April Tea Party winners: DEBUT author PEGG THOMAS's signed copy of The Pony Express Romance Collection is Bree Herron, Angela Couch's book,Carla Gade's, Carrie Fancett Pagels' "Tea Shop Folly" goes to Faith, Denise Weimer's print winner of WITCH is Connie Saunders, Joan Hochstetler, Debra E. Marvin Betti Mace wins ebook ,
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
You have a passion for history. You long to live in bygone eras. Some of your favorite heroes include Abigail, Molly, Daniel, and the Georges (last names not required). You dream of garrison houses, Indian raids, privateers, patriots, meeting houses, powered wigs, cotillions, Caraco jackets, embroidered stomachers, herb gardens, baking by the hearth, and spinning wool. As you sit with your roller-gel pen or at your keyboard you imagine yourself writing with a goose feather quill pen.
But what is it exactly about 18th century America that stirs your soul?
Why do you write Colonial American fiction?
(Names: Abigail Adams, Molly Pitcher, Daniel Boone, George Washington and George Whitefield)
Monday, May 30, 2011
"I am primarily a historical reader/writer, so I fully expected to like Tiff's book, but HOLY COW, I found myself flipping through those pages like a heat-seeking missile!" ~ Julie Lessman
Has God forsaken Raelene? What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice? When Gustaf Hanssen promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined. To keep his word, must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?
Excerpt from Chapter 1
Christina River Valley (Delaware), 1740
Visit the Author Online
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Promises, Promises by Amber Stockton is also available in the 3-in-1 collection Liberty's Promise.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Contributed by Laura Feagan Frantz
I've yet to meet a writer of historical fiction that says anything but "ahhh!" to research. They're usually quite at home in history books. My friends who write contemporary fiction usually say "ugh" to the same, one of the reasons they choose to write in their genre. Research, to them, is often dry, dusty, stale. I must admit some history, like midwifery, is far more interesting to me than say, fishmongering. And I've discovered that there are ways to make your research sing, avenues you can take to make the leap from antique facts to flesh and blood characters more appealing.
During the years I spent writing The Frontiersman's Daughter, research became more ah-inducing when I created characters who were involved in the things I loved and wanted to learn more about. Here are two of them...
I'd always had a love of herbs, flowers, and the woods and wanted my protagonist to find her calling there. The Kentucky hills and hollows became Lael's second home in the novel and she was taught their charms and secrets by Ma Horn, a healer and herbalist. To get into Lael's head and heart, I planted a large herb garden full of 18th-century things like comfrey and bee balm and lavender and chamomile. This became my own special spot and the delight of my heart. I scoured the woods for materials to build a wattle fence and spent hours crafting one just like Lael would have done. Imagine my JOY when those flowers and herbs wended their way around my lovely fence and cast me back to another time and place. I also learned to match remedies to ailments as I delved into what plagued colonials back then, then poured that knowledge into Lael.
When readers say they felt at home in Lael's woods, that the words on the page became vivid pictures, I think it's because the research became a reality via my garden, fence, and woods. If you want your research to spring to life for you, your characters, and your readers, try tending a garden, churning butter, cooking over a hearth, firing a musket, spinning, or a million other old things. Visit a historic site and pay careful attention to the reenactors. Sometimes they let you lend a hand with whatever it is they're doing. Absorb the sights, smells, and sounds therein. Look for amazing resources like the Foxfire books that give in-depth instruction as to what your characters would have done in detail. Your writing will be better for it.
Another love of mine is the violin. No, I can't play a note so the next best thing was creating a hero who could play in my stead. I made my Ian Justus Scottish. Such a rich fiddling history there! If you haven't read the book, Ian was a doctor and erstwhile fiddler:)
As I was writing TFD, my youngest son expressed a desire to play the violin. When he broke a string or was horribly out of tune, played a song flawlessly and almost made me cry, I instilled this in my hero. I still can't play a note but Ian can - as can my Paul. I agree with one of my favorite characters regarding fiddle music, "Surely the devil had a hand in something this seductive." Heaven did, truly!
Ramp that research up by indulging in some hands on history. You - and your readers - will be glad you did and it will enrich your life in countless ways.
Every writer is different, each story unique, including research methods. How does research work best for you? What sources do you find most compelling? Do you research prior to writing or throughout? If you're a reader instead of a writer, do you prefer historical fiction with lots of detail or just a little? When is too much detail too much - or too little too little?
CQ note from CFP: Leave a comment on Laura's research post (or the Fiction Sampler of CML) with your email address for a chance to win a copy of Courting Morrow Little by Laura. Drawing will be on Monday morning, Memorial Day.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Ah, there ye are dear readers. I am blessed to see you visit my Rhode Island farm. God has been very gracious to me. I built it in 1654, nigh ten years ago.
Let me set my horse’s furniture, what ye call a saddle, on this fence rail. Now I can properly introduce myself to you. My name is Nathaniel Griffith.
My good wife and I have just returned from a trip to Lynn in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, nigh a five day ride home, including a ferry ride across the bay.
What is that, ye say? Why so long? Betwixt a narrow trail and many down trees from a storm a fortnight ago, the ride took much longer than anticipated. My wife, she’s a goodly woman and a fine rider, but her stirrup stockings require a broader path than what a single horse needs.
What are stirrup stockings, ye ask? Well, they be similar to my splatterdashes…but I see I have lost you there. These are loose thigh-high leggings to keep my clothes clean. Now stirrup stockings, they be as wide as the length of a large man’s arm. Yea, I agree. They are not very attractive. However, modesty must prevail and these stirrup stockings allow my good wife to ride astride without revealing more than a modest woman should.
Now about the distance. I have good steeds. At an easy trot, they can go six miles in an hour over a clear trail and in fine weather. The day my father took ill, I rode more than sixty miles to fetch Dr. Clarke. Verily, on a journey of several days I desire not to push my animals more than five and twenty miles with a rest every two or three hours. With a carriage, as my father had when we lived in Wales, we would need to travel even slower. However, here in New England we have not the roads for such vehicles.
Now Goodman Blythe and Goodman Coddington, they traveled last summer to Boston. They had but one horse between them. Had they asked, they could have used my black gelding, but that is another story. To spare the horse, they used the ride-and-tie method.
What is that, you ask? An effective method, some say, to spare horse and man. Goodman Blythe rode the first ten miles, and then he’d tie the horse to a tree. Goodman Coddington would walk that distance and by the time he’d reach the horse, the animal would be well rested and ready to go the next distance. Coddington would ride at a trot, passing Goodman Blythe, who was on foot. They’d alternate back and forth like this until they reached Boston.
In my opinion, such a method is an inconvenient form of traveling, and Goodman Holmes agrees. Of course, Goodman Holmes feels one is better just to walk and not fuss over a horse that needs resting. Hitherto, the man owns not a horse and appears to have a fierce dislike for them. That, I believe, is the reasoning behind his opinion.
Now if you will excuse me, I must rub down my animals and turn them loose. ‘Twas a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you Godspeed until we meet again.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Author of Courting Morrow Little, Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. She has also authored the highly acclaimed The Frontiersman's Daughter and her much anticipated The Colonel's Lady will release in August of this year.
Author, Julie Lessman
Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?
This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop you as it takes you from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness of the West.
Red River, Kentucke
Morrow paused on the river trail to wipe her brow with the hem of her linsey shift. It was a true Kentucke July, and the woods were hot as a hearth, the leaves of the elms and oaks and sycamores curling for lack of water, the dust beneath her bare feet fine as flour. Even the river seemed like bathwater, its surface still and unbroken as green glass. She’d been following her brother Jessamyn to swim, but a treasure trove of wild grapes along the river’s edge slowed her.
“Morrow, quit your dawdlin’, ” Jess yelled over his shoulder.
She stuffed the grapes into her mouth till it wouldn’t close then filled her pockets for him. His quick grin was thanks enough.
“Why, them’s big as marbles—or trade beads,” he exclaimed, filling his own cheeks. “Reckon Ma would want some to make jelly?”
“We can pick her some after we swim,” she said, shucking off her shift and hanging it from a sticker bush.
At the sight of her, Jess began to snicker. “Morrow Mary Little, you’re fat as a grape yourself. And so white you hurt my eyes.”
Truly, she was as plump as she could be. Stout, Pa called her, like most of the Little clan. Though five years old, she’d still not lost her baby fat, and only her face and feet and hands were tan. The rest of her was white as milk.
She grinned, bubbling with glee at his teasing. “You’re so skinny I can see right through you. And you’re brown as bacon.”
Only ten, he worked the fields alongside Pa like a man, tending tobacco and corn while she mostly toted her baby sister around and helped Ma spin. Joining hands now, they jumped off their favorite rock, shattering the river’s calm. Cool at last, they surfaced, smiling, glad to be free of the fields and Euphemia’s fussing.
Morrow twirled in the water. “Ain’t it fine—” she began.
But the smile had slipped off Jess’s face. He held up a hand as Pa sometimes did, forbidding further talk. Bewildered, she looked about. But her brother wasn’t looking, he was listening.
Beyond the noisy jays and flighty cardinals and whisper of wind, past the heat shimmers of midsummer and the wall of woods, came a startling sound. The humid air was threaded with shrieking and screaming.
All at once Jess began to wade to shore. Morrow followed, but he turned, his freckled face suffused with a strange heat.
“You stay put—don’t even twitch—till I come back.”
She watched the woods swallow him up as she sat in the shallow water, unable to stand up any longer on her trembling legs, unable to listen to the shrieking and screaming out there somewhere. With her hands over her ears she waited, and then when the water turned cold she started up the trail to their cabin, forgetting her dress. Naked as a jaybird, she flew into the quiet cabin clearing. The slant of the sun told her it was nearly time for supper. But where was Ma calling her to come in? Or the ring of Pa’s ax as he split wood? Or Jess reminding her to bell the cow before he turned her loose in the meadow? For once she even missed her baby sister’s wailing.
Her bare feet ate up the dry, dun-colored grass leading to the cabin porch. There on the steps, like a discarded doll, lay Euphemia. The dying sun lit her baby sister’s wide blue eyes, only Euphemia didn’t blink or cry. Had she fallen down and hurt herself? Morrow looked around. Where was Ma? Her breathing was a bit ragged now as she surveyed the toppled churn and water bucket by the cabin door. Some unseen hand seemed to tug her ever nearer, but she saw she’d have to step over Euphemia to get there, and she couldn’t do it.
Sweat trickled down her face, yet she started to shiver like it was winter, eyes on the open door. Frantic, she looked around for Ma and Jess and Pa. Digger should have been here too, alerting them with his bark, welcoming them home. As soon as she thought it, she saw his furry body beneath the rosebush to one side of the cabin, an arrow through his middle.
An Indian arrow.
With a cry she jumped over Euphemia and ran into the ransacked cabin. Ma was slumped over her spinning wheel, but Morrow couldn’t get to her past the splintered furniture and broken glass and scattered clothes and quilts. A flurry of feathers from the tick that had been Ma’s pride were dancing in the draft coming through the cabin door. They rained down around Morrow restlessly, soft as a snowfall, almost as white. Standing there, her heart hurt so fiercely she felt it would burst.
Behind her, hard hands scooped her up and tore her away from the sickening sight. Pa carried her to the barn, away from the blood and the smell of death and their torn-up things. But he couldn’t remove the gruesome memory. And he couldn’t explain why the Almighty had let it happen in the first place.
READ CHAPTER ONE HERE.
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For a chance to win a copy of Courting Morrow Little please visit on Friday, May 27th when Laura Frantz shares on our feature, Tools of the Trade.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1 1/2 pounds butter
1 1/2 pounds sugar
1 1/2 pounds flour
1 tablespoon ground mace
1 cup black molasses
1 cup coffee
1 tablespoon rose extract
2 pounds raisins
3 pounds currants
1 pound chopped almonds
1 pound citron, cut fine
Prepare the fruit and nuts, and dredge with part of the flour. Cream the butter and sugar together and add the well-beaten eggs. Mix and sift the flour and spices and add to the egg mixture. Add the fruit and liquids by degrees.
Line a large baking pan with wax paper, greasing the pan well, and then greasing the paper. Turn in the cake mixture and bake in a preheated slow oven (250º) for about 3 hours. Frost with white boiled icing. Makes about 12 pounds of cake.
Boiled icing is usually a simple concoction of water and confectioner’s sugar. Thickness depends upon your proportions. You can also make the icing this way:
3 egg whites
1 cup powdered granulated sugar (not superfine)
Beat egg whites. Add sugar, beating until smooth and white. Spread icing over slightly warm cake. It will harden very slowly.
— Foods From Our Founding Fathers, Helen Newbury Burke (p. 238)
Contributed by Joan M. Hochstetler: Colonial Weddings
Friday, May 20, 2011
That was November 8, 1999, the day I remember falling in love with the Internet.
I'd been using the Internet in a desultory way for a year by this point, but hadn't yet discovered its potential for divulging detailed information. Because I'd had such great success in using the Internet to learn specifics about the Treaty of Ghent, I believed I could easily learn anything I wanted to.
Wrong. The simplest items eluded me such as the Chicken Kiev recipe I needed, when I could not locate my own and had company coming that night, or the web site for a Scottish musician who simply bills himself as "Fish." I needed to learn about search engines and how they work in order to formulate queries that returned effective results.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Since Jennifer posted on the bachelor tax in this column last week, I thought it would be fun to take a look at getting married in colonial America. Many of our modern wedding traditions developed during the Victorian era and differ considerably from what was customary in the 18th century. So let’s jump in and take a look at what a colonial bride’s wedding looked like. And be sure to also check out my American Patriot Series blog for a lengthy, but highly entertaining article by Anne Morse Earle on marriage customs in New England.
We often think that young women married at an early age in colonial America, but that wasn’t true. On average women married in their late teens or early twenties. Among the lower classes in Virginia, the average age of brides was 23, with grooms averaging 26. Any free white person over the age of 21 could marry, provided they obtained a license or had banns published by their church. Those under the age of 21 could not marry without the consent of a parent or legal guardian, and anyone serving an indenture or apprenticeship had to get permission from their master or mistress. It was illegal for a white person to marry a black person, whether they were enslaved or free, and Virginia did not recognize marriages between slaves.
There were two ways to marry legally, either by obtaining a marriage license, which stated that both parties were legally old enough to marry or had their parents’ or guardians’ consent, that there were no objections to the marriage, and that both parties were legally able to wed. A marriage license cost more than having banns published, but it allowed couples to wed more quickly. If a couple had banns published, the notice of their intention to marry had to be published either verbally or in writing for three consecutive meetings of their church. If they lived in different parishes, then the banns had to be published in both parishes. This allowed any member of the community who opposed the marriage to make their objections known. If no objections arose, a document was issued that certified that the couple could marry. This was the cheaper option, but the couple had to wait longer to be married.
Now for the most important part—the wedding gown! It may surprise you to learn that in colonial times women wore a variety of different colors on their wedding day. White did not become the color of choice for brides until the Victorian era. Instead, colonial brides wore their very best gown or purchased the finest they could afford for the wedding. Since fine textiles were costly, brides didn’t wear their gown only once. After the wedding, they typically wore it for other important events as well.
Diadema Morgan (1764-1788) wore the blue wool gown shown here at her wedding to Phineas Field of Northfield in 1785. The petticoat and kerchief are modern additions.
This lovely brown brocade wedding dress (back shown here) belongs to the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Edith Viele, 1949
The most popular months for colonial weddings were late December, January, and early February, although couples married throughout the year, with the exception of Lent and the week before Christmas. By the 1770s, rituals traditionally performed in churches, including marriages, were often performed in homes. Church marriages always took place before noon. In Virginia, regardless of where the wedding was performed, the ceremony had to be conducted by a minister of the Church of England for it to be recognized.
Colonial wedding feasts were elaborate affairs that often lasted two or more days, depending on the family’s wealth and the customs of the community. The families would serve the most expensive foods in the largest quantity and the best manner they could afford. Typical foods served included fish or clam chowder, stewed oysters, roasted pig, venison, duck, potatoes, baked rye bread, Indian cornbread, and pumpkin casserole. There would be trays of nutmeats and candy. Coffee and tankards of spiced hard cider or punch made with hard cider combined with sugar, lemons, and limes were popular beverages. Unlike our modern tiered wedding cakes, the bride’s cake was a thick, rich, spiced cake made with alcohol, dried fruit, and nuts similar to what we know as a fruitcake. It often had a piece of nutmeg baked inside, and the person who received the slice with the nutmeg was supposed to be the next to marry.
Alternative Marriage Traditions
Since the Middle Ages, common law marriages were accepted in England, and immigrants brought the custom to the colonies with them. Couples who didn’t have their parents’ permission or who couldn’t marry for other reasons might choose to speak marriage vows alone or before witnesses. They joined hands and declared that they took each other to be husband and wife, and then lived together. This was called “handfasting” or “spousal.” It was not unusual for blacksmiths to officiate at a handfasting, and the anvil came to symbolize the forging of long-lasting unions.
There was a version of this kind of contract called the spousal de futuro, a marriage contract to be consummated at a later date, similar to the modern engagement. It wasn't rare for the couple to jump the gun and the girl to consequently become pregnant. In that case, they were considered to be man and wife. For the colonists, pregnancy sealed the marriage.
Here are some helpful links if you want more information.
Marriage Customs in New England - American Patriot Blog
Note: Come by Colonial Quills on Saturday for a Bride's Cake recipe. You might be surprised at the ingredients that went into this version of a colonial wedding cake!
Monday, May 16, 2011
developmental life issues – transitions, accepting changes in sibling relationships, growing in maturity, etc.
GIVEAWAY: Leave your email address with your comment for a chance to win a copy of this book!
See our Fiction Sampler of:
At the Captain's Command by Louise M. Gouge
Thursday, May 12, 2011
If you are a writer visiting us, won't you please share one of your opening lines? If you are a reader, is there an opening line posted that you especially love?
Let us know!
Special giveaway today: A Colonial Williamsburg ornament! Please leave your email address with your comment.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
As I was reading through one of my colonial resources, I was surprised to discover The Bachelor Tax! My first thought was, They actually put a tax on bachelorhood? Turns out, indeed, they did!
Life in colonial America was difficult. Families and communities depended on each other for survival. The challenge of forming new towns, farming the land, and learning basic survival skills were often more than the colonists could handle. Communities desired marriages as soon as young people were of age so they could make their own way and be less of a burden to families. The more children they produced, the more free workers they had to help on the farms and to go into trade.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Boston Chronicle in April, 1766 wrote that women there "exhibited a fine example of industry, by spinning from sunrise until dark." Spinning bees were held in early America to encourage the production of yarn to provide homespun fabric. In the 1760's these events became popular as a means to demonstrate opposition of the importation of heavily taxed British goods and for the mutual aid for those in their community.
It reminds me of the industrious writers we have here at Colonial Quills, spinning tales and weaving stories on the looms of our imaginations. Just as the spinners of yesteryear gathered and shared in the spinning room, I imagine this a place where we can come together and talk about the yarns we spin in our Colonial American stories. Thus, "The Spinning Room" where we will post every now and again to invite conversation on special topics.
|Photo taken by Carla Gade at the Windham, ME|
Historical Society museum.
Monday, May 9, 2011
St. Augustine, East Florida Colony
The instant Dinah saw the three naval officers, she ducked into the mercantile and hid among the stacks of goods. To her relief, the men, grandly uniformed in indigo wool, gold braid and black bicorne hats, continued up St. George Street. Yet she could not help but notice the well-formed profile of the captain among them. A strong jaw. High cheekbones. Jet-black hair tied back in a queue. She wondered what color his eyes were.
What was she thinking? She quickly turned her attention to a display of awls and knives laid out on a shelf.
"How may I help you, Miss Templeton?" The rotund, middle-aged proprietor approached her, admiration gleaming in his dark eyes. "Some silk for a new gown, perhaps? My latest shipment of lace has arrived and--"
"No, thank you." Dinah lifted her basket of lavender flowers from her arm and held it like a shield as the widower moved closer. Coming in here had been a mistake.
"I do not require anything." Tension tightening in her chest, she hurried toward the door.
He reached it first, and his eyebrows arched. "I have tea from China and..."
Dinah drew herself up to her full height and lifted her chin. "Please allow me to pass, Mr. Waterston."
He mirrored her posture, although his shorter height did not reach hers, and he sniffed. "I must say, Miss Templeton, for a girl with no family, you certainly do put on airs. Would you not prefer to be mistress of your own home instead of living with Mr. and Mrs. Hussey?" His shoulders slumped, his gaze softened and his lips curved into a gentle smile. "You could do worse than marrying a responsible merchant such as myself."
A twinge of pity softened her annoyance. "As I have told you before, sir, we truly would not suit."
Even if she found the merchant's offer appealing, which she did not, his reminder of her orphaned state did nothing to recommend him, nor did his reference to her living situation. She did indeed have relatives, but they were all far away. And yes, she would like to be mistress of her own home. But in truth, not one of the many unattached men in St. Augustine suited her, in spite of her friends' attempts at matchmaking. After four years in this small city, she had no doubt God had consigned her to a state of spinsterhood.
"I wish you a good day, sir." She slid past Mr. Waterston and walked out into the street, lifting a silent prayer of thanks that the encounter had ended without unpleasantness. She encountered quite enough unpleasantness every day at home.
Coming to this city had not been her preference, but she'd had no other choice. Even before the beginning of the war that now raged in the northern colonies, she had felt twice displaced. Her parents died when she was very small, and her relatives had been unable to take her in. Then, when the dear spinster ladies who reared her died of a fever, the elders of the Nantucket Friends Meeting placed her with the Husseys, for Mrs. Hussey had also been reared by the Gardiner sisters. Once the war began to escalate, Artemis Hussey insisted upon removing to this safe haven, where no rebels could threaten to tar and feather him for his Loyalist views. Over these past four years, he had grown more and more disagreeable and usually aimed his dissatisfaction at Dinah rather than at his wife, Anne.
But as Dinah continued on her way, thoughts of Artemis vanished amid the chatter and clatter along the dusty street. When she reached the Parade, the grassy common in front of the governor's house, she approached several well-dressed ladies who were whispering behind opened fans, their admiring stares aimed across the green lawn.
Elizabeth Markham, a friend near her...
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readers and writers who love this fantastic era in America's history.
Please be sure to leave a comment and join our discussion as our blog hostess, Carrie, is giving away some tea party favors!
What will you find here at Colonial Quills? Well, in addition to connecting you to writers of Colonial American Inspirational Fiction, providing a running list of publications, and some research and resource links we will have regular features each week as follows, our primary days being Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. We hope you'll visit often and get to meet some of your favorite authors and be introduced to some new ones!
Colonial American fiction at it's best with excerpts to whet your palette for this engaging sub-genre.
Wednesday: In ye Olden Days
All about life in Colonial times. Find out
how they lived in 18th century America.
Expert advice from our Colonial Quillers
on writing and researching Colonial American fiction.
A bonus day. A little something extra for hearth & home.
Occasionally our contributors will have something extra to share.
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DON'T MISS our first Fiction Sampler: At the Captain's Command by Louise Gouge including an introduction and excerpt to the third book in her series set during the years of the American Revolution. SEE THE FOLLOWING POST.
Thank you so much for visiting us! Please leave a comment and let us know you've come by. We'd love to hear your thoughts on Colonial America and this sub-genre of historical fiction.