Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hoopla about Immigrants by Ginger Simpson #immigrants

The New World existed with a total 'native' population.  Other than the Indians, the rest of us are either immigrants or the descendants of the Europeans, Africans, Asians, and others who came to the Americas after Columbus landed at San Salvador in 1492.  Even those waiting on shore to greet the crew were of foreign lineage.  Ever wonder where those red skinned folks we use in our books came from?
The First Immigrants:

A land bridge between Siberia and what is now Alaska provided passage during the last Ice Age (about 12,000 years ago) for the first immigrants into the New World.  They consisted of hungry men and women, bringing their families on a hunt for game they needed to survive.

As families multiplied, or as the Bible states, "one begat another", the descendants spread out over the two continents...from Alaska to the tip of South America.  They encountered many animals and sites they'd never seen before, but not once did they run across another human being who preceded them.

Imagine surviving in sub-zero temperatures on the frozen tundra but then ending up along rugged coastlines, fertile river valleys, grassy plains or arid deserts.  The Indians and Eskimos were thought to be the last group to cross the land bridge and had to invent new weapons for survival, and develop new techniques for hunting, farming, and gathering natural medicines provided by the earth.  Just stop a minute and think of all the things you'd need to survive in a place unfamiliar to you and yours.  Could you tote water from a what?  Could you make clothes and tools...from?

We tend to think of the tribes as one people, but for example the Tlingits are as different from the Sioux as Greeks are from the Danes (provided from research book to be named).  As the immigrants spread over the North American continent, more than 200 languages and dialects developed.  Imagine a Spaniard trying to converse with someone from Russia.

Different cultures, social and political structures...equally diverse.  Sound familiar?????  We all come from descendants of other races and cultures.  Be kind to the person standing next to you...they could be a distant relative.

Note from Ginger:  This too, was researched and paraphrased from America's Fascinating Indian Heritage by Readers Digest.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Historic Mining Town by Paty Jager

Mining town of Bourne, OR
I dug up this information to help me better understand the workings of a mining town for my current work in progress.

A booming mining town isn’t a quiet place.  The thud of the stamp mills could be heard for miles long before you rode into town. Mules wore bells, burros brayed, dogs barked. Planning mills worked to keep up with the demand for boards.

Dust in the streets when it’s dry, mud when it’s wet. Animal dung from horses, mules and oxen. Human refuse tossed in the streets.  And the fresh smell of pine from the new buildings constructed.

The thud of the stamp mill was the heartbeat of the town. As long as they heard the thud, thud, thud the mill was running and all was well. The mill only stopped in emergencies.

With the whisper of gold in an area, people and freight arrived daily.  Tents and crude cabins sprang up. There’s no running water. Water was drawn at a town well or pump. Each household had an outhouse
Mine in the side of the mountain
behind it.

Prospectors take up claims up and down the river if it’s placer mining or in the mountains if it’s hard rock mining.

First businesses sell needed items – a mercantile and a saloon. The mercantile provides the every day necessities and the saloon provides a place to visit, have a drink, and see a woman.  Most mining towns have few women and the respectable ones are treated like royalty. 

When wives arrived they would organize gatherings. A weekly dance with the women bringing baked food. There were so many men in a mining town all females as long as they were big enough to dance, danced every song.  On Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, and Labor Day the whole mine would shut down, even the mills.  Everyone celebrated with food, games, horse races and boxing matches. They had drilling contests with one and two man teams. The winner was the person or team who could hand-drill the deepest hole in a granite block in a named length of time. Betting took place during the drilling. Men practiced for days ahead of a holiday and used their own special drill steels. Music was an essential at the gatherings. If you were a musician you were popular. 

Company boarding houses, housed the mine workers. It was usually two story with the office, dining hall, and kitchen on the bottom floor and the sleeping quarters upstairs. Built-in wooden bunks were shared by two people. Each person worked a different shift.  The miners weren’t clean either. After a shift they’d set wet boots around the wood stove and they didn’t wash often. The smell must have been enough to make nose hairs curl. Tobacco juice mixed with mud on the floors. Pack rats and flies were also part of a company boarding house.

The most important person in a mining camp was the cook. How well the men ate determined if they stayed on.  This was a typical day’s meals if the company was a good one:

Oatmeal or some other hot grain cereal
Two slabs of bacon or ham
Huge pans of fried potatoes
Large pans of biscuits, refilled again and again
Condensed milk in cans on the tbles, some diluted in pitchers
Stewed fruit(stewed dried fruit when fresh was unavailable)
Coffee cake or doughnuts
Dozens and dozens of eggs, fried and boiled
Huge pots of coffee
Sugar and butter on each table
Lunch (or dinner as it was called back then) was the biggest meal of the day. The preparation started as soon as the men finished breakfast and that was cleaned up.
Meat and gravy
Hot homemade rolls
Twenty pies (more than a quarter pie per person)
Butter and preserves
Supper was nearly the same as lunch but without soups and as big a meal as dinner.
Meat and gravy
Pan after pan of cornbread
Cakes, iced and decorated on special occasions
Butter and preserves

Source: The Mining Camps Speak by Beth and Bill Sagstetter
Photos: Paty Jager

Friday, September 18, 2015

Common Herbs and Vegetables Do More Than You Think...

Herbs, Plants and Vegetables have been used to aid the sick and injured throughout history. While
Nicholas Culpepper
researching for my novella, FERN I came across the medicinal use of certain herbs we eat everyday. I also stumbled upon Nickolas Culpepper, an English physician, botanist, herbalist, and astrologer who lived during the 1600’s. He wrote Culpepper’s Complete Herbal remedies book (which I reference in my novella) in 1653, that contains herbal and pharmaceutical information.

Below are a few of the herbs and vegetables I used within my book:

Sage: Has been used as far back as the ninth century for medicinal purposes. In the sixteenth century sage tea was brewed to help with the common cold and build up immunities to sickness. Sage was also used to ward off infection and stop bleeding. The American Indians believed that by mixing hear grease with the plants leaves to make a salve and placed upon open wounds, or rubbed into sore muscles it would cure it. The leaf was also used to clean teeth.

Rosemary: Used not only for its culinary effects, but also to aid in helping those with stomach ailments, digestive disorders and headaches. The scented camphor oil within the leaves was used to help the circulatory and nervous systems.

Thyme: This along with sage, rosemary and oregano are wonderful for the immune system. Culpepper says thyme is a “Noble strengthener of the lungs” The herb loosens thick mucous and congestion. It is also used topically for infections, joint pain, sprains, and strains.

Garlic: Is known for it’s strong odor and flavoring your food, but did you know that Garlic was also used to help heal infection? Roman soldiers carried garlic with them to ward off infection and disease. During the Civil War and World War I medics used garlic so extensively on the battlefields to treat and help prevent gangrene and infection, that there became a shortage of them.
Fresh cloves were eaten, boiled, or placed directly on an infection to draw out the puss.

Homemade remedies:

Wet coughs- tincture of osha, thyme, elecampane, wild cherry bark

Dry coughs – syrup of garlic, thyme; tincture of thyme, elecampane, Solomon seal, lobelia

Gastrointestinal distress - general- tea of thyme, peppermint, holy basil

Cold and flu tea for wet runny conditions- sage, ginger, osha

Hot flash formula- tincture of sage, motherwort, kava

Abscess salve (for drawing out pussy infection)- sage and St. Johns wort infused oil, essential oil of clove and lavender, tinctures of yerba mansa or pine, blood root, Echinacea.

   Can one woman heal the heart of a lawman?

A gardener who uses plants to heal, Fern Montgomery is an outcast who refuses to be pushed out of town. When her friend is murdered and all fingers point to Fern as the only suspect, she must find a way to prove her innocence while fighting off unwanted feelings for the sheriff.

Sheriff Gabe Bennett has his mind set on arresting Sarah Fuller’s killer. But his key suspect isn’t what he expected. He soon realizes there is more to the quiet gardener than he’d first anticipated. As passion blooms, Gabe is forced to face his feelings—and the woman who has stolen his heart.

            Released Tomorrow, September 19th!

Available at:  Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, GooglePlay



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cover Reveal and Blurb for Arizona Sky - Coiming Soon from BWL #newrelease

To be released any day now...Arizona Sky. Make sure and check Books We Love for availability, and order your preferred format and pay with your credit card or Paypal.  Woo Hoo!!

No matter how hard he tried to prevent them, images of her naked body played in his mind.  Clearly, she had more of an effect on him than he’d planned.  When had he started thinking of her less as a girl and more as a woman?  He hadn’t really seen it coming. 

  Now, outlined in the moonlight, her full lips, slender neck, and soft curves begged for attention.  He wasn’t as experienced as most men but had learned in the bed of a local saloon whore who knew her trade well.  Memories stirred his desire.

Clinging to his gentlemanly manners, he escorted Odessa to the lobby door and doffed his hat.  “I promised you some privacy, so I’m gonna go see to the horses.  I’ll be back to the room later.”

“But wait….” Her voice summoned him back. “Don’t you want to take a bath, too?”

He widened his eyes, afraid to ask the question that leapt into his mind. Was she proposing he join her?

All you have to do if you like what you read is go to my BWL page, click on the cover of the book you like, and you'll be taken to the page at Payloadz where you can download for a really good price.  It's that easy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The History of Corsets by Susan Horsnell

I often wonder how women of the past coped on days where the temperature hits 100 degrees or more.

All those layers and layers of clothing. And, to make things even worse, they were strapped into unyielding corsets which prevented anything other than shallow breathing. I can't begin to imagine how the bones must have rubbed their skin raw. Thank heavens they are a garment of the past, although some women do choose to wear them as a fashion accessory. All I can say is: Why?

Thinking about this got me wondering about the garment my mother called 'stays'.

The following is a brief history of Corsets.

The corset has been an important article of clothing for several centuries, evolving as fashion trends have changed. Women, as well as some men, have used it to change the appearance of their bodies.

16th - 17th CENTURY
The corset first became popular in sixteenth-century Europe, some were actually steel and iron!, 
16th Century Iron Corset
reaching the zenith of its popularity in the Victorian era. The earliest image of a possible corset was made ca. 2000 BC. The image is of a Cretan woman, and the article of clothing depicted might be perceived as a corset; however, it is worn as an outer-garment. While the corset has typically been worn as an undergarment, it has occasionally been used as an outer-garment; corsets as outer-garments can be seen in the national dress of many European countries.

The term "corset" is attested from 1300, coming from the French "corset" which meant "a kind of laced bodice." The term "stays" was frequently used in English from c. 1600 until the early twentieth century.

18th - 19th CENTURY

The most common type of corset in the 1700s was an inverted conical shape, often worn to create a
1891 Wedding Corset
contrast between a rigid quasi-cylindrical torso above the waist and heavy full skirts below.

The primary purpose of 18th-century stays was to raise and shape the breasts, tighten the midriff, support the back, improve posture to help a woman stand straight, with the shoulders down and back, and only slightly narrow the waist, creating a 'V' shaped upper torso over which the outer garment would be worn; however, 'jumps' of quilted linen were also worn instead of stays for informal situations. Jumps were only partially boned, did little for one's posture, but did add some support. Both garments were considered undergarments, and would be seen only under very limited circumstances. Well-fitting eighteenth-century corsets were quite comfortable, did not restrict breathing, and allowed women to work, although they did restrict bending at the waist, forcing one to protect one's back by lifting with the legs.

The corset became less constricting with the advent of the high-waisted empire style (around 1796) which de-emphasized the natural waist. Some form of corset was still worn by most women of the time but these were often "short stays" (i.e. they did not extend very far below the breasts). By contrast, corsets intended to exert serious body-shaping force (as in the Victorian era) were "long" (extending down to and beyond the natural waist), laced in back, and stiffened with boning.


When the exaggerated shoulders disappeared, the waist itself had to be cinched tighter in order to
achieve the same effect. The focus of the fashionable silhouette of the mid- and late 19th century was an hourglass figure with a tiny waist. It is in the 1840s and 1850s that tight lacing first became popular. The corset differed from the earlier stays in numerous ways. The corset no longer ended at the hips, but flared out and ended several inches below the waist. The corset was exaggeratedly curvaceous rather than funnel-shaped. Spiral steel stays curved with the figure. While many corsets were still sewn by hand to the wearer's measurements, there was also a thriving market in cheaper mass-produced corsets.

I, for one, am very glad they are no longer worn as an every day garment.

Until next time, Stay Safe


Western Historical Romance Author

Monday, September 7, 2015

Animas Forks, Colorado

By Kristy McCaffrey

Animas Forks circa 1878.
Animas Forks is a mining ghost town is southwestern Colorado, nestled in the San Juan Mountains 12 miles northeast of Silverton. It sits at an elevation of 11,200 feet, at the junction of three forks of the Animas River.

Established in 1873, it became a booming community by 1876 with approximately 30 cabins, a hotel, a saloon, a general store, assay offices, a boarding house, and a post office. The town’s growth was fueled by the mining of galena and silver-bearing gray copper, along with speculation and processing mills.

While most residents moved to Silverton for the winter, a few hardy residents remained year-round, including several wives and their children. Many homes had connected outhouses, with a covered hallway leading from the home to the privy. In 1884, a 23-day blizzard overwhelmed the town with 25 feet of snow. The residents had to dig tunnels to get from building to building. The town also became isolated at times when avalanches in the passes would cut off supply routes. The narrow canyon produced avalanches that slid down one side and up the other.

An indoor outhouse.

By 1891, the town had begun to decline. Today, it’s located on a popular driving route called the Alpine Loop. Four-wheel drive is recommended, although you can get as far as Animas Forks with a two-wheel drive vehicle. Many of the buildings have been restored and are open to the public.

Animas Forks is one of the most visited ghost towns in Colorado.

Animas Forks today.

The Duncan home. William Duncan came from Pennsylvania
and built this Victorian-style house for his wife and
four children.

Don't miss my short story, A Westward Adventure, now available as a single sell for only 99 cents. The story is set in a fictional town in the San Juan Mountains.

Aspiring novelist Amelia Mercer travels from New York City to Colorado to aid an injured aunt. When the stage is robbed and her luggage stolen, bounty hunter Ned Waymire comes to her aid, acquainted with the harmless culprit and wanting to spare the boy. But Ned also seeks to impress the independent young woman. Amelia's wish to never marry, however, clashes with Ned's desire to keep her reputation intact. When a final bounty from Ned's past threatens their future, she knows that A Westward Adventure isn’t just the title of her novel but the new course of her life.

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Orphan Train

By: Peggy L Henderson

My recent book release, In His Arms (Book 3 in the Blemished Brides Series) deals with a young woman who is not only facing a physical handicap, but she was also a rider of the orphan train.  

There is so much history to be found with the Orphan Train movement, which gave me the creative freedom to come up with my own circumstances for my characters. 
The number of orphans or children of poor and destitute families continued to climb from early colonial days well into the nineteenth century. Private charities were established to care for these children, and the New York Orphan Asylum Society was one of the first private children’s charity, formed in 1806. It required that children be placed as soon as they received basic education. 
By 1854, the first annual report by the Children’s Aid Society reported that there were at least 10,000 vagrant children in New York. Publicly funded programs failed to adequately deal with these orphans, which gave rise to over 100 private charities between 1850 and 1860. Many of these charities placed these children into indentured servitude for boys by the age of 12 and girls by the age of 14. Due to the lack of jobs in the eastern states, charities began sending the children to rural areas in the west where child labor was needed. This soon became known as the Orphan Train Movement, a phrase first used in 1854.
These children could be placed anywhere, with no geographical restrictions. The participating charities would ask the families who received the children to sign an agreement that the child would be accepted into the family, but there was generally very little enforcement or oversight. 
Committees were formed in towns where the orphan trains would stop, and advertisements would be placed in local newspapers announcing the children. Prospective families could specify what child they were looking for ahead of time.  
The children were usually placed into two groups - those who were selected for adoption and those who were not. Selected children went home with their families. The others got back on the train and rode to the next stop. Siblings were often separated from each other and, in many cases, never saw each other again.  
The orphan train movement ended in 1929, partly due to labor no longer being needed in the west, and railroad expansion in the US was finished and most railroads no longer subsidized the charities for moving the children.

Excerpt from In His Arms:

“You didn’t tell me what happened to your leg.”
Grace glanced down, his words taking her off guard. She shook her head slightly. 
“It’s an old injury,” she stammered. “A wagon wheel ran over my leg when I was younger. It was never set properly.”
The corners of Levi’s eyes twitched as they narrowed. He looked unsure, as if he wanted to say something, but couldn’t bring himself to say any more than was necessary. 
When he finally spoke, it was a low grumble. “I rode the orphan train, too.” 
Grace’s eyes widened, and she stared up at him. The cold air around her vanished. Their eyes connected and held, as if some invisible string suddenly wound itself around them, and neither could look away. She shared a connection with this man through the orphan train? 
“How’d you and your sister end up in Montana Territory?”
He asked his question before she could open her mouth to find out how he’d ended up in a remote cabin in the mountains. Grace swallowed back the constricting feeling in her throat. How much should she tell him? Not that it mattered. She and Rose were two of so many who had faced a similar plight. 
“I only have vague memories of my life on the streets of New York,” she began. “My family was too poor to properly care for me and Rose. To bring home food, I was sent to beg in the streets.” She sniffed, and wiped the back of her hand under her cold nose, and laughed scornfully. “When a vegetable vendor accidentally ran over my leg with his cart, my father had thought it a lucky turn of events. He said that folks would take pity on me, and give me more money.”
“He never took you to get your leg set by a doctor?” A spark of anger blazed in Levi’s eyes. 
Grace laughed again. “He would rather spend any money we received on liquor than getting me seen by a doctor.” She sucked in a deep breath, then exhaled slowly, letting the mist swirl around her face. 
“My mother died in childbirth, along with my baby brother when I was about ten. Soon after, Pa left one morning and never came back. I took care of Rose on my own, until an Alms House picked us up. Years later, we were put on a train and sent out west.” She shrugged to hide her pain, and gazed off into the distance as old memories resurfaced. 
How would her life have turned out if she’d stayed in New York? Her hope for a future there had been just as bleak as it had been on the journey west. No one wanted a cripple. No one, until Harlan Randall took a look at her during one of the adoption stops. Why her sister kept getting passed over time and again remained a mystery, but then again, many of the orphans rode the train for years, with no hope of finding a family willing to take them in. 

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Using the Five Senses in Writing by Julie Lence

courtesy of

See. Smell. Hear. Taste. Touch. We all know the five senses, experience them in our everyday lives. But do you have them layered throughout your story? If so, do you have too many? Not enough? And did you know that one sense can trigger another?

Imagine walking into the grocery store and the first thing you notice is the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies lingering in the air. What happens next? Your mouth begins to water in anticipation of warm, gooey chocolate melting on your tongue. Your fingers can feel the texture of the cookie, the stickiness of the chocolate chips.

What about when you look at a painting? I have one depicting three American Indians riding their ponies through the snow-packed woods. When I look at them, I can hear the quiet plodding of their horses hooves, feel the dampness of a bleak day and taste the cold on my lips.

When writing, the five senses are all necessary to the story. Readers want to relate to characters. Through description, they want to see what the characters see, hear what the characters hear. More importantly, they want to be smack-dab in the middle of the action. They want their hearts to melt at a tender moment and their stomach to clench when danger rears. Most importantly, they want the feel-good emotion of a happy ending to linger long after they’ve read the last words.

courtesy of
Sight is perhaps the easiest to put into words; bright blue eyes, hair the color of straw, over-sized furniture crowded into a dark room. Smell is also easy; chicken roasting in the oven, digging holes in fresh dirt, riding through a cow pasture. Each of these allows your reader to see what your character sees and get a whiff of his/her surroundings. And when you add sounds
the shrill whistle of a train, the whiny of a horse, the murmur of voices inside a dimly lit saloonthe reader is even more immersed in the scene.
courtesy of

Taste and touch are even better ways for a reader to relate to characters. I wrote a scene where the hero uncovers a plate of ham and grimaces. With those few words, it's clear he can't stomach the taste of ham. How about something he does like? His mouth watered at the aroma of apple pie wafting through the eatery. And what about things he touches? Soft hair, the coarse fibers of a rope, the prickly husk of a pineapple; the right adjective is sure to conjure a response in the reader's mind, maybe even in her fingertips.

There is another aspect to touchwhat a character feels inwardly. Whether it’s matters of the heart or a shock to the system, it’s always best to show what the character feels rather than to tell it. Putting a word or a group of words in italics emphasizes emotion and internal thought, to include disbelief, sarcasm, surprise and fear. Using body language allows the reader to experience firsthand what the character is experiencinga flutter in her heart, coldness pricking her spine, knees wobblingand allows for a better connection to the character and the story.
courtesy of

As you hone your skills, you'll find you can use one or two sentences to invoke a variety of senses. Ex: Jack walked into the crowded restaurant. His stomach grumbled at the delicious aroma of pumpkin pie wafting from the kitchen… and his heart skidded to a stop when his gaze settled on a familiar face seated at the back table. Or, Beneath a hot sun, Jack crested the hill and reined in his mustang, dragged a gloved hand across his brow and stared long and hard at the neat farm house below. A woman stepped onto the porch and his pulse began to pound. Tall, with long, ebony hair curling around her waist, the last time their paths had crossed, she’d run him off her land from behind the barrel of a shotgun.

Be creative when layering the senses, but don't use the same descriptions throughout the story. And don't over-burden the reader with description. Good narrative and a few well-placed words and she’ll feel as though she’s right in the middle of the action.