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Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Release -- TEXAS ROSE by Tracy Garrett -- Giveaway!

Texas, 1847~

A PROMISE MADE…

A loner with a heart of ice and nerves of steel. A dangerous, fast gun for hire. Jaret Walker has only his honor and the reputation he’s built for himself to call his own. When a promise sends him to isolated Two Roses Ranch and Isabel Bennett, the woman he’s come to protect, all he can think of is making her his—in every way. But she’s the kind of woman a man like him can never have—for he’s a man with a past that haunts him, and with no future to share. 

A SCORCHING DESIRE…

The moment Isabel Bennett lays eyes on Jaret Walker, the dreams she’s pushed aside for so long suddenly seem possible. She’s sworn never to marry and give a man control over her ranch. But when Jaret rides into her life, she’s tempted to taste what she’s sworn to give up—a passion that burns out of control with each kiss…desire that consumes them both…and a bold challenge from the future that neither of them believed in…until now…

Previously published as Touched by Love.


“Suspenseful, heart-warming, and…unforgettable.”    
              –New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath


“Well-written, entertaining Western. A tender story about two people who find out that belonging to each other is all they need.” 
              –Romantic Times, 4-star review

EXCERPT:

     He breathed a little easier when the general met him in the promenade. Their business went quickly, and with the exchange of gold, a prisoner was delivered into Jaret’s keeping.
     Nick Bennett looked a lot thinner than when Jaret left him here three months ago. This place could do that to a man. Suck him down to dry bones in no time. Jaret had no intention of giving the general time to change his mind. Ignoring Bennett’s glare, Jaret led him out the gate to freedom. “Don’t say a word,” he hissed under his breath. “Just follow me.”
     They mounted and rode double as soon as they cleared the bridge. The mare seemed to want to get away from the prison, too, and kept to a steady trot over the first hill and out of sight. Jaret guided her back to where he’d concealed another horse before he slowed the pace.
     “Why?” The single word held all of Nick Bennett’s hatred and fury and confusion.
     “You didn’t belong in there.”
Bennett accepted Jaret’s help off the horse, balancing against the saddle until his knees would hold him. “I told you that before you brought me here.”
     “True, but I expected you to say that. I’d been told different.” Jaret drew a knife from his boot and sliced through the ropes binding Nick’s wrists.
     “What changed your mind?”
     “I found out someone wants you dead—and I was the way they chose to do it. I don’t hire out for murder.” 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook.


     

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Genealogy Chart for Characters?


BY CELIA YEARY

My new re-released series The Camerons of Texas have beautiful new covers and are now on Amazon.


The first is TEXAS BLUE, the story of Marilee Weston who marries Jeffrey “Buck” Cameron. She is the mother of Josephine (Josie) Weston who was fathered out-of-wedlock by Judge Douglas Paxton. Buck is the middle adult child of the original Camerons. Buck and Marilee move away from Nacogdoches to a ranch southeast of Austin. A daughter is born there, named True Lee Cameron.

TEXAS PROMISE  is Book II—The Camerons of Texas. This book tells the story of  Marilee and Buck’s older daughter, Josephine, who marries Dalton King in Austin, Texas. They locate two-year-old Laura Lynn Paxton, half-niece to Josephine, and adopt her. A son, Alexander “Alex” King is born in Austin.

TEXAS TRUE is Book III—The Camerons of Texas—The younger daughter, True, marries Samuel Deleon in Austin. They are awarded custody of Sam’s niece, Lacy Deleon, and nephew, Antonio Deleon. They move to the Deleon Ranch in South Texas. A son is born, named Jackson Rene Deleon.

TEXAS DREAMER is Book IV—the Camerons of Texas. This one is about Lee King, one of Buck Cameron’s nephews.  While in Houston, Lee meets Emilie McDougal, who is as much a dreamer as he. They form a bond, more like a business deal, until they learn they want more from the other.


From these four stories, I have the beginning of a Cameron Genealogy Chart. Although I haven’t written stories about the children born to or adopted these couples, I do have a chart created which shows how each is related.

At the moment, I could write ten more novels, each about a descendent of the Camerons.

Whew. Trust me, it’s only in theory.

In addition, I’ve toyed with another line from Sam Deleon, a character who didn’t fit in at first, but became one of the movers and shakers of early Texas oil. The series might be The Deleons of Texas.
Is this a common practice among writers of series? I wonder. If so, I’d like to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by the PRP blog today. All my books can be found on Amazon under Celia Yeary.


 Celia Yeary

Romance, and a little bit of Texas




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Desire for God, Power, and Learning

This is the fifth of a six-part series about the Middle Ages with the goal of giving casual readers of medieval romances a better understanding of the time period. This brief blog doesn’t even begin to cover it the complexity of the Middle Ages or why Friar Tuck and Jorge de Burgos are both equally representative of medieval Men of God.
  
Previously
In First the Fall, Then the Babarians, we discussed the macro trends of the early medieval period and how they set the foundation for the Early Middle Ages. We painted kings and knights with a broad brush and learned the benefits of political stability in Huzzah! Knights, Kings and Living the High Life. We looked at war and social change in Ideals of Chivalry and Realities of War and discussed the lives of medieval women in Wives, Mothers, and Nuns. Today, we’re focusing on The Desire for God, Power, and Learning.


The Church (in the Middle Ages there was only one) is a rich, complex subject, which is why thousands of books have been written on it. The desire for God, for learning, for power, for refuge, for utopia can be found in the men and women (but mostly men) who served as friars, monks, priests, bishops, abbots and popes.

The idea of the separation of Church and State would be heretical to the medieval mind. We have a hard time understanding how intertwined life and faith were in medieval Europe. The cycle of prayers, holy days, and sacraments marked the hours, days and stages of a person’s life. Sin was a state of being; evil, an active presence, and purgatory’s cleansing tortures a real and terrifying thought. This is medieval Europe.

On the surface, it appears the Christianization of the Saxons, the Franks and other tribes took place in a relatively short period of time. But beliefs and thoughts change slowly. Evidence suggests that many people in the early Middle Ages hedged their bets by practicing both Christian and Pagan rites. Hence, pagan beliefs mingled with Christian traditions and persisted throughout the Middle Ages.

Herb lore, sympathetic magic, and the supernatural all fell under the umbrella of Christianity. Angels and saints interceded; demons interfered. A drop of the Virgin Mary's milk would help with conception and childbirth. A neighbor's curse would cause your cow to founder and die. 

If you scratch the surface, you’ll find two churches in the Middle Ages: the local church and the Church.

A tale of two churches

Stone musicians from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The local Church was the center of the medieval community. Important events took place within the confines of the Church or churchyard. Baptism took place within a few hours of birth. Marriages were celebrated in the churchyard. Masses were in Latin, but sermons would be in the vernacular, and holy days determined what you ate that day.

At this level, the church was the priests and local monastics. It was human, it was involved, and it was concerned with individuals. This was where pagan traditions became mixed with Christian custom, where herb lore and sympathetic magic were part of daily life, and where people prayed to saints that were former pagan gods and made pilgrimages to shrines that had been sacred for thousands of years without ever questioning their Christian faith.

The Church, on the other hand, was an organized, bureaucratic entity most interested in strengthening its position and growing its power. By the 13th century, the pope oversaw a transnational “monarchy” that was larger and wealthier than any other kingdom at the time. Popes asserted their claims to rule by divine authority and argued the spiritual kingdom was higher than temporal kingdoms. The rulers of these earthly kingdoms disagreed. The struggle between miter and crown lasted centuries but rarely touched the common people unless the kingdom was under interdict, which meant local priests were forbidden to administer sacraments).

The wealth, political influence and sheer size of the church are hard to exaggerate. It directed movements like the Crusades, kept learning alive long enough for literacy to become a necessity again, and moderated society through the promotion of ethical warfare, a system of courts, expanding education to the laity and sponsoring the military orders that provided safe transportation along the pilgrim routes.

The power of The Church is also often over-emphasized. Its teachings were as much a reflection of society, as society was a reflection of it. For instance, the Church didn’t direct society’s view of women, but reinforced society’s view and restated it in extreme rhetoric. The same was true for non-believers, homosexuals, heretics or anyone who didn’t confirm to the social standards of the day. However, people didn’t always align with institutional dogma. Templar knights in Jerusalem were friends with Muslims, merchants and bankers had business relationships with Jews, and women ran businesses and fiefdoms in their husband’s absence or in widowhood.


Many monks worked in the scriptorium, copying ancient texts and illuminating prayer books like the one above. 

Poverty, obedience andsay what?

For some, the word “monasticism” calls to mind the soft whoosh of rough robes on stone, of sleepy monks shuffling from the dormitory through a narrow slype to the church choir. Voices rise and fall in chanted worship in the dark night. Others only think about what the monks supposedly renounced: personal wealth and comfort, free will, and physical pleasure.

Close up of marginalia from an illuminated manuscript. 
Monasticism, like Feudalism, matured over time. The key to understanding it is to view it as a verb. It’s not an ideal, like chivalry, but a discipline, like kung fu. It’s a way of living where everything extraneous to worship is purged.

We’ve discussed the myths of knighthood. Similarly, the myths of monasticism are just as uninteresting when compared to the reality. The stereotype seems to ping between the ale-loving, goodhearted Friar Tuck to the judgmental, murderous monk Jorge de Burgos from the The Name of the Rose

In the beginning, monks were men and women who wanted to live a life of worship and prayer, separating themselves from the world to avoid distractions. By the high Middle Ages, not all monks were there to live a life of prayer. They were drawn to an order by a love of learning, a desire to serve their communities, or because their parents gave them to the order as boys.

Women, as usual, had fewer options. Although many of us shudder at the thought of being cloistered and celibate, these women had access to learning, the opportunity to govern the order, and a place of respect in society. They tended outlived their married sisters, and somewhere back in graduate school, I remember reading that nuns enjoyed fewer wrinkles and more robust health as they aged than other women.


Most importantly, rather than being viewed as cowards for withdrawing from the world, monks were generally viewed as spiritual knights, tirelessly working to protect people from the ravages of sin.


News eyes, old data

Much of how we currently interpret history comes out of the social history movement of the 20th century. After World War I, when much of the western world lost faith in its political, religious, and social institutions, people began to look at the "every day life of every day people." Medievalists began to scour the records for facts on the social life of the times and began re-interpreting those facts according to the fashion of the day. The feminist movement, the ecumenical movement, and the P.C. movement have been absolute boons in giving us new ways of interpreting medieval society and unearthing small details that went unnoticed when historical research and teaching focused on kings and wars.

As writers, all this academic gold mining gives us a great deal of room to maneuver. Our local priests can be greedy or saintly or barely literate. Monks succor the poor, reform the church, or retire from crusades to solve crimes. Bishops can be sincere and pious or money-grubbing social climbers. Our hero can be as involved or uninvolved in the struggle between church and crown as we need him to be. Our heroes and heroines can interact with individuals in ways that might defy the “official” position. Just keep in mind, our hero or heroine isn’t going to be a pantheist or an atheist. Those words would mean nothing to them, and egalitarianism is inconceivable because of the Great Chain of Being.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of my medieval romances.


Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. Her books are available from Prairie Rose Publications and Amazon. For more information on her stories, visit her Amazon page, her website, or Facebook.

The restless dead in Medieval times. Revenants and More.

Did people in the Middle Ages believe in ghosts? They certainly believed in restless spirits, which they called revenants, from the Latin meaning ‘to return’. It was believed that the unquiet dead, particularly those who had died by violence or by reason of a grudge, or those who would not give up strong passions and carnal pleasures, would return to haunt the living. These revenants might appear within a graveyard or in a particular area, known to them in life, and terrorize the living.


In 'Dark Maiden' I have a woman who is tormented by a lusty revenant who comes to her bed and tries to lie with her. Yolande, my heroine, learns that in this case the restless dead is the woman's husband. As an exorcist, Yolande takes certain steps to ensure that his widow is no longer plagued. You can find out what she does in the novel.



Here's an excerpt to give you a flavour. Yolande is talking to the villagers in their church. All the things she speaks of were believed or done in the Middle Ages.

“Godith, I have said it already. This is no vampire,” Yolande repeated for the third time.
       “How do you know that?”
       “Because there is no plague, pestilence or disease here. There is a restless soul, a revenant, yes, but one drawn by love and desire, not by hate.” Her lips quivered slightly, the only sign of tension in her. “I will write a letter of absolution and the soul will find his rest.”
       “Does that mean the dreams—”
       “Another matter altogether. I will work on that when I have finished with the revenant.”
       “Yet how can that be, and so simple? A letter?”
       “Being a sacred scribe is not simple,” Geraint put in. He wanted to wag a finger at the noisy goodwife, but confined  himself to folding his arms across his chest. “Can you write, Mistress Reeve?”
        Even in the dim orange flames, he could see Godith blush. “We heard his dogs outside,” she exclaimed, as indignant as a hen pushed off its nest and determined to have her say. “They come because they dread him and how is that good? How can he be good?”
       “Whose dogs?” Yolande stepped forward into the heart of the nave and bore down on Godith. “Was he a huntsman, a forester? I promise I will harm nothing, do no injury to any of your kin, be they living or passed on.”
        She stood tall and slim as a lily, a gentle dark Madonna. The drooping garland of Christmas roses hung from her belt like a perfumed cloud, the candle and brazier flames surrounded her like a halo. “Please, let me help you. Let me help this poor soul to his final, honored rest.”
        “He was a huntsman for our lord. Martin, his name was,” remarked a quiet, weary voice. “He was my husband. He owned the dogs, though they come to me now, and often not only them… We buried him last month by the church gate so he can see our house.”
        A squat ball of a woman pushed through the reluctant villagers, with a son and daughter trailing behind like ducklings. When she looked up at Yolande, Geraint saw the grooved shadows under the woman’s eyes and could not help but notice how her homespun dress bagged on her.
       Martin liked his woman very plump, but she has lost much flesh of late.
       “Perhaps we buried him too close,” she was saying. “He can find us—find me—so easily. Father William said he would rest.”
        Father William knows little of rest himself these days. Geraint disliked the clergy but even he could find a little pity for this less-than-holy father.
       “Daughter, I can give him peace,” Yolande said gently. “He loved you greatly, yes?” And more gently still, “He seeks to remain with you? By day and by night? Does he come as himself, or as shadow?”
       “Shadow. Ah God!” The woman shuddered and fresh tears burst from her. Yolande swiftly drew her aside to the south wall of the nave, talking to her and her children in a low, urgent way. Geraint could tell it by the set of her shoulders and by the way she lifted and stretched out both arms as if to shield the stricken family.
       “She yours?”
        Geraint deigned to glance at the smith, disliking the fellow already, the more so because the fellow was still looming in church. “My lady is her own.”
        “Bitten off more than she can chew here, I wager.”


More details of 'Dark Maiden' here


Read Chapter One

Lindsay Townsend

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rise and Fall of Sutter's Fort - Part 2




This post is not going to feature the details of the discovery of gold in California that took place in Coloma, California. That will be a separate blog post. Rather, it will highlight the effect of this discovery on John Sutter and his fort. 


John Sutter received a land grant from Mexico for the purpose of building an empire within Alta California. To review last month’s post on John Sutter’s fort, please CLICK HERE.

In 1848, two important events took place which affected Sutter and his fort. 

First, on January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter from New Jersey who had been hired by Sutter to construct a sawmill on the American River near Coloma, discovered gold. 

The second big event was the end of the Mexican-American war and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hilgado granting a large chunk of former Mexican territory to the United States. Included in this land transfer was Alta California which became California Territory.

At first, Sutter tried to keep news of the discovery of gold quiet. His focus was on building his empire. However, people cannot keep their collective mouths shut, and news of the discovery spread like wildfire.

John Sutter’s land grant did not extend to Coloma. He built the mill near a source of water and timber in order to provide lumber for construction at his fort. Sutter had negotiated an agreement with the Indians to use that land and cut timber in exchange for a promise of clothing and other items. He regarded it as open Indian land, not belonging to anyone. However, once the United States took over the administration of California Territory, the U. S. military governor in Monterey, Colonel Richard B. Mason, refused to accept it. Mason maintained that the Indians had no title to the land. According to him, it belonged to the United States by right of conquer.

1850 Upper California Map

Sutter worried that "easy" gold would make it difficult to get men to work. He needed workers to build the gristmill to grind his flour, and for constructing other farming facilities that would make his empire--the New Helvetia--profitable. 

Sutter had no legal means of keeping gold-seekers from the sawmill site. His workers, all but the Mormons, deserted to search for gold. The Mormons, having been instructed by the leader of their church to stay in California to work a year or two and bring their earnings back to the Salt Lake Valley, the new land in which the Mormons were settling, stayed and finished the mill, panning for gold on Sundays and holidays. However, once the mill was completed, they also chose to leave.

John Sutter tried desperately to find ways to profit from the discovery. However, neither he nor John Marshall ever enjoyed the wealth, power, and prestige they felt they deserved. Neither had legal claim to the Coloma area, nor to the land on which the mill was located.

As word of the gold discovery spread world-wide, and gold-seekers flocked to California, their numbers and disregard for his rights to his land and all that he had built spelled the beginning of the end for Sutter’s Fort. Many proved to have come from the ranks of the lawless, and others who had been lawful citizens of their countries, turned to lawless ways as the greed for easy wealth consumed them.

Sutter's Fort 1849
On September 1849 (Sept 1, 1849) J. A. Moerenhout again visited the Fort and describes the dramatic change of conditions there:

"The growth and importance of this new settlement (Sacramento City) has exhibited are among the marvelous things that are happening in this country. Last year, I was at this place at the same season and there was not a house or even a tent there. Only a few little schooners lay in the port and the only business of any importance was a trade or barter carried on at the Fort of New Helvetia. Now there is a town of 3,000 to 4,000 inhabitants there, with a quay lined with fine buildings, streets laid out and with a large volume of business that increases as communication with the placers and the interior becomes more regular and easy, and where thirty-five ships were at anchor, the smallest of which was fifty to sixty tons. Sutter's Fort has lost all importance since the founding of the settlements on the Sacramento River. In the Fort itself there is still a hotel and a few stores, but its business is languishing and there is no longer any stir and activity as prevailed there at the time of my visit in 1848."

Sutter's agricultural enterprises began to fall apart. He got his wheat harvested, but there was no one to thrash it. The stone wheels of his grist mill never produced any flour. Hides rotted in his tannery vats. Squatters settled in brush shelters in his fields and vandalized the fort itself, stealing, according to Sutter, even the bells from his fort. In no time, his sheep and cattle were stolen and his land was occupied by squatters. 

By 1852 John Sutter was bankrupt and his land was filled with squatters. In 1857, the squatters took Sutter to court over the legality of his titles and the U.S. Land Commission decided in Sutter's favor. 
1867 Photograph of what remained of Sutter's Fort

However, a year later, the Supreme Court declared portions of his title invalid. Sutter then sought reimbursement of his losses associated with the California Gold Rush, but received only $250 per month from the State of California in 1864.  The final blow came on June 7 of 1865, when a small band of men set fire to his house, completely destroying the structure.

Sutter's Fort in Ruins painting by Amanda Austin

Sutter and his wife, Nanette, then moved to Lititz, Pennsylvania and John continued to fight the U.S. Government for compensation for his losses. For the next 15 years, the undisputed founder of California petitioned Congress for restitution but little was done. On June 16, 1880, Congress adjourned, once again, without action on a bill which would have paid Sutter $50,000. Two days later John Augustus Sutter died in a Washington D.C. hotel. He was returned to Lititz and is buried in the Moravian Cemetery. Mrs. Sutter died the following January and is buried with him.

Sutter's Fort in Ruins - Painting by Vivian Calthea
John Sutter’s great fiefdom was destroyed. All of his holdings and Sutter's Fort were lost to the ever-increasing masses seizing everything in pursuit of instant wealth.

Sources:



http://www.militarymuseum.org/Sutter.html

Wikipedia