Category: Time Travel

Surprises in History (and a Boxed-Set Giveaway)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Research is one of the most important tools of the fiction author’s trade. Regardless what an author writes—historical, contemporary, fantasy, science fiction—he or she must have some knowledge of the real world in order to create a world in which characters live and breathe.

A Kiss to RememberGood authors don’t beat readers over the head with their research, but what they dig up informs every aspect of their stories. Much of what we discover doesn’t make it into our books. Instead, the information clutters up our heads and trickles out at odd times.

This is one of those times.

Each of the five authors who contributed to Prairie Rose Publications’s new release, the boxed set A Kiss to Remember, uncovered historical tidbits that surprised, charmed, or saddened her. Since all of us are good authors and would never dream of beating readers over the head with our research in our books, we’re taking the opportunity to beat readers over the head with our research in a blog post. We can be sneaky that way.

Without further ado…

 

Her SanctuaryHer Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible.

Tracy: I’m a “cradle Lutheran,” meaning I was born into a Lutheran family, baptized in the Lutheran church… You get the idea. Imagine my surprise when I began researching the history of the church in Missouri and found they’d been in the state a lot longer than I thought. It was fun, though.

 

Gabriels LawGabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

Cheryl: Orphanages of the 1800s and early 1900s were mainly what I needed to research. And what sad research it was! The Indian orphanages and “schools” were the worst. The Indian children were forced to “assimilate”: cut their hair, wear white man’s clothing, and speak only English. Punishment was swift and sure if they were caught speaking their native tongues. In essence, they were taught they had to forget everything they knew—even their families—and adopt the ways of the whites completely. This only ensured they would never be wholly at ease in either world, white or Indian.

 

Outlaw HeartOutlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

Tanya: The research that fascinated me the most was meeting and getting to know Dr. John Henry Holliday. What a guy. I’ve quite fallen in love with him. This handsome, soft-spoken, peaches-n-cream Southern gentleman can bring me to tears. He died slowly from tuberculosis for fifteen years after losing his beloved mother to the disease when he was 15. Talented pianist, multilingual, skilled surgeon who won awards for denture design… Most of his “deadly dentist” stuff was contrived. He needed a bad reputation to keep himself safe from angry gamblers. I was thrilled and honored both when he asked to be a character in Outlaw Heart.

 

The Dumont WayThe Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

Kathleen: Did you realize George Armstrong Custer was part of the Union occupation force in Texas after the Civil War? Neither did I. While I was double-checking my facts about Reconstruction-era Texas, I ran across that little tidbit. Texans may not have liked him any better than any other Yankee, but they were grateful for his kindness. During his five months in Texas, Custer was disliked by his own men because he strictly enforced Army regulations about “foraging” (read “stealing”) and poor treatment of civilians. I must admit I’m one of those who tended to view Custer as one of history’s real-life bad guys, but that one tidbit softened my impression. Funny how little things can make a big difference, isn’t it?

 

YESTERDAYS FLAMEYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

Livia: I really enjoyed learning about the firefighting companies in San Francisco. The massive earthquake in 1906 was followed by an equally devastating fire, and there were a lot of heroes among those early firefighters.

 

Have you ever been surprised, charmed, alarmed, or vexed by something you’ve read—in either fiction or non-fiction? What was it? We’d love to hear! One brave soul who shares her or his discovery in the comments will win a digital copy of the brand-new boxed set A Kiss to Remember before it’s available to the public! The five books comprise more than 1,000 pages of heart-melting western historical romance…and that’s a fact.

 

Save

Save

COMING LATE TO THE PARTY!

Charlene Newsletter Banner2  Sometimes in life, I come late to the party.  I haven’t ever attended a Harry Potter event. Nope,not me.  Everyone has told me how great the books are and how much fun the movies are, but frankly, I never found the time or had the inclination to read the books or see the movies.  Might I say, I believe all of you! 

The same thing happened with Twilight. No way, would I read a story about a vampire family.  But guess what, long after the first Twilight movie came out, my friend literally stuck the book in my face and told me to read it. I wouldn’t be disappointed.  Guess what?  I read the book and spent the next two weeks, buying or borrowing the rest of the series.  I came late to the party with Twilight, but I am so glad I did. I read every word of the series and was first in line at the box office when the movies came out.  Had to see Edward and Bella’s HEA, didn’t I?outlander 2

Now, there’s this book called Outlander.  I’d heard wonderful things about the story, and my friends would tell me not to let the page count (coming in at 866 pages) daunt me. It’s a fast read, they said.  But I never attended the page party for Outlander either.  Where would I find time to read such a long book?  And only because I’m on Twitter and Facebook, did I hear about the new Outlander series for television, did I finally attend a celebration.  Oh, and did I mention that when OUTLANDER, the first book of Diana Gabaldon’s AMAZING series hit the cable screens, it was the most talked about event on Twitter for the entire day?   What can I say about the first episode…LOVED IT!! It’s right up my alley.  Time travel,  action, adventure, conflict, conflict, conflict and the most uncanny kind of love triangle I’ve ever seen. I swear to you, I watched the first five minutes the other night and knew in my heart that OUTLANDER was a beautiful work of art. The writing is fantastic.  To think, I met Diana Gabaldon once. We traveled to a Romance Writer’s Convention on the same plane, years ago and I really was clueless as to her work and talent.  Silly me, late to the party again.

I have to give props to the actors too. Claire, brilliantly played by Caitriona Balfe has a hauntingly beautiful voice and onscreen persona.  She was perfectly cast as the feisty heroine.  Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan was captivating as the very dashing, hunky Scottish hero.  He’s  swoonable, ladies.

Here’s a brief synopsis taken right off the Amazon pages.outlander-master675 - Copy Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another… In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

So tell me have you ever come late to the party?  Have you ever discovered joy in something you’d previously decided against?   Have you read Outlander? And the other books in the series?  Did you watch the premiere of Outlander on television and what did you think?  

While, I’m praising Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful book, I like to remind you that my newest release REDEEMING THE CEO COWBOY is available now on Amazon and all other online and retail bookstores!  Here’s a very nice 4 **** REVIEW and ranking below and I’m happy to say that readers are enjoying the story. Is 8 your lucky number?  It may just be mine!
AMAZON 

 

Redeeming banner

Updated: August 11, 2014 — 6:07 pm

FAIRS and FARES and a Giveaway!

 

 

Travel Town in Southern California Travel Town in Southern California

Right after Christmas we took a little trip to Travel Town in a well-known park in our area that houses locomotives from the earliest days of travel.  It was thrilling to see the steam and wood-burning engines attached to railcars that once barreled down the tracks with intent to reach the next city on the route in due and expected time.

We peeked into dining cars and strolled inside of rail cars that once accommodated many a traveler.  It really got me to thinking about the cost of things way back when.  What could the average American traveler afford?  How much have costs changed over the years?

In 1869 Railroad First Class Fare from coast to coast including meals cost $250 to $300 round trip.

Wow, that’s sounds like a small fortune to me for most folks.  Yet, coach fare (squeezing everyone into a crowded, smoky car) from Omaha to San Francisco was a more affordable $32.20.   First Class Airfare today, is probably equally as costly in relation, whereas coach fare being more affordable.  Yet, by 1886, less than twenty years later, First Class Rail fare between Kansas and California dropped to $12.00

A coal-burning locomotive A coal-burning locomotive

I suppose fluctuations have to do with supply and demand.  Just like today when a product is new and innovative, the cost skyrockets.  The very first video camera/recorder we owned cost close to $800.00 whereas today, more than twenty years later, we can buy a much more advanced camera for less than $100.00

Here’s a list of some other costs I found interesting:

In 1874 Doc Holiday charged $3.00 for a tooth extraction in his Dallas dental practice. (I’m going to the dentist this week…for him to just look inside my mouth is about $100.00)

In 1875 Wyatt Earp earned $60.00 a month as police officer in Kansas.

In 1880 Pat Garrett earned $10.00 a day as special deputy US Marshal.

In 1869 admission to a concert at a fair in Lincoln, Nebraska cost fifty cents.  (compared to the last Tim McGraw concert ticket I purchased at $125.00 … okay Tanya Hanson knows that’s not true…it was more like $150.00)

In 1880 the standard price of an infant delivery in Madison, Nebraska was $10.00 with an additional charge of $1.00 for a house visit outside of town.  (We all know how much it costs to have a baby these days)

 

About $8.00 worth of staples  today About $8.00 worth of staples today

In 1878:

Butter was 18 cents per pound

Sugar was less than 1 cent per pound

Cheese (who doesn’t love cheese?) was 7 cents per pound

Rice was 6 cents per pound

Eggs were 20 cents a dozen.

 

Seeing these prices and how costs have gone up, don’t you wonder what a loaf of bread will cost in the year 2099?  How much will it cost to have a baby or buy a car? What have you noticed lately that’s skyrocketed, ie: the cost of movie tickets these days?  To offset these costs, post a comment here and be entered to win a FREE book.  

You have your choice of my printed book, Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch or the Kindle/Nook version of The Cowboy Contract.  And be sure to look for my next Harlequin Desire, the conclusion to the Texas Cattleman’s Club titled,

Available for Pre-Order

Available for Pre-Order

Win one!

Win one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign up for my newsletter at www.charlenesands.com

 

Updated: April 14, 2015 — 3:33 pm

ARTHURIAN-WESTERN SHORT STORY IS NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD! by CHERYL PIERSON

Who likes the stories of King Arthur and his knights? I do! I have been fascinated with the entire legend of Camelot since I was a child. The Sword In the Stone, the Disney cartoon movie, was a favorite when I was young.

As I got older, I couldn’t get enough of the movie musical, Camelot, with Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, and Richard Harris in the starring roles. I valiantly tried to struggle through T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King” but finally had to admit, it was too heavy for a twelve-year-old. As an adult, I enjoyed it, along with Mary Stewart’s series of the Arthurian legend as told from Merlin’s POV—a “must read” set if you’re a Camelot fan.

So, the story I wrote for the “Six Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas” anthology is one that is dear to my heart in many ways. Even the title, “The Keepers of Camelot”, was not something I had to think about for long. This story has just been nominated for the 2013 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards in the Short Story Category. I am beyond thrilled.  It also received a specific mention in Publishers Weekly when the anthology came out. Here’s a bit about the story itself.

Legend says that Arthur will rise once more when the world needs him the most. But in my story, something goes awry, and Arthur has returned in many times, many places, throughout the centuries since his final battle.

The story opens with Arthur on a stagecoach in the American west—Indian Territory—of the 1880’s. But in this life, he comes across two people he’d never thought to see again—Lancelot and Guinevere. Why are they here—and how will it all end…this time?

The stage is attacked by Apaches minutes before the driver gets the passengers to the safety of the next stage station. Though they’re safe for the time being, a nerve-wracking Christmas Eve is in store as the Apaches wait for them outside.

Arthur has a plan. He’s seen the fearless leader of the Apache—the man they call “Sky Eyes”, a man he knew as Lancelot du Lac a hundred lifetimes ago.

Will Lance’s prowess as a warrior combine with his legendary arrogance to seal the fate of the people inside the station—including Guinevere, the woman he gave up everything for in the past?

One young boy in the group unknowingly holds the key to Lance’s decision. But will the glorious legend of Camelot be remembered?

I have to wait until June 1 to know the outcome of the decision, but no matter what, I feel like I’m a winner to be in such wonderful company of the other nominees, Troy Smith, Jim Griffin, Wayne Dundee, and C. Courtney Joyner.

There are some excellent stories in this book by many great western writers, including Troy Smith, Courtney Joyner, Robert Randisi, L.J. Washburn, James Reasoner, and many more. They’re all paranormal in some way, and they all take place in a western setting—it’s not just for Christmas! I will be giving away an e-copy of SIX GUNS AND SLAY BELLS to one commenter today! Please remember to leave your contact info in your comment.

Here’s a short excerpt for you:

In my story, Arthur, and Guinevere have come back during the 1880’s to the western frontier. They are under an Apache attack, and Arthur has recognized the leader of the Apaches as none other than Lancelot du Lac. He knows that Guinevere has recognized him, as well. Guinevere is married to the stage station proprietor, and Arthur finds himself on the stage headed for New Mexico . They’ve each lived a thousand lives since that last fateful day they spent together, when Lance rescued Ginny and then fought with Arthur. The legend says Arthur will return, but why are Lance and Ginny here, too? Here’s what happens:

“Come now, Ginny. Let’s have done with this pretense, shall we? We both know Lance is leading that band of savages.”
Her gaze faltered, and she looked away from him, not answering.
“Do you really believe he’ll harm you?” The note of gentleness crept into his tone, in spite of his resolve not to care.
“I—I don’t know, truly. He was—so angry when we last spoke. When I told him I’d made my decision to go to the convent—”
“You haven’t seen him since—since we fought?”
She shook her head. “Not really…Oh, I’ve seen him, during these attacks, but never spoken to him. Arthur, I’ve lived a thousand lives, but not fully. I seem to just wake up in another time, another place. Somehow, I—” She stopped herself, then went on in a controlled tone. “I believe it must be the same for you. And for Lancelot. We’re all trapped in this circle.”
“How do we end it, Ginny?”
She moistened her lips in the nervous gesture he recalled so well. “I’m not sure. But I—I wonder if maybe it’s not somehow connected to…forgiveness.”
Anger flared quickly in Arthur’s heart. She dared ask him to forgive? Forgive her treachery? Forgive Lance’s betrayal? Forgive her causing the death of the dream he’d held so dear? A cold smile touched his lips.
“You ask much, my lady. Especially after all you’ve taken.”
 
She nodded, the stricken look in her eyes almost too much for him. Even in the near darkness, he could see the pallor of her flawless skin.
“Yes. You were always a much better person than I, Arthur. You had a generous heart. A loving soul.”
“Make no mistake, Ginny—I am first a warrior. A ruler.”
In the gathering darkness, she laid a hand on his. “No, Arthur. You are first a man. And a good one.” The softness of her skin on his in the shadows brought a flood of memories that he’d thought were carefully locked away.
“You know Lance won’t attack now.” His lips curved caustically. “He loved Christmas-tide more than the rest of us put together.” It had always been Lance who suggested they find the biggest Yule log in the forest, spearheading the effort to organize the men and making it a festive occasion. It had been Lance who sang the Yule songs with such fervor, his deep baritone booming through the stone hallways of the castle.
 
Ginny’s eyes filled with sudden tears. “Arthur—when I see him as he was today…I wonder if he even recalls the things we remember. It seems he’s become absorbed in the ways of the Apache. The look on his face is so intent, so—cruel. I don’t believe he’s the person we knew.”
“He was never the person I thought I knew, Ginny. Never.” At her quick look, he smiled. “Yet, there’s a part of me that, even now, wants to call him my brother, as I did before—before everything fell apart.”

Ginny nodded “I hope that same part of you remembers me in another light as well, Arthur,” she whispered.

All my other short stories, anthologies, novels and novellas can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

TIME PLAINS DRIFTER IS RELEASED…AGAIN!

Time Plains Drifter is a different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read.  I think that’s why I enjoyed writing it so much. 

After being released in December of 2009 with an unscrupulous publisher, I took my rights back after only three months and spent the next year searching for another home for it.  Just this past spring, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY.  This is a marvelous company that handles some much “bigger” names than I have, such as Peter Brandvold, Jory Sherman, and Madeline Baker, among others.  Print books are important to me, although I understand that e-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds.  I’m sure that WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER will prove to be the perfect place for Time Plains Drifter, and I’m glad to say I now have the sequel in the works. 

That being said, let me tell you why Time Plains Drifter is so hard to pigeonhole and why that may be a bit scary in today’s market. 

I knew Time Plains Drifter was going to have to be classified as a time-travel romance; that’s how the H/h meet one another.  She’s from 2010—he’s from 1879.  That was the easy part.  The part that was a bit harder to work around was that he was dead.  I just couldn’t get past the premise that Rafe d’Angelico was going to be the “paranormal element” of the story.  I didn’t want him to be a werewolf, vampire, or shapeshifter.  So that left angels, demons, zombies and so forth.  I chose for him to be an angel.

Working with Rafe—an angel who didn’t want to be an angel—was a challenge.  I told him he had a pretty good deal going.  He told me, “I want to be human again.”  In the end, I realized he was right, and that was the only way to resolve the issue of time-travel-paranormal-angel-demon-human issues. 

Jenni Dalton, the heroine, was completely unsuspecting in all this.  She went out on a stargazing field trip with seven of her high school students one night and they never came home.  Instead, they ended up in Indian Territory, 1895; one hundred-fifteen years in the past. 

Jenni’s got it rough, trying to deal with her seven charges, four of them the senior class troublemakers.  It takes Rafe to bring them to heel and get them to toe the mark, until the gravity of their situation causes them to all make some surprising adjustments. 

As Rafe and Jenni realize their growing attraction to one another is fated, they also understand there is no way anything can come of it on a permanent basis—Rafe is an angel, and Jenni is human. 

The twists and turns that finally bring the book around to the HEA were the most fun to come up with for me.  But the story itself, being so unique, is tough to categorize. 

Time Plains Drifter is special to me because it’s the first project my daughter, Jessica, and I have had the chance to work on together.  She designed the cover art. I absolutely LOVE what she did. 

Time Plains Drifter was the recipient of The Reviewer’s Top Pick Award by Karen M. Nutt, PNR reviews.  It also received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times Magazine.  I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards last year (March 2010), based on Time Plains Drifter. 

The sequel has been a delight to work on, with a different twist than the first book, and some familiar characters will be the stars of the show this time around since the story is built around Rafe’s brother, Cris, and Jenni’s sister, Victoria. 

Time Plains Drifter is now available in all formats, including print, Kindle, and Nook. Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)

 Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE  

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below.  Please leave a comment!  I always love to hear from readers and other authors.  Visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com

Enjoy! 

BLURB:

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2005. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive? 

EXCERPT from TIME PLAINS DRIFTER: 

He closed his eyes, letting the pleasurable feel of her wet mouth on his body wash over him, along with her voice. “Some things never change,”she’d said earlier. Her Oklahoma accent was a slow waltz to his mind, its lilting cadence urging him to accept what they had between them. Still, he couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t ever be dishonest with her, of all people.

“Don’t you want to know—”

She stopped him, placing two cool fingers across his lips, smiling at the tickle of his moustache against her skin. The smile faded as she absorbed the worry in his expression, the smoldering fire in his eyes, and made it her own.

“Not now, I don’t. You asked me—earlier—if I felt it. Whatever it is between us. I do.” Debating with herself, she hesitated a moment before coming to a decision. “I want you, Rafe,” she murmured. “I trust you.” She nuzzled his neck.“It doesn’t matter now, who—or what—you are.”

His hand closed in a fist around the shimmering satin of her copper hair, his chest filling with a sweet peace at her quiet words.

Dead…alive…Mexican…American…man…ghost…angel…

His mind churned as Jenni kissed him once again. Accepting him, for whoever he might be. She loved him. She hadn’t said it yet, but he knew it by the gentle way her lips grazed across his, then claimed his mouth completely, as if that was the only way she had to let him know how she felt. They breathed together, as one.

He answered her wordlessly, his tongue going into her mouth, fingers splaying and tightening against her scalp as he pulled her to him.

She came across his bare chest, the stiffness of the material of her own blouse gliding with gentle abrasion across his nipples. He groaned in pleasure and felt her smile against his mouth. She made the move again as she lifted her lips from his, emerald eyes sparkling into his searing gaze.

“We’ll talk later,” she assured him.

“It’ll be too late to change your mind about me then,” he said, half-jokingly.

“I won’t change my mind, Rafe.”

The sweet sincerity in her voice and the promise in her eyes reassured him. He pulled her down silently. As their mouths melded once more, he rolled, taking her with him, changing their positions so he lay atop her.

She gasped, yielding to him, her cool palms sliding over the fevered heat of his skin, across his chest and shoulders. He began to unbutton her blouse as he kissed her, his fingers moving deftly. He pushed away the first layer of material with his customary impatience, then started on the stays of her corset.

She twisted beneath him at the loosening of the undergarment. He pulled her upright momentarily, whisking blouse and corset over her head, dropping them in a heap on the floor.

In silent invitation, Jenni lifted her hand to him. She touched his side, and he flinched slightly as her fingers lingered over the very place the Bowie had gone into him earlier that day. Even though a red scar marked the spot, there was no pain for him, and he saw no puzzlement in her eyes…only concern.

“Does it hurt?”

It was as he had suspected. She’d seen what had happened, how bad it should have been…but wasn’t. And she had accepted it, unconditionally. They would talk later, as she’d said, but somehow, he felt he would find the words he needed to explain things to her. He shook his head slightly. “No.”

A vulnerable uncertainty crossed her face for a moment. “Well, then, Marshal—what’re you waiting for?” He unfastened her skirt and petticoat, then made short work of the stockings and underpants.

God. Rafe swallowed hard, reaching to trace the faded tan lines across her shoulders. He moistened his lips, his teeth sinking into the lower one momentarily. His pulse raced as his gaze moved over her face—then lower, to her breasts, her flat belly, and the triangle of soft hair, below.

TRAVELING IN OUR WRITING–HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?

 Writing a short story or a novel is a “journey” from beginning to end in many ways.  

Hopefully, our main characters will learn something about themselves and grow emotionally and in their personal values of not only each other, but the world around them.  They must become more aware of their place in the world as individuals to be able to give of themselves to another person, the hero to the heroine, and visa versa, or the story stagnates. 

The main conflict of the story brings this about in a myriad of ways, through smaller, more personal conflicts and through the main thrust of the “big picture” dilemma.  I always like to think of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell as a prime example of this, because the States’ War was the catalyst for everything that followed, but it also remained the backdrop throughout the book.  This generated all of the personal losses and gains that Scarlett and Rhett made individually, so if the War hadn’t been the backdrop, the main original conflict, their personal stories would have taken very different routes and their love story quite possibly would have never happened. 

No matter what kind of story we are trying to weave, we have to have movement throughout—not just of the characters’ growth, but of the setting and circumstances that surround them. Sometimes, that “ain’t” easy! 

Have you ever thought about how important it is to have travel in your writing?  No, it doesn’t have to be lengthy travel, although that’s a great possibility, too.  Even a short trip allows things to happen physically to the characters, as well as providing some avenue for emotional growth and development among them. 

One of my favorite examples of the importance of travel is the short story by Ernest Haycox, “Stage to Lordsburg.”  You might know it better as the John Ford movie adaptation, “Stagecoach,” starring a very handsome young newbie…John Wayne.  A varied group of people are traveling on a stagecoach that is attacked by Indians, including John Wayne, (a seriously good-looking young outlaw by the name of Johnny Ringo) who is being transported to prison.  The dire circumstances these passengers find themselves in make a huge difference in the way they treat each other—including their hesitant acceptance of a fallen woman and the outlaw.  

If the characters of the story are going somewhere, things are bound to happen—even if they’re just going to the store, as in the short story “The Mist,” by Stephen King.  Briefly, a man goes to the grocery store and is trapped inside with many other people by a malevolent fog that surrounds the store and tries to come inside.  Eventually, he makes the decision to leave rather than wait for it to get inside and kill them all.  He thinks he can make it to the pickup just outside in the parking lot.  A woman that he really doesn’t know says she will go with him.  By making this conscious decision, not only are they leaving behind their own families (he has a wife and son) that they know they’ll never see again, but if they make it to the vehicle and survive, they will be starting a new chapter of their lives together.  It’s a great concept in my opinion—virtual strangers, being forced to make this kind of life-or-death decision in the blink of an eye, leaving everything they know behind, when all they had wanted to do was pick up a few groceries. 

In all of my stories, there is some kind of travel involved.  In Fire Eyes, although Jessica doesn’t travel during the story, she has had to travel to get to the original setting where it all takes place.  And Kaed is brought to her, then travels away from her when he is well enough.  Will he come back?  That’s a huge conflict for them.  He might be killed, where he’s going, but it’s his duty.  He can’t turn away from that.  After what has happened to him in his past, he has a lot of mixed feelings about settling down and trying again with a family, and with love. 

In a long ago English class, one of my professors once stated, “There are only two things that happen in a story, basically.  1.  A stranger comes to town.  Or,  2. A character leaves town.”  Pretty simplistic, and I think what she was trying to tell us was that travel is a great way to get the conflict and plot of a story moving in the right direction.  I always think of “Shane” when I think of  “a stranger coming to town” because that is just such a super example of how the entire story is resolved by a conflicted character, that no one ever really gets to know.  Yet, although he may have a checkered past, he steps in and makes things right for the Staretts, and the rest of the community.

 In my upcoming novel, Time Plains Drifter, a totally different kind of travel is involved—time travel.  The hero, Rafe,  is thrown forward sixteen years from the date he died (yes, he’s a very reluctant angel) and the heroine, Jenni,  is flung backward one hundred fifteen years by a comet that has rearranged the bands of time on earth.  They come together in 1895 in the middle of Indian Territory.  But the time travel is just a means to bring them together for the real conflict, and that’s the case with most of stories.  Whether as readers or writers, we don’t want to look at the scenery/history for the most part; we want to see the conflict, and the travel is just a way to get that to happen.

For all the writers out there, how do you use travel in your writing?  And for the readers, what kinds of travel passages bore you, or make the story come alive? 

Here’s a short excerpt from Time Plains Drifter, which will be re-released at the beginning of June.  Rafe and Jenni have just met, and there’s a definite attraction!  Hope you enjoy!

FROM TIME PLAINS DRIFTER

For the first time, Rafe began to wonder what—and who—she might have left back there in her own time.  Two thousand-ten.  A mother and father?  What about siblings?  Was she as close to someone as he and Cris had been?  Was she…married?  Did she leave children of her own?

She was a school teacher, and he took comfort in that thought.  In his own time, school teachers were usually women who were not yet married.

Suddenly, the question burned in his mind.  Was she married?  Did she have someone waiting for her?  Hell, what difference does it make?  He sighed.  You’re dead, Rafe. Remember?  Dead.  All a mistake.  Beck’s sure sorry, but—

If he was dead, why did his leg ache?  He felt the pinch of the cramped nerve endings in his left calf just as he had always suffered from when he held this position too long.  Was it real?  Or did he just anticipate that pain, where it had always been when he was alive?  He hadn’t imagined the instant response of his body earlier, holding Jenni Dalton in his arms.  That had been real enough.

He stood up slowly with a grimace, and his fingers went to the small of his back automatically for an instant before he bent to massage his leg, then walk a few steps to ease the strain of the muscles.  The twinges faded, but Rafe knew he hadn’t imagined either of them.

If I’m dead, how can I hurt?  Was this part of what Beck had tried to explain to him earlier, about giving in to the “human” side of himself?  Those “bodily urges?”  Beck had seemed horrified that Rafe even entertained the thought of wanting to live again—in a normal, human state.

But he did, God help him.  He did.  And five minutes with Miss Jenni Dalton was all it had taken to reaffirm that conviction to the fullest measure.

There was something about her; something strong, yet, so vulnerable.  Her eyes captivated him, her lips seductively beckoned to be kissed—but what if she knew she was kissing a ghost?  A dead man?

His glance strayed to Jenni once more as she stood up, and he controlled the urge to go after young Kody Everett and choke the life from his body for his deceit.

Jenni came toward Rafe stiffly, her back held ramrod straight.  Without conscious thought, he opened his arms to her, and she kept right on walking, into his embrace, until he closed the gates of safety across her back and held her to him, protected inside his fortress.

She didn’t cry, and Rafe knew it was because she was too exhausted. They stood that way for a long moment, breathing the night air.  He wanted to give her what she needed—shelter, safety, and…togetherness.  She wasn’t alone any more, and he wanted her to know it.

He felt her take a shuddering breath of bone-deep weariness.  Who was waiting for her in her own time, to comfort her like this when she returned?

“Jen?”

“Hmm?”  Her voice was a contented purr.

He smiled. “Where you come from, are you, uh—married, or—”

“Huh-uh.  No husband.  No kids.  Nobody at all.”

“No—betrothed?”  He searched for a word they might still use a hundred and ten years from now, and by the way she smiled against his shirt, he knew he had sounded old-fashioned to her.  “Okay, what’s your word for it?”

“Boyfriend.  Fiance.  Lover—”

Lover!”

She drew back at his indignation, looking him in the face.  “It’s—It’s just a word,” she stammered.  “It really doesn’t mean—”

“Don’t say that one,” Rafe growled.  He shook his head to clear it. “What I mean is—you wouldn’t want to say that around anyone.  They’d take you for a—loose woman.”

She looked up earnestly into his smoldering gaze, liquefying his bones with her piercing green eyes, her lips full and sensual, the tangle of copper hair blowing in the breeze. “Would you think I was ‘loose’ if I asked you to—to just lie down beside me?  It’s not that I’m afraid,” she hastened to add. “I just feel—kind of shaken up.”

MJ Fredrick ~ Time Travel and Romance

If I could have any superpower, I’d want the power of time travel. I wouldn’t care about going into the future—I’d prefer not to know. But I would LOVE to go into the past. I drive by buildings and wonder what they were like in their heyday. I live in an old city, so there are a lot of old buildings. Depending on my mood, there are different eras I want to visit.

The early 1960s, the era when my mom was young. It’s also the era of Mad Men, and it’s just fascinating to see how different mores were in those days. A lot of the buildings around my neighborhood were built in that era, with the flat roofs and the plate glass, and I would love to see them when they were new.

The 1950s, when my mom was a child. She talks about shopping downtown, and the buildings are still there. I can just imagine her traipsing down the street in her little dress, going to the soda fountain. My dad’s hometown was also thriving in the 1950s, and I would love to experience that small town in that time period. I’d also love to travel Route 66, and stay in those motels along the way.

The post-Civil War era, during western expansion, the time of Laura Ingalls. I devoured those books when I was young, and while I didn’t really care about visiting that time period at the time, now I wonder what it must be like to have experienced that wide-open feeling.

MAYBE I’d want to visit a trail drive. Just for a few hours.

And downtown San Antonio as it recovered after the battle of the Alamo. I’m not sure I’d like to visit the time period that my book, SUNRISE OVER TEXAS from Carina Press, is set, during the time Stephen Austin brought the first families to Texas, when it was still a part of Mexico. The Texas frontier was wild at the time, and the Mexican government wanted it settled. I don’t think I could ever do the things my heroine Kit has to endure.

Time travel would be a fun power to have, but I’d want to return to my own time period, of air conditioning and transportation and hamburgers.

Where would you want to time travel?

MJ will give away a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble today to one lucky commenter. So get typing!

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015