Friday, June 28, 2019


Have you ever read a story that made you wonder why the author spent such a long, boring time describing an item or place that seemed of little importance to the story?

Usually when that happens, it’s because its importance will be revealed later on, or some scene will call up that particular memory or description for some reason—and its usually a pretty darn good reason!

Let’s look at Cinderella’s slipper as our first example for this. Of course, a glass slipper would be highly unusual, wouldn’t it? In fact, most likely, there would be no other slippers like that one pair!

This particular pair of shoes serves as a symbol for the entire story—improbable things happening to a young woman who has been treated so terribly for so long that lead to her ultimate happiness—it’s a story we can all relate to!

The magic that brings her happiness is not just going to the ball and all the wonderful things that happened on the way—the beautiful gown, the carriage, and so on—the true magic for Cinderella is falling in love. And how can the two lovers hope to be reunited? Well, if it weren’t for those exquisitely, perfectly-fitting glass slippers, everything else that came before—all the magic, hopes, and dreams—could have amounted to nothing at all. Everything hinges on the glass slipper fitting!

Hence the description of the slippers themselves, carrying the slipper on a pillow (which I always believed was taking a terrible chance!) and the endless search and trying on of the slipper throughout the kingdom.

The slipper is all-important because it is the proof that she is “the one” –and it has come to symbolize the very story itself. When we see a picture of the glass slipper, we know it “means” Cinderella, right?

Think about Lous L’Amour’s iconic western, Conagher. Two lonely people meet and fall in love through heartfelt notes that Evie, the heroine, writes and ties to tumbleweeds. They could be found and read by anyone—or no one at all.

But the fact that Conagher feels they speak directly to him, shows us how important what she did is to the story. This is further borne out when, in conversation with him, she uses a phrase she’s written on one of the notes—and he knows immediately it is she who has been writing them.

Loneliness and the vast emptiness of the land is a common theme throughout the book. It was unimaginable to her that Conagher would be the one who found “that note” – the one she repeated the phrase from in conversation with him—but it wasn’t impossible. And his line to her is one of the most romantic of all time, in my opinion.

He takes one of the notes out of his pocket and asks if she wrote it, and she says yes, she did. She tells him she was just so lonely she had to talk to someone, even if no one was there to hear. He says, "There was, Evie, there was me." 

The details of:

1. The land around them and their feelings about the emptiness and aloneness of where they are...
2. Evie’s acting on those feelings by just writing them down on paper and tying them to tumbleweeds...
3. The act of Evie repeating the phrase in conversation she’d used on the note Conagher found...

all add up to make this story so special and memorable—and one you will not want to put down once you start reading!

Conagher isn’t a fairy tale, but it does have its own brand of magical connections that lead to love. The details and descriptions in both of these stories, as different as they are, give the reader insights that the author, in both cases, was masterful in providing throughout the story!

Finally, another couple of tales that come to mind are two short stories many of us read in our high school English classes—The Necklace, by Guy De Maupassant, and The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. Do you remember these—both based on objects that were described in great detail—and the twists at the end that left you gasping in surprise?

If you haven’t read them, or even if it’s been a while, they are always good to revisit and are classic examples of why detailed descriptions of “things” can be so important to a story’s premise.

Can you think of an example in your reading where the detailed description of something had deep importance to the story?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


The popularity of DNA tests through, National Geography, and others has created a plethora of talk concerning from where our ancestors came. Their travels explain why we ended up we are. As a person who loves genealogy, history, anthropology, ethnicity, and other subjects involved, this is fascinating. My family took the Ancestry DNA test. 

At the time, I didn’t realize we would also learn migration routes. How interesting. I knew some of that, of course, through my own genealogical research over the past few decades. Still, there were surprises. We have more of some countries and less of others than I expected.

If your ancestors were from Western Europe and/or Britain/Ireland, then they likely entered the U.S.A. through the East coast. Many reasons sent them moving further West. Even before the American Revolution, the quest for land drove families. After living as a tenant/crofter paying large shares to the owner, the chance to own one’s own land must have been irresistible.

On the right, where my ancestors started.
On the left, where they came.
(On the report, a legend is available for colors.)

Other newcomers were displaced from their lands, such as the Scots who were cleared from their homes in 1715 and 1745 and the Irish who were forced to make way for them in Belfast. Then, the terrible potato famine in 1843-45 forced those who could to head for America to avoid starvation. The point is that people were moving westward and willing to tolerate danger and sacrifice to achieve a better life.

For instance, one group of my ancestors migrated after the men in the extended family blew up an English munitions warehouse in the American Revolution. As wanted men, they escaped to Georgia with their families. I suspect they were migrating at a very fast pace, don’t you? Even these gradually inched west until one group came to Texas in the 1870s.

Exciting reading is about wagon trains—starting their trek at St. Louis, Missouri.  Many of us love the stories of romances involving a wagon train across the country. I can’t name them all, but those who have written about the Oregon or Santa Fe Trail include Linda Ford, Rachel Wesson, Patricia Pacjac Carroll, Kay P. Dawson, Kit Morgan, Kathleen Ball, Linda Bridey, and many more. Uh oh, I'll probably be in trouble for those I neglected to mention.

Another route west was by ship and train and took months. That route was used to reach the Pacific Coast via the Isthmus of Panama. I can’t decide which I would have chosen—being confined to ship in a tiny cabin (shared) for months or traveling overland. 

Asa Mercer
Considering this hairstyle, it's probably
just as well he went bald later.

With all the men moving west, women were needed so the men could establish homes and families. One of the past Sweethearts of the West articles was about Asa Mercer, who attempted to bring women west to Seattle via ship but was only moderately successful. He was successful for himself as he married one of the women he recruited. I remember a popular television show from 1968-70 based on this, “Here Come the Brides”. I loved that show.

Front, Joan Blondell and Bridget Hanley
Back, David Soul, Robert Brown
and Bobby Sherman.

Here is my challenge for you, gentle readers. Write down all you know about your ancestors to save for future generations. Don’t just write names—add in family stories, anecdotes, and collect photos. In ink that won't smear through or in pencil, list the names on the back of the photos. Even if you or your children are not interested, get these facts down for future generations so the details won’t be lost! Get your DNA test and you’ll be amazed. 

This is history coming alive!


Caroline Clemmons is the bestselling and award winning author of over fifty titles. Her latest is DEBORAH’S DILEMMA, book 3 of the Pearson Grove Series.

What can Deborah do to protect herself from the devil plaguing her hometown?
Can a young man who’s been away for six years fit into the community he left?
What madman is responsible for the murder and mayhem plaguing Pearson Grove?

Deborah Taber has been concerned by her inability to choose her life’s occupation. That worry was pushed aside when someone shot her brother and fire bombed her family’s newspaper, The Pearson Grove Gazette. She believes Trey Pearson is innocent of attacking her brother—isn’t he? She’s had a crush on Trey since second grade and desperately wants to trust him.

Wade Pearson III, called Trey, is happy to be home on Pearson Ranch after six years in New England. He trained to manage his family’s far-reaching investments. Nothing prepared him to be accused of murder or targeted by a killer. If not for quick action by the sheriff, Trey would have been lynched by vigilantes. He wants to help trap the real villain while protecting Deborah, her family, and his.

Can Deborah and Trey survive the threats against them? Will this clever murderer be caught before he delivers his terrible revenge against those he believes slighted him? 

Here’s the Universal Amazon buy link: DEBORAH'S DILEMMA is also in KU.

Until next month, take care.

Monday, June 24, 2019


by Marisa Masterson

Before there was a gold rush in California or free land for Civil War veterans, lumber made the fortunate of men from the east, especially from New York. It created a push westward. Wisconsin Rapids, the town I chose as the setting of my latest novel, is a town that exists because of this push.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I was convinced that farming drew whites to the state. When I began my research for A Shadowed Groom for Christmas, I was surprised by the important role lumber played in settling the state. Lumber barons like Jeremiah Witter made a fortunate from the white pine and established towns at the same time. In only eighteen years, the town of Grand Rapids—which later became Wisconsin Rapids after combining with the town of Centralia--already had a bank, courthouse, and a high school, among other businesses.

South Wood County Historical Museum--an early photo of a business on Second Street

After deciding that I wanted to set the novel in historic Wisconsin Rapids, I needed to find something significant that happened around the time period. Flooding solved that. There was a historic iron bridge in the town. According to a short history on the McMillan Library website, “Two years later the county built the first iron bridge, a very high and cheap structure, which, however, served until the flood of 1888, which tore off its western span.” Flooding seemed to be a repeated problem for this town. That made it perfect for me to develop conflicts for my novel that included the flooded Wisconsin River. In fact, here’s an excerpt from the novel so readers can see how I worked the idea into the book.

Without even bothering to shut the door behind her, the older woman pulled Kitty down the sidewalk to her buggy. She half-pushed, half-flung her into it and then shoved Kitty over before rocking the buggy by settling her own bulk into it. Snapping the reins, she hustled the horses toward Cranberry Street and the bridge they had to cross to get to Kit’s factory.
Soon after getting the horses started, the woman began to talk. Gone was the sweet little girl voice. A mature and much lower voice issued from her frowning mouth now. “I hear you were poking around the factory yesterday. You and that Phineas can’t be allowed to ruin things for my husband. When he told me about seeing you there, I knew what had to be done.”
They approached the bridge. Already on edge by the menace she heard in the woman’s voice as well as the implied threats, Kitty dreaded crossing the river that swirled and foamed after last night’s heavy rain. When they had made it about half-way across the bridge, Mrs. Forrest gasped. “Did you see that child in the water?”
Hurriedly setting the brake, the woman bolted from the buggy. Kitty raced after her and leaned over the bridge to look down into the dark water below. “I don’t see any…”
The hands at her back pushed hard. Then Kitty felt her legs being lifted before she hurtled through the air toward the raging torrent below.
Wisconsin Historical Society--view after flooding in 1880, Grand Rapids, WI
Wisconsin River at Wisconsin Rapids with the second iron bridge in the background
In addition to information about flooding, I also researched the lay out of the town. I wanted the street names--such as Eighth as well as the main street that paralleled the town--and the location of businesses in the town to be as accurate as possible. What really surprised me from my reading was that the town so quickly established schools and even a high school. As a retired teacher, I loved that view of Second Street
To learn more about how quickly settlers grew a town as well as the early lumber industry, check out
About the Book-- 

Alone! Kitty Donaldson’s marred face keeps her isolated from others. When offered the opportunity to be a mail-order bride to a stranger who refuses to leave his home, Kitty gladly accepts. After all, she’s always lived without friend.

Kit Randolph has been hideously scarred in a mysterious fire. Did someone purposefully burn down his home? His cousin Phineas suspects someone near to Kit is a murderer. How can he prove it?
Married to a man in a mask, Kitty begins to wonder about her husband. Who or what lies under the hood he wears? Why is she constantly shadowed by a companion? Worse yet, why is she equally drawn to her scarred husband and his handsome cousin.
What will Kitty find when her husband’s mask is removed? With a murderer on the loose, will she live to see his face?

Available now as an ebook and on Kindle Unlimited.

To learn more about my books, please sign-up for my newsletter at

About Marisa Masterson

Marisa Masterson and her husband of thirty years reside in Saginaw, Michigan. They have two grown children, one son-in-law, a grandchild on the way, and one old and lazy dog.

She is a retired high school English teacher and oversaw a high school writing center in partnership with the local university. In addition, she is a National Writing Project fellow.

Focusing on her home state of Wisconsin, she writes sweet historical romance. Growing up, she loved hearing stories about her family pioneering in that state. Those stories, in part, are what inspired her to begin writing.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

As I ponder what I would write about, a number of ideas came to mind. Since I have just finished an article in which Helen (Hunt) Jackson played a large part, I decided to share some of her writing.  

It was said that she rose at 5am and wrote until noon everyday unless ill. I can believe that might be true considering the amount of work she had published. So here for your consideration, H H or Helen (Hunt) Jackson.

The truth is, there is more to do on a rainy day than on any other. In addition to all the sweet, needful, possible business of living and working, and learning and helping, which is for all days, there is the beauty of the rainy day to see, the music of the rainy day to hear. It drums on the window-panes, chuckles and gurgles at corners of houses, tinkles in spouts, makes mysterious crescendoes and arpeggio chords through the air ; and all the while drops from the eaves and upper window-ledges are beating time as rhythmical and measured as that of a metronome,

But lonely people, and people whose kin are not kind or wise in these things, must learn to minister even in such ways to themselves. It is not selfish. It is not foolish. It is wise. It is generous. Each contented look on a human face is reflected in every other human face which sees it ; each growth in a human soul is a blessing to every other human soul which comes in contact with it.

Next morning, more prairie, — unfenced now, undivided, unmeasured, unmarked, save by the different tints of different growths of grass or grain ; great droves of cattle grazing here and there ; acres of willow saplings,pale yellowish green; and solitary trees, which look like hermits in a wilderness. These, and now and then a shapeless village, which looks even lonelier than the empty loneliness by which it is surrounded, — these are all for hours and hours. We think, " now we are getting out into the great spaces." " This is what the word ' West' has sounded like."

WHAT a new singer or a new play is to the city man, a new road is to the man of the wilderness.

I will leave you with one of my favorite poems Helen wrote

Two Truths

Darling,' he said, 'I never meant 
To hurt you;' and his eyes were wet. 
'I would not hurt you for the world: 
Am I to blame if I forget?' 

'Forgive my selfish tears!' she cried, 
'Forgive! I knew that it was not 
Because you meant to hurt me, sweet- 
I knew it was that you forgot!' 

But all the same, deep in her heart 
Rankled this thought, and rankles yet,- 
'When love is at its best, one loves 
So much that he cannot forget.'

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane with the work of the author Helen (Hunt) Jackson. She wrote so many novels, poems, essays in the twenty years prior to her death in 1885.

If I can do half as much, half as well, I will be content. (Smile)

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Legend of Silverheels

Have you ever seen or heard of Mount Silverheels in Colorado? Do you know how it got its name? No? Well, I'm about to tell you. First, here's a photo of the mountain. Isn't she something with those beautiful trees in the foreground! Oops, did I say she? Well, perhaps you'll see why.

Mount Silverheels from Boreas Pass; Doug Skiba [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Astride the Continental Divide in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Mount Silverheels overlooks Fairplay, Jefferson, Como, Indian Mountain and most of South Park in Colorado. The peak is 13,829 feet above sea level. The mountain is named after a dance-hall girl who entertained in Buckskin Joe, a small mining camp a couple miles south of the present town of Alma. There are several versions of her story.

One version says she arrived by stagecoach from Denver in 1861, wearing a veil and slippers with silver heels. She took up residence in a small cabin across the creek from town and went to work in Billy Buck’s saloon. She was a talented dancer and one account says she was so beautiful that she became the idol of the miners and the envy of the other camp women.

Another version states she wore a blue or white mask to conceal her face, and her real name is unknown. Still another says a miner, entranced by her beauty, made her a pair of dancing shoes with silver inlaid in the heels.

In October 1861, two men drove a flock of sheep into the camp and stayed long enough to sell most of their animals for fresh mutton. One man suddenly became extremely ill and died, heralding the beginning of a smallpox epidemic. More and more deaths ensued, with bodies buried in the little Buckskin Joe cemetery. Businesses shut their doors, including the dance halls. Medical help was scarce.

As miners were stricken and their women and children fled to Denver, Silverheels stayed behind to care for the sick and dying until she too contracted the disease. The epidemic gradually abated while Silverheels remained secluded in her cabin, nursed by an old woman, and slowly regained her health. Grateful to her for risking her life and looks, citizens collected $5,000 as a gift to her, but when the presentation committee went to her cabin, they found it deserted. Searches for Silverheels proved fruitless.

Unable to reward the caring young woman for her efforts, the committee returned the money to the donors. However, refusing to forget Silverheels’ remarkable heroism on their behalf, they named the lofty mountain above the town in her honor.

According to the legend, her face was disfigured by the pox and she chose to disappear rather than let her admirers see her. Several years later, when Buckskin Joe had been decimated by the decline of the gold rush, some said they saw a heavily veiled woman weeping over the graves of those who died in the Smallpox epidemic in the Buckskin Joe cemetery, which still survives.

If this legend grabs your interest, check out Silverheels: A Historical Novel by Tara Meixsell.

Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense novels, all spiced with sensual romance. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and one very spoiled cat. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged baby.

Amazon Author Page: (universal link)
Newsletter:  Lyn’s Romance Gazette
Website:  Lyn Horner’s Corner 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Wyoming in known for being a state of firsts: First National Park (Yellowstone), First National Monument (Devil's Tower), first woman judge (Esther Morris) and the first governor of any state (Nellie Tayloe Ross).

Governor Nellie Ross with Yellowstone Park Superintendent Horace Albright. Ross was the Governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927 - the first female governor of any state, and still the only woman to serve as Governor of Wyoming. She later served as Director of the U.S. Mint from 1933 to 1953. She lived to be 101, passing away in 1977.

Nellie Tayloe Ross was born in St. Joseph, Missouri to James Wynns Tayloe, a native of Tennessee, and Elizabeth Blair Green, who owned a plantation on the Missouri River. Her family moved to Miltonvale, Kansas in 1884, and she graduated from Miltonvale High School in 1892. She attended a teacher-training college for two years and taught kindergarten for four years.

On September 11, 1902, Ross married William B. Ross, whom she had met when visiting relatives in Tennessee in 1900. William B. Ross was governor of Wyoming from 1923 to his death on October 2, 1924. Ross succeeded her late husband's successor Frank Lucas as governor when she won a special election, becoming the first female American governor on January 5, 1925. She was a staunch supporter of Prohibition during the 1920s. She lost re-election in 1926 but remained an active member of the Democratic Party.

In 1933, Ross became the first female Director of the United States Mint. Despite initial mistrust, she forged a strong bond with Mary Margaret O'Reilly, the Assistant Director of the Mint and one of the United States' highest-ranking female civil servants of her time. Ross served five terms as Director, retiring in 1953. During her later years, she wrote for various women's magazines and traveled. Ross died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101.


Lynda Cox is having internet troubles. Please check back for her post. She's trying...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ice Cream and a recipe by Kaye Spencer #sweetheartsofthewest #icecream

Ice cream and summertime go together like kids and puppies.

'Cute Puppies' courtesy

According to this Wikipedia article (, ice cream showed up in the Archaemenid Empire around 500 BCE. The Persians came up with their version of ice cream as a chilled concoction of rose water and vermicelli (for royalty). Ancient Greeks ate snow mixed with honey and fruit. Frozen milk and rice was the sweet treat in China. The Roman Emperor Nero ordered ice from the mountains brought to him and he ate it with fruit toppings. From there, ice cream became a popular dessert of the European aristocracy, including Catherine de' Medici and Charles 1 of England.

Ice cream recipes became increasingly popular in England in the 18th century. This is a recipe for making ice cream that was published in 'Mrs. Mary Eales's Receipt' (London, 1718)

Take Tin Ice-Pots, fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten’d, or Fruit in it; shut your Pots very close; to six Pots you must allow eighteen or twenty Pound of Ice, breaking the Ice very small; there will be some great Pieces, which lay at the Bottom and Top: You must have a Pail, and lay some Straw at the Bottom; then lay in your Ice, and put in amongst it a Pound of Bay-Salt; set in your Pots of Cream, and lay Ice and Salt between every Pot, that they may not touch; but the Ice must lie round them on every Side; lay a good deal of Ice on the Top, cover the Pail with Straw, set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer; then take it out just as you use it; hold it in your Hand and it will slip out. When you wou’d freeze any Sort of Fruit, either Cherries, Raspberries, Currants, or Strawberries, fill your Tin-Pots with the Fruit, but as hollow as you can; put to them Lemmonade, made with Spring-Water and Lemmon-Juice sweeten’d; put enough in the Pots to make the Fruit hang together, and put them in Ice as you do Cream.

Quaker colonist who 'introduced ice cream to America'...Confectioners sold ice cream at their shops in New York... Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were known to have regularly eaten and served ice cream."

Ice cream's popularity moved westward with the settling of the West. We're probably all familiar with the stories, television shows, movies set in the Old West era that included a church social scene with the men standing around the hand-crank ice cream machine and children hovering nearby, anticipating filling their bowls with the cold treat on a hot summer day.

Nellie Oleson (screen capture - Kaye Spencer)

In my novelette A PERMANENT WOMAN, the community celebrates Colorado Day (August 1st) with games, a parade, and tables and tables of food. And what summer celebration would be complete without homemade ice cream?

images via creative commons

Here is my hand-me-down family recipe for homemade ice cream that I like to think could have been the exact recipe someone at that celebration used. *wink*

Click to enlarge - also available on my Pinterest board

For more of my Hand-Me-Down Family Recipes, click here >

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer

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