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Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: Angel and the Cowboy & Kat and the US Marshal by Celia Yeary

Hi, y'all!  Celia Yeary has had some new releases that tie together that you want to be sure not to miss!

First up is Angel and the Cowboy.


He needs a wife…

Because the sheriff summons him, U.S. Marshal Max Garrison rides to town. He resents learning he must supervise a young man just out of prison who will work at his ranch for a time. But when he meets the beautiful young woman who owns the teashop, he knows his trip is not wasted. Max decides she's the one for him.

She faces another lonely Christmas…
Daniella Sommers lives alone above the book and teashop her English parents left her. When U.S. Marshal Max Garrison walks in and asks for tea, she almost laughs. Soon, her merriment turns to hope. Then Daniella learns a shocking truth about herself. If she reveals her past, will Max still love her?

Christmas is near, the time for miracles and surprises. Will the message of the season bring Max and Daniella the best gift of all?

My Review:

Oh! This is a sweet story and a great happily ever after for Max and his Angel.

Max knew he was ready to settle down, wanted a wife, but wasn't expecting to find her when he did. But once he saw her, he was smitten and did his best to win her fast!

Dani has some secrets and unanswered questions about her past. When Max shows up and informs her she was going to marry him, she set about finding those answers whole Max could still change his mind. But Max being the true man and gentleman he was, didn't let her fears and worries stand in their way of forever.

This is a sweet story to get lost in for an hour or two of lazy day easy reading, when you just need a little sweet and happy.

Sounds great, yeah?  Then how about we continue with Kat and the US Marshal.


~ A Dime Novel from Western Trail Blazer bestselling author Celia Yeary ~
U.S. Marshal Diego Montoya rides into Old San Antonio on an assignment to track down and arrest a swindler and killer. That's his job. But his first goal is to visit beautiful Katherine Garrison, the woman he loves, to learn if she will welcome him.

Kat Garrison answers the door, thinking her gentleman friend has arrived early. When she sees Diego Montoya instead, she can't believe he's standing on her front step. All she can think of is their encounter in the barn that cold December night, while her brother and new bride occupied the house.

While carrying out his mission, Diego becomes involved with Kat. But can a beautiful society lady really love a homeless rough lawman enough to take a chance on a life together?

My Review:

Such a delightfully fun story!!

Diego and Kat have sparks that fly off the page from the beginning. The attraction simmers and grows as Diego works to convince both her and himself that they are it for each other. Toss in some danger with his job and a criminal to apprehend, this short story delivers!!

I simply adored Diego and how he cared for Kat and pursued her. He definitely made my tummy flutter!

Kat was a treasure to those around her and even had a few surprises up her sleeve! She's a girl I'd love to have in my circle of friends.

Get your copies here:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Two New Releases - Charlotte And The Tenderfoot And Kat And The U.S. Marshal by Celia Yeary @prairierosepubs

Kat and the U. S. Marshal

U. S. Marshal Diego Montoya rides into Old San Antonio on an assignment to track down and arrest a swindler and killer. That's his job. But his first goal is to visit beautiful Katherine Garrison, the woman he loves, to learn if she will welcome him.

Kat Garrison answers the door, thinking her gentleman friend has arrived early. When she sees Diego Montoya instead, she can't believe he's standing on her front step. All she can think of is their encounter in the barn that cold December night, while her brother and new bride occupied the house.

While carrying out his mission, Diego becomes involved with Kat. But can a beautiful society lady really love a homeless rough lawman enough to take a chance on a life together?

Marshal Montoya always gets his man, but can he capture Kat's heart?

Charlotte and the Tenderfoot

Charlotte Dewhurst leads a full life in Trinity Hill, Texas. But recently, something seems to be missing. Then Charlotte, driving home in her buggy, discovers a man lying by the road. A lawyer, William Montgomery, was passing through the area when accosted by two hoodlums.

The resulting court case keeps Will in town, and he seems quite taken with his rescuer. His attitudes are confusing to Charlotte as he seeks her company, yet proclaims he will soon be moving on looking for adventure. But Will may be the most confused one of all.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Help me welcome Agnes Alexander! We're talking about her novel Xenia's Renegade.

Agnes Alexander
One of the things I enjoyed about Xenia’s Renegade was the world you built. We didn’t only see the ranch, but the reader also got to walk through the doors of a stagecoach station, a saloon, and an hotel to name a few. And the ranch house itself had an interesting layout to accommodate two separate-but-together families. Do you use any particular resources or tools such as Pinterest when you create a setting? I wondered if the ranch house was based on something you’d seen? (And I envy the lucky ladies who get to live there with those hunky cowboy cousins!)

Agnes: I have a tub full of brochures of ghost towns, museums, and reconstructed old western towns as well as hundreds of pictures I made on a 30 day vacation in the west a few years ago. These are wonderful resources as well as Google. When I decide on a setting (state and area) for my books, I look up that state and read as much about the local plants, animals, weather and history as I can. As for the 2-family ranch house, it was mostly a figment off my imagination, though I remembered the houses in some Amish communities that add an almost entire house as the generations expand and grow. I figured if it worked there, why not in the west?

Available at Amazon

The wild, old west certainly was wilder for some groups of people than others, which comes through as a theme in Xenia’s Renegade. You have a number of Indian and part Indian characters, including the hero, and prejudice is something they face is an important part of the story line. Another group who often find themselves in a precarious position are women. There are a range of female characters from innocent young ladies to soiled doves, and what struck me was how their fates were often dictated by the men who had control over them including fathers, husbands, and employers. The sympathy you feel for these characters comes through. If we transported you back to the old west, how do you think you’d do faced with some of these situations?

Agnes: My great-grandmother (a free spirit who lived to be 104) was born in the 1880's. She told wonderful tales about how it was for women in that time and how she wanted things to change. These things stuck with me and I want to bring some of them to light. I lived through much of the changes in the South in the 60's and I had a hard time understanding why anyone could hate another because of the color of their skin. Because there were so much prejudice against Indians in the west, I used these same feelings to point out that, regardless of belief, Indians were human.
As for how I’d fare in the old west, I’d like to think I’d be a woman like Calamity Jane or Annie Oakley. Truth be known, I’d probably be a wimp. I can’t now imagine living without modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and especially air conditioning.

You’ve written an astounding number of books covering historical western romance, cozy mysteries, and contemporary romance (did I miss anything?). I wonder where you find your inspiration? Do you switch from one genre to another or stick with one genre for a period? What’s your favorite genre to write in? Is there any new genre you’re hoping to tackle?

Agnes: I think most of my inspiration comes from my vivid imagination. I sometimes wonder if I ever really gave up my childhood imaginary friends, Spanky and Sparky or if I simply turned them into the many characters that live in my head now. My first book was a children’s puzzle book based on the Bible. I then wrote 2 more such books, then my daughter grew up and my inspiration was gone. I spent a lot of time writing articles, short-stories and fillers for magazines and newspapers. My first novel was a mystery because my friend wrote mysteries and encouraged me to do so. This led to the romantic suspense novels that followed. My father, an avid western fan, asked me to write a western, and eventually, I did. When my first western historical romance came out, I felt I had finally found my place in the writing field. Though I may write a few other genres now and then, I love the WHR and will concentrate most of my writing time there.

What are your favorite genres to read?

Agnes: I have personal friends who write mysteries, historical, thriller and contemporary who I read and enjoy, but when I need a new book to read and none of my friends have anything new out, I always turn to my list of Facebook friends and my publisher to get a Western Historical Romance. I have to admit it’s my favorite.

Writing is such a balancing act between creating, promoting, managing your media, and everything else a person has to do away from their desk. You’re a prolific writer, and so presumably have found a way to manage your time. What works for you?

Agnes: I enjoy talking to groups, book signings, writer’s conferences and sharing on someone else’s blog when invited. But, like a lot of writers, I don’t like much else about promotion, though it has to be done. I try to spend no more than 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night on the Facebook, Amazon and other sites. I try to keep my website and my blog somewhat up to date. I don’t understand Twitter and don’t spend much time there.
I’m retired from the cooperate world, but I still treat my writing as a job and I try to write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or two. It makes it easy to do, because I love to write. I keep telling my daughter that someday I’ll be that little old lady in the rest home pecking away at her computer thinking she’s writing the great American novel, though it’ll probably be gibberish.

The process of becoming a writer always interests me. Would you share some of your journey with us? Was it something you always wanted to do? Do you write full time or have you/do you have other jobs? Were there any turning points or defining moments for you?

Agnes: I was the oldest child in my family and the first grandchild on my father’s side. To say I was spoiled, is an understatement. From the time I could listen, my family immersed me in books and reading. I was reading for myself by second grade. At this time, I found myself deciding how I’d change many of the books and stories I read. In third grade I discovered a book by Enid Johnson – Cowgirl Kate. It was an older book, but I thought it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever read. I decided then and there I’d write books one day. (I found this book on a used book site a few years ago and paid $35.00 for a $3.00 book.)When my daughter was in fifth grade, I decided it was time for me to go to college. I attended a nearby university as a day student. My English professor encouraged me to send my writings to market and some sold. I had written a couple of novels by now, but still too afraid to send them out. I decided to go to a writer’s conference. They had a short-story contest and I decided to enter. Against all odds, I won. The writer judge encouraged me to send a mystery book I’d written out and I did. I got rejection after rejection, but then attracted the eye of an agent. She kept my book for a year, sent it to one publisher and then sent it back to me. I was about ready to give up when a writer I hardly knew suggested I send it to her publisher. It sold and was published in 2004. This set me on fire.  I wrote several mysteries and romances after that and was able to sell them to a variety of publishers. Because of my father’s love of the western, I decided to one. Fiona’s Journey ame out in 2012. I was thrilled and since I had met Sue Graften and saw how well it worked for her, I decided I’d write 26 westerns using a woman’s name beginning with a letter of the alphabet and one other word. Only thing, I decided I’d jump around and not go from A-Z as she did. I have now had 16 Alphabet westerns published and 8 to go. Though I occasionally write another genre, I feel I have found my voice in writing the western historical romance and plan to concentrate on this genre.

Do you have any activities or hobbies outside of writing which you think support your writing talent?

Agnes: When I think about it, I realize I lead a simple life. I belong to several writing groups. I still go to book signings when they’re local because I know how it feels not to get a crowd to come. I also attend all the plays and dance programs my high school aged granddaughter is in and we often go to get our nails done or do a little shopping. I have a monthly dinner date with my college aged grandson where we discuss his goal to write a book someday. He plans to be a psychiatrist and his studies take most of his time. I travel when I get the chance and find these trips not only relaxing, but informative. I spend as much time as I can with my school teacher daughter. Other than reading and writing, that’s about it.

About Xenia's Renegade: 
An urgent plea for help from a family member calls for action from Xenia Poindexter and her sister, Mea Ann. How can the rest of the family ignore Uncle Seymour’s plight and let him hang? Xenia and Mea Ann leave the comfort of their Virginia home for the wild, untamed Arizona Territory to do whatever they must to save their uncle. 

But traveling west is not what these two well-bred, innocent ladies expected. A raid on a stagecoach way station would have seen them dead if not for the quick thinking of one of the other passengers, handsome rancher Ty Eldridge. 

In the midst of the deadly raid, Mea Ann finds an orphaned Indian baby that she adopts as her own. Once the stage reaches Deer Meadow where their uncle is being held, Mea Ann and Xenia discover the deep-seated prejudice that pervades the town. Indians are not welcome—even Indian children. Ty and his cousin Wilt are all too familiar with the bigots in Deer Meadow, being half Sioux, themselves. 

Ty wants to protect Xenia from her uncle’s schemes to use her and Mea Ann as prostitutes in his saloon—sold to the highest bidders—but can he? Though romance blooms for Wilt and Mea Ann, Ty has been burned in the past by his love for a white woman—and he won’t risk his heart again. 

Though others say they’re all wrong for each other, Xenia has never felt more “right” than when she’s in Ty’s arms. She is determined to show him she’s strong enough to adapt to ranch life—his life. For Xenia, prejudice doesn’t exist—there’s enough love in her heart to hold Ty and heal his wounds. But Ty knows if he gives in to Xenia, he runs the risk of being hurt again. Is true love worth the chance of becoming XENIA’S RENEGADE?

Xenia's Renegade is also available in the collection Under a Western Sky.
Available at Amazon

Where do the very best love stories blossom? UNDER A WESTERN SKY, of course! This fabulous boxed set of six tales of danger and romance are sure to capture your imagination as you are carried away to the old west. Handsome marshals, Texas Rangers, gunslingers, and wealthy landowners meet their matches with the daring women they happen to fall in love with, and you won’t want to put this boxed set down until you’ve read the very last story! 

Authors Cheryl Pierson, Celia Yeary, Kaye Spencer, Tracy Garrett, Patti Sherry-Crews, and Agnes Alexander spin six incredible novel-length love stories filled with danger, excitement, and romance that will keep you turning page after incredible page until the very end. Saddle up and kick back for some excellent reading, as star-studded romance finds you UNDER A WESTERN SKY! 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Book Review Part 2: Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters

This week I'm featuring Jacquie Rogers's story, Belle.

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…

Belle: 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?

My Review:
What a fun concept!! Four sisters find themselves being sold off to four men by their unscrupulous step-father. And these men don't appear to be the most upstanding of gentlemen either. So instead of facing a future bought and paid for, they gamble on an unknown future as mail order brides, hoping they didn't land in a worse situation.

This is such a cute and fun story about Belle and her groom, who found himself unexpectedly married! Belle rallied so well after finding out her original intended was murdered and faced his replacement.  I fell in love with their insta-family and how well Belle handled herself with all the loops thrown at her. Cord was pretty sweet too - after soberin' up! Together they made a great team to build their happily ever.

Want a little bit more?  Check out an excerpt!

Purchase link:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Book Review Part 1: Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters

This week I'm featuring Livia J. Washburn's Lizzy.

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:  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?

My Review:
What a fun concept!! Four sisters find themselves being sold off to four men by their unscrupulous step-father. And these men don't appear to be the most upstanding of gentlemen either. So instead of facing a future bought and paid for, they gamble on an unknown future as mail order brides, hoping they didn't land in a worse situation.

Lizzy's story threw me off kilter at first, as who her intended was wasn't playing the part how I thought he should be. And what poor Lizzy had to go through?  Goodness!! The twists and turns made this a pleasantly surprising and cute story!  I was tickled watching her adventure unfold.

Want a little bit more?  Check out an excerpt!

Purchase link:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New Release -- Beyond the Blue Mountains by Celia Yeary -- @prairierosepubs #prairierosepub #newrelease

Shattered lives...Broken hearts...A new beginning...

Guymon Reynolds arrives home to Grove's Point, Texas, in February 1919, the end of WWI. Knowing he's lost his parents and two young brothers to the Spanish flu, he's anxious to see his grandpa at the family farm. But nothing is right upon his arrival. He faces more death and destruction that resembles the battlefields where he fought in France.

Young widow Teresa Logan lives near the depot. She grieves for her husband who died from the flu. Alone on a farm with two baby girls, she struggles with loneliness, back-breaking work, and sometimes, fear. But Teresa is strong and determines to care for her family and her farm alone. 

Guy and Teresa meet and they easily bond, sharing grief and sorrow. Both dream of a better life in Grove's Point, or perhaps a new beginning beyond the Blue Mountains.


North Texas
November, 1918

Dearest Mama and Daddy,
I write this letter in hopes you are well. Our lives are in turmoil these days, with the sickness surrounding us with its horror and grim results. Only yesterday, Mrs. Carson passed, leaving her grieving husband and four little ones to cope alone. The day before, three members of the community succumbed, after days of horrible pain and suffering. No one, not even our doctor, can identify the cause. Some say it is from the same invasive thing that causes pneumonia, or something in the air, but others believe infected persons pass it along.
Garland and I try as best we can to keep far away from the foul air the others breathe, but the task is impossible, at best. Baby Irene and little Susannah are healthy as of this hour, but I worry each time Garland goes from the house and returns, fearful he has brought home upon his person the invisible sickness, the dreaded Spanish influenza, it is called, with vomiting, chills, fever, and a quick death.
The pastor, I have been told, as I do not attend the church often, has questioned God concerning His purpose of this wrath upon our frail human bodies, and that is his right as a spokesman for Our Lord. I dare not raise an objection, being a lowly woman of the earth. I have no knowledge or say in the matter.
The heat has been oppressive, as to almost unbearable for October. For some reason or another, I believe in my heart that a cold wind from the north would quell the spread of this death and horror.
The bright and glorious news of the peace agreement that ended the disastrous World War somehow creates within us a calm we have not felt for a long time. A cruel twist of fate, however, is news of our soldiers returning home, only to find their families devastated by death from the influenza. Ryan Colbert came home healthy from the war, only to find his mother and sister in graves, as they passed from the vile disease. I can name many others, as well, but I have neither the time nor the space to relate the stories to you. I know you, there at home, suffer as we do here in North Texas.
Yesterday, I picked the garden clean of the last of the vegetables—a few almost ripe tomatoes, some pods of overgrown okra, and a bucket full of black-eyed peas, their pods yellow and tough, but still holding the precious vegetable inside. Tonight, we will eat bowls of hot peas cooked with bacon and onions. Thank you, Mama, for teaching me to cook so well. I do believe that is the reason Garland loves me so, even though he laughs and tells me it is my black hair he loves the most.
I do confess I have not been well for a couple of days, but I believe it is nothing more than the heat and damp air. Others in the community have complained of a general unwell feeling, which leads me to believe the reason is only the warm and humid air of the season.
Do take care, and know I love you with all my heart. Try not to worry so. All anyone or I can do is place our trust in God and live one day at a time.

Your loving daughter,


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Art of Love Through the Ages

How vastly courting rituals have changed through the ages. . .

Courting in the Middle Ages was very different for a lady of noble birth than for the women of today.  Social mores that governed how a couple met, the manner in which they formed an engagement and later wed, dictated much of her life, and often with small or no input of her desires and choices.  For the reader not well versed in a particular period, it’s important to mentally step back and not to judge actions and thoughts of characters of periods past by today’s standards.  Centuries ago, females were often wed at twelve years of age, something that would be considered child abuse by today’s rules.  At age twenty-five she was an “old maid” and considered beyond the age of marrying.  You have to remember people didn't live as long.  When we think of “old” we are considering people in their sixties and seventies.  In ancient times, people for the most part were lucky to make it to age forty, thus a woman in her twenties was already an older woman halfway through her lifetime.

 At that age perspectives shift, you see a change every couple of generations in the mating rituals.  Today, many couples openly live together for years before taking the steps to marriage vows.  Just a few generations past, this would have been scandalous, taboo.  When Ingrid Bergman had an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, while both were married to other people, and later gave birth to his son, it caused such a scandal that she was denounced on the floor of the United States Senate.  Ed Sullivan even refused to have her on his show!  When she left her husband and daughter, going to live in Italy with Rossellini, she was barred from entering the US to act and had to remain in Europe for a number of years.  Yet, such behavior is commonplace now and barely raises an eyebrow.  Look at the long romance of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  He was married to Season Hubley when he began his affair with Hawn.  They have now lived together for decades, yet never married.  No one gives it a second thought.

In the 1950s, women stayed home to raise their families.  A wife going to work outside the house was a slur against her husband.  What’s wrong, can he not support her?  At the turn of the previous century, women seldom went out to live on their own.  They remained with their families until they were properly courted and wed, going from father’s to husband’s control without ever knowing how to live life on her own.  The further you go back into history, the tighter control you see of women, what they could and couldn't do.  Few could own property.  They had no control over money they might inherit, and were often considered nothing more than property of their husband.  In the 19th century, women didn't go out for dates.  In fact, if she danced with the same man more than twice at a ball of the ton, society would expect him to offer for her hand in marriage the next morning, or she would be ruined!

Shed all your knowledge of how women live today, and take that step back to consider obstacles women faced in finding a husband in Medieval times.   The average commoner rarely traveled outside his own village.  They were born, lived and died, literally tied to the land, chained there because they were mere vassals of the local lord.  Consequently, a woman of low birth was forced to find a mate amongst the slim pickings of local lads, or possibly a cousin not too far away.  It’s estimated they rarely traveled farther than the nearest village, even fewer went over fifty miles away.  Women of higher birth were not quite as limited.  They generally were sent to other castles or keeps at a young age to be fostered, much in the same manner sons were sent away to serve as pages and squires.  Therefore, they did have the opportunity to meet young men outside their own fiefdom.  Such a move was intentional, this “farming out” of daughters at young ages.  They gained strength in facing a new situation, new people, and saw how others thought and lived.  More importantly, the exchange of children was a forging of bonds between different lords.  If she were of some import, she might even travel to court, widening her circle of acquaintances even more.  Still, there was little chance of dating as we might consider it.  Young women served under the tutelage of the lady of the manor.  She spent a lot of time learning courtly ways and to manage the household, possibly she might even be instructed in the healing arts.  A young woman would spend time sewing, spinning and weaving ― an endless chore, because people had to have clothing, and everything from sheering the sheep, carding the wool and spinning it had to be done by hand.

Even if she were lucky enough to catch the eye of a handsome young squire, attachments wouldn't have been encouraged.  A daughter was not just a child to be reared, she was an asset.  Fathers that didn't have sons would use his daughters to make alliances.  Lord’s with sons saw the chance of obtaining a large dowry to bolster his standing.  The young girl would have little say in if she wanted to marry a man.  These marriage contracts were set up, signed and sealed when she was but a child.  Love, though much sung about by troubadours, rarely came into play in the making of a match during this period.  Sometimes, fathers had little say in the matter, too.  If the liege lord or king decided to marry off a daughter to a knight or another lord for a reward, there was no recourse.  Their liege lord’s decision on such matters was final.

If on the rare occasion, a young woman might fall for a young man, the obstacles preventing them from getting to know each other were endless.  In a castle, people were always about.  Privacy was scarce as those proverbial hen’s teeth.  There were no places to go for walks, no parks, and strolling outside the castle curtain was dangerous.  The first time a couple had the time to truly come to know each other was after they were married.

So the next time you read a historical romance don’t be too quick to judge people of the past and how they lived by your own life experiences.

© Deborah Macgillivray
All Rights Reserved

Author of Internationally Published series
Dragons of Challon

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Breaking the Fourth Wall

A few weeks ago, according to my Facebook feed, The Bachelor finale featured a seriously unsavory breakup between the latest contestants. I don’t watch the dating show, but viewers tore into ABC for airing the footage.

The episode reminded viewers that they weren’t part of a show, but rather voyeurs watching a reality TV show that appeared to become a little too real. They were no longer able to suspend disbelief.

As fiction writers, one of our jobs in to get readers to suspend disbelief –to allow themselves to believe your story, your world, your characters are real even though they know it’s fiction. But how do we create this willingness to stay in our story?

The steps are simple (in theory) and probably not new to anyone here.

Create a relatable situation or character

Stories have to have a semblance of truth, a backstory that make senses to us, and at least one character in whom we can see ourselves.

Stay within your world

Once you create your world, you have to maintain the logic of that world. Characters have to follow the rules of that world—or break them with consequences—and the conflicts and resolutions to those conflicts have to come from the world.

Include specific details

Small, specific details make a story more real, particularly if readers can relate to them. It’s not just the plush, linen chair. It’s the plush, linen chair that smells like a wet dog.

What might be harder to identify is what stops that suspension of disbelief. For viewers of The Bachelor, the breakup pushed them out of the make-believe world of the TV show and reminded them that these are people, not characters.

For me, scenes when a heroine looks in the mirror and inventories her assets throw me out of the story. I’ve never met a woman who did that. Most list their shortcomings.

What interrupts your suspension of disbelief?

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, visit her Facebook page.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Columbia is one of my go to places for research about the mid- to late 1800’s western research in general and California gold rush history in particular. It never became a ghost town like so many gold mining communities, but struggled for years until the state government of California established it as a state park. They preserved the buildings that still existed from the hey-day of the town’s existence, brought in vendors, many of which provided food and goods reminiscent of the period, and opened it to the public.

Photocopy of 1852 lithograph by G. H. Goddard, General View, Columbia, Tuolumne County, CA
One building that still exists from that time period, although I suspect it has had its wood roof replaced, is the town jail. I have visited several times. It is far from roomy, and was not designed for comfort. Since Columbia was not the county seat, it also was not designed for long-term prisoner stays. There was a district court in Columbia, and one instance of a murder case, the suspects were housed in the Tuolumne County jail in Sonora five miles to the south until they were brought back to Columbia for trial. However, most snippets from the newspaper of the time, the Columbia Gazette, refer to prisoners being transported to Sonora.

Columbia State Park Humor
However, it is not the original jail. Here is the timeline for the building that is now known as the jail:

1850s Originally this lot was part of a larger lot. It was acquired by Mullan and Williams for the Boston Livery.
1866 The lot is split, the south half is purchased by Mike Rehm.

1870s North half of the lot has the jail (not the current building), the south half has a stone building which is used to store black powder.

1871 August - Rehm owns Block 9, Lot 165. - Deputy County Surveyor map by John P. Dart

1890s Stone building is the jail through the 1930s.

1949 Donated to the state from Tuolumne County, no money changed hands, valued at $100. (as part of the town of Columbia becoming a state park.)

Iron Doors to Jail - only source of light and air.
The lawlessness of Columbia, typical of gold-mining towns, did require a jail. At first it was a matter of chaining the arrestee to a sturdy tree until he could be transported to Sonora. The first jail was built of wood. However, Columbia, like many foothill towns, regularly went up in flames. Even after merchants and individual after the destructive blaze of 1854 began constructing their buildings of brick made at nearby Shaw Flats and placing iron doors over their doorways and windows to discourage the spread of flames, large fires broke out in 1857 and 1861.

Inside of Jail Cell
The author of one source wrote with a dramatic flair about some of the Mother Lode jails that embedded heavy steel rings in the floor in the event the jailors felt they needed to chain prisoners “low down.” However, there does not appear to have been such rings in the Columbia jail.

Opening to Cells-Courtesy of Retired Prisons on Waymarketing
Here is what else the author had to say about this jail: 

“Built during the 1860s, this tiny, solid building remained in use until the late 1930s. Inside are two cells and a small space where the jailer could keep an eye on the bad guys.  Wooden doors front the two cells, with small openings next to each, through which food may have been passed to the prisoners inside. The sturdy brick and stone construction, along with a heavy iron door, provided what appears to be a quite effective lock up.”
Keep in mind, originally this building was next to the old jail, and it was used to store black powder before it was converted into the jail. The two cells in this structure are cramped. There are no windows or openings to allow in light or air. The space for the jailer which allows access to the cells is not any bigger. Except for keeping a jailer out of the weather, that space would almost seem like a cell except the double iron doors which served as the only entrance and source of light and air supply for the building filled almost one end. Based on its current appearance, there was no source of heating. However, in the days before the roof was restored, there might have been a single burner wood stove for the comfort of the jailer.
Either way, I would not want to spend any more time there than the two minutes it took me to look it over and take a few pictures.


Koeppel, Elliott H.; Columbia, California On the Gold Dust Trail ; Malakoff & Co. Printing, La Habra, California; pg. 45

Anyone who has not yet read my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series yet which takes place just on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Columbia and Sonora, you may enjoy my first two books in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series. You may find the first book in the series, Big Meadow Valentine, by CLICKING HERE.

The second book, A Resurrected Heart, is about the April resurrection day in the gold mining town of Lundy, but it has nothing to do with Easter. You may find this book by CLICKING HERE.