Council Bluff, Iowa – Travel Memories

Council Bluffs 2In a small place in Iowa on one trip, I learned something interesting.  Often Canadians claim Americans don’t know much about Canada.  I didn’t often see that.  But once in Council Bluff, with a just over 60,000 population I did.

Being as it was summer and a busy time for tourists, my husband parked on the side of the highway and had me run into a motel to see if there was a room available with truck parking.  There was, so I booked a room.

The woman looked at my registration and asked, very puzzled.  “A Calgary, what’s a Calgary?”  (Not where’s Calgary, but what’s a Calgary).  Now I was puzzled – surely it said city or town – or had I misread it.  But just laughed and said ‘A city in Canada (no sense saying Alberta I thought) only about 10 times as large as Council Bluff.’

It was funny to me.  I caught a glimpse of not knowing something about a country beside you.

Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Toothpaste

The Toothbrush: -

blue toothbrushNatural bristle brushes (toothbrush) were invented by the ancient Chinese who made toothbrushes with bristles from the necks of cold climate pigs. French dentists were the first Europeans to promote the use of toothbrushes in the 17th and early 18th centuries. William Addis of Clerkenwald, England, created the first mass-produced toothbrush. The first American to patent a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth and many American Companies began to mass-produce toothbrushes after 1885.  The Florence Manufacturing Company was also the first to sell toothbrushes packaged in boxes. In 1938, DuPont manufactured the first nylon bristle toothbrushes.


Toothpaste: - 


Toothpaste most likely originated in China, Egypt, and India more than 6,000 years ago.

China: –  twigs and bones were mashed and mixed with water, salt, and flower petals to form a thick paste. This paste was then put on the end of a sharp bamboo leaf and applied to the teeth. This proved to be a very effective treatment for gingivitis.

Egypt: -  a mixture of mashed salt, crushed pepper, wet mint leaves, and dried iris flowers.

India: - Special twigs were used for brushing and each twig was naturally filled with a sweet nectar. By chewing the twig and rubbing it against the teeth, India became renowned for its white teeth,fresh breath, and clean mouths.

Hard to believe, but most Americans did not brush their teeth until Army soldiers brought their enforced habits of tooth brushing back home after World War II.  But since it was around for centuries, I’m sure a health conscious person could be brushing their teeth much earlier.  I would suggest not having toothpaste tubes or manufactured brushes in historical novels.

Easter Memories create Spring Fever

One Dance with a Stranger - Front CoverThank you for joining in the fun of the Spring Fever Blog Hop. Meet other authors of romance. Win prizes and participate in the chance to win a free e-book of One Dance with a Stranger, my contemporary western romance.

A Rafflecopter giveaway


230px-Pussy_willow_branchSpring Fever means Easter memories – Growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, myself and my many siblings were still required to attend Mass, especially on Easter Sunday. The weather was much nicer now and once back from church I would discard my new Easter dress for my beloved jeans and I would go out to catch my horse.

I say catch because he didn’t just come when called. Mostly I used oats, because Bond loved oats. But at Easter there was chocolate. Bond loved chocolate even more.

So, I would put my chocolate into my back pocket and he would meekly follow me back to the barn, trying to get into the pocket. Even though it was one of the only times I got chocolate I always shared it with my horse, who loved chocolate too.

Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Cars

Attempts to invent cars were done as far back as the 17th century.

Steam Cars: -

In the 1800′s people mainly worked on steam cars.  Karl Benz, the inventor of numerous car-related technologies, received a German patent in 1886. In 1871 Dr. J. W. Carhart in Wisconsin used a steam powered vehicle on the existing wagon roads. 

Steam-powered automobiles continued development all the way into the early 20th century, but the dissemination of petrol engines as the choice in the late 19th century marked the end of steam automobiles except as curiosities.

Electric automobiles: -

Flocken elektrowagen

The Flocken Elektrowagen of 1888 by German inventor Andreas Flocken is regarded as the first real electric car of the world.

Electric cars enjoyed popularity between the late 19th century and early 20th century, when electricity was among the preferred methods for automobile propulsion, providing a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time.

The Ford Motor Company, reduced prices of gasoline cars to less than half that of equivalent electric cars, led to a decline in the use of electric car. However, in recent years, increased concerns over the environmental impact of gasoline cars, higher gasoline prices, improvements in battery technology, and the prospect of peak oil, have brought about renewed interest in electric cars, which are perceived to be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to maintain and run, despite high initial costs, after a failed reappearance in the late-1990′s.

Internal combustion engines: -

1885-built Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the first car to go into production with an internal combustion engine.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Karl Benz built his first automobile in 1885 in Mannheim. Benz was granted a patent for his automobile on 29 January 1886, and began the first production of automobiles in 1888.

There was an abundance of experimenting and inventions but cars were not used in the Western prairies until well into the 1900′s. So if you are writing before the 1930′s in the west it is doubtful there were many gas stations out on the plains.

Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Manufactured Canned Goods

Indian Head pictureIn 1790 a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert pioneered the process of canning food. He applied heat to food in sealed glass bottles. In 1810 – Peter Durand -based on Appert’s methods, packaging of food in airtight – tin-plated wrought-iron cans were patented.

It wasn’t until 1901, the American Can Company was founded and produced canned goods in tin cans.

When researching, especially in western North America it is important to know when grocery stores were in the places your write about to even sell canned goods. It probably wouldn’t be earlier than the 1900′s.  But our ancestors obviously did Appert’s method, long before they could purchase canned products in any store.  So home-canned goods could have been produced in the west by the 1800′s.

Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Telephone

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.  However the telephone required extensive and many innovations to make it a household item.  In the cities and urban areas telephones started becoming common in the late 1920′s and 30′s. Telephones didn’t become ordinary, especially in western Canada rural areas until the 1940′s and 1950′s. The first telephones in rural areas were party lines where neighbors could gather and gain news without visiting. Although they had individual crank rings (remember one-ringy-dingy, two ringy dingy’s – telephone operator Lily Tomlin or the Carol Burnett Show?) or maybe not.  That’s a little old too.

With George - Monteray Park

Nothing seems to have advanced or improved during people’s lifetime more than the telephone.

Country Charm Blog Hop – March 20 to March 25

SpringTime Country Blog Hop

“Thank you Sara Walter Ellwood for the opportunity to participate in this exciting Blog Hop on my most favorite of characters – the cowboy.”

The Grand Prize is a $100 Gift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice)

In the cold blustery weather of a 2013/2014 Canadian winter, my mind wanders to our spring.  Today thoughts of spring long ago brings the memory of my mother’s Mother’s Day flowers. My dad would go out to the pastures and bring back a bouquet of the loveliest of flowers.  Tiger-Lily grew wild in the northern prairies, looking delicate but so hardy.

But there is something else that dominates my scope as well. I watch cowboys, no longer bundled in their heavy coats as they appear.  Open shirts, brawny shoulders, lean hips and tight jeans flood my vision. My inspiration has arrived. What’s a girl supposed to do, except appreciate this change of events?  When a cowboy stops to talk or just smile my heart quickens. Anticipation, like  spring, is reborn, alive and vibrant.  I long for the mysteries spring promises and delivers.  Every spring it’s easy to create yet another of my own special cowboys to love and cherish.

I am giving away one e-book for One Dance with a Stranger. For a chance to win One Dance with a Stranger  please contact me at:

Subject: One Dance with a Stranger.

Giveaway ends March 25th.  

Visit all Blog Hop Authors and their Cowboy Stories

Sara Walter Ellwood                   Tera Shanley                                     Krista Ames                Aileen Fish                                   D’Ann Lindun                                    Liberty Ann’s                                                                                                                             SnifferWalk books

Harlie Williams                           Lorraine Paton                                   Sarah Kades               Musings from the Keyboard      Kristina Knight                                   Savannah Young         Andrea Downing                        Kathleen Ball                                     Randi Alexander         Romancing the West                 Jeanine McAdam                               Lily Graison                 Words, Words, Words              Christi Williams                                 Shanna Hatfield           Charlene Raddon                       Alethea Williams                               Kara O’Neal (Bucket                                                                                                                  List)                            Gem Sivad                                  Rawhide and Sundown                     Abigail Sharpe

My Cowboys

One Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. Forbes
Wade Hart: - a superstar country singer, a man filled with charm and the ability to take whatever he wants.  Emily Van Sheldon, a girl who grew up on the streets and is determined enough to never allow physical attraction interfere with her new life, free of chaos and poverty.  

Hawk's Gift by Mary M. Forbes

Damien Larocque: -  a dangerous but irresistible drifter and maybe just too good-looking for his own good.   Roberta Taylor, a wealthy, stubborn woman is determined to change this cowboy she is so attracted to.  

Alberta Wild Rose by Mary M. Forbes

 Dale: -  with a bitterness that  makes him callous at times,  he has a chip on his shoulder. But sheltered Alberta Rose O’Neill sneaks beneath his skin and he can’t believe he is attracted to and wants to protect this lady.

Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Jeans

As far back as the 15th century, Genoa, Italy was famous for their cotton corduroy.  From this material they developed another twill fabric that became known as ‘de Nimes’.  (denims). But it wasn’t used to make jeans at that time or even for a few centuries after.


In North America denim was used mainly for cowboy and miner’s pants because of its’ strength,manufactured but not called jeans.  In the mid 1800′s Jacob Davis contacted Levi Strauss to suggest a patent  be put on his added idea of putting copper rivets to re-enforce the points of stress on the denim pants Strauss was selling.  In 1873 Levi Strauss brand jeans were sold.   Jeans continued to be used by cowboys and miners until the 1950′s when they started becoming popular for everyone.

In my book, Hawk’s Gift which takes place in the 1880′s, I was relieved that I could write:

 ‘He wore tight jeans, as though denim had been invented specifically for him.’Hawk's Gift by Mary M. Forbes

Author Blog Hop – Who I am.

Thank you Sherri Hayes -  for letting me participate in this Blog Hop

Never Pick a Pretty Woman

What I am working on now: –  I am doing another contemporary romance, Never Pick a Pretty Woman – using my imagination to think of what obstacles and stereotypes they might encounter if they are so beautiful people might have no interest in looking below the surface.

I am also working on another project – a story of abuse, losing all trust, grief and trying to escape. This project is more difficult and I have put it aside a few times.  At this point I don’t know whether the title will be ‘Seraphim‘ or ‘Our Darkest Hour‘. Opinions would be greatly appreciated.

How my work differs from others: –  There is always my settings which are quite unique.  I have heard  that Canadian History and even Canadian life is not interesting. I know that’s not true.  I love the rich interesting history of the west and I love living in Calgary, The New West.  I also work hard at developing characters who are consistent and sometimes fun.  After extensive reading, I think there are many characters who forget to have fun in their story.

Why I write what I do: –  I have so many stories floating around in my head it can be confusing.  Writing the story down helps me focus  - then I release it so it isn’t clogging up my head and start another. I suppose I write like many others – because I have to. I write Romance because I love stories of hope and people being happy not depressed.  If I’m depressed myself,  I want to read something that doesn’t depress me further and many stories do.

One Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. ForbesHow my writing process works – After much procrastination (checking Facebook page, or e-mails) and after a few smart steps (setting up my coffee the night before – so I don’t need to wait long for the magic brew) I will sit down and write.  I try to put challenges on myself – things like writing a 1000 words a day to writing a chapter a day.  I try to have the research done – a very rough outline (one sentence chapter prompts) but mainly I write what is in my head and dreams.  Those sentences seem to help me keep the story in line in case I drift off course, which I’m apt to do.

Check out my website to see more  ‘In Dreams we can be anyone we want’

Next Friday check out these authors as they share their writing process

Mahrie.Mahrie G Reid - writes mystery/romance fiction. As Mahrie Glab she is also a freelance non-fiction writer and instructor/facilitator for creative writing courses.After a hectic real estate appraising career in Calgary, Alberta, she enjoys the slower pace of her writing career and her activities in the writing community. She resides in central Alberta near the alluring rural Alberta foothills.
Her training and public speaking experiences include:

  • A general novel writing course, a creative writing workshop and an awakening your talent workshop for Powerhouse, Pembina Consortium in Drayton Valley.
  • A mystery writing course at Metro Community College in Edmonton
  • Workshops for international writing conferences as well as writers groups throughout the province teaching creative-writing, writing-craft and motivational/goal setting topics:
    • ARWA Romance Writers’ Conferences
    • Victoria Romance Writers’ Conference
    • 1999 University of Calgary, Journalism Conference

Check out her blog here

Glass People ImageJumbled Writer  - has a book dealing with the troubles young people have to deal with in a modern, chaotic world.  A failed comedian named Fred Isaac hopes to resurrect his image by starting a support group for those considering suicide. With a dark past of his own, Fred gathers together a group of four strangers: America (a fierce businesswoman and mother), Ruth (America’s quiet and depressed daughter), Meredith (a costume designer with a guilty conscience), and Len (a theatrical teenager trying to understand his world). Using multiple narrators, each group member exposes the secrets that have been holding them hostage as they look to turn their life around in this dark comedy-drama.

Check out his blog here