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Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Why does the subject of mail order brides hold such an attraction for us as readers and as authors? Maybe we wonder if we could take such a chance.

What would make a woman leave everything familiar to her and travel to “parts unknown” to marry a man she knew nothing about? What’s scarier than online dating? Being a mail-order bride! Once they’d made the commitment to leave their homes behind—much to the consternation of many family members and friends, in some cases, I would imagine—the die was cast.

Livia J. Washburn, Celia Yeary, Jacquie Rogers and I decided we would write a boxed set of stories about four sisters--the Remington sisters--who were going to be virtually "sold" by their stepfather into loveless marriages for his benefit. After overhearing these plans--what could they do?

A woman would have to be certain in her own mind that what she was going to was better than what she was leaving behind. She would have to be resourceful enough to plan some kind of “exit strategy” if things didn’t work out. And I suppose, many times, women resigned themselves to the fact that they would become a soiled dove—the lowest of the low—in order to survive.

In spite of all the scenarios we might come up with for a mail-order bride to leave the life she had known behind her for something completely foreign to her, there are, I’m sure, many that we never could have even contemplated. For each story is personal, intimate, and heart-rending in its own right.

But our intrepid sisters come up with a scheme to get themselves to safety--and anything would be better than what their stepfather has planned for them--of that, they are certain.

Here's a bit about their background and each of the four sisters:

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker's bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.


Both Cam and Sabrina have secrets--Cam has pretended to be his brother, Robert, in an effort to find out if Sabrina could care about him. Being half Cherokee is a burden he knows too well--and he knows he's got to have the right kind of wife to survive in Indian Territory. But Sabrina has not been entirely forthcoming with her situation, either. Let's take a look...

“I’d—I’d like an explanation,” she said frostily.

“And I’m gonna give you one, Sabrina. The best I can, any-how.” Cam raked a hand through his hair. “Let’s sit down over here—”

“No, thank you. I’ll stand.” Her voice was prim, proper, and as icy as a frozen pond in January.

Cam sighed, hooking his thumbs in his gun belt and tilting his head back to look at the night sky. “You’re not making this any easier.”

“No. I don’t intend to. You’ve deceived me. You’ve made me feel…foolish.” She let out a deep breath. With it went some of her anger. “I trusted you, C-Cameron.” It was still hard to think of him as “Cameron” rather than “Robert”—and it was going to take some getting used to.

Cam took a step toward the boulder he’d sat on earlier. “I’m sorry for that. It was wrong of me, ’Brina. But I had to be sure—”

“Sure? Of what? I’m the one who’s given up everything to come here to a place where I don’t know anyone—evidently, even my husband—to a land that is unfamiliar—”

“Sabrina, you haven’t given up everything. Even though, right now, you may not recognize it, I’m your best bet for any protection you might need.”


He bent a dark, searching stare on her. “You’re running from someone—your stepfather, maybe others—there in Philadelphia. When they get here—”

Sabrina’s eyes were wide, and she felt the blood drain from her face. He hadn’t said “if”—he’d said “when”. He believed they were coming. It had been in the back of her mind, ever since she’d boarded the stage west, but to hear it voiced by Cam… Still, he didn’t really even know the full circumstances of her leaving Philadelphia…he couldn’t be sure she’d be followed.

“You believe they’ll follow…for certain.” She shuddered.

Cam’s expression changed, letting her know he’d only speculated up to now; her reaction had let him know he was right. “I’d like the full story. When you’re ready.”

Would you have what it takes to be a mail-order bride in the old west? I’m not sure I would, but it’s fun to think about--and write about. Leave me a comment to be entered to win a digital copy of MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS!

If you just can't wait to see if you won, here's the link!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Stop and think—do you sabotage your own success? This can happen on many levels, most of them subconscious, but all are self-destructive. How do I know this? I’ve done so many things to make myself fail or at least feel like a failure, I can’t even count them. We can’t address all the ways we writers/artists/creators knock ourselves down, but we can discuss a few. You might be able to add to this list.

What is Your Passion? Mine is writing. I write novels, short novels, short stories, and blogs. Your passion may be writing, as well, but any creative activity counts: painting, photography, quilting, making doll houses, cooking gourmet meals, singing, dancing, playing an instrument--the list is long. Maybe you're like one of my talented friends who writes literary novels, but she also paints and is a wonderful photographer, too.  

Is Your Attitude Positive or Negative? Ever hear the saying: “Can’t never could do anything.” I do admit I often say, “Well, I just can’t do that.” Maybe the statement is in response to rewriting a story that seriously needs an overhaul; to a ten-day blog tour; to spice up a manuscript; to take a workshop that I really need. Instead, be the Little Engine That Could and tell yourself, “I think I can.” Doesn’t that sound much better than “I can’t?”

If you are a writer, is Your Book The Best It Can Be? Does it have reader appeal? Pretend you’re someone else reading your book. (I pretend I’m a lady I know on-line who is rather hard to please—will she like my book?) Does it have urgency, intensity, and enough drama to capture a reader’s heart? Does your own book interest YOU? Remember these principles, and you may just write a Best Seller.

Do You Treat Yourself As Well As You Treat Other Writers? Now, this is simple. If you have a writer friend who is faltering, what do you do? Don’t you try to bolster her confidence, telling her that she is competent, that she is as good a writer as anyone else, and that you have confidence in her? Then, why not tell yourself these things? Then act that way.

Do You Play At Writing Instead Of Taking It Seriously? By serious, I don’t mean act that way. The one thing you DON’T want to do is lose the joy of writing. Why write if it makes you miserable? Remember how excited you were when you first realized you were a storyteller, and you wanted more than anything to succeed? We need some level of obsession to take ourselves seriously and make others believe it, too. If writing is your dream, then make it happen. Write!

If you don't write, apply any of these bits of advice to your own particular talent.
If you'd like to try writing--by all means, sit down at the computer or grab a notebook and pen, and write!

Until next time--

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

When the Sun Stands Still

Have a holly, jolly Christmas. It’s the best time of the year

Well, I can’t say that Christmas is the best time of my year.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the holiday. I love festive mood, the gatherings with family and friends, and hope that infuses the season.

But the days are too short and too cold for someone who really prefers long, hot days of summer. Winter’s chill seems colder because I compare it to the 80-degree days of summer—not the minus 20 degree days of late January.

Maeshowe from the outside.
What I notice most, though, is that the “black of night” seems thicker and heavier, and I find myself craving light—as most people do. As people probably always have.

Years ago, I traveled to the Islands of Orkney in June. The days stretched on forever as the summer solstice neared. Nights were lit by soft sunlight and the residents of Kirkwall reveled in the extra light.

The tour guide at Maeshowe, a chambered cairne build roughly 3000 years BC, even noted the mood of the islanders, adding: “You should be here in December.”

Frankly, I couldn’t imagine being there in December when there is just a “soft glow” for a few hours, then darkness.

Sunlight peeks into the chamber of Maeshowe. 
Historically, Maeshowe is significant for the Viking graffiti carved into the walls. Psychologically, it’s significant because the last rays of sunlight slip down the long entrance corridor during the winter solstice. The purpose of that alignment is anyone’s guess, but the ancient builders clearly marked the passing of the darkest nights.

Celebrating the Solstice—and the slow return of the light—has a long history in the Northern Hemisphere. How and when Christmas became hopelessly entangled with the Solstice celebration is a long tale and probably one that we’ll never fully unravel, but I think the mixing of Christmas with lights and evergreens was inevitable from the moment the Roman Emperor Constantine first celebrated Christ’s Mass on Dec. 25.

The theology might not work, but the psychology makes sense. We crave light when the days are darkest. Regardless of whatever light you use to brighten these short days, Happy Holidays and best wishes for the new yaer.

Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. If you want to know more about her as an author or looking for a Christmas gift idea, visit her Facebook page or her Amazon page.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas 1866 at Fort Laramie

In my novelette, A Christmas Promise, I concluded with an author's note about one of the events that took place at Fort Laramie on Christmas night in 1866. Here is a little more detail about that Christmas day.

1858 view of Fort Laramie with walled remains of old Fort John to the left.

Like most frontier forts, Fort Laramie was built in a location based on its strategic value in relation to the surrounding terrain, its access to water, how easy it is to defend, and, in this fort's particular case, because there was an earlier trading fort there that provided a foundation on which to expand. It was not built near large cities with easy access to civilian populations. In other words, it was isolated. This resulted in a dearth of opportunity for recreation and sociability for officers, men and their families. To help make up for that, those stationed at the fort made a special effort at organizing memorable celebrations on certain holidays, including Christmas.

Thanks to the German influence of Prince Albert when he married Queen Victoria of England, Christmas celebrations including Christmas trees, Christmas stockings, special foods, decorations and Christmas caroling and become popular in the United States as well as Great Britain. Much of the information about what was popular in Europe and the eastern United States was passed to the frontier through Godey's Lady's Book.

However, Fort Laramie was not near a pine forest. In fact, wood was scarce. Firewood for use in the fort was obtained from as far away as forty to fifty miles. At the fort, often another type of tree, or even a twig of a tree, was decorated with fruits, nuts, pine cones, and small homemade gifts. Decorations were cleverly devised from pictures clipped out of magazines, old buttons, painted cigar butts, bits of lace and ribbon, egg shells, strings of apples/berries, and paper chains substituted for the classic pine tree of traditional celebrations.

If there were children present, the tree might also include tiny hand stitched dolls and children’s mittens added a personal touch, and treats such as candies and sugar cookies. Mrs. Elizabeth Burt, wife of Captain Andrew S. Burt wrote of Christmas at her home, Fort Laramie, in 1866:

“As Christmas approached we made as great an effort as possible to enter into the spirit of the season. We made different kinds of candy… Judge Carter had brought a small supply of gifts in his ox train...The stockings were hung in the, wide open fireplace, down which Santa Claus could descend with ease. My six Sunday school scholars were made happy by homemade candy, ice cream, cookies and doughnuts.”

1877 Old Bedlam

For the adults, the Christmas celebration centered on dances, music and food. Officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men did not celebrate together, but there were several social events with feasting, drinking and receptions being enjoyed by nearly all members of the garrison.

1866 had been a year of tension due to the hostilities between the Cheyenne and Sioux and the white settlers traveling through Indian land up the Bozeman trail effectively breaking an  earlier treaty that guaranteed that land for the sole use of the native tribes. The fort, along with the other forts in the area had been under constant threat of attack. To help provide relief from that constant fear, it was decided by the officers and their ladies to hold a white glove ball in Old Bedlam on Christmas night.

The party was in full swing in "Old Bedlam," a nickname reminiscent of the insane asylum given to the single officers' quarters, with everyone enjoying the merriment which was expected to last until midnight. It was cut short when about 11 p.m. a man, stumbling with exhaustion and dressed in an ice-fringed buffalo robe appeared in the doorway, asking hoarsely to see the commanding officer. The man was John (Portugee) Phillips, one of Colonel Carrington’s scouts. He had just ridden 236 miles, mostly at night to escape observation, to report that 81 men led by Capt. William J. Fetterman had been massacred while riding to the relief of one of Fort Phil Kearny’s beleaguered wood parties.

John "Portugee" Phillips

The news shocked the party-goers, many of whom knew Capt. Fetterman and some of his men. It brought the reality of the danger to the eastern Wyoming forts posed by the hostile Sioux and Cheyenne. The party immediately broke up and the officers and families returned to their homes. 

John Phillips passed along Colonel Carrington's request that reinforcements be sent to Fort Phil Kearney at once. Plans were set into motion to provide the requested relief. Unfortunately, blizzards and -23 degree weather kept the relief Carrington wanted so desperately from leaving Fort Laramie until January 2, 1867.

Most of this information came from my Prairie Rose Publications post in December, 2014.

Zina Abbott is the pen name for Robyn Echols. You may purchase A Christmas Promise available in Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.