Her formality brought a chuckle. “Better get used to calling me Luke. Everyone else will by the time the trip is through.”
     “I’m not sure I should do that, Mr. Sayer. My mother would heartily disapprove.” Her smile belied her words.

To purchase Walk the Promise Road: A Novel of the Oregon Trail in either paperback or ebook, please CLICK HERE.

About Anne Schroeder:
Anne Schroeder describes herself as a calorically-challenged Aphrodite with an unmistakable fervor for life. Second of seven children, she was born in Ventura County, California, the subject of her first memoir, BRANCHES ON THE CONEJO: Leaving the Soil after Five Generations.

In 1971 she graduated from Cal Poly, SLO, in the first wave of the Social and Sexual Revolution with a degree in Social Science, a husband, toddler and part-time job. Her memoir ORDINARY APHRODITE is an adventure tale about a life of small steps in the Boomer women's experience. Her fiction and memoir have won numerous awards.

She served as 2015 President of Women Writing the West, 2016 WILLA Literary Competition Chair and is a member of Western Writers of America.

Connect with Anne Schroeder:

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Case of the Disappearing Mother

by Sophie Dawson

I’m sure we all who have children have had difficulty getting them to pose for a formal photo shoot. Our kids are used to being photographed. The speed of camera shutters helps with this. Imagine you are having a photo of your child or children and the shutter speed is slow, making the subject have to sit still for several seconds. With some children that’s pretty difficult.

The children of the 19th century weren’t familiar with cameras. They’d been dressed in their Sunday-Go-To-Meeting clothes on a day which wasn’t Sunday. They had to stay clean while the traveled or walked to the photograph studio. Then they had to stand or sit still. This was serious business that the children most likely didn’t understand.

 Hand tinted photo.

 Not real happy here.
 This little girl wasn't very happy her photo was being taken.

This is my favorite. His mother is really keeping him corralled.

Why the mother's are hidden is debated. Some say it's because the focus was to be on the child. Other say that the mother wasn't important enough to be in the photo. This seems a bit off to me since there are many photos of mothers and children and families.

A sad version of a child’s photo was one taken after death. It seems quite morbid to us but it may have been the only photo ever taken of the child so would have been a treasured memorial. The child mortality rate was quite high and what we would consider a mild illness was often life threatening at the time. In these photos someone is behind the blanket supporting the child.

Ever since photography began people have taken pictures of their children. I'm glad we normally don't have to take images of those who have passed away. I'm also glad I didn't have to hide in photos with my boys.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


For this post I thought it might be fun to 'interview' Helen Hunt Jackson using her own words. Helen was born in 1830 and died in 1885. She began writing in earnest around 1865. Enjoy the interview. 

You traveled a great deal, as we know. What were your observations on your trips west?

Prairie, unfenced, undivided, unmeasured, unmarked, save by the different tints of different growths of grass or grain; great droves of cattle grazing here and there; acres of willow saplings, pale yellowish green; and solitary trees, which look like hermits in a wilderness. These, and now and then a shapeless village, which looks even lonelier than the empty loneliness by which it is surrounded, - these are all for hours and hours. We think, “now we are getting out into the great spaces.” “This is what the word ‘West’ has sounded like.”

You talk about the places you have traveled, the beauty and grandeur, but lower elevations seem special to you also. Why is that?

I think that true delight, true realization, of the gracious, tender, unutterable beauty of the earth and all created things are to be found in outlooks from lower points—vistas which shut more than they show, sweet and unexpected revealings in level places and valley, secrets of near woods, and glories of every-day paths.

You are quoted as saying there are nine places of worship in Colorado Springs. What are they?

There are nine “places of divine worship” in Colorado Springs, -- the Presbyterian, the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Methodist, the South Methodist, the Episcopal, the Congregationalist, the Baptist, the Unitarian, and Cheyenne Canyon.

Do you enjoy winters?

... winter..... memory and fancy will have their way; and, as we sit cowering over fires, and the snow piles up outside our window sills, we shall gaze dreamily into the glowing coals, and, living the summer over again, shall recall it in a minuteness of joy, for summer days were too short and summer light too strong. Then, when joy becomes reverie, and reverie takes shape, a truer record can be written....
Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to spend some time with questions about your work for the Indians in the late 1870's and early 1880's.

First, in your article 'Oldest House' you mention the fate of the people who lived in the area prior to the Spanish residence in Santa Fe.

When Coronado explored Mexico in 1540, he found many Indian pueblos on the Rio Grande River, and speaks of several which must have been near the present location of Santa Fe. The one which it is generally supposed was on its precise site at the time stretched along its river-banks for six miles. Colorado reported that he found here a beautiful and fertile valley, under high cultivation by the Indians. It is hard to realize...that a race which, over three hundred years ago, had reached comfort and success in agriculture and pastoral occupations, should be today an abject, supine, wretched race...is a melancholy comment on the injustices they have received.

Those are pretty harsh words. It is obvious you have strong feelings about the issue.

The book, Century of Dishonor, as its title indicates,..gives a sketch of the United States Government's dealings with some of the..tribes.

Right sentiment and purpose in a senator..representative here and there, are little more than straws which make momentary eddies, but do not obstruct the tide.

a..states representative argued in Congress that is is very hard if the government will not for..advantage, break a few treaties when it has broken so many for the advantage of other states....what a logic of infamy...because we have had one century of dishonor, must we have two?

What, if anything, do you think can be done?

The only thing that can stay this is a mighty outspoken sentiment and purpose of the great body of the people. ...for the American people, as a people, are not at heart unjust. If there be one thing which they believe in more than any other,...it is fair play. As soon as they understand....they will rise up and demand it...

Thank you Mrs. Jackson, for taking the time to share some of your thoughts and words with us.

I hope you enjoyed a bit of insight into this interesting, complex and fearless woman. Helen seemed to have no problem with stating her opinion, regardless of what others may have thought. She was a woman to be remembered.

(The 'interview' were from the writings of Mrs. Helen Jackson, also known as HH. The use of the name Helen Hunt Jackson was used primarily after her death in 1885.)

Helen’s words about the West help to influence why own writings. Both my haiku, novellas and the two novels "Chasing A Chance" and "Josie's Dream" came to fruition by her influence and determination to write and tell the story.
Enjoy this excerpt from “Chasing A Chance” and you may see Helen’s influence:

The closer Edwin came to his destination, the more nervous he felt. What if Mary weren't there,
or worse something had happened her? She hadn't deserved the hand that life dealt her. Edwin
felt guilty, for not being there to help her through. He cut his thoughts short. He'd enough of 
self-pity. He was doing what he could now, whatever that might be. But, what if she didn't want
help? The thoughts and questions fought each other as Edwin moved closer to his destiny.

           The two traveled in silence, each deep in their own thoughts about what was to come. The miles\
drifted by, heat waves rolling off the ground as they slowly made their way through the high
plains east of the mountains, barely visible off in the distance to the west.

           Taylor watched Edwin. He was wondering what it was that was pushing the man toward trouble 
instead of away.

Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Freedom of Hypothetical Place

Before I was a historical romance author, I was a family historian. The biggest challenge I had with pursuing my family history and helping others with theirs was getting distracted with the history of where the ancestors lived. Is it any small wonder, then, when I started writing historical novels I chose real places and researched the real people living there at the time my story was set?
Lundy 1890

That is what happened with my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series set in Lundy and Bridgeport, California. Most of the minor characters that mostly get cameo appearances in my books are based on real people who lived at that time in that place, even though for most of them I do not have an image, personal description, or any idea of the nature of their personality. Yes, it can be taking a chance that I might get contacted by a descendant complaining they did not appreciate how I portrayed their great-great grandpa. However, it worked.

Last year, I worked with a few of our blog authors on a multi-author series, Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs. It was set in a hypothetical locality. Yes, we based our town, Jubilee Springs, on a real place and researched the topography, climate and working conditions. We even used the real town we chose as the model for our town map. This hypothetical town allowed a great deal of freedom because we were not dealing with REAL people and worrying about their progeny raising objections to how they were portrayed. And, we could place the railroad, or the river, or the lake, or the neighboring town, or the town buildings-whatever we wanted for our stories-where we wanted them in relation to everything else. All we had to do was have guidelines we all followed so there would be some consistency between stories.

Stanislaus River, California
This year I am writing a novella for an anthology. In deciding the place, I once again went with a hypothetical town. Why? Because the business of the main family in the story is not one of the nature that every town has one.

Is it based on a real locality? Yes. In fact, last week, hubby and I made a one day road trip to the locality to take pictures and research the real people and business that will be the inspiration for the location of my story. (Sorry, Mr. T, but your descendants do not want me to portray you the way the character in my story will be portrayed. You will have to wait until future blog posts to receive your accolades.)

For now, I would like to introduce you to my newest release which is a collection of my first three books in the Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs series set in the hypothetical town of Jubilee Springs. Of the five books I wrote for this series, four were novellas and too short to publish in paperback individually. Hence, the collection. It is titled:

INDEPENDENCE DAY 1881 – Zina Abbott’s Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs, Collection 1

Another benefit of this collection is for those Kindle Unlimited readers who have not yet read all m y books in the series. You may download this book in your Kindle Unlimited queue, and read three books at a time.

Here is the book description:

Zina Abbott's first three books in the multi-author series, Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs.

Book 3 - Aaron's Annulment Bride:
Andrea married Aaron so he could get his mining company house, but now she wants an annulment.

Book 6 - Cat's Meow:
Catherine immediately falls in love with tall, hunky miner, Harold. She wants to marry him, but there is one "meowly" little problem.

Book 7 - Bargain Bessie:
Brought to Jubilee Springs after the death of her mother, Bessie, a confirmed spinster meets Zeb, a decisive, impatient rancher who is NOT pushing forty.

To access both the ebook and the print book, please CLICK HERE.

My fourth and fifth books, will shortly be available in both ebook, including Kindle Unlimited, as well as print. As a matter of interest (or not), since my fourth book in this series is a full novel, there is only three pages difference in the size of these two collections even though Collection 2 contains only two books.

Have a great day in your real world!

Friday, May 11, 2018

How to Meet your Future Spouse

EHarmony... FarmersOnly ...  There is a niche for every type of person out there to find their perfect match through the internet.

In this modern day of internet meet-ups, I have several friends and acquaintances who have met online and then gone on to marry and live their happily-ever after. Often these online dating sights have the new participant answer a list of questions to pinpoint their own character and what type of  person would make a suitable match.

It is this idea of an interview that I used for The Prairie Doctor's Bride.

In the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Committee has been established to bring women to the town in order to "grow" the town. Doc Graham missed out on the first trainload of five women that arrived in 1879. Now the second arrival of women has him all set to make a match. He needs a wife -- or -- actually a nurse to help in his office.

Doc Graham, although smart in other matters, is quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. He has made a list of desirable qualities that he expects in a woman and is in the process of interviewing each new arrival, blind to the fact that he has already met his perfect match in a young woman who lives across the river.

Here is an excerpt of one such interview:  (I had a lot of fun with these interviews!)

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Pratt didn’t say a word as they walked past a dog and a few children playing in the school yard. The silence between them grew awkward. He hadn’t expected this. Weren’t most women prone to talking?

“Please. I urge you to speak freely. The one month that the Betterment Committee allows you to decide on a husband and a man to decide on a bride makes it crucial that we find out if we are compatible. That cannot happen unless we talk.”

She came to a swift stop and pressed her lips together in a thin line. “That is a blunt way to put this highly uncomfortable situation.”

He hadn’t thought so. He’d simply been honest. “I tend to be direct.”

He took the moment to assess her appearance. Green eyes, just like his, his height, and a long, slightly curved nose. Egads! She could be his sister!

“Now what?” she asked, stiffening. “You look as though you swallowed your tobacco.”

“I don’t chew.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I find the habit disgusting. Then what did that look mean?”

“I was noticing our…similarities.”

“Oh, that.” She raised her chin. “I noticed them immediately.”

“Then should this move into a state of matrimony and should we have children—”

Her eyes widened.

“—their looks would be a foregone conclusion.” It was an interesting possibility.

She frowned. “Perhaps as you suggest, it is best to be frank and let you know my thoughts on the matter of propagating. Your education may even allow you to comprehend what I am about to say better than the other men I have encountered here.”

He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

“I want to marry. Truly I do. I have no close family. I want a companion with whom to share my life.” She took a deep breath and blew it out as if to steady herself. “However, I am not interested in the part of a marriage that happens behind the bedroom door.”

If he had been walking, he would have stumbled.

“You are shocked.”

“No…no…” Yes, yes he was!

“Come now. I can see it on your face.”

He swallowed—an attempt to absorb her statement politely and give himself time to gather his thoughts. “I have never heard a woman speak so plainly about such things.”

“I will remind you that you asked me to speak freely.”

He huffed out a breath. Could it be that he’d come across a woman who not only looked like him but who spoke and acted like him? “Perhaps I shall choose my words more carefully.”

She bestowed a slight smile.

“Are you ready to continue with our stroll? We’ve only walked through half the town.”

“As long as we understand each other.”

They continued on their way.

It was disconcerting that Miss Pratt could be as blunt as he. Would such a trait be smart to have as a nurse?

“You’ve said the same thing to other bachelors?” he asked. He didn’t want the entire town to be aware of any arrangements they might have that were of a private nature.

“No. The men I have met have all been much more forward than you. Each one found a way to take my arm or assist me in some way that required touching. When they did that I immediately checked them off my list. I’ve spoken to no one else about marriage except you.”

She kept a list? Another disconcerting thought. Their similarities were growing. “That is encouraging. But—am I so unlike them?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to be all that different from the others.

She arched her thin brow. “As I said—you are most direct. The others were still mentioning the weather while your conversation has already jumped beyond that to marriage. You are a gentleman. Your Eastern breeding is apparent in the way you speak and carry yourself. I would hope that means you keep this conversation we are having just between us.”

She hadn’t answered his question. Mayor Melbourne was a gentleman too, as well as Sheriff Baniff. And he could name several others who deserved that title. All were very different from each other, but he thought of them all as gentlemen.

“While we are on the subject, are there any other expectations you have of marriage?”

She shook her head. “No. I do find it interesting that you haven’t taken me back to the hotel. 
You must still be considering me as a possibility, which is a pleasant surprise in light of what I just said.”

More likely, it was because he was still in shock. He’d taken it as a bygone conclusion that if he married, he would have children. He wanted several. That was one of the benefits of wedded bliss. That, and the fact that he had vowed to be a better father than his own.

The distance from the boardwalk down to the road in front of Miller’s Cabinetry Shop was particularly high. Considering what she had just said, he refrained from taking her elbow to assist her. He did offer his arm, but she didn’t take it. He nodded toward the livery and began walking in that direction.

“I had expected children at some point,” he admitted. “I will have to give your condition some consideration. I also desire a companion in marriage, but equal to that, or perhaps more so, I desire a nurse in my work.” He glanced sideways at her. His announcement hadn’t shaken her nearly as much as hers had him.

“Go on,” she said.

“I would like someone who will work beside me and help me run my office. This would entail having fresh bandages cut up, washed and rolled at all times. Watching over the patients that are in my office if I am called away on an emergency. Helping to make up medication, salves and tonics. All this would be in addition to cooking and cleaning and the general duties that wives do for their husbands.”

She drew her brows together. “And what would you be doing while I did all this?”

He thought that was obvious. “Seeing to my patients.”

“And in your free time?”

“I’ll use my free time to keep abreast of the changes in the medical field. Reading, writing articles and taking an annual trip to Denver to meet with my colleagues.”

“During which time, I would be required to remain here and keep the office in a state of tidiness?”

“I haven’t thought that far into it, but that is the general idea. I suppose some years my wife might accompany me to see the sights of the city.”

They walked silently past the livery to the railroad station where she stopped once more. 

“You have given me a lot to think about.”

“As have you.” More than you know!

“I have no doubt that I could perform the duties you have mentioned.”

“In return, you would have a roof over your head and a respected standing in the community and a lifelong companion.” But he’d never considered that there wouldn’t be touching, caressing, or even a kiss now and then. His first words to her about what their children would look like sounded foolish now. Yet, perhaps, if he was honest with himself, it made sense. He certainly didn’t know how to be a father. His had never been around much. The only hugs he’d received from his mother had been stiff and awkward. He had never seen his parents so much as hold hands. The marriage that Miss Pratt and he had just described to each other sounded a lot like his own parents’ marriage.

The entire thing sounded like a business proposition. His initial excitement at the thought of abiding harmoniously had been squashed with pragmatism.

Well, isn’t that what he had originally intended? Josephine had made it clear he was not suitable marriage material. She'd called him cold. Nose in a book. Cared more for his patients than he did for her. He had hoped to move beyond that defining moment when she’d called off the courtship. He’d hoped for more warmth in a lifelong companion.

“I’ll walk you back,” he said, disheartened. “I think we both have a lot to consider.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

The Prairie Doctor's Bride
Copyright by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this look into "dating" in Oak Grove. Poor Doctor Graham. He has a lot to learn about love, but when he does open his eyes and experience it for the first time, it is  a wondrous thing to behold.

What about you? Would you ever consider meeting a possible future spouse via the internet?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Planting a Victorian Garden

by Shanna Hatfield

My current work in progress includes a heroine with a wonderfully green thumb (so not like me at all!).

She creates a backyard haven for the birds she loves to study and sketch.

While I was writing about the splendid oasis she created (and wishing she would come work her magic in my neglected flower beds), I researched the types of flowers and plants that might have been found in her yard.

For any one you interested in creating your own Victorian flower garden, here are a few suggestions:

Plants: Victorians loved their flowers! You might have found the following in one of their summer gardens...
Scarlet Basil
Dusty Miller
Morning Glory
Sweet Alyssum

Statuary: Sculptures, decorative urns, water fountains, sundials, birdbaths and small ponds were all commonly used in Victorian gardens. Cast iron was the material of choice. Oh, and the urns were often left empty, used as a decoration on steps.

Seating: Garden benches and seats, gazebos and decorative pavilions were popular and made as decorative as possible. Cast iron was again the favored material of choice. Seats were also placed under trees along garden walks, below arbors, and in nooks. Rattan and wicker furniture were often use on porches and in sun rooms.

Fencing: By the turn of the century, many properties were fenced. Guess what the most popular material was? That's right... cast iron wins again! The more elaborate the home, the more elaborate the fence and gate. Informal settings often used wood bent into decorative motifs. Picket fences were hidden with shrubs or vines. 


USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Find Shanna’s books at:

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