Category Archives: Research

The Westbound Surge

I’ll be writing in another multi-author project next year which will be set in the 1880s. This is very “modern” for me and the research has been fascinating. Up until now, all my books have been either set in Regency era England (1805) or the American Midwest from 1855-1865. With the 1880s comes more technology, more developed towns and cities in the West, as well as opening up the possibility of setting some stories in Canada (where I’m from).

The rapid development of technology spurred the population growth of North America as well as the westward movement of people. The ability to more easily communicate made the expansion of business also possible. And “rapid” transportation meant you could travel all across the continent in less than ten days. In fact, in 1876, the Transcontinental Express from New York to San Francisco made the trip in 83 relaxing, comfortable hours. Imagine! Three and a half days! That really shrank the world for people of that time. Of course, the poor, penniless, mail order bride couldn’t afford that ticket, but even she could reach her new life in a week or less, depending on her destination.

The consolidation and reorganization of the railroads in the late 19th century lead to rapid industrial growth in many areas including the opening of hundreds of millions of acres of very good farm land ready for mechanization, lower costs for food and all goods, and a huge national sales market. Of course, all this growth and prosperity didn’t benefit everyone. While the average annual wage for an industrial worker rose by 48% between 1860 and 1890 (from $380 to $564), there was still abject poverty and inequality leading to contentious social issues. And the ability to travel broadened people’s knowledge and perspective, making them more involved in these various struggles and triumphs.

Railroads were the major growth industry, with the factory system, mining, and finance increasing in importance. Immigration from Europe, and the eastern states, led to the rapid growth of the West, based on farming, ranching, and mining. The rapid economic growth in America also fueled this influx of millions of European immigrants, especially due to the wage increases making the opportunities seem so very attractive to these new comers.

I’m thrilled with the research I’ve been able to do and am overwhelmed with story ideas for this exciting time period in history.

Stay tuned for more book news. In the meantime, have you read my other westerns?

Eating Out in 1850s America

proxy 3 w m andrewsIn my latest Sweet, Historical, Western Romance (A Bride for Alastair), my characters are returning to Boston after an extended stay in Missouri. They, of course, hadn’t left any food supplies in the house, except a few dried goods like tea, as they weren’t sure how long they’d baway. In those days, although the arrival of the rails had greatly sped up travel times, it still took at least a week to make the trip one way. But that doesn’t change the fact that you gotta eat.

Interestingly, the word restaurant, from a French word, only applied to eating establishments serving French cuisine. Most famous in the East is Delmonico’s in New York which opened  in the 1830s. But aptly named “eating houses” also existed, besides saloons, as well as street vendors. The further West one travelled, the more people had to rely on eating “out” as fewer people had homes. By the time one got as far as San Francisco, nearly everyone ate in restaurants most of the time as so many were living in tents or hovels. This led to cooks coming from all over the world and created a diverse eating experience. The first three Chinese restaurants in the United States were opened in San Francisco in the 1850s.

Hotels served food, of course, to their patrons. In order to protect respectable woman from unwanted advances, a separate dining space in large hotels called a ladies’ ordinary was set aside for families or ladies travelling alone. At this time, women were not permitted to dine alone or unaccompanied by a male escort in restaurants and the public rooms of luxury, urban hotels. A ladies’ ordinary provided a socially acceptable venue where respectable women could dine alone or with other women.

I find this hard to believe as I don’t like them, but in the mid 19th century, one of the most common dishes ordered at any eating establishment was oysters. From my research, it seems like all across the country they were very popular. I can’t imagine them being very good in the middle of the country, but I suppose near the coasts they would be fresh enough.

Ice Cream ParlorOne thing I found fascinating, because “respectable” women didn’t usually eat in restaurants, a solution had to be found as the nation prospered – wealthy women could work up an appetite while out shopping. Thus the ice cream saloon came about. These decadent eateries allowed women to dine alone without putting their bodies or reputations at risk. The first ones served little more than ice cream, pastries, and oysters, but as women became more comfortable with eating out, these establishments expanded into opulent, full-service restaurants with sophisticated menus. Although ice cream saloons or parlors had an air of dainty domesticity, they also developed more sultry reputations. At the time, they were one of the few places where both men and women could go unchaperoned. As a result, they became popular destinations for dates and other illicit rendezvous.

The research I had done for my book centered around Boston, so I’ve found researching this article absolutely fascinating. I think some of these tidbits are going to have to turn up in future books <grin>.

Orphan Train series Inspiration

Sophie Cover ImageThe Orphan Train series was inspired by some real life events.

When friends of mine were adopting a beautiful little boy from another country, I decided to research the history of adoption. I found out some dreadful things, sadly, but I also found out about Mr. Charles Brace (a founder of the Children’s Aid Society) and the Orphan Trains from New York.

I’m sure there were some terrible experiences through the many years that the orphan trains were traveling, but there were far more success stories. At least one of the orphans went on to become President of the United States.

While reading  up on it, I began to imagine the lives impacted, not only of the children, but also of the adults involved. Thus was born the idea for three young women who accompanied a trainload of orphans on their journey out West.

The prequel sets up the story. The heroine of Book 2 wasn’t supposed to be on the train. She is taking the place of the heroine of Book 1. The heroines of Books 3 & 4 fully intended to leave their New York lives behind and set up a shop in their new town. Follow along on their journeys in the Orphan Train series!

Start with Sophie, the Prequel: $0.99 for Kindle:  https://amzn.to/2MUwCJ9

Proxy Brides – my new series

According to Merriam-Webster:

proxy

1the agency, function, or office of a deputy who acts as a substitute for another

2aauthority or power to act for another

ba document giving such authority

And according to Wikipedia:

Beginning in the Middle Ages, European monarchs and nobility sometimes married by proxy. Examples include the marriage of Mary, Queen of Hungary to Louis I, Duke of Orléans in 1385, the wedding at Eltham on 3 April, 1402 between Henry IV and Joan, the daughter of Charles II, King of Navarre, that of Catherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur in 1499, while a famous 17th-century painting by Peter Paul Rubens depicts the proxy marriage of Marie de’ Medici in 1600. Charles I of England married Henrietta Maria of France by proxy on 1 May 1625, and a well-known example more recently involved the marriage of Napoleon I of France and the Austrian Archduchess Marie Louisein 1810. By the end of the 19th century the practice had largely died out.

As of 2015, various Internet sites offer to arrange proxy and double-proxy marriages for a fee, although the service can generally be set up by any lawyer in a jurisdiction that offers proxy marriage. Video conferencing allows couples to experience the ceremony together. A unique “space wedding” took place on August 10, 2003 when Ekaterina Dmitriev married Yuri Malenchenko, a cosmonaut orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station, by proxy in Texas, US.

So that’s the history 🙂 Now on to what it has to do with me:

I was invited to join a multi-author project several months ago. We’re ten authors all writing in the same series. The premise is everyone is writing about a couple who, for various reasons, need to marry by proxy. It’s like mail-order brides but taken to a bit of an extreme – they haven’t even written to each other for the most part. Someone else stands in as the groom for the legalities. I’m fascinated by the different stories the other authors have come up with.

The books are releasing every two weeks. My first one comes out this Thursday!! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. And tell me, can you even imagine marrying someone like this?

 

Orphan Train Series

 

I’m so excited about this new series. My first time to truly write a series – from the beginning I had planned it to be a series whereas in the past I’ve decided to write a sequel after the first book was already written. It’s an entirely different experience. Also, with these books, I’ve set them in 1854 America which is 50 years later than I usually write and a different country. But I have been really enjoying them. I’m sad to say, I’m almost finished with the writing of the series. Book 3 will be releasing next week and Book 4 is in Second Draft state. I’ve really enjoyed taking tragic circumstances and developing happily-ever-afters for these characters. And the setting allows for all the possibilities. It was such an exciting time! People were only limited by their imaginations in a certain way since technology was slowly exploding onto the scene and the entire vista was suddenly opening up with train travel from both directions in the US.

If you could pick a different time period in history to live, what would you choose?

While I love my Regencies, I think I would pick 1850’s America over Regency England because there were far more opportunities. In the Regency, and in England, it still really mattered who you were born. In America, you could be anybody, your birth didn’t necessarily limit you. No wonder immigration was exploding at that time! Who wouldn’t want a fresh start back then??