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Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Release -- ONE HOT KNIGHT -- Giveaway!

Come join us for a medieval collection of wonderful romantic tales that take place during the hottest part of the year with ONE HOT KNIGHT! This unusual offering of summertime stories set between the medieval times of 1100-1300, of hot nights and even hotter knights, will keep you reading long past bedtime.

You’ll be entranced with these five tales of knights and their ladies from some of today’s top medieval authors, as well as some rising stars in this up-and-coming genre.

Lindsay Townsend, Deborah Macgillivray, Cynthia Breeding, Angela Raines, and Keena Kincaid offer you some of the best medieval-themed stories written, filled with romance and intrigue, laced with traditions and celebrations of this rich era.

Prairie Rose Publications is proud to introduce yet another wonderful collection of exciting tales for your reading pleasure. ONE HOT KNIGHT is sure to bring you hours of enjoyment as you read on to find out how these knights and ladies will find their very own "happily-ever-after" endings at this very “hottest” time of year!

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In Lindsay Townsend’s A GATHERING OF HERBS, a father is betrayed by one son while the other tries to save him. Can Solomon defeat his wicked brother and also win beautiful Agnes, the woman he loves—or will he have to make a choice?
There’s something odd about Cianna Mackenzie—but she meets her match in Deborah Macgillivray’s GAMBIT, CHECK, AND MATE. Cianna strikes a bargain with powerful Iain Sinclair that she never intends to uphold. But how else can she save her people? Now, how will she save herself?
Scottish-born Brenna Montgomerie plays a deadly game of deception in Cynthia Breeding’s A KNIGHTLY CHALLENGE. When she’s found out, can she dare hope that a handsome English knight will show her mercy—and love?
With the help of the mysterious Esteban Montero, beautiful hostage Sophia Corbolini escapes her captors. Now, she must decide if she trusts him enough to put her fate in his hands through binding marriage vows. NORTH STAR by Angela Raines pits family members against one another as a new, true love shines bright.
A young woman’s life is changed forever in an instant in A QUIET NIGHT AT THE HAPPY MONK by Keena Kincaid. The Happy Monk tavern is everything to Johanna—home and livelihood. When the king sets his sights on her property in the midst of an uprising, Johanna must flee with her sometime lover, Giric—who happens to be a spy. How can she give up everything for love?    

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a ONE HOT NIGHT ebook.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Release -- A HEART BROKEN BY SARA BARNARD -- Giveaway!

Book Two

An Everlasting Heart
At last, the War Between the States is over! Sanderson Redding is finally home, and for Charlotte, life is good. Until the Army comes knocking. 

Sanderson's old captors have charged him with the murder of Lieutenant Lantz, who died mysteriously on the streets of St. Louis when the South surrendered. With help from the most unlikely sort, can Sanderson convince the Yankee jury of his innocence?

Left alone when Sanderson is carted off for murder, newly pregnant Charlotte is despondent. However, when the stress of their predicament threatens the life of their unborn child, Charlotte is more grateful than ever to have Minerva as her sister-in-law, and roommate.

When the judge sentences Sanderson to a suicide mission in lieu of hanging by the neck until dead, Charlotte knows she can't go along on this adventure. Between a hard pregnancy and a rash of hydrophobia that threatens the entire Arkansas countryside, Charlotte wonders if Sanderson will have a home waiting for him, if he survives the mission, and if he wants to come home at all. However, a freakish dog bite in the midst of the outbreak may well be the end of them all. 


     “Don’t die till we get to have some fun, girl.” Samuel’s whiskey-ruined voice was hot in Charlotte’s ear. Somewhere behind her, Dean’s maniacal laughter pulsated with cruelty. The Bowie knife grew closer to her face, but with her arms lashed behind her, Charlotte could only watch in helpless terror as the promise of death drew nearer.
     “Sanderson!” she screamed, just before the icy blade met the skin of her neck.
     “I’m here. I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Sanderson murmured into her hair. His arm, muscled and tanned, tightened around her middle. His voice was thick with sleep. “Was it that dream again?”
     She sat up and traced the knife scar at the base of her neck. The air was crisp in their loft and a rash of goose bumps cropped up on her exposed skin. “It was one of them. The knife one. I always wake up before they kill me, but I swear,” Charlotte shook her head to clear the nightmare from her mind, “it gets scarier every time.”
     “They’ll get worse before they get better.” Sanderson propped himself up on an elbow and ran his hand down her thigh. “Mine are pretty bad right now, too. But when I wake up and look at you, I know that I’m finally home.” 

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ecopy of A Heart Broken by Sara Barnard.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Have I got a story for you

A very fanciful news item made the rounds a few years ago: the discovery of the first gay caveman. When I saw the item, I figured the headline writers were just being salacious, as such writers are. However, the gay caveman was the conclusion of the lead archeologist.

A former newspaper editor of mine used to say, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” He was being sarcastic, of course. I can only imagine his words—most of them unprintable—if this story came across his desk.

The facts are that a man from the Corded Ware culture was found buried in a manner previously only seen in graves for females. According to the article, the society, sometimes called the Battle Ax or the Single Grave culture, typically buried people with gender-specific tools—weapons for men, pots and jugs for women.

So what does this mean? Well, apparently that the man was gay. Lead archeologist Kamila Remisova Vesinova said, “From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake. Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual.”

Far more likely? Far more likely that the archeologist either is looking for publicity or she forgot to check her biases at the door. Almost all societies did—and do—take burial rites seriously.

I’m not saying that the man in question wasn’t gay. In fact, we have no idea who he was, what he was, or why he was buried as a woman—and that is a great plot bunny. As a novelist, I could spin quite a tale about how the man came to be buried in such a manner. I actually made notes about a man who attacked the lord’s daughter and was buried in such a manner as an act of revenge. I haven't written the story yet, but it's fermenting in my mind.

What about you? If you were going to use this incident in a tale, what would be the story behind it? 

Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. You can find out more about her books here. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of her books.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Placer Gold Mining in California

When most people think of gold mining during the California Gold Rush, they have in mind placer mining. Placer gold is surface gold found in sand or gravel in rivers and creeks.

 In the early days of a gold strike when surface gold was readily available in gravel of stream beds, panning was the method of choice. This iconic picture shows a miner with a pan mining for gold. 
Panning Along the Tuolumne
Early miners, especially, if they could not find a gold pan, used tightly-woven Indian baskets. 

Gold Pan-Columbia State Park Museum, California
Panning for gold was the first method used in the California gold fields because it was inexpensive, fairly simple, and could be done by one person. This method used water to separate particles of gold from sand, gravel, and clay. A miner would shovel dirt into a pan, then swirl the pan under the water, until the gravel, clay, and most of the dirt was washed away. Since gold is heavier than these other substances, any gold in the original sample would remain in the pan. While this work was a simple and inexpensive method, it turned out to be extremely physically demanding. Miners had to work for hours in the sun, squatting near a stream, carefully performing precise movements so no gold would be lost.

Improvements were soon made to the process of panning for gold. First, the rocker was developed, an oblong box mounted on rockers and higher at one end.
Groups of three men usually worked together to pass dirt through a sieve, collecting the gold and gold dust that remained trapped behind the cleats nailed to the bottom. 
Rocker box-Columbia State Park Museum, California

Another variation was the sluice box, with cleats. The sluice box is a tool used in gold mining in which, a long trough style box with riffle bars or raised blocks on the bottom of the trough, trap pieces of gold as water, sand, and gravel wash through the box.

Rocker box with cleats-Columbia State Park Museum, California
These miners are shown standing among several sluice boxes.  

This method was easier than panning, as men could exchange jobs. Also, they were able to process much more dirt in a day, thus increasing the amount of gold found.

Since a rocker or cradle required at least three men, it was necessary for miners to find people with whom they were willing to share.

The long tom was an improvement on the rocker, and usually required 6 to 8 men. This was the start of developments that would move mining away from individual miners, and into the control of large corporations.

In the period of the California Gold Rush itself (roughly 1848-1853), perhaps 10-12 million ounces of gold were produced (worth many billions of dollars at today's prices). This was the era when individuals could hope to strike it rich.
Scales & Gold Dust-Columbia State Park Museum-California
Quite a few lucky miners did, but most barely made enough to live on. Eventually, many of the men drifted to other areas promising a boom, to other types of gold production, or other types businesses.


Hayes, Garry, “Mining History and Geology of the California Gold Rush,”

Columbia State Park Museum, Columbia, California

 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her first three novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine, A Resurrected Heart, and Her Independent Spirit were published by Prairie Rose Publications. Her novelette, He Is a Good Man, was published in the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Humane Societies

By Kristy McCaffrey

Henry Bergh
The first humane society in North America—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)—was founded by Henry Bergh in New York in 1866. Its purpose was, according to Bergh, “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” He established the ASPCA three days after the first legislation against animal cruelty was passed by the New York State Legislature. He had prepared these laws himself.

In 1873, Bergh made a lecture tour of the western U.S. which resulted in the formation of several similar societies. The American Humane Association was created in 1877 as a network of local organizations to prevent cruelty to children and animals.

One consequence of Bergh's work was the establishment of an ambulance corps for removing disabled animals from the street and a derrick for removing them from excavations into which they had fallen. He also invented a substitute for live pigeons with artificial ones as marks for sportsmen’s guns.

George Angell
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) was founded in Boston in 1868 by George Angell and Emily Appleton. Angell, after reading about two horses that were raced to death by carrying two riders each over 40 miles of rough roads, began a high-profile protest of animal cruelty. He also created a publication—Our Dumb Animals—as a way “to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” (“Dumb” refers to the fact that animals can’t speak.) The following year, the Massachusetts General Court passed the first anti-animal cruelty act.

By 1886, 39 states had adopted statutes relating to the protection of animals from cruelty, based on the original laws set forth by Henry Bergh in New York.

Today, the ASPCA is one of the largest humane societies in the world.

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Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenage children happen to be in residence.

Connect with Kristy

Monday, June 13, 2016

Color Me Surprised

As a cowboy action shooter, I try to make my costumes accurate to the period--though I don’t go all out like some [check out the costumes in the chow line to the left!].  Accurate to the period, to me, has always meant a blouse and skirt that would have been worn in the 1860s, in the same color family. I have an outfit in shades of blue, one that’s green and ivory---you get the idea.

Well… While at a cowboy shoot this past weekend, I met a man whose company, James Country Mercantile, specializes in reproducing clothing from the mid-1800s to 1910. And the colors astounded me. Here’s the period-correct pin-top apron that I bought (to go with that blue ensemble I mentioned before). Isn't that wild?!

Now, we’ve all seen the black and white photos of the period showing men in coat, vest, and trousers, many times in various patterns, and of women in their shirt waists in coordinating or matching patterns. What I didn’t know is those colors and patterns, to a modern eye, DON’T MATCH AT ALL!

In the Victorian period, color in your clothing demonstrated your wealth.  If a man wore a suit of all brown, it meant he was a dirt-poor working stiff!  When a man donned a garish mix of paisley and checks and flowers in four different colors---well, ladies, he was the one you wanted to hustle to the altar.

My dh has a pair of shooting pants that we lovingly refer to as the missing awning from a mercantile.  In period-correct costuming, to demonstrate his wealth, he’d add a yellow paisley shirt, a brown and red vest and an orange coat. I shudder to consider what the combination would actually look like. Rather like this, I imagine:

Bill “The Butcher” Cutter (center) from Gangs of New York

In Cowboy Action Shooting, you can also dress as your favorite character from a B-Western movie.  Here’s my favorite, ever (so far)--that's Beefalo Brun on the left.

Or maybe it's Fort Hays Preacher in his color-correct Lone Ranger getup on the right.

I must admit, I’m just getting started on this line of research, so expect to hear more.

Tracy Garrett