Monday, September 24, 2012


Secondary characters are fun to write. They are not burdened by the heroic responsibilities of the two main characters. With this leeway, an author is allowed to make the secondary characters fun, shady, goofy, or bumbling without detracting from the over-the-top qualities necessary for the hero and heroine.

Two of the most enjoyable secondary characters I’ve writtern were the aunts, Lizzie Mae Fraser and Maggie Jo Gamble in my Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE (now available),  HIGH  STAKES BRIDE (releasing this week), BLUEBONNET BRIDE (end of 2012).

Available now in print and e-book

These two ladies are loosely patterned after my mom (as Maggie) and her older sister, Elizabeth (as Lizzie). Both have passed on now, but either would have done anything for her children. The sisters were always close and, as widows, grew even closer. Aunt Elizabeth always found something nice to say, and was one of the world’s best cooks. My mom was more critical or, as she was prone to say, “just let her know what I thought,” but she was tireless when it came to helping her children. My youngest daughter and I were reminiscing just Sunday evening that my mom also made the world’s best pies and candy.

When they were together, my mom and aunt were such fun. I had tried to get them to move near me and live in a duplex so each had privacy yet still had the close companionship of the other where I could look after them. My mom was willing. Aunt Elizabeth hesitated and then learned she had colon cancer, which ended her life. One of the joys of writing is that the author can accomplish in print what was not possible in reality, so I brought these two sisters together in fiction to enrich the lives of one another and the lives of their family (as the models did their children in life).

Releasing later this week in Print and E-book

In series, secondary characters can become the main characters of later books. In the Men of Stone Mountain series, brothers Zach and Joel were supporting players in Micah’s story, BRAZOS BRIDE. Each brother will have his own book, so readers can follow their developing relationships throughout the series. Each character must continue to change, to move forward in his character arc as the series continues. In Zach’s story, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, readers see Micah and Hope as parents of a son, Andrew. Micah remarks that he never realized it was possible to love a child who can’t even talk yet as much as he loves Andrew. Micah also helps Zach face the truth.

As you can tell, my books often feature family relationships. What I’ve enjoyed about writing the Men of Stone Mountain series is that the three brothers are closely knit. They may look at life in a slightly different way, but each is loyal to and supportive of the other two. I love that in a family, don’t you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 21, 2012

In the Zone - with Meg Mims

TV jingles make me crazy, since I rarely watch the tube. But one inspired me to think of that sacred place a writer (hopefully) gets into when a work-in-progress is chugging along. Any interruption is met with dismay. Whether it's another let-the-dogs-out... let-the-dogs-in, telephone call, bathroom break, mealtime or when's-dinner type of interruption. So when I'm In The Zone -- The Writing Zone...

I want to keep writing. I don't want the TV on when I can listen to music or blessed silence. I don't want to hear barking dogs, the doorbell, the telephone. Even listening to the answering machine is a distraction. Call me crazy. But blame it on being In The Zone -- The Writing Zone.

Wild horses running... yep! That's being In The Zone -- The Writing Zone. You get excited, you write for the sheer joy of it. To get to the next page, the next scene, the next chapter. Pantsers are especially good at this. But Plotters can get Into The Zone too! Just follow the outline, and if you get a little off-track, you can get back on without a problem -- unless it's a "happy accident" as Bob Ross used to say.

Thankfully the dogs and I time ourselves for bathroom/outdoor breaks. I grit my teeth when the phone rings, and I've been known to turn it off. I can't prevent the dogs from barking at neighborhood cars, walkers, Mr. Brown delivering UPS packages anywhere on my street, or the mailman (they particularly dislike anyone daring to come so close to the door.) As for meals - I have breakfast, quickly check my mail and approve Triberr posts (trying to avoid Facebook and Twitter), write, then "take a lunch" and get back to writing afterward. Dinner is either something fast, something left-over or something take-out.

Hey. I'm In The Zone -- The Writing Zone! But derailment happens.

When it does, I get cranky. Even routine planned-ahead stuff can derail The Writing Zone. Whether it's a doctor's appointment, a lunch day with friends, an evening meeting, a weekend event... augh! It's enough to seriously get you out of The Zone. What can you do to get back in, to refresh those juices?

I'm writing this blog post now to get myself back Into The Zone after an event across the state. It was fun, great meeting fellow authors, but that little devil whispered in my ear...  "if only you'd stayed home -- you'd be fifty pages ahead!" I try to ignore it. I did find it worthwhile talking with the other writers and meeting new readers. Gone are the days when writers were in their caves hibernating and The Editors were the contact people. You gotta meet-greet these days, in conferences, workshops, school appearances, book clubs, or checking Facebook or Twitter, updating your website. It all takes time. Precious writing time. But the overall goal? To make it to the end.

So what can you do?

Courtesy of

Schedule that PRECIOUS writing time, like the spurts between the Pony Express stations over a hundred years ago. Check your schedule. Block out several days -- or one day. Or a weekend spurts, or evening spurts, or two-three hour morning spurts. Whatever works for you.

And then get yourself In The Zone -- The Writing Zone.

...Meg Mims is In The Zone, at work on the sequel to her Spur-Award winning book, Double Crossing. Check out her website for updates on The Double Series and her WIP, Double or Nothing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Women and History from Ginger

Happy September everyone.  Can you believe we're getting close to the Holiday season again?  I'm ill prepared, but not nearly as much as I'd be to step back in history and try to make it through a day.  Because I'm dealing with health issues at the moment, I hope you'll accept this offering from a blog I posted back in 2009.  I found it interesting then and now, and some of my peers here at Cowboy Kisses have gone into much greater detail on some of the topics. 

 Re-reading this post made me so much happier to be a 'modern-day' woman. Oh...and I take no credit for the pictures since I used them from a common site on the Internet, and I'd gladly credit each contributor (if I knew their names) and thank them for enhancing my blog.  Since the recent post we've read about one author being sued for using a photo on her blog without specific permission, I think we've all become skiddish about using anything we haven't taken ourselves. I was lucky one time with these pics, so I'll try one more time...and hope I'm not pressing my luck.

Historical Facts

Even with all the economical woes and problems we face at the moment, take a minute and think what it must have been like back in the 1800s to be a woman. I love historical fiction set in the old west, but I often pause and wonder how I would have handled the challenges women of that era tackled.

Imagine your kitchen without all the conveniences you've become used to. No stove, no refrigerator, no microwave, no garbage disposal, no running water, probably not even one quarter of the little gadgets you find so very useful. 

Settlers often lived miles from the nearest town. Trips to shop often required an entire day of travel. The going was slow in a buckboard or wagon, and certainly not as comfortable as a ride to Walmart in a comfortable sedan. I prefer a Lexus myself. *lol*

Mail Order Brides were considered a legitimate way for men to meet and marry. I can't imagine traveling for weeks on a wagon train to meet and wed a man I've never laid eyes on. I can only assume many women were disappointed to see what they'd signed on for. Photographs, or tintypes as they were called, often didn't portray a clear likeness. I suppose you could equate that to meeting someone online who posted a picture taken twenty years ago. :)

Then there was childbirth. No drugs, and most often, no doctor. Just another woman who'd had children of her own or someone dubbed the area midwife. Even when a doctor was available, the profession was dominated by men, and that added to the discomfort of the prim and proper western women. The common position for delivery was back to the doctor with knees drawn up to avoid any eye contact.

I think given the challenges of being a pioneer woman and surviving past the age of forty-five due to child-bearing risks and diseases of other sorts, I elect to stay where I am. I can't imagine using a rag instead of a mini-pad, not having my hair dryer and curling iron, or even though I hate them, missing my annual screening exam. I had an emergency cesarean with my second child, and if I had given birth to him in the 1800s, we would probably both have died. So...even as much as I think things suck right now because of the economy and stupid political decisions...I'll take today anytime!

Pioneer women really had to have stamina. They cooked, cleaned, plowed, milked, gathered eggs, bore many children and if the elements and diseases didn't get them, marauding Indians often did. Yes, ladies. We have it easy these days compared to women of the old west.

To give you an idea of what one woman's experience was in the 1800s, here's an excerpt from my first historical romance, Prairie Peace, and to set the scene...Cecile has just been delivered to the 'ranch' her new husband bragged about. She's come from being an only child of the local banker and his wife to now having to become a pioneer wife:


When Cecile first ventured into the house, she wanted to die right on the spot. Her first impression was that the floor was dirt, but upon further examination she found wood beneath the filth. Dust and debris sifted in through the crooked shutters and layered the plank flooring. The entire structure consisted of one big room, complete with a rustic-looking bed frame and a mattress that sagged almost to the floor. The main living area had a large stone fireplace and hearth in the corner, and the kitchen area consisted of a table holding a chipped water pitcher and bowl. Nearby, a cracked mirror hung from a rusted nail.

In contrast to the large windows in her Silver City home, directly over the table was one the size of a medium picture-frame. The grass outside had gotten so tall it crept through the crookedly cut, ill fitting shutter. She had no desire to open it for fear of the critters that might scurry inside.

It was apparent why the previous occupants had left behind the odds and ends of furniture. The table and bench were made out of wood so rough Cecile imagined picking splinters from her behind if she sat. A chair with a broken rocker rested in the corner next to the fireplace, and beside it was an old crate where a rusty lantern perched precariously, most likely to provide light for anyone brave enough to risk the broken chair.

What had she done to herself? She pictured her mother’s living room with its matching furniture and crisp pleated draperies and fought hard to hold back tears.
Her mother had never really prepared Cecile for being a wife or housekeeper, requiring she only do minimal chores around the house. She surveyed the challenge set before her. This was going to be a learning experience she‘d have to endure on her own. Her days of being spoiled and pampered had ended.

She took a deep breath and dug in, trying to wash away the accumulated dust and grime. What she hated most was dealing with the various prairie creatures that thought this was their home. “Oh dear…I hate spiders,” she proclaimed as one skittered across the floor.

Wiping a trickle of sweat from her forehead, she glanced around the room for something to shuttle the insects outside, and spied an ancient broom in the corner by the fireplace. Although it had lost most of its straw, there was still enough left to use. Looking at the dirt and grime around her, she wondered why the broom looked so worn. How long had it been since anyone used it?

The floor had dried and warped with age, and the cracks between the planks had widened to reveal the ground below. Cecile vigorously swept several times, trying to get some of the dirt and dust to fall through. When she finished, she wore most of it.

Tossing the broom across the room in disgust, she peered at herself through the cracks in the mirror, barely recognizing the reflection staring back. Her hair hung in unruly strands around her face, and her complexion was gray from the coat of dust. She emitted a loud sigh as the looking glass revealed the sagging and dirty mattress behind her. Who or what had slept there before? Clearly, the bedding needed a thorough beating and airing out, and it was her glorious job to do it.

The tears welled again. She prodded herself to stay busy, believing work would keep her from dwelling on her disappointment. With great effort, she dragged the mattress outside, and for some reason, every whack of the broom against the old tattered thing made her feel better.

She struggled to get it back into the house and onto the bed frame. She refused to call Walt for help because he was busy outside, cleaning the yard and hauling junk from within their poor excuse of a barn. Silly emotions and false pride were not about to get the best of her. She wanted Walt to be proud of her, and she was determined to make the best of this, even if it killed her. Besides, she was tired of sleeping on the hard ground with nothing but a thin blanket between her and the dirt. Even this ugly mattress had some degree of appeal. As soon as they moved into the house, she’d cover it with the blankets from the bedroll and bring in the pillows still stowed in the wagon. Using the barn as shelter left her worrying the whole thing would fall down and crush them to death in their sleep. So many boards were missing from the walls, she was amazed it remained standing at all.

At the end of the day, both she and Walt were so tired, it mattered little where they slept. Cuddled together on the barn floor, Cecile nestled in the crook of her husband’s arm, and managed only a goodnight kiss before she drifted off.

Sun streaming through the cracks in the barn and shining in her eyes woke her. Walt was already up, and Cecile smelled coffee. She hauled her aching body off the ground, stood and stretched into a growing yawn. Another day of work lay ahead, but she thought of all she had accomplished over the past days. In the eyes of some it might not amount to much, but she'd done the best she could. At least the house smelled of soap and was as dust-free as she could manage. Now it was ready for the few belongings she’d brought along. Later they would acquire material for curtains, and hopefully some better furniture, but for the time being, the few knickknacks in the wagon would make it look homier. She wrinkled her nose at the thought. Homier? Was that even possible? She followed her nose, searching for a cup of strong coffee to see her through the day. She joined her husband outside for a scant breakfast and a breath of fresh air. She had to admit that a prairie morning was much more peaceful than the bustling streets of Silver City.

“Where do you want this?” Walt asked, following her into the house, with her trunk.

“Just set it next to the bed for now.”

While he tripped in and out, carrying her settee and small bedroom table and lamp, Cecile moved them from place to place, trying to find where they fit. They looked so out of place Cecile almost wished he had left them in the wagon. Such pristine objects for a shack.

Somehow, though a mystery to her, Walt still beamed with pride over this place. Luckily, he hadn’t detected her disappointment. He walked in the door with another box, and at that moment, looking into his eyes, she forgot her surroundings and recalled the feeling of being in his arms. Tonight, they‘d sleep in the house, and christen the old bed. Suddenly she felt much better about things.


Aren't you feeling lucky about now?     

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mail Order Brides by Lauri Robinson

No, this isn't a mail ordered bride, it's my niece and her husband on their wedding day last month. It's just such a fun picture I had to share it.  Now, on to my post:

Nowhere else in the world can lay claim to the old west. Other countries had their wild, rowdy, or scandalous times, but only America had the land west of the Mississippi—that vast, unclaimed land that held promises of change, beauty, wonder, and riches—and gave birth to mail order brides.

Men set west in droves, and even those that didn’t ‘strike it rich’ in the gold fields, succeeded in other ways such as ranching, farming, and building communities, but many soon discovered one thing was missing. Women. Someone they could share their new-found lives with. Since men outnumbered women nine to one in most western territories, men started writing ‘back east’. Some would ask family members to find a suitable partner and send them west. Others wrote to churches and/or put ads in newspapers and magazines.

Women were excited about the opportunity. Between the civil war and the westward movement, the ratio between men and women in the east was extremely disproportional. There were very few career options for women, and poverty was on the rise. Even to those with financial support, becoming a mail order bride carried lest social stigma than becoming a spinster.

There were newspapers and magazines dedicated to connecting men and women, and marriage brokers opened Mail Order Bride Agencies on both sides of the Mississippi, proclaiming what many already knew, that without women towns wouldn’t become ‘civilized’ or flourish.

The couples would usually share a few letters, possibly a photo if either had the means to provide one, and eventually would come to the ultimate decision to marry or not. Some ‘brokers’ actually performed proxy marriages between the couple to assure neither party changed their minds upon meeting. The divorce rates of mail ordered brides were very low, and many marriages proved loving and long lasting.

I’ve always loved mail order bride’s tales, and my next release with Harlequin, Unclaimed Bride, is such a story:

Running from the past…she bumps into her future!
Mail-order bride Constance Jennings steps off the stage in Cottonwood, Wyoming, and waits for her husband-to-be. But he never shows up, and instead several other men are vying to take his place!
Single father Ellis Clayton must be the only man in town not looking for a bride. But his young daughter's habit of rescuing wounded critters means he ends up offering Constance a temporary shelter.
Having a woman around the house again is all too easy—especially seeing her bond with his daughter—but Ellis can't seem to let go of the past. Problem is, neither can Constance. And hers is about to catch up with her….

What about you? If you’d lived back then, would you have left all you’d ever known behind and headed west on little more than a promise of marriage?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jacquie Rogers -- Sourdough Baking: Part 1

The Joy of Sourdough Baking
Part One
by Jacquie Rogers

While sour breads have been around for thousands of years, the term "sourdough" is relatively modern, coming from the 1800s American West. The folks in the California gold rush broadened the term to mean the starter, the bread, or the baker. To this day, "sour bread" and "sourdough" can mean different things to different people depending on from whence they hail.

That doesn’t mean that sourdough is exclusively North American. Northern European rye breads are nearly all made from sourdough starter because rye doesn’t contain enough gluten for baker’s yeast to work properly. Those recipes are hundreds of years old.

Sourdough Biscuits from
Discovering Sourdough
All sourdough breads and quickbreads begin with . . . ta daaaa . . . a starter.

Starter can also be called "sponge." No matter what you call it, it’s nothing more than yeast that you culture yourself. The starter is fragile and will die if frozen or overheated. In winter, the cook often slept with the starter to keep it warm. After all, without starter, he could only bake hardtack. 

How it works:

With flour and warm water as food, the yeast spores break down into starch and sugar, which promotes fermentation. Handled a little differently, you’ll make a fine pint of ale instead of a loaf of bread--a story better told by someone who brews it. The fermentation produces more yeast which is what makes the bread light and fluffy during the baking process.

Other terms for natural leaven starters are :
Levain (French)
Desem (Flemish
Barm (British) (not in traditional usage)
Lievito naturale (Italian)
Friendship Starter (if not yeasted)
The major distinctions between the various terms for natural leavens, other than the terminology, are the grain used, the degree of hydration and, to some extent, the storage medium and temperature, all of which affect the degree of complexity and sourness of each type of starter.
A note about taste:

In the modern day, sourdough bread tastes a bit sour and sometimes a lot sour, if you buy the more expensive variety. But in the Old West, they didn’t want their bread to taste sour and went to great lengths to make sure it tasted as sweet and good as any yeast bread, and as light, too.

Stay tuned for Jacquie's next article (October 12th)
Part Two: The Care and Feeding of Starter

Hearts of Owyhee #3
by Jacquie Rogers

♥ FIVE STARS! Jacquie Rogers writes some of the best Historical Romances on today's market. Not content to simply write a plot and toss in a lot of bed scenes and/or filler, this author adds in subplots, humor, action, suspense, and some endearing strays.
~Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews

♥ When you read a Jacquie Rogers book, you know you're in for a fast, fun ride!

  • A sexy ranch foreman who just happens to be a beautiful woman
  • A Boston lawyer who wants to settle his father's estate and go back East
  • Rustlers who have another agenda in mind
  • Mayhem endangers them all--but can the foreman and the lawyer ever see eye to eye?

Benjamin Lawrence is a highly respected attorney in Boston, but in Idaho Territory, they still think of him as that gangly awkward boy named Skeeter. When he goes back home to settle his estate, he's confronted with a ridiculous will that would be easy to overturn--but can he win the regard of his family and neighbors--and the foreman?

The Bar EL's foreman, Janelle Kathryn aka J.K. aka Jake O'Keefe, is recognized as the best foreman in the territory. But being the best at her job still isn't enough--now she has to teach the new owner how to rope, brand, and work cattle before she receives clear title to her own ranch, the Circle J. The last thing she expects is rustlers. Can she save her ranch without losing her heart?

Hearts of Owyhee ♥ 
A fun short story: Willow, Wish For Me (Merlin’s Destiny #1)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Trip to Silver Plume

West of Denver, Colorado, up the steep, narrow Clear Creek Canyon, lie two towns which are forever linked in the history of Rocky Mountain silver mining. One is Georgetown, a beautiful gem known for Victorian homes and once dubbed “Silver Queen of the Rockies”. The town is also home to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Completed in 1884, the Loop connected Georgetown with its rough and ready neighbor, Silver Plume – only two miles away but 601 feet up.

Color print Georgetown Loop RR
1899 color print of Georgetown Loop, Public Domain, Library of Congress

Although it was intended mainly for the transport of silver ore from the mines of Silver Plume, the Georgetown Loop soon became one of Colorado’s premier tourist attractions. The rails covered twice the actual distance between the two towns, traversing a corkscrew path that included horseshoe curves, steep grades and four bridges across Clear Creek. The mammoth Devil’s Gate bridge -- 95 feet high and 300 feet across – offered tourists a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the canyon below.

Georgetown Loop RR
Devil's Gate bridge ca. 1885, Public Domain, Wikipedia

Originally part of the Colorado Central Railroad, the Georgetown Loop was taken over in 1893 by the Colorado and Southern Railway. The line operated for passengers and freight until 1938. Later dismantled, it was restored as a tourist attraction during the 1980s. Track and ties were donated by the Union Pacific RR and a new high bridge was built. The trains operated only during summer. Nowadays, however, they run from early spring through late fall, offering enclosed, heated cars and diesel locomotives during cold weather.

Tourist train pulled by an old time "Shay" (geared) locomotive, crossing the new high bridge in 2002. No smoke coming from the engine indicates the train was heading downward to Georgetown. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license 

When my husband and I visited Georgetown in the late 90s, it was mid-May and the trains had not yet resumed running for the summer, so we missed out on the spectacular ride up Clear Creek Canyon. Instead, we made the climb to Silver Plume by auto up the I-70 Mountain Corridor. The climb was a tad steep, but our destination was well worth the drive.

There are various legends about how Silver Plume got its name. One story says massive quantities of silver ore were found in feathery formations in the area. Another tale claims the town newspaper editor wrote a short poem: "Knights today are miners bold, Who delve in deep mines' gloom, To honor men who dig for gold, For ladies whom their arms enfold, We'll name the town Silver Plume!" Romantic, if rather nonsensical.

Water Street runs along Clear Creek, Photo taken by author

Set against Republican Mountain to the north and Mount McClellan to the south, the Plume, as it is affectionately called, was home to the silver miners – the hard working stiffs who risked their lives underground. Mine owners and managers lived down in Georgetown, in their lovely Victorian mansions. Both towns declined after passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893. Silver Plume lost most of its population. However, it continued to attract tourists who arrived via the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

Known these days as a “sleeping town” because so few people live there year around, the Plume isn't nearly as photogenic as Georgetown, but it offers authentic glimpses into the past. Perched on the side of a mountain, with steep paths leading up to houses built virtually into the rock, the setting gives one a taste of what it was like living and working in such a precarious location. I can't imagine climbing those paths in the dead of winter, contending with snow and ice, but they did it. Of course their homes (shacks?) probably weren't as pretty as these.

Silver Plume homes ascend the mountain, Photo released into Public Domain by its author Ken Gallager, Wikimedia Commons

Walking along Main Street, unpaved and dusty, we saw what’s left of Silver Plume's downtown -- empty storefronts dating back to boomtown days. I could almost see tired miners gathering in the narrow, false-fronted saloons (there were nine) to cleanse the rock dust from their throats and ease their aches and pains.

Original structures, ca. 1870-80s, Photo taken by author

While researching for this article, I came across a site with a number of photos showing how some of those time-worn buildings have been restored.  Others look just as forelorn as the day we snapped our pictures. One structure that fascinated us was the small stone jailhouse. I wonder how many prisoners were held in there.

Stone jail, built in 1875, roof obviously not original, Photo taken by author


Friday, September 7, 2012

Oregon Trail Food

Oregon Trail Food

by: Peggy L. Henderson

My current WIP is a time travel romance set in the late 1840’s along the Oregon Trail. This book takes me far, far away from my Yellowstone series, but I’m having a fun (if sometimes tedious) time learning what life was like along the Oregon Trail. One thing that fascinated me was all the food the emigrants packed along. The only thing I can relate to is when my family packs for a camping trip. Our car is usually stuffed to bursting. I tend to overpack, living by the motto “better to have it and not need it, that not having it and needing it.” (It drives my husband crazy)  Most emigrants were no different about packing when they first started their journey. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about needing to leave things along the side of the road after realizing some things are more important for survival than others.

For this article, I want to just quickly list the types of foods the emigrants packed with them. There were not very many places along the route for them to buy supplies, so they had to plan to bring most of their staples along with them right from their starting-off points.
This is a list of typical food items as described in a traveller’s guide written for the people headed for Oregon or California:
(This list is the amount suggested to bring for each adult traveller)

two hundred pounds of flour
 thirty pounds of pilot bread
 seventy-five pounds of bacon
ten pound of rice
five pounds of coffee
two pounds of tea
twenty-five pounds of sugar
half a bushel of dried beans
one bushel of dried fruit
 two pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
ten pounds of salt
 half a bushel of corn meal
half a bushel of corn, parched and ground
 a small keg of vinegar

Some emigrants brought along whiskey or brandy, and medicines. Cooking utensils included a cast iron skillet or spider, Dutch oven, reflector oven, coffee pot or tea kettle, and tin plates, cups, and knives, forks, spoons, matches, and crocks, canteens, buckets or water bags for liquids. For most families, 1,600-1,800 pounds of their supplies was food. A wagon should not weigh more than 2000 pounds, so this left very little room for other items.
It was also recommended that each family bring along two milk cows. Next to bread, bacon was the food most often on the menu, usually twice a day. Emigrants also supplemented their diet with buffalo meat or other game that they were able to kill along the way.

(Sorry for the lack of photos. I’d rather not pull pictures off the internet anymore)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stage Makeup by Paty Jager

Now you're saying to yourself what's a western author doing talking about stage makeup?

The heroine in the fourth Halsey brother book, Doctor in Petticoats, has a disfiguring scar on her face from an accident when she was a child. Her family is prominent in society, and she refused to be hidden away. In fact, due to her accident, she became determined to be a doctor.

To find out how she could cover the scar when out in the world and not sheltered at home, I began researching stage makeup. In the late 1800's few people other than stage performers or prostitutes wore makeup in the U.S.

These are some facts I discovered.
Stage Makeup items available before 1850:
White face powder
India ink for drawing lines
Rouge (very bright red or pink)
Misc. artist’s pigment base powders, (like Bole Armenia aka “burnt umber” for a reddish brown tone)
Burnt cork (for dark brown/black)
Lamp-black (for mascara)
Burnt paper (for gray shadows)
Spirit gum
Wool crepe hair (for both facial hair and false noses)

A bit of history on makeup:
1850’s Germany – Mysterious invention of greasepaint (powdered pigments mixed with lard) by either German actor Carl Baudius, or Carl Herbert.
1864 England – a short book, The Guide to the Stage, Containing Clear and Ample Instructions for Obtaining Theatrical Engagements, by Leman Thomas Rede includes 2 and ½ pages of vague advice on applying powdered pigment makeup.
1870’s USA-Anglo-French actor, Charles Fechter, supposedly spreads the use of greasepaint to the US while on tour.
1873 Germany– Ludwig Leichner commercially produces non toxic ready-made greasepaint sticks. Leichner’s company goes on to be the main European theatrical makeup producer for over a century.
1877 England -The Art of “Making-Up” by Haresfoot and Rouge*, published by Samuel French, the first booklet in English on theatre makeup is printed, describing makeup application with powdered pigments. Suggested pigments in this booklet are 3 kinds of white, Dutch pink rouge, carmine red, and ruddy rouge, Mongolian brown, powdered blue, and chrome (yellow), and antimony (a metallic gray-black) used for shadows, which was toxic.

The 1890s saw incredible innovations in makeup, most of which are still in use today, including:
•Nose wax (aka “mortician’s wax” an item co-opted from the Victorian funeral industry)
•Black tooth wax (aka “cobbler’s wax” an item taken from the shoe repair industry)
•Emil Noir (black tooth enamel)
•Cold cream and cocoa butter
•Mascaro in multiple colors (a dark, soft makeup stick in a lipstick like holder that was used as both mascara and eyebrow pencil)
•Blue eyeliners
•Ladies liquid colors for arms and necks
•Paper Sticks for application of color (Tortillions - artist’s blending tools)
•Wig joining paste

For my heroine I use the 1850's version of lard and pigment powder. First because lard was easily accessible and the powder could be mixed to match her skin tone. Since the scar is lumpy, she can mold the the lard mixture around it and smooth it out to blend in.

This is why I enjoy writing historical books. The research. I dig deeper into areas that I would normally overlook to make my characters and story realistic. 

Blurb for Doctor in Petticoats:

Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love after a devastating accident and settled for a life healing others. She’s content with her situation until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations. Meeting the intriguing Dr. Tarkiel who shows him no pity, Clay begins to realize he is still a whole man and he can make his own happiness. 

Can their love overcome their internal fears and the obstacles life throws at them or will a mysterious man keep them apart forever

Monday, September 3, 2012

Let's Talk Labor Day

I thought it might be appropriate since this post falls on Labor Day to discuss the roots of this national holiday. I confess, I always took it for granted in that it was just a day that I sometimes got off from work, so I did a little digging.

The first Labor Day celebration occurred on September 5, 1882 in New York City. There's some debate as to who offered the suggestion to celebrate the working man but regardless, it was born from a desire by the Labor Union to commend those who toiled in industrial areas. By 1885, the day was celebrated in many urban, industrial cities. It was adopted into federal law in 1894. Back then, the day was celebrated by a parade followed by a festival. The purpose of this holiday was to bring attention and reform to child labor, long work days without compensation, safety issues, and to keep peace between labor and state/federal authorities while negotiating these reforms.

Labor Day means different things to different folks but most will agree that it and Memorial Day help mark the seasons. For example, it's customary for the cowboy to wear a straw hat from Memorial Day until Labor Day because of the summer temperatures. On Labor Day, he exchanges that straw headgear for a felt hat in preparation for a cooler clime.

In doing a search online, I discovered that a lot of ranches celebrate Labor Day as a means of marking the end of summer. Of course that means gathering for rodeo type activities, bbq and a dance. If you've never been to a rodeo, you're missing out on a rare treat. It's an American tradition that goes back as far as the 1700s when the Spanish vaqueros had a great influence on the American cowboy.

So naturally, this leads me to a discussion on bbq. There are a lot of great ideas on how one goes about making a great brisket or ribs but I think I'll share my recipe for bbq sause that got handed down to me from my elderly neighbors.

BBQ Sause

1 cup ketsup
1/2 cup to 1 cup water (depending on how thick you want it)
1/4 cup margarine
2 - 3 garlic cloves (Pressed)
1 TBLS molasses
1 TBLS worcheshire sause
1 TBLS paparika
1 TBLS fresh squeezed lemon

Bring to soft boil over medium heat and stir until butter is melted.

Hope you enjoy,
Ciara Gold