Monday, July 26, 2021

Hot! Hot! Hot! ~ Ruthie Manier

 Record breaking heat is spreading across much of the USA and many of us are not prepared for these high temperatures. Where I live in the PNW a large percent of us don’t have air conditioning because it’s usually not needed. 

One of the genres I write in is western romance set in the nineteenth century and so I started wondering how people of that era kept cool. Of course I googled it. Found many options that were new to me. Some we still use today, others that surprised me. Here’s what I found:

* Construction of homes were built to beat the heat with higher ceilings and thicker walls on the side of the house which would receive more sun. 

* Big covered porches help keep the sun out of the house during the daylight and the long hot evenings they kept cool by sitting out on them probably drinking a cool drink like ice tea or lemonade. They would visit with their neighbors that lived close while the children played. Now days most of us have a patio or decks built on the back of the house. In the 21st century I believe we’ve become less social in some ways. Most social life is done through social media. Not face to face. When I was a child we lived in Union Gap, Washington which is a suburb of Yakima. Raised by my southern grand parents and my father we were always outside in the evening visiting with neighbors drinking cool drinks and eating watermelon or ice cream. Us kids would have watermelon seeds spitting contests. Lol!

* Window coverings made of wood so they could be closed tight to keep the sun out. I imagine they’d keep out the cold weather in the winter months as well.

* Water fountains in the middle of town’s. These were nothing like the beautiful fountains you see today. Oh no the ones from the past were more like bigger than usual troughs like they’d use for their horses. People used them for drinking water and for dunking their heads in to cool off. And that’s not all, they also let their horses and other animals drink it! Can you imagine the germs and diseases that were probably spread? 

* Iced over lakes is where they got their ice. People would cut large pieces of ice from the frozen lakes and then store it under ground or in ice houses. Then they would have ice for the summer.

* If you've got any kind of water access, lake, creek, river etc., swimming has always been one of my favorite ways to cool off! A sprinkler or baby pool in the back yard works as well.

Great news! I’m happy to announce the old version of Tombstone Ghost Cowboy series, MARISSA is with my editor and will soon be changed to Chasing Time series, Marissa. All newly edited and new scenes. Watch for it! The cover might change. Thanks for reading and I hope you join me again next month. Find me on Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or email me at

Feeling tense? Why not chew gum....


Who hasn’t chewed gum?

I grew up doing the Teaberry shuffle, watching the Double-mint twins for Wriggly, and buying Bazooka to read the comics. But, did you know that gum has a link to Texas Independence?

We know of Santa Ana and the assault at the Alamo. From there he marched his troops toward San Jacinto where he was defeated by Sam Houston in an 18 minute battle. While Santa Ana escaped, he was captured the next day and held as a prisoner of war for several weeks. During this time, it was noted that “the prisoner” chewed a resin.

The resin was the sap of a sapodilla tree from Central America which the Mayan’s had long produced as a chewable gum called Tsictle. It is the basis for the word – Chickle.

In the year 1869 many stores sold chewable wax. (remember those chewable red lip candies or wax bottles with drink inside as a child???) It just so happens that in this year, Santa Ana, who had been given his freedom and returned to Mexico, tried to be a dictator in Mexico and was exiled, and found himself in New York to raise money for yet another army. His goal was to retake his place in Mexico. Instead, he met up with a man by the name of Thomas Adams.

Adams was a druggist and Santa Ana planned to sell his chickle as a substitute for rubber which was extremely expensive at this time. Adams, thinking he make a fortune, bought a ton but found he could not make a good substitute. Thinking he was a failure, he gave some to his son, Horatio.

Horatio took what he was given and made 200 balls of chickle which he took to a druggist who sold them two for a penny. By noon the supply had sold out. By 1871, Adams Chewing Gum was a viable company which sold gum under the name of Chicklets, Blackjack, and more.

What happened to Santa Ana? He died penniless.

Horatio Adams made a fortune – and the force the holds countless bleachers together was born. Something to think about when you are standing in line to pay for that gallon of gas. 


Until next month, 

Happy July.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pacific Coast Lighthouse Facts by Zina Abbott


This topic is quite a departure from my usual western adventures on the Great Plains or Rocky Mountains. This month, I am finishing up my book that is part of the Keepers of the Light series—a romance involving a  lighthouse. However, if we think about it, as much as people traveled to the West on wagon trains and railroads, there were many thousands who came by water.

Just as decades before the creation of the United States of America those who lived along the eastern coast recognized the need for lighthouses to warn ships from dangerous stretches of shoreline, the same held true on the Pacific coast. I was raised in California. I spent many weekends of my youth at beaches in San Diego and Orange Counties. I’m aware that, between the stretches of sandy beaches, there are large sections of rough, rocky shore—rock formations that often extend out into the ocean.

An example is the coastline near Crescent City, California, close to where the hypothetical town of Windward Cove in my book is set. Although Crescent City has a nice bay, not far away is some pretty rugged seascape.

Here are some lighthouse facts for the Pacific Coast. I am featuring only the earliest lighthouses built. Since I’m a California girl who spent my earliest years in San Diego County, I will start there and work my way north:

1855 – Old Point Loma at San Diego Bay had a steady light and no foghorn. It was replaced by a newer lighthouse in 1891

1874 Point Fermin Light in San Pedro, California (close to Los Angeles) opened with two women keepers. The U.S. Lighthouse Board was one of the few federal government departments in the 1800s that was open to women.

1855 Point Pinos Light in Pacific Grove, California – The first keeper died and his wife with 4 children carried on. It is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States.

1869 Santa Cruz Light, California – It was one of the California coastal lights allocated funding by Congress in 1850, only 19 days after California statehood. However, because of disputes over ownership of the land, construction did not proceed until 1868. The lightkeeper’s daughter succeeded her father as keeper.

1855 Point Bonita, California – It is located at Point Bonita at the San Francisco Bay entrance in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito, California. It had a fog cannon that fired every thirty minutes. A string bell replaced the cannon. It was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast.

1854 Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California – It was the first lighthouse placed into operation on the Pacific coast. Built on an island in the San Francisco Bay, the island later became better known for the prison built there.

1856 Crescent City, California – Known as the Battery Point Light, this the most northerly of California’s lighthouses. It had a 45 foot stone house with a brick tower. It was located on a high tide island that was connected to mainland at low tide.

1866 Cape Arago Light, Oregon – This lighthouse was built in response to Coos Bay becoming a major shipping point on the Oregon coast. The island on which it was built was plagued by erosion issues. The lighthouse has been replaced twice.

Built in 1855 and lit in 1857 – Umpqua River Light – It was built next to the river.


1871  Yaquina Bay Light – This was built soon after the founding of the city of Newport, Oregon, on the north side of Yaquina Bay, which, at the time, was the busiest and most populated coastal port between Washington and California.

1856 Cape Disappointment Light - This was the first lighthouse built in the Pacific Northwest near the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington Territory.

1857 Cape Flattery Light – On Tatoosh Island, it is also known by this name. It is built within the Makah Indian Reservation near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

There are numerous lighthouses along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the center of which serves as the boundary between the State of Washington and Canada. Below are a few of the older ones:

1861 Admiralty Head Light – it overlooks the Admiralty Inlet

1865 Ediz Hook Light – Built on a three mile long sandbar in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles Air Station is now nearby. Private operators built fires near the tip of the spit starting in 1861.

1857 New Dungeness Light - this was the second lighthouse established in Washington Territory

1858 Smith Island Light

1858 Willapa Bay Light – This was originally known as the Shoalwater Bay Light.

My book, Lighthouse Escape, is Book 13 in the Keepers of the Light series. It currently on preorder. To read the book description and find the purchase link, please CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

THE LAWLESS WEST By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless


For generations, the struggle between good and evil has been the backbone of many a Western tale, film or novel.  This struggle was compounded by religious belief, as honor, integrity and morality faced off against anarchy and sins of the flesh.  It seems highly unlikely that the reality of the old West was as simple as ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, but more a case of human endeavor to better itself in a harsh and often hostile environment.  Through it all, the underlying belief that justice and law and order would eventually triumph, never wavered.   

The mid-West of the 1870’s-1880’s underwent the transition from lawlessness to law-abiding much quicker than some of the outlying regions. I’d like to think it was helped along by small town sheriffs like Weston in my September release, A BRIDE FOR WESTON.  I’d also like to know what my relatives were involved with in generations past to warrant the name ‘Lawless’. 

The Sheriff’s Mail Order Bride series launches in August. You can check out the entire series here.

You can pre-order A BRIDE FOR WESTON here. 

If you have previously read my Proxy Bride book, A BRIDE FOR SHANE, you’ll meet up with Shane and Lacey again, and find out what’s been happening in Ridgemont that the new Sheriff has his hands full.  But you needn’t read Shane first to enjoy Weston and all the books in the series. 

Till next month,


Kathleen Lawless blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her many alpha male heroes.   

Her hero, Steele, in HER UNDERCOVER COWBOY, is a modern-day cowboy, so when she was wooed by a man called Steel— while he’s not a cowboy, he is an alpha male and her forever hero.  Which is why all of her stories end Happily Ever After.

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Newsletter to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.



Monday, July 19, 2021

Quantril’s Raiders

 In my new release, Olga, one young woman finds herself hiding from a group of Bushwhackers.  I'll be talking about those scoundrels later but did you know that Quantrill's Raiders are who spawned the Bushwhackers. 

If you aren't familiar with this infamous man here is a little bit about him. 

William Quantrill, a confederate guerrilla fighter during the civil war. Quantrill, born 1837- died 1865, joined a group of bandits raiding through Kansas and Missouri to quell the efforts of the Union Army. As emotions ran high over the war raids, battles, and killings became common during this time. 

Quatrill and his men were not only known for their raids but for the brutal attacks on civilians. They would raid a farm or town sweeping up supplies, horses, and cattle, and often killing any who would resist. 

Quantrill.jpgAlthough, the Confederate government had granted Quantill a field commission, they later withdrew there support for the man and his raiders due to his  brutal tactics. William Quantrill seemed to believe that the end, indeed, justified the means. At first the raiders were a large band under the direction of Quantrill but as time went on the man lot control of the band and they broke up into smaller raiders, bands, and Bushwhackers.

Men like the James brothers got there start with the Quantill raiders but soon went there own way and continued robbing backs as a form of insurgency. 

William Quatrill was mortally wounded in a skirmish with Union troops in May of 1865 and died later of his wounds. 

Even after the man's death, the raids continued growing the outlaw bands that became so famous in years to come. 

One of my favorite poems is spun from an encounter in Ohio of a young woman who hears that the raiders are coming and hides the livestock, including her most beloved horse, and the namesake of the poem. Kentucky Belle. 

In Olga's story Bushwhackers play a special role in her finding her own true love and letting her heart shine, but it doesn't go the way you might think and this fashion conscious young woman shows her truest self.  

Olga Fortuna loves pretty clothes, sewing, and anything to do with fashion. When her father brings her and her sisters to Needful, Texas to find husbands, she soon discovers that she enjoys making clothing for others more than the idea of wedded bliss.

For years, Olga has managed to have the highest fashions on a very tight budget, but now her mind is turning to the needs of a man she barely knows. Working for him is fun and Olga finds the attention of the handsome cowboy fun. Besides, Mr. Harker will be moving on soon leaving her to live a life of her choosing.

Will Olga be able to keep up the new shop she and the preacher’s petite wife have started in the tiny Texas town, or will she give up everything for a man with a rowdy past and too much time on his hands?