My first novel!
A Soldier’s Embrace is a sweet, yet exciting story. The characters are captivating and the settings are perfect. The dialogue between the characters is well written and realistic. Ms. Romero has written a great historical romance.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Where authors and readers come together!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Victorian Mourning Etiquette

This week’s writing, I found I need information on what the etiquette was for mourning in during the last 1870’s. For anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close, our modern society unfortunately doesn’t give a person time to grieve.
Not so in Victorian times. Society took their cue from her for everything from daily life to the proper mourning of death. When the Queen’s beloved husband Albert passed, Victoria fell apart and took a grieving nation along with her. In fact until the day she died, Victoria never stopped grieving.
America was a little less strict with their expectation of morning a deceased. The length of mourning depended on your relationship to the deceased. Widows were expected to wear full mourning for two years. Everyone else presumably suffered less. Full mourning was black, black and blacker. Black was thought to be the symbolic of spiritual darkness. Death was common and when someone died, the proper attire had to be obtained quickly. Many shops catered to the trade; the largest and best known of them in London was Jay’s of Regent Street.

Opened in 1841 as a kind of warehouse for mourners, Jay’s provided every conceivable item of clothing you and your family could need. And because it was bad luck to keep mourning attire after the mourning period, particularly crape, that meant buying clothes all over again when the next loved one passed. Nice business, huh?
Dresses for deepest mourning were usually made of non-reflective paramatta silk or the cheaper bombazine.

Dresses were trimmed with crape, a hard, scratchy silk with a peculiar crimped appearance produced by heat. After a specified period the crape could be removed, this was called "slighting the mourning." The color of cloth lightened as mourning went on to grey, mauve, and white. This took you into the period called half-mourning. Jewelry was limited to jet, a hard, black coal-like material sometimes combined with woven hair of the deceased or keeping a lock of their hair in a locket. That way the decease could always be close to your heart.
Men had it easy as usual. They simply wore their usual dark suits along with black gloves, hatbands and cravats. Children were not expected to wear mourning clothes, though girls sometimes wore white dresses.
The length of mourning depended on who died. The death of a spouse was deep mourning for two years. If a widow needed to remarry for monetary sake, she could after one year. For children mourning parents or vice versa the period of time was one year, for grandparents and siblings six months, for aunts and uncles two months, for great uncles and aunts six weeks, for first cousins four weeks. While in mourning, social activities were curtailed pretty much until society felt there had been a respectable amount of time.

Photographing the dead also served as a way to remember them, especially with children because the family may not have had time to photograph them in life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Ghosts of Fort Laramie

I love October. The leaves change, the weather dips slightly as only Southern California autumns can and the History Channel hosts their yearly spooky line up. I love Halloween programs!

There is something devilishly fun about being scared. I think my love for it comes from my brother popping out of a dark closet or hiding under my bed to grab my feet as I walked by.

Whether you believe in spooks or not, it seems everyone has a ghost story. Even during my research on Fort Laramie wheeled results of reported hauntings. Since the post was established in 1849, it has said to have been called home, not only to hundreds of soldiers, but also said to be visited by a host of ghosts. The most well-known spirit is known as the "Lady in Green.”

She was said to be the strong willed daughter of an agent for the American Fur Company. I couldn't find her name but the young lady was known to be an accomplished equestrian, her favorite riding habit was made of dark green velvet, her mount, a big black stallion. When it came time for her to leave, she begged to lengthen her visit on the rough frontier. Her father relented on her promise to stay close to the fort. One afternoon while her father was gone, she left the protection of her escorts and rode off on the distant prairie. She never returned. Despite a long thorough search, no sign of her was ever found. To this day, her disappearance is still a mystery.

Since then, her ghost is said to appear every seven years, just east of Fort Laramie on the Oregon Trail. In 1871, a young Lieutenant who was known as a fine horseman, claimed to have been chased down and struck with a jeweled riding crop by a young dark haired woman riding a huge black steed.

The old Captain’s Quarters is also said to be haunted. Built in 1870, it was intended as housing for the commanding officer, but eventually divided into a duplex, when the commanding officer of the time chose to remain in another new dwelling. When a new officer was assigned to the post, he could "rank out of quarter" any junior officer and take the house for himself. Here it is said doors open by themselves, the old wood floor boards echo with the sound of heavy boots and unseen footsteps. Late at night, there have been reports of bright lights coming from inside the facility, even though it has no electricity. This spirit has been nick named George by the staff.

Old Bedlam, the bachelor officers' quarters is also said to be haunted. First constructed in 1849, it is said to be the oldest military building in Wyoming. This entity, thought to be a Cavalry Officer, has been known to walk throughout the building, sometimes telling people to "be quiet.”

The Cavalry Barracks building, built in 1874, once housed hundreds of soldiers in its two large, open squad bays on the second floor. Early in the morning, the sounds of heavy boots can be heard making their way over the boardwalk, incidentally about the time soldiers would have once answered the reveille.

Other ghost sightings around the fort include the form of a young man in a raincoat, still holding a long past conversation...with no one. Also the apparition of a surgeon has been seen, looking irritable, his uniform covered in blood.

At Deer Creek, a small stream running through the fort property, a headless man has been sighted throwing rocks into the water during early morning hours. This ghost is said to be unfriendly and should be avoided.

Southeast of the fort is a place called Bovee Draw. Here, at midnight, witnesses have said to see the ghost of a erratic Civil War soldier. This ghost is also said to be menacing and should be left alone.

North of town, there is a place called Detention Dam. Here, the spirit of a man holding
a blood-splattered sword has been seen staring at the water at the stroke of midnight.

So, if this Halloween finds you alone on the Wyoming prairie, look out for the lone figure of a young woman, still astride her favorite mount, her green riding dress forever flowing in the ever-present Wyoming wind.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Army Wife

Life for women at U.S. Army forts on the frontier was not any easier. Being far away from their families and friends, they were often lonely. Just like any other women at that time, many died in childbirth.

Different classes of women lived or worked at army forts, but they did not always socialize with one another because of the army caste system. In other words, officers’
wives did not befriend other women, such as enlisted men’s wives who often worked as servants for officers or as laundresses for the army.

Of all the women who lived at western army forts, officers’ wives probably had the hardest time adjusting to the frontier because they usually had a pampered upbringing. Like my character Elizabeth, they disliked having no voice in their housing arrangements. 'Falling Bricks' aspect of fort life meant officers received quarters, which was their housing based on their rank and seniority, but they could be “ranked out” of the house by a superior officer. A military wife worked hard to make their cramp quarters into a nice home, but if a new officer arrived at the fort who had a higher rank than your husband, and he selected your house to be his own, the existing family had to leave, and in turn bump someone else of lower rank, then that family would have to move, and so on. They had servants to help with household chores. So they spent their time making clothes for the family, educating their children, managing the household, reading and writing letters, sidesaddle horseback riding, putting on plays, and going on picnics.

Enlisted men’s wives didn't have it as nice. They endured miseries, suffered hardships, and often worked from sunrise to sunset. They took jobs on the forts, usually working as:
1. army laundresses—who washed uniforms and other clothes for soldiers,
2. hospital matrons—who did laundry at the post hospital, or
3. officers’ servants—who cooked, cleaned, and did laundry for officers.

The fort in my novel is Fort Laramie, so the links on forts that I used came from their main site, which is wonderful! They have added a site tour that shows some of the buildings.
Another great resource for me at least has been Libby Custer memoirs. She has three, but the one I resourced was Boots and Saddles. This link has great information on forts and the trail history For information on different bugle calls

As I'm continuing the series, I'll post more links as I run across them in my own writing. If you have any questions, send me an email.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Victorian life an U.S. Army fort

We've all seen the movies of the gallant US Cavalry charging down a hill toward a wagon train being attacked by Indians, or saving a stage coach from outlaws. Just when all seemed lost, the bugle would sound and help was on the way. Army life was no picnic but without the brave men of that long ago era, the move west might never have happened.

By 1844 Americans began to spread out, leaving their towns and crowded cities to "Go West young man." And so the expansion west begin, mostly in the form of long slow moving wagon trains that cut across the long flat plains, the hot dry deserts, along the ridges of the America's majestic mountains.

These families, just as their parents and grandparents before, wanted their own piece of land. By setting forth to explore the west, they encroached on land belonging to various tribes, some hostile, some not, for hundreds of years. The first few years of the migration didn't stir up too much trouble, but as the wagons kept coming, the Indian's began to resent their land being taken. Many tribes decided to fight back in hopes of making the trek West not so appealing.

The United States government decided to establish military posts along the Oregon Trail for the protection of the emigrants. In 1846 Congress approved "An Act to provide for raising a regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and for establishing military stations on the route to Oregon," and Fort Laramie in Wyoming was reborn. Early in 1848 Fort Kearny was established on the south bank of the Platte near the head of Grand Island. Later that year news of the discovery of gold in California raced through the country like wildfire, resulting in fevered preparations to move westward increased the urgency of extending the chain of forts.

Life on a military fort was not an easy one. When the plains were peaceful, It was a life of endless drills interrupted by a series of bugle calls. The calls were so frequent that horses and dogs understood them and even a military wife's life was set by them. Officers may have graduated from a Military academy such as West Point or may have served in the Civil War and had been granted military title for their service. Many of the men who made up the forts regiments were hard working boys, some may have never before ridden a horse or others enlisted to hide their identity. Fighting Indians may have seemed glamorous but the excitement soon wore off as week long campaigns turned into months.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Hi, Welcome to my historical writing blog! I hope my advice for writing will help you get from that frightening blank page to a 300 plus word novel and onto the book shelves, whether web based or real.

Congratulations! You've decide to follow your life long dream of writing your novel. Some people have the idea in their head for years before finally putting it down, while others contemplate the notion, but get overwhelmed with where to start. I find the best way to start your novel is plot it out before you start to write. To start at the basics, your novel will need to breathe with life, so choose a topic you're passionate about. If you read a lot of science fiction, romance or political/legal thrillers, for instance, that's a great place to start. In other words, use what you know.

The genres these subjects can fit into are endless. If you have a great legal murder mystery but you want to throw in a romantic twist, go for it.

Writing is a solitary activity so choose some place where you're comfortable and you can get inside your head without being disrupted. For me, all noise making instruments must be off, with beverage and chocolate within reach.

Okay, ready?

Your novel, whatever genre you decide, will need a beginning, middle and satisfactory end. If you're planning on a trilogy, that's great, but word of caution, it's easy to get overwhelmed plotting book two before you've even written book one. Like my mother always said, "first things first."

I am a historical romance author. Once I get down the basic bones of a plot, I begin to research. Now, warning-I'm a research nut. I easily get bogged down in the fact finding and find an hour has gone by and I haven't written anything, but I have found the most amazing information on 19th century hairstyles for women. If that is your genre as well, a word to the wise, make sure your facts are accurate. You don't want an other wise great novel rejected because of a scene where someone is cooking and pulls their pot roast out of the oven when gas stoves wouldn't be around for another 20 years.

Novel research whether online, library or interviewing involves much more than 10 seconds with Google or a quick interview over lunch. Research is called re-search for a reason:  repetitive and continuous searching. Why do you need to re-research? Because even though it's on the internet, doesn't mean it's correct information.

Here are a few steps to researching:

1. It's best to combine "hard" and "soft" research for the best broad search. Hard research is proven facts, figures or statistics, where soft research is opinion based, cultural or personal experiences. By combining the two you get the whole enchilada. Take for example if you have never had a baby but you are writing a scene where your main character is a doctor and helping delivery a baby. The medical information of terms, techniques, instruments make the character shine as a doctor, but your soft research of what a person goes through while giving birth make the scene realistic.

2. Use Different Search Engines and Keywords

Here comes the legwork. Google is great, but there are other search engines out there that can help broaden your search. Use 3-5 keyword combinations. Stay patient and keep changing your keywords., Clusty, Surfwax are a couple great engines or you can try the US Government Library of Congress.

3. Bookmark and Stockpile any possible content you wish to keep.
This sounds like a duh, right? You find this great site on cars of the 50's but you forget to save it and can't remember where you found it. Bummer, right? Get in the habit of bookmarking the site as soon as it looks interesting. This can be slow, tedious as you organize your information into necessary piles so you can easily find and sift through them later.

4. Filter and Validate the Content.

This is the slowest but most important step of all. You must filter and examine all your information to make sure it's correct before you site it or use it in your novel.
Carefully consider the author or source, and even the date of publication. Is the author an authority with professional credentials? Does the page have its own domain name like NASA or is it an obscure page or someones blog?

Be patient, skeptical, curious, and double check. Now, get to researching!  If you have any questions, you can email me. Good luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who wrote the book on love-and why?

I've fought being a romance author. Silly, isn't it? Romance book sell far more than any other paperback or ebook out there, and they're so fun to write. So why do, I find myself pausing when it comes time for me to say I write romance. Why? What's wrong with romance? Over the summer I had a book signing in San Diego at a writing conference. When a woman came up to my table and and with a smile asked me what romance author inspired me to write my book. Though my novel is considered a romance, the authors that popped into my head weren't romance writers. I thought of my two current favorites, King and JA Jance.

Okay, yes, I do write historical with mysterious sub plots woven through. As much as I love to research my period, the sex scenes are the most fun to write. I love the touching, the discovering, the blushing, the tingling skin just burning to be caressed. Who doesn't remember a time when you discovered those feelings. Those new feelings of raw lust and want are the reason men and women have affairs. They yearn to be rediscovered and to discover.

I remember how embarrassed I was when my mom and dad read my first book. I imagine it's as hard for parents to picture their kids having steamy bed messing sex as it is for us to think of our parents doing "The dance without any pants." Okay, so I don't write bodice ripping scenes where the heroine throws her forearm across her head and swoons naked into her gorgeous lovers arms. Not because I'm prude but only because they're not historically accurate. If an English nobleman met that fiery vixen, he'd have to get through close to and depending on the era, ten petticoats before he could feast upon the family jewels.

So again, I ask myself, why do I feel embarrassed to say I believe in the notion of two falling head over heels in love. I'm lucky to have experienced that wonderful feeling several times in my life, so why not write it? Finding romance or if you just enjoy the chase lowers our stress levels, it's good for our heart skin and mind. and with all that is happening around us at this time in our lives, we're lucky to have it, right? As a society we spend countless hours in search of that special someone to grow old with or if you would rather, Mr. right now.

So, really who doesn't want that? And if you can, why not write about it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Time for the resolutions

Well, that time has come again. I prefer to believe the magic this new year possesses is much like this beautiful spring like January we have here in San Diego. Birds are chirping, the sky is bright blue as far as human eyes can see. Life is good in our new house.

A neighbor found out that I was an author and brought by a biography her aunt wrote back in the 70's about her childhood here in our new town. I loved it! The road we now live on was named after her great grandfather, a pioneer farmer who at one time plowed and grew crops on where our house now sits. She wrote about her first car ride, the night she saw her first aeroplane, how patriotic America once was during the first World War.

Their life was so different in the hard work they all had-back breaking labor that gave you a sense of pride when they went to bed. I thank you Merry for sharing your Aunt's life with me. Now, back to researching West Point.