Monday, March 27, 2017

Cultural Fun Facts as experience can be bold and fun

If I listened to the news all the time from around the world, I'd go mad and always live in fear. But that's so not me. Like my character in my novels, I'm curious about life and generally think people are good. I'm the only white American my age I ever met that went to Iran. Now yes I went to meet the in-laws, as that's the right thing to do, but I made my husband take me to the cultural sites too. I had a lot of fun, but this isn't about an old vacation. IT's about mixing in traditions and today I want to talk about the Sofreh Aghd. It's in the picture above, and Persians set up a special table for all the events. This is my and my husband at last year's where I was super pregnant.
Did you notice the colored eggs, cookies, honey, flowers, and apples? If so let's talk about them as Easter is about to hit us soon, and the same symbols are used for that too.

Now 3000 years ago (possibly more/possibly less), the Persians believed in one god, not many. People get confused with the Greeks all the time. And every year in March, it's time to celebrate new years, Nowruz. If you ask what year is it for the New Year, this can start a political discussion so it's best to not have that one as it depends on which calendar the celebrator follows and there are more than one. Both agree on the date for New Years. 

On the sofreh, you have all these symbols. Apples are for beauty. The mirror brings the light of God. Candles represent enlightenment. Cookies represent sweetness of life. Eggs represent fertility. And it's now tradition to go and get your picture taken at the Sofreh because it's beautiful and set up in celebration. 

For our wedding, we also had a Sofreh as it was easily combined into our wedding because really, does anyone object to beautiful settings?

So after St. Patrick's day in the US and before Easter, my family has this tradition too. Personally I will include anything I find beautiful in my own life.

And ohh did I mention I have a new book out in March called Keeping the Spy? I'm so excited about the story.
Liam has been in love with Sherry his whole life, but he's never had the courage to speak to her. He can shoot down enemies, take out foreign governments as a CIA spy, but he can't tell the one woman he ever wanted how he feels. Now she's in deep trouble and she needs help. So Liam is going to have to face his fears and save her.
Barnes and Noble

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Beauty Of Change

Okay, I know what you’re saying…change can be beautiful? No way. I’m inclined to agree with you. I’ll be the first person to say I am not a fan of change. It can be disruptive and overwhelming to your peace of mind. But in life as in writing, change is inevitable.

So when I recently had an unexpected change occurred in my life, I found myself searching for a way to find something good about change. And what I found was not only good, but beautiful.

First I thought about the changing seasons. If you live in the north where it snows a bunch, you probably love it when winter changes to spring. My favorite season is the fall. By the end of a long hot Texas summer, fall is a welcoming change in both temperature and scenery.  Good thing…right?

Then I thought about change in my family life. I’m a grandmother of three beautiful girls and I can’t imagine my life without them enriching it. Each are special and different in their own way. But if I’d never met my husband, who knows where my life would be. I thank God every day for those blessings.  

I considered the changes I’ve seen at my church in the years that I’ve attended. We’ve seen pastors come and go. Each brought value to our church. Youth pastors have moved on to serve other churches and members have gone to be with God. My life has been blessed by each of them.    

Then I thought about my writing. I’m so happy to be called a Christian writer, but if I’d never taken the chance to enter a Love Inspired writing contest would I still be searching for my place to serve God? Getting my first Love Inspired Suspense contract confirmed what I believe God wanted me to do with my writing.

In my upcoming June Love Inspired Suspense, Deadly Memories, both Ella Weiss and Kyle Jennings’ lives are changed forever when they meet per chance outside of a destroyed compound in the desert of Afghanistan.

Will it be for the better? Find out. Deadly Memories is available for preorder at Amazon:

So, if you are going through change in your life, or your career, take a moment to look back on the changes you’ve gone through so far. I bet you’ll see the fingerprints of God throughout it all. 

While change is always hard and can turn your life upside down, as I’ve looked back on my life, I’ve realized change has always moved me toward good things. And looking at it now, I can see God’s hand through it all.
A little about Deadly Memories:


Amnesia may be keeping Ella Weiss from remembering her past—but not from saving the little boy who's been her fellow prisoner the last seven years. After managing to escape her cell, all she wants is to find where little Joseph is being kept. Instead she runs straight into CIA agent Kyle Jennings. Kyle isn't sure if Ella is actually a kidnap victim or if she's working for the gunrunner he's been after. One thing he is certain of is her uncanny resemblance to the wife he thought he'd buried. To save a child's life and stop a terrorist from slipping through his fingers, he'll need to uncover the secrets of Ella's past—and whether or not she's really the woman he's never stopped loving.

And a little about Mary:

Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Mary Alford grew up in a small Texas town famous for, well not much of anything really. Being the baby of the family and quite a bit younger than her brothers and sister, Mary had plenty of time to entertain herself. Making up stories seem to come natural to her. As a pre-teen, Mary discovered Christian romance novels and knew instinctively that was what she wanted to do with her over-active imagination. She wrote her first novel as a teen, (it’s tucked away somewhere never to see the light of day), but never really pursued her writing career seriously until a few years later, when she wrote her first Christian romance and was hooked. Today, Mary still lives in Texas, and still writes about romance. In fact, she can’t think of anything else she’d rather do. Learn more about Mary Alford at: where you can sign up for her newsletter. Also feel free to send her an email to

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter.

Sweet Romance Reads Newsletter


And remember to join the Sweet Romance Reads Cafe too.


All the best…


Mary Alford

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Victorian Fashion: New Colors

by Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author

This article contains a drawing for an autographed book!
Seasons come, seasons go...and every season brings new colors in fashion, household furnishings, car paint, advertising...

You won't be surprised to learn that "new colors" aren't so new. Our American Victorian ancestors had "new colors"--some with fancy 'new' names--every season.

Here is a parade through vintage newspapers, beginning in 1872, Kansas, where a dressmaker had all the new fall shapes for hats and bonnets in the store...everything from ribbons to feathers. Sage Green, Bronze, Reseda, Grayish-Green, Plum Color, Dark Bottle Green, Shaded Blue. So popular and fashionable! Don't forget--that's Mrs. Taffe.

The Wyandott Herald of Kansas City, KS, October 17, 1872.

In 1882 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sharpless & Sons advertises the "present and coming styles" in millinery (hats) and handsome stockings included: "Ispahan" (delicate cream mull), "merry apple" and "sorrowful sage". Other fashionable shades: Cardinal, Terra Cotta, and Ivory.

The Times of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 28, 1882.
I must say this 1884 advertisement in National Republican of Washington, District of Columbia, caught my eye. I've long known that ladies gloves were often colorful...but this list trumps all others. Notice these new colors, just in time for Easter: Nile green, leghorn, lemon, elephant, marigold, Havana, taboc, French gray, cadet, sage, fawn, and mushroom.

National Republican of Washington DC, April 10, 1884.

So many "New Colors"! But not in 1886. According to an advertisement in The Record-Union of Sacramento, California (November 2, 1886), "there has been really but one new color introduced in Dress Goods this season." HELIOTROPE.
The Record-Union of Sacramento, California, November 2, 1886.


Thank goodness the ad then clarifies they also offer "a dark shade of Heliotrope, almost a plum..." That, I can picture.
Wikipedia: "Heliotrope is a purple-pink tint that is a representation of the color of the heliotrope flower. The first recorded use of heliotrope as a color name in English was in 1882."
In 1888, Maynard's Dress Goods announced (Freeport Journal-Standard of Freeport, Illinois) The New Colors: Copper (light and dark), Mahogany, Apple Green, Sea Foam Green, Goblin Blue, Boston Blue, Morocco, Strawberry, and New Cardinal.

Freeport Journal-Standard of Freeport, Illinois on April 4, 1888.

New Colors for the summer of 1890 were: Cuba, Fawn, Cedar, Russett, Chocolate, Walnut, Oak, Cinnamon, Coffee, Calf, Havana, and Tan. Twelve new colors--all looking "brown" to most men. Different shades, maybe, but all...brown.

Note that Ruben (the men's hat shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who advertised in The Pittsburgh Press) offered hats in all twelve new shades! "Many were the expressions of admiration and praise upon the varied and beautiful assortment of new shades which we opened last Saturday. The most exacting and fastidious customer went away a pleased purchaser. It would be to the interest of every gentleman contemplating the acquisition of a Colored Derby to inspect our magnificent stock before making a selection."

The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 9, 1890. Part 1.

The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 9, 1890. Part 2.
The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 9, 1890. Part 3.
On the other side of the country--Pacific coast this time--"Some New Colors" were defined by Nellie B. Ward in The Record-Union of Sacramento, California on June 22, 1890 (just six weeks after the fancy hat advert was inked in Pittsburgh). Thank goodness for the definitions...I'd never know that "Encore de chene" is a deep tan nor that "Morron" is chestnut. Who knew?

The Record-Union of Sacramento, California, on June 22, 1890.

I enjoyed writing a heroine who owned her own dressmaker's shop, just prior to turn of the century (1899). She wore widow's weeds but sewed fashionable clothing in a variety of trending colors for her customers. Don't let MaybeThis Christmas fool you--it's not only a Christmas story. In fact, it's one of those all-season tales that reminds us that with the changing of seasons comes a new opportunity to try new things, risk a little, and maybe--just maybe--fall in love.

DRAWING: I want to give away an autographed paperback of Maybe This Christmas to TWO entrants! (I'll substitute a kindle edition if winner is outside the United States OR if the winner prefers a kindle edition over the paperback). To enter, answer the following question (scroll down and reply in the field provided)--or reply with something similar--your thoughts to "new colors" in the fashion world. Winners will be posted early tomorrow morning (26th) right here and in "the cafe". Good luck! Be SURE to check back to see if YOU won!
Are you fascinated with new colors each season?
What colors are catching your eye in the clothing stores, now that Spring is officially here? 

Did you know? I gave an exclusive novella in this same series (This Noelle) to my newsletter subscribers. It's yours, immediately, just for subscribing--easy peasy--and if I ever bug you, it's easy to cancel. (But you might want to hang around a while. Every newsletter contains a drawing for CASH, and other stuff like books, and every year, another exclusive novella only for subscribers.)

Same thing with our Sweet Romance Reads Newsletter--a free set of short stories, just for joining! Easy to opt in, and easy to opt-out (but why would you?--we're a lot of fun!).

Hi! I'm Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author.
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down) about the nineteenth century American West–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Romance Reads, Sweet Americana Sweethearts, and Romancing the Genres.

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.

Website | Email | Newsletter | Twitter | Pinterest | g+| Facebook Profile | Facebook Fan Page | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC