Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Although our friends at the RV ranch have been coming and going, now mostly gone, FDW and I have still been busy-busy. We celebrate both Solstice and Christmas which means double the fun (and double the hectic activity). I’m guessing many of you split your holiday in a similar manner in an effort to celebrate with family and friends in more than one setting. I’d love to hear about your activities, so leave a comment.

We have had some feathered and furry friends hanging out with us. The javelina (wild pigs) have made a couple of trips through the park. I
never seem to get ahold of a camera quick enough to capture them.

I did find the time to get out with FDW fishing one day on my favorite lake around here, Apache. The pictures tell the tale. I was
Chilly but beautiful
bundled in four layers for the first couple of hours, but since we’re in the desert, it warmed up enough that I could peel out of at least two of the layers.
First fish of the day

Singing with my sister
We had a great time at Acker's Night in Prescott, Arizona. This is a celebration of music and Christmas. All the stores around main street stay open and host
In the town square
live music of all kinds. There's hot chocolate, wine, food, and fun.

We celebrated Solstice with our son’s family at their home this year. So glad they’re back in Arizona so we could make the visit. Our custom on the farm was to have a dinner on Solstice Eve with food from our fields. We’ve now changed that custom to make dishes that represent our combined heritage. This year, we had foods that were Irish, Welsh, English, American Indian, and French. We had our dinner, then headed outside for the Solstice Fire. Our ceremony involves honoring Mother Earth and the Four Directions. We relate
these to our past year and what we’ll look forward to in the year ahead. I was the leader this year. And my three-year-old granddaughter had her own Direction for the first time which was North. She listened intently to the first two Directions and amazed
us all by actually speaking to her Direction and what it meant to her. Of course, there was a fair amount of marshmallow roasting, too. On Solstice Morning, we exchanged gifts. All things potty are a big deal to a three-year-old, so Nana’s and Papa’s gift of a doll that wets was a huge hit.

FDW and I are back at the ranch to unpack and repack for the trip to Prescott tomorrow. We’ll spend Christmas with my mom. Christmas Eve will be food and fun for any family members than can make it. We’ll wake up with Mom on Christmas morning. 

Since this will be the last post before Christmas, let me wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. I’d love to hear how you celebrate the holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Double Whammy #NewRelease and #Solstice

Today is one of those great double whammy days. It should be called Whammy Wednesday instead of Wicked Wednesday. 

Luckily, the first part of my double whammy involves the official release of my fourth book in the Love and Murder Series, The Power of Love and Murder. There is definitely some wicked going on in this book. The time frame is December, and the wicked involves a blood thirsty politician and his wicked FBI counterpart. Suspense a plenty! 

For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate. 

Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. When he meets his sister’s roommate, Jake believes Penny might be that someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world. 

With a government agent turned hit man closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life. 

From a Solstice past.
The second part of my Whammy Wednesday is Solstice. Today is the day we celebrate with my son’s family. Last night we had our Solstice Eve dinner, sat around a fire, and shared our view of the prior year and what lies ahead for us. Of course, there were marshmallows involved and laughing. This morning, on Solstice we exchanged gifts around the Christmas tree.

It’s been an all round great day.

I hope you’ll be enticed to get my newest book uploaded on your reader, or onto someone’s reader for Christmas. Or, if you’re a print book sort of person, it’s also available that way. 



Barnes and Noble



P.S. This was written in advance of the busy day so no pictures. Check out Trippin' Thursday tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The French and the English: Their Troubled Relationship in Regency Romance By Eleanor Webster

I wish I'd paid more attention to history in school. Eleanor makes it fun today!
I have always loved history. I spent much of my childhood imaging myself in gorgeous gowns while stomping about in the clothes my mother ‘made me wear’. I know real life wasn’t very glamorous – but in my imagination… The Regency Period has always been of particular interest, likely due to a youthful over- indulgence in Georgette Heyer.

However, in addition to Heyer, this period fascinates because it is a society in the throes of change. During my first novel, No Conventional Miss, I focused on the emergence of innovation connected with the Industrial Revolution. My protagonist creates several inventions, including a butter churn. By the way, current historians now recognize the scientific contributions of some amazing women! Three cheers for Sarah Guppy inventor of the tea or coffee urn, which also cooked eggs and warmed toast. Oh yes, and she also figured out a way to keep barnacles off ships.

My new book, Married for His Convenience, is set slightly earlier during the French Revolution.  This era has also always fascinated me; those wonderful ideals which so soon dissolved into blood thirsty chaos. Married for His Convenience touches on that time period and explores its impact on a family touched by its violence.

The French Revolution greatly impacted English society. More than 40,000 French refugees came, many arriving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Never reluctant to turn tragedy into a high society event, Victims’ Balls were thrown. When a gentleman entered the party, he would bow his head as if presenting it to the guillotine while women wore red ribbons about their necks to symbolize spilled blood.

Not surprisingly, the French and American Revolutions frightened the British upper classes that were somewhat attached to their heads. This made the British even more hesitant to improve the life of the working poor or change the electoral system.

The society of the time is also a fascinating study in French/English relations, which is another intriguing topic. My mother, staunchly middle-class from Sheffield, England, was never a tremendous fan of the French language or culture. As an adolescent, I found this surprising. Had France and England not been allied during two world wars? Moreover, thanks to Georgette Heyer, I knew that every educated person had to speak French with fluency. Therefore, I was surprised when my own attempts at French conjugations were met by a muffled grunt by my maternal unit.

However, the British and their relationship with French language and culture has historically been influenced by class.  During regency times and beyond, the aristocracy adored the French language, art, fashion, food, wine, furniture. Indeed, the fact that the two countries were at war between 1793 and 1815 (except for a brief truce in 1802), did nothing to lessen this fascination.

In contrast, the British populace, the poor and growing middle class, were strongly anti-French. This attitude was fueled less by the enemy and more perhaps by the French fascination of their own aristocracy. Therefore, my personal theory is that this sentiment continues, perhaps even to this day, and certainly influenced my own mother, grounded as she was in Yorkshire commonsense and middle-class practicality.

As for me, the unraveling of societal mores and influences throughout the ages make the study of history even more fascinating.

About Eleanor Webster 

Eleanor Webster loves high-heels and sun, which is ironic as she lives in northern Canada, the land of snowhills and unflattering footwear. Various crafting experiences, including a nasty glue-gun episode, have proven that her creative soul is best expressed through the written word.

Eleanor is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology and holds an undergraduate degree in history and creative writing. She loves to use her writing to explore her fascination with the past.

Connect with Eleanor

Married for His Convenience

Tainted by illegitimacy, plain Sarah Martin has no illusions of a grand marriage. So when the Earl of Langford makes her a proposal that will take her one step closer to finding her half sister, she can't refuse!

Sebastian's dreams of romance died with his late wife's affair, so now he needs a convenient wife to act as governess for his silent daughter. Yet Sarah continues to surprise and challenge him, and soon Sebastian can't deny the joy his new bride could bring to his life—and into his bed!

Available November 22, 2016

Google Play:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

YAY FOR DECEMBER #thrifty #holiday #gifts

35 year-old Christmas angel preserved

All the packages are wrapped, tagged, and ready for Solstice and Christmas. We do both. We started the Solstice celebration the first year on the farm, b.s. (before Sadi). We love our tradition and have continued, in spite of leaving the farm life behind. It’s great fun, and it helps solve trying to fit in a visit to everyone on Christmas. We take a little bit from a couple of cultures for our own brand of Solstice. More about that after Solstice. 

I found some great deals for gift giving. Everyone says this time of year is not about the gifts…but it sure makes it fun if I can give. Honestly, wouldn’t care if I got but I do love to give. Thanks, Mom, for instilling this in me. Part of the fun is shopping for just the right gift on limited
Another Christmas relic
funds. I’m not kidding. Here are a few of my ideas.

*For the child in your life, Kohl’s has the stuffed animal or character with a book to match, each for $5.00. They are excellent quality, and how can you beat that price?? 

Sadi makes it fun
*Another idea for the little ones is a lunch box filled with trinkets. I found cloth lunch pails with children’s movie themes. For a little girl, I filled it with hair ties, hair clips, lip gloss, little girl nail polish, and chocolates. The whole thing came to under $10. 

*If you have a classy Humane Society Thrift Store (or another one), don’t rule it out for gifts. There are new items, or, like I found, a gently used item for a cook in my family. A set of three high end tiny melting pots that looked new were only $20. 

*Photos are another great gift idea. I have copies of photos in all sizes made at Costco for next to nothing. My favorite frame store is Hobby Lobby. Their prices are the best I’ve found. Kohl’s can be good too if they’re on sale. 

Happy shopping! 

Or…you can be like my mom and come back from Laughlin with $800 in your pocket from winning at video poker. Her gift budget went up! Her three children took her to Laughlin for her 86th birthday. Mom loves the poker slots. All of her grandchildren gave her money to gamble on, and she scored. She brought home all the money she went with plus $800. Her three children did not fare so well.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Silent Signals #newrelease by Linda Carroll-Brad

Will the valley’s feud between cattlemen and shepherds keep them apart?
Today on Muse Monday, Linda Carroll-Bradd is introducing her latest release. Hope you enjoy!

Blurb for Silent Signals:
After losing half his herd in the Great Blizzard of 1886, rancher Konrad Werner needs to safeguard his cattle. Tomboy Anora Huxley trains the Australian Shepherds and Kelpies that run the family’s sheep herd. Although cattlemen and shepherds are at odds, the pair discovers common interests. A threat is overheard, and Konrad rides out to Anora’s ranch to protect her. The tense situation reveals their true feelings. Will Anora be swayed by family loyalty, or will she listen to her heart that responds to Konrad’s silent signals?


Mikel returned, dropping two rolls of wire onto the counter. “I have a new shipment of barbed wire too. Perhaps that works better for your needs?”
Konrad turned and laid a hand on the smooth wire. “The fence to pen in my cattle has several components, so this is what I need. But thanks, Toussaint.”
The shopkeeper shrugged. “Some ranchers prefer the barbed.”
“I do too, and I may have to resort to that when the winter weather sets in. But I’ll wait on that purchase.” He leaned his other hand on the counter. “This year, I’m building a brush fence. I’ll use what I can from downed branches and rocks cleared from the field that will be planted in the spring.” He shrugged and straightened.
“Makes sense.” Mikel nodded as he pulled the pencil from his ear. “I remember those types of fences in old country. Uncle had them around his vineyard.”
Konrad was sure his wasn’t the only sad story the store owner had heard over the last year. “Gotta come up with the cheapest solution for protecting my cattle.” He shook his head. “The ranch can’t withstand any more losses like last year.”
“Excuse me, sir.” A female voice floated in the air.
The tone was pitched low, almost intimate. Konrad shifted and raised an eyebrow at the tall woman dressed in an ill-fitting coat and a split skirt that showed several inches of boot-encased legs. “Are you speaking to me?”
“Have you considered using herding dogs to contain your cattle?” The blonde woman took one step closer, her gaze intent.
“No.” This stranger had an opinion about how he ran his ranch? His body stiffened.
“I train the dogs that work the sheep at Green Meadows Ranch, and I don’t see why the dogs couldn’t be used with cattle.” She glanced over her shoulder and then back to connect with his gaze. “The principles are the same, as long as the person uses the right cues.”
He squinted at the green-eyed woman who stood only a few inches shorter than his six-foot height. Wisps of blonde hair had escaped the edges of her plain black bonnet and straggled along her cheeks. Her face was pleasant enough—probably would be more so without the frown creasing her forehead. “Have we met?”
“I apologize, Mr. Werner. I’m Anora Huxley.” A blush reddened her cheeks. “I am acquainted with Gaelle.”
His younger sister by five years. Which explained why he didn’t know this woman from his schooling years. Huxley did sound familiar, though. But he didn’t have time to contemplate why because the woman now stood by his side. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a thick-set scowling man hovering two feet away who looked madder than a newly branded steer. The second member of the arguing duo.
“My dogs are exceedingly smart. A special breed with strong herding instincts. They respond to hand signs and whistles, and from a distance of more than ten rods.”
He held up a hand lest he be stuck here listening to her run down every detail. “I do not wish to be lectured on how to run my ranch. My brush fence will suffice.” Regretting the stiffness of his tone, he lifted a finger to tap the brim of his hat. “Good day, Mrs. Huxley.” He spotted the brief widening of her gaze before scooping up the roll of wire and headed toward the storeroom. Irritation at the outspoken women and her high-handed advice put an extra punch into each footfall.
Purchase Links:
As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.
Linda’s Links:
Website           Blog    Facebook         Twitter             Goodreads

Friday, November 25, 2016

Only Five Feet Five Inches Tall, But Still Fearless by Joe Cosentino

Please welcome Joe Cosentino back to Fearless Friday. Joe write about a fearless female. Gotta love that!
When you’re a little skinny kid who is a straight A student, not good at sports, and live in an Italian American neighborhood in New Jersey, you learn how to entertain people fearlessly for survival. My entertainment debut was sitting in a box full of straw with a blanket around me at five years old in a Nativity play in my cousin’s garage. That morphed into full scale musicals starring my sister and me, including lavish costumes in that same garage.

Eventually I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Acting onstage in front of hundreds of people and praying you’ll remember your lines, won’t bump into the furniture, or your fly won’t fall down also takes quite a bit of guts. Performing in front of a camera, and crew people racing around like ants, is equally fearless.

After writing some plays, I began writing novels. I sent them to publishers, and then I did the happy dance when four publishers accepted my various books! I knew my novels would include show business in some way. As an avid mystery reader, it was clear to me that my novels would also be page-turning mysteries with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels. Most importantly, I knew my leading characters would be fearless, like me!

My most fearless character is Jana Lane in my Jana Lane mystery series published by The Wild Rose Press. I’ve spent five books with Jana (Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, and now Rag Doll) and I still marvel at the fearlessness of the ex-child star, current Academy Award winning actress, and master sleuth who lives in my favorite time period, the 1980’s. I know you’ll love her too! 

RAG DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery

by Joe Cosentino

published by The Wild Rose Press 

Murder, romance, and scandal on and off the set of Jana Lane’s new murder mystery television show. America’s most famous ex-child star Jana Lane is starring in The Detective’s Wife, a murder mystery television show in 1985. Guest starring on the show is Christa Bianca, a rags-to-riches ingénue who has flooded the entertainment press. Life imitates television as cast members are murdered, and once again it’s up to Jana, along with sexy ex-detective Chris Bove, to save the day before the lights fade to black. 

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and the upcoming Drama Cruise and Drama Luau (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and the upcoming Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart anthology (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press). Joe is currently head of the department/professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. 

An excerpt of RAG DOLL by Joe Cosentino, published by The Wild Rose Press: 

Jana and Bove did the scene again with a thin piece of gauze over the camera lens aimed at Jana.

Ah, the plight of a middle-aged actress.

Jana felt even better about that take. Their relationship worked, and the energy bounced back and forth between them almost effortlessly. Again Jana wondered what it would be like sharing her days with Bove and kissing Bove in bed before sleep each night.

Herm’s call for action brought Jana back to the scene. Bove’s close-up was even better than the first two takes. It was as if they had been married for years with an easygoing yet emotional rapport.


“Good job, partner.”

Bove smiled at Jana. “Right back at you.”

As she started to rise from the bed, Jana spotted Christa in the distance with a look of horror on her face.

The young woman screamed as a lighting screen headed straight for her. Stu Silverman, standing next to Christa, noticed and pushed Christa out of the way in the nick of time. The screen crashed to the floor inches away from Christa’s feet. Standing on the other side of her, Andrew Bianca took his wife in his arms, and she wept on his shoulder.

Bove whispered to Jana, “Here we go again.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An RV Ranch Thanksgiving

Ranch bird sanctuary
I hope everyone is having a thankful Thanksgiving. I wrote this post yesterday, knowing I’d be overindulging in turkey, stuffing, and family time today. Our family is small, but we make a lot of racket and writing would be out of the question. We’ll do a little trippin’ this holiday long weekend from Tonto Basin to Prescott to Wickenburg and back to the basin. 

The RV Ranch is filling up with the usual winter visitors now that November is here. Most of our friends kind of come and go after they’ve come back for the season. Only a couple of them hang here for the holidays. I haven’t had a great deal of time to get social. They wouldn’t have wanted me. I’ve been coughing and feeling generally blah since we got back from Colorado at the end of October. Two trips to the Indian Medical Center has only got me to a certain level of well. Now, I’m trying some of my own remedies. 

I did make it to the annual pig roast and tried to hold the coughing down as much as possible. Missing the food was out of the question! I did miss several birthday celebrations. No one seemed to mind! 

FDW and I went to Laughlin for a few days. It might have been better if I’d
Big fish
stayed in bed because I think the trip set me back some. The smoky casinos are not conducive to keeping the lungs healthy. The fishing was hit and miss. I got some writing done, too. It was a cheap trip since we had free nights. Tip for anyone within driving distance of a casino: Stay at one a couple of times and you will repeatedly be invited back for free nights or greatly discounted with extras such as free meals. We never pay to stay in
Little fish
Laughlin anymore.

Managed to make it through a Fall Festival a couple of weeks ago with a bag of cough drops in my purse. I think I own stock in Halls by now. Chino Valley, AZ area never ceases to
What were they selling?
have some surprises. Take a look who had the booth next to the local author tent!

My eye appointment went great. After the rude dude at the driver’s license renewal office scared the you know what out of me telling me there was something wrong with my right eye. The doctor confirmed there is nothing wrong, other than a floater. He even checked for melanoma. I’m free and clear and breathing easier. 

We tried to walk a couple of mornings, but honestly, the desert and I are
Desert walk is 4 wheeler trail
not on speaking terms right now. I want badly to get back to it, but the cough won’t give me peace. I’m sure I’ve gained back the six pounds I’d lost.

Always dry Ranch wash
We’ve had a little rain in the basin, but as you can see, not enough to get the wash flowing. It hasn’t flowed in the three years we’ve been coming to the Ranch. I’d love to see that happen.

I guess my big tip this time was casino specials. Lately, I’ve been finding great deals for Christmas and I’ll try to remember to share next time. 

Enjoy your feast, big or small, wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


My newest release, The Power of Love and Murder, book four in the Love and Murder Series, held a double whammy of wicked fun to write. I have TWO villains in this novel. And although when the original idea came to me, the politics of late were not on my mind, I chose a crooked, evil politician as one of the villains.

But the other villain, FBI Special Agent Vince Elams, was the most fun. Vince is the villain you think twice about. He gives you moments of awww, that's why he's bad...should I feel sorry for him? Then he turns around and is rotten so you chide yourself for thinking any kind thoughts about him. Here's an intro to Vince, the first time we learn a little about him:

Vince rubbed his face, digging his thumb and finger into his eyes to reach a deep-seated fatigue. Finding dirt on opponents, uncovering weak spots on other equally ambitious politicians, greasing the pockets of dishonest corporate movers and shakers, and using his resources at the FBI for illegal purposes meant nothing. He considered the activities…a game he enjoyed.

Murder? Hadn’t mattered thirteen years ago. He touched the photo of his wife. “Sorry, Brita.” When she died, his life, any life, had lost all significance. Back then, he’d sold his soul to the devil in the body of CEO and someday Senator Clyde Westingly, and there was no absolution to be found. So be it. He’d done Westingly’s bidding without thinking, as if some other force drove his body, taking him along for the ride. So many years ago. Hell bound for sure, yet he just didn’t have the stomach for murder anymore.

I hope you'll enjoy reading about Vince and all my other characters as much as I enjoyed writing them. The Power of Love and Murder releases worldwide on December 21, although you can pre-order the eBook edition right now.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Thanksgiving week. Now it begins. In my world anyway. From today until New Years, it's my favorite time of the year. Some feel real stress with the holidays, and I'm sorry for them. Others are alone, and I wish I could reach out to all of those people and give a hug. This has been a year of strife for most of the country caused by people we don't even know personally. I've seen friends turn on each other and family members bicker. I don't have any deep, philosophical advice to cure our ills. All I can do is hope we can use this time of year to reconnect and soften our bad feelings. Not an easy proposition.

Last Christmas Eve at Mom's
We'll have dinner at my sister's and brother-in-law's in Prescott. It will be small as our family fractures on Thanksgiving and eats in clumps of relatives at different houses. That's okay. As families grow, it gets increasingly difficult to all meet in one place for a holiday.

FDW and I will have Solstice with our son's family and Christmas Eve at my mom's. Solstice has a double whammy for me this year because...tada! the fourth book in my Love and Murder Series will release on Solstice, December 21. The Power of Love and
Murder is set in Flagstaff during the days around Christmas. Good timing. And it deals with crooked politicians. Again good timing. The book is up for pre-order right now! Again, good timing. Books make great gifts. If you'd like to give an autographed edition as a special gift, let me know. I can help you with that.

Pre-order my latest: Amazon

Find all my books here:  Amazon Author Page

Monday, November 14, 2016

Goofy Dogs and Christmas Fun by Paty Jager

Please welcome Paty Jager to Muse Monday. Always a treat!
When I decided I wanted to write a Shandra Higheagle Mystery that was set during Christmas, I immediately knew I wanted her dog, Sheba, involved.
One of my favorite secondary characters in this series is Sheba. She’s a Newfoundland/Border Collie cross. She has the Newfoundland’s size and the Border Collie coloring.  While a Newfoundland is noted for their heroics of saving people from drowning, Sheba inherited the Border Collie’s timid tendencies. Granted, they aren’t timid when it comes to herding, but they can be timid in other ways. With these interesting traits, I’ve made Sheba a big, furry, goofball of a dog. She is submissive to everyone and hides when she’s scared. But you have to love her enthusiasm for life and being by Shandra’s side.
While hashing out what I wanted to happen in the Christmas mystery, I came up with the idea of Sheba pulling a sleigh full of toys in a Christmas parade.  I also wanted her to bring a dead body in the sleigh to Shandra.  Playing off the big dog’s fearfulness, I had an antique car in front of her in the parade back-fire. She takes off, and when Shandra finds her several streets away from the parade, there is a body in the sleigh.
But that isn’t all, Sheba has been stabbed. Not life-threatening but it means she saw the killer.
That’s how the book starts and I am pleased with Sheba’s part in the book and how in the end she helps solve the mystery. So in a way you could say Yuletide Slaying is Sheba’s book.
Yuletide Slaying: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery
Book 7 of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series
Family, Revenge, Murder
When Shandra Higheagle’s dog brings her a dead body in a sleigh full of presents, her world is turned upside down. The man is a John Doe and within twenty-four hours another body is found.
Detective Ryan Greer receives a call that has them both looking over their shoulders. A vengeful brother of a gang member who died in a gang war is out for Ryan’s blood. Shandra’s dreams and Ryan’s fellow officers may not be enough to keep them alive to share Christmas.
Shandra jogged down the street calling for her dog. “Sheba! Sheba!”
She expected people to step out and wonder who she was calling but from the closed signs in the businesses, it seemed everyone was at the parade. Everyone but her.
“Sheba!” She glanced right and left at each cross street. She didn’t see the dog, the red sleigh, or any presents. Where could her furry mutt have disappeared?
She passed the police station and called. “Sheba!”
“Woof! Woof!”
“Sheba, girl, where are you?” she called back and headed down the side street where she’d heard the bark.
Sheba walked out of an alley behind the clinic. She still wore the harness and the sleigh appeared.
Air whooshed out of Shandra’s lungs.
A pair of boots connected to legs hung over the edge of the sleigh.

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Paty Jager writes murder mysteries and steamy romance starring cowboys and Indians.
blog / websiteFacebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Free Lover (and #FirstWoman) Who Ran for #President by Nicole Evelina

While tomorrow's election is causing all kinds of controversy, there was a woman who might've stirred up more than Hillary Clinton. Read on for a fun pre-election day blog. Welcome Nicole Evelina.

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

If you haven’t heard of Victoria Woodhull, don’t worry. Most people haven’t. She’s not in 99% of history textbooks. But she was the first woman to run for President in the United States (1872), the first woman to speak before a committee of Congress, the first woman to own a stock brokerage on Wall Street (along with her sister, Tennie) and one of the first women in the country to run a weekly newspaper. But we don’t need to remember any of that, do we? 

Ahem. Sorry, I get on my soapbox easily because I became a fan while researching my novel Madame Presidentess, which is based on her life. Her views on love and marriage played a huge part in her political career, and her adventurous personal life got her into trouble. 

You see, Victoria was an advocate of Free Love. In her day, it didn’t mean unchecked promiscuity as it later would in the 1960s; it meant she believed marriages should come into existence when two people fell in love and be dissolved when they no longer loved each other, without interference from the government or organized religion. Her second husband, Col. James Blood, introduced Victoria to this idea. (He was married when they met and likely justified leaving his wife and daughters for her under the tenants of Free Love.) 

While she was married to James, Victoria supposedly had at least one affair, or up to five, depending on which source you believe. Here’s a quick rundown: 

  1. Representative Benjamin Butler – This story comes from a rumor that while he and Victoria were in Washington D.C. when she testified before a committee of Congress, she visited him at night. As if all two people can do after dark is have sex. Also, during that time, he was said to have gotten the committee to agree to let her speak “in exchange for feasting his eyes upon her naked person.” When asked about that rumor, he replied “half truths kill,” which many took as an admission it was true. I personally don’t think they had an affair. Benjamin Butler is described as toad-like, short and plump with an overly large head and sunken eyes engulfed in flesh. One of his eyelids drooped and he waddled when he walked. Yet, his vitality and power are said to have attracted many women to him. So, it’s possible, but I don’t buy it. I did, however, use this situation as the basis for Victoria’s affair with the fictional Judah DeWitt Reymart in my novel.
  2. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher - Rev. Beecher was one of the most famous and highly regarded preachers of the late 19th century in America. Despite this, he was widely rumored to “preach to as many as 20 of his mistresses on any given Sunday.” His promiscuity was an open secret.  Victoria tried to bring him into the Free Love movement because she knew he’d had an affair with Lib Tilton, the wife of Victoria’s own lover, Theodore Tilton. Victoria and Rev. Beecher spent a fair amount of time together when she was trying to sway him to her way of thinking (some of it at night and you know what that means), but nothing I’ve read seems to indicate they had an affair.
  3. Theodore Tilton – Here is the most likely and most widely accepted of Victoria’s possible lovers. He was known to be handsome and charming and had a reputation for extramarital. Theodore and Victoria may have met when both were a part of the suffrage movement. But they certainly met after she published a thinly veiled threat to expose the affair Rev. Henry Ward Beecher had with Theodore’s wife. Somehow, Mr. Tilton ended up writing for Victoria’s paper, and she commissioned him to write her biography. This is likely when their relationship began.
  4. Joseph Treat – Biographers of Victoria believe that Mr. Treat was in love with her, and when she turned him down, he wrote a malicious pamphlet telling his story and denouncing her as a fraud.
  5. Benjamin Tucker – He claimed to have been seduced by Victoria, who was much older. This claim is highly unlikely to be true.  He was paid $5,000 by Emanie Sachs to tell his story for her brutal (and mostly false) 1928 biography of Victoria.
Between rumors of at least a dozen affairs and Victoria’s open embracing of Free Love in a time when women were meant to be paragons of virtue, it’s little wonder why Victoria wasn’t included in the history books. Today, she would still be controversial not only for her political opinions, but for her personal behavior. Regardless of her reputation, I count her as a strong woman who is worth getting to know.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

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