Monday, January 25, 2016

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper ends Feb. 1

Blogpost for Debbie Lynne’s blog – Jan 25, 2016

Austin’s Capital State Fair

By Anita Mae Draper

Since my novella, Romantic Refinements, is set near historical Austin, Texas, I spent days researching the time period and general area for events that I could use in my story. The State Fair would be perfect for my story because I wanted my main characters to wander on the fairgrounds during the afternoon, and then make some personal discoveries during the evening’s dance.

The problem was that my story was set in 1882, but all references to the Texas State Fair placed its origin in 1886. Here’s what the Texas State Historical Associations’s Handbook of Texas has to say about its origin:

STATE FAIR OF TEXAS. The Dallas State Fair and Exposition, to which the present State Fair of Texas traces its origin, was chartered as a private corporation on January 30, 1886, by a group of Dallas businessmen…”

Well, that wouldn’t work, so I went back to researching. About this time, the other Austen in Austin novella authors were discussing where we would locate the one feature common in all of our novellas – the   Jeanette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies. From that, the Hyde Park area was bantered around so I dug around there to see if I could use it.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a Wikipedia article stating, Located approximately twenty blocks from Austin's original town site, the area now known as Hyde Park was largely rural in character for much of the 19th century. The State Fair of Texas was held in the eastern sections of Hyde Park from 1875 until it was moved to Dallas in 1884.”

And then while checking out the Austin History Center, I found this old glass negative showing the State fairgrounds with its racetrack, grandstands and spectators located at Hyde Park.

State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park J302 - Courtesy of
There were more mentions of the Capital State Fair in Austin, such as this message from Michael C. Miller, Manager, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library in response to a question about the State and County Fairs and Expositions. Mr. Miller states, “The Capital State Fair was held in Austin 1875-1884 on the Fairgrounds in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin. For a good overview of the fair, see chapter 1 of "Austin's Hyde Park" by Sarah and Thad Sitton (Pecan Press, 1991). Information about this fair can also be found in Frank Brown's "Annals of Travis County.”…” and then he added a list of available resources, most of which I haven’t been able to locate online.

However, his mention of “2 exhibit catalogs (1878 and 1884)” sent me searching the ranks of Google Books, which is where I found an image of the cover of the 1884 Capital State Fair Programme & Premium List, and the accompanying text which states, “The Capital State Fair of Texas, predecessor of the Dallas State Fair, was held in Austin from 1875 through 1884.”

Cover of Capital State Fair 1884 Programme & Premium List

I found the above image in the book, Texas Furniture, Volume Two: The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840–1880 By Lonn Taylor and David B. Warren, and although I don’t normally post images from books, this is the only image I could find of either of the aforementioned 1878 and 1884 catalogs (also called exhibition list).

The reason for furniture being included in a state fair listing was because it was one of many options available for exhibitors. I’m not sure if contemporary state fairs have commercial furniture exhibits, but usually, there is a chance to enter your own hand-crafted treasures, such as woodworking, needlecrafts, and other creations, in the general, youth, or schoolwork categories of  local country fairs.

While still in Google Books, I saw a blurb using the phrase, Capitol State Fair. So, I changed my search box to reflect Capitol instead of Capital, and I found the Premium List for the Thirty-First Annual Illinois State Fair to be held at Chicago, September 24-29, 1883, with this image inside:

State and Other Fairs, 1884

There it was, near the bottom, listed in second-last place:

TEXAS – Austin – Capital State Fair Association, Oct. 7-11

My research as far as there being a State Fair in Austin in 1882 was complete – there certainly had been one even it isn’t recognized as such in the Texas State Historical Associations’s Handbook of Texas.

When you read my Austen in Austin novella, Romantic Refinements, I hope you enjoy the chapter(s) on the State Fair, because once I’d established that there had been one, my next task had been to research exhibits and midway entertainment. Research fun never ends.

Giveaway – a digital copy of Austen in Austin Volume 1

Anita Mae Draper's stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she's not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita's current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016.  Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at

Monday, January 18, 2016

Patriot Heart by Diane Kalas ends January 25th

Please welcome Diane Kalas to my blog this week. Diane is giving away an e-copy of her book to one lucky winner. Be sure to leave a comment along with your email. And let me know if you are a feedburner follower for an extra entry!

Why I wrote PATRIOT HEART: back in 1990-91, a US military operation called Desert Storm took place in the Middle East. Not long afterward, the veterans involved returned home with invisible scars that later became known as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The heartbreaking stories about the men and women who couldn’t keep jobs or relationships soon became a regular feature on the nightly news. The shocking numbers of veteran suicides have increased over the years.

I write historical fiction and wanted to know how Civil War veterans who suffered with the same symptoms of PTSD were treated. Nineteenth century doctors diagnosed those afflicted with the condition as Soldier’s Fatigue. They offered bed rest in a soldier’s convalescent home, or recommended a discharge and a train ticket home. Often the soldier had a note pinned to his uniform, giving his name and destination, because he was incapable of communicating. Let the veteran’s family deal with the troubled man. If the family couldn’t handle their loved one, suffering acute mania, for instance, then the Government Hospital for the Insane in Washington, D.C. (St. Elizabeth’s) was the destination. Two cemeteries on the grounds of St. Elizabeths hold hundreds of Civil War soldier’s remains today. 

As my story idea came together, I especially wanted to write my hero, Dan Goodman, as a strong Christian and show how he dealt with the horrors of Andersonville Prison for Union soldiers. Perhaps a 21st century veteran’s spouse, mother, sister, or girlfriend will read Patriot Heart and see there is hope for their loved one. Hope for the future in God, the Father, and salvation through Jesus Christ, His son.

                                   DUTY COURAGE INTEGRITY

May 1865. All Dan Goodman wants is to marry an uncomplicated girl and have a family, but the war interfered and he became a POW who now believes he’s losing his mind and unfit for marriage. He dreams of Oregon to put the memories behind him. The problem is he owes a debt of gratitude to the beautiful songstress. In addition, Clara Barton wants him to be a witness for the prosecution in the first trial for war crimes in American history.

                            INDEPENDENT ENTERPRISING FEISTY

Letty Talbot is a world-weary steamboat songstress, and wants a new direction after sudden loss. Letty decides to run a supply depot for emigrants going out West, and talks Dan into a partnership where he builds the prairie schooners. Letty won’t admit she wants to keep Dan from leaving. Even though they butt heads a lot, no man ever interested Letty as this one did.

                                          TRUST LOVE PEACE

If Letty marries Dan she losses her depot, because married women have no property rights. Letty must learn to trust God with her future. Dan must forgive fellow Union inmates who killed for selfish reasons, and face the commandant of Andersonville Prison in a court of law. Allowing his Oregon dream to fade, he can then embrace the future God planned for him.


Diane collects antique books written by men and women who lived through the American Civil War, and/or who pioneered out West. With a degree in interior design, she enjoys touring historical sites, especially Federal era homes with period furniture. Diane is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Published writers Pamela Griffin and Gina Welborn have been critique partners and mentors. Diane’s biggest challenge is writing Inspirational Historical Romance. Her biggest distraction is her fascination with historical research.

Connect with Diane here:


Monday, January 11, 2016

Susanne Dietze interview and PRIZE PACKAGE GIVEAWAY!

Where are you right now (LVR, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.

Funny that you ask, because I just moved the computer into the dining room. Normally I write in the office, but I have a deadline; this probably sounds stupid, but I think I churn out first drafts faster in the dining room! I am wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, slippers, and my favorite socks of all time—they came from Dick’s Sporting Goods. They are aloe-infused acrylic and they are so soft and warm. AND they are heathery-gray/beige with a few red stripes at the top, so they remind me of sock monkeys, which I love.

What is the funniest, strangest, or most interesting thing you have learned when doing research?

I’m always thankful for the health and food regulations we have now. In 19th century America, you could buy a can of potted chicken from a major manufacturer (still in business) that didn’t have any chicken in it. In Georgian England, rich people’s servants either consumed or sold their masters’ used tea leaves. Enterprising salesmen bought the used leaves and mixed them with leaves and sheep dung, and then resold them. And people brewed it.

What is something that very few people know about you?

I like buying fun stamps at the post office. No offense to the flag I love, but I prefer to send correspondence using stamps of Pixar movies, circus animals, or Civil War battles. There’s a cute stamp out now that says “From Me to You.”

What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: ipod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)

What a tough question! I can’t pick just one thing, so I’ll say our Christmas ornaments. Every ornament is a memory: something the kids made in school, a gift from a friend, a memento from a trip. They are so precious.
If you could live in any time period other than the one we live in, past or future, when and where would that be and why? When I think of going back in time, I have to add a few caveats: I’d want to be there a short time, and I’d need to bring Purell and ibuprofen. That said, I think it would be fun to see Regency or Victorian England, or ancient Palestine, or Gilded Age in the US. Then I’d want to come home and put on my warm acrylic socks. If you were writing a book about your life what would the title be?
That’s a toughie! How about Mended. Along my life path, I’ve been broken and fixed a few times. Some things won’t be completely mended until I get to heaven. Same with all of us, I imagine.

What one novel did you read that made you want to be a part of the story?
Austenland. It’s a story about a woman who inherits a trip to a Regency-themed experience vacation in England. She gets a Regency wardrobe, sleeps in a grand manor, has some adventures, and meets her own Mr. Darcy. I already have my own Mr. Darcy, of course—my husband—but I don’t think he’d mind joining me on a paid trip to England where we get to stay on a grand estate, especially if we could tour cathedrals afterwards. What is the biggest secret you ever kept (of course it can’t be a secret anymore)? Nothing I can share! What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? It’s not crazy to me, but my husband and I talked marriage less than a month after our first date. We were engaged after two months and married thirteen months after that. We were fresh out of college and people may have thought we were nuts, but it was what worked for us.

What do you do for fun? I love going to movies, museums, and tea houses. And reading, of course!

I’m offering a giveaway: The One Word From You prize package! It contains a copy of my new release, novella collection Austen in Austin Volume I (including my story, One Word From You); The Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey; and a small notebook. Enter using the Rafflecopter form on my website, Contest runs through 11:59 pm PST Jan 15, 2016. Void where prohibited; USA only.


Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Susanne is the author of six new and upcoming novellas. You can visit her on her website,

Susanne’s Links:







Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

One Word From You:

This third Austen in Austin novella is based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Urged by her family to marry for the sake of their dwindling finances, Eliza Branch prefers to pay for the remainder of her time at the Austen Academy by writing for the local paper. There’s plenty to write about now that railroad baron William Delacourt has come to Austin. His proposed northbound line may be good for local business, but she’s still stinging from his terrible first impression. If the rumors about William are true, then he deserves to be skewered in print. But when Eliza’s pen gets ahead of her conscience, it’s William who makes everything right—and the reasons behind his sacrifice just might be the story of Eliza’s lifetime.

e-book link: