Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WHAT DID YOU WANT?

Please leave a comment to be entered in my Bride Brigade Contest for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash, to be announced on August 28. For the $250 Back To School Giveaway, enter via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

When you were a teen, what did you plan for your life’s work? Is that even close to the profession you actually have? One of the things I wanted was to be a newspaper reporter—a goal I achieved much later. Like women of my fictional character Lorraine Stuart’s day, I was assigned “soft” or “fluff” reporting: weddings, theater, city council meetings (yawn), and human interest. I especially loved the human interest stories. Unlike Lorraine, I was content with my job. In fact, I loved it and the interesting people I met through reporting.

Lorraine Stuart, heroine of Bride Brigade book six, wanted to write. She worked as a librarian while writing and submitting work for publication. To increase the likelihood of having her stories published, she used the pseudonym L. S. Truharte.

In 1873 when this series is set, a woman might be published in fiction, such as Louisa Mae Alcott. She might also be published for recipes and household advice. In general, women were not considered for serious news reporting or for magazine stories. Using a pseudonym increased the possibility of a woman’s work being accepted for publication.

One of the outlets Lorraine found was Frank Leslie’s Monthly Magazine and his weekly newspaper. Although Lorraine Stuart is a fictional character, Frank Leslie is not. His publications were popular across the nation. In reality, Mr. Leslie accepted stories from women. However, writing using initials instead of a gender-revealing name increased the chance of reaching publication and reader acceptance.



In the 1880s, a woman achieved change for newspaper reporting. Nellie Bly was the pen name of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She was a ground-breaking investigative reporter—the kind of work Lorraine Stuart craved.



In my opinion, the most chilling of Nellie Bly’s reporting was an exposé in which she took an undercover assignment for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, The New York World. She agreed to feign insanity and be incarcerated to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum at The New York World's behest. Her report, later published in book form as TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame.

TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE also brought about changes in the care of the insane by the Department of Charities and Corrections and new regulations concerning the examination of patients to insure only the genuinely mentally ill went to the asylum. Nellie Bly was also known for an 1889 record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg from AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS.

Lorraine Stuart longed for recognition of her work, although she didn’t want to go to Nellie Bly’s lengths in investigative reporting. Like me, she wanted her stories to be read and appreciated. (As a writer, most of my characters include a bit of me.)

Grant Pettigrew, like newspapermen of his time, believed women could only report gardening, social events, and recipes. Actually, he’s a very good man but stubborn about changing his mind and representative of his time. He’s invested much of his savings and a great deal of sweat in his newspaper and can’t afford to pay for anyone to work for him—or so he thinks.

Here’s the summary of LORRAINE, Bride Brigade 6:

How to escape marriage to an odious man . . .
Leave the state!

Lorraine Stuart joins a group of women traveling to Tarnation, Texas, a town with numerous bachelors but no unmarried women. She longs to meet a man who will admire her and the writing ability that has her published in several publications, by a pseudonym, of course. Just her luck, out of all those in Tarnation, she falls for the most stubborn man she’s ever met. But the handsome newspaper owner is the only one who makes her heart flutter.

Grant Pettigrew has worked hard to establish the Tarnation Gazette. He is intrigued by Lorraine but he won’t let a woman write for his newspaper. Besides, he can’t afford to hire anyone yet. The redhead is gorgeous and ignites dreams of family, but he’s never met a more obstinate woman.

Will two immovable forces join to form a forever love?




Here’s an excerpt from the reception at which Lorraine and Grant first conversed:

[Lorraine is speaking] “Apparently I came at a good time. I hope to be settled in my own home long before the railroad arrives.”

[Grant answers] “I’m sure you will be if that’s your wish. With only seven women and sixteen men plus others in town, you’ll be wed in no time.”

She hoped so. “Only if I find the right man. Other people may marry for fondness or merely to have a companion, but I’m going to hold out for love.”

“Guess that’s what most of you young ladies want.” A wistful expression crossed his face. “I wouldn’t mind falling in love myself. With the odds against me, I’d probably fall for a woman who’s interested in someone else.”

She took his arm as they walked back to the house. “Aw, poor Mr. Pettigrew. You look so downtrodden that I almost feel sorry for you. Almost.”

He smiled down at her. “Have a care, Miss Stuart. You’ll hurt my sensitive feelings.”
“Hmm, why do I doubt you?”

When they entered the house, several men had left and others were bidding goodbye.

Mr. Pettigrew bowed to her. “I apologize for monopolizing you, but I enjoyed the time we spent together.”

A man she thought might be Zane Evans clapped Mr. Pettigrew on the shoulder. “We’ve almost outstayed our welcome, Grant.”

Lorraine watched as the two friends said goodbye to their hostess before leaving.

Prudence stopped beside her. “You certainly spent a lot of time with that one man. He must have been interesting.”

“Yes, but also annoying. He thinks women can’t write for publication without gushing adjectives.”
Prudence giggled. “What a thing to say to you of all people.”

Casting a look around, Lorraine pulled her aside. “Shhh. You’re the only one here besides Lydia who knows.”

“I don’t understand why you want to keep your success a secret. I’d be telling everyone if I’d published stories in Frank Leslie’s Magazine and Frank Leslie’s Weekly Newspaper plus the New York Times and other places. Heavens, I’m rooming with a celebrity.”

Lorraine tapped a finger against her chin. “I need a way to prove to that man I’m a good writer. Just wait until he reads something of mine and doesn’t know a woman wrote it.”

“I expect he has, don’t you? I’ll bet he subscribes to both of the Frank Leslie publications. Wouldn’t it be funny to find out he enjoyed a story before he learned you wrote it?”

Lorraine only smiled in answer, but she shared Prudence’s opinion. She’d bet Grant Pettigrew had read many stories by women and didn’t realize he had. Like her, many other women used initials or a man’s name as a pseudonym. She wondered if Mr. Pettigrew had read L. S. Trueharte’s work.


If you haven’t read this series, I hope you will. Writing the story of the seven women and their hostess has been a pleasure. On Friday, August 25, the last of the series, PRUDENCE, will be released! In the meantime, here’s the buy link for LORRAINE: http://a.co/2kNIctF


GIVEAWAYS

To be entered for the $50 Bride Brigade Contest, leave a comment for this post. Winner will be announced Monday, August 28.

To enter the Back To School $250 Giveaway, enter on the Rafflecopter below. This contest lasts through September 11.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

RACHEL, FREIGHT WAGONS, AND PRISON

Please leave a comment to be entered in my $50 giveaway and check the Rafflecopter to enter the Back To School $250 giveaway at the end of the post.

I’ve loved writing the story of each woman in the Bride Brigade. Many readers have contacted me to tell me how much they’ve loved them. On Friday, the last of the series, PRUDENCE, will be published. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll read the series of sweet romances (RACHEL includes one curse word).

The story of RACHEL, Bride Brigade 5, is one of my favorite and sent me researching two subjects. The first was women in prison, which was the most difficult of the two—and disturbing. I could discover no specific instances regarding Virginia, where Rachel was falsely imprisoned. Stories of deprivations and violations abound about treatment of women prisoners throughout history and today. In the nineteenth century West, juries and judges tended to give women lighter sentences that involved local jail time, but not prison, except in the most severe cases. For many years in Texas, women who were sentenced to prison were sent to the male prison at Huntsville until a female unit was finally constructed.

Huntsville, Texas, prison 1870s


The other area involved freight wagons. I had researched this for my novel HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and that subject has more information. My favorite tale on freighting involved Brit Johnson, a black freedman. When his wife and children—along with others—were kidnapped by Indians, Brit went after them. He recovered his family and all but one of the other captives. Unfortunately, Brit’s freight wagon was attacked by a large band of Kiowa. Each of those with Brit was killed. Brit—after firing 179 shells to defend himself, was the last to die. A sad end for a heroic man.


Mules pulling heavy freight were
hardier on hills than horses


That gives you insight into the danger of driving freight wagons. The cargo and the men protecting the goods were at risk for attack by renegades of all nationalities. In RACHEL, the freight company owner is Zane Evans, also the story’s hero. To protect his wagon, he cleverly hires four former gunslingers to ride as guards. Zane is a former Pinkerton agent, so he is no stranger to danger. In RACHEL, he finds more threat.

Imagine living in a remote area where every item you needed and couldn’t grow had to be brought in on freight wagons. The cost of paying freight would be passed on to you, the customer. No Costco or Sam’s or WalMart or Target. Not even a Walgreen’s or Dollar Store. ☺ I would be at a definite disadvantage. Was life in a new, isolated area worth the hazards? Fortunately for us, many people thought it was.

Here’s the summary of RACHEL:

A shameful past…

Rachel Ross’ secret haunts her. She joins other women leaving Virginia for Texas, object matrimony. Vowing never to trust again, she is rebuilding her life. She likes the dusty little town of Tarnation and is attracted to Zane Evans. She accepts a job as his bookkeeper. Her past has made her cautious and she vows never to let down her guard. The attraction is there, and she allows him to court her.

Zane Evans is a former Pinkerton agent who wants to forget all he saw in that profession and in the war and build a good life in Tarnation, Texas. He has carefully planned his future. He’d never believed in love at first sight until he meets Rachel. Now he’s determined to discover and remove the reason her beautiful brown eyes look haunted.

One event reveals her past in a spectacular way. Will Zane forgive her silence?

Here’s the URL for the book at Amazon: http://a.co/5JqLTuc      




Here’s an excerpt:
Unable to bear waiting any longer, Zane cupped Rachel’s delicate face in his hands. He expected shock or surprise but she merely gazed at him with her berry-colored lips parted. Did she realize what an invitation she offered?
“Rachel, promise me you won’t accept another man’s proposal while I’m gone. Please, give me a chance to court you.” Damn, he sounded pathetic.
Her gorgeous smile wiped away all his embarrassment. “I promise. Will you promise me you’ll be extra careful on your trip?”
“I will. Now that I’ve found you, I have a powerful reason to remain alive.” When her eyes widened, he added, “Rachel, we never take risks, and my guards are very good. And, I’m hardly defenseless.”
She grasped his forearms. “Hauling freight is taking a chance, but I realize someone has to bring in supplies. We’d be in trouble if we only had things the stage can carry.”
“Most of the businesses would shut down. Even the doctor occasionally has me bring in supplies and medicines.”
She smiled at him. “As I see things, I’m bookkeeper for the most important man in town.”
With her in his arms he felt like the most important man in the world. All resistance fled and he gathered her into his embrace and pressed his lips to hers, gently at first. When she leaned into him, he deepened his kiss. Her arms slid under his jacket and around his waist. Elation almost felled him.

GIVEAWAYS

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Friday, August 18, 2017

OPHELIA -- AND THE CPS!

Don't miss the double giveaways at the end of the post--but please read the post first!

OPHELIA is Bride Brigade book 4. I love Ophelia’s gentle nature and loving heart. Certainly her experiences might have caused another to hate and turn to violence. So often we hear on the news of terrible incidents of child abuse that resulted in the child’s death or near death. Seldom can we learn of the continual abuse which creates life-long emotional and physical problems and sometimes contributes to criminal behavior.

In my mind, there is nothing worse than child abuse. We are here to protect those weaker than us, not prey on them. According to an article in the New York Times, each day in the Unites States at least three children die from parental mistreatment. I was interested to learn about the first documented case of child abuse, Mary Ellen Wilson. Please stay with me even though this is a long blog. This is important information!

Mary Ellen was born in 1862 to Frances and Thomas Wilson. Her father was killed in battle at Cold Harbor. Her mother worked two shifts as a laundress at a New York hotel. As was a custom at the time, she boarded Mary Ellen for two dollars a week, which consumed her widow’s pension. After Frances missed payments and visitation several times, the woman turned Mary Ellen over to New York City Children’s Charities. Later when Mrs. Wilson came to visit Mary Ellen, she was told the child had died.
From there, the child’s luck continued downhill. She was placed with Mary and Thomas McCormack. Mary went on to marry Francis Connolly/Connelly following Thomas' death. According to Mary McCormack Connolly's court testimony, Thomas McCormack, Mary Connolly's first husband, claimed to be Mary Ellen Wilson's biological father.  The Department of Charities placed Mary Ellen into the McCormacks' care illegally, without any documentation.
Thomas McCormack signed an "indenture" agreement upon retrieving Mary Ellen from the Department of Charities' care, but did not explain his or his wife's relationship with the child to the Commissioner of Public Charities and Correction. This body administered the city's almshouse, workhouse, insane asylums, orphanages, jails, and public hospitals. The McCormacks were required to report the child's condition annually to the Department. According to Mary Connolly's later court testimony, this only occurred once or twice during Mary Ellen's stay.
Thomas McCormack died and his wife married Francis Connolly/Connelly and moved with him and Mary Ellen to an apartment on 41 Street in Hell’s Kitchen. It was at this address that neighbors first became aware of young Mary Ellen's mistreatment. Her foster mother forced her to do heavy labor, repeatedly beat, burned and cut the child, and locked her in a tiny closet. She was not allowed to go outside or even to look out the window but no one came to her rescue.
When the Connollys moved to a new address, one of the concerned neighbors from their 41st Street apartment asked Etta Angell Wheeler to check on the child. Some accounts say Mrs. Wheeler was a Methodist missionary who worked in the area and others that she was an employee of the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections (and I insist she deserved the Angell part of her name). Wheeler, under the pretext of asking Mrs. Connolly's help in caring for Connolly's chronically ill and home-bound neighbor gained access to the Connollys' apartment to see Mary Ellen's state for herself. When Mrs. Wheeler saw the glaring evidence of severe physical abuse, malnourishment, and neglect, Wheeler began to research legal options to redress the abuse and protect the young girl.
Some jurisdictions had laws prohibiting excessive physical discipline and New York permitted the removal of neglected children. However they determined they would not intervene and Mary Ellen was not removed from the care of Mrs. Connolly. If Mary Ellen's treatment wasn’t severe enough, one wonders what would be! 


Apartment in which Mary Ellen lived before rescue


After finding the local authorities reluctant to act, Wheeler turned to a local advocate for the animal humane movement and the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Henry Bergh. He made it clear that his work was as an individual and not part of his office of the ASPCA. However, he had powerful ties in the community which made people take the case seriously. Once he was involved, Mary Ellen was rescued from her home within forty-eight hours.


Mary Ellen when rescued

Mary Ellen was ten but malnutrition made her only the size of a five or six year old. Her face was blemished because the previous day Mrs. Connolly had slashed her with scissors. The child was carried into the courtroom wrapped in a blanket and screaming. She feared Mary Connolly would punish her for leaving the apartment. A policeman gave her a peppermint stick to calm her. Once she settled down, she revealed a horrific life.
On April 9, 1874, Mary Ellen testified, “My father and mother are both dead. I don‘t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys…Mamma (Mrs. Connolly) has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a raw hide.(A rawhide horse whip was found at the apartment.) The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma‘s lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped…I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me. I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so. I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life.”


Mary Ellen after rescue

Wheeler and Bergh successfully removed Mary Ellen from the Connolly home and took Mary Connolly to trial. On April 21, 1874 Mrs. Connolly was found guilty of felonious assault and sentenced to one year of hard labor in prison. Apparently nothing happened to her husband, who certainly had to be aware of the abuse. Even though he might not have participated, neither did he protect Mary Ellen.
Mary Ellen was sent to what was basically a reform school for girls who had been in trouble. That was not where she needed to be. Mrs. Wheeler was able to get Mary Ellen released into the custody of her family and the child went to live with Mrs. Wheeler’s mother, Susan Angell, where she flourished. She lived there until Mrs. Angell died, at which time she went to live with Etta Wheeler’s sister and brother-in-law. 

Mary Ellen married at age twenty-four to Francis Schutt. He was a widower with three children. Together, they had two daughters, the first named Etta after Etta Angell Wheeler. They also adopted a daughter.

After her first ten years, Mary Ellen deserved all the happiness she found. She died in 1956 at age 92.



Mary Ellen circa 1906


Here's the summary of OPHELIA:
Escape…
A painful past…
Hope for the future…

Ophelia Shipp wants safety, a home, husband, and to raise a family. To achieve her goal, she travels halfway across the country to a tiny Texas town, Tarnation. What awaits her there must be better than what she left. She longs for a respectable man who will be a gentle and kind husband.

Elias Kendrick had a difficult childhood but he has overcome poverty to build his empire in Tarnation. Now that he owns a successful saloon and the opera house, he is ready to marry and start a family. He’s vowed his children’s life will be different from his—if only he can find the right woman.

Two opposites attract—or are they? Ophelia and Elias must learn to overlook their superficial differences to work out their chance at lasting love.

Amazon buy link is: http://a.co/dfNm6Rn  




Here’s an excerpt of Ophelia and Elias Kendrick meeting at the first reception:
“What brings you to Tarnation, Miss Shipp?”
“Same as the others I suppose and there’s no point pretending otherwise. I want a kind husband, a secure home, and children. This appears to be a nice town even though it’s small. I notice there’s even an opera house.”
His smile broadened. “That there is. In fact, I built the opera house only a year ago. The manager and I try for a variety of acts so that by the end of the season, everyone has enjoyed at least a couple of shows.”
She leaned forward, happy to know he was so fair-minded. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all. Actually, I’ve never been to a live performance.” Oops, why did she have to confess that?
He leaned back and his eyes widened. “Never? You mean except at school, of course.”
A blush’s heat seared her face. How embarrassing to admit she was a country bumpkin who had done nothing. “My father was very strict. I couldn’t appear in or attend school plays. Mr. Kozlov has invited me to the opera house opening performance in two weeks. I’m looking forward to the event.”
Was that disappointment she saw flash across his face? “You’ll enjoy Geraldine Chitwood. We were exceptionally fortunate to book her. Normally, she only plays larger towns more easily reached. Being without railway access places us at a severe disadvantage.”
She had to stop herself from rubbing her sore rear. “Oh, I haven’t forgotten that stage ride.” She leaned toward him. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Kendrick. Besides owning the opera house, I mean.”
“I’m twenty-nine and never married.” He took a deep breath and averted his gaze before he spoke. “If you led such a quiet life that you weren’t allowed to attend plays, then you’ll no doubt look down on me because, as well as the opera house, I own the local saloon.”
She hoped she hid her surprise that Lydia had included a saloon owner in this group of “acceptable” men. What should she say? A saloon owner here went against everything she’d ever been told. Yet, didn’t she trust Lydia? And, Mr. Kendrick appeared so nice. Think, what would Lydia or Jo say?
“I seek never to pass judgment, Mr. Kendrick. I don’t approve of drunkenness but I know most men enjoy meeting with others and sharing a drink or game of cards.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Very broad-minded of you. Do you play cards, Miss Shipp?”
Relief relaxed her and she couldn’t help laughing at his question. “I don’t play anything. All I’ve ever done is work.”

GIVEAWAYS!
Don’t forget the giveaway! There are two. One is from me for $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash to one commenter on one of the seven blogs about the Bride Brigade, ending with the release of PRUDENCE on August 25. Winner will be announced on August 28.
The other—which makes mine look paltry—is Kathy Habel’s $250 Cash Back to School Giveaway. Look for the Rafflecopter here:

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Sources:
Wikipedia
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/health/15abus.html
Photos, Google commons except my cover, which was designed by Skhye Moncrief

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CASSANDRA -- A FUN BOOK! PLUS BACK TO SCHOOL $250 GIVEAWAY!

Don’t miss the giveaway entry at the end of this post on Cassandra and the $250 Giveaway at the end of the entire post.

I had fun writing about Cassandra, a servant who pretended to be from wealth. Hmm, actually, she was from what had been a wealthy family before the Civil War. That conflict changed so many things about the South. Although this blog touches on serious subjects, don’t be fooled. The book has many humorous moments.

Although I’ve always loved history, when I was studying in school I had no background to judge the impact of different events. For instance, were you aware more American men were killed in the Civil War than in World Wars I and II combined? I certainly didn’t understand that. Later, learning an ancestor survived Gettysburg brought the conflict home. Imagine the waste of human lives!

Gettysburg battlefield--no one wins a war!
(Actual battlefield photo)

Young men who survived the war came home to find their home was no longer there. Lacking land, many moved West. This meant that in the East, there were not enough young men to meet the demand for husbands. What was a young woman who wanted a home, husband, and children to do?

The South received severe sanctions that extended to everyone, whether they had supported the Confederacy or not unless they had paperwork to prove they helped the North. High, high taxes were levied and many people who had survived the conflict with their home intact were evicted for exorbitant back taxes. This is what happened to Cassandra Bradford’s family (and to Lydia Harrison’s mother).



From Wikipedia: “The majority of Republican governors in the South during Reconstruction were from the North. “Carpetbagger” was used by Southerners as a pejorative term, referring to the carpetbags (a form of cheap luggage made from carpet fabric) which many newcomers carried.” I admit the term is still used derogatively in the South when referring Northerners who won’t fit in with local customs. And, I know people who still aren’t over the Civil War. Sigh. We lost, folks. Deal and move on with your lives.

This is the sad time the Ku Klux Klan was formed, sometime between December 1865 and June 1866. Another tragedy that hit home when I learned one of my relatives was involved. How embarrassing! At least he was going to testify against the KKK members until he was shot down on the courthouse steps before he could. Now there’s a story for another day.

Anyway, Cassandra’s less-than-deserving, scalawag, second cousin ended up with her home. He had played both sides during the war to insure he would be the victor either way. To help her family, she ended up working as a servant in the home in which she had once lived while her young brother worked in the stables.

Her cousin was a bully who enjoyed embarrassing her. Supposedly she was lady’s maid to his daughter, but he insisted she serve at social occasions. Imagine serving those with whom you had once been equal friends—having to show no recognition and no facial expression while your employer went out of his way to humiliate you. No wonder she was determined to marry wealth so she could send for her brother and never worry about money again.

I love Cassandra's snobbish demeanor that hides her terror.


Here’s a summary of CASSANDRA:
A desperate plan…
A masquerade to achieve a goal…
Lies that create a web…

Cassandra Bradford has the cast off wardrobe to pose as a lady. Her goal is to marry a wealthy man who can provide her young brother with a sound future. Drat the luck! The first man she sees in Tarnation is a dusty cowboy who sends her heart pounding. Not for her. She has a better life in mind.

Samuel Drummond is one of the wealthiest ranchers in that part of the state, but he wants that kept quiet. His first wife married him for his money then left when she became bored with ranch life. He won’t let that happen if he remarries. He intends to find a woman who wants him no matter how poor she thinks he is.

When both Cassandra and Sam learn omissions the other has made, there are fireworks between them. They must work through their anger and hurt to achieve happiness.

Oh, what tangled webs we weave… Sam has Cassandra believing he’s just a poor cowboy. Here’s an excerpt from CASSANDRA:

Talking about her family had caused so much distress she hadn’t noticed the cabin until now. Somewhat horrified, she asked, “I-Is this where you live?”
If he noticed her disbelief, he gave no sign. “This is a line cabin where we hole up when we’re trapped out on the range overnight in bad weather or working on this part of the ranch for several days in a row.”
He helped her down and gazed into her eyes as she slid down his body. She thought he held her close longer than necessary, but being near him was too wonderful for her to complain. Even through their clothes, his warmth heated her. When he broke contact, she wanted to throw herself into his arms and hold on forever.
No, no, no! What was she thinking?
After gaining control of her emotions, she asked, “So no one actually lives here?”
“The cowboys sleep in a bunkhouse at the ranch unless they’re married. I guess I could live here if I were married and wanted to. I’ll show you inside.” He led her to the small building with a half shed attached.
Inside was dark until he opened the three windows’ shutters to admit light. A large stone fireplace took up most of one end with wood stacked neatly on the hearth. Nearby was a stove of sorts. Four chairs surrounded a small table on which a lantern stood. Thin ticking mattresses were rolled up on each of the four bunks.
Not much space remained around the small room’s austere furnishings. The floor was stone. Shelves at one end held a few canned goods as well as metal dishes and cutlery. Two pots and a Dutch oven were on the stove. A tall bench held a dishpan, bar of soap, and an empty bucket. She’d seen no creek so there must be a well nearby.
He laid a hand on a range. “We used to cook in the fireplace, but we found this old stove and brought it here. Cooler in summer.” He gestured around the room. “You can see we have everything we need.”
Not to her way of thinking. “What about sheets and pillows and blankets?”
He grinned at her. “We carry bedrolls behind our saddles. Cowboys don’t need sheets and pillows.”
She was incredulous. “You’ve been living like this for eleven years?”

Here’s the Amazon link:  http://a.co/5CCZDf0


GIVEAWAY!

Don’t forget the $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash giveaway combined with the release of PRUDENCE, Bride Brigade book 7 on August 25th. Comment on this blog or any of those through the 25th to be entered. Giveaway will be on the 28th.

  
YeeHaw! Come to Tarnation, Texas!







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Monday, August 14, 2017

AN ANGEL TAKES TARNATION

This series of blogs is about my series of books, the Bride Brigade, set in the fictitious Texas town of Tarnation. Today I’m featuring ANGELINE, Book 2. There’s a $50 giveaway to someone who comments during the set of seven blogs, culminating with the August 25 release of PRUDENCE, the last book of the series.

ANGELINE, Book 2, is the only one of the seven Bride Brigade women who is not from Virginia. Instead, she is from a wealthy family in Missouri. When her fiancé forced himself on her and she became pregnant, he left for a tour of Europe. Instead of protecting her or railing against the cad who dishonored her, her father gave her twenty dollars and threw her out of his house with only what she could carry.

This type of disaster happened to many unfortunate women. Where were they to go? How were they to earn money? They had been trained to live as a decorative wife who managed the servants and organized entertaining to promote the business interests of the man of the house.

But what if her fiancé hadn’t forced her? Should she be held accountable? My opinion is, one person should not carry the blame for something that involved two people. People make mistakes, they change, and accept responsibility for their actions. Also, not everyone who wants children also wants to be married.

Until a few decades ago, a child born out of wedlock in Texas and several other states had ILLEGITIMATE stamped in large letters across the birth certificate. Imagine the embarrassment to the child each time he or she had to produce a birth certificate. Thank goodness that terrible practice has stopped.

While opinion has mellowed somewhat and a single mother is no longer totally ostracized by society, there are still those who believe the woman is always to blame. So how does Angeline proceed? She knows she needs to marry, but fears no one will be good to her child.

Angeline has a compassionate nature. She visits the sick and elderly because she genuinely cares about them. Their response is to become quite fond of this loving young woman. Yet, that doesn’t settle her dilemma.

Here’s the synopsis for ANGELINE:

A desperate young woman
A second chance
A life-changing decision.

Angeline Chandler didn’t invite the attack that created her condition but she’s suffering the result. Disowned by her family and left alone and destitute, she gets a second chance when a kind woman rescues her and invites her to travel to Tarnation, Texas with six other young women for the purpose of marriage. The prospect of marrying one man while carrying another’s child worries Angeline. Who would want her and another man’s baby?

Grady McIntyre is a minister whose wife died soon after their son was born. The woman who has been helping with his toddler has told him she’s too old to continue. When Angeline’s name is suggested as a part-time nanny, he seizes the chance to hire her. Their attraction is instantaneous but Angeline resists. A minister needs a virtuous woman, not a fallen one. Soon they marry and both are happy.

Trouble rears its ugly head until matters come to a crisis. Will detractors destroy the happiness Angeline and Grady have found?



Here’s an excerpt from ANGELINE:

The vigor which had been with Angeline on her walk had completely disappeared. In its place a clammy, smothering sensation overwhelmed her. If only she could reach Lydia’s she’d be safe. She hardly remembered taking her fabric and going out the door.
The world spun and she reached out her hand to steady herself but found only air. She gasped for breath, unable to breathe. Her knees turned to rubber and she felt herself sinking.
Firm hands clasped her upper arms. “Miss, may I help you?”
She looked into the kindest hazel eyes she’d ever seen. His blond hair barely showed under his hat. “I don’t know what came over me. I suppose I’m still tired from my journey.”
He looped her arm onto his. “I’m the local pastor, Grady McIntyre. Please allow me to escort you to the Harrison home.”
“Thank you, I’m Angeline Chandler. Frankly, I can use a solid arm to lean on for the walk.” She clasped his forearm as she would a stair banister. For a minister, he was muscular and appeared strong.
“You must be one of the young women who came with Lydia. I couldn’t get away to greet your arrival but I understand there was quite a reception committee.”
She forced a smile. After all, he was gallant enough to help her and deserved a friendly response. “I was awfully tired. I hardly remember anyone except the mercantile owner and the sheriff. Lydia made a point of greeting them.”
“I remember that trip and imagine by then you only wanted a bath and a bed. That’s a tiring ride.”
“Deadly. I’m surprised my teeth didn’t fall out with all the bumps and rattles.”
“Don’t understand how anyone’s brave enough to leave town. Once I arrived, I vowed never to leave.”
She grinned at his attempt to cheer her. “Me, too.”

If you haven’t read this series, please dive in. Here’s the url for the first two:

JOSEPHINE, Bride Brigade Book 1  http://a.co/1Kd34dw.(ONLY 99 CENTS)

ANGELINE, Bride Brigade Book 2 http://a.co/78Jln2y





Friday, August 11, 2017

WHAT IN TARNATION?

Several months ago, I came up with a series about seven women—eight if you count their hostess—and labeled them the Bride Brigade. Being a writer has fun moments. One of them is creating a locale, or world, for characters. I’ll admit naming a town Tarnation made me smile.

What In Tarnation?

Supposedly on the way to his nearby ranch in the late 1850s, rancher Will Harrison came through a nameless village that at that time consisted of nothing more than a small crossroads store, a livery stable, a saloon, and a few hastily constructed cabins.

Will asked at the store, “Where in Tarnation am I?”

When Will came back that way a couple of weeks later, he saw hand-painted signs saying Tarnation Livery, Tarnation Mercantile, and Tarnation Saloon. That was the start of the town of Tarnation, set in North Central Texas at the foot of the Palo Pinto Mountains. Will built up a successful ranch and increased the wealth he’d brought to Texas with him. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he went off to fight—for the North.



At the war’s end, Will Harrison returned with his new bride, Lydia Jane, a Virginia beauty a generation younger than him. By then, the village had grown considerably. Folks in town wondered if Lydia had married Will for his money but those who saw them together had to admit that she and he were in love.

Unfortunately, Will died in a ranch accident in 1869, leaving Lydia a wealthy but lonely widow. The town consisted of couples, two elderly widows, and numerous bachelors who were tired of having no women to court and marry. To prevent young men leaving Tarnation to search for a more diverse population, Lydia went back to Richmond, Virginia to recruit suitable young women to come live with her while deciding which of the Tarnation bachelors they wanted to marry.

The first woman to wed was Josephine Nailor, the only one who had declared she would never marry. Isn’t that the way things always happen?  ☺ Josephine almost missed being included in Lydia’s group. Why Josephine left Virginia, who she married, and how they came to fall in love is something you have to buy the book to discover. (See how sneaky an author can be?) You’ll be happy to learn this first book is only 99 cents and is available at Amazon http://a.co/1Kd34dw.

Here’s the synopsis for JOSEPHINE:

Josephine Nailor is desperate to escape a terrible situation. When the opportunity arises via a newspaper ad, she and her best friend slip away from their oppressive fathers and head for Richmond.  Neither can relax until they’re far away from their tiny hometown. With wealthy young widow Lydia Harrison’s help, Josephine and six other young women have a new life waiting in Tarnation, Texas.

Michael Buchanan is fairly content running his mercantile and being mayor of Tarnation. The town is dusty and tiny, but it’s growing. He believes it holds all he needs to be happy—except a wife. There are no available women in town, but he hopes Lydia Harrison’s Bride Brigade will offer a woman he can wed. He is immediately attracted to Josephine.

But Josephine has every reason to mistrust men in general and politicians in particular. Will her misgivings ruin her chance at happiness?



Here’s an excerpt:

Josephine brushed and pulled back her hair. “At least we’re clean and neat even if we don’t have fancy clothes.”
Her friend chewed on her lip then met her gaze in the mirror. “I don’t really want to meet anyone right away.”
She smiled. “Afraid you might end up with someone like your pa or mine?”
Ophelia shook her head and pulled on her shawl to cover the stains on her dress. “Oh, no, Lydia won’t invite anyone who isn’t nice. She promised. I feel as shy as usual and need a little more time to adjust.”
Josephine tied a ribbon around her neck with her mother’s locket in the center. “Well, I don’t intend to marry. I want to find a job and be independent.”
Ophelia stared at her. “You mean you never want to wed?”
“Can you blame me?”
Her friend’s face filled with concern. “Jo, you can’t mean it. You’d never have a home and children. Think of your future. Who will keep you company in the evenings?”
“I’ll get a cat.” She smiled at her shy friend and they walked into the hall.


Readers know that in romance, there has to be a happily-ever-after ending that involves more than the heroine adopting a cat. I hope if you haven’t read JOSEPHINE, you’ll choose to do so. 

GIVEAWAY

Please stay with me at this blog for the next couple of weeks while I elaborate on the conditions which send each of the seven women to Tarnation. The final book in the series, PRUDENCE, will release on August 25th. I'll be giving away a $50 Amazon or Pay Pal Gift Card to someone who comments on this series of blogs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

RENAISSANCE LAKE SERIES -- THE FIX





Contemporary Romance
Date Published: May 30, 2017

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The lake town of Maisonville was better known as Renaissance Lake and most who moved there were looking to begin again.

Sydney Bell was no exception. Recovering from a divorce she needed to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.

Unfortunately, in her new town the handsome Ryan Gentry next door and Sydney are already butting heads.

When the real reason she moved to the lake is revealed, she’s reminded that a small town can heal your soul, sparring with an arrogant neighbor can build self-esteem, and true friendship has the ability to make you a better person.






THE FIX Excerpt:

THE DELUGE OF RAIN WAITED until the moving truck was scheduled to arrive and then drowned any hope Sydney had of a smooth move in day.

She’d paid a little extra for them to arrive that morning; that way she’d be finished by the time Ryan returned home next door.

He was the jerk who had helped change her tire the first day she came to town and the owner who reluctantly sold her the house. She wasn’t certain how Will talked him into it, but Will said he was a family friend and that must have mattered to Ryan. Of course, he could have simply been motivated by the cash offer. It took the money she had from the sale of her father’s large home and the sale of her Mercedes wagon for her to afford the beautiful cottage. It was more than she should have spent but way less than the place was worth.

Ryan shook his head during the closing, avoiding looking at her the entire time. Will said he was perpetually grouchy, but she knew he was unhappy about selling to her specifically. She acted sweet and told him how much she loved the house and promised to be a quiet neighbor. However, during the hour-long meeting, Ryan didn’t say more than a few words to her, but he managed to slip the word “genius” into the conversation at least five times.

She couldn’t help it, sometimes words popped out of her mouth before she could stop them. She’d wished she hadn’t been snarky and called Ryan a genius that day on the roadside, especially after he changed her tire, but she couldn’t take it back.

It didn’t matter. He didn’t have to like her. She would prove she could be a good neighbor and ignore him back.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lisa Herrington is a Women’s Fiction and YA novelist, blogger and speaker. A former medical sales rep, she currently manages the largest Meet-Up writing group in the New Orleans area, The Bayou Writer’s Club. She was born and raised in Louisiana, attended college at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi and accepts that in New Orleans we never hide our crazy but instead parade it around on the front porch and give it a cocktail. It’s certainly why she has so many stories to tell today. When she’s not writing, and spending time with her husband and three children, she spends time reading, watching old movies or planning something new and exciting with her writer’s group.


Connect with Lisa, find out about new releases, and get free books at lisaherrington.com



Contact Links

Twitter or @lisadherrington

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