Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you need your gloves stretched?

I'm old enough to still remember my mother wearing gloves and a hat to church. I even wore a pair to church when I was around 5. I think after that, the custom began to phase out except for special instances. My high school choir director made us wear long ones that reached our elbows for concerts.

I was looking in my trunk of things I'd inherited from my grandmother and I ran across a box. Inside was a pair of really cheesy salt and pepper shakers with a note that said: the first Christmas gift our first granddaughter gave us. That would be me. *grin* Beside those was an odd apparatus that turned out to be a glove stretcher that my great-grandmother had used, circa 1880.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This generated an idea for one of my first scenes. So, enjoy a brief unedited excerpt involving the glove stretcher:

A week later, Shauna attacked the set of silver like a banshee bent on scaring every guest in the castle. But then, the castle of her fantasies was little more than a two-story wooden frame house in Nyesville, Indiana. She picked up a fork that still had a coating of dry whiting and vinegar between the tines. After an hour soaking near the fire, the tarnish should come right off. The operative word being should. After scrubbing a stubborn spot, she dropped the fork and leaned her weight against the counter. Old enough to be on her own, she still worked like a slave with no future, living in a home that didn’t want her.

“Slacking again?”

She turned toward Madison’s shrill voice, determined not to let her nemesis nettle her today. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the Clayburg’s for morning brunch?”

Madison pulled on white gloves and patted her perfectly coiffured hair. “Well, of course, but Mother had a tirade over her tight gloves. Seems someone broke her glove stretcher. I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

Of course not. In a voice of false importance, she replied, “Do forgive me. I couldn’t seem to get the top to my treasure chest open this morning. I needed the glove stretcher to pry the lid. They worked quite well, and I was able to count every gold coin paid for my services over the years.”

Madison narrowed her eyes. “I keep telling Mother we need to replace you with someone younger. Your sarcastic humor is unwelcome.”

Perhaps, she hoped to provoke the Clevingers into dismissing her, forcing her to find a different situation. Truth be told, the thought of being on her own proved intimidating. She’d been saving all her money with the idea of leaving, but she didn’t think the amount in her purse would be enough. Not yet. Not while the country suffered economic depression and jobs were scarce.

At that moment, Mrs. Cora Clevinger rounded the corner and entered the kitchen. “Madison, stop by Kupert’s on your way home and buy another glove stretcher.” She held up the broken tool. The scissor-like apparatus had one piece dangling from a spring.

“I haven’t time. Make Shauna do it.”

“Nonsense. You’ll already be out and about, and Shauna has other work that needs tending.”

Other work? That didn’t sound good. Shauna stared at the mound of silver and wondered what other chores Mrs. Clevinger planned to drop in her lap.

“I’m sure Shauna wouldn’t mind procrastinating for a chance to go into town.”

Shauna picked up a silver ladle, ignoring their conversation. The last thing she wanted to do was travel to town. Since her disastrous trip down the aisle, she’d avoided people. She’d even skipped church yesterday by offering to make a special desert for the noon meal.



“If you rub any harder, I’ll lose the delicate engravings on that spoon.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Writing Rebel...?

Yawza! Looks like we have lots of HOT heros in the works...and OT stories, too!

Here's a little tidbit about Rebel's heroine, Galen Stewart...

Galen is Scottish and longs to return to her grandmother in Scotland. The only person she feels ever really cared about her. Not to give too much away, she writes religiously in her journals per her grandmother's encouragment, and her heart's dream is to become a real author as she has a talent for spinning tales... *clears throat* ...but she fears no one will want to read anything a woman of ill-repute would have to say. But then again, why should she care? If congressman Cady catches up with her, she'll have a California-Collar (hangman's noose) wrapped around her neck faster than a ravenous cobra having corned a field mouse!

...but enough of that...for now.

Let's get back to out heros, shall we?! LOL
Love this pic of Josh...couldn't resist sharing!

ONCE A REBEL, by Angela Ashton coming Jan., 2008

Monday, November 26, 2007

Once a Vagabond’s hero…

It always amazes me how and when things come to me concerning the characters I’m writing about, or the stories I’m working on.

As we all know the shopping season is in full swing, and I was one of those many brave (or stupid depending on how you look at it) souls battling the crowds on Black Friday. And while waiting in line to check out, the face of Ethan, Abby’s hero, became crystal clear. Up until then I had a loose idea of what Mr. Dreamy looked like, so this was like fine tuning a pair of binoculars.

So I thought I’d share with you what Ethan looks like in my mind. He has piercing blue eyes. His unruly chocolate waves brush his collar. Ethan’s square chin and strong nose have seen a fist a time or two, which ads to his already rugged stubble face. He has broad shoulders and stands several inches over six feet. And he’s very good at using his devilish smile to get himself out of scrapes.

Ethan is easy going and quick to laugh, but he can also strike as swift as a rattler when cornered or made mad.

Meet Ethan, although this photo is of Patrick Dempsey, Ethan could be his brother.

Until next time, happy reading.

Kim Leady
Incredible stories…Unforgettable characters

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Hero

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! It's brrrr cold where I'm at, but we have so much to be thankful for, I don't know where to begin. Besides being blessed with the best family and the greatest group of friends, I'm thankful that I've been given the opportunity to share my writing with readers.

So, for today, I'm going to give you a sneak preview into the inner workings of my mind and share my hero with you. Angela inspired me. LOL. I've only looked for an image or a model who resembles one of my characters for one book and actually for that book, I found the image first. It so inpired me, that I wrote Celestial Dragon based on that one image.

That said, I wondered what actor I would find to play Kane McKenna, my sexy, devilish, Irish rogue from Once Jilted. I first searched through the many photos of cover models and came up with a few that might do, but none that really fit my preconceived image of Kane.

By the way, I did a numerology search on his name, Kane Devin McKenna and here's my character in a nutshell: Achievement is your motivating force and you will take on the biggest challenge in order to make the longest strides. You will often be chosen as the leader in groups and in functions where organization, strength and determination is needed. Psychology interests you because it enables you to understand the people that you are leading, as well as the competition. Inside, you have the need to excel.

There seems to be a golden glow of optimism and joy around you wherever you go. You are witty and playful, and your idealistic nature irresistibly draws the little child out of everyone you meet. Ever creative and interesting to talk to, you are never long without people to cluster around your radiance.

Here's the physical traits I envisioned: Hair: Red, auburn
Skin: freckled and tan
Height: 5' 11"
Birthday: Aug 30, 1849
Age: 25
Body shape: high hairline, squarely built.

So, the search began and I came away from the internet frustrated with my inability to find Kane. My habit in the morning is to watch about an hour of reruns before going to work. I just happened across a rerun of Angel and voila, I think I've found Kane. Is it any coincidence that his last name is Kane or perhaps, providence. You'll remember him as the sexy but evil, Lindsay McDonald. While he played the bad guy on this show, I always remember thinking how provacative he seemed. There's a hint of mystery about him that appealed to me and yes, I think he'd make a great Kane.
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Meet Christian Kane, actor and musician. Better yet, meet Kane McKenna, Bridge engineer from Once Jilted.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Before the OT...

I thought I'd share an excerpt of my OT article.
(It will be included in the novel.)

It’s been said that the word orphan is perhaps the loneliest word in the English language.

In 1853, the United States sent various forms of advertisements to the rest of the world in hopes of enticing settlers to come to the “land of milk and honey”. It worked. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, the US has received the largest number of immigrants in the world. Soon the port cities were flooded. Jobs were lacking, labor was cheap and food was scarce. And without the extended family to turn to, families fell apart. Even the youngest of children were expected to work to help support the family. They’d shine shoes or sell matches or newspapers…often in their bare feet. Many men were killed on the job as safety wasn’t a priority, leaving many women and children to fend for themselves.
When overworked mothers died from diseases obtained in unsanitary living conditions, orphanages were erected to care for only those children they could accommodate. If there was no parent to pay for the child’s care, he/she became a ward of the court and was left to the disposal of the social worker.

Photo of Sunderland Orphanage...
Sunderland's East End orphan asylum was founded in 1853, it was a purpose built building for the children of seafarers. With the help of the Bishop of Durham and the Freemen of Sunderland the orphanage was opened on Thursday 17th October 1861. The orphanage was equipped to take 40 boys at a time and despite the strict rules and regulations it was always full.

Until next week, happy reading!

Once A Rebel, by Angela Ashton, coming Jan. 2008

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All aboard!

This will be a continuation of a blog post I did yesterday on the Magic Mavens Blog. There, I posted a few pictures of the inside of vintage trains. For this post, I'll be concentrating on the earliest train I found at the train museum in Galveston. This is an 1892 steam engine.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Visuals are always a good thing when creating scenes. It helps me form the right words to have a mental picture of the item in my head. But - I discovered that pictures of the insides of trains are practically nonexistent on the Internet.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAlthough this picture is from a 1920's train, I wanted to show everyone how narrow the hallway was leading to the sleeping compartments. Heaven forbid you should meet someone coming the other way. On the other hand, what a neat way to get hero and heroine together. With very little room to manuever, they would naturally fall into each other. LOL.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFrom the inforamtion I've gathered so far, most of the orphans were given their own car. I would assume so that they could stay together without disturbing the other travelers. An agent would stay with them. I've also seen passages where poorer passengers rode cars with bench seats. I found this car interesting because the bench seats also served as beds. The top plank was hinched so that items could be stored underneath. The latrine was located in one corner.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket.

Trains from the time period we've chosen for our stories didn't come equipped with central air and heating either. The cast iron stove seemed rather small for the space but was intended to provide heat for the car. I love traipsing through old houses and trains. Even antique stores intrigue me, so I was in heaven taking these pictures so I might share with you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Once A Rebel--Excerpt #1

Although the novel is still officially going through the editing process, I thought I'd share an excerpt from "Once A Rebel" ...Enjoy!

The tall lean bar dog nodded and filled a glass before settling it before Josh. “I don’t suppose you’d happen to have a pretty little redhead answers to the name of Scarlet working for you?”
“No sir, but we do have a few pretty little redheads floating about that I’ve no doubt would answer to just about anything you might fancy to call them.” The man winked and immediately Josh found that he liked him.
He laughed and lifted his glass in amicable salute before downing the amber liquid and setting the glass up for a refill.
“It’s my birthday!” a familiar voice squealed from somewhere behind him. Josh spilled the drink down the front of his shirt. His heart thundered in his ears. He caught a glimpse of the cunning harlot in the mirror before spinning round to witness the minx work her charms on a potential John. Seeing her there, in another man’s lap with a smile on her face the size of Texas and batting her eyes did unspeakable things to his insides.
Under a possessive rage, Josh marched over to the table where she was sitting with the octopus-like man and jerked her, none too gently, off his lap. “Where’s my horse?” he demanded, chest heaving in berserk fury.
Pain unlike any he’d ever known seized his heart when she looked up at him in stunned horror and he saw the bruise that marred the area just above and below her left eye. He swallowed, battling the sudden craze to pummel every man in the saloon for being suspect to the cause of her anguish.
“Let go off me,” she demanded in a huff while attempting to tug her arm free.
Josh pretended not to care about her injuries. “Not until you tell me what you’ve done with my horse.”
“Your horse?” Her eyes rounded in surprise.
The man whose lap she’d been sitting in came to his feet, as did several others at the table.
“Take your hands off Miss Eve.” The bold stranger went for his gun, but Josh was quicker.
“Stay out of this,” he warned, keeping one hand on the woman and the other on the weapon aimed at the octopus’s heart. He turned his eyes back to Scarlet. “Eve?”
She shrugged and flashed a sheepish grin. “Look gentleman. I’m sure we can settle this without resorting to violence.” At that moment, the bar dog came over.
“Miss Eve, he your husband?”
Josh’s brows shot upward. “Husband? My, my, aren't we chock full of surprises?”

ONCE A REBEL by Angela Ashton...coming January, 2008 * slight change to the lineup*

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Antique Dutch Oven

Well, I realize that this does not resemble an antique dutch oven, I thought I'd add this image before offering you the dutch oven since our series is all about the train that saw orhpans en route to new homes. While this picture isn't one of a passenger train, it is from around the time period of our stories. This is a logger train from East Texas that's on display at the Ellen Trout Lufkin Zoo. Okay, on to my real story. (grin) The next picture I want to share is that of a dutch oven that was actually hung on the side of a covered wagon that crossed Oklahoma into Texas. It was passed down from my husband's family.

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The second picture shows the number, 12 in. Besides describing the diameter of the lid, the number also determines the number of coals used on top and underneath the oven. An outdoor cook knows to place the number on the lid plus three coals on top of the lid and the number minus three underneath. This formula equates to about 350 degrees if you were to bake something in an oven. I've enjoyed many tasty bisquits done this way. I also love cornbread baked in a dutch oven. Afterwards, settlers would scour the insides with dry sand then oil the insides with mineral oil.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day

Galen Stewart, the crafty heroine in ‘Rebel’ is constantly looking over her shoulder for the shifty congressman Cady and his hired guns--a man that that will stop at nothing to win voters.

In light of Election Day, I’ve added a tidbit I found on the net from the Presidential Election of 1876:

This election was set against the backdrop of Reconstruction. Tilden led in popular and electoral votes but was one shy of the necessary votes to win. The existence of disputed electoral votes led to the Compromise of 1877. A commission was formed and voted along party lines, awarding Hayes (Republican) the presidency. It is believed that Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction and recall all troops from the South in exchange for the presidency.

*Doing the happy dance*
The completed manuscript for 'Rebel' has officially been handed over to the editorial powers that be. I'm looking forward to the series and can’t wait to see how the other 5 waifs fair in their battle of the sexes!

As it’s been a few weeks since I posted a pic of the template (Josh Bernstein) for my hero, Josh Hassett...*whistling like a construction worker* ...I thought it only fair that I celebrate the completion of the novel with a pic of that pantaloon-dropping grin! Yum!

So, without further ado, I proudly present the template for ‘Rebels’ heart-stopping hero…

*wipes drool from corners of mouth and sighs heavily*

Until next time...Happy drooling, er, reading, lol.

...Where Romance Blooms...

ONCE A REBEL, by Angela Ashton ...coming 2008

Monday, November 5, 2007

The wrong train...

Here is a snippet on how Abby ends up on a train - the wrong train.

The hero, Ethan, who is only 14 at the time, decides he can no longer protect ten-year-old Abby from the streets of New York – a vow he made to Abby just months earlier after her mother and father were killed in a dock accident.

Not knowing what to do, he seeks out his old friend Father Malone, who helps children get out of the city. Knowing Abby’s fear about cramped spaces and crowds, Ethan has Father Malone help him drug Abby to get her onto the train.

Unfortunately, Abby is not put on one of Father’s Malone’s Catholic trains. She is accidently put aboard another orphan train – one that doesn’t have specified families waiting for the children on the train. The type of train Abby finds herself on is one that stops at small towns along the rail line, and for a better description, holds orphan auctions at each stop.

Things are moving a little slower than my normal pace. Research, research and more research. But fear not, the train has picked up speed.

Until next time, happy reading.

Kim Leady
Incredible stories…Unforgettable characters

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The cook circle

In 1874, they didn't have the convenience of stovetop cooking or a microwave and while most kitchens boasted a wood-burning stove, cooking outdoors for a team of construction workers was even more rustic. In my story, Once Jilted, Shauna takes the job of crew cook and has to learn to cook on an open fire.

For these few scenes, I drew on my own experiences camping as a girl scout. We always had what was called a fire circle, a cleared place encircled with rocks. To begin, we dug a pit and fashioned what is called a key hole, a large groove that angled from the ground surface to the pit and provided air to the fire. My favorite style of fire was the A frame where we'd fashion an A with three smaller logs, then set the tinder and kindling against the horizontal crossbar of the A.

I remember one particular fire that I was trying to build. It was dusk and difficult to see, but we wanted roasted marshmellows. I fanned it until I was blue, determined to light it with only one match. The wood was damp and not cooperating, but I could see the glow of one spark and just kept fanning. Finally, we determined that the glow was a piece of orange yarn. Too funny.

After the fire is lit and coals begin to form, a grate is placed over the hole. We have in our possession a very large, flat griddle that is about twenty inches by twenty. I'll post pics later. I can just imagine the many meals cooked on it. We cooked a variety of foods from chicken and rice to chili to flapjacks to cake on the open flames. It was a fond time and one I hold dear.