Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Once Upon a Time...

It's story time, dear readers! 😁

One day, about ten years ago, I plucked up my courage and hit the “post” button on my first blog post, announcing to the world that the immortal words of two debut YA authors explicating the finer points of 19th century cultural history as it related to young adults would henceforth appear in this place (or something like that.) And with that, NineteenTeen made its debut.

Ten years later—yeah, ten!—Regina and I are still at it, closing in on 1000 posts (this one will be # 972.) We’re still talking about the stray bits and piece of history we run across and how history can intersect with today, still talking about books, and still having a lot of fun.

There have been some unexpected develop-ments along the way. I started collecting early 19th century fashion prints mostly because I wanted to be able to show what young ladies were wearing in this era, and have ended up a 19th century fashion diva as a result with several albums of beautiful prints that give me a great deal of pleasure as well as knowledge (and they take up a lot less space than shoes!) I’ve met authors and read books that have become new favorites. I’ve been led down delightful paths of research on different topics, and hope that you have too.

But the best—the absolute best—part of blogging on NineteenTeen has been my partnership with Regina. We had just met back in 2007, nervous new acquaintances rooming together at the RWA national conference in Dallas that July. As I recall it (correct me if I’m wrong, Regina!) I suggested the idea of starting a blog together just as we were saying good-bye in the hotel’s lobby. And now, we’re here, still blogging...except now, I count Regina as one of my dearest, closest friends. So thank you, NineteenTeen readers, for reading our blog—and enabling a beautiful friendship along the way.

AND...since it’s a birthday party, there have to be presents—for you! Everyone who comments today will be entered to win one of two prizes—a $25 gift card to Amazon, and a print copy of any one of my book (winner's choice.) Comments close at 11:59 pm on Sunday 9/24/17, and will be announced in next Tuesday’s post.

That’ll be our 974th post, incidentally. Thank you for coming along for the previous 973. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nineteenth-Century Heroine: Taming the Frontier(sman)

One of the things I’ve enjoyed in my Frontier Bachelors series is discovering (or rediscovering) real-life heroes and heroines in my own backyard. We’ve talked about the irascible Doc Maynard, who some consider the rightful father of Seattle. That's him on the right. But that venerable gentleman was brought to heel by the powers of love, and Catherine Broshears Maynard is to blame. 

Catherine was born in 1816 near Louisville, Kentucky. She was 16 years old when she married her first husband, a dashing Mississippi river boat pilot. Israel Broshears gave up the river for her and turned to farming. In 1850, they joined a wagon train for Oregon, along with family members on both sides. Tragedy struck when the train reached Nebraska in the form of cholera. Catherine lost her husband, mother, and brother-in-law that day. But she gained a devoted follower.

Doc Maynard came upon the ailing party and tended the ill, even to the point of helping Catherine bury her family. Despite his work, several more died in the days that followed. He stayed with Catherine, helped her drive her team all the way to The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Doc had intended to continue to California. Instead, he followed Catherine to Olympia, where her brother had a business. In 1850, she was one of a handful of unmarried white women on Puget Sound, was pretty, and had an engaging personality. I wish I could have found a picture of her, but all were copyrighted.

Dark-haired, with a round, winsome face and maidenly curves, she was besieged by suitors, but she told her family she would marry Doc Maynard, or no one. One story says her family threatened to shoot him if he showed up at the door again.

See, there was a little problem. Doc was already married, though unhappily. He petitioned the territorial legislature to grant him a divorce, which they did in 1852. Unfortunately, no one told Lydia, his first wife. Without her consent, the divorce wasn’t legal. Catherine may not have known that, or she might not have cared, for she married her gallant doctor in January 1853 and never looked back.

Over the next 20 years, Catherine had many adventures. She made friends with Chief Seattle’s daughter, travelled by canoe up the Black and Green Rivers, and was nurse at Seattle’s first hospital. When Doc was sent to Port Madison to serve as Indian Agent, she lived without even a tent for shelter for some months. And when some of the Native Americans rose up in protest against the unfair treaties of 1855, Catherine and several Native American women canoed across Puget Sound to warn Seattle of the coming danger.

Album de la flora médico-farmacéutica é industrial, indígena y exótica (Pl. 81) BHL11238588.jpgAfterward, Doc too attempted to become a farmer, building Catherine a fine clapboard house on Alki Point. Alas, he proved a much better doctor than farmer. Catherine liked to joke she was the only farmer she knew who was always starving. Legend has it she planted the first dandelions in the area, as a medicinal plant. My dear husband would have a few words to say to her about introducing that plant.

Doc passed away in 1873, leaving Catherine a grieving widow once more. But that didn’t stop her from contributing to the community she so loved. She opened a free public library in her home. During her later years, in her 60s and 70s, she rode astride over Snoqualmie Pass many times to visit family in Ellensburg, where she opened another hospital, birthed babies, sewed up gun-shot cowboys, and even amputated a man’s leg to save his life.  

Catherine died in Seattle in 1906 at the age of 90. Her funeral was one of the largest ever held in the City. She is remembered as a grand pioneer lady, who tamed not only the frontier, but the legendary Doc Maynard.

And speaking of legendary, next week we celebrate a legend in the making--10 years of Nineteen Teen! Join us for a very special blog birthday, with presents for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Mmm, another fashion print for my collection!

That’s what I thought when this charming Morning Walking Dress print from the November 1811 edition of La Belle Assemblee arrived in my mailbox last week. It’s an interesting design for a dress: the orange tunic trimmed with lace and navy blue braided frogging—a dashingly military touch!—over a muslin under-dress...the matching close-fitting hat with its bold, sweeping blue feather...the strappy shoes peeping out at the bottom... wonderful!

But as I peered closely at it to admire the details (regrettably, there are brown spots known as "foxing" around her face--after all, this is over two hundred years old), it slowly occurred to me to pay attention to what the lady in the snazzy ensemble was actually doing: she’s holding a small golden box in her left hand, while bringing the fingers of her right hand up to her nose...

Good heavens—I do believe the lady in this print is taking snuff!

Snuff—at it most basic, powdered tobacco—was popular in the 18th century and into the early 19th. The Prince Regent was devoted to snuff-taking, as were many of his friends: there were snuff shops where various blends of different tobaccos and other herbals were sold, and mixing one’s own preferred recipe was a hobby among some die-hards. Even some ladies took snuff—including the Prince Regent’s mother, Queen Charlotte—but its use wasn’t as widespread among women because...well, it could eventually stain one’s nostrils and upper lip a not very flattering brown, and often led to unattractive sneezing. Not an alluring lookbut obviously some ladies didn’t mind...!

On the other hand, here’s something to not sneeze at: for the next several days, you can get By Jove on sale for 99 cents! It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple’s iBooks store,
as well as directly from the publisher, Book View Cafe.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Gentlest Wallin of All

Mail-Order Marriage Promise is the sixth book in my Frontier Bachelors series set in pioneer Seattle. Originally, I was only going to have three books in the series—one each for three friends who sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast after the Civil War to become brides for frontiersmen. The friends included Allegra Banks Howard (The Bride Ship), Catherine Stanway (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), and Maddie O’Rourke (Instant Frontier Family). But something funny happened when I wrote Catherine’s story.

I met the Wallins.

Pa Wallin was originally from Sweden. He immigrated to the U.S. and settled in the Great Lakes region, where he met and married Ma Wallin, who had Swedish and English blood. They proceeded to have five boys and a girl, the youngest of which was only four when they set off on the Oregon Trail, ending up in Washington Territory, just north of Seattle.

You see, Pa Wallin had a dream. He envisioned a graceful city along the shores of Lake Union, with parks and bandstands and libraries and schools. He wanted someplace people could feel at home, regardless of where they’d originated. When he died in a tragic logging accident, it fell to his oldest son, Drew, to lead the family and build the town that honored their father’s legacy.

So far, the noble Drew (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), pragmatic Simon (A Convenient Christmas Wedding), and charming James (Frontier Engagement) have had their own stories told. Mail-Order Marriage Promise tells the story of the next brother, John.

John is the dreamer of the family, the peacemaker. John’s strength comes from the books he devours. He  would rather think through a problem then raise his fists and fight to the end. Though Drew, Simon, and James are all within a few years of each other, John is actually 10 years Drew’s junior. He grew up looking at his older brothers as heroes. No one was a strong and dependable as Drew. No one was as smart and logical as Simon. No one was as witty as James. With them for comparisons, it’s no wonder John doesn’t consider himself hero material.

But then, sometimes all it takes is a smile of encouragement, a desperate need no one else can meet, and heroes are made.

I hope you’ll give John Wallin’s story a try. Here are the buy links one last time:

An independent bookstore near you 
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Keeping a Promise

When you start writing a series for a traditional publisher, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to finish it. Tastes changes, priorities shift, lines fade away. Knowing that, I’m pleased that I will be able to finish my Frontier Bachelor series for Love Inspired, telling the stories of siblings John, Levi, and Beth Wallin in 1870s Seattle, beginning with Mail-Order Marriage Promise, releasing today.

Stunned that his sister ordered him a mail-order bride, John Wallin insists he’s not the husband Dottie Tyrrell needs. The scholarly logger knows Dottie will make the perfect wife—for some other man. Yet he’s compelled to invite the lovely widow and her infant son to stay with his family…but only until she can find her own way. 

Dreams of true love are for other women. Betrayed by her baby’s father, Dottie just wants a safe home for her precious child. But who could resist a man with John’s quiet strength? When her secret past brings danger to their door, they may yet find this mail-order mix-up to be the perfect mistake…

Here’s a little taste:

“I can’t deny that the wilderness holds dangers,” John told Dottie, pouring the milk into the steel can. “But my family has worked hard for nearly twenty years to tame the wilderness. If you look closer, you may find things to love about the area.” He set the pail on the floor. “Here, let me show you.”

He held out his hand. She looked at it as if the gesture was foreign to her. Then a shudder went through her. He refused to back down. He couldn’t see her going to sleep this worried.

He almost shouted a hallelujah when she slipped her fingers into his grip.

He led her through the house, pausing in the bedroom doorway to check on Peter, who had indeed fallen asleep, then out onto the porch. The velvet black of the night wrapped around them. He pointed up at the semicircle of stars. “See there?”

He could barely make her out in the darkness, but he saw her shadow move as she must have looked up. “The stars?” she asked.

“Exactly.” He leaned closer, caught that sweet apricot scent. “See that long dip down and across? That’s Ursa Major, the great bear.”

He heard the smile in her voice. “Peter would like that.”

“You might like this one better. See that M shape? That’s Cassiopeia, the queen.”

She must have turned her head to look at him, for he felt her breath brush his ear. “Where did you learn that?”

“I read about it in a book.” He felt a little self-conscious admitting it. Men were supposed to go out and discover things, not sit at home and read about them. “Catherine’s friend Allegra Banks Howard loaned it to me. It had the latest scientific theories about stars and galaxies. Do you know Earth is only one planet among a group of planets, and that group is only one of perhaps millions out there in space?”

“My word.” She sounded as awed as he’d felt when he’d read the book.

“Those stars look like tiny pricks of light to us, but they’re as big, or bigger, than the sun. We’re the ones who are tiny, in the scheme of things.”

“I feel that way sometimes,” she murmured, and he thought she was looking up again.

“But they’re so far away,” John told her. “There’s nothing there to harm us. Now, listen.”

She stilled beside him.

“Do you hear that shush-shush sound? That’s the waves on Lake Union.”

She nodded, and a curl caressed his cheek. “I didn’t know a lake could have waves.”
“I understand larger ones do. Lake Union isn’t that large, but the breeze from the Sound encourages the water to move. Now, take a deep breath.”

She inhaled.

“What do you smell?” he asked.

“Something dry and flowery, and just a touch of brine.”

“The pungent flowery scent is the cedar not far from the house. It’s a massive thing, probably been growing more than a hundred years. I didn’t have the heart to cut it down. I’ll show it to you and Peter. And the touch of brine is Puget Sound, beyond the hill behind us. To me, this is the smell of home.”

She drew in another breath as if she wanted to sense it, too.

He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to look down toward the main clearing. “Now, see those lights? That’s Drew and Catherine, James and Rina, Beth, Harry, Tom and Dickie. You shout loud enough, and every one of them will come running to help you.” He turned her back to face him. “And so will I.”

“Will you?” Her voice begged him for the truth.

“Always,” John promised. “You’re safe here at Wallin Landing, Dottie.”

He felt her trembling in his grip. He only wanted to assure her that nothing could hurt her, that he wouldn’t let anything hurt her. It seemed only right to lower his head and kiss her.

As he’d expected, her lips were soft and sweet, and something rose inside him, demanding that he protect her, cherish her, take the risk that she could be the one for him.

He’d meant to comfort her, lessen her fears. Why was he the one who was suddenly afraid?

You can find Mail-Order Marriage Promise at fine online retailers and bookstores near you:

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Day Seattle Built a Railroad

The Transcontinental Railroad shaped the course of many a state’s history. The towns it passed through experienced building booms, population booms, business booms, at least in the short term. The towns it bypassed in some cases shriveled up and died. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Seattle reacted badly when its leaders learned that the Northern Pacific Railway had chosen Tacoma to the south as its terminus on Puget Sound. 

Arthur Denny read the telegram aloud from the city center to an eager crowd expecting good news. When they heard the decision was for Tacoma, cries echoed against the single-story buildings. The newspapers decried such an unfair decision. Seattle had the better harbor. Seattle had the Territorial University. How could the jewel of the Sound have been overlooked? Right then and there, the city fathers vowed they would not suffer silently.

They’d build their own railroad.

The plan was ambitious. They would lay trestle across the bay and out to the coal fields being developed on the other side of Lake Washington. From there, they would push the tracks up into the mountains, crossing what is now Snoqualmie Pass but what was then no more than sparsely traveled trail, to wend across the eastern half of the territory to Walla Walla. Think of it. The timber, salmon, and coal from Seattle heading to the burgeoning agricultural depot of the state, a major supply center for the gold mines in Idaho. Their fortunes were made.

It didn’t matter that they lacked any expertise in laying track or building the structures needed to span bays, rivers, and mountains. Within a week they had elected commissioners for the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad and filed articles of incorporation. It didn’t matter that they lacked funding. They issued $10 million in stock. You could buy it for $100 a share, or you could pay in-kind—by working, lending tools, or splitting wood for railroad. They had vision, they had purpose. They had the will of the approximately 800 people who called Seattle home.
File:A.A. Denny, Seattle's first steam locomotive (5017555191).jpg

For nearly a year, the papers kept the story alive. On May 1, 1874, canons boomed and the Seattle band played while every man, woman, and child in Seattle marched out to a spot some 3 miles south of the city to begin felling trees and clearing the way for the track that was to be laid. Everyone, from Mayor Henry Yesler to the most common sawmill worker, helped for free. The men did the heavy work; the women brought food and drink for a massive picnic to keep their spirits and energy up. Together, they managed to clear and grade 1 mile that day, and 12 miles by the end of October, when weather made it more difficult to work.

The Seattle railroad never did make it over the mountain, but it did arrive at the coal mines, bringing tons of the black gold to ships waiting in the harbor. You might say it was a labor not of love but of justification.

And speaking of labor, Marissa and I will be off next week and the week after for Labor Day, but come back September 5 to celebrate a new release in the Frontier Bachelors series, in which the Seattle May Day picnic looms large, Mail-Order Marriage Promise.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Retro Blast: Big White Horses

Although this week is all about shadows (did you get to see the eclipse yesterday? )summer for me summons thoughts of sunshine and green...and, occasionally, big white horses. Enjoy this retro blast from 2011.)
Our first summer excursion is to Wiltshire, a county southwest of London about halfway to Cornwall. Wiltshire is home to Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge, probably Great Britain’s most famous prehistorical site; it’s a place of rolling, open hills, called downs, with little farming due to the poor nature of the soil.

But it’s the nature of that poor soil that makes Wiltshire—and other places across southern England—the first stop on our Summer Tour. Forming the hills under that thin soil is chalk—yes, the white stuff formerly used to write on blackboards in classrooms. And at some point back in prehistory, someone figured out that you could cut shallow trenches in the soil to expose the underlying chalk, and create enormous pictures spreading across hillsides…like this:That’s the 374 ft. long White Horse of Uffington, (nearby in Oxfordshire, by the way, not Wiltshire) dating back to about 3000 years ago. But in historical times, chalk cutting became a popular pastime for landowners, and Wiltshire is home to several of them. There’s the Westbury White Horse, carved in the 1770s for a Mr. Gee (though it may have covered an earlier figure—mention of a horse carving there dates back to 1742):
And here’s another, the Cherhill White Horse, carved in 1780 by a Dr. Alsop and measuring about 160 feet across:The somewhat smaller--62 ft--Marlborough White Horse was carved in 1804 by schoolboys from a nearby school, and refurbishing it was a yearly school tradition. These chalk figures require upkeep—weeding and replenishing the chalk—at frequent intervals: So what inspired people to spend a great deal of effort to dig trenches hundreds of feet long to form these pictures? The 18th century was really the first great period of English landscape gardening, and carving chalk figures into hillsides was one way to play with the landscape, if you happened to own hundreds of acres in chalk down country. I am sure our young 19th century tourist misses, on their way perhaps to view the stately homes at Longleat or Fonthill Abbey (which I shall write about later this summer), enjoyed side trips to view these images, startlingly white against the green summer grass.

And enormous horses aren’t the only chalk carvings around; huge figures of men also exist such as the Wilmington Figure (which may also date to prehistoric times) and the Cerne Abbas Giant, probably carved during the English Civil War as a sort of satirical cartoon of Oliver Cromwell! The practice continues even today, as a White Horse was created just in 2003 at Folkestone in Kent, overlooking the terminal for the Channel Tunnel. And they remain a tourist attraction in the 21st century; visit http://wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/ to learn more about Wiltshire’s White Horses.