Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Booksigning in San Marcus Texas

And yes, for those of you near enough to come see me, I'll have a copy of Once Jilted available for purchase. Whoop!

Monday, August 18, 2008

ONCE A DREAMER is Now Finished!

Hello, everyone! Just popping in to let you know my installment of Champagne's Orphan Train series, ONCE A DREAMER, is finally finished! This book has had a long, hard road. I've been working on it for literally a year, perhaps over a year. Writer's block plagued me for most of that time, and I found myself appealing to the publisher to push my deadline back and back...and back.

I'm so thankful she's so understanding!

Anyone who knows me knows I've had a rough few months. Between being diagnosed with Diabetes, to miscarrying, to losing upwards of 50 pounds, to getting pregnant once again (guess the Good Lord had mercy on me after all), it's been a roller coaster to say the least. I was only able to write this book in small sections, little by little, a few paragraphs here, a scene there. I worried that the book might read disjointedly, like it wouldn't make sense in certain sections.

Fortunately, I did my final read through, and to my surprise, it's actually pretty good! I guess when you're able to step back from a project, you can see it with more objective eyes.

According to my editor, they are going to be pushing this book to be a September release, so I'll be busy busy with edits for the next couple of weeks! But the good news is you won't have to wait too long. :D I should be getting my cover soon, and I'm sure I'll be showing it off when the time comes.

In the meantime, I'm so excited that I'm done! This book has been a source of stress for me, since it took me so long to write it. Now that it's done, I'm flyin' high! Woohoo! Here's the blurb for your reading pleasure. :) Enjoy!


What began as a sham of a marriage soon becomes ‘til death do we part.’

When her adoptive mother dies in a bank shootout, orphan Karina Vadislav is sent to live with Patrick Baker, her uncle in Dodge City, Kansas. After years of abuse, she flees, meeting Benjamin Sawyer, a gambler with a sordid past. He agrees to help her claim her inheritance in Topeka, posing as her husband to keep her safe.

But there are men who are out for Ben’s blood and will stop at nothing to see him dead. Coupled with Karina’s bloodthirsty uncle, neither of them is safe on the trail.

When bullets fly and truths are revealed, will Ben and Karina’s fragile love survive the ultimate betrayal?


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I got my print copy!

Just had to share. My print copies for Once Jilted arrived last night. Whoop! So - now, I just need to schedule some booksignings.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Once Jilted is now in PRINT!

Once Jilted is now available in print version. Whoop! Not only that, but I also saw where two more of my westerns are available in print. I'm so thrilled!


How many times will an orphan be cast aside before someone offers love?

Shauna Joyce has three weeks to find a husband or face watching a special little girl fall into the hands of loveless parents. An orphan herself, she knows the heartache of growing up without love. Armed with a need greater than her own, she finds a likely candidate in bridge-builder, Kane McKenna.

Kane McKenna has one goal; to finish the bridge he’s erecting so he can earn the capital needed to start a business of his own. A wife and child would drain his finances, so when Shauna Joyce proposes marriage, he balks at the idea. Will her determination be enough to build the bridge of trust needed to make him trade one dream for another?


“You plan to have the babe out of wedlock?” Kane scratched his head.

She looked skyward and gritted her teeth. Was the man dense? “Can you stop walking? It’s hard to talk to you at this pace.”

He slowed but continued to walk. “Daylight’s a wasting and I’ve got a deadline.”
“Will you at least let me explain so you can stop the rumors?”

Her foot caught a gopher hole, and she tripped, falling headlong onto the hard ground. She cried out when her elbow kissed the ground.

“Goodness, you’re a walking calamity. First pickles and now, a sprawl in the grass. You wouldn’t perchance be related to me Aunt Nell?”

She groaned and rolled to her knees. Every joint ached. Twigs and grass stuck to her dress, and she brushed them away with sore hands. She moaned at the pain and glared at her scraped skin.

“Are you hurt?”

Now he asked. She shook her head. “I’m not sure.”

He grabbed her elbow none too gently and helped her stand. She tested her foot and found herself uninjured. Praise be. An injury would have complicated matters more. “Thank you, Mr. McKenna.”

“You’re welcome. Now, if you doon’t mind, I’d like to be gettin’ back to me work.”

“But . . .”

“Miss Joyce, do you see that armature?” He pointed a finger at the structure. “That’s a mighty important bridge to folks around here. Can you tell me in all honesty that your quest for a hoosband be as important as the building of that bridge?”

She swallowed hard and frowned, thinking of Sarabeth. “For one person, it’s even more important.”

He frowned. “To be sure, and I can sympathize with your plight. Unwed and pregnant must weigh heavy on your mind, but alas, I can noot help you, nor can any of me men. Good day, Miss Joyce.”

She stomped her sore foot and grimaced. “For the last time, I am not expecting!”
Her shout brought the attentions of his workers. Seventeen sets of eyes peered down at her, and the heat rose to her cheeks.

“Now see what you’ve done. You’ve distracted them froom their work again. At this rate, it’ll take me five years to have this bridge completed.”

Available Now at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Orphan Train means different things to different folks

While doing a routine search on the term orphan train, I made an interesting discovery. The term is currently in use today to reflect various charities that deal with orphanages throughout the world.

The term first came into play with a series done by PBS, where they documented the work of Charles Loving Brace and his efforts to lessen the burdens created by homeless children in New York. The series is a wonderful glimpse into the good and bad experiences these poor waifs endured.

Since Charles Loving Brace began the practice of placing orphans in homes far removed from their hometowns, other countries soon followed suit. As the plight of orphans has always captured the hearts of generous, empathetic folks, the term has been assigned to other charitable endeavors. Instead of taking orphans on the train to new places, orphan trains now bring much needed services to needy orphanages. The Rotary Club started an Orphan Train project in which they provide all sorts of services from seeing that children are examined by optometrists and given needed eye ware to providing vocational training.

It amazes me that there are so many good-hearted folks willing to help orphans in far off locations and yet, it's also very sad that these orphans have such a hard life. Kudos to those that make a difference.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two Great Reviews for Once Jilted

I'm off for the summer. Yay!! Which means writing time. In the meantime, I thought I'd post two more reviews for Once Jilted. The book is doing very well. In fact, I think the entire series promises a lot to historical western fans. I'm looking forward to the last book and the heartfelt reunion these orphans will share.

Once Jilted gets another great review. Lynda of Simply Romance Reviews wrote:

Ms. Gold based Once Jilted on real events and I know without a doubt that person behind this story would be thrilled. Heartwarming, funny and even a little suspenseful this is a great read. The romance is sweet, our heroine strong willed and very feisty and the hero is well…definitely a hunk. Take home Once Jilted today, I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did. Check out the rest of the review here.

Lototy from Coffeetime Romance wrote:

I cannot even imagine how terrified, but secretly hopeful those children must have been on that train. Ms. Gold tells this story with a depth of feeling that is uniquely her. Her characters and their circumstances feel as real as any account told in a non-fiction novel. Shauna and Kane are both wounded souls. Their pain and longing to be loved just comes pouring out, and will make you ache for them. Shauna and Kane are both in need of a family and someone to love; their story is one that you will not want to miss. Read the rest of the review here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another excerpt from Once A Rebel

Hello, thought I'd post another excerpt form Once A Rebel:

Galen couldn’t help but admire his determination. His gentle compassion for the horse was an unexpected surprise. She’d never thought to see such genuine concern in a gunslinging rustler, hounds of hell as they all were. “Well, you did a fine job, Mr. Hassett. He’s a beautiful creature. Gentle as the morning sun.”
His smile softened. “Joshua,” he corrected. “And thank you. Horses are hardy animals that thrive easily enough with a little TLC, a sense of security, and trust in their caregiver. Much like people.”
By people he surely referred to men. TLC, security and trust. All basic needs afforded a horse…but not a woman. And definitely not a woman with an ill-reputable past. She may as well cast any flight of fancy out of her mind right now. “Why did you pay Frank for a week of my services?”
“I did not pay Frank for a week of your services. I paid Frank for a week of your companionship.”
She puffed a hostile breath and sent him a twisted glare. “There’s a difference?”
He flashed that sexy smile again and she jerked her head away. “There is.”
“Oh? And what is that? You seem to forget I’m but a mere female, and have a limited knowledge when it comes to the expectations of the all powerful male.”
“C’mon Eve, you don’t honestly believe that? You strike me as an intelligent woman.”
She ignored the question, wanting to get to the heart of the matter at hand. “You’re telling me you don’t expect me to service you for the entire week?”
“I don’t expect anything but your companionship, and perhaps you’ll gift me with a few of your engaging stories.”
“You’re not serious?” She didn’t believe him. It was a trick.
“I’m very serious.” He looked solemn as a stone, the crafty bastard. She couldn’t read his thoughts to save her life.
It was too incredible to be true, wasn’t it? He was a man, after all. Therefore, he lived in an eternal state of needing to be serviced. Had she misread the longing in those glorious dark eyes? Had she failed to please him before? She was dying to know, but far too embarrassed to ask. She turned and started to walk away not wanting him to see the rejection she knew layered her eyes and caught a glimpse of the men that had been following her. She stopped. For whatever reason, the niggling oafs feared the beautiful horse rustler at her side. It might be in her best interest to take Mr. Hassett up on his generous offer. At least until she could figure out a way to escape all three hideous buffoons. “In that case, I’ll do it.”

You can check out a few reviews here:

and here:

and here:

...more to come!

Until next time, happy reading!

Once A Rebel by Angela Ashton...available now in both print and ebook via

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ONCE A VAGABOND – is now available!!!!

Summer is in the air and what great way to kick it off then with a stack of books to read!

My third book – ONCE A VAGABOND – is now available!!!! It is the third book in the six book series.

Back cover blurb –

2 vows 1 outcome

Abigail McKee vowed revenge. Ethan O’Conner not only lied to her and broke her ten-year-old heart, but also drugged her and then put her on a horrific orphan train. Since then, her life had been nothing but miserable and at times terrifying.

14-year-old Ethan had vowed to keep Abby safe. And although he feared he would never see her again by putting her on the train, he fought back the tears with the knowledge that he had kept his promise to Abby the only way he knew how.

Now ten years later, Ethan is back in Abby’s life as John Cable, Point Reyes Lighthouse’s new First Assistant, and only he knows about their past. Will Ethan risk losing Abby again with the truth? And if Abby learns the truth, will she have the courage to let go of her past and follow her heart?

Currently it is out in Ebook format, but will soon be release in print too. You can order your copy at -

And don’t forget, if you’ve not already, to check out my earlier books – ONE LAST RIDE and ANGELS IN THE WINDOW – available in Ebook format and exclusively in paperback at Champagne Books’ bookstore –

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Great Review for Once Jilted

Once Jilted got 4.5 hearts from the Romance Studio. Brenda Talley wrote: "The escapades of this strong-minded woman were so intricately written it was impossible to not love Shauna and hope for love and happiness to find her. Her counterpart was an Irishman, Kane McKenna, whose mannerisms made him a stand-out, perfect compliment for Shauna. He obviously was well mannered and hated to be rude and ugly but he was challenged in true Gold style with more than most men could possibly handle.This book was an emotional one for me. I have to admit that I laughed out loud, but I also shed several tears. And the ending—not what I was expecting. I recommend that you read this book. It is well worth your time and you will certainly be glad you took the time. Expect the unexpected, and see for yourself what a Ciara Gold book is like. You will not be disappointed." Check out the rest of the review here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Once A Vagabond's COVER

The cover is done and what an amazing cover it is!!!! It won’t be long now. If all goes according to plan Once a Vagabond will be released in May.

So get ready to experience an amazing ride with unforgettable characters that will have you crying one moment and laughing the next.

I must say, the waiting is killing me!

Discover how an orphan train survivor overcomes hardship and loss while struggling between letting go of the past, and trusting her heart to the man who not only lied to her but was responsible for her being on the train.

So until next time, happy reading.

Kim Leady
Incredible stories…Unforgettable characters

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Home Children

I never gave much thought to the orphan train movement until I wrote Once Jilted. Even then, I only researched America’s Orphan Train movement because our related stories all dealt with children who rode the train in search of new homes across the wide expanse of states.

However, as I was looking for more information, I stumbled across information about other projects similar to the Orphan Train movement. Thousands of homeless waifs were sent from England to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Orphan boats carried these “home children” from impoverished situations in England to become indentured servants to Canadian farmers or wards of the state in Australia and New Zealand. Many ended up in children’s orphanages abroad only to suffer abuse and mental anguish. In some cases, the children were stolen from their families to be placed in impossible situations. I’m thinking there’s a story here, one involving a hero or heroine with a similar background.

Regardless, I found it interesting to note that America was not the only country involved in this practice and children from all over either prospered or suffered according to the situations they found themselves in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Forward from Once Jilted

Thought I'd share the inspiration behind the heroine of Once Jilted, Shauna Joyce.


In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet entitled “The New Colossus.” Her words expressed the invitation sent from America to foreign lands describing the newly formed country as the land of milk and honey. Engraved on a bronze plaque that stands beside the Statute of Liberty, her words were:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

From 1841 to 1860, the number of immigrants arriving on American soil was staggering. A report issued by The Immigration and Nationality Act, House Judiciary Committee, in 1995 entitled A History of U.S. Immigration Policy claims 4,311,465 newcomers settled in America. For many the hardships proved just has difficult as the situations they left at home. Poverty, starvation, and death left many children homeless.

In 1853, to combat the growing problem of orphaned children, Charles Lorring Brace along with a group of associates formed the Children’s Aid Society of New York City. He concluded that pioneer families located in central and western states with few family members to help with the heavy workload could benefit from housing these homeless waifs. In turn, orphans would be given a home. Thus began the orphan train movement that would last until 1929.
Some orphans found loving homes and were adopted, but just as many were treated as little more than indentured servants and suffered both emotionally and physically from the experience. Agnes Stanley Schenk David was one of these unfortunate orphans. While her adventures as an orphan train rider began in 1906, the heroine in Once Jilted was loosely fashioned from Agnes’s story.

With permission from W. Joseph Stell, who organized a series of interviews recorded by Elizabeth Herzig, a neighbor of Agnes in Schulenburg, Texas, I would like to summarize some of Agnes’s tale.

Born in 1901, Agnes was the offspring of an unwed mother and immediately after her birth in the Saint Ann’s Foundling Hospital was given into the care of that same hospital. Though early memories had faded, Agnes recalled her home as being “one cot among many standing at attention along the bare plaster walls (except for the occasional crucifix or painting of Mary) of the girl’s ward; her few possessions kept in a wooden trunk beside her bed. Days began early and ended early: meals in large communal halls, daily chores and, for those who were old enough, lessons.”

In 1906, a family from Texas filled out an application to adopt a child, and Agnes found herself on a ship bound for Galveston. “I remember being in a new place watching nuns cover windows so we couldn’t see outside. We stayed in that room and were kept busy for what seemed to be several weeks.” From Galveston, they boarded a train for Houston. Afterwards, the group of orphans was split into two, with Agnes’s group put on a train that would take them farther west.
Along the way, the train made stops, and the children were “paraded, inspected, marched, and, hopefully accepted by the families previously approved by the Foundling Hospital.” Those that weren’t accepted found themselves back on the train. Finally, it came time for Agnes to meet her new family. She remembered stepping off the metal steps to the dirt of the station landing. Strangers surrounded her, and excitement filled the air. A snack of jelly bread was passed out, but in the confusion, Agnes was missed. “No one cared if we ate or not.”

The family slated to receive Agnes decided after a few hours in her company they no longer wanted her. They spoke only German, and Agnes could not understand their words. They returned her to Father Szymanski at the rectory of St. Michael’s Church in Weimar. “Humiliated without knowing why, she crawled into a lonely bed to sleep. Now there were no whispers, no giggles, no teasing, no fussing, no crying, no one else tossing and turning in the moonlight. For the first time in her short life she slept by herself.” The five-year-old had been abandoned to an unknown fate.

Agnes remained at the rectory for an undetermined amount of time where she entertained herself by playing the piano. One of the church visitors, Mrs. Schromanek, became enamored of Agnes and wanted to adopt her, but Father Szymanski claimed she was too old to take on the care of an active child. Later, Josephine and Frank Schenk wanted to adopt her, but again, Father Szymanzki refused, saying the Schenks already had two adopted children. However, taken by Agnes, Josephine came up with another solution. Her son Franz and his new bride were childless, so she suggested they take Agnes, and the priest agreed.

“Agnes’s arrival was so unexpected that Franz and Annie had not had time to prepare a bed for her. Agnes watched Annie make a mattress by stuffing a sack with corn shucks, while Franz quickly constructed a bed by stretching chicken wire over a frame of 2 x 4’s. Crude though it was, this bed would be hers for most of the years of her childhood, and the former storage area would be her sanctuary and refuge.” Agnes would suffer many hardships and abuse while in Annie’s care for Annie considered her an indentured servant.

“This was a new life, indeed. But it was very far from the fairyland of her dreams. At times, this new life would seem more of a nightmare than a dream come true. No matter how hard she tried to please her new ‘family,’ it seemed to Agnes that she was always being scolded, spanked, or otherwise punished. She never heard an endearing word or a word of encouragement. She was never hugged. At least the Sisters had an occasional kind word or brief hug--something to allay the hunger of a small child for affection. Now there was nothing, and the need grew. Here in the midst of her new ‘family,’ Agnes felt more alone than ever and, more than ever, had to rely on her own resources.”

In fact, Agnes’ home life proved so miserable that she ran away as a teenager and made a life for herself with the help of neighbors and nurses at a hospital in a nearby town. Agnes was but one of many such orphan train riders to suffer unspeakable hardships as America sought to alleviate the growing population of homeless children in New York. With an unbreakable spirit, she survived to later wed and have children of her own. It’s this very fighting spirit that shaped America and helped other orphans find their way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cover for Once Jilted!

Grab that train ticket and prepare to ride. Once Jilted is bound for release soon. Whoop! If all goes well, the book might release mid-March, give or take a few days. I can't wait.

Find out how a woman with no family, jilted time and again by circumstance, finds love with a reluctant Irishman.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Excerpt from Once Jilted

Since I'm getting a wee bit excited about the book coming out, I thought I'd post another excerpt.


How many times will an orphan be cast aside before someone offers love?

Shauna Joyce has three weeks to find a husband or face watching a special little girl fall into the hands of loveless parents. An orphan herself, she knows the heartache of growing up without love. Armed with a need greater than her own, she finds a likely candidate in bridge-builder, Kane McKenna.

Kane McKenna has one goal; to finish the bridge he’s erecting so he can earn the capital needed to start a business of his own. A wife and child would drain his finances, so when Shauna Joyce proposes marriage, he balks at the idea. Will her determination be enough to build the bridge of trust needed to make him trade one dream for another?

Where would she go? She’d have left this house years ago if not for her fear of the unknown. Need for security had kept her a prisoner. Coward, coward, coward. Only a coward stayed in a home devoid of love. Where was the security in such a house? A person needed more than food and a place to lay their head. A body needed the emotional nurturing from another warm soul. By God, she refused to let Sarabeth live in a loveless prison.

She snatched up what few items she dared take. After stuffing a comb, toothbrush and a change of clothing into a small knapsack, she pulled the bottom drawer completely out of the dresser and reached underneath for a packet that contained fifteen years worth of savings. While renting the wagon and buying ingredients for pies had put a dent in the amount, she still had plenty to live comfortably for about two weeks. She stuffed the money into her pocket, hefted the knapsack over her shoulder and stormed from the room.

The three adults remained near the door. She brushed past them without a word. To think she’d entertained the notion that Kane McKenna would make a fine husband. She’d learned a valuable lesson, though. First impressions could not be trusted. She’d fallen for Darrell’s charm and look how that had turned out. No, first impressions were not always what they seemed.

The moment she left the house, a sense of freedom flooded her body. No matter how frightening the future seemed, she was now free of the Clevingers' influence, free to live her own life. Perhaps she owed Mr. McKenna her gratitude for setting in motion the catalyst for change.

The door clicked shut, and she took a deep breath. Even the air smelled different, cleaner. She smiled, and her feet itched to dance. First things first, though. With only a sliver of moon to light the path, she ventured toward town to find accommodations for the night.

A brisk pace propelled her forward. Eager to be settled for the evening, she almost skipped along the road.

“Noot so fast, lassie.” A huge hand clamped down on her shoulder. “You still owe me a wee bit of coin.”

She stifled a scream and whirled toward Mr. McKenna. “I’ll thank you to remove your hand from my person.”

“And to think, this very afternoon, you wanted me hands all over your person.”

She dropped her jaw and stared, clutching her meager possessions to her breast. “I wanted no such thing.”

“Is that noot what a hoosband would do if he were to marry you? And did you noot proposition me along with four other men?”

She scoffed. “Believe what you want, but I had a good reason for doing what I did.” Amazing the chain of events set forth by one, not-so-brilliant idea. Henceforth, she would think twice before listening to Lora Lee’s advice.

She continued to walk, but he stopped her again. “Give me a wee moment to fetch me horse, and I’ll offer you a ride into town.”

“No, thank you. I won’t be beholden to you.”

He narrowed his eyes and punched a finger in her direction. “I’ll noot let you walk the distance by yourself withoot an escort. The streets are noot safe at night.”
She skirted away from the accusing finger. “Well, I don’t need your chivalry. I’d sooner have Jack-the-Ripper walk me to town.”

“Aye, my point exactly. You are a blood-thirsty witch.” He chuckled.

She shot him a glance. “I’m sorry your men fell ill, but it wasn’t the pie.”

“Perhaps noot, boot you have to agree that the evidence against you is overwhelming.”

“Is it?” She sighed. “Could it have been something they ate at lunch prior to sampling my baking?”

He scratched his chin. “I ate alongside them, and I’m noot sick.”

“Will they be all right?”

“Aye. They took to their pallets aboot a half hour after you left. I went for the doctor, and he and I tended them until the worst passed. They’re resting noo.”
She frowned. Would bad food have caused such a reaction so soon after partaking of the meal? She thought not. More likely, it was something they ate at noon or even breakfast. Either way, he’d accused her unjustly.

“Best fetch your horse before you go too much farther or you’ll just have to double back.” And before she began dreaming again. Already, the nearness of Kane did strange things to her insides, but with his inability to look past circumstantial evidence, he was not the man for her. She wanted him gone, so she could contemplate all that had happened this evening.

“I still doon’t like the idea of a woman walking alone at night.”

“Nyesville is a small, quiet town. Trust me. My only real worry is you.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wanigans and Widow Makers

Because the heroine of The Outcast is forced to flee the couple who took her from the Orphan Train, she winds up as the female cook's assisitant in an Upper Peninsula logging camp. Which led me to writing this article:

In the early days, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, vast tracts of white pine (Pinus Strobus) stood in majestic forests, their huge trunks straight and symmetrical, their lofty needled tops reaching for the skies. Their trunks were four to seven feet in diameter and they could reach heights of eighty to one hundred and fifty feet. White pine needles grow five to a bundle, distinguishing them from the other varieties of pine. All pine is known as soft wood, but when it comes to construction, white pine is the king of lumber. Because of the country's great need for new building material in the late 1880s and 1890s there was increasing demand for lumber that was easy to easy to cut and plane. One such need came from the city of Chicago's intention to rebuild after burning to the ground in 1871. This city is just down Lake Michigan from the Upper Peninsula.
With Michigan's Lower Peninsula pine almost all cut, the lumber barons turned their gaze to the UP, as the Upper Peninsula is called. Lumber camps went up in the pine forests, quickly filled by lumberjacks from many European counties, as well as Canada. Though predominately Swede, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish and French, other nationalities came, too, including American.
Cutting trees was dangerous work. Saws and axes caused many an injury, plus the felling of trees had its own dangers. The call of Timber! usually alerted all the crew to what was happening, so they could be sure to not be under the big pine when it came crashing down. But nobody could predict what they called a widow-maker. This was another tree that was hit by the falling one—branches, part of the this tree or all of it could come down as well. But in an unpredictable direction, sometimes killing unsuspecting jacks working nearby. Then, as logging lingo goes, the unfortunate man would "wear a wooden kimona," their word for coffin. Logging was not only dangerous but hard, back-breaking labor, the kind that made men hungry.
To be able to work hard in the cold of winter--for that's when the trees are cut—men needed to be well fed. Soon the camps that had the best grub, fed to them by cooks who knew how to concoct the tastiest meals, were the ones drawing the most lumberjacks. The cook shack became a very important part of any logging camp, and the cook reigned supreme in his or her domain. They were paid better than the lumberjacks, since a good one kept the crew happy.
To feed close to a hundred men required the cook not only to be talented with food, but to move quickly and to get the men in and out as fast as possible in order to clean up and begin preparing the next meal. Since this was clearly impossible for one person to do alone, all cooks had at least one assistant--cookees they were called--and sometimes two or more. The rule in all lumber camps was no talking while eating in the cook shanty, which kept the men from lingering after they finished eating. All meals were served family style on long tables with benches to either side. If a jack wanted to be passed a dish, he pointed at it.
Lumberjacks made up their own lingo. Potatoes were often called murphys, red horse was corned beef, redhead was catsup. Almost universally stew was slum-gullion. Beans, which the cook served often, were fire crackers, biscuits became doorknobs and tapioca pudding, fish eggs. Salt was gravel, canned salmon was called goldfish. The metal triangle the cookee beat on with a hammer to called the jacks to a meal was the gut hammer, while tea was lye and coffee, blackjack.
The biggest item in the cook shanty was the large cast-iron wood stove—usually a Joesting or Monarch-- with six to eight lids for cooking and a large oven. The jacks referred to this massive stove as "the iron duke." Sometimes there'd be another stove called a baker that was a series of ovens one over the other. The cookee had the job of cutting wood for all the stoves and firing them up in at dawn. If the damper was set right and the coals banked for the night, the fire never did quite go out. A never-empty big black coffeepot sat at the back of the stove at all times. In addition to the cooking stoves, there might be another barrel stove in the room for heat. UP winters are long and cold.
Kerosene lanterns hung over the table, their smell mingling with the scent of wood smoke and cooking odors of frying doughnuts, fresh-baked bread, coffee and whatever else was being served. At the back of the cookhouse were a wooden sink and drainboard, shelves with tin dishes and supplies, and long hooks that held cooking pans and utensils. Water was dipped from a hole in the nearest lake or river, then brought by sleighs with water tanks on them to the camp. At the end farthest from the fire inside the cook stove was a reservoir that kept water warm. But water for washing dishes was boiled in a large tub-like pan.
Because meat had to be kept fresh, an unheated meat house was usually built onto the back of a the cook shanty. Quarters of beef, pork and veal were kept here. Between the meat house and the cook shanty, was an unheated gangway where stood a clean white chunk of wood big as a stump—or it might be one—at the right height for trimming meat. Large wheels of cheese, boxes of butter, kegs of pickled herring and pickled pigs feet, smoked sausage, pails of lard, slabs of bacon and anything else that might spoil from heat, lined the sides of this gangway.
By the door to the gangway hung a long low rack of cleavers and razor-sharp knives. Wood cut to fit the stoves was also banked along the back wall. When the cookee wasn't shoveling snow or attending to other duties like peeling potatoes or washing dishes, he kept the woodpile replenished.
Most often at least one cat lived in the shanty to keep the mice down, sharing space with dried fruits, fresh oranges and apples, crackers, macaroni, gallon cans of vegetable, pickles and jams. Often a root cellar was dug into a nearby hill, or under the floor to store potatoes, apples, raisins and smoked meat. Eggs, too, if available—which wasn't often.
The cook and his helpers rose at half-past three in the morning, and after getting the fires going, the cookee first called the teamsters at four, so they could eat before they fed and harnessed the horses that would skid the logs down the roads a jack called the conman had sprinkled with water the night before so they'd be iced by morning. At half-past four the cookee hit the gut hammer or blew the gabriel—a long tin horn—to rouse the rest of the crew.
By the time the lumberjacks hit the cookhouse, the cook would have breakfast on the tables set with tin plates and cups, steel forks, spoons and knives. A typical breakfast might be pickled beef, sour-dough flapjacks, fried potatoes, smoked pork and gravy, sometimes beans, big cookies, doughnuts and cups of strong boiled tea or coffee, with molasses for sweetener.
A ditty of the camps went like this:
"Beans are on the table
Daylight's in the swamp
Hey, you lazy shanty boys,
Ain't you gettin' up?"
Though there was no talking, eating was far from quiet with the steel forks hitting the tin plates. As soon as the last man filed out, cook and cookee alike cleared the tables. The cookee then washed and dried dishes ands utensils while the cook began preparing the noon meal. If the jacks were cutting near the camp, they'd eat at the cook shack, but if they were some distance away, the cook prepared flaggins for their meal—thick slices of fresh-baked bread, large kettles of hot foot such as potatoes or roast meat and gravy, plus the left-over cookies and doughnuts from breakfast. If none had been left over, the cook made more, plus large cans of hot tea or coffee. This the cookee had to haul to the work area on a sleigh. The farther from the camp the men were, the more likely the food would be cold by the time he got there. When they finished, he hauled everything back.
By that time, more than likely the cook was already beginning to prepare what would be served for supper. This might be leftovers from the noon meal such as hash, pork and beans, served with mounds of bread and jam, pickled herring, cheese, fresh-baked pies, plus a new supply of doughnuts and cookies and occasionally rice pudding as a treat. \
When all was cleaned away from that meal, he went to bed. Sometimes the cook slept in a curtained off area at the back of the cook shack, and sometimes in a small extension separated from the main shack by a curtain so heat would filter through. The facilities were the same as for the jacks—an outdoor privy. But the cook usually rated a chamber pot as well—which might be nothing more than an empty metal container. The cookee would either sleep in the same area as the cook or bunk with the teamsters or the jacks.
The supplies for logging camp food were ordered by the owner and delivered to the camp. The cook was expected to make a list of what he needed that would extend through most of the winter.
When the spring break-up came, the log rollways that had been piling up all the through the winter on the river bank, were dumped into the flowing water to be floated down to one of the great lakes, where they'd be sorted by each camp's special brand for their trip to the sawmills. While they floated down the river, some of the lumberjacks went with them. Special "catty" jacks who could ride a log without falling off, made sure the logs kept flowing smoothly down the river.
Now the cook and cookee transferred to a much smaller cook shack that was fasted onto a raft—a contraption called a wanigan-- that floated down the river behind the logs, tying up to the shore at night to feed the crew.
At last the logs were on their way and the work was over. At least until the following winter when another logging camp would go up in another area of woods, needing jacks--and a good cook who knew how to feed them.

Jane Toombs

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trousseau and doilies

While I never really mentioned a trousseau, two weddings take place during Once Jilted. Actually three if you count the one in which the groom never showed. Regardless, back in the day, it was customary for the girls in a household to begin early on their trousseaus. They would learn to crochet, knit, tat, quilt and embroider. As part of the process, they would create items to decorate a home that would someday be theirs. Pillow cases, dresser scarves, table clothes and dish towels would all go into a hope chest for the future.


Above is a sample from my grandmothers hope chest, a dresser scarf that she crocheted as a child. The close up below reveals the double stitch she used in the pattern.

And while the heroine of Once Jilted, Shauna might not have had a hope chest because of her circumstances, her friend Lora Lee would have.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New Release date!

Whoop! I just finished the first round of edits for Once Jilted and I must say, I'm very pleased. My editor is the best. She worked tirelessly to push this story along. So - I was very pleased to discover that Once Jilted will release earlier than first thought. It was supposed to be out in June, but now Champagne is shooting for March or April. Wow! How cool is that?

Monday, February 4, 2008

What a journey!

Once a Vagabond is now done. I really enjoyed telling Abby and Ethan’s incredible story.

I have laughed. I have cried, and even my heart raced a time or two, but like all good stories – the end has finally come. There were a few times that it felt like I was nine months pregnant and I just wanted to get it over. But most of the time I enjoyed writing about Abby’s temper and courage, and Ethan’s charm and resolve.

Now the hard part comes…waiting for Once a Vagabond’s release. Time was flying as I raced against my deadline, now it is crawling as I wait for Abby & Ethan’s story to get into reader’s hands.

I guess it’s a good thing that Once a Rebel showed up on my doorstep today. I can’t wait to read it. The plot is killer!

So until next time, happy reading.

Kim Leady

Incredible stories…Unforgettable characters

Monday, January 21, 2008

Congressman Cady...'Rebel''s Villian

Each new character creates a certain visual that stays with you throughout the book...and forever after. In writing Once A Rebel, I've already shared that I had Josh Bernstein (pictured left) in mind as the hero's template. (Sorry, Galen doesn't really resemble anyone that I can think of.) As I penned the congressman, the whole time I could just see Ted Levine as the ambitious politician, Theodore Cady. Not sure why, but something about his voice and look captured and held my interest.

Below is a picture of Ted, for those who haven't seen him before. He's been in many movies and TV shows, but one of his most famous is probably Silence of the Lambs.

Once A Rebel is now available in paperback as well as e-book,
so pick your poison and get to reading!


Until next time,


Once A Rebel by Angela Ashton

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A True Story

My heroine is loosely based on a real person. I've yet to write the article. I suppose I'll do that during spring break when I have more time, but one of my mother's dearest friends is the daughter of an orphan train rider. The woman did not have a pleasant time of it when she was adopted and had a very difficult childhood until she turned 18 and left to make her own way. Agnes was to be adopted by a family when she was 5 and rode the ship from New York to Texas, then boarded a train that would take her to this family. The trip took more than a month, but when she arrived, the couple decided they didn't want her. She had to return to the local church rectory, only this time - alone, with no other orphans to keep her company.

Afterwards, she stayed at the rectory until she was at last spoken for. The couple who took her, did so to please the husband's mother as it was she who was taken by the little girl. She spent her remaining childhood with rural folks that treated her more like an indentured servant than a beloved daughter.

I will write more about her life and how my character, Shauna, is loosely fashioned after Agnes when I have time to sit down and do the article justice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Panic of 1873

In September 1873, the Philadelphia Banking Firm, Jay Cooke and Company, filed bankruptcy. In May of that same year, the Vienna Stock exchange in Austria collapsed. These two events led to a national economic depression that would last until 1877. Read more about the Panic of 1873 and its causes.

This time of hardship worked well with my story. My heroine, Shauna, was taken in by a family that treated her as a servant. Instead of being adopted, she agreed to an indenture. Indentured orphans were bound to their foster family until they reached the age of 18. For Shauna, leaving the household to live on her own proved a scary proposition. Unmarried and with no skills, she couldn't hope to find work. Once she did build up the courage to leave, the panic of 1873 hit. She would be 19. So - she stayed, hoping something would happen to change her circumstances. That something didn't occur until she was 21.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gaelic Script

In "Once A Rebel", Galen Stewart writes in her country's native tongue, Gaelic, in hopes of keeping unwanted readers from learning her dangerous case her journals should ever get lost.

I took the following from the internet:

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)

Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about 60,000 people in Scotland (Alba), mainly in the Highlands (a' Ghaidhealtachd) and in the Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), but also in Glasgow (Glaschu), Edinburgh (Dùn Eideann) and Inverness (Inbhir Nis). There are also small Gaelic-speaking communities in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia (Alba Nuadh) and on Cape Breton Island (Eilean Cheap Breatainn). Other speakers can be found in Australia (Astràilia), New Zealand (Sealainn Nuadh) and the USA (Na Stàitean Aonaichte).

Scottish Gaelic is closely related to Manx and Irish and was brought to Scotland around the 4th century AD by the Scots from Ireland. Scottish Gaelic was spoken throughout Scotland (apart from small areas in the extreme south-east and north-east) between the 9th and 11th centuries, but began to retreat north and westwards from the 11th century onwards. All Scottish Gaelic dialects are mutually intelligible, and written Irish can be understood to a large extent.

The earliest identifiably texts in Scottish Gaelic are notes in the Book of Deer written in north eastern Scotland in the 12th century, although the existence of a common written Classical Gaelic concealed the extent of the divergence between Scottish and Irish Gaelic.

Thought I'd share some Gaelic script with you. This is the Lord's Prayer. There are lots of books and websites if you're into learning more about the old Scottish language.

While I don't go into Gaelic detail in Rebel, I've always found Scotland, it's language and everything about it facinating.
Hope you enjoy the book.
Available now at Champagne books.
(Shouldn't have to wait much longer for the print version!)
Once A Rebel, by Angela Ashton

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Location for Once Jilted

I saw Kim's wonderful post and so being rather under the weather, thought I'd blog about the same topic. Less thinking that way. I wanted something different for my hero, Kane. I knew I wanted him to be Irish, but I didn't want him to be a cowboy, or lawman, or doctor, so I scratched my head for a while and started researching states. When I clicked on Indiana, all sorts of wonderful information popped up on covered bridges. So - voila, Kane is now a bridge builder. Check out some of these bridges. I narrowed my search and decided to place the setting in and around Nyesville, Indiana. Though small, the town was near a train station, so that worked out perfectly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Location, location, location…

A B C D E F – I bet you’re wondering what the alphabet has to do with location. Well I’ll tell you. Believe it or not, there is an area about thirty miles north of San Francisco, California - Point Reyes Peninsula – which in 1866 was sectioned off into 33 tenant dairy ranches. Each was given a letter in the alphabet, with ranch A being the closest to the lighthouse.

And this is where Once a Vagabond plays out and Abby and Ethan’s path cross again for the first time since he put her on the orphan train. Ethan is now the new first assistant to the lighthouse keeper and Abby is one of the peninsula’s teachers.

Neither recognized one another at first – almost ten years can do that you know – and the fact that Ethan mistakes Abby as a hooker only causes their relationship to start off as turbulent as the waters surrounding the rocky and rugged cliffs of the peninsula.

Unfortunately, by the time Ethan finally figures it out that Abby is the young girl he’d befriend in New York City, he’s afraid to tell her since she knows him as John Cable. A man she now finally trusts.

Happy New Years!!!!

So until next time, happy reading.

Kim Leady
Incredible stories…Unforgettable characters

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Train Has Left The Station!

Happy New Year!

May 2008 be the best year yet!!

It's official...the train has left the station and Scottish born Galen Stewart has started her rebellious journey...

The ebook is available now at

The print version will be available in just a few weeks.

Hope you enjoy reading about Galen and Josh as much as I did telling their story!

Once A Rebel, by Angela Ashton