Saturday, December 16, 2017

Love's Double Blessing by Linda Hubalek

Love's Double Blessing by Linda K. Hubalek
CAN THEY HANDLE BECOMING INSTANT PARENTS TO TWO ORPHANED CHILDREN?


In Love's Blessing: A Clear Creek Legacy, widow Jenna McDowell, and medically discharged soldier Riel (Gabriel) Shepard meet at his grandfather's Cooper Ranch near Sweet Grove, Texas. They both came to the ranch to heal from their individual heartbreaks. Time and help from their family and pastor finds them healing, falling in love, and ready to marry each other.

In Love's Double Blessing, the sequel to Love's Blessing, as Jenna and Riel plan their December wedding and remodel an old ranch house, their lives are instantly changed by a call from the Dallas police. Jenna's friends die in an auto accident and she's named the guardian of their children, six-year-old Amie, and four-year-old RJ.

Because of Riel's PTSD, caused by a military accident in Afghanistan which involved a child's death, Jenna doesn't believe Riel can handle an instant family. She calls off the wedding, so Riel doesn't have to raise the children.

But Riel bonds with the children and wants to be their new father. Can Riel convince Jenna to marry him? Doesn't this situation count as a "for better or worse" their pastor had been counseling them about?


(Riel's ancestors, Reuben Shepard, was featured in Darcie Desires a Drover in the Brides with Grit series, and Gabriel Shepard, was featured in Gabe's Pledge in the Grooms with Honor series.)

WHAT HAPPENED TO ORPHANED CHILDREN IN THE 1800S?

Even though Love's Double Blessing was a contemporary story, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to orphaned children in rural America in the 1800s. 

I assume children were taken in by family members, neighbors, or sent to an orphanage in a city if no one stepped forward to help. In some cases, older children struggled to make a living and keep the young children within their family.

Except for the kindness of neighbors and the community, orphaned children were on their own. Even though our modern-day system has some flaws, I'm sure glad children have people and resources to help them.

If you're blessed with the Christmas spirit this year, I hope you can share it with a child less fortunate. Then it would be a "double" blessing, for you, and for them.

Happy Holidays from the Kansas prairie!

Linda Hubalek



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review for The Gift of the Inn—A WWII Christmas Story—ebook give-a-way


Golden Keys Parsons was my critique partner, a dear friend, and teacher. She was taken from her family and friends in February 2017 in a car accident on I-35 in Waco, Texas. The Gift of the Inn was her last book, and I'd like to share it with the readers of Sweethearts of the West.


 The Gift of the Inn

Despite her best efforts to go through the motions and the good fortune to have a husband stationed stateside rather than in the midst of the brutal combat unfolding in Europe and the Pacific, Christmas Eve is a less than festive time for innkeeper Naomi Lockhart. It's been especially hard since she, her husband, Quenton, and their daughters restored her parents' Colorado boarding house and turned it into a charming inn. Residing in the setting of the tragedy and haunted by a heartbreaking and terrible loss, Naomi can't help but relive the Christmas Eve so many years ago when her infant child disappeared without a trace. 

Gracie brushed aside comments about how little she resembled her parents for most of her life without really understanding why they made her feel so odd. A slip of the tongue by her grandmother brings the discovery that the people who raised her are not her birth parents and acts as a catalyst for the start of a search for her real identity. After a whirlwind romance with a young, Europe-bound GI and subsequent elopement in defiance of her affluent, traditional parents, Gracie flees Texas for Colorado, following one of the few clues that she has about her real identity. She finds herself alone and working as a waitress in blizzard-prone Colorado Springs, Colorado at the end of her pregnancy. Snow bound, she struggles to bring her child into the world as she becomes ever more confident that the innkeeper from across the road, who acts as a midwife of necessity, may hold the answers she seeks. 

Meanwhile, her wounded husband desperately tries to reach her side. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, this final novel from beloved writer Golden Keyes Parsons is an engaging story of love, loss and reunion.

My thoughts on this book. I love this book! Yes,  Golden was my good friend, but The Gift of the Inn also endeared me to a different time in life and our history. Like myself, Golden lived in the post WWII years and grew up with many of the same experiences as those detailed in the book. Golden's characters and descriptions drew me in, and I was in my childhood again trying to walk against the deep and blowing snow while we were in Stephenville, Newfoundland. Being a Texan, I recognized the San Antonio streets and landmarks where Gracie and her friends gathered. 

Golden's research for this book is top notch. I learned so much about bombardiers, the conditions during flight, and how the French resistance helped American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. I highly recommend this book.

Drawing:  Friday evening I will pick a winner from the comments to receive an e-copy of The Gift of the Inn. To be eligible leave a comment with your email address or just your email address.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Linda LaRoque
www.lindalaroque.com



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas from the Heart

by Rain Trueax


To date, I have written four novellas set in the American West where at their heart is the Christmas season, its traditions and expectations. Two are contemporary, A Montana Christmas and Diana's Journey, and two are historical, Rose's Gift and Frederica's Heart. There are also two historical, short stories, Blue Mountain Christmas and Connie's Gift, which were written for anthologies, one of which no longer exists. 

The idea came to put the six into a collection just for the season and price it at 99¢. Sometime in January, it will be withdrawn (maybe to return next Christmas). This book is intended to be a Christmas special, available only at Amazon and Google Play and for one month. Each of these stories has a different aspect of the season. The stories catch people at different points in their lives from relatively young to getting old and from the late 1800s to today. [available at Amazon: Christmas from the Heart Anthology or Google Play: Christmas from the Heart Anthology] 

As a writer, putting Christmas into a book has pluses and minuses. It is a holiday filled with more than the usual number of expectations. In a book, those can distract from other plot elements when if it's not part of the plot and character development. Important religiously and culturally. There are many ways to celebrate it. 


Most have read how we got Christmas trees, how far back the tradition comes and decorating it from Germany, but not so many maybe on when they became part of American family traditions.
"Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans." from http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees
By the 1880s, some would have been influenced by books, which taught examples of Christmas, such as Little Women, one of the first books to have a family Christmas described-- published in 1868.

In 1885-86, when I wanted my second Arizona historical, Tucson Moon, to have Christmas as part of the book, some of the traditions weren't all that old. Dickens had written A Christmas Carol in 1843. You might be surprised that the song, Up on the Housetop, was written in 1864 (Gene Autry, however, sang the ultimate version of it in 1953). There were though other, less traditional ways of celebrating the birth of Christ.

Tucson Moon is not only a love story but a father's need to connect with his 9-year old daughter, Grace, whom he hasn't seen since she was born. I was looking for something that would expand the season's emotional meaning. It turned out it wasn't hard to find, since one of the secondary characters (later to have his own romance with Arizona Dawn) was Yaqui.

The Yaquis have a part of their reservation in the heart of Tucson, Pascua. With part of their tribe in Arizona and part still in Mexico, they are a people of mysticism, rich mythologies, Catholicism, and have blended these into their rituals for today. 

The Arizona State Museum has a section devoted to the major tribes of Arizona, and the Yaqui one is quite interesting. Because of my interest, I have non-fiction books on various aspects of their culture. Probably the best known books regarding Yaqui mysticism are the Carlos Castaneda books, which may or may not have a factual aspect. To add a Yaqui Christmas celebration to my historical romance enriched the story but also was fun for me in the research. 

As background, to understand the short snippet, Cord and Priscilla are the hero and heroine of the book. With Grace, Rafe, his deputy, and several friends, they have come to observe the celebration held the night before Christmas in Pascua. The description I include here is trying to stay true to what I have read and understood of this meaningful ritual.


***********

As the drums and rattles grew louder, a slender boy entered the room, shuffling his feet with a little dance step, the head of a deer on his head, his chest bare. On his ankles were rattles. He moved cautiously around the room, now and then jumping in the air but always watching the edges as though for a threat. At times he stopped as though eating. As he passed near them, Priscilla glanced at Grace to see her eyes widened with wonder.
From one side came two more dancers, wearing what appeared to be wolf or coyote masks. They had bells attached to their bodies. The deer sensed the danger, reacted, and the trio stealthily circled.
When the speaker began talking in Yaqui, Rafe moved back to whisper, loud enough for Grace to also hear, “This is the struggle of the forest, the wilderness, good and evil, light and dark, that of nature. For Easter, it would go on longer, but this is Christmas, where the season is about rebirth and joy; so the deer will not be a sacrifice and therefore escapes.”
And he did, as the coyotes continued to circle, mystified where the deer had gone before they too vanished. 
“In some ceremonies,” Rafe said, “The deer will be killed by hunters as a symbol of the sacrifice that is required for life to go on for the people.”
“It was beautiful,” Ellen said smiling up at him.
The people in the room moved toward the heavily laden table of food. Merriment was all around them as families reconnected and shared best wishes. “Did you like it?” Cord asked as he came to stand by Priscilla and Grace.
Grace was still wide-eyed. “I’d like to dance like that,” she said with a wistful expression.
 *********
For more on my books: https://raintrueax.blogspot.com/

Images above from Stencil other than the one of the Deer Dancer. It is a metal work of art in our Tucson backyard-- and turned painterly with a Dreamscope app.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TREES by E. Ayers



Victorian Christmas trees were amazing. Instead of using a live tree, the Victorians borrowed the German-style tree that was small, made of wood dowels, and covered in feathers. Could they possibly be responsible for the acceptance of our artificial trees today? Then the German beautiful blown glass ornaments decorated these trees. They are often copied today making it even more difficult to know the difference between the new stuff from the truly old stuff. These shiny, colorful ornaments became the rage throughout Europe and then here in the USA. The other ornaments that were popular were colorful birds made of stuffing and feathers. And of course the required candles to light the tree.
As a child, I thought those pictures of the trees with candles burning on them were scary. What I didn't know was it was very rare they were lit for more than a minute to two. It was a big ceremony to light the tree, sing a little Christmas song while admiring them and then quickly snuff all those candles. No one blew the candles out because of the chance of blowing a spark onto the tree and setting it on fire. So they used candlesnuffers. Plus there were probably several buckets of water waiting as a precaution.
But to those folks living in the West, many did not have such frivolities nor could they afford them. Those in towns were more apt to have a tree like we might imagine. Still by today's standards, the Christmas trees then could be fairly comparable to today's if we consider how many times we've copied from the past with today's versions of Victorian or the primitive country-style. The big difference is those electrical strings of lights. The old trees with their tinfoil ornaments and those lovely flat lead ones made to look like snowflakes or stars, and strings of candy or nuts, were quite lovely. Maybe those who didn't put much emphasis on fancy decorations and never saw a visitor over the holiday except for those who worked the ranch, had less gilding, but it was a safer tree without all that lead - they didn't know a thing about how dangerous lead was.
Anyone remember the lead tinsel as a child? I do. It was so much "nicer" than the cellophane stuff we buy today that floats around the house and seems to reappear in the strangest places and at various times until well after Easter. But Easter grass has the same magical quality of lingering. When I think about all those times I handled that lead tinsel as a small child - oh-h-h.
Ranching was a tough business. And in places, trees were not exactly easily obtained. So feather trees were a great alternative, but they didn't catch on until the latter part of the 1800's. Feathers were abundant from those wild birds the family ate and from the chickens raised for food. The trunk made from a wooden dowel, could be covered in crinkled paper to make it look more like a tree and not just a plain dowel. Or sometimes this artificial tree trunk was covered in more feathers. But I'm also certain that a sturdy branch would also work very well. Ornaments were made of wood, paper, nuts, candy, or any sort of beans or cranberries or other small fruit that had been dried. Yes, paper chains, but also little paper cornucopias were filled with sweetmeats. Think mini cookies or cupcakes for sweetmeats - it's the sweetbreads that were a meat dish. Isn't our language confusing?
If the family lived in the woods, pinecones were often gathered in the spring and saved until Christmas to decorate the house. To make the pinecones look special, they might be painted with a little leftover barn paint and tipped in white from another project. Oh more lead paint, how did they survive? I guess the same way I did. Don't eat it. Anything could become a decoration for the tree. Ribbons were frequently found on the Christmas trees because they could be obtained in just about every color and many times with gold or silver woven in them. They easily wrapped a branch and were tied into a bow. No lights on the tree until that fabulous illumination on Christmas Eve or Christmas.
The pinecones were then saved and used as fire-starter for the fireplace or kitchen stove. I wonder if that means the lead from the paint on them became airborne and was now in their food? I'm not a chemist so I have no clue but that's the way my mind works.
But if the family had recently put a tin roof on the house, outbuilding, or barn they might have pieces of tin leftover. Then they could take tin snips and cut stars and other favorite shapes from the tin. Tin didn't shine as pretty as the bright side of aluminum foil, but it could be polished to closely resemble it. No fancy store bought polish was needed, just plain ashes taken from the wood or coal stove, mixed with a few drops of water, lots of what my grandparents called elbow grease, and almost anything could shine. I'm certain many a man wanted to surprise the occupants of the house with lovely little tree ornaments so he would get up from his evening supper and disappear into the barn to cut and polish some stars.
And if he wasn't doing that, he was carving tiny wooden ornaments from whatever wood he might have. It was not unusual for the wooden ornaments to represent a family member. If someone had sailed over on a ship, they might carve that or it could be that someone was fascinated with them. Frequently the ornaments represented farm animals or a baby's bed possibly to celebrate an upcoming birth, baby's first year, or to remember the child that was lost.
If it had been an exceptional good year, the wife might have one or more of those beautiful glass ornaments from Germany to hang on the tree. Hand crocheted snowflakes, little embroidered items that had been stitched and framed or stuffed like a patchwork quilt became a decoration. Even the simple clothespin could be converted to a tree ornament.
How do we know some of this? Frugal grandparents that managed to save these old items or collected them at garage sales or estate sales. Many have been donated to their local museum, and in a few cases, they are still being used on a tree because someone is interested in these items from yesteryear that had been passed down through the generations. They could be elaborate or plain depended on the skill of whoever was making it. But you can be assured that it was made with love.
***
My second full-length western historical A Rancher Dream has a scene in it where Christmas is described and you'll see the difference where Tiago thinks about his wealthy family's Christmas tree compared to the Coleman's Christmas tree.

A week before Christmas, Joseph found a pine tree, cut it down, and brought it inside. The children decorated it with bits of colored paper. Tiago took a scrap piece of tin from the barn and polished it with ashes from the stove before cutting it into strips, punching a small hole in each one, and twirling them. Alisa loved the shiny objects, and hung them on the tree with bits of ribbon.
It was a poor man’s Christmas, but no one seemed to notice. His family had a beautiful tree that went almost to the ceiling and was covered in imported ornaments from Spain and Italy. On Christmas Eve, when family and friends gathered at the house, his mother and father would light the tiny candles that covered it. It was magical even as an adult.
In the Coleman house, the women made cookies and sang songs as they prepared for the holiday. Lydia’s boys asked for trains and when he heard that they weren’t getting very much, he threatened Ingrid to stay in the house while he retreated to the barn. With only a few woodworking tools, he managed to make trains for the boys cut from some pieces of scrap lumber. They were solid and sturdy. He used a heated rod and decorated the plain wood. They weren’t fancy trains, but the wheels turned and he was certain Lydia’s boys had enough imagination to enjoy the primitive toys.

If you'd like to read more about Tiago and Ingrid visit Amazon:


 This Christmas as you decorate your tree for the holidays, remember what once was. Just as we remember the origin of each ornament. It was the same for our previous generations. The difference today is that Popsicle stick decoration that your little one has made probably looks better then the twig one made a hundred and forty ago or maybe not. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS
&
HAPPY HOLIDAYS
from my house to yours

Friday, December 8, 2017

By Celia Yeary
Buffalo Soldiers  originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"Buffalo Soldiers" was the name given by the Plains Indians to the four regiments of African-Americans and more particularly to the two cavalry regiments, that served on the frontier in the post-Civil War army. White officers commanded the black enlisted men, with the exception of one African American commander, Henry O. Flipper.
RE-ENACTMENT AT FORT DAVIS, TEXAS
 From 1866 to the early 1890s the buffalo soldiers served at a variety of posts in Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains. They overcame prejudice from within the army and from the frontier communities they were stationed in, to compile an outstanding service record. Often  they performed routine garrison chores, patrolled the frontier, built roads, escorted mail parties, and handled a variety of difficult civil and military tasks.
They also distinguished themselves in action against the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Sioux, and Arapaho Indians.

 In 1997, a movie made for TV titled "Buffalo Soldiers, starred  Danny Glover. The fact based story told about the all-black US Cavalry Troop H which protected the Western territories in post Civil War times. The story focuses on the troops' attempts to capture an Apache warrior named Vittorio who slaughters the settlers in New Mexico. The film examines the racial tensions that existed between the black soldiers and some of the white soldiers and the truths about the Indian invaders.
BOOK
At the end of the Civil War, thousands of black soldiers who had participated faced unemployment and homelessness. The most intriguing black who looked at the military as a source of income and security happened to be a woman. Cathay Williams , the future female Buffalo Soldier, decided it was much better than infrequent civilian unemployment. She said, "I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends."

Cathay Williams  caught a break when recruiting efforts concentrated on filling quotas with little regard for the recruit's capability and soldiering skills. The army surgeon might have examined Cathay superficially, or not at all. William Cathay, the new recruit, was declared "fit for duty", thus giving assurance of her place in history as the only documented female Buffalo Soldier, and as the only African-American woman who served in the U.S. army prior to the 1948 law allowing women to serve.
CATHAY WILLIAMS
Cathay became ill and left her regiment. When she learned she was being hunted for desertion, she simply donned dresses and changed her name back to Cathay Williams.
~*~*~*~
The Buffalo Soldiers had the lowest desertion rate in the army, though their army posts were often in the worst part the west. Official reports show these soldiers were frequently subjected to the harshest of discipline, racist officers, poor food, equipment, and shelter.
Regiments of Buffalo Soldiers fought in the country's wars until 1951 when the last African American unit was desegregated.
~*~*~*~Thank  you for visiting Sweethearts of the West.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas    
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

GO WEST, YOUNG NURSE, GO WEST


GO WEST, YOUNG NURSE, GO WEST!
By Arletta Dawdy
Jane Arminda Delano heeded the call from New York’s Dr. Thomas Darlington, an old family friend and went to a “dusty mining camp in the Arizona Territory,” sometime in 1886. She may have been there a few months or upwards of three years for the record is lacking. Born in Montour Falls, New York in March of 1862, she was daughter of Union General George Delano and Mary Wright Delano and younger sister of Ada. The death of Jane’s father in the fever driven death march to the Battle of New Orleans inspired her to train at Bellevue Hospital to become a nurse.


 
Photo by TripAdvisor
In Bisbee, she had to deal with the ravages of yellow fever, typhoid and other conditions among her patients. Raw sewage, human and animal, ran downhill from the miners’ shacks and contaminated tent camps, canals and cabins below. Tombstone Creek carried the germ-infested liquids further afield. The sewer system wouldn’t be built until 1919. Jane would also have treated broken bones injured backs, crushed limbs and burns from mining accident victims. An advocate of public health nursing, she instructed wives, mothers and madams in caring for their own and neighbors in home visits. Issues of sanitation, nutrition, wound care and illness came naturally to her.
One fabled incident from her time in Bisbee has survived:
“All one long dark night she lay awake, listening to a mystifying. terrifying sound just outside her hut. It seemed to come, inch by inch, closer to her window. She watched the intense blackness lighten with the dawn, expecting to see the evil face of a marauder. When daybreak came, after an infinity of waiting for the realization of her terrors, she discovered that it was only her burro rubbing his sides against the corrugated tin walls of her shack.”*
The first Copper Queen Hospital was held in an abandoned mine cave in the hillside, probably the original Glory Hole. This would have been the “hospital” in which Miss Delano served. Later, perhaps around 1888 and under Dr. Darlington’s direction, the next hospital, usually referred to as the “first,” was made of cardboard and was called “the cracker box.” It is hard to imagine how such a structure stood the test of bad weather unless treated with a chemical concoction.
    She pushed for professional nursing training and recognition for women.  Until this time, most nurses were men and women were seen as less than charwomen or slops-pan attendants, despite skills developed in the habits of homemakers and battlefield caregivers over the centuries. Miss Delano went on to teach nursing as the RN degree evolved at New York’s Bellevue Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania
As pestilence and war raged in the southeast with the beginnings of the Spanish American War, Jane Delano ventured into the swamps of Florida; commandeering mosquito netting, she was among the first to drape it over the multitudes of deathly ill typhoid and yellow fever patients. It was a time and place when no one in their right mind would have gone; she’d been there before Bisbee, and knew what to expect. She insisted on sterile living environments for her cadre of nurses, including the mosquito nets to protect them. 
    Little is known of her private life. She took time from her teaching and nursing experience to care for her elderly mother in the early 1900’s. She spent much time gardening, reading to her mother and visiting with friends at their homes in New York and Charlottesville, Virginia. Other than men she worked with over the years, there’s no insight to be found as to romantic liaisons with men or women. She appears to have led an independent, single life.
After 1900, this champion of professional nursing was called to be the First Superintendent of Women Nurses in the Army Medical Corps (1905-1912) Her resignation was accepted by Major General (Doctor) Leonard Wood who described her thus:  
“…gained confidence (of officials) by her sober, solid judgment and by her willingness to consider opposing viewpoints…usually able to get her recommendations through.”**





Jane’s career with the American Red Cross was to once again lead the way in developing the women’s nursing unit of that organization. She gave her energies over to organizing, recruiting and training as well as the myriad administrative responsibilities necessitated by a brand new organization. Mary Clark, author of the missing biography of the exceptional Miss Delano, is quoted in the History of the American Red Cross; she saw her friend as:
“…of such uprightness of character, purity of life and good judgment, that they (her staff) could be relied on to do the discreet and right thing wherever placed.”**
Aside from charming and uniquely elegant wordage of the early 20th century, Miss Delano emerges as a very special person in any language.
 In January 1919, Nurse Delano sailed to France for an inspection tour of America Red Cross hospitals before they evacuated. Her intent was to evaluate the conditions the nurses worked under and the needs of locals for continuing public health services.; she planned to make programmatic recommendations. She was worn, tired out, and had a sore throat and ear troubles. She entered Base Hospital #69, in Savenay, France, was operated on several times for rmastoiditis but the doctors held little hope for her recovery.
    

She died on April 15. 1919.   Jane Arminda Delano’s last words were:
                        “My work, my work, I must get back to my work.”*
She was buried in France until brought back to a heroine’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery. An award in her name is given annually to a deserving nurse at the Cochise County Hospital, formerly known as the Copper Queen Hospital, in Bisbee, Arizona. A daughter of the world, Jane Arminda Delano found a brief yet lasting place as a Sweetheart of the West.

References::
 * Gladwin, Mary E., The Red Cross and Jane Arminda Delano, W.B.Saunders Company, 1931;Kessinger Legacy Reprints, date unknown
** Dock, RN, Lavinia L. et al, History of American Red Cross Nursing, The MacMillan Company, 1922; Kindle version available
*** Clark, Mary A., Memories of Jane A. Delano, Lakeside Publishing Company, 1934, Out of Print      

___________________________________________________________________________________
Arletta Dawdy writes from Sonoma County, CA of unusual women. Her historic tales are set in Cochise County, AZ She draws on family history, extensive research, and a strong imagination..The Huachuca Trilogy books are available on Amazon. She is currently at work on BISBEE'S GLORY.