Category: Telegraph

Heart on the Line – Excerpt & Giveaway

It’s release week! WooHoo!

Heart on the Line is finally available for purchase. The third story in the Ladies of Harper’s Station features our shy yet she-carried-a-derringer-in-her-handbag heroine Grace Mallory who has been using Harper’s Station as a refuge to hide from the man who killed her father.

Now when it came time to find the perfect hero for Grace, inspiration came from a source close to home.

The romance genre in general is dominated by alpha-male heroes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good alpha, but this time around, I wanted to switch things up a bit and remind readers that sweet, caring guys can be swoon-worthy too. Maybe it ties in to the fact that my own hero in real life is a glasses-wearing, bike-riding, computer nerd. His passionate love for me and our family, his devotion to God, his kind demeanor, and his dry sense of humor make him my ideal man. So when I started crafting Amos Bledsoe, Grace’s “online” suitor (on the telegraph line), I followed the same pattern. As a telegraph operator, Amos is a 19th century technology nerd. He prefers bicycles to horses. He wears spectacles. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sacrifices himself for those he loves without regret. A true hero in every sense of the word.

Here’s a excerpt that shows them courting over the wire before they ever meet in person:

It was him. Mr. A. She’d recognize his quick touch at the key anywhere. So crisp and precise. A metronome couldn’t create spaces any more rhythmic. She’d long admired his deft hand at the key. Setting her tea on the table, Grace slid into her office chair, a giddy tickle in her stomach despite her best efforts to maintain a sense of detachment.

Yes, Station Dn. I’m here.

Excellent! I worried I had waited too long to call. Dinner at my sister’s took longer than expected.

I hope you didn’t rush away on my account, Grace tapped.

I was eager to escape. Believe me.

What dastardly plague did they set upon you? Grace grinned to herself as she tapped out the words. Mr. A always seemed to have a humorous story to tell about his family, his life so wonderfully normal that whenever she listened to him, she managed to forget all about danger and unseen foes. For a few blessed minutes, she was simply a girl talking to a young man, no worries in sight.

I dare not tell you, for fear of spreading the contagion. It seems to strike the women around me with alarming regularity.

Intrigued, Grace leaned forward. Surely the distance between us will serve as adequate protection.

My mother and sister have both been afflicted for some time, I’m sorry to say, but tonight their symptoms worsened.

That sounds dire, indeed. Did you call a physician?

No point. There is only one cure to their ailment. And apparently I am the one who must distribute the healing dose.

Then you should do so at once, Grace replied, grinning as she reached for her tea. Mr. A never failed to entertain.

I would, of course, he said, but I find the key ingredient in the required elixir to be frustratingly elusive.

Can you not simply visit a druggist?

I’m afraid not. You see, the item I must find in order to cure this plague of interference is . . . a wife.

The tea Grace had just sipped spewed from her mouth to splatter over the table in front of her. Coughs spasmed in her throat.

A wife?

A strange fluttery sensation danced through her belly. So, he wasn’t married. Why did that particular piece of knowledge please her so well? Her hand trembled as she reached for the key. She had to make some kind of response to that. But what exactly should she say?

I’m sure they only have your best interests at heart.

They do. But a twenty-eight year-old man doesn’t really want his personal life dictated by his female relations.

Twenty-eight. A man in his prime. A man who was suddenly sharing more personal details with her than he ever had before.

Grace dabbed at the spilled tea with a handkerchief fetched from her skirt pocket, her mind spinning. Was he fishing for details in return? She wanted to reciprocate. It was what a friend would do. Yet she couldn’t afford to say too much.

I can’t claim as many years of experience dealing with meddling relations as you can, but a couple friends of mine have recently decided that marriage is not without its advantages. Thankfully, they have as yet avoided seeing me as a matchmaking prospect.

Grace yanked her hand from the telegraph key and made a fist, her heart pumping in a wild rhythm. Details cloaked in vagueness. Would he understand what she’d just revealed? The wire remained silent for an eternally long moment.

Count your blessings, he finally sent, his usually metronome-like precision stuttering slightly. Perhaps we could meet sometime to commiserate. I would—

Clear the line, a brash staccato tapping interrupted. I need to break in. This is an emergency.

Grace nearly jumped from her chair at the pounding intrusion. It exploded across the wire like cannon fire in a still forest.

Proceed, came the answer from Mr. A. Immediate. Meticulous. All hint of personal vulnerability gone.

Grace replied in kind, though she feared her touch on the key had yet to reassert its professional tone.

Hs. Dv station has a message to relay. Are you on the wire?

A message from the Denver station? Grace shivered even as she lurched forward to answer. Yes. This is Hs station. G on the wire. Go ahead.

Message relayed from R as follows: He knows where you are. Coming for you. Sorry.

Everything in Grace stilled. Numbness spread from her mind to her limbs and finally to her heart. Her day of reckoning had arrived. Chaucer Haversham had found her.

  • What characteristics does your ideal man embody?

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Heart on the Line along with a set of these fabulous, handmade, heart-shaped, crocheted dishcloths/trivets. Multipurpose, washable, colorful, and a wonderful romantic reminder to follow your heart.

I’ll draw two winners from those who leave comments.

US addresses only are eligible for the prize.

Wired Love

With all the online dating sites these days, it might seem that cyber romance is the wave of the future. But as King Solomon so wisely said, there is nothing new under the sun.

Back in 1879, a female telegraph operator from Boston by the name of Ella Cheever Thayer published a romance novel entitled Wired Love. I ran across this wonderful little book while doing some research into telegraph operators. Apparently many operators were women and could often be identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out converations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another. I haven’t read the entire novel, but the few chapters I did read were full of delightful humor and banter.

There is one scene about halfway through that was priceless. A case of mistaken identity had scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boarding house and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble table top. Nattie recognizes her call name and, taking up a pair of scissors, drums out her own answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their action were anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C”.

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!”

Don’t you love it? Hysterical!

Of course everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind except the hero who crosses the room to take her hand.  Ahhh…

Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes was a best selling book for over 10 years. And why not? The story is timeless. Remember You’ve Got Mail, which was adapted to e-mail from The Shop Around the Corner where Jimmy Stewart did his courting through letters? Very similar premise. And there are so many parrallels to dating in today’s “wired” world. Can you trust that she looks like her description? Is he a gentleman or a stalker? How about the awkwardness of the first face-to-face meet? And with all the abbreviations used on the telegraph lines, it reminded me of the text speak our kids use today. It is really rather eerie how easily Ella Thayer’s story translates to our contemporary society 130 years after it was written.

Wired Love is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from Amazon or you can read it on Google Books. Those who love research will find a treasure trove of details concerning how a telegraph was run. Those who love to travel back in time will enjoy delving into authentic 19th century life. And those who love a clean love story with a healthy dose of chuckles along the way will find a great read. You might want to give it a try.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015