Friday, November 25, 2016

Signs along the Way: Scotland

There are far too many things I could post about on the subject of my recent trip to Scotland. Today, I'm sticking with signs--a wee taste of my holiday!

Our first meal in Edinburgh was in a tiny little shop. After a sleepless 'red-eye', we needed some protein. And, apparently...some chips.

Not so much a sign but a mini-menu on board the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. 

Train station sign along the West Highland Line from Glasgow on the way to Fort William. 

We stayed at a guest house near the ocean in Morar

A great place to hike - the Knoydart peninsula. (Accessible only by boat.) We went just to visit the tea shop and see the highlands from the ocean.

You may not think of gorgeous beaches when you think of Scotland, but you should.  This is the beach used in the movie Local Hero and I made a point of finding it.

How's your Gaelic? GĂ idhlig? This is from Fort William, near Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. 

This was a nice surprise. Yes, IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY. And apparently, it was also the birthday of Glasgow Airport.  I'm not sure which of us is older. But it was definitely a 'milestone' for me.
 Outlander was filming inside the studio that day. 

While it's fun to know that the Outlander series made its home in Cumbernauld, the real reason I wanted to visit the old village was to see where my great grandparents came from. 

This abandoned castle is used as Lallybroch in the Outlander TV series. Filming had taken place two days before we visited and we caught a day when it was actually possible to get up close.

On the top of Castle Rock in Edinburgh is a series of buildings and walls that have evolved into today's Edinburgh Castle. This is the oldest building on site. This pretty much beats any U.S. historic site, aye?

The Writer's Museum, Edinburgh

More Writers... We had high tea next door, but it was fun to peek in the window of The Elephant House on George IV Bridge. (be forewarned, don't expect it to look like a bridge).

So that's part of my special trip as captured in signs. I've longed to go to Scotland since I was a child and even in all my dreams, and all the photos and movies I've seen, it was even more beautiful than I imagined!

Do you take photos of signs (and food) like I do when I travel? I'll be posting more over the next year as I made a point of visiting three places that are settings for upcoming stories! Have you visited Scotland? What did you like the best?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Scary Librarians

We at Inkwell suggest you buy books rather than using your local library. This has nothing to do with our being authors and getting royalties for book sales. It's for your own good. Really.

Those librarians! Tough crowd.

Monday, November 21, 2016

All Aboard the Jarrett-Palmer Express Train

By Susanne Dietze

The train trip in my novella The Honeymoon Express from The Rails to Love Collection was inspired by a real event: the Jarrett-Palmer Express Train, or the Lightning Express!
Image result
Find it here!

After 1869, when Leland Stanford drove the ceremonial Golden Spike connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific rail lines to create the first transcontinental railroad in America, passengers could travel from coast-to-coast by rail. The voyage took approximately one week, at speeds averaging 20 mph.

The week-long trip was incredibly fast for the time, but in 1876, the trip was accomplished--one time only--in just eighty-three hours.

Henry Jarrett & Henry Palmer are the duo responsible for coming up with this amazing event. One might suspect they were in the railroad business, but in fact, they managed a New York theatre company. Eager for a way to promote their troupe, they determined they'd travel to the west coast by rail in four days, where the actors would get off the train and perform Henry V in San Francisco.

It was an incredibly complicated, cooperative effort that required tremendous planning and expense. Naturally, the trip received a good deal of press in the months leading up to the departure--which Jarrett & Palmer must have enjoyed, since tickets to Henry V sold well, too. At last the big day came, and with much fanfare, the train pulled out of the station in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 1, 1876.

To complete the journey in the four-day time frame, trains would have to move at high speeds, and necessary stops would have to be as short as possible. All the way to California, rail workers ensured as smooth a path as possible, clearing the way of debris and diverting other trains onto side tracks so the Lightning Express could zip by. At every scheduled stop, supplies, water, and coal were ready for quick loading, as were staff, including conductors, brakemen, firemen and engineers. Likewise, the engine was switched out five times to avoid mechanical issues.

The Lightning Express must have caused a great deal of inconvenience for the railroads and passengers on other trains, but if anyone minded, they seem to have been in the minority. Day and night, people lined the tracks to get a gander at the train, and several towns shot off fireworks when it passed. Reportedly, a man's funeral was interrupted by the coming of the train; everyone went to look at it and returned to the church to finish the service afterwards. 

Businesses and agencies got in on the act, too. The New York Times shipped its newspaper to Chicago on the train, Wells Fargo put a safe in the baggage car, and the USPS created a postmark for mail that went on the train. 

Being a passenger on the Lightning Express wasn't the most comfortable experience, however. Traveling at a high rate of speed wasn't as smooth then as it is on modern trains. The jarring and jolting made it difficult to sleep, walk, or cook, so most food was served cold. When passengers did manage to catch a few winks, they awoke to cinders on their faces.

To be a coast-to-coast trip, the passengers took the train as far as it would go, Oakland, California, and boarded a ferry to take them to San Francisco. A mob was waiting, even though the train was twelve hours early.

At last, the passengers arrived in San Francisco. Despite a few difficulties with equipment and weather, the Lightning Express completed the trip in just three days, eleven hours, and 39 minutes--an astounding achievement in technology.
The production of Henry V was a success, too, just as Jarrett & Palmer hoped, but the legacy of the express train known by their names is far more lasting as a mechanical achievement, national source of pride and celebration, and a stepping stone for more efficient travel in America. 

For more, read: The Jarrett-Palmer Express of 1876, Coast to Coast in Eighty-Three Hours, by J. C. Ladenheim, Harvest Books, 2008.


A version of this blog originally appeared on Heroes, Heroines & History.

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances. A pastor's wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website,, and sign up for her newsletter for an occasional cheery hello:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WW1 Letters

by Anita Mae Draper

If my header looks familiar, it's because it's the same one on my Facebook Author page. Contrary to what it seems though, I haven't switched my Old West historical fiction for WW1 stories. I enjoy writing about the late 1800's too much.

However, on Nov 25, 2016, it will be 100 yrs to the day that Noah C. Draper answered the call and signed up as a volunteer in what would eventually be called The Great War.

Recruiting Poster, Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve. Courtesy of the George Metcalf Archival Collection CWM 19860131-059

After 2 yrs of posting the 1911 Courtship letters of Noah Draper and Ethel Nelson on my Author Memories blog, the time has come to move on to the next phase of their lives. For those of you who haven't read the letters, they are filled with local news, friends and agriculture details.

The difference between those letters and these ones will be that for the most part, these are from Noah to Ethel only although a few from other family members will be included. Ethel treasured Noah's letters as she received them, and they've lasted these 100 years. Due to ship conditions, however, Noah had problems keeping the letters Ethel sent to him - as you'll find out as he heads out to sea.

The current post shows Noah Draper's WW1 Naval Uniform in which you'll see what he wore on and off ship, and a graphic like this:

Feb 1917 - Ordinary Seaman Nelson C. Draper, RNCVR

 You'll also see the problems I had sourcing his uniform.

On December 4, I'll post the first letter as Noah leaves Ethel and the kids behind and starts his tour of duty as a Canadian serving with the British Royal Navy. If you know anyone who is interested in WW1 history, especially the naval branch, please let them know about this series. Comments on the posts are welcome.

For the writers in the bunch, I've used Noah and my genealogy research earlier in an Inkwell post, Using Genealogy for Story Realism.

I've also guest blogged at Seekerville with the informative post, Liven Up Your Writing With Dead People.

Can I just say that our own Inky Deb came up with the title for my Seekerville post, and those sweet Seekers loved it. (Although they sound similar, they are not the same posts.)

Do you know someone who served in the Great War? I'd love to honor them by having you share it in the comments section on this post.


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yields fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, and The American Heiress Brides Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tough Choices

For about ten minutes, I considered, since this post would go live the day before a highly contested presidential election, that I might talk about politics. Then I slapped myself.

I will say this, though. Many of us are making tough decisions. Let's show a little grace toward those who stand on the other side of the aisle--or who have camped out at various places in the aisle. And prayers for grace and healing for our nation come November 9th, regardless of the outcome.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Have you been searching for a great reader blog?

Search no more! 

Carrie of Reading Is My Superpower (aka Meez Carrie) has just what you’re looking for.

I’ll let her tell you about herself and her blog:

Hi! I’m Carrie aka Meez Carrie
Avid Reader. Book Reviewer. Story Addict.
KissingBooks Fan. Book Boyfriend Collector. ESOL Teacher. Cool Aunt.
I love Jesus and THE Story a whole lot.

Why blog? Considering that my first word was “book”, it was pretty much a given that I would be a voracious reader. Though my tastes have broadened from Nancy Drew, Little House, and The Secret Garden to include a bevy of marvelous genres and authors, I still love to read.  Talking about these beloved books seemed like a natural extension of my superpower, and thus a blog was born.

What can you expect from this blog? Books reviewed honestly and from the heart, written out of my love for stories and my knowledge of what makes good fiction. Interviews with some of my favorite authors. Giveaways of some of my favorite books. Top Ten Tuesdays. Gushing over my latest book boyfriends. (Sorry, oh-so-tolerant hubby!)

The highlight of blogging for me is when I am able to introduce you to your next favorite read or a new-to-you author!

What kind of books do you review? My passion is Christian fiction, but I have a handful of go-to authors in the general market as well. I love to laugh. I love books that touch my heart too. I read both historical and contemporary fiction, and I’m always on the outlook for another great kissingbook! If it’s got suspense, all the better. You won’t find much science fiction/fantasy here, other than fairy tales and the occasional nod to Narnia or Harry Potter. No vampires or werewolves, either.

Do you ever do anything besides read? Not willingly.    Actually, in my other life, I live in Kentucky with my hubby of 15 years and our quirky dog Zuzu (who also happens to be my unofficial official blog mascot).  I’m the long-distance cool aunt to NINE nieces and nephews, and I teach English as a Second/Other Language to International Adults. When I’m not blogging here at RimSP, you can find me at RT Book Reviews Magazine and Straight Off the Page.

One of the most fun things about the blog, besides Meez Carrie herself, is the lively comments section. Lots of book discussion and recommendations and lots of “can’t wait for this one” comments that let you know about upcoming delights you might have missed. Plus, she is very author friendly and loves to give new writers a nod.

And I love Meez Carrie’s lists. For example:

Kissing Books 101
Kissing Books 101, Lesson 2
Ten Books to Read if You Love Jane Austen
Authors I’ve Read the Most
Best Book Boyfriends
Swooniest Heroes
Why I Love Christian Fiction
First Line Fridays (my special favorite!)

And I’m very pleased to see that she is a supporter of the use of fainting couches, something of which we see far too little in these modern times.

So if you’re looking for fun, informative, always-fresh blog about Christian books with a lot of giveaways and other cool stuff, this one is the best I’ve found. Meez Carrie reviews so many books, reading truly is her superpower!

Please note: Meez Carrie does on occasion review or feature a giveaway with books that are not specifically Christian. These books are generally clean, but if there are any language, intimacy or other concerns, she’s very good about stating clearly what they are.

So give Meez Carrie and Reading Is My Superpower a try. Anyone who loves Jane Austen or any of the classic romance writers will especially enjoy it!


Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.