Tag Archives: montana

Weekend Excerpt – Mistletoe and Moonbeams

Oct 29, 2016

So we’ve been keeping very hush-hush about this project, but the Wild Western Women are at it again! We’re bringing you a Christmas box set, but not just any box set. All four of the stories by me, Caroline Clemmons, Sylvia McDaniels, and Kirsten Osbourne are set in the same town of Mistletoe, Montana, and they’re all connected! The box set comes out on Tuesday! November 1st, that is. Here’s a sneak peek of my contribution, Mistletoe and Moonbeams….

wildwesternwomenmistletoemontana_boxset_small

If she hadn’t had the bar to lean against, Miranda suspected she would have been knocked clear to the ground with the force of Randall Sinclair’s smile. It brought about such a transformation on his handsome, weary face that she caught herself smiling too. It took half a second for her to determine that there was no one else like this man in all of Mistletoe, maybe in all of Montana, although she couldn’t put her finger on whether it was his tailored coat, his high cheekbones and straight nose, or just the air he had about him.

Outside, the flurries were changing over to steadier snow, and it was the smack of the door flapping against the wall as another gust came through that startled the smile off of Mr. Sinclair’s face.

“I’m so sorry.” He rushed to put his trunk down and spun around to shut the door.

“Hold on a second there, sweetheart.” Starla pushed away from the bar with a knowing, teasing grin for Miranda. “I was just about to leave.” Before she did, she leaned closer to Miranda and said, “Just you remember what I said about loosening up and letting miracles happen.”

“He’s a man, not a miracle,” Miranda whispered in return.

Starla laughed. “Honey, in my experience, every man is some kind of miracle.” She ended her statement with a saucy wink and sashayed toward the door.

Mr. Sinclair was still in the entryway, and as Starla reached him, taking a light grey, wool coat from the row of hooks by the door and shrugging into it, he held the door for her with a slightly baffled, “Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”

Starla sent a glance in Miranda’s direction, chuckled, and patted Mr. Sinclair’s slightly shadowed cheek as she marched out into the snow.

Mr. Sinclair watched her go, shook his head and shrugged, then closed the door behind her. When that was done, he put his smile back on and strode a few steps deeper into the room. “Like I said,” he began again, “my name is Randall Sinclair, and I come to you today from the…”

His smile vanished once more. His hands dropped to his sides as he looked around the big, empty saloon.

“Oh. You’re closed, aren’t you?”

“In fact, we are.” A hot flush filled Miranda’s face. She tried to shake it away. Why did she feel guilty for stating the obvious to this man?

“My apologies.” Mr. Sinclair sidestepped to his trunk. “I should have known, what with the storm that looks like it’s blowing in. I won’t bother you.”

“It’s all right.” Miranda jumped out from around the bar, throwing down the rag she’d been clutching and wiping her hands on her skirt. “I was closing up early, but I don’t need to. Especially since you look like you could stand to sit down for a minute.” She blinked at the pun in her words, then giggled as her heart thumped hard against her ribs.

Mr. Sinclair looked confused for a moment, then laughed himself, cheeks a merry shade of red. “I get it. Stand to sit. You’re clever.”

A blossom of pleasure filled Miranda’s chest. Although she shouldn’t be so giddy about being called clever when Vicky was called beautiful every twelve minutes.

She shook that thought aside and moved a few steps closer to Mr. Sinclair, more like a hostess at a garden party than a saloonkeeper. “Why don’t you have a seat at one of these tables by the fire? I just added more wood not ten minutes ago, so it should warm you well.”

“That’s mighty generous of you, Miss…?”

“Clarke. Miranda Clarke. How do you do?” She crossed to meet him in the center of the saloon, hand outstretched.

Mr. Sinclair took her offered hand and not only shook it, he bowed over it. Miranda’s brow flew up. Obviously Mr. Sinclair was used to some degree of society. That wasn’t something she’d seen every day in the rugged little town of Mistletoe.

“Miss Clarke,” Mr. Sinclair said, letting her hand go. His smile grew, and a sort of manly mischief filled his eyes. “Say, with a name like Miranda, you don’t happen to have the nickname ‘Randi,’ do you?”

Miranda’s cheeks flushed hotter and her back went stiff. “Only at times when people wish to be nasty to me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Mr. Sinclair blushed harder, his mischief switching to embarrassment near panic. “It’s just that my closest friends call me Randy too, although with a “y” as opposed to an “i,” which I imagine is the female equivalent of the nickname. I thought it was quaint, is all. Randy and Randi.”

“Oh!” Miranda clapped a hand to her mouth. Not only did a burst of awkwardness threaten to knock her over, but she had suddenly never wanted to be called “Randi” so much in her life. She managed to swallow, pull herself together, and say, “That is an amusing coincidence, isn’t it?”

“It must be fate.” The smile came back to Mr. Sinclair’s eyes. “Of all the saloons in all the towns in Montana, I happened to step into yours for a bit of refreshment after a long, wearying day.”

 

Are you ready for Tuesday??? =D

Women in Politics, 1900

Jun 20, 2014

Somebody To Love_blog sidebarYes! I got my first 1-star review of Somebody to Love! And it was the best possible kind of 1-star review too!

How can a 1-star review be a good thing, you ask? Well, when the criticism is all about a point of historical accuracy, and when the reviewer is, frankly, wrong, it gives me a great opportunity to talk about my favorite subject: History. The accusation was that it is grossly historically inaccurate for Phineas Bell to muse that his 4-year old niece, Eloise, could be President of the United States someday. The reviewer scoffed at the idea, saying that in 1900, when universal suffrage for women was still 20 years off, it would have been ludicrous for a man to think that his niece could be president.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Neither could the actual facts of history.

No, women were not able to vote in federal elections until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. However, this didn’t mean that they didn’t have political ambition or dreams of future equality. Far from it. Very far from it if you consider that the first woman was elected to Congress in 1916. Yes, Jeanette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives from the state of, you guessed it, Montana, not in 1960, but 1916. That’s four years before women gained the federal vote. A woman. Congress. Elected. If a woman could be elected to Congress in 1916, why not shoot for the big office and assume that someday she could be president?

Jeanette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress in 1916

Jeanette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress in 1916

History runs deeper than that, though. It would be false to assume that no one, female or male, had any sort of dreams or ambitions in the political arena whatsoever until—poof!—one day in 1920 everyone decided “Okay, let’s give women the vote”. In fact, the roots of the suffrage movement run deep, deep into the first half of the 19th century. Early women’s rights pioneers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony spent the greater part of the 19th century fighting for the rights of women. They had enough support to fill lecture halls and demonstrations and to make their voices heard at the highest level. They were fighting so that women could participate in government, so why not continue that dream to hope that someday a woman could be the head of that government?

The truth of women in politics stretches even further than that, though. True, women may not have won the vote federally until 1920, but as early at 1869 they were able to vote and participate in government in the western states and territories. Wyoming granted women the right to vote in 1869, and by the end of the century just about every other western state had given women the vote or held referendums to enfranchise them. Again, I propose that the hopes and dreams of the people who supported the movement could easily have extended far beyond just the vote.

Why? And why the West? What made them so advanced and enlightened? Well, one theory was that women were able to have more direct participation in western politics precisely because conditions were neither advanced nor enlightened. Life on the frontier was harsh. In some cases it was primitive and it was lonely. With so little people to tame the land and govern it, women became an essential part of political life. They were sometimes left in possession of land and businesses when their husbands died. Better yet, in some cases they were considered equal partners in enterprising endeavors because the men in their lives had no choice but to count on them. So many women rose to the occasion that their political rights were a natural matter of course.

Mayer-Awakening-1915So impressive was the political power of women in the west and the role that they were given in state and local government, that the suffrage movement back east looked to them as example of what women could do and be and achieve. The Progressive Movement, which is generally held to have started in the 1890s and transformed politics in the early 20th century with platforms supporting universal suffrage, modernization of technology, an end to child labor, and an increase in education, was closely connected with suffragists in the West.

If you take nothing else from this lightning-fast examination of women in politics in and prior to 1900, though, come away with this. Even though women did not gain the vote until 1920, it took decades of work and hopes and fighting and reaching for more to bring public opinion and government around to the point where the work of Stanton, Stone, and Anthony became a reality. So was it unrealistic of me to have a man speculate that his niece could become president in 1900? No! Not at all! And remember too, in 1900, England had a queen, and she wasn’t the first. Women could, and would, rule.

.

Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!