Thursday, September 21, 2023

Talkshow Thursday with Janice Cole Hopkins

A Series to Love 
By Janice Cole Hopkins

I have enjoyed writing in The Suffrage Spinsters multiple-author series. When it concludes in December, I will have written four books in the series. It has been a fun series with many possible plots of a woman supporting the women's suffrage movement before 1900. She often thinks she will never marry, but a special man comes along to change her mind.

My first book in the series, "Ingrid's Intention," has some great reviews. Ingrid Palmer's cruel father taught her not to risk the possible misery marriage could bring. After he dies, she helps her mother in her dress shop, volunteers at an orphanage, and does as much as she can to help the women's suffrage movement in Kansas City. However, when a brilliant newspaper reporter wants to write about women's rights, Ingrid's world begins to gradually shift. Can Ryan O'Grady break through the walls she's built to protect herself?

My next book in the series, "Bretta's Business," released on September 19. As a women’s rights activist with a construction business in Wyoming in 1889, Bretta Shaw’s life isn’t easy. She can’t even find anyone to work for her until Alec Peterson shows up. The newspaper misprinted her name as Brett Stone, and he thinks she’s a man; however, he agrees to take the job. Although Bretta suspects he might be hiding something, she hires him in desperation, but will she live to regret it?

"Annette's Assignment" will come next. Annette Hunt prefers staying home to going to social events,
but her cousin talks her into attending a competition between some of the best minds in Chicago. He needs her to gather information that will help him catch a criminal, and he convinces her by saying that if she does well it will be a big boost to the cause for women’s rights. With trepidation, she agrees, but is she in over her head? I have already done all my work, and Adam Skousen, the audible producer who narrated Simon's Shame and Solomon's Secret is now working on Annette's Assignment. The ebook is scheduled to be published on October 16 and is available for preorder.

"Tessa's Time" will be the last book in the series, and it publishes on December 26. After his fiancée jilts him for not spending enough time with her, Avery Brown goes to San Francisco as a guest musician. Vowing to avoid such entanglements in the future, he hadn’t expected to meet such a beautiful young lady as Tessa McDonald or be so attracted to her. However, he won’t change his resolve. Astor is the third woman to be jealous of his violin, and he's had enough. So far, Tessa has managed to fend off all the men interested in courting her. She wants to build her writing career and continue to work for women’s rights, and most men are too controlling and narrow-minded to accept either. When she meets the visiting violinist from New York City, she likes him, but she doesn’t expect him to be any different. However, the more she gets to know Avery, the more different he appears. I've finished with the rough draft of this book and am on track to have it ready in plenty of time. It's on preorder now. Browse and buy any of the books in the series that appeal to you. There are many wonderful authors to choose from, and I'm sure you'll love them.

Ingrid’s Intention -

Bretta’s Business -

Annette’s Assignment -

Tessa’s Time -

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: The Ruptured Duck

Wartime Wednesday: The Ruptured Duck

The Wright Museum of WWII where I volunteer as a docent and archivist has an entire display devoted to the “Ruptured Duck,” the nickname given to the Honorable Service Lapel button. Designed by Italian-American Anthony de Francisci, who designed several US coins and medals, the button was issued to eligible servicemen and women upon discharge between 1925 and 1946.

A cloth patch or “lozenge” was sewn onto the right breast of the dress uniform worn when the individual was being discharged. Except for times of metal shortages, the button was made of gilt brass and was to be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothing, indicating the individual was an honorably discharged veteran returning from service. This also allowed them to continue to wear their uniform for up to thirty days after discharge, indicating they were in transit and not AWOL, a help considering the clothing shortage at the time. Railroad, bus, and other transportation companies offered free or subsidized transportation to return veterans, so the patch/button acted as an identifier.

The original design from 1919 bore the flat image of the eagle as seen on the Presidential Seal, then
was changed in May 1943 after the Washington Conference (Code name Trident Conference) depicting an eagle in flight inside a wreath (as pictured). Unfortunately, many felt the eagle seemed to be bursting through the button as though “ruptured.” It apparently didn’t take long for the term “ruptured duck” to take hold. The colloquialism would later expand to refer to servicemen and women wearing the emblem as in “that ruptured duck is flying space-available.”

Not one really knows how the Ruptured Duck received its name, but there are two commonly heard renditions:

The unknown wife of an unknown Army Air Corps airman mockingly told her husband that the spread-eagled figure looked more like a "ruptured duck" than an eagle taking flight or fanning its wings.

Hedy Lamarr, who had recently escaped from Nazi Germany, was quoted as saying that her terrible and hazardous flight originated “on a “broken bird, the German word being literally translated into "Ruptured Duck." The term was picked up immediately by the movie-star-crazed female employees of the manufacturing plant that produced the "Duck" and labeled their shipping boxes "Ruptured Ducks", partly in commemoration of Ms. Lamarr's heroic flight, but mostly because it was common practice -- if not required policy -- during WW2 to label shipments destined for the war theater differently than their true contents so as to not inform enemy agents about the actual contents. Most feel that this myth was intentionally created by Louise B. Mayer. 

Whatever the truth, it’s been lost in the shadows of history.


Francine's Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Chuck Richardson!

Talkshow Thursday: 
Welcome Chuck Richardson!

I'm thrilled to welcome Chuck Richardson to my blog. Draw up a chair, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and read about his debut novel.

What was your inspiration for the story?

Our salvation in Christ can be traced to the covenant promises God made to Abraham 4,000 years ago. That fact and the explanation of Christianity found in the book of Romans inspired me to tell a tale I hope will lead skeptics to faith and believers to greater confidence in their beliefs.

How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?

That varies quite a bit. The plot and settings often drive the vocation of the characters. In True Status, I needed my protagonist to have surgery early in the story, so I made his love interest a nurse which allowed me to introduce her near the beginning. I wanted my protagonist to be a professor for the irony that someone who devoted his life to teaching others had so much to learn about God. My protagonist’s best friend is a spiritual guide so I combined the name of a couple Old Testament prophets to come up with the first name of Ezriah. Sometimes a character’s name is derived from their philosophy or the type of person they are. I’ve used name generator sites for initial name ideas which I modify until the name fits the character and has a ring I like.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

you knew you had to include?

In 2019, I developed a Bible study course based on the covenants God made with Abraham, Moses, King David, and the new covenant established by Jesus. Research for that class helped me in writing the Jesus in the Old Testament classroom scenes in True Status. My personal study of the book of Romans guided my writing of my protagonist’s experiences in reading Romans. In less formal research, I gleaned from the lives of friends, acquaintances, and people in the media. One interesting tidbit came from listening to the Focus of the Family radio program where I heard about the National Memorial for the Unborn which honors babies lost to miscarriage or abortion. Several of my characters are affected by the loss of unborn children, so I had to mention the National Memorial for the Unborn in the book.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I started writing True Status in January 2018 and after three years of work, I sent queries to ten agents and got only negative responses. Then I submitted the manuscript to a hybrid publisher, a friend who had worked in publishing, and a $99 critique service. These three professionals gave me similar discouraging feedback. Things like:
  • “Your current writing style is didactic.” 
  • “Convey the message you want to convey without the reader feeling preached at.” 
  • “The pace often gets interrupted by too much description.” 
  • “We encourage you to work on pacing and showing rather than telling.” 
  • “The book often includes random details that don't add to the story.” 
  • “Certain chapters and passages read more like a Bible tract than a novel.”
This criticism hurt, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. During the next eighteen months, I researched fiction writing and rewrote the entire novel. In June 2022, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference and pitched the reworked novel to two publishers. I subsequently submitted proposals to those two publishers and two agents. Elk Lake Publishing offered me a contract in September 2022. I worked with an Elk Lake editor for five months through multiple rounds of editing. My editor urged me to be concise and to only retain content I needed to tell the story and keep the reader engaged. My editor and I formed a great team. On July 26, 2023, True Status was released for sale.

How are your characters like you? Different?

My protagonist and I are both teachers and analytical thinkers. We both question things and demand logical answers, so my own spiritual search was similar to that of my character. We are different in that my main character is much more negative about God than I was and he has many more tragic experiences than I have had.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

The lives of my characters became more difficult; they make terrible mistakes and have the challenge of overcoming the problems they create. Another big change is that readers get to see more clearly the thoughts, confusion, and regrets of the protagonist. The final version is more realistic of the struggles people face in real life. What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process? I outline the entire story and identify what each chapter will be about and where the various plot points will be. My favorite part is the initial creation of the characters and the plot. I write on my laptop in my home office.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

I retired in March 2023 from a position as a Curriculum Developer/Technical Writer for a company that produced technical training content for colleges and industry. That job taught me to work with multiple levels of editors through numerous rounds of editing. I learned not to be frustrated by the process and that the editors are trying to make the finished product as good as possible.

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap
What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Read blogs and books on writing craft, read the work of other writers in your genre, attend writer’s conferences, and join professional organizations for writers. Every manuscript can be improved, so seriously consider feedback from readers and editors. However, have a clear vision of what you want your book to be so you don’t make changes that result in something that you will not be happy with.

What is your next project?

Erimean Genesis. Erimea is Earth’s twin, but on Erimea the first parents obeyed God and did not fall from grace. The story imagines the world the first humans would build and the challenges they would face in fulfilling God’s commands stated in Genesis 1 to be fruitful, multiply, and fill, subdue, and rule over the planet.

True Status

Billy Yates, a forty-two-year-old Black college math professor, holds deep skepticism about God’s goodness and power, but after a series of strange occurrences, Billy realizes that he is the prize in a terrifying spiritual battle between good and evil.

While recovering from surgery Billy is confronted by an angel who challenges him to examine his past rather than accuse God of wrongdoing. After the surgery, Billy discovers a strange message on his body that he believes is from God. Confused and afraid, Billy accepts the angel’s challenge and in so doing he learns the depth of his own sinfulness which plunges Billy into despair.

Ezriah Reynolds, a Christian and Billy’s best friend, encourages Billy to join him in taking a seminary class called Jesus in the Old Testament, and for the first time in his life, Billy seriously considers what the Bible teaches about covenant, sin, and salvation. Billy, smitten with Nurse Angeline Otl, begins pursuing her even as his surgery commences. Angeline struggles with her own past, but she and Billy draw together and become vital pieces in the other’s spiritual journey.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Release Day: Francine's Foibles

Release Day: Francince's Foibles!

Grab your copy today!

Francine's Foibles is my second contribution to the "Thanksgiving Books & Blessings" collection. I decided that Francine, a secondary character in Estelle's Endeavor, deserved her own book. I kept her in Laurel, Maryland but decided she needed a new job. I was stumped until I remembered the stories my mom used to tell about when she worked at Fort Meade typing up discharge papers for returning servicemen. A man in my church was a Seabee in the Vietnam War which gave me the idea for my male protagonist. Enjoy! 

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Fort Meade

Traveling Tuesday: Fort George G. Meade

After college, my mom worked at Fort George G. Meade working with departing servicemen to fill out their DD-214s. She talked often about the men she met and her admiration for them, so when I was brainstorming an idea for this year's contribution to the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection, I decided to base my female protagonist on Mom and her job. Thus, Francine's Foibles was born.

Located between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, Fort Meade is about a twenty-minute drive from the state capital of Annapolis. Originally an army installation, the base is now home to all five branches of military service as well as government agencies and organizations (over 115!) such as the National Security Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, and United States Cyber Command. Over 186 miles of roads crisscross the eight square miles that comprise the base.

Fort Meade was authorized by an act of Congress in May 1917 as one of sixteen camps constructed for
troops drafted for The Great War (as WWI was known at the time). The site was selected because of its proximity to the nation’s capital, Baltimore ports, and the railroad. Built at the staggering cost of $18 million, the post was named for Major General George Gordon Meade whose victory at the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War.

Meade was the eighth of eleven children born into a Pennsylvanian Irish-Catholic family. His father was a well-to-do merchant stationed in Spain as a naval agent at the time of Meade’s birth. However, the family lost most of their wealth because of his father’s support of Spain in the Peninsular War. They returned to the U.S. in 1817. Interestingly, his older brother became a naval officer and several of his sisters married military men. In 1831 he entered West Point and graduated 19th out of 56 cadets four years later, commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant.

After fighting the Seminole Indians in Florida, he resigned his commission and worked a variety of civilian jobs. Unfortunately, steady work was hard to find so he re-entered the army in 1842 where he would remain for the rest of his life.

The Fort named in his honor saw more than 400,000 soldiers pass through its gates – a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions, and one depot brigade. It was also a remount station that collected over 22,000 horses and mules. Meade’s nephew, Major Peter F. Meade as in charge of the remount station. Additionally, the “Hello Girls,” bilingual telephone-switchboard operators of the U.S. Army Signal Corps were stationed here. In 1928, the base was redesignated Fort Leonard Wood, but one report indicates a Pennsylvania congressman held up appropriations until the name reverted permanently to Fort George G. Meade on March 5, 1929. (Who says money doesn’t talk??)

Like many other bases around the nation, Fort Meade saw heavy activity during WWII. As a training center, the base was used by more than 200 units and was home to more than 3.5 million men between 1942 and 1946. Over 150,000 women in the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) also passed through. The wartime peak of 70,000 men and women was reached in March 1945. In addition to serving as a troop installation, Fort Meade was home to German and Italian prisoners of war. The first shipment of 1,632 Italian and 58 German prisoners arrived in September 1943. One of the more highly decorated Germans was submarine commander Werner Henke.

An important base, Fort Meade is Maryland’s largest employer and has the third largest workforce of any Army installation in the continental United States.


Francine’s Foibles (Coming September 12, 2023)

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Pre-order Link:

Friday, September 1, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases

September 2023 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary Romance:

A Louisiana Christmas to Remember by Morgan Tapley Smith, et. al. -- Three heartwarming, interconnected stories of faith, love, and restoration, brought to you by three Louisiana-native authors. Will a rare snowy Louisiana Christmas bring restoration and hope to the hometown and hearts of three women from the town’s founding family? In A Louisiana Snow by Morgan Tarpley Smith, meet Mattie: A passionate visionary who learns to forgive and finds love in unexpected places… In Restoring Christmas by Betsy St. Amant, meet Jolene: An artist and prodigal daughter who discovers love exists in the very place she once called home… In A Christmas Reunion by Lenora Worth, meet Adale: A beautiful widow who finally dares to love again… (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Redeeming the Cowboy by Lisa Jordan -- Five years ago, bull rider Bear Stone lost everything. His best friend. His fiancée. His career. And Piper Healy, his best friend’s wife, never forgave him for the rodeo accident that killed her husband. Now they’re working together to save his family’s ranch. But can this cowboy choose between his last chance at the rodeo…and the woman he’s falling for? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Where Love is Planted by Dawn Kinzer -- A beautiful horticultural therapist.A handsome social worker in a woman's prison. Will their loyalty to others cost them their own happiness? Or will something beautiful grow where love is planted? (Contemporary Romance from Morningview Publishing)

Historical Romance:

A counterfeit Betrothal by Denise Weimer -- A frontier scout, a healing widow, and a desperate fight for peace. At the farthest Georgia outpost this side of hostile Creek Territory in 1813, Jared Lockridge serves his country as a scout to redeem his father’s botched heritage. If he can help secure peace against Indians allied to the British, he can bring his betrothed to the home he’s building and open his cabinetry shop. Then he comes across a burning cabin and a traumatized woman just widowed by a fatal shot. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Francine’s Foibles by Linda Shenton Matchett -- World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood? Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family? Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Legacy of Longdale Manor
by Carrie Turansky -- In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England's Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd's staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she's left searching for answers. In 1912, after her father's death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again. (Historical Romance from Bethany House)

Wooing Gertrude by Jodie Wolfe -- Enoch Valentine has given up finding peace for his past mistakes. He throws everything he has into being the new part-time deputy in Burrton Springs, Kansas while maintaining the foreman position at a local horse ranch. But when trouble stirs on the ranch, he questions whether he' s the right man for either job. Peace has been elusive for most of Gertrude Miller's life, especially under the oppressiveness of an overbearing mother. She takes matters into her own hands and sends for a potential husband, while also opening her own dress shop. Gertrude hopes to build a future where she' ll find peace and happiness. Will either of them ever be able to find peace? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing)


The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass by Katie Powner -- After years of drifting, fifty-year-old Pete Ryman has settled down with his potbellied pig, Pearl, in the small Montana town of Sleeping Grass--a place he never expected to see again. It's not the life he dreamed of, but there aren't many prospects for a high-school dropout like him. Elderly widow Wilma Jacobsen carries a burden of guilt over her part in events that led to Pete leaving Sleeping Grass decades ago. Now that he's back, she's been praying for the chance to make things right, but she never expected God's answer to leave her flat on her face--literally--and up to her ears in meddling. (Literary/Contemporary from Bethany House)


Facing the Enemy by DiAnn Mills -- When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly. Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Tyndale House)

Seeking Justice by Sharee Stover n agent and her K-9 partner risk their lives in the ultimate mission. With her partner gravely injured in the line of duty, FBI agent Tiandra Daugherty has one shot to complete her mission. She’ll have to convince her partner’s twin brother, Officer Elijah Kenyon, to take his place undercover in a deadly drug ring. Together they must find justice for his brother and dismantle the gang. But the target is now on them, and the mission could prove fatal. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Young Adult:

The Text by Julane Fisher -- n 2048, 25 years after a pandemic killed one-third of the world’s population, America is flourishing under the department of Safety Threats and Reinforcement (STaR). STaR keeps citizens safe and healthy STaR’s social media app, Allicio, boasts two billion users. The a power outage shuts down STaR’s health monitors and disables millions of mobile phones. Sixteen-year-old Rami Carlton earned a starting spot on the varsity volleyball team. For fun, she races tech-genius Finley Drake to decipher the online identities of their techie friends. The game is harmless. So they thought. Rami receives a chilling text message that she’s being watched. That night, her mother disappears. Despite thousands of city-wide monitors, STaR’s Reinforcement Division cannot locate Rami’s mom. And Rami’s stalker threatens to kill her brother if she talks to Reinforcement Officers. When Finley hacks the nation’s cellular provider, Connect Mobile, he discovers STaR has a secret. STAR isn’t just watching. They’re manipulating Allicio. And Rami is their next target. (Young Adult from Infinite Teen)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Cold Case Revenge Jessica R. Patch, A kidnapped child. An unsolved cold case. This K-9 is on the trail. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)

Daniel’s Oil Urcelia Teixeira, Keeping a secret is easy. Getting away with it is the hard part. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)

Escaping Illusions Therese Heckenkamp, All she wants is a new beginning, but it will come at a chilling cost. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)

Just Be Here Susan Page Davis, If Nick gets the promotion he’s dreamed of, will it rip him away from the woman he loves? (Contemporary Romance)

Reclaiming the Spy Lorri Dudley, How can he protect her from himself when she keeps winding up in his arms? (Historical Romance)
The Last Laird of SapeloT.M. Brown, Based on the tragic story of Randolph Spalding, the youngest son of Georgia’s most well-known antebellum-era coastal planter and influential political figure, Thomas Spalding. (General Historical)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Train Travel in the 1870s

Traveling Tuesday: Travel in the 1870s

After decades of traversing the American continent over bumpy roads by horse-drawn covered wagon or stagecoach, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 slashed travel time from months to mere days. Long forgotten are the more than 20,000 Irish-American Civil War Veterans, freed slaves, Mormon pioneers, and Chinese laborers, who performed the back-breaking work. Estimates vary as to the project’s cost, but it was exorbitant: somewhere above $60 million (or $1.2 billion in today’s money). An additional cost was the more than 1,200 lives lost in the process of building the railroad.

James Meigs, senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, likened the transcontinental railroad to the internet of the 19th century. An excellent analogy considering that the railroad created the opportunity to communicate and conduct commerce over great distances. Much like the internet, the railroad transformed the economy of the time.

The first passenger train on the like took 102 hours to travel from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco,
Pixabay/Brigitte Werner
and a first-class ticket cost $134.50 – about $2,700 today. Using the Overland Route, the train went across prairies, mountains, and deserts, exposing East Coast travelers to visions they’d never imagined. Celia Cooley Graves from Massachusetts wrote in 1875 “For hundreds of miles we saw no other persons except now and then a station with a few hovels about it.”

Mimicking ocean travel that transported millions of immigrants to the US and offered different fares for different classes, the railroads implemented a system of three classes. Third-class passengers paid half of what first-class passengers did to sit on benches and bring their own food. Second-class passengers had it a bit better in that their seats were upholstered.

Courtesy National Park Service
Those who could afford first-class traveled in opulent style with access to sleepers, dining cars, and parlor cars that were lavishly decorated and included brocade curtains or silk shades, chandeliers, plush upholstery, walls covered in dark walnut, velvet hangings, gilt-framed mirrors, and brass fixtures.

Historian Amy G. Richter made an interesting observation about George Pullman’s elaborate palace and the impact they had on women: the train cars’ home-like setting and the presence of women in the living-room-like cars legitimized train travel for {single} women and soothed those who feared that public life would endanger women and the moral order.

Eventually, railroad tracks crisscrossed the United States providing the opportunity to travel from coast to coast no matter what their economic status.


Beryl’s Bounty Hunter

Can a thief and a lawman find happiness?

Orphaned as a child, Beryl Atherton has lived on the streets of London as long as she can remember. Reduced to stealing for survival, she is arrested. During her incarceration one of her cellmates shows her a newspaper ad for an American mail-order bride agency. But all is not as it seems, and moments after landing in Boston, she must run for her life. Will things be no different for her in the New World?

Working as a bounty hunter since The War Between the States, Lucas Wolf just needs a few more cases before he can hang up his gun, purchase a ranch out West, and apply for a mail-order bride from the Westward Home & Hearts Mail-Order Bride Agency. While staking out the docks in Boston, he sees a woman fleeing from the man he’s been tailing. Saving her risks his job. Not saving her risks his heart.

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