Category: Behind the Book

The Indian Agent’s Wife

Regina Jennings

Secluded from civilization, grossly outnumbered by hostile neighbors, but expected to keep up the appearance of a proper Victorian household—that was the task of an Indian Agent’s wife.

While Mrs. Daniel (Ida) Dyer’s white “verandahed” house was charming, just past her lawn was open prairie with hundreds of white tepees. In her book Picturesque Cheyenne and Arrapahoe Army Life before the Opening of Oklahoma, Mrs. Dyer notes that the village consisted of many noted warriors—warriors that were discontent with reservation life and not very fond of her husband. Also surrounding the agency town of Darlington were thousands of bleached and rotting bones that had accumulated over the years when the Indians tore apart their weekly beef rations. Not what the granddaughter of a U.S. Representative and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois was expecting out of married life, but Ida Dyer was made of stern stuff.

Even though Darlington in the 1880s included a hotel, a commissary, a mission school and a newspaper office, its population was limited to white people who had government permission to live there. Even visitors were sent away unless they had authorization. Mrs. Dyer and the agency employees did have a social life consisting of occasional parties and gatherings with the officers’ families from nearby Fort Reno, but entertainment came second to survival. While the wives of the officers at the fort could count on military protection, the agent’s wife was to offer a level of hospitality to the Indians that often left her vulnerable.

In one instance (which is included in my latest book Holding the Fort), an outlaw band of Cheyenne warriors took up arms. The agency employees and missionaries left Darlington and raced to the fort, but Ida remained at her husband’s side as he worked to get the proper reports completed before abandoning his post. Daylight disappeared and with it their hopes for safe passage to Fort Reno. The streets belonged to the Cheyenne, but the Dyer’s trusted Arapaho friends convinced the rebels that the Dyers had already fled. Understaffed and hopelessly outnumbered, the troopers at Fort Reno didn’t dare leave the fort to attempt a rescue. That left the Dyers as prisoners in their own home for two weeks, crawling past windows and unable to even light a fire for fear of being discovered.

But despite her fear, Ida found much to admire about the people she and her husband were serving. Thanks to her eye for detail and her amusing anecdotes, we can see her love for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and her concern over the difficulties being forced upon them. Unfortunately, her husband’s ineptitude led to a short tenure as the agent in Darlington. Years later, when he read her published account of their experiences, he gathered every copy of the books he could acquire, burned them, and then divorced Ida. Thankfully, a few copies survived.

While Agent Dyer didn’t appreciate Ida’s recollections, we certainly can. Thanks to Ida Dyer’s firsthand account, we get to meet many women of the west who would’ve otherwise gone unsung.

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for Holding the Fort, Regina’s new release.

Award-winning author Regina Jennings is a homeschooling mother of four from Oklahoma. She enjoys watching musicals with her kids, traveling with her husband and reading by herself. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. Her latest release, Holding the Fort is the first book of the Fort Reno Series.

She loves to hear from readers at her website – http://www.reginajennings.com and on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Holding the Fort

Fort Reno Series Book #1

Jennings Winningly Combines Humor, History, and Romance

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out. 

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

Welcome Guest – E. E. Burke

Thank you for having me back as a guest on Petticoats & Pistols!

This December, I have the privilege of being part of an exciting new series inspired by a familiar Christmas carol.

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year.

Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms.

Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle? The countdown starts on Christmas Day.

Where’s Noelle?

The mining town where the Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides series is set is a fictional place, but we drew inspiration from the history of Leadville, Colorado. This mountain boomtown located ten thousand feet high in a valley of the Rockies, became famous for its silver mine. But the town actually got its start when gold was discovered there around 1860. The stream gorge, named California Gulch, instantly became the site of a 49er’s style gold rush, with crude dwellings and businesses (supplies, saloons and whorehouses) springing up along the narrow gulch.

Two years later, the gold ran out and miners abandoned the town in droves. It stood deserted for thirteen years until another prospector became curious about the black sand and underlying rock and had a sample assayed, which proved to be carbonate of lead rich with silver.

By 1877, the silver rush was on! The town’s name came from its lead and silver mining. Later, copper and zinc would be shipped out of the mineral-rich valley.

The story of mining communities like Leadville and even our little fictional town of Noelle are strikingly similar. The moment precious ore was discovered, the town would boom, almost overnight. But few of these towns survived past the initial rush. Those that did faced another challenge: connecting their towns to the rest of the world. As the railroads advanced across the country, connecting east to west and establishing a faster, cheaper way to move goods and people, communities vied to attract the railroad, knowing it would make the difference between thriving or becoming a ghost town.

In our series, Noelle faces both of these challenges, and the men living there come up with a clever plan to save their town.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, written by twelve bestselling authors, put a new twist on an old song in a heartwarming historical romance series.

The Partridge by Kit Morgan – A clever man’s plan becomes a matchmaking disaster…and the countdown begins to save the town of Noelle.

The Dove by Shanna Hatfield – A bewitching gypsy and a beguiled blacksmith tangle over a hidden treasure…with only eleven days left to save the town.

The Hens by Merry Famer – A wandering woman finds exactly who she was looking for, but not who she was expecting…with only ten days left to save the town.

The Calling Birds by Jacqui Nelson – A wanted woman’s flight leads to a man in pursuit of honesty not stolen gold…with only nine days left to save the town.

The Gold Ring by Caroline Lee – A dangerous masquerade and a twist of fate put Noelle’s future at risk…with only eight days left to save the town

The Goose by Peggy Henderson – A woman on the run, a man who doesn’t want to be caught—it’s one wild goose chase…with only seven days left to save the town.

The Swan by Piper Hugely – A beautiful woman with secrets comes to Noelle to confront a powerful person with the truth…and only six days left to save the town.

The Maid by Rachel Wesson – A convicted murderer, a young maid on the run…with five days left to save the town.

The Dancing Lady by Mimi Milan – A desirous diner owner and a disguised dancer waltz their way to love…and only four days left to save the town.

The Lord by Danica Favorite – An assayer and a ladies maid, each living a lie. Will the truth ruin everything…with only three days left to save the town?

The Piper by Amanda McIntyre – A determined matchmaker, a stubborn mountain man…and only two days left to save the town!

The Drum by E.E. Burke – A bad luck bride, an exploding disaster…can Noelle be saved in just one day?

You can check out this series by joining our awesome Facebook group. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire just for joining!

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? What is it, and why is it your favorite?

I’ll give away a copy of the first book in this series, The Partridge, to one lucky commenter!

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical and contemporary romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in. Find out more about this author and her books:

Website | Amazon | BookBub

Welcome Guest – Karen Kirst

CHRISTMAS AND ROMANCE GO HAND IN HAND

There’s something magical about falling in love at Christmas. When I write Christmas romances, I strive to inject special touches that bring the holiday spirit alive for the reader. A Lawman for Christmas is my fifteenth book for Love Inspired Historical and the final installment of my long-running Smoky Mountain Matches series. While secrets abound, as well as a mystery that isn’t solved until the end, I tried to weave in elements that celebrated the season. My hero and heroine—the town flirt and an avowed spinster—join other young people for a ride through Gatlinburg’s mountains on a crisp December night, serenading local farmers in exchange for hot spiced cider. What could be more romantic than cozying up to a handsome deputy in a hay-strewn wagon bed, singing Christmas carols together beneath a canopy of stars?

Once a lost little boy is introduced into the story, there are many opportunities for traditional holiday past times. Baking cookies, sipping on cinnamon-laced hot cocoa, riding into the mountains in search of evergreen boughs. I enjoyed describing the characters making pomanders, which are oranges and apples decorated with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. I could almost smell the fragrant fruit.

One particular winter scene consisted of snow before Christmas—not common in this area of East Tennessee, but hey, it’s my story—and an injured little boy longing to go outside and play. Like a true hero, Deputy Ben fills a copper basin with snow and brings it inside. He and Eli make miniature snowmen together, a kind act that thaws Isabel’s heart.

There are gifts exchanged and of course, mistletoe. A holiday story time for the children, followed by sweet treats to delight young and old. A Christmas Eve pageant that celebrates the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the true reason for the season. I hope that I succeeded in imbuing the story with the joy, goodwill and hope that characterizes the holidays.

The Gift of Family 

Committed to her spinsterhood, Isabel Flores isn’t about to trust a man with her hard-won independence or her heart—especially not lawman Ben MacGregor. But when a little boy is abandoned on her property, the so-called “Debonair Deputy” of their small Tennessee town helps her care for the child. And Isabel begins to hope he might be more than just a handsome flirt.

Ben is well aware of Isabel’s aversion to love and has his own secret reasons for avoiding relationships. But as he and Isabel do their best to make the holiday special for their young ward, Ben wonders if he could be a family man after all. Will this Christmas be the first of many for Isabel and Ben’s little instant family?

*****

Karen is giving away one copy of A Lawman for Christmas. For a chance to win, leave a comment about what you like best about Christmas romances.

Oh, there are so many things . . .

SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS–AND A GIVEAWAY! BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl PiersonHi everyone!  Here come the holidays! The impending season and all the preparation for the meals has got me thinking, as it does each year–and I know I’m not alone.

Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment.

Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it.

It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how.

Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.)

Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life.

Sweet Texas ChristmasMy mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them.

It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR.

Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? Be sure to leave a comment along with your contact information for a chance to WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS!

I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.

• ? •

My latest WHR novella, KIDNAPPING KALLI, appears in the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS Christmas anthology, SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS. This anthology contains four SWEET Christmas tales that mention a sweet Christmas treat somewhere in the story–and the recipes for those wonderful goodies are also included. My heroine, Kalli, is half-Cherokee, half-Irish. She makes Cherokee fry bread–and if you’ve never had good, hot fry bread you don’t know what you’re missing! Other authors in this anthology are Stacey Coverstone, Sarah J. McNeal, and Marie Piper.

What happens when a former Texas Ranger is hired to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy landowner–or else? He does it–but then finds himself in quite a predicament. Here’s what happens when he goes for water in the darkness:

EXCERPT:

As Shiloh neared the creek, he stepped on something in the darkness. He heard the rattles just as the surprised snake sank its fangs into the side of his leg, two inches above the top of his right boot.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” He stepped back quickly, his mind only just now absorbing the fact he’d been struck—and there was no doubt, it was a rattler. No point in trying to shoot it—he couldn’t see in the darkness. He pulled the matches out and struck one, but the snake had slithered away.

Numbly, he knelt and filled the coffee pot. Probably the last brew he’d have in this world.

Stuck in the mountains with a girl he’d kidnapped who spoke no English. Damn it. He’d not figured on living to a ripe old age, but sure as hell hadn’t thought to cash it all in at twenty-eight, either.

As he hurriedly stumbled back into the firelight, he saw Kalliroe had spread his bedroll on the ground near the fire and was adding more wood.

She glanced up, and instantly was on her feet, running to him, taking the coffee pot from his nerveless fingers. So much for keeping calm—she’d read something on his face—and he hoped to hell it wasn’t the harsh terror he felt. He tried to calm himself.

“Kalli…listen…I got snakebit—a rattler—” He pointed to the place in his denims where the fangs had penetrated. Would she light a shuck out of here? Leave him to die alone? He couldn’t blame her if she did, could he?

Maybe…dammit. If he could only make her understand why he’d taken her…for a father that loved her…

“There’s…a cave a couple more miles from here, but I’m not sure if it’s clear—safe—got animals in it—” He was talking fast, trying to get it all said—and for what? She didn’t understand. And she wouldn’t be needing shelter—she’d be heading back to Talihina…

Was she even listening? Of course not. Time was running out. Snow was on the way, now—he could smell it.

“Show me,” she said.

He cocked his head, wondering if the venom was working on him already. But she’d rolled up his bedroll and had begun to put the fire out. She gathered the wood they’d not used yet, and located a rope on his saddle, lashing it together quickly and tying it to her horse.

Pouring the water into their canteens to fill them, she looked at him again. “We need to go,” she said softly.

“Shiloh. Shiloh Barrett.” He moistened dry lips. “Just in case.”

Impatiently, she shook her head, understanding he thought she might need to know his name for the undertaker. “Let’s go, Shiloh Barrett. I will help you. And you will tell me what this is all about. 

• ? •

I’m giving away two digital copies of SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS, but just in case you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link!   http://amzn.to/2hrasn5

 

 

Welcome Guest – Erica Vetsch!!!

Are you anticipating Christmas yet? Only about six weeks to go. (I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but…Christmas!!)

This month, my newest novel, A Child’s Christmas Wish released. This story is set in the pioneer town of Berne, Minnesota, and the characters are immigrants from Switzerland. And if anyone knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s the Swiss. Even in the harsh realities of frontier living, they found a way to celebrate the joys of the season.

One of the Swiss Christmas traditions I found most interesting was the widespread use of Advent Calendars. Swiss parents use Advent Calendars to teach their children patience and anticipation in equal measure. They want their children to learn that anticipating an event can heighten the joy of its arrival.

Swiss Advent calendars can take many forms from opening a little window to reveal the day to lighting a new candle each night to building a Christmas train, adding a car each day.

In fact, in some Swiss villages, the whole town becomes an Advent Calendar. Each evening beginning on the first of December, a different citizen hosts the day’s Advent party by decorating and opening one of the ground-floor windows of their home. Hot drinks and treats are served through the window to their friends and neighbors, carols are sung, and much fun is had by all. The next night, it is someone else’s turn to host.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to bring a neighborhood together?

I love that so many of these traditions were brought to this country by immigrants brave enough to strike out for the New World, bringing the best of the Old World with them as they traveled.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you have any Christmas Traditions based upon your family’s origins?
  2. Do you have a special Christmas recipe that you only bring out during the holidays?
  3. Do you use an Advent Calendar?

Answer any or all of these questions in the comments to be entered to win a copy of A Child’s Christmas Wish.

About the book:

A Baby for Christmas The only Christmas gift Oscar Rabb’s four-year-old daughter prays for is one the widower can’t provide: a baby sibling. And when his neighbor’s house burns down, he’s willing to open his home to pregnant and widowed Kate Amaker and her in-laws—but not his heart. Even if his little girl’s convinced Kate’s unborn child is the answer to her wish.

Kate quickly sees the generous but aloof Oscar has little interest in growing closer to his houseguests. Still, she intends to make the coming Christmas a season to remember for his daughter. And as Oscar starts to open up to her, Kate can’t help picturing just how wonderful the holidays—and a future together—might be.

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

Welcome Guest – Keli Gwyn

 

When—and Where—Leland Stanford Hit the Mother Lode

You might be familiar with the name Leland Stanford, founder of Leland Stanford Junior University. Perhaps you know that Stanford, Sr. was one of the “Big Four” who founded the Central Pacific Railroad, part of the transcontinental railroad that linked east and west. As a native Californian, I also know that Stanford was one of the Golden State’s early governors.

Leland Stanford as a young man

What I didn’t know is where Stanford got the money that funded his many ventures. Well, I didn’t, that is, until I wrote my final Love Inspired Historical, Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which releases this month. My research provided the answer.

Stanford passed his bar exam in 1848 and left his native New York for Wisconsin, where he practiced law for three years. In 1852, he headed west to California, where his brothers had opened a shop for miners in Cold Springs, just down the road from where I worship today at Cold Springs Community Church. Although that shop didn’t do well, the Stanford brothers did end up making a good deal of money selling supplies to miners.

Leland Stanford later in life

In 1859, Leland Stanford took the Union Mine in the town of Sutter Creek as payment for a customer’s debt, renaming it the Lincoln Mine. He was ready to write the mine off as a loss, but Robert Downs, the mine foreman, persuaded Stanford to give the mine one last chance.

Listening to Downs was one of the wisest moves Stanford made. Within a year, a major vein of ore was tapped, and the Lincoln Mine began to produce. Between 1860 and 1873, over $2.2 million in gold was taken out. Stanford eventually sold his interests for $400,000.

Sutter Creek 1853

Stanford used his proceeds from his Sutter Creek mining endeavor to help fund the Central Pacific Railroad, which contributed even more to his growing wealth. He went on to become the first Republican governor of California and serve as a U.S. Senator. As mentioned earlier, he and his wife founded Leland Stanford Junior University, where my retired teacher husband earned his Master’s in Education.

Discovering Stanford’s ties to the small Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek was a wonderful surprise. I enjoyed working this historic figure into Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which is set there.

Sutter Creek Main St west

This story will be my last because I’m retiring from writing so I can spend more time with my great guy. The first big adventure my husband and I embarked on after I turned in my final edits was to take a road trip to Colorado. We saw some great places on the way there and back. I foresee more trips in my future.

I have two copies of the book to offer as a prize. To enter the giveaway, which runs through November 4, answer one of the following questions in a comment.

  • If you retired, what would be one of your first adventures?
  • If you’re already retired, what was your first major undertaking?

.

A Christmas Match 

The best Christmas possible—that’s what Lavinia Crowne intends to provide before taking her orphaned nieces and nephew home to Philadelphia. But carrying out her plan may be harder than she expects, with their handsome, stubborn uncle, Henry Hawthorn, insisting on raising the children in rough-and-tumble Sutter Creek, California. Lavinia can’t bear to lose her late sister’s children, though, or go against her father’s demand to bring them home.

Henry believes his nieces and nephew need affection and security more than a lavish lifestyle. But as the children conspire to bring their aunt and uncle together, a new vision fills his head—of future Christmases spent with sweet, determined Lavinia and their growing family. Can three little matchmakers, and the spirit of the season, bring the gift of a very happy beginning?

Making a List for the Perfect Wife…or Husband

 

Are you a list-maker?

Pen and InkA wonderful friend of mine, when she was young, made a list of qualities that she wanted in a husband. She wrote it on purple paper with purple ink (The color purple is kind of her thing. Her house is varying shades of lavender…along with her garden…her clothes…and her Christmas tree decorations.) She put the list away and forgot about it. It survived through many years and several of her moves.

A few years ago after she’d been happily married for more than fifteen years, she came across her list. Lo and behold, the man she married after meeting him on an internet dating site turned out to fulfill all the qualities she’d long ago written on her list. I thought that was pretty amazing. And I decided to use the same idea in my book that is coming out in late December.

As you may remember from some of my other posts on the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Society of Oak Grove has been busy sponsoring mail-order brides for the many lonely bachelors in the area.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, takes place in the spring of 1879 in Kansas and the good doctor is in need of a nurse. Nelson Graham figures that by marrying a smart, resourceful woman, he’ll get both—a nurse and a wife. It’s a win/win situation, or so he thinks. The first train-load of women have come and married men in the town and he sees that they are all quite happy. So, with the second train-load of women, he is set to make a play for the perfect woman for him.

Here is an excerpt ~                      

Left to himself, Nelson considered the notes he’d made earlier that day and withdrew the paper from his vest pocket. It was a “wish list” of sorts. Likely, no woman would meet all his expectations, but perhaps it would help him stay on course as he considered each of them.

  • Amiable.
  • Biddable.
  • Able to take constructive criticism.
  • Skilled in the domestic chores: cooking, laundry, cleaning, sewing and gardening.
  • Willing to work by his side as his nurse.
  • Quiet. He didn’t want a woman who disrupted his research or his daily habits.
  • Willing to put another’s needs ahead of her own.

He’d added the last as a cautionary point, remembering his fiancé. He’d thought they were compatible in all things, but then suddenly she had broken off the engagement, unable to accept the numerous times he’d been called away to help someone who was ailing.

He wouldn’t let that happen again. What he needed was a practical woman as his wife. She didn’t need to be a raging beauty, but like any man, he wouldn’t mind if she was pleasant to look upon.

He tucked the paper back into his pocket and headed to his office. Now, all he had to do was interview the ladies, one at a time, and see which one came closest to fulfilling his wish list.

I hope you enjoyed that short passage. As for list-making, I think there are those that are prone to making lists and those who keep everything in their head. I tend to be someone who has a list for everything – shopping, daily chores, books I want to read, goals for the day, the month, the year and on and on. Then of course there is the infamous “bucket list!” Even though I don’t always meet the goals I set, they are at least in front of me (making me feel guilty!)

What about you? Are you someone who makes lists and if so—what are the things on it?
What type of qualities would you list for the perfect mate? 

For those who comment, you will be entered into a giveaway drawing for a copy of
Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Welcome Lena Nelson Dooley

It’s with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome back to the Junction, our week-end guest blogger. Lena Nelson Dooley, who will share with you the story behind the story and her research for A Heart’s Gift!

Love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My first trip to Colorado was in October of 2004, and that’s when I fell in love. I taught a retreat at Silverthorne in Summit County, not far from the Continental Divide. I was mesmerized by the beautiful mountains. The weather turned really cold, and a light snowfall dusted the higher slopes that I could see from the windows of the house where the retreat was held.

If the person I was talking to was between me and the wall of windows, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on that person. The mountains kept pulling my attention away. Breathtaking isn’t a strong enough word for what I saw when my eyes wandered. I decided that I wanted to set a book in Summit County. While I was in Summit County the first time, I bought a book about the history of the area.

A Heart’s Gift came out in December of 2016. When I write, I work hard to make the book authentic to the time period, which was 1893. Silverthorne wasn’t even a town at that time, but lots of both silver and gold mines were located in Summit County. Some small and owned by individual miners. Some had been bought by mining companies and were large enterprises. In addition to the book I bought when I was there, I also looked on Amazon for any historical books. There are at least two series of books that contain not only information, but also actual photographs taken in different time periods.

A treasure trove of details is available online and in books. I used a lot of them to recreate the area in 1893. I bought the Images of America book of photos in Summit County. These included photos of Breckenridge, which was a thriving town with mines and cattle ranches close by. I learned a lot about the area, and I was able to actually visualize the town and surrounding area.

Of course, the characters in my novel and the ranch are completely fictitious. Here are a few of the things that are authentic:

  • Capital Bank of Denver
  • Details about a cattle drive
  • Shipping cattle by rail to Swift slaughter house in Chicago
  • The baby furniture, the high chair and the cradle (I found these in a historical Sears catalogue I already had)
  • The Ladies’ Book Club in Breckenridge
  • The Arlington Hotel (but I fictionalized the owner and the special suite for mine owners)
  • The Breckenridge Bakery on Lincoln Street that actually did make cream puffs at that time
  • Vaudeville show – The Face on the Barroom Floor
  • Stamp mills, throbbing beat
  • Ladies spent a lot of money on hats

As a reader, I love when there are authentic details in books. I think most other readers do, too. That’s why I do so much research. I want readers like you to get a real picture of the history of the time when my books take place. I’ve written a lot of western historical novels.

I’d love for us to chat some, so I’m going to ask you some questions to get us started.

Do you as a reader like to know that the historical details are authentic? 

What time period do you prefer reading about? 

Who is your favorite western author?

A Heart’s Gift received the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for long historicals. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of the book. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a Free copy of Kindle for Apple (computers), Kindle for PC, Kindle for tablets, or Kindle for Android phones where you can read the book.

 

Buy links:

Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV

Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym

 

Where to you get your ideas…a fable

It’s a recurring question I get, Where do you get your ideas.

For a long time I just thought it was one of those impossible to answer questions.

Then I decided I’d better figure it out and I came up with a nice little explanation for where I got my ideas.

Where do you get your ideas????????????????

Now, lately I’ve decided I’m misunderstanding the question. People don’t really mean ‘where do you get your ideas.’ Instead I think they mean ‘how do you get it all together.’ Not how do you get the idea for the book, but how do you get all the details figured out, put in order, set up so the story whizzes along. Now THAT is a mysterious question. My mom says it this way, “I don’t know how you do it.”

And it is a little strange not just that ideas come to life in my head, or I read something and it sparks an idea for a whole book, that happens a lot. But all the pieces, all the DETAILS, that’s what I think people are really asking when they say, “Where do you get your ideas.”

Anyway, while I pondered this I got to thinking about all the strange elements that need to come together to create a full length book, with characters who are three dimensional and true to themselves,

Shipping from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all online booksellers, and in bookstores NOW!

who learn and grow. Characters who have trouble in their past that cause struggles and fears in their present. And I was thinking about the DETAILS of that and how the Cimarron Legacy series came to life and I remembered some of what sparked the idea for the book.

And this fable I read popped into my head. This fable is my own slightly fictionalized version of a TRUE fable I read. About a real mesa that had sheer sides and no trail to the top…with a city on top of it.

And the fable of how that city got up there and where the people went who build those buildings on a mesa with no way up.

So I am sharing today, a legend that was in NO WAY UP and included it in this post to give you an idea of one of the many, many steps I took to create a four book series.

Then once the mesa was explained, we had the adult and very TOUGH children of a rancher. This second generation is fighting to save the ranch while the father is healing and a LONG TIME GONE.

And included in my research of these New Mexico mesas, I found; Spanish Land Grants. a war that changed the borders of two nations, the Philmont Scout Ranch…and I found GOLD. Yes, I have a gold mine, an old one, dug deep, in fact some might say they dug TOO FAR DOWN!!!

All these elements wouldn’t even FIT in one book. So I’m glad I had four. Don’t forget the free novella prequel, which is coming out in print next year if you don’t read ebooks, but it’ll cost money then! 🙂

The Boden Birthright The story that began it all. Free in all ebook formats.

Too Far Down, book four of this series released this month. To celebrate I’m pondering the whole series and I remembered one of the original elements and this old fable, twisted by me, to make it fit my story.

The Myth of el Caletra Meseta

“It’s a very ancient legend, handed down by the old ones who lived atop that mesa and they had a hidden way into the heart of the mountain.”

“The men were hunters and the women tilled the soil. They would come down from on top of their impregnable fortress every day, do their work, then return to el Caletra Meseta to sleep. A single man, standing guard, could fight off an army. Our home here at Meseta Blanco is the same.”

“And then one day the Evil Below the Earth shook the world until it split apart. The hand of the Evil One reached up and dragged the stairs into the belly of the earth as if they’d never been. It came during the day so many were off the mesa top, but the villagers who were trapped on high faced death as their food and water dwindled. They called out to the Creator of All Things.

“Their cries were answer. The Creator came as a great wind, swept them up and carried them in cradling arms to safety. Though they had carved the stairs and could carve more, they believed the stairs collapsing was a warning and they feared He would not send the wind the next time, and they would be stranded forever. They found other homes and many of their stories vanished along with them. But this one remains.”

The story of el Caletra…a myth grounded in truth.

All civilizations have myths. Tell me one you know to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Too Far Down.

And if you’d like to keep up with my book news, please sign up for my newsletter HERE

http://www.maryconnealy.com  

Updated: October 19, 2017 — 8:24 am

Shelley Shepard Gray: The Story Behind The Book

We’re very happy to welcome Shelley Shepard Gray to the corral for a visit. She’s going to give us an interesting overview and the background of her newest book Love Held Captive

 

Every so often, I come across something while doing research that surprises me. Discovering that there was a Confederate Officer POW camp on Johnson Island, in the middle of Lake Erie, was one of those things!

Months before that discovery, I had been making dinner with my husband and told him about my idea for a series. I wanted to focus on a band of brothers who made a vow to be there for each other after the War Between the States. One idea led to another, and by the time we sat down to eat, I had the outline for a three book series.  The leader of this group was Captain Devin Monroe. I knew he was going to be the heart and the soul of this group of men. So well respected, he was almost larger than life. All of that was good. I just couldn’t figure out how the men had formed their bond. I came up with several scenarios, covering everything from being neighbors to meeting during basic training, to forming a bond during specific battles.

Then I discovered the POW camp on Johnson’s Island. During my research, I read one thing that stuck with me-that the best of the Confederacy was being guarded by the worst the Union had. I learned that these officers were carted up to Sandusky, Ohio by train and marched across the ice to Johnson’s Island. Then, these generals and captains and first lieutenants were essentially left to govern themselves. They made gardens, they whittled, and they cared for each other. One group of men even wrote a play. I knew right then and there that I had my men’s bonding experience!

Of course, no matter how much it differed from other encampments, it was still a POW camp. Dozens of men died while being incarcerated and the officers buried them on the island. When the war ended, groups from several southern states raised funds so the men would have tombstones. The cemetery is still there.

Right before I began writing the first book in the series, my husband and I drove up to Sandusky and visited a Veterans Home. A kind gentlemen took us up to the third floor of the museum there and showed us the many artifacts that remained from the camp. Then, after a few wrong turns and more than a couple dead ends, we finally found the Confederate cemetery. The site of it took my breath away.

People ask all the time how much research I feel I need to do for my historicals. For me, the story and the characters always come first…but the experience of actually being where my characters might have walked? Well, for me, it was priceless.

Love Held Captive is the last book in my Lone Star Hero’s Love Story series. It features both Captain Devin Monroe’s and Major Ethan Kelly’s stories. It takes place in San Antonio at the Menger Hotel and on Johnson’s Island. At its heart, it’s a romance about two men and two women who truly deserve their happiness. But it’s also about perseverance and grit. And about surviving, forging friendships, and clinging to hope in even the darkest of circumstances.  I hope you will enjoy the book.

Here’s the link to the website, so you can get a copy in your favorite format.

http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/love-held-captive/

We are very pleased that Shelley is giving one reader, who leaves a comment,

a boxed set of her series.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015