Thursday, August 23, 2018

And That's History

The past.
But as who sees it? 
And through what filters is it studied? 
It all makes a difference.

AS writers of historical fiction, we are charged with being historically accurate while writing to an audience of the 21st Century. Not always an easy task.

We've all seen how history is being rewritten. Heroes in the past are now portrayed as villains by some. But like most things of the human condition, it all depends on the angle you're looking from.

I  believe people are treating history as a dot rather than a line. Civilizations and people progress. It is not wise or practical to judge those from the past by today's standards. I am not the same now as I was in my 20s. (A long time ago, I have history  : )

I love the western period of the USA. Probably more of the myth of it, but also the adventure and freedom. Of course, then again, it depends on from whose viewpoint the story is written. I'm sure Lewis and Clark would have a view different from that of Crazy Horse.

I also write my historicals with kindness. While one term may be appropriate for 1870, it might not be for 2018. I choose kindness. That may result in having to be creative in my writing and characters, but I'd rather be kind than hurtful.

For the one thing that doesn't change is people. We are the same. We love, we hate. We are brave and afraid. Those who work hard and those who are scoundrels. Those who rise over their circumstances and those who succumb to them. And as a Christian writer, how a character relates to God. Do they have faith? Will they grow in their faith?

Be wise when you see history being rewritten, for some who do so have an agenda.  How wise Eisenhower was when he said to document the Nazi concentration camps. He said there will be those who want to say it never happened. And now we know how wise his statement was.

When reading well-researched historicals, you can step back in time and live in a time gone by. Enjoy the stories.

Patricia PacJac Carroll
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Monday, August 20, 2018

Victorian Underpinnings.

By Sophie Dawson

I’m in the midst of making historical garments. Authentic reproductions of late Victorian and Edwardian dresses, which actually are a bodice and skirt. They called one piece garments gowns. In doing so I’m doing a lot of research and looking at many photos.

We don’t think too much about the undergarments a lady wore beneath the beautiful bustle dress or Gibson Girl clothing. There were quite a few layers which we no longer think necessary. Each had a specific purpose that makes sense when you know the reasons.

The first layers, those against the skin were the drawers and chemise. I know it sounds sort of gross to us, the drawers had open crotches. There was a method to their madness, however. I’ll lit you know why in a minute.

The drawers were basically two legs attacked to a drawstring waistband. You can see the slit in the photos below of the drawers on the bottom row. They were the first item of clothing put on. Over that was worn the chemise. Note the lace and ribbon trim on these.
Next came the stockings (not socks) which came up to or over the knees. Early they tied ribbons or garters to hold them up. Later garter clips appeared attached either the the corset or a garter belt. Then the shoes were put on. It was much easier to do these before the corset since bending down was limited after.

Everyone girl and woman wore a corset. Yes, even children, boys and girls. When looking at corsets and their waist size remember one thing; the back had space of 2-6 inches between the lacings. So add that to whatever the waist measurement says. Suddenly those tiny waists aren’t so tiny. Also, smaller corsets were most likely worn by teenagers. Much smaller all over than grown women. Many of the corsets that survived to this day are probably those of teenagers and only worn for a short time. Those worn as women with more mature figures were used for many years and wore out.
Anyway, the corset was placed over the chemise which often reached do to the knees.
As you can see from the images, many corsets were made from satin or brocade and decorated with embroidery and lace. We ladies love our fancy underpinnings.

Next came the corset cover. Excessive, you say? In a day when laundry was hard physical labor and most women had to do their own, wearing the chemise and corset cover protected the corset, which couldn’t be washed or only sparingly, those two cotton garments surrounding it kept the corset from body oils and sweat, and stains.
One function for the corset not thought about much concerns the bustle and petticoats. The boning in the corset allowed that to support those layers that gave structure to the skirt itself. Each layer of petticoat had a waist tie. Women often wore up to five layers, plus the bustle. Imagine all those ribbons tied around your waist with the petticoats hanging below.
Lace, ruffles, tucks and ribbon often decorated the petticoats. Ruffles added support for the skirts again. Plus they are pretty.
After all this, the lady finally dawned her skirt, bodice, and overskirt. And don’t forget the hat and gloves.

 As I said, I’ve been researching Victorian garments and, though I knew it before, those ladies, whether rich or more like the rest of us, liked pretty undergarments. Chemises, drawers, corsets, petticoats, whether they were handmade or made for some socialite, were adorned with lace and ribbons. Ruffles and tucks also were used as decoration. Even though no one, or very few, saw them other than the wearer, those unmentionables were beautiful garments in their own right.

Oh, those open crotches... They were so you could easily do your business in the ladies retiring room. Imagine trying to find a waist tie under all those layers, laced into a corset, take them down, pull them back up, and rearrange those layers to be presentable before your joined the public again. Now you know why they wore split crotch drawers.


Sophie Dawson is an award-winning author of romance, both historical and contemporary. An eclectic conglomeration of interests and accomplishments, she has made up stories in her head all her life. Now she types them out. Her critically acclaimed series include Cottonwood, Stones Creek, and Love’s Infestation. She’s also been part of several Multi-Author projects.
Her latest release is Wanted: Shopkeeper available in Kindle, print, and KU

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


How many of you, other than the old time salesperson, spend time in city directories?  I love reading them, especially the older ones.

Image result for colorado springs 1879 images
Colorado Springs, 1870 (/) photographer unknown
Our library starts with the 1879 issue. Not only does it contain the names of people living in the area, it also has information on the various organizations, businesses and a list of government officials. So invaluable when doing research.

Another wonderful aspect of the city directory: Businesses. What people did in the 1800s and how they labeled their work is such fun to see. I thought I would share some of the interesting ones, along with the people who were listed as the owners, etc.

In the 1879 directory:

Bill Poster:
Sullivan John W., Mountaineer office.

Carriage Trimmers:
Baumgarten, J., s side Huerfano, e of Cascade.
Marsh, H. A., s side Pike's Peak, e end.

Fish and Oysters:
Blake, John W.

Ice Cream: 
Robbins W. B., n side Huerfano, w of Nevada.
Rogers Bros., s side Huerfano, w of Tejon.

Ice Cream Dealer:
Johnson T. E., e end Huerfano, w of Tejon.

In 1882 the directory:

Artists:  Craig, Charles, 118 s Tejon st.

Carriage Painters:
Cant, G., & Co., 112 e Pike's Peak ave.
Gardner, J. H., 1'28 e Pike's Peak ave.
Lynch, James, 16 e Huerfano st.
Storer, A, H., I 16 s Cascade ave.

Fish and Oysters:
Brighain & Callaway, 32 s Tejon st.
Ericson 8z Neff, 25 s Tejon st, a!
Hopkins & Conger, xro e Pike's Peak ave,
Mook, Anson E., 32 n Tejon st.

Intellegence Office:
Buckingham, Mrs. R. H., 117 s Nevada ave.

The 1882 Directory also included information regarding what is now known as The Deaf and Blind School:

Education of the Mutes and Blind in Colorado
Quarterly meetings of the Board held on the Second
Tuesday of August, November, February and May. Visitors
admitted daily from 8 o'clock A. M. to I o'clock P. M., except
Saturday and Sunday. Pupils Publish " Deaf Mute Index,''
weekly, Hugh M. Harbert, editor,
President, R. G. Buckingham, Denver.
Treasurer, G. H. Stewart, Colorado Springs.
Secretary, Matt France, Colorado Springs
Superintendent, J. R. Kennedy.
Matron, Mrs. Mary E. Kennedy.
Principal, ----- ------.
Assistant, Hugh M. Harbert.

(For future reference: the school was started in 1874, the same year as Colorado College. For a brief overview: School Founder, and the current information:

So much information and a gold mine for me when I'm creating characters and their lives and business. In my novella, "Home for His Heart", Clara owns a restaurant. The city directory for Colorado Springs in 1879 showed a number of women restaurant owners, so I felt confident the fit would work. Here is a brief excerpt from that story:

Purchase on Amazon

 Clara hummed as she put the finishing touches on the venison roast. In the two years since
arriving in Agate Gulch she prepared an annual special meal for friends. The past year had been
especially wonderful. Even the gingham curtains on the restaurant windows smiled with her tune. She
felt she could finally put Henrietta ‘Ettie’ Heath to rest. Clara Cross was her life now.

Oliver was in the past, and would stay there.

Sensing someone behind her, she turned to see her friend, Sally, standing in the door.

“You know, you should sing in the church choir,” said Sally.

“Oh, I couldn’t sing in public. The idea of all those people looking at me and judging, I couldn’t
stand it,” replied Clara with a shudder.

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, August 13, 2018


Today marks the one month anniversary of the Ferguson Fire that started July 13, 2018 near El Portal, just west of Yosemite National Park. 

July 14, 2018- Fire above Merced River taken from around El Portal, Califirnia
As of today, it has burned 96,457 acres with 86% containment and 1,020 personnel that are currently engaged on the fire which include 69 engines, 6 water tenders, 5 helicopters, 16 crews, 2 masticator and 14 dozers. 

There have been 19 firefighter injuries reported. The two fatalities on the fire were HFEO Braden Varney was killed in a dozer rollover accident on July 14, and Brian Hughes, Arrowhead Hotshot Captain who lost his life on July 29 when he was struck by a tree during a firing operation.

10 structures have been destroyed. With summer daytime temperatures in the triple digits most of the month this fire has been fought, it has been a hot fire fight in more ways than one.

Photo taken August 1, 2018, ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service
The Ferguson Fire is now the largest fire in the Sierra National Forest's History. This fire is being managed as a full suppression fire. Although it started outside Yosemite National Park, it burned into the park and even threatened Yosemite Valley, one of the main tourist centers of the park. All roads except the one over Tioga Pass were closed for weeks. The park has been closed to visitors,  although it is scheduled to reopen tomorrow even though there will still be firefighters working in the area. Wawona and Mariposa Grove reopened today.

It will probably go down as the second biggest fire in Yosemite history. The largest was the Rim Fire of 2013 that burned 257,314 acres.

How was fire management started in national parks such as Yosemite National Park?

The 19th century was a period of rapid western expansion for America and the general rule was to transfer the public domain (Federal land) into private ownership. But a growing number of Americans wanted to see the Federal Government withdraw certain tracts of the public domain from private settlement and manage the areas in trust for present and future generations.

Two parallel movements emerged to address the disposition of the public domain. One was the drive to "preserve" the Nation's natural wonders from privatization. The other was to "conserve" the Nation's storehouse of lumber trees. The first could be said to have started in 1864 when the United States Government gifted the Yosemite Grant and Mariposa Grove to the State of California. In 1866, the California State Legislature accepted this land grant with the understanding that the areas were to be managed for the benefit of present and future generations. Although it was a State park, these two grants signaled the beginning of a federal park program.
Guide near large tree in Mariposa Grove-Yosemite Park
The advent of a true national park system came with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 in Wyoming, some 18 years before Yosemite itself became a national park.

The United States Army was assigned the responsibility to patrol and protect Yosemite and Sequoia national parks between 1891 and 1913, and, in that capacity, it helped create a model for park management as we know it today. These army troops were garrisoned at the Presidio of San Francisco during the winter months and served in the Sierra only during the summer months. African-American troops of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry protected both Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in 1899, 1903, and 1904. 

Buffalo Soldiers of the 124th Infantry Division in Yosemite 1899

The Army's role included the detection and suppression of wildfire within park boundaries. This was no small task considering the size of the sanctuary, the crude equipment at hand, and the few troops that were assigned. Even though the U.S. Cavalry was a far cry from the wildland fire profession of today, they nonetheless represented the beginning of a Federal wildland fire protection program.

Bernhard Fernow, Division of Forestry Chief from 1886 to 1898, endorsed the creation of forest reserves and pointed out the need to transfer control of these lands from the General Land Office to the Department of Agriculture. This would insure that government foresters would have the leverage needed to enforce proper timber management practices. Fernow even drafted an organizational scheme that included the idea that "rangers" would be in charge of the smallest administrative units. Stiff opposition against creating federal reserves was overcome in 1891 when Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act. The President was given the authorization to permanently withdraw from the public domain, forestlands he deemed of national importance.

Fire near Mariposa Pines-ctsy U.S. Forest Service
Fernow's efforts to wrestle control of the Forest Reserves from the Department of Interior fell to his successor, Gifford Pinchot, who is considered the "father" of the Forest Service. He served as Chief Forester from 1898 to 1910. His close friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt undoubtedly played a key role in the latter's executive order, of early 1905, which transferred the growing collection of Forest Reserves from the Interior Department to the Department of Agriculture. Within a few weeks of Roosevelt's order, Pinchot reorganized the Agriculture Department's Bureau of Forestry into the United States Forest Service. In 1907, the Forest Reserves were renamed National Forests.

The U.S. Forest Service became the Nation's primary instrument, for protecting natural resources on Federal land from fire and from timber exploitation. In the teens the National Park Service was established, and charged with protecting the Nation's scenic wonders.

Please give all firefighters battling fires across the North American continent your prayers and well-wishes that they will stay safe as they protect the forests, homes, and lives of our citizens. As you can see from the photo below, the high number of dead trees due to a bark beetle infestation within the last several years has not helped.
Burning operations behind Jerseydale Ranger Statioon July 27, 2018-ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service
Many of my stories, including my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series set near Lundy and Bridgeport east of Yosemite National Park, are set in the Sierra Nevada Mountain area on both the east and the west slopes. To see all my published books on Amazon, please CLICK HERE.

Below are photos from the public domain of the brave firefighters of today who have been battling the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite National Park this past month. They are not out of the woods – and we in the San Joaquin Valley are not out of the smoke caused by this fire – yet.
7-24-18 crew at helibase Round Valley-Bald Mountain-ctsy Ian Cosenza, US Forest Service
Arrowhead IHC crew members crossing Merced River to get to fire ctsy US Forest Service

Arroyo Grande Hotshots July 31, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Serv

Cal Fire Gulf Crews July 26, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Chumash Engine 802 firefighter cooling edge July 28, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Dalton Hotshots July 26, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Greyback Forestry July 31, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service

Hotshots working the line July 28, 2018 ctsy US Forest Service

July 23, 2018 Ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Swampers Burden July 30, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service

Tahoe Hotshot lighting burn operation July 28, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Serv

Taken July 27, 2018, ctsy Kari Greer, U.S. Forest Service


Friday, August 10, 2018

New Release in the Oak Grove Series!

by Kathryn Albright

 I am happy to announce a new release in the Oak Grove Series!
    Here’s the back cover blurb ~

Can a Widow in the Wild West …find wedded bliss again?

When Cassandra Stewart fulfills her husband’s dying wish by visiting the ranch he loved, she plans to sell it. But then she meets his best friend. As aloof, ruggedly handsome Wolf shows Cassandra the value of life in the prairies, tenderness begins to grow from their shared pain into something more… Maybe there is a future for her at the Rocking S Ranch after all…

The hero in this story captured my heart. I have a soft spot for the competent, yet brooding type and Wolf is all that. What traits say “hero” to you?

 I also wanted to share a short book trailer…


And an excerpt from Chapter One ~

Oak Grove, Kansas, 1878

Raymond Wolf rammed the oil-soaked cloth down the rifle’s barrel for one last coating, making sure the path was smooth and slippery without any catches. It had to be perfect if it was to be his best friend’s wedding present.

The long swab pressed against the farthest end of the shaft, and at the same moment, something squeezed in Wolf’s chest. An invisible weight descended, as if the very air pressed down on him. Maybe he had been working too hard. He’d had that large order to finish for Dodge City last week, which demanded all of his time. This was the first chance he’d had to work on Doug’s rifle.

The sensation grew stronger. Doug’s face filled his mind. He set the rifle barrel on his workbench and clutched the turquoise stone at his neck. The small workshop, the snow falling outside the front window, all faded away into a gray mist. Then his friend’s face faded too. Something had happened.

“Wolf?” Jackson Miller spoke from the doorway, breaking into the strange fog. Miller stepped inside quickly, followed by another man—a stranger—and shut the door. “Got a man here looking for you.”

Wolf released his grip on the stone and struggled to shake off the premonition. He stood and backed away from his work area, staring at the hammer, trigger guard and bow drill that lay on the table. Absent only a moment ago, now the strong scent of oil and varnish filled the air once more.

Miller stepped farther into the room and removed his flat cap. “Are you all right?”

Wolf looked up, still slightly dazed. “Miller,” he said, acknowledging his neighbor.

Then his thoughts cleared, and he noticed the short, pudgy man in a gray suit peering around Miller’s shoulder. Wolf wiped the oil from his hands on an old rag and slowly removed his shop apron, hanging it from its neck loop on the peg beside the window. He turned back to the two men. “What can I do for you?”

“Raymond Wolf?” the stranger asked, his gaze dubious.

Outsiders always took a moment to adjust to his looks. Confusion happened first, quickly followed by suspicion, and then the lingering unspoken question: Why wasn’t he on a reservation with the rest of his tribe? And more than that—was he dangerous? Wolf counted it ironic that along with his appearance, the profession he had fallen into—gunsmithing—also made them nervous. It was ironic and, if he was truthful, satisfying.

“Excuse me. My name is Franklin Masters. I…uh…have some unfortunate news regarding an acquaintance of yours. A Mr. Douglas Stewart.”

Wolf blew out his breath and braced himself. He knew what would be said before the man continued. His friend—his blood brother—wouldn’t be coming home.

Wedding at Rocking S Ranch © by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

    To purchase your own copy:



Thursday, August 9, 2018

Icebox Cake

by Shanna Hatfield

choc icebox platdWhen the weather is hot and I’m feeling lazy, I like to focus as little attention as possible on spending time in the kitchen. That’s one reason I love good old-fashioned icebox cakes. They come together in a snap, can be made the night before, and taste wonderful.
Icebox cakes have been around a long, long time. In fact, they are derived from ice cream cakes of the 19th century which come from Colonial era Charlottes, and those decadent desserts descend from Renaissance ear trifles.
Icebox cakes, as Americans know and love them today, were introduced during World War I. It was a fast, easy, economical way to serve dessert. In the 1920s, the cakes became a "modern" trend, embracing commercial-made shortcuts like packaged ladyfingers, graham crackers and cookies purchased at the grocer's store. 
Companies making ingredients for these desserts, such as condensed milk and wafer cookies) began including recipes with their products and in company brochures. 
Enjoy this recipe for a chocolate icebox cake!

Ingredients ... and out of the 396 packages of Oreos at the store, of course I grab the one with birthday sprinkles in the filling!
Ingredients … and out of the 396 packages of Oreos at the store, of course I grab the one with birthday sprinkles in the filling!

Start by crushing the cookies into small, obliterated chunks. You can do this in the food processor, with a meat tenderizer, or have your husband beat them to death. Captain Cavedweller happened to wander into the kitchen at just the right time and got put into service as the cookie pounder.
Start by crushing the cookies into small, obliterated chunks. You can do this in the food processor, with a meat tenderizer, or have your husband beat them to death. Captain Cavedweller happened to wander into the kitchen at just the right time and got put into service as the cookie pounder.

While the cookies are being pulverized, whip the cream until thick and luscious. I added about a half-cup of powdered sugar, to give it a little sweetness. Just stir in gently once the whipping cream is thoroughly whipped.
While the cookies are being pulverized, whip the cream until thick and luscious. I added about a half-cup of powdered sugar, to give it a little sweetness. Just stir in gently once the whipping cream is thoroughly whipped.

Spread the cookies into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and press down.
Spread the cookies into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and press down.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Then add in pudding and milk, blending well.
Then add in pudding and milk, blending well.

Pour half the mixture over the top of the cookie crumbs. Work with some sense of urgency at this point because it won't take long for the pudding to begin to set.
Pour half the mixture over the top of the cookie crumbs. Work with some sense of urgency at this point because it won’t take long for the pudding to begin to set.

Fold half the whipping cream into the remainder of the pudding mixture.
Fold half the whipping cream into the remainder of the pudding mixture.

Spoon on top of pudding mixture already in the pan, then top with remaining whipping cream.
Spoon on top of pudding mixture already in the pan, then top with remaining whipping cream.

Spread whipping cream evenly over the top. You can get all fancy and make designs... or not.
Spread whipping cream evenly over the top. 
You can get all fancy and make designs… or not.

I sprinkled mini chocolate chips all over the top of mine. You can add shaved chocolate, toasted coconut, drizzle it with caramel sauce. Whatever strikes your fancy.
I sprinkled mini chocolate chips all over the top of mine. You can add shaved chocolate, toasted coconut, drizzle it with caramel sauce. Whatever strikes your fancy.
The end result is a delicious layered dessert that tastes divine and only takes about 15-20 minutes to whip up.
The end result is a delicious layered dessert that tastes divine and only takes about 15-20 minutes to whip up.

Chocolate Icebox Cake
2 small boxes of instant chocolate pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
1 15.5oz. package of Oreo cookies
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Optional toppings (mini chocolate chips, shaved chocolate, coconut, caramel sauce)
Crush cookies until cookies and filling and blended into a crumbly mass (or mess, depending on who you ask).  Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
Whip cream until peaks form. I like mine sweet, so I add about 1/2 cup of powered sugar and stir in gently.
In another bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth then add in pudding mixes and milk. Beat until well blended.
Immediately pour of the pudding mixture over the cookie crumbs in pan. Add half whipping cream to the remaining pudding mixture and stir until blended. Spoon over top of crust and filling in pan.
Top with remaining whipped cream.
Add whatever toppings you like then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit over night in fridge. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up dreamy characters, twisting plots, or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
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