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Wednesday, July 18, 2018


by guest blogger Lisa Lowell
Thirty-odd years ago I found myself sitting in an Old Testament religious studies class, one whose professor loved the topic and could not understand why his pupils did not.  I dutifully read the required text, King James version of the Bible and a book titled Antiquities, by the Jewish historian Josephus.  It could be boring if you got bogged down in the politics and the lineage, but I did not.  I loved the stories.  I had been writing for several years at that time and had focused on fantasy writing.  However, some of the narratives in this class smacked of magic.  They included the tale of a Babylonian king killed by two of his sons while worshiping an idol, the explanation of how a dethroned Jewish king returned as a pauper to his native land after his people had been exiled, and most intriguing, the mysterious disappearance of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
Finding these stories sparked my love of Ancient Middle Eastern era historical fiction.  This was pre-internet so my sources were at the university library, Chronology of Mesopotamia and that wonderful professor.  I began to weave those three stories into one cohesive whole.  At first, I completely ignored the actual timeline and research in an effort to get a sensible plot melding those three tales.  After I had the plot complete, I went back to my source material and researched to make it seem real and not a fantasy.
The wonderful part about doing research on a time period no one but an archeologist understands is I can still pursue the fantasy elements.  I created a pharaoh out of three separate actual pharaohs.  I stretched the time between Hezekiah, Hosea, and Sennecherib, three historical kings from different lands, making them contemporaries rather than spreading them through a hundred-year span.  The elements that did not need stretching, like a trip down an underwater tunnel system, or the burial practices of the ancient Egyptians, are all the more effective because they are not fantasy. 
The culture of welcoming strangers, of purchasing wives to strengthen the empire, of superpowers like Egypt and Assyria constantly capturing each other's satellites, made for a stunning backdrop for the simple story of three strangers, thrown together and navigating the love they want to have, but cannot share.  Starting with three bible stories made it simple.  Adding the culture made it rich. Here is an image I used when I first tinkered with the story.

Lisa's web page is  and her FB page is

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dracula, Werewolves, and Frankenstein - OH MY!

Welcome Historical Hussie followers!! 

By a raise of hands (or 'like' clicks) how many of you out there enjoy reading paranormal? Well, I'm not usually a paranormal fan, but just the other day I had an idea for an awesome story! My tough contemporary heroine will kick some historical monsters' butt!

In order do write this story (which I've already outlined and written a proposal for), I had to do some research. I thought I'd share with you what I have found.

Count Dracula...

The story of Dracula was actually written about a man in Romanian in 1448. Between 1448 and the time of his death, he was on the warpath... literally. From my research, he was considered a prince, but as most rulers back in those days, he wanted to conquer other lands. He captured his enemies and tortured them. The reason Vlad the Impaler was rumored to be a vampire was because he took the blood of his victims and kept it in bottles. YUCK!! From what I've read, Vlad was one sick puppy!


Surprisingly enough, rumors - or folklore - about werewolves started clear back in 1150. Back then, people believed that werewolves were witches... that cursed wolves attached people (scratching or biting them) which turned them in beasts at night. These people even formed groups (witch hunters) to search for these witches who shifted when the moon was full. In 1589 there was a significant interest in the werewolf and people began to hunt wolves and kill them for fear that they were the beasts. But by the end of the 'witch trials', the werewolf became more Gothic and writers couldn't wait to add this creature into their stories.


In 1831, Mary Shelley wrote a story about a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who studied the decaying of living beings, and had an idea to experiment with his own creation by making a living being with the parts of dead people. And as we all know (if we've seen the movies or read the books) that electricity is what brings this monster to life. The hideous monster who is known simply as "Frankenstein" is appalled at his appearance and knows that nobody will love him. He begs the scientist to create him a bride, which Victor does, but when Victor destroys her, the monster is raged and kills Victor's assistant before fleeing the lab. The monster swears revenge on the man who created him.

My new story idea has been titled "Love Me Yesterday". It'll be full of action and suspense, paranormal and time-travel... and one kick-butt heroine who fights these monsters and more!!  It's not released yet, but I'm still searching for someone (a publisher) who might love this idea and want me!


Marie Higgins is an award-winning, best-selling, multi-published author of sweet romance novels; from refined bad-boy heroes who make your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. She's published over 50 heartwarming, on-the-edge-of-your-seat stories and broadened her readership by writing mystery/suspense, humor, time-travel, paranormal, along with her love for historical romances. Her readers have dubbed her "Queen of Tease", because of all her twists and turns and unexpected endings.

Visit her website to discover more about her –

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Englishman’s Ranch in Arizona

Good afternoon to one and all! My name is Sally Britton and this is my first post on the blog! Yay! I'm really excited to be here with everyone, to share my research and talk about history.

While the Regency era is my first and greatest writing love, I’m gearing up for a series set entirely in the American West, specifically in the mining regions of Southern Arizona. I’m uniquely placed for researching the most amazing old towns, from Fort Huachuca with its history of the Buffalo Soldiers to Tombstone, made famous by a disagreement that wound up leading to that infamous gunfight.

As I’ve been studying Arizona history, one ranch has stood out again and again in the history books. The Empire Ranch, founded in the 1870’s by an Englishman and a Canadian who really had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Talk about a fish out of water story! We love the Old West, but how often do we think about Englishmen trying to take it on?

Herbert R. Hislop (now there’s a name for you) came to North America with one goal: to create a cattle empire. He wasn’t a rancher, he had no experience with cattle, but he was a young man with ambition and America was the land of opportunity, even for Englishmen.

Herbert took the rails out to California, then came back down to Tucson, which isn’t much to look at today but back then was even less impressive. There was one dirt road, with adobe houses lining either side of it. But Herbert and his partner were not daunted and they started riding around looking for land.

He got pretty discouraged at what the desert had to offer. In a letter home, he wrote, “I would sooner have Thames water at London Bridge than the finest water here.”

An excerpt from his letters: “Rested and just looked round the town for horses to buy, but did not succeed. Had more offers of ranches, it is astonishing how quickly one’s business is known in a small place like this. Everybody has the best to sell. It is quite amusing to hear them talk and hear them contradict each other, running down each other as thieves and rascals, but we have our money and intend to keep it unless we get a place suited to our requirements and on reasonable terms.”

But then, in a little piece of undiscovered paradise, Herbert found the perfect land. It had protective mountains around it, was at a higher elevation and stayed cooler morning and night, and beautiful green grass that stretched as far as the eye could see. They bought up the ranch and then some cattle, and Herbert was suddenly learning the business first hand.

Walter Vail, from Canada, wrote about his partner: “I think it is just beginning to dawn on Hislop what roughing it means but I am in hopes he will not give in if he should it would place me in an awkward position.”

This was the age of rustlers, of the western forts springing up, of the calvary riding across the desert after ne’er-do-wells! And Herbert was in the thick of things. He started a tradition at the ranch that held on for many generations, and kept him and those who came after out of harm’s way. The very first time Herbert had a gang of men ride in on one of his camps, instead of bristling up and getting defensive, he invited them all to dine with him. With his good English manners, Herbert charmed the group of men, fed them bread he’d baked himself, and they parted as friends. Later he learned he’d entertained one of the meanest group of rustlers around.

Herbert fed everyone, because his mother had taught him to be hospitable. Whether it was the Native Americans, Mexican vaqueros, or another rancher, they were treated to the best he had to offer. Because of that, the Empire was often spared when one group or another conducted raids.

What survives of Herbert’s experience is a wonderful wealth of letters he wrote back home to England. Those letters are a goldmine of information for researchers, a first-hand source of what life was like before the West was tamed. From adobe brick making to Decoration Day celebrations, Herbert recorded it all for his family living far from Arizona’s monsoon season and rattlesnakes.

Unfortunately, family business called Herbert home and he sold out to his partners. But with the fine start he helped them achieve, the Empire Ranch was founded and remains to this day a working ranch. I went out and toured the beautiful area, seeing the original house where Herbert lived with bats in his bedroom. And for decades after Herbert left, locals continued to call the Empire, “The English Boys’ Outfit.”

Until I can sink my teeth into these beautiful Arizona stories, I’m enjoying getting my Regency Romance series published. My latest novel, His Bluestocking Bride, spent a lot of time as a #1 New Release and Bestseller on Amazon.

It’s a story of a marriage of convenience that becomes so much more. But just you wait. My Arizona stories are a-comin’!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Supper at a Regency Ball by Jenna Jaxon

In writing the next Regency in my Handful of Hearts series, I ended up having to research the suppers that were held at a ball. I made mention that Lady Hamilton’s suppers were “legendary,” so I had to do lots of research to find out what the norm was and then to top that.

Suppers at a ball were much more elaborate than a supper at a private party would be. At a ball everything must be breathtaking and perfect as it could possibly be, so hostesses would do everything possible to make their suppers elegant and unforgettable. The tables would be laid to exact specifications with the best china, silverware, and crystal being polished to blinding brightness.

Regency party goers made sure to eat dinner before leaving the house for the ball because supper at a ball could begin anywhere from 10:00 pm
until 2:00am. The guests would have spent several hours either dancing or playing cards non-stop, so that some form of sustenance was certainly necessary. There are newspaper accounts that report one supper not beginning until 3:30 in the morning: “At half-past three o’clock the company sat down to a sumptuous banquet, the viands and wines being of the first description, with a desert of ices, strawberries, cherries, and grapes by Mr Gunter.”

The bill of fare could be long and varied, depending on the wealth of the hostess. There were many dishes including white soup, cold meats, vegetables, fish, salads, fresh fruit, with deserts ranging from dry cake (unfrosted, like a pound cake), cheeses, cookies, pies, ices, and trifle. Champagne, white wine, sweet red wine, such as Madeira, coffee, tea, and lemonade might be served.

One of the most important things about supper for a young person on the marriage mart was that whichever gentleman was granted the last dance before supper automatically escorted his partner in to supper and sat with her, waiting on her, gathering dainty bits to tempt her appetite. This also meant the young lady sat with the gentleman and therefore got to talk to her throughout the entire supper. In a society where young ladies had little opportunity to speak to a man alone, this was a huge boon if one was trying to get to know the young lady or gentleman better.

After supper the couples returned to the ball and danced until the wee hours of the morning. Of course, if the young lady had already danced twice with her supper partner, they could not dance together again and so the supper was their final bit of “alone time” for this particular ball.

Eating at midnight or beyond may seem strange to our modern sensibilities, until you think of heading home from a late movie or dancing at a club and grabbing pizza or a burger or ice cream on the way home.

Perhaps Regency suppers weren’t all that far off the mark after all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to End a Marriage in Sixteenth Century England

                                                                                               By Carol Pratt Bradley

While writing my 16th century novel about historical figure Anne Askew, Fire of the Word, I reviewed the written summaries of her life. Many of the discussions centered on Anne’s efforts to obtain a divorce from her husband, citing her contemporary King Henry VIII’s marriages as an example. My research took me into the marriage customs of that time period. Turns out, severing a marriage tie during that time was very different from what we know in ours. 
According to 16th century English law, a marriage could be dissolved only if it could be proven that the marriage was not a legal union. The criteria were: if the marriage partners were too close in kinship, if the marriage was never consummated, if either partner was under the age of consent, or if either partner had already contracted to someone else previous to the marriage.
                When Henry VIII wanted to dissolve his marriages to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, he sought for an annulment. In Catherine’s case, he sought to prove that his marriage to her was invalid according to biblical law, which forbade a man to marry his brother’s widow. To rid himself of Anne of Cleves, he claimed that the marriage had never been consummated. In his efforts to rid himself of wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Henry accused them of adultery, and had them executed. Contrary to modern interpretations, he did not end any of his four marriages by divorce.
But what if you were not a king and sought to end a marriage? You did not have many options.
In the case of an annulment, matters became complicated. If the marriage were annulled in the courts, the wife would lose her dower rights, in the event that she became a widow, which included the right to typically one third of the property owned by her husband. Plus, any offspring of the marriage were declared illegitimate (as in the case of Henry’s daughters by Anne Boleyn, Mary and Elizabeth). This would make life very difficult for a woman and her children.
In Anne Askew’s case, at age fifteen her father had forced her to marry Anne’s dead sister’s fiancé. When her husband cast her out of his house for her Protestant beliefs, she sought for legal grounds to end her marriage and found little to help her case. In order for the courts to dissolve her marriage, she could not claim to be under the age of consent, (which was age twelve), and since she had born two children, the marriage had certainly been consummated. She was not too close in kinship to her husband Thomas Kyme, or had previously consented to marry someone else.
The best Anne could do was to seek from the courts “a divorce from bed and board.” In this case, the couple remained legally married but were permitted to live apart. The wife could keep her dower rights and any offspring remained legitimate. But neither partner was free to marry again.
If I had simply accepted modern interpretations that Anne had sought to obtain a divorce, I would have been mistaken. Knowing these historical facts enabled me to more accurately portray the circumstances of her life.

Carol Pratt Bradley is a historical novelist with an MFA in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She has three novels from WiDo Publishing:

Light of the Candle 2015
Fire of the Word 2016
Waiting for the Light 2017

Available on Amazon and WiDo Publishing's website

Friday, June 22, 2018

It's About the Muffins

JACK. How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can't make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
ALGERNON. Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
JACK. I say it's perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.
     Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Act II, p. 60

This play has all kinds of references to food as many of the scenes take part during the English teatime: cucumber sandwiches, muffins, teacakes, and crumpets. Inspector Montalbano in the mysteries written by Andrea Camilleri spends a lot of time eating and describing Sicilian foods so that the food almost becomes a character. But even a small reference to food—a mere soupçon—can give authenticity and interest in a historical novel.
Afternoon tea at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh, Scotland
But, as you’re aware, we do need to do research for the time period and country. In the scene above, for example, they’re talking about English muffins, not American muffins, but our readers may not know this unless we give them some hints. We can Google information, but we can also find old documents and books from the time period, some of which I’ll mention below.

If we’re writing about Europe in say, the Middle Ages, there would be no tomatoes or potatoes in any of the dishes. Those did not appear in Europe until the 16th century with the discovery of the Americas. So Ireland had no potatoes, and what did the Italians eat without tomatoes? Europe would have eaten mostly corn. (A trick reference! Corn in Britain means grains [wheat, oats, barley] as in the Bible and you may have encountered it in a Regency novel with a reference to the Corn Exchange, a place where merchants sold their corn. It has no relationship to American corn which is typically called maize in Europe and usually fed to animals.)

In those days the staples were grains, milk, cheese and game (venison, etc.) and domesticated animals. (Do you know why there are two words in English for certain domesticated animals? It goes back to 1066. Sheep, cow, pig are the “on the hoof” words from Anglo-Saxon as the English peasants took care of the animals while the Norman conquerors, i.e. elite, ate the animals, hence mouton [mutton], boeuf [beef], and porc [pork]. There are depictions of banquets in the Bayeux Tapestry which celebrates the Norman Conquest; it wasn’t just the battle.)

A book I own, The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black, not only has history of food and culture, but recipes translated from Middle English. It surprised me that they use a lot of saffron which is a really expensive spice made from the stamens of a particular crocus. And they also used quite a few spices which were imported from far away places. In fact, spices were so important to Europeans, there was a fifty-year war fought between the Dutch and Portuguese in the 1600s. Other explorer countries such as Britain, France, Italy and Spain vied for control of the spice trade too. The discovery of America came about when Columbus tried to find a quicker route to the Far East to outwit the Venetians' hold on the spice trade.

Black’s book mentions several people who put together household and cooking guides during this time period, one was the English poet, Chaucer, and another known as the Goodman of Paris. The latter “employed Dame Agnes, a woman of the charitable society called the Beguines, to act as chaperone-housekeeper to his young wife. Dame Agnes comes across in his comments as a careful and pleasant guide for an adolescent girl in the new experiences which marriage might entail” (p. 12). Black has given several recipes from this household.

Savarin named after a French gourmand
We can glean information about what people ate during various time periods by searching cookbooks compiled by various chefs and housewives. France’s Marie-Antoine Carême became the first celebrity chef in the late 1700s-early 1800s who was a codifier of French haute cuisine (high cuisine). His fame spread to other countries such as Britain which is why it families in high society had to have a French chef to show their status. During the Victorian/Edwardian period, Auguste Escoffier became a celebrated chef who published Le Guide Culinaire which still influences chefs throughout the world. I used to have a copy of this, but never used it; it was much too complicated though I still own a copy of Larousse Gastronomique.

Also in Victorian times, if you want to find out about British cooking, Isabella Beeton published Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management in 1861. My 1970 edition fell apart but I now have a Kindle version. This book is also useful because it gives hints not only on cooking, but cleaning, childrearing, and entertaining during that time period. Fanny Farmer was the American equivalent of Isabella Beeton. She published her best-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. As writers of historical fiction, you may already be aware of this book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England. And, of course, there’s a lot you can glean from the Internet.

In my current WIP set in 1813 Scotland, I use food as one way to emphasize the difference between common folk and high society. I’ve found that researching cooking throughout the ages and in various countries, can lead to the discovery of fascinating facts that adds interesting and authentic touches to a historical novel.

Bon appétit!
Karen Edwards Pierotti

Isabella Beeton, Wikipedia
Black, Maggie. The Medieval Cookbook, (1992), New York: Thames and Hudson.
Marie-Antoine Carême. Wikipedia.
Auguste Escoffier. Wikipedia.
Fanny Farmer. Wikipedia

Pittenweem, the setting of Joy to My Love
Author Bio: I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland (Welsh father/Scots mother) but lived in various places in the UK and Gibraltar (Spain) as my father was in the RAF (Royal Air Force). I've done a lot of traveling in Europe. I joined the LDS church while working in Lugano, Switzerland then came to the United States to study at BYU. After several years, I received a MA in rhetoric. In the meantime, I married an American and had four children; I've lived in Utah for about 40 years. I worked at BYU for 29 years as secretary/admin assistant in various departments and after my MA, taught first-year writing part-time. I am a family history consultant and in auditing a creative writing class to help write biographies, I discovered I enjoyed writing novels. My WIPs: a completed historical novel, Joy to My Love, set in 1813 Scotland and which I will self-publish after a professional edit; a sequel in NaNoWriMo-mode, i.e. a mess; a contemporary romance set in France which I'm rewriting to include two POVs; and, the beginnings of a YA historical novel set in Algeria and NYC (not sure if I can write YA, but experimenting). I'm also writing biographies of my two grandmothers and my husband's.  I'm on Facebook and am in the processing of creating a website. I have a blog: Musings which, for the past year or two, has focused on thoughts about writing.  (BTW: boireannach means woman in Scottish Gaelic which is different than Irish Gaelic.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Land Wars (England vs Ireland 1790-1880)

Hello! I’m a new blogger to Historical Hussies, and I’m excited to be here and share my research with you. During my writing career, I’ve published 34 historical romances from as early as England 1192, and as late as Chicago 1920’s. Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of research for every book I've written. Today I’m going to be talking about what I researched while writing my latest release, a historical western romance, 1885.

Several years ago, I had an idea for a story after watching the sequel to Gone with the Wind – Scarlett. If you’ve not seen the TV miniseries, she travels to Ireland to meet her relatives on her father’s side. While there, she sees the struggles between the English landlords and the way they treat the Irish rebels. This struggle was real and started back in 1760. Wealthy English men purchased land in Ireland and rented it out to the Irish tenant farmers. From the articles I’d read, the English treated their tenant farmers as poorly as the southern US states treated slaves during this era. For years, the Irish struggled to keep their lands, but the English landlords kept raising the rent, and eventually, the tenant farmers were thrown from their homes. Another movie that portrays this issue in Ireland is “Far and Away”.  

In 1880, a general election was held and a law was passed, but it seemed that this law brought more fighting between the Irish rebels and the English landlords. It still took a few more years, and more battles to bring this issue to a close. Finally, by 1885, The Ashborne Act started a limited process that allowed tenant farmers to buy portions of the land using government loans. 

My story, “Surrender Your Heart”, takes place in Savannah, Georgia. A portion of the plot focuses on the Irish rebels who were trying to punish the Englishmen for the battles that were happening across the sea in Ireland. 


Marie Higgins is a best-selling author of 50 sweet romance novels that have you on the edge of your seat. Her readers have dubbed her "Queen of Tease", because of all her twists and unexpected endings. Visit her website to discover more about her – 

Land War articles: