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Announcing, the Brides of Blessings…

EUREKA! BONANZA!

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The California Gold Rush—when Gold Fever spread across America, it emptied towns, stripped ships of their crews, left women husbandless, children fatherless. The stories, especially of the women who sought to make their own fortunes, are awe-inspiring and, in some instances, flat-out amazing.

BLESSED BRIDE And I’m thrilled to tell you I’m in a new series focused on the Gold Rush era–the Brides of Blessings looks at the women of the California Gold Rush, spanning the years from 1848 to 1865. I have joined up with best-selling authors Lynn Winchester, Mimi Milan, Kari Trumbo, and Dallis Adams to share with you these richly researched, clean, inspirational historical western stories. In the vein of the inimitable Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, both the beloved town and its people grow as the women help settle the west and find their “happily ever afters.” I hope you’ll pick up your copy of The Blessed Bride for the special pre-order price of only 99 cents. http://amzn.to/2hyuAUi

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She Chose the War Path

from my post over at https://cowboykisses.blogspot.comdahteste

Sometimes when I do research, I discover fascinating individuals who led gloriously exciting lives and then retired in peace, children and grandchildren sitting at their feet. The happily ever after. The ending we’d all like. Truth is, though, sometimes a hero has her moment early on and from there it’s not a very pretty spiral downward.

This is my impression of the life of Apache warrior woman Dahteste (pronounced ta-DOT-say).

Born around 1860 she chose her path as a warrior. The Apache let you do that. A fairly open-minded society, you could be a warrior, a homemaker, a medicine man, whatever, as long as you worked at it and could deliver. Dahteste was known for her beauty, but she was also clearly respected for her fighting, riding, hunting, and shooting skills. She was fast and she was mean. No man challenged her light-heartedly. And she proved her worth repeatedly on raids with the Apache. In fact, she rode with Cochise (you might remember him. He led an uprising against the U.S. government that started in 1861 and didn’t end until ’72). Remarkably, Dahteste was barely a teenager! Her fighting didn’t end, however, with Cochise’s acceptance of a peace treaty. She continued it by riding with Geronimo. Who knows how many “white-eyes” lost their lives to her rifle?

Geronimo surrendered in 1886. Dahteste over the years had picked up quite a bit of English, had even served as a cavalry scout for a time, so she negotiated the great chief’s surrender. Her reward? She was arrested and shipped to a prison in Florida where she stayed for eight years. Then she was moved to the military prison at Fort Sill, OK where she was a guest for nineteen years. During her time as a resident of the US Army’s military prison system, she survived pneumonia and tuberculosis. I suspect she survived much more than that.

During this time she divorced her husband Ahnandia (one of Geronimo’s original warriors) and within a few years married fellow inmate and former Army scout Coonie. The couple was released in 1919 and moved to the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico.

Dahteste, reports say, never spoke English again and wore only beautiful beaded native clothing. She left her long black hair down and unbraided, but always brushed. She was a proud Apache woman who walked with her chin up.

Though she did, indeed, retire with children and grandchildren around her feet, none of them were hers by blood, and she was not generally known to smile much. I hope she spent her final years enjoying peace and happiness, but I don’t get that sense. I think Dahteste was a survivor and she did so with more grim determination than optimism.

The Measure of a Man–His Heart & Soul Plus an Exclusive Excerpt!

by Heather Frey

To Love and to Honor—Why a story about an amputee?

Last year I stumbled across a newspaper article about photographer Michael Stokes. He was snapping sexy pics of veterans who had lost limbs in combat. I was stunned both by the soldiers’ mind-blowing good looks, and the extent of their injuries.

The thought haunted me how these devastatingly handsome, rugged men were dealing with the scars, the prosthetics, the missing limbs. I thought also of evangelist Dave Roever. Horribly disfigured in Vietnam, he’d watched as a fellow soldier’s wife had taken one look at her gravely burned husband and walked out of the room. Fortunately, Dave’s wife had the opposite reaction and the two are still married to this day.

But based on the junk you see coming out of Hollywood, one would believe our culture values physical perfection far above inner beauty. It seems the shallow masses give a pass to monstrous inner ugliness if the package comes wrapped in a big bust or washboard abs.

I feel for the wounded vets in a society like this and wanted to write something for them—a story that clearly focuses on the real measure of a man—his heart and soul, not his number of fingers or toes.

I hope you enjoy it and all the other stories in the special collection It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas! ON SALE NOW or read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited! I’ve included an excerpt at the bottom!

If you are so inclined, you can read an article on Michael Stokes photography here— http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3165402/Photographer-captures-amputee-war-veterans-posing-naked-proudly-revealing-injuries-powerful-picture-series.html, but WARNING: adult content. Privates are covered… BARELY! Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.55.55 PM.png

An excerpt from To Love and to Honor–

Someone knocked at the door. “Señor, Señora” a voice called. “We have the water for a bath.”

Joel’s bath. “Yes, come in.”

Four ranch hands, one right after the other, trailed into the room, each with a steaming bucket of water. In short order, the portable copper tub was full and they excused themselves.

Joel stared at the bath with a tight expression, as if he was afraid of it.

Slowly, Angela rose and crossed the room to stand in front of him. He looked up with an expression of surprise that quickly transformed to desire. Hope flickered in his deep, blue eyes. She knelt in front of him and gently laid a hand on his knee. “You need a bath.” She swallowed, and fought to control her breathing. “I’ll help you.”

His eyes widened. “You—you can’t.”

She reached for his boot heel and started tugging. “I’m the only one who can.” The boot came free and she reached for the other.

Joel clutched her hand. “No.”

She didn’t meet his gaze, but she could feel it, like a gentle touch on her cheek.

“I mean, I don’t want you to see…”

Was he afraid his wound, his missing limb, would be too grotesque for her? She couldn’t imagine anything about this man being repulsive. She gave him a slow, reassuring smile. “I don’t mind.”

She pushed his pant leg up above his knee and realized his boot had been sewn on to the prosthetic. She didn’t know what to do.

“It’s cinched around my thigh.” Joel’s voice sounded strained.

 

Dunkirk Week #WWII Epic #99cent Book Sale & #GIVEAWAY #WIN #WW2 #LadiesinDefiance

With the opening of Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk this Friday, I’m pleased to share with you the news of the Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale. From 7/21-27, more than 50 authors of the FB Second World War Club have joined together to offer you their WWII novels, most at 99c.

Our novels range from military war tales, home front drama and sagas, harrowing accounts of the Holocaust, gripping spy thrillers, moving wartime romances, and much, much more. To see our great selection of WWII books, go to: http://www.alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

We’ve also got some great giveaway prizes, including the Grand Prize of a paperback copy of Joshua Levine’s Dunkirk: The History Behind the Motion Picture. No purchases are necessary to enter the drawing. Come visit our book sale page to find out more details about our prizes and how to win.

We’re also bringing to you:

  1. A two-part blog series about the Dunkirk. You can read the excellent blog posts to learn more about this historical event by two of our authors, Suzy Henderson (The Beauty Shop) and Jeremy Strozer (Threads of War), here: https://lowfellwritersplace.blogspot.co.uk/ 
  2. Readings by The Book Speaks podcast of excerpts from All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan plus another novel, both of which are part of the Dunkirk Week Book Sale: https://thebookspeakspodcast.wordpress.com/ 
  3. Our authors’ pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies: http://alexakang.com/40-recommended-wwii-films-english/

The Second World War changed our world forever. In our stories, we strived to bring you a glimpse of what happened and how everything happened through the eyes of our characters and to let you share their feelings, emotions, fears, and hopes. We are thankful that director Christopher Nolan is bringing this important part of history to the attention of the wider public, and we will try to continue what he had done through the stories we tell.

You can check out my WW2 RomCom, Love, Lies,& Typewriters here:

A cowboy with a Purple Heart. A reporter with a broken heart. Which one is her Mr. Right?

When Lucy Daniels is rescued from a stampeding herd of cattle by war hero veteran Dale Sumner, sparks fly and headlines are born. Smelling an opportunity, the local newspaper decides to send the couple on a tour selling war bonds–not to mention, subscriptions. Enamored with her handsome savior, Lucy is happy to play her part … until she realizes she may be falling in love with the wrong man.

Ace reporter and aspiring mystery writer Bryce Richard is tasked with building up Lucy and Dale’s budding affair. He can’t think of anything worse for a journalist than switching from hard news to pounding out romantic drivel. Complicating matters, Bryce wishes Lucy would look to him for her happily-ever-after. Only, that would wreck the whole tour and Bryce’s coveted book deal.

When love and lies collide on the front page, will Lucy and Bryce have a chance to write their own fairy tale ending? Or are they already yesterday’s news?


If She Could Drink and Wear a Badge, She Sure as Heck Should be Able to Vote

phoebe

Phoebe Wilson Couzins was, to say the least, a trailblazer for women. She was one of the first female lawyers in the United States, the first female U.S. marshal, and, not surprising, an outspoken supporter of the suffragist movement. But temperance, not so much …

Phoebe was born on September 8, 1842 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father John E. D. Couzins was an architect, builder, and a natural leader. Traits he passed to his daughter. During the Civil War, John served as the city’s chief of police and sought to keep Missouri in the Union. Adaline, Phoebe’s mother, was a member of the Ladies’ Union Aid Society in St. Louis and volunteered as a battlefield nurse.

After the war, Phoebe, inspired by her parents, joined the St. Louis Woman Suffrage Association. The inability of a woman to vote incensed her, considering all the things a woman could do. She made a name for herself in the organization and, encouraged by a family friend, applied and was admitted to Washington University Law School in St. Louis.

In 1871, Phoebe became the first female law graduate from GWU! She practiced law for two months but the suffragette movement called her name. She began traveling across the country to give speeches in favor of women’s rights.

In 1884, Phoebe’s father was appointed U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri and he swore her in as one of his deputies. When he died three years later, she served as the interim U.S. marshal, appointed by President Grover Cleveland. She was the first woman to serve in the position.

Not interested in being a lawman, though, she eventually moved to Washington, DC. She made a modest living as a writer, but maintained her involvement with the women’s rights movement. New blood entered into the suffragette arena, though, and Phoebe’s contributions, as well her Old Iron Pants attitude, tended to alienate the more politically-savvy ladies. Not to mention, Phoebe liked her high balls, and many of the suffragettes were passionate about the evils of alcohol. Hence, these last years were stormy ones for Phoebe. She hung in there, fighting the good fight, while, ironically, working as a lobbyist for a brewery.

Phoebe died in St. Louis in 1913 and was buried wearing her US marshal’s badge. Here’s to you, Phoebe!


By Heather Blanton
https://www.facebook.com/heatherfreyblanton
copyright 2015

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Vote

By Heather Blanton
https://www.facebook.com/heatherfreyblanton
copyright 2015

Recently, many cities and towns across America held municipal elections. The turn-out is abysmally low for these. If you did not vote for your mayor or town council, Abigail Scott Duniway might just have a few choice words for you.

Abigail was the second daughter in a family of nine children. In 1852 she and her parents emigrated to Oregon from Illinois. In 1853, after teaching school for a bit, she married Benjamin Duniway. The couple would have six children.

Benjamin was a decent farmer but not much of a businessman. They sold their first farm in Clackamas County, OR and moved to a new one in Lafayette. During this time, Benjamin co-signed on a note for a friend, putting his farm up for collateral. Abbigail, to say the least, was not on board with this plan. The friend defaulted and the Duniways lost their farm. In the throes of eviction, financial chaos, and finding a new place to live, Benjamin was severely disabled in a wagon accident, and upkeep of the family fell to Abigail.

She ran a boarding school and taught for a spell, and eventually opened her own business. In her attempts to keep a roof over her family’s head, Abigail was frustrated on occasion by the necessity to involve Benjamin in even simple legal decisions. Being the man in the house, his signature was often required on documents.

For five years Abigail ran a millinery. She heard countless stories there of other women disenfranchised by the legal system, powerless to fight for their rights, especially in regards to personal property. Just based on her own experiences, it’s easy to see why she thought the system was stupid. Hence, she became loudly and eloquently vocal about the injustices. Recognizing her passion, Benjamin encouraged Abigail to open a newspaper focused on women’s rights and suffrage. The Duniways knew that without the right to vote, nothing would ever change for the women of Oregon.

Interestingly, Abigail’s brother Harvey was the editor for The Oregonian and the siblings butted heads, or columns, vehemently over voting rights for women. Harvey was against them and his opposition was instrumental in seeing the motions defeated time and again.

But the women of Oregon persisted. In 1912 the state finally passed a women’s suffrage amendment. The governor himself asked Abigail to write the Equal Suffrage Proclamation sharing the news.

She was 78 years young.

Abigail voting in 1914

Abigail voting in 1914

http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/Oregon-Biographies-Abigail-Scott-Duniway.cfm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oregon_Encyclopedia
http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/narratives/subtopic.cfm?subtopic_ID=206

A Woman of Restraint, Yet She Had Him Dead-to-Rights

Guest story today is from Maria Tonseth!

 

Busted!

Busted!

My dad and his three brothers grew up on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio.
They were all close in age and were inseparable, as if they were more of
best friends rather than brothers. Everyone around town knew the brothers
and often referred to them as the “Tonseth rascals,” because more than
likely they were getting into trouble from playing pranks of the neighbors.
My dad’s biggest dream was to play a prank on his 5th grade teacher, Ms.
Garrison.

During a cold and snowy December, the four brothers built a snow fort and
filled it with snowballs to launch at cars as they drove by. While rolling
the perfect snowballs, my dad came up with the great idea to stack hundreds
of snowballs on Ms. Garrison’s car, who lived three doors down from
their house. After many treks to her house to cover it with hundreds,
yes hundreds, of snowballs, the “Tonseth rascals” admired their finished
product and quickly ran home to celebrate their accomplishment. The
brothers couldn’t wait to tell their friends at school what they did to Ms.
Garrison.

But right as the brothers were walking into their driveway, their mother
and Ms. Garrison were waiting on the porch bundled up in scarves and
jackets and drinking hot chocolate. They were laughing away as the “Tonseth rascals” stood there: jaws opened and dumbfounded. My grandmother was a teacher and friends with Ms. Garrison, and she had come over to enjoy hot cocoa and catch up on their lives. Instead, she was entertained by secretly watching the four brothers stack hundreds of snowballs on her car. Needless to say, she made just my father pick every single snowball off her car, and then my grandmother allowed his brothers to throw them at him. Guess the prank was on my dad.

Girls, This is a How a Lady Plays Hard to Get to Get What She Wants.

Ah, the romance of Hawaii

Ah, the romance of Hawaii.

Today’s Lady in Defiance is submitted by Mary Margaret Smith

Back in the early 50’s, my grandma was a young divorcee with an 8 year old
daughter by her first marriage, and my granddaddy was a young widower.
When they met, my grandma had taken a bookkeeping class at a local college
and her teacher recommended her to my granddaddy, who had recently returned
home from the war and started a furniture business. He hired her and they
soon began dating, often going out after work.

However, Burlington was a pretty small town at the time, and in a year or
two my grandma heard a rumor that, even though he was supposedly dating my
grandma exclusively, he was dating local schoolteacher on the weekends!
She found the rumor to be true, and without even saying anything to my granddaddy, she
decided to leave town. She had a sister who had moved out to Hawaii
several years before, so she packed up her whole home and life, and had all
her possessions shipped in crates to Hawaii. She and my aunt flew out the
following day.

My granddaddy figured out what had happened and managed to get hold of her
when she was in St. Louis for a night with an uncle of hers. He told her
he had broken up with the other woman and begged her to come back, but she
refused. She told him, “If you love me that much, you’ll have to come all
the way to Hawaii and get me!”
So, my grandma and her young daughter flew all the way to Hawaii. The day
after their arrival, my granddaddy appeared on her doorstep! He told her that he
had been a complete idiot and proposed right there. They were married in a
quaint little church in Hawaii two days later, and then turned right around and headed
back to North Carolina! In fact, they were married and left Hawaii before the
crates of all my grandma’s possessions had even arrived there!
My grandparents remained married the rest of their lives, and I really have
never seen two people more in love, but I’ve also never really heard a
story of a marriage so unique as this one! It’s also pretty scary to think
how close they came to losing each other forever, but whenever my
granddaddy told the story, he insisted that he would never have let that
happen. And up until his death a few years ago, my grandma would never
tell the story without jokingly reminding granddaddy how much he had goofed
up when he tried double-crossing her!

Mary Margaret Smith

 

The First Woman Mayor Ever Elected in America Was No Joke

“No one will vote for her. She’s a woman.”

And so started a joke that launched a sleepy Kansas town to international fame—as the first municipality in America to elect a woman mayor.

In 1882, Susanna Madora “Dora” Kinsey Salter moved with her husband Lewis to the quiet little town of Argonia. The couple managed a hardware store while Lewis sought the opportunity to read law with a local attorney. When things fell into place for him, Dora’s parents moved to town as well to take over the mercantile. Her father, Oliver Kinsey was elected mayor of the hamlet and husband Lewis Salter became the City Clerk.

Dora

Dora

Though busy having and raising children, Dora’s Christians convictions compelled her to support the Christian Women’s Temperance Union. This group was one of the less radical suffragist and temperance organizations in the country, as it mixed Christian morals with equality and compassion. But it was a group that decried alcohol, which didn’t win its members any friends in the drinking population. As a joke, a group of imbibers put Dora’s name on the ballot for mayor in ‘87, knowing she would earn a pitifully embarrassing number of votes.

These men neglected to tell Dora’s husband of the prank. Lewis was not amused when he went to vote and discovered his wife’s name at the top of his ballot.

Even more shocking, Dora won with over 2/3 of the town’s votes.

She accepted the office and Lewis, who again won City Clerk, regained his good humor. He often joked about being “married to the mayor.” The election made international news and a shining star out of the 27-year-old Dora, but it did not ignite her political passions. A year into her term, she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election.

By all accounts, this determined young lady was a fine parliamentarian, wise legislator, and dignified public servant. She went out of her way to work with the all-male town council, carefully soothing over ruffled rooster feathers. But she would probably tell you her finest hour as mayor occurred when she delivered her fifth child.

She loved her town and her causes, but she loved her family more. Though she stayed an active member of the CWTU for many years, she never again “ran” for public office, to the dismay of many suffragists. Perhaps because too many of them expected Dora to think “their” way. Putting family above voting rights offended some big names in the movement. Carrie Nation once scolded Dora for heading off to a football game instead of a meeting. Dora replied, “Not go to the game? Why, I have a son on the team!”

Now that’s A Lady in Defiance.

Copyright 2014 Heather Blanton

I’d love for you to join me on https://www.facebook.com/heatherfreyblanton and
https://twitter.com/heatherfblanton

It’s How You Take Life. You Don’t Let it Take You. Cowboy Wisdom.

I will be fifty my next birthday. Some days I feel like a kid, some days I feel a little old, but I don’t feel fifty. My daddy used to say age is all in your mind. It’s how you take life. You don’t let it take you.

Connie Reeves is a great example of a woman who defied injuries, financial setbacks, and, yes, age, to spend her life doing what kept her young.

I saw this picture of Constance and just had to learn more about her!

I saw this picture of Constance and just had to learn more about her!

Connie was born in Eagles Pass, Texas, September 26,1901. Her grandfather gave her her first horse. She was 5 and, in that gift her destiny unfolded, though she didn’t know it at the time. Connie wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. In fact, she was one of the first women admitted to the University of Texas at Austin law school.

The Depression derailed her plans to go to law school, though, and she wound up teaching high school P.E., but the position didn’t come with enough challenges. Eager to give her students more than bruises from dodge ball, she started a cheerleading squad. And I mean one with style. According to the Texas State Historical Society, Connie’s girls “wore western-styled uniforms, consisting of blue flannel skirts, a blue bolero jacket, red satin blouse, a pearl grey Stetson hat, and a lasso rope attached by a loop at the waist of their skirt. The name of the squad was the Lassos.” The girls could throw the lassos, too, with impressive skill. They were invited to perform all over the state.

But the Depression dragged on and bills kept coming. For a little extra income, Connie hired out to teach horseback riding with her fiancé Harry Hamilton. This led to her teaching at Camp Waldemar…for the next sixty years. Estimates are she taught over 30,000 girls to ride.

She adored her students and, as it turned, a certain cowboy at the camp. Written like a romance novel, Jack Reeves was the handsome ranch hand who took care of the horses and he wanted to take care of Connie. She said yes in 1942. The two were happily married until his death in 1985.

Her love for horses and the Great American West earned Connie endless recognition and accolades, including induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. At the tender age of 100.

Perhaps more impressive, Connie never let a bad horse or fall stand between her and riding. She said she was bucked off a horse at least once for every year she rode. With dauntless determination, she climbed back into the saddle, year after year. Pins in one leg, numerous concussions, and countless broken bones not withstanding. She survived a traumatic riding accident at the age of 92 that required nine days in the hospital. Once healed, she put her foot right back in the stirrup.

connie_book

But, as perhaps is fitting, Connie’s eventual death was the result of a final, fateful ride. On August 5, 2003, she fell off her favorite horse and injured her neck. Connie Reeves rode off into the sunset twelve days later.

I doubt this lady in defiance would have had her death come about in any other way.

 

Copyright 2014 Heather Blanton

I’d love for you to join me on https://www.facebook.com/heatherfreyblanton and
https://twitter.com/heatherfblanton

 

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