Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Using Food to Enrich Your Story

Most historical readers know that the America of the 1800s was a true melting pot of cultures. Before restrictions were placed on the number of immigrants from any particular country, people from many European countries headed to America because of the new opportunities and open land. I like to use that fact to depict characters who would still be holding onto the traditions from their native country.

Food is a great way to show details about another culture and give depth to a character. Contemporary readers are aware of all types of different cuisines available in their hometown, some having a wider variety than others. Even the most traditional mid-western town probably has at least one Chinese takeout and a pizza place. I like to include in my stories a possible way in which those restaurants might have been developed.

In Dulcina, book 5 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, I focused on the Hispanic heritages of my hero and heroine. Growing up as neighbors on adjacent ranches in New Mexico Territory, Dulcina and Gabriel shared a common background and a love for the same food. Big family meals are important part of their culture. When Dulcina comes up with a plan to offer food as a way to keep her saloon open, she falls back on what she knows--the tamales she helped make while a child.

In Dance Toward the Light, book 3 of Entertainers of the West series, the hero, Valerik, is of Russian descent who stays in his brother’s house while Nicolai’s on his honeymoon. With this story, I introduced the reader to solyanka (a soup with vegetables, tinned beef, and pickled cucumbers) and rye peasant bread.

With each story, I research recipes, and when a food scene is included, then I make sure to use a dish typical of that ethnic group. Or I use a dish that could have been made with the ingredients available in that geographic location. A widow living in an apartment over her seamstress shop in the Colorado mountains is more likely to make gingerbread or molasses cake as a holiday treat than any recipe requiring chocolate or other expensive or hard-to-obtain ingredients. (The Ring That Binds)

What foods served by your family while you were growing up or served by you to your own family can be attributed to your heritage? One person who leaves a comment will be given the choice of an ecopy of one of my backlist titles.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Boarding Houses in the Old West

People came to the old west for many reasons and it was full of all sorts of people. From outlaws to lawmen, from mothers with lots of children to sheltered mail order brides. Ranchers, businessmen, explorers, and the list goes on.

The truth is that all of them needed a place to stay while they sorted out their new homes or as they passed through town in their travels. Many of the boarding houses with rooms and meals available to those who needed them were owned and run by women. The women who ran these safe havens were well respected. Doesn't it make sense that many women found their places in ways to nurture the needs of those who needed shelter?

In my series, Boarding House Misfits, the Rosebud Boarding House was a place for those who had no other place to go. Briarwood, Nevada was a small town on the edge of the desert with its fair share of gamblers, drunks, gun slingers, and those who needed a fresh start. Dolores O'Hanlon ran the place with a strict set of rules and a tender heart for the down trodden whether their own poor decisions had landed them in need or not.

The series shares the stories of five misfits - men with problems and nowhere to go. Dolores takes them in, gives them shelter, enforces her rules, and gives advice. Her advice and counsel leads each man to turn his life around and find true love.

Though these are the stories of how Rosebud boarders find love, Dolores is present in all the stories. I couldn't have put this series together without the voice of Dolores in my ear. I pictured her to be kind, caring, and wise - as well as beautiful. And though she's a single woman alone in the wild west, she's content with what she's doing for others.

Here's a short excerpt from Hidden Courage, Book One in the series.

Stanley Winthorpe sighed as he walked down the two steps of the bank – his new work place. The sleepy little town of Briarwood, Nevada, was as alive as it ever was, with a few people walking through the dusty streets and the soft noise of the piano music drifting out of the saloon. He tucked his book under his arm as he reached the boardwalk, imagining himself a much more confident, assertive individual.
“I’m Stanley Wilder Winthorpe, Bounty Hunter and Cowboy of the Wild West.” Stanley declared to himself as he made his way up the street. He had been staying at the town hotel, hoping he could find a place of his own soon. The only problem was, the hotel wasn’t cheap, and the little money he had brought to live on was quickly waning. Finding a place of his own he could afford was likely to prove challenging.
The wild west had captivated Stanley’s imagination since his boyhood years, when he’d read stories of brave men who had come out west, conquering the wild and untamed land and claiming it for their own. He had spent many hours with his own little stick, pretending it was a pistol, and a hobby horse his mother had made for him from a broomstick and some scraps of fabric.
But, Stanley had to admit, he was not an adventurous person. Even now, in his desperate search for a job to make ends meet, he knew that his tales of coming west to be a brave cowboy were nothing more than a fancy he held in his mind. In truth, he would run if a fight were to arise, and he would shy away from controversy at a moment’s notice.
If a situation turned uncomfortable, Stanley would make his excuses and stay away. Though he now carried Moby Dick under his arm and dreamed of having the same spirit as Captain Ahab, Stanley couldn’t help but feel the weight lift from his shoulders as he walked to the hotel. He had been so dreadfully nervous about the interview that day, he hadn’t slept nor eaten since the day before.
Now that it was over, and he had gotten the job, he was famished and ready for a nap. Stanley knew that he had to be careful with the few dollars he had left, but he also wanted to celebrate. He wanted to treat himself to a nice dinner, then settle into his room to enjoy more of his book before getting a good night of restful sleep.
“What can I get for you, sugar?” a plump woman with an apron tied across her front asked him as he settled into the hotel’s diner. He smiled a warm smile, hoping his introvert personality wouldn’t show through.
“I was thinking maybe… the special?” he said, phrasing it more as a question. She looked over her shoulder at the blackboard with the words fried chicken and corn bread scrawled across it, and smiled. With a nod, she finished clearing the dishes from the table she was working on, then backed toward the kitchen.
“You just settle yourself in there, sugar. I’ll be right back.” Her sweet friendly accent brought a smile to Stanley’s face, and he felt his cheeks flush red. Immediately, he wanted to slap himself for the involuntary reaction. He had to stop being so easily embarrassed. She was an attractive woman, to be sure, but she was clearly older than him, and it was safe to assume that she was married – perhaps even to the man who owned the hotel.
“You might not be a cowboy or a bounty hunter, but you do have a job out here now. So, whether it’s a large town or a small little place, you have to keep all interaction professional,” Stanley muttered aloud to himself as he waited for the waitress to return with his iced tea and fried chicken.
A few moments later, the woman set the meal in front of him, and gave him her most charming smile. “Will that be all for you?” she asked, her accent even thicker than before. Stanley felt his cheeks flush red, and though he tried to reply with words, he couldn’t find his tongue. With a sheepish grin on his face, he nodded.
“All right then. If you think of anything else, give me a holler, sugar.” She gave him a pat on the arm before she turned and walked back to the kitchen. Stanley buried his face in his hands and rubbed his eyes.
Good job, Stanley. I bet she thinks you’re really impressive now, he thought.


The complete Boarding House Misfits Series is available on Amazon. If you prefer to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription, it's available in the program.


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.

To connect with Annie, find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Western

The Western - an American Icon and symbol of American Independence, Honor, and Justice.
Set during the 1850 to early 1900s, the place being the American West.
Stories of those traveling west for gold, new land, second chances to settle the western half of the United States and achieve the Manifest Destiny.

This is what I grew up with in movies and TV.
Good was good and bad guys were bad and paid for their crimes.
Was it based on myth? Probably. But the stories were usually moral.

The setting spectacular. The characters strong and gritty. The women just as strong. For most of the stories incorporated romance. After all, even in the West, love makes the world go round and gives tension in the stories when more than one man is interested in the girl.

Why do I love westerns? The horses would have to be number 1. I've always loved horses. The TV westerns were called Horse Operas as opposed to the Soap Operas of tv land.
i also loved the stories. Strong characters dealing with justice. The setting. The beautiful landscapes of the west. The red rock formations, the unending miles of open land, and the rugged Rocky Mountains.

I still love westerns and write western romances. Complete with strong characters and good moral stories of pioneers who struggled in wild lands to forge out homes and towns.

Some of my favorite movies - How the West was Won. The Searchers. Shane. The Far Country. And so many more.
My favorite TV shows - Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Laramie

I love the idea of the West, and that's why I write Historical Romance set in the old West.
I loved it growing up and I love it now.
Happy Trails

Patricia PacJac Carroll
You can find my books on Amazon

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Epilepsy in the 19th Century

Epilepsy in the 19th Century

Medicine and diagnosing illnesses has come a long way since the 19th century. For example, seizures and epilepsy. Before people and even the medical world were able to understand this disease, those with epilepsy were considered to be possessed by demons. Not just here in America, but as far away as China, Rome and other far away lands considered seizures were a demonic evil. It wasn't unusual for a patient to be taken to a lunatic asylum and left there in isolation, without treatment. 

Another interesting fact is in medieval times folks believed that witches caused epilepsy, but they also thought seizures were a sign someone was a witch. Whether an epileptic was born in those times or during the 19th century, the branding of seizures almost always guaranteed a lack of treatment and even in some cases death for those struggling with this disease.

One way to solve the problem in the 19th century, was to establish colonies for those with seizures and most of the time treatment never happened. 

During the mid 1800's, when research was done by Sir Charles Locock, he introduced a drug called bromides to calm the epileptic seizures. At that time the side effects were unknown. In my story, A Doctor's Devotion, the heroine had been called a witch in her hometown, so her parents sent her away for her own safety in the dead of night as they feared for her life. 

Later, she married a doctor from a small western town but hid her seizures until she was no longer able to. After serious research and a determination to help her, her husband took her to Philadelphia, where he attended medical school, to consult with specialists to find a cure. If you read the book, you'll get a taste of how a young woman with epilepsy deals with her disease in the 1800's and how the hope for a normal life can exist with the right treatment. 

I knew in passing that during the time period of the 1800's, certain diseases and sicknesses were left untreated, poorly diagnosed and those who had the diseases were left helpless and hopeless. I had no idea of the pain and suffering some of these people went through. This story was one that had to be told.

Get your copy of A Doctor's Devotion here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Women's Weapon of Choice

By Sophie Dawson

Murder has been around since the beginning of man. One of the difference between the way men kill and women seems to be that women want to do it cleanly where men are okay will the more bloody methods. Of course, the men don’t worry about who has to clean up the mess.

Poison is the method of choice when women want to do away with someone. 90% of all poison murders are perpetrated by women. It’s clean, mostly, unless the poison causes vomiting or diarrhea. Physical strength or weapons prowess aren’t needed. Poisons can easily be baked into a food or put in a drink without the victim being aware they are being poisoned. Poisons can either be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

In the 18 and early 19th centuries, arsenic was the most popular poison. It was called the Inheritance Powder, used to speed the demise of the older generation allowing the heirs to gain their fortune, or title, before nature took its course. 

Arsenic was commonly used in Chinese, as well as western medicine. Elizabethan women used a mixture of arsenic, vinegar, and chalk as makeup to whiten their faces. In Victorian times, Arsenic Complexion Wafers were used to clear up acne. It was also used to cure syphilis, making it a very popular drug. 

A brilliant green pigment was made with arsenic. The fabric dyed with this Emerald Green was beautiful but deadly when made into clothing. The arsenic would be absorbed through the skin resulting in many accidental deaths. 

FRC2014.07.406 A+B+C Arsenic Green Dress Photo by Suzanne Petersen, Bata Shoe Museum

Through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance arsenic was the poison of choice since it was undetectable. The Borgias, Pope Alexander VI, and his son, Cesare were all accused of using arsenic as a poison. Many other famous cases of arsenic poisoning are documented. In 1836, James Marsh, an English chemist created an accurate method to test for arsenic poisoning, leading to the end of the commonly used method of murder. Arsenic is now a controlled substance in most countries, not available without a special license.

Sophie Dawson has been researching poisons for her upcoming book, An Agent for Delaney, The Pinkerton Matchmaker Series, releasing February 8 on Amazon in Kindle, Print, and KU.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Little Known Lawmen of The Wild West

Little Known Lawmen of The Wild West

The Old West produced a bunch of legends.  As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing it was consistently good at, it was taking outlaws and turning them into icons.  Men like Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and John Wesley Hardin because part of American culture despite that they were aggressive criminals.  In a time of lawlessness and disorder, there were lawmen who commanded respect and weren’t afraid to stand up to outlaws. In the process they created the model of the Western hero.  These men made a difference.

Pat Garrett:  In the 1880’s Garrett became the Lincoln County, New Mexico Sheriff and secured his reputation when he gunned down one of the most popular bad guys in the Old West, William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid.  According to legend, Garrett and Bonney knew each other and they were even supposedly often seen together gambling in saloons. As soon as Garrett became sheriff, his duty was to bring Billy the Kid to justice.  In 1881, Garrett tracked down Billy near Fort Summer and shot him. 

Pat Garrett

William “Bill” Tilghman, Jr: was a lawman and gunfighter during the Wild West days of Kansas and Oklahoma. Tilghman earned admiration of many gunslingers like Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, the Mastersons, and Wild Bill Hickok. Tilghman developed the status of a man who only resorted to violence when it was absolutely essential, but was known to be deadly efficient in its use as a last resort.  Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman, along with two others, Chris Madsen, and Heck Thomas, were known as The Three Guardsmen, a name popularized in Old West literature describing the three lawmen who became legendary in their pursuit of many outlaws of the late 19thcentury.

William "Bill" Tilghman, Jr.

William “Dave” Allison: Allison has been described as the most efficient lawman in Texas.  In 1888, at the age of 27, he became the youngest sheriff in the Lone Star State.  In the process, he became the youngest sheriff in Texas history.  Allison was well-known for his confidence, but also had a dark side, as he was quite a bad gambler.  Sometimes he left his positions under a cloud of suspicion.  He is most noted for leading the group that caught and killed the Mexican revolutionary turned fugitive Pascual Orozco in 1915. Later on in life, Allison became a detective.  While operating for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association, Allison built a case against two cattle rustlers in Seminole, Texas.  In 1923, on the night before the trial, he was shot down and killed in his hotel room by the same two notorious cattle rustlers.

William "Dave" Allison

John Hicks Adams: In 1863, John ran for sheriff, and defeated William Aram. Shortly after his victory, a group of Confederate partisan rangers, known as Captain Ingram’s Partisan Rangers from the San Jose area, who had committed all sorts of crimes in Santa Clara County, robbed two stage coaches in the Bullion Bend Robbery near Placerville.  Adams was close to getting the gang on several occasions, but they always managed to slip away.  However, an information filtered to Sheriff Adams that the Confederates were holed up in a shack near Almaden.  Adams and his posse surrounded the shack, and requested their surrender.  The robbers failed to comply with the order and tried to escape.  Sheriff Adams was wounded when a bullet struck his pocket watch and glanced into his ribs.

John Hicks Adams 

John Barclay Armstrong: Armstrong was a Texas Ranger lieutenant and a United States Marshal.  In 1875, he joined the Special Force, and as second-in-command to Captain Leander, he earned the nickname “McNelly’s bulldog.”  Armstrong is usually remembered for his part in the pursuit and capture of the most dangerous gunmen in the Wild West, John Wesley Hadin.  Hardin had been captured once by rangers, but he managed to escape.  Armstrong found himself in a train coach in a standoff against Hardin and four of his men. Armstrong killed one of the men, knocked Hardin unconscious, and disarmed the other three.  He then safely escorted Hardin to Teas, where he received 25 years in prison. Besides this famous incident, Armstrong also helped track down outlaw King Fisher and was part of the group that killed violent train robber Sam Bass.

 John Wesley Hardin

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

WOMEN WHO STOOD - The Colorado Labor Wars #History #ColoradoHistory #Women'sHistory

Emma F. Langdon, Mother Jones and the Colorado Labor Wars

THE state of Colorado ceased under the administration of James H. Peabody, to be republican in its form of government, and became a military oligarchy. The expressed will of the people was ignored by their chosen representatives; thus bringing upon the state a series of calamities, the magnitude of which may now readily be seen.”

The above is taken from the introduction to Emma's book “The Cripple Creek Strike, A History of Industrial Wars in Colorado 1903-04”. Regardless of your belief in who was right or wrong during this tumultuous time, this book is considered the definitive work on the region and events of the time and area. That it was written by Emma F. Langdon makes it even more amazing.

Photo from her book "The Industrial Wars in Colorado"
from Wikipedia
Emma was born September 29, 1875 in Tennessee. Charles Langdon, whom she married in 1896 was born June 9, 1870. In 1903 Emma and Charles moved to Victor, Colorado where they both worked at the Victor Daily Record.

In 1903 the tensions between miners and mine owners were on the increase in the Cripple Creek Mining District. Although the miners had one a victory of $3.25 for an eight hour day, the miners union supported the smelter workers who were working longer hours for less pay.

The situation became so volatile that the mine owners censored and arrested anyone who opposed their story. As a result the workers at the pro-union Victor Daily Record were rounded up to stop the release of the next issue. When Emma was told of the 'arrest' she went to the paper and that night barricaded herself in, set type and put out the paper on schedule. When she delivered the issue to the men who had been taken to the 'bullpen' (and outdoor holding area) the laughter of the captors (jailers) changed while those incarcerated rejoiced.

When the strike ended in 1904 those who had supported the union were requested to leave. Emma moved to Denver Colorado, continuing her work on behalf of the union, until her death on November 30, 1937.

Of Mary Harris (Mother) Jones, born around 1930 or 37 in County Cork Ireland, was according to Reese Blizzard, a West Virginia DA, “The most dangerous woman in America” Clarence Darrow reportedly said she was “one of the most forceful and picturesque figures in the American Labor movement.”

Mother Jones 1902-11-04.jpg
Mary Harris (Mother) Jones taken in 1902
from Wikipedia
Her family moved to Canada when she was a child, and she studied to be a teacher at the Toronto Normal School. She in fact worked briefly as a teacher and dressmaker. She married George Jones an iron worker and union organizer in 1861. They had four children, but she lost them and her husband to a yellow fever outbreak. After their deaths she moved to Chicago where she worked as a dressmaker, but lost everything in the Chicago fire of 1871. From that point on she became involved in the labor movement. Her history in Colorado involves the Ludlow Massacre that occurred on April 20, 1914.

A sample of her writing on the labor movement comes from an article in the “International Socialist Review” published in 1901. In part it reads, “I visited the factory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at 10 o’clock at night. The superintendent, not knowing my mission, gave me the entire freedom of the factory, and I made good use of it. Standing by a siding that contained 155 spindles were two little girls. I asked a man standing near if they were his, and he replied they were. How old are they?” I asked. “This one is 9, the other 10,” he replied. “How many hours do they work?” “Twelve,” was the answer. “How much do they get a night?” “We all three together get 60 cents. They get 10 cents each and I 40.”
I watched them as they left their slave-pen in the morning and saw them gaher their rags around their frail forms to hid them from the wintry blast. Half-fed, half-clothed, half-housed, they toil on, while the poodle dogs of their masters are petted and coddled and sleep on pillows of down, and the capitalistic judges jail the agitators that would dare to help these helpless ones to better their conditions.”

The story of the Labor Wars in Colorado are full of people from both sides that made their mark on the history of the region. From 1893-1914, Colorado was a hotbed of conflict between the haves and have-nots with errors in judgment on both sides. Not an easy read, but a fascinating one, and these two women were in the center of and writing about it.

I love writing about strong, independent women who have much to give the world and those they love. The following is an excerpt from the story 'The Homestead' from the anthology "The Untamed West".  
The Untamed West by [Washburn, L. J., Mariotte,  Jeffrey J., Reasoner, James, Mayo, Matthew P., Rizzo, Tom , Hays, J.E.S. , Bell, Dorothy A. , Goheen, Ben , Raines, Angela , Doty, Dennis]
purchase from Amazon
"It's amazing how love will lead you to the loneliest places," she told the blowing wind. Wind that told of the coming storm.

Sighing, Ruth turned back to the pile of wood she'd dragged in. Again, she picked up the newly sharpened axe, intending to finish before the storm arrived.

"Mother, Mother," Ruth heard excitement and fear in her five-year-old son Samuel's voice.

Heart pounding, Ruth moved away from the wood she was chopping. She turned to see Samuel standing some twenty feet away. He was standing statue still, not moving.

Chances were her son had seen a snake, and she hoped it wasn't a rattler. She'd taught him to stay in place and call for her. She'd emphasized how important he remain still, realizing a rambunctious five-year-old would likely run. To move could be fatal. In that respect, he was like his father Joseph who was always out for adventure.

Thinking of Joseph, the man who'd left her and their child alone out here, brought up the rage she tried hard to suppress. Now a snake might take away all that was precious to her.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Short History of Horseshoes

In the 1897, a set of bronze horseshoes with nail holes was discovered in an Etruscan tomb which was dated to have been used around 400 BC. These were the oldest set of horse shoes discovered, when it was thought before that the Romans invented horseshoes around 100 BC--but those were a sandal-like boot made of leather with a metal reinforced bottom.

Although there are a few references in history of nail-on metal shoes being used by war horses in the 900's, they weren't commonly used by Europeans until around the time of the Crusades, a hundred years later. Over the next two hundred years, the horse shoe went from being made of bronze to being made of iron, undergoing the same evolution as metals used for swords, and by the 1600s, blacksmiths could buy ready-shaped horse shoes that they could heat up and finish to the exact size and shape of the horse's foot.

It wasn't until the Industrial Revolution, that a machine capable of making up to 60 steel shoes per hour was patented. Because of the use of these manufactured shoes, the North was given an advantage over the South in the Civil War.

Surprisingly to some, the shape and manufacture of horse shoes hasn't changed much since the 19th Century. The blacksmith still adjusts the shape and fit of the shoe to the horse, even when he uses a factory "keg" shoe. Shoes come in several different sizes to start with, but no two horses have the exact same shape to their hoof, so the farrier must adjust the shoe and change its factory shape to one that fits the horse most comfortably.

Because the shape of each horse's hoof is different, it truly was easy for trained scouts to track horses and know the horse's size and how much weight they carried. Many blacksmiths put a mark on the shoes they made as a signature on their work. This also could have been used by trackers to know which town the horse came from as well.

I've always had an affinity and great respect for the work of trained farriers and blacksmiths. When I was in college, it was one of the careers I considered for a while, but put the side because of the great amount of strength and stamina these metal workers need to be able to do their job. However, it turned out that I married a farrier, instead.

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 1867 North Texas: