Monday, November 18, 2019

Daisy Ashford, Author

By Nancy J. Farrier

Have you ever gone through mementos from your childhood and discovered something precious that you’d forgotten about? I have and the memories resurrected are so fun, but the memento is usually just for me and not worth sharing to the world. That is not the case for Daisy Ashford, an extraordinary author.

Daisy Ashford
Photo Wikimedia
Daisy was born in 1881 in Petersham, Surrey, near London. The oldest of three girls, Daisy did schooling at home with her sisters. She loved books, and I have to wonder if her parents, especially her father, encouraged her love of the written word and story. When she was four years old, Daisy dictated her first book, The Life of Father McSwiney, to her father. This story would not see publication in her lifetime, but we will come back to it.

At nine years of age, Daisy wrote a novella, The Young Visitors, describing Victorian life as seen by a child in the nursery. Her mother tucked the story away and in her teen years, Daisy gave up writing. Her family moved several times and WWI caused much strife for the country. 

Daisy Ashford 1919
George Grantham
Bain Collection
Living in London, Daisy obtained work as a secretary and also ran a canteen during the war. When going through their parents things after a death, Daisy and her sisters discovered her hand-written manuscript of The Young Visitors.The spelling was what you would expect for a young child, but there was charm in the story. So much charm that a friend of hers sent the manuscript to a literary critic and author she knew.

J.M. Barrier
National Media
Museum UK
Frank Swinnerton, the critic, also worked as a reader for a publishing house. He persuaded Sir James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, to write a forward for the book, and The Young Visitorswas published, complete with most of the childish misspellings and grammar errors. 

Daisy was very excited at the thought of being a published author. Her book became an success, although there was some confusion about who authored the story. Many people believed J. M. Barrie to have penned the book because of his forward. At one point, Swinnerton was chased down the street with the person shouting, “Did he or did she?”

The year after her book was published, Daisy married and became known as
The Young Visitors
By Daisy Ashford
Margaret Mary Julia Devlin. I do not know if Daisy was a nickname from childhood or not. I wonder if this was an endearment used by her parents that stuck through childhood.

First page, The Young Visitors
Project Gutenberg
Daisy used the proceeds from her royalties to buy a farm. She and her husband enjoyed having a flower raising business. Daisy once said she liked, “…fresh air—and royalties.” Several of her other stories were published, but none as popular as The Young Visitors. Daisy considered her short novel, The Hangman’s Daughter, to be her best work. The book mentioned earlier, The Life of Father McSwiney, was published in 1983, eleven years after Daisy’s death. 

I love this story of a young girl being encouraged to write a story and then the later publication. The work is available through Project Gutenberg. I do believe I would enjoy reading her story. Have you ever heard of Daisy or her book? Did you write a book at that age? Such an accomplishment.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Thanksgiving in the Old West - and a Giveaway

By Davalynn Spencer

A close friend of mine is having chicken and dumplings for Thanksgiving dinner this year because that’s what her grandson requested.

Works for me.

Typically, it’s hard to imagine the big Thanksgiving spread without a turkey in the middle of the table surrounded by all the fixin’s such as that depicted in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting from the 1940s, Freedom from Want.

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell - Public domain
via the National Archives and Records Administration
But sixty to seventy years earlier on the Western frontier, the main dish could have been deer, fish, goose, corned beef, roast beef, tongue (bovine or bison), ham, or quail stew.

Quail on my home front huddling beneath a Colorado blue spruce.
Cranberry sauce and pies were fairly universal, though I imagine those cranberries had to be ordered ahead of time from wherever cranberries grew. Creative cooks might have substituted well-seeded chokecherries, currants, or some such. Dried apple or pumpkin pies were common, as were sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, pickles, root vegetables, and cake.

And let’s not forget baked beans, vinegar pie, and the West’s constant standby of fresh biscuits and stout coffee.

Kansas City hotels in the late 1880s reportedly offered oysters, elk, squirrel, opossum, shrimp, and other delectables. I’d probably be late for supper if squirrel was on the menu.

From as early as 1621, people in what became the United States of America celebrated a fall harvest festival during which they thanked God for protection and provision, sharing their feast with neighbors and friends.

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie August Brownscombe.
This 1925 painting corrected her 1914 depiction of Plains Indians rather than tribes common
to the Plymouth area. Public domain via the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
George Washington first proclaimed a latter Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving, but not until 1863, during President Abraham Lincoln’s term, was Thanksgiving recognized as a federal holiday. I imagine for many, this call to give thanks during America’s Civil War served as a poignant reminder and challenge.

It has long been touted that early American Benjamin Franklin believed the common turkey to be more honorable than the bald eagle when decisions were being made about the national bird. Much of the tale is hearsay, though in retrospect, it’s hard to imagine the humble turkey replacing the majestically depicted bald eagle.

It’s also hard to imagine a featherless eagle centerpiece on my Thanksgiving table.

However, I have heard of people fending off angry gobblers that had other ideas about what should be served for supper.

What’s on your menu this year? Comment below to have your name tossed in the drawing for an e-copy of my Thanksgiving tale, Mail-order Misfire. And have a blessed and thanks-filled Thanksgiving, whether you celebrate singularly or in the company of others.


Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. She writes award-winning Western romance with rugged heroes, teaches writing workshops, and refuses to put her quail in a stew. She plays the keyboard on her church worship team and wrangles Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The History of Packaging and Shipping

I love antique wooden boxes and crates. I’m not sure why they have such a fascination for me. Once, I had a lovely old box that we used as a prop in a Christmas play at church. I loaded everything on my husband’s truck to take back home after the play, and he headed toward my mother-in-law’s house to deliver borrowed props to her first. I was watching from the church parking lot when my crate fell off the truck and shattered in the middle of the highway. It was a total accident, but I was sad to lose the old box.

Vintage Armour Canned meat crate found in my husband's grandfather's old barn.
It's now on display in my den.

But even through my fascination, I can see why manufacturers, shippers, and merchants would prefer the lighter, more easily handled and recyclable cardboard boxes we have today. And, after you watch the video at the end of this post, you’ll realize that we’ve come a long way from gourds, leaves, and hollowed out logs!
The cardboard box was invented in 1817 in England. The box was a flimsy paperboard similar in design to today’s cereal boxes. Kellogg Cereals started using this type of box in the mid-1800s and popularized its use. This type of box would never do for shipping heavy cans or jars.

Enter the corrugated box. Corrugated (or pleated) paper was patented in England in 1856 and used as a liner for tall hats, but entrepreneurs soon realized the benefits of the stronger material for other uses. Single-sided corrugated boxboard was patented by Albert Jones of New York City and saw use as a shipping material as early as 1871.

Corrugated means “(of a material, surface, or structure) shaped into alternate ridges and grooves.” The ridges and grooves strengthen the box. There are three basic types of corrugated cardboard boxes/crates. Single, double, triple walled.

As a former purchasing manager, I can tell you that all corrugated boxes aren’t the same. More than once, my shipping department rejected boxes because they were inferior quality that wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of shipping. Or we received product in flimsy boxes. Both scenarios cause a major headaches. Most shipments up to 20 lbs or so can get by with a single walled corrugated box. Triple walled corrugated boxes can handle up to 300 lbs and are quite sturdy.

I realize that it costs less to produce and ship corrugated cardboard boxes all over the world, and that cardboard is easier to recycle, but that still doesn’t stop me from longing for the days when some little mercantile in the middle of nowhere received a shipment of wooden crates with all kinds of goodies inside. Although I seriously doubt those merchants were as enamored of all those adorable wooden crates as I am.

Here’s a fun little video regarding the history of packaging.


CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Looking for another Pam Hillman novel to keep you entertained? Here are some of the best deals going right now! :)
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Mid-Month Madness Party

Welcome to the Mid-Month Madness Party! We really appreciate you coming by! We will be giving away six books so be sure to pay attention to how to enter.

To enter to win you MUST leave a comment WITH your email and you MUST ask one or more of the authors a question you'd like to know about them, their writing, or their books.

We are looking forward to getting to know you better and hope you'll get to know us better, too!



 Yoana Armenta’s reckless behavior results in her, and her tía, being captured by bandoleros. Amado Castro gave a death bed promise that he intends to keep – at all costs - even if he must break a childhood vow. When his choice endangers Yoana, and her impulsive behavior endangers her, he must make a decision to honor his word, or to protect Yoana, and her tía. When the bandoleros threaten to sell the women to a fate worse than death, and the rancheros want to hang Amado, will they be able to trust God?

The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado

Can Matthew find a reason to go on living, and can Edith find someone who wants her for herself, before their Christmas Inn refuge is closed and they are forced to continue their search elsewhere, alone?

High Country Christmas

A High-Country Christmas - Two sweet tales of mishaps, memories, and emotions that test the mettle of two Western couples in the Colorado high country at Christmas.

Just in Time for Christmas
Abigale Millerton is seventeen with a ranch to run, a fear of heights, and a cowboy intent on stealing her heart.

Snow Angel
As a four-year-old, Lena Carver lost something precious at Christmas. Twenty years later, she's about to lose her heart.

Love's Kindling

After she rescues an injured man who is now blind, can an unloved woman help him see he is more than a hero in her eyes? And can she believe that she is worthy of his love?

War's Respite

The soldiers have returned home from the battle fields, but the conflicts in the hearts of the veterans create even more heartaches that will have enduring consequences from which some might never recover. 

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Donna Schlachter lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer writes cowboy romance. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. And she’s fairly certain that her previous career as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.

Elaine Marie Cooper has two historical fiction books that released in 2019: War’s Respite (Prequel novella) and Love’s Kindling. Love’s Kindling is available in both e-book and paperback. They are the first two books in the Dawn of America Series set in Revolutionary War Connecticut. Cooper is the award-winning author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany’s Calendar. Her 2016 release (Saratoga Letters) was finalist in Historical Romance in both the Selah Awards and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She penned the three-book Deer Run Saga and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies including the recent Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy. Scarred Vessels, a novel about black soldiers in the American Revolution, will release in 2020. You can visit her website/ blog at

Direct a comment below to one or more of the authors for a chance to win her book giveaway! And don't forget to join the Mid-Month Madness Facebook party for even more great prizes!

Please be sure to include your email address in your comment using at and dot so we can notify you of your prize! Example: janedoe at gmail dot com

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fanny Campbell - Revolutionary War Pirate or Privateer?

 When I came across the story of Fanny Campbell, I thought to myself, now this is the stuff of great romantic fiction! Trouble is, the story is not fiction, it's true,! And I guarantee you'll find it as fascinating and romantic as I did. 

Fanny Campbell was a young woman who lived in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1776. She was just an ordinary colonial woman like any of us would have been. But she had a huge problem. Her childhood sweetheart and betrothed, William Lovell, was rotting in a jail in Cuba on charges of piracy. His merchant ship had been captured by pirates and the crew forced into piracy against their will. Fanny couldn't stand the thought of never seeing her one true love again and especially the thought of him dying alone in a Spanish prison. 

So what does she do? She dresses like a man and signed on to serve as second officer on a British Merchant Brig, the Constance! (Yea.. just what I would have done) However, she had no idea how to get the captain to go rescue William from Cuba. But it would seem God was on her side because both the Captain and the first mate had secret intentions to sail the Constance to England and impress the entire crew into the Royal Navy! When Fanny got word of this, she encouraged the captain to do just that while alternatively, she informed the crew of his plans and incited a mutiny! 

 Fanny became the new commander of the Constance and headed for Cuba. Along the way they encountered a British bark, the George, the captain of which sensed something was not quite right on the Constance and open fired. Though the Constance was undergunned, they (under the leadership of Fanny) won the battle and took the George as prize. Now, they were officially pirates! 

Fanny immediately sailed for Cuba, and with the help of her crew, rescued her betrothed and several other Americans! Finally the happy couple was united, but they kept Fanny's gender a secret from the crew. (Can you imagine the look on William's face when he first saw his fiancee, dressed like a man, leading a charge of men to rescue him from prison?) 

On the way home, the Constance and George, still under the command of "Captain Channing" took another prize, a British merchant ship that had news that war had broken out between the colonies and Britain. Declaring both her ships privateers and no longer pirates, Fanny sailed back to Massachusettes where she obtained the proper papers commissioning the two ships as privateers.

 Fanny and William went home to Lynn and were soon married. While William went off to privateer during the war, Fanny remained home and eventually became the mother of several children. 

And they lived happily ever after!!!!  (Sounds like the makings of a great romance novel!)

If you like swashbuckling tales like this, you'll love my Legacy of the King's Pirates series (King stands for King of Kings!)  There are 6 books in the series, and the first one is only 99 cents on Kindle. You don't have to read the books in any order. 

Check it out!  Available on Amazon

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Hotel Belleview: A Retreat for Florida’s Gilded Age Elite

by Denise Weimer
View of the dining room in 1924

Were you aware that two competing tycoons opened Florida to the tourist trade in the late 1800s, Henry Flagler on the east coast and Henry Plant on the west coast? Each purchased and expanded rail lines following the Civil War and began building a series of hotels to beckon wealthy Northerners into the tropical wilderness. Even though I spent vacations visiting family in Central Florida during my childhood, I learned this interesting fact only after joining a research project with several other authors. How about a peek at Plant’s Clearwater retreat, The Hotel Belleview, the setting for my latest work in progress?

Less opulent than Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, the Belleview, which opened for the winter social season of 1897, still boasted a popular Swiss chalet style exterior, 145 guest rooms, a lobby-based telegraph, three electric lights in each guest room generated by a steam plant, and a resident orchestra performing daily. Originally 400,000 square feet, the inn was at one time the largest occupied wood frame structure in the world. In 1904, an east wing doubled the number of guest rooms. In 1909, the exterior was painted white and its roof shingled in green rather than red, earning the nickname, “The White Queen on the Gulf.” Further additions took place in 1914 and 1925, and The Belleview was purchased by John McEntee Bowman’s Bowman-Biltmore Hotels in 1920—with a name change to Belleview-Biltmore.

While guests enjoyed yachting, horseback riding, tennis, skeet shooting, bicycling, and swimming in the 1919 Olympic pool, a dozen cottages took shape on the 290-acre complex. These were constructed by the wealthy owners with the understanding that the hotel would assume ownership after five years, after which the owners could enter a rental agreement.

A unique draw of The Belleview was its golf course—purportedly Florida’s first. The original course, with greens covered in crushed shell, sand greens, and shelters with grass-thatched roofs, featured six holes. By the turn of the century, there were nine holes with sand greens. And by 1915, sportsmen flocked to The Belleview to enjoy two eighteen-hole courses designed by Donald Ross.

Today, only the original west wing remains. It is open to the public as The Belleview Inn, a boutique hotel surrounded by new townhomes and condominiums. Its grand façade still provides a glimpse of The Hotel Belleview in its glory days. Can you imagine ladies with pompadours sipping tea in the dining room surrounded by Tiffany glass? Couples frolicking in the waters of the bay in their navy-and-white swimsuits or waltzing at Washington’s Annual Birthday Ball? Keep an eye out for a story that will capture all of that, hopefully coming soon.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism
Golfers c. 1900
degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. Her contemporary romance, Fall Flip, and her historical romance, The Witness Tree, both released with LPC this September. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Berlin Candy Bomber

By Kathy Kovach

November is designated as Thanksgiving month, where we as Americans look at our lives and give thanks for our many blessings. But I would like to turn our attention to 1948 Germany and a special operation that happened during the Berlin airlift.

After World War II, Germany was sectioned off into occupied territories. The allied designations were American, British, and French. But the Soviet Union

gained a fourth. The capitol city of Berlin was located deep into the Soviet Union territory, but was also divided into fourths, the allies occupying West Berlin. Stalin had already taken Czechoslovakia and Hungary; it was only a matter of time before he’d go after Germany. He cut off railway, road, and canal access to West Berlin on June 24, 1948 hoping to starve the allies out by making it impossible for goods to be delivered to those living there. This was known as the Berlin Blockade.

Not to be deterred, the allies got together, and the Berlin Airlift went into operation. If they couldn’t send food and supplies by ground, they would take to the air. These planes delivered 5000 to 8000 tons of food, fuel, and goods a day for over a year. In the course of the operation, about 2.3 million tons of cargo had been flown in.

Gail Halvorsen joined the United States Army Air Corp when he was only in his twenties. He loved children and lamented having to put his family on hold. After the war, he jumped on board to deliver supplies to the very people he had bombed in Berlin.

The following is from “Impressions of A Berlin Airlift Pilot," Gail S. Halvorsen, Col. USAF (Ret) Nov. 2007

When word came that Stalin had cut off all the
food and energy supplies to these suffering people this assignment became a worthwhile challenge. But that didn’t make this second disruption without some pangs of doubt.
“However these last feelings of doubt left me when I landed that first load of 20,000 pounds of flour at Tempelhof in West Berlin. The German unloading crew poured through the open cargo door in the back of my aircraft. The lead man came toward the cockpit, moist eyes, hand out thrust in friendship. Unintelligible words but his expression said it all. He looked at the bags of flour and back to us like we were angels from heaven. People were hungry for food and freedom. We were giving them both and they were most grateful. Gratitude is the magic potion that makes enemies friends and seemingly impossible tasks doable. From then on, the pangs of doubt were gone.”

Another need arose during that year. Yes, the people were fed and clothed. They were able to heat their homes with the coal delivered. But a tiny population had needs, and by tiny, I mean the children.

During one of the deliveries, Halvorsen spotted about thirty children on the other side of the barbed wire fence watching the plane being unloaded. They told him, ‘When the weather gets so bad you can’t land don’t worry about us.

We can get by on little food but if we lose our freedom, we may never get it back.’” Halvorsen was there for more than an hour and not one child asked for gum or candy. He was so impressed that he promised to drop candy from his plane the next day when he flew over their houses. They’d know it was him because he would wiggle his wings. He did just that for several weeks, tying bits of gum and chocolate bars to cloth and dropping the tiny parachutes from his plane. But then he got caught. His crew was threatened with court martials, but this was immediately followed by a pardon. At his home base of Rhein Main AFB, in Frankfurt, Germany, General William H. Tunner told him to “keep it up.”

Stories emerged as letters came in by the hundreds. One was from a little girl named Mercedes. She told him his planes scared her chickens, but he could
drop the candy near the white chickens because she didn’t care if they were scared. Years later Halvorsen was assigned as the commander of Tempelhof. He received a letter from a local inviting him to dinner. When he finally accepted, he learned it was Mercedes and her husband, Peter. They would go on to be friends, the Halvorsens staying with them over thirty times in the years to follow.

Another letter from an adult man was equally touching and epitomized the role the allies played in their support of the hurting population of West Berlin.

. . .a 60 year old man told me he had caught a parachute in 1948 with a fresh Hershey candy bar. ‘It took me a week to eat it. I hid it day and night. But the chocolate was not the most important thing. The most important thing was that someone in America knew I was in trouble and someone cared. That meant hope.’ With moist eyes he said, ‘Without hope the soul dies. I can live on thin rations, but not without hope.’ Hope is what the British, French and American Airlift, its flour, dried eggs, dried potatoes, dried milk and coal meant to the Berliners, hope for freedom. Everyone needs hope today as much as the West Berliners needed it then,” Impressions of A Berlin Airlift Pilot, Gail S. Halvorsen, Col. USAF (Ret) Nov. 2007.
My husband was stationed at Rhein Main, AFB in 1979-1982 and again in 1986-1989. We were there when President Ronald Reagan said the famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Although we never visited Berlin, we could see gratefulness on the faces of many of the older Germans we met. Many of them shook my husband’s hand and thanked him for being there. They remembered those harsh times, when war had threatened all they held dear. They still, after all those years, celebrated their freedom, knowing someone else—the Americans, British, and French—put their lives on hold for them.

And it was Colonel Gail Halvorsen, aka the Candy Bomber and Uncle Wiggly Wings, who became the face of compassion to so many. We are grateful that he shared in the same spirit of giving that we celebrate each year in our homes.

A secret. A key. Much was buried on the Titanic, but now it's time for resurrection.

Follow two intertwining stories a century apart. 1912 - Matriarch Olive Stanford protects a secret after boarding the Titanic that must go to her grave. 2012 - Portland real estate agent Ember Keaton-Jones receives the key that will unlock the mystery of her past... and her distrusting heart.
To buy: Amazon

Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband Jim raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.