Research, Romance and Real Life


I’ve got to hand it to my husband. He listens patiently when I ramble on about my books, but what can he say about imaginary people with imaginary problems? It’s got to be a tad bit frustrating. He wants to help, but there’s not a lot he can do.

All that changed while I was researching Kansas Courtship, my March 2010 release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. The book is a continuity, which means I didn’t pick the characters. An editor wrote a basic story line for three related books. My book, the third in the series, features a lady doctor and a mill owner in a town devastated by a tornado.

No problem with the lady doctor. There’s plenty of reading material on frontier medicine (waving at Kate Bridges here; her P&P blogs were gold). I could visualize my heroine’s life right off the bat. Colvin Run Historic Mill 

The hero was a different story. From Day One, this guy was a problem child. He’s a mill owner. At the time, I knew nothing about mills. The story is set in Kansas in 1860. I’m thinking, “Kansas? Where are the trees? Don’t they grow wheat in Kansas?” A little research cleared up my misconception. Eastern Kansas is quite different from western Kansas. In 1860 there were plenty of trees. I was in the clear with my assigned characters, but I still needed to see a mill. 

I looked online. There’s a youtube video of an historic mill, but it didn’t help. I looked at dozens of pictures, but I couldn’t visualize how the pieces worked. Nor could I hear or smell any of the details. Milling is completely out of my range. Wood comes from Home Depot and bread comes from grocery stores. That’s about it.

 The answer came out of the blue on a gorgeous Sunday morning. My husband and I were leaving church when I started muttering, “I really need to visit an historic mill.”

The next thing I knew, we were doing a U-turn on Route 7. This wasn’t your garden variety U-turn. He gunned the engine of our oh-so-sporty Camry and I was half out the window. My voice went up two octaves. “What in the world!”

“A mill,” he said. “We’re going to a mill.” He sounded like James Bond.

“Where?” I asked.

“Up the road.” Imagine clipped speech. Picture the intensity of Daniel Craig or Sean Connery, and you’ve got the idea.

The next thing I knew, we’d turned up the road to the Colvin Run james-bond3Historic Mill, an official landmark. We’ve lived in northern Virginia for several years now, but I don’t know the area very well. My husband, it turns out, had driven by the mill on his way to have lunch with a friend a few weeks earlier.

For the next two hours, we took in every detail of the mill and asked the miller dozens of questions. I’ll never forget the sound of water spilling as the wheel turned and the millworks went into motion. The gears made a huge racket and dust filled the air. We saw the miller adjust the millstones and learned about the perils of the trade. I used all those details in Kansas Courtship.

I had the best day! Best of all, I got to share it with my husband. My characters may be imaginary, but my husband is very real. He’s also my real life hero.


This isn’t quite related to milling, but I’m hung up on the James Bond comparison. I’m also shopping for a hero for my next manuscript. Of all the actors who’ve played “Bond, James Bond,” which one do you think would look best in a cowboy hat? Choices are Sean Connery, Robert Moore, Timoty Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.  I know there’s one other actor who played James Bond once, but I can’t remember who.  Anyhow, I am leaning toward Timothy Dalton, but Daniel Craig is moving up on the list.


And last, I want to say how thrilled I am to be a Filly.  It’s a joy to join this group of talented authors who all love western romance.  To celebrate, let’s have a drawing. I’ll toss the names of everyone who comments into the cowboy hat and pick out three winners. Winners get the book of their choice from my Love Inspired Historicals. Good luck!



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46 thoughts on “Research, Romance and Real Life”

  1. Tim Dalton is more an outlaw type. He looks more evil to me.
    Daniel Craig would be a BIG & STRONG cowboy BUT I think he could pull it off.
    Pierce B would remind me of a young James Brolin. I like that as a cowboy.
    I love Sean Connery. But, I’m not sure about the cowboy aspect…more like the cowboy’s Dad.
    Roger Moore reminds me of a dapper gambler.

  2. Hi Laurie, You’ve summed up the choices perfectly! I think Daniel Craig could pull off just about anything. He does “tortured hero” with incredible ease.

    You’re up early! So am I . . . I’m off to the day job but will be home early afternoon, eastern time : )

  3. Congrats on your excellent mill trip! I’ve done some research into mills as well, and it isn’t an easy topic.

    Hmm, I’d probably choose Pierce. Sean Connery would be a second choice–just because I love the man. 😉

    Now, I’m not a Bond, James Bond fan by any means, and haven’t seem many of the movies, but Daniel Craig just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me. Go figure–I’d have such a strong opinion about something I don’t care about. 😛

  4. Hello Victoria,

    Out of all the men who have played James Bond, I’m going to go with Daniel Craig. There is just something about his eyes that drive me crazy.

    Loved your story on the mill. We had one in my hometown but it doesn’t work at the present.

    Glad you could join P&P. Look forward to reading more about you and your books. Have a great day.

  5. LOL on COlvin’s Run Mill. There is a really good restuarant near there…or at least there used to be. I went once with my mother. There is also a mill near Mt Vernon which does a good stone ground grits — it is pretty good.
    I think historic mills are really interesting places to visit.

  6. Your hubby sounds like a wonderful guy, Vicki. What a fabulous day you must’ve had.

    I fell in love with Sean Connery as Bond from the get-go, and for me no one else measures up, although I do like Daniel Craig.

    Never saw Sean in a cowboy hat, but I think the younger version of him would look smashing.

    So happy to have you as a new filly! Thanks for a great blog.

  7. Pierce Brosnan would look good in a cowboy hat, as long as he didn’t wear that Colonel Sanders thing on his chin like he did in Seraphim Falls.

    Of course, most of the guys you’ve mentioned are getting older. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  8. Welcome to the Junction, Victoria! I love the fact that you’ve got your own personal hero too!

    I think Sean Connery would pull off a cowboy..but I keep hearing that Scotts burr 🙂

    Thanks for a very enjoyable blog. It’s so good to be here with you.


  9. What a great husband you have. I think it would be interesting to visit a mill. I think Pierce Brosnan would look good in a cowboy hat.

  10. I can’t see any of these guys as cowboy, but it pushed I would have to say Daniel Craig. I think of all the James Bond’s he is the most edgy and fits the cowboy persona best.
    Good thinking on the part of your husband knowing where that Mill was.
    Good luck with your writing.

  11. Welcome to P&P Victoria,

    Its so nice to see new faces here at the junction. I am glad you are joining us. Your books sound like great reads and I would love to read them. This is a great place to hang out, you will enjoy it here!

    What a sweet husband you have there. I think I always liked Sean Connery for the Bond movies because I loved his accent.

  12. Sean Connery can do ANYTHING, do NOT limit him, Victoria.

    I love actually going to places, touching things, hearing things. It’s sooooooo easy to do research onthe internet and I do tons of it that way. But I really enjoy museums, looking at elaborate old lamps and tables, the woodwork the clothes, what it all really looked like.

  13. Hi Roberta, I’d love to visit other historic mills. Seeing–and mostly hearing–the one in Virginia made my characters come to life. I also gained a new appreciation of the bread on my table.

    Aren’t Daniel Craig’s eyes amazing? So blue!

  14. Hi Michelle! Thanks for coming by P&P! I’ll have to look into the mill by Mt. Vernon. I know the name of it, but it’s escaping me at the moment.

    Mt. Vernon was a great tour,, too. We did it about ten years ago. I’d like to go back.

  15. Hi Elizabeth, I’ll mark a vote for Sean Connery. He’s one of those actors who fills up the screen with no effort. I really liked him in “Hunt for Red October.”

    Hello Vickie, Yep. The guys on the list aren’t spring chickens as the saying goes, but that’s the joy of writing. We get to freeze time : ) My favorite heroes live forever in my mind.

  16. Hi Tanya, It’s great being a Filly, isn’t it? I’m glad to be with here with you!

    Hello Crystal B! You’re right. My husband’s a gem. We’ve been married a long time now, 29 years to be exact. We look at each other and just laugh sometimes. When did we get . . . gulp . . . middle-aged! We have two grown sons. That just doesn’t seem possible!

  17. Hello Kathleen O, I know what you mean about the cowboy hat. I can’t see Roger Moore in one at all. He’s also my least favorite Bond. The more I think about it, the more I lean toward using Daniel Craig.

    Hi Quilt Lady, My husband enjoyed the mill visit as much as I did. Not only was the gadetry intriguing, he got see me asking someone other than him a lot of questions. I’m not usually all that into mechanics, but the mill was different. Loved it!

  18. Hi Mary! The sensory aspect was the best part of the mill trip. No way could I have imagined how loud it was inside the building, or how the dust felt on my face. I’ve heard waterwheels before, but never from the inside a building. It was like being in drum. Everything was louder than on the outside of the brick walls.

  19. My choice would be Roger Moore. He would look, and has looked, great in a western hat. You can see him
    in western gear at, just pull up the page for The Maverick. In his filmography listing, it
    is dated 1957.

    Pat Cochran

  20. Awww what a wonderful husband you have!
    I would have to choose Sean Connery…
    Look forward to more posts from you in the future!!! 😀

  21. Hi Pat, I’ll have to check that out. Just the other day, I started wondering if the hero for the next book is a gambler rather than an outlaw. Like Laurie G said, Roger Moore would fit!

  22. Hi Colleen, My husband’s been super supportive, especially considering my strange hours. I get up early and disappear at the computer for hours on end. He loves to read, so he gets the obsession!

  23. Hi Victoria! Glad you are a filly here! That is wonderful that your DH helped you get the research on the mill!! I think Daniel Craig has the rugged face that could be a cowboy. Not sure I can see Sean Connery …although he did wear a hat very nicely in the third (I think?) Indian Jones movie!

  24. Hi, Victoria! Welcome to P&P! It’s great to have you posting here! I’m not sure I can picture him in a cowboy hat, but I’ve always loved Sean Connery.

  25. Hi MarthaE, The third Indiana Jones movie was my favorite. I love adventure movies, especially if they have a dash of romance. It’s near the weekend . . . time to figure out which movies to to rent!

  26. Hi Margie, I’m thrilled to be part of P&P. I’ve read the blog since it started, and it’s one of the first places I visit when I’m researching something. Most recently, I got ideas from Elizabeth Lane’s post on restaurants. You never know what fun stuff you’ll find here! Like yesterday . . . Mary had me laughing out loud 🙂

  27. LOL, Victoria!! Love that hubby enthusiasm!! The extent of writing conversation on the road for us is when there is a pass of silence and my hubby grumbles, “You’re writing again, aren’t you?” And I’m usually guilty 😉

    I’m a huge Sean Connery fan—he’s an auto-watch for me…those eyes, that accent…mmm 😉 Loved him as Indiana Jone’s dad too–too funny 😀

    So glad you’ve joined us as a Filly!

  28. Hi Victoria! 🙂 Waving back at you! Your new book sounds great. We’ve got an old mill around here, too, and I love visiting. And I confess to loving every James Bond I ever met. Something about the charm and sophistication. Best of luck on Kansas Courtship!

  29. Hi Stacey! Every once in a while, I ask my hubby a plotting questions, usually something involving a gunfight or some other hostile situation. He’s a big help there. I’ve also given him the task of telling me which gun my hero should carry. The hero in “Abbie’s Outlaw” has a Colt Lightning (the first double action pistol, or something like that) because of my husband.

    I’m thrilled to be a Filly! It’s been a ton of fun with more to come.

  30. Howdy Kate! When I wrote my lady doctor, I looked at every one of your posts here. The pictures were a huge help. Love your books, too! The women who pioneered in medicine had such interesting personalities. My heroine is a nurturer, but she’s a rebel too. I had fun with her.

  31. Hi Vicki! Great blog. I know nothing about mills either and I’d give your husband HERO STATUS too for taking you there for research. I love me a supportive husband!

    As for James Bond in a cowboy hat, I had to think about it. I think Daniel Craig has the swagger and attitude for it. He reminds me so much of Steve McQueen. 🙂

    So glad you are a filly, too!

  32. Hi lizzie! I just caught your post from this morning. You’re right about mills not being an easy topic. I have a scene where the hero is explaining how it all works to the heroine. That was tough to write! Too much detail gets confusing, but I wanted enough to get the complexity.

  33. Hi Charlene, I’m thrilled to be a Filly. P&P has been one of my favorite spots on the web for a long time. I love the variety. History . . . Peronsal Glimpses . . . Cowboys . . . It’s a great combination.

  34. Hi Vicki

    It is great to have you here with us. First off I am not a Bond Fan and can’t stand Roger Moore. Sean was and is still a nice looking man. Daniel has a great body but not to cute. Now Timothy would make a great cowboy.

    Love those old mills I got to tour one in the Smokey Mountains.

  35. Hi Sherry, I’d love to visit another historic mill. There are some old ones in New England that have been some restored. You know how people tour lighthouses on the East Coast? I’d like to take a month and visit mills, maybe in the fall when the leaves are changing.

  36. Hi Jackie, Thank you for the kind words. It’s hard to believe, but I’m finishing up my 11th manuscript for Harlequin / Steeple Hill. I had to laugh the other night . . . My husband sat down to use my computer to order flowers for his mom for Mother’s Day. My keyboard drove him nuts. Not only is it ergonomic, half the letters are rubbed off. I may name the next hero “Quinn” just because I can still see the Q!

  37. Welcome, Victoria. I look forward to more of your blogs.
    I’d vote for Timothy Dalton. I really can’t picture Daniel Craig in a cowboy hat, jeans and chaps – no way. When we travel, we always visit historic sites and parks. Have been to several old mills. Did you buy the corn meal? It is much more coarse than what you get at the grocery store. There is (or was) a nice one on Cape Cod – we went there in 1975 or 76. They also had a woman working at a loom.

  38. Hi, Vicki! Very exciting to have you join the Fillies! Enjoyed your blog today, and how terrific that you and your husband can enjoy your research outings together! May you enjoy many more! 😉

  39. Hi Vicki, I enjoyed reading your post about your visit at a mill. I think that Daniel Craig would look good in a cowboy hat.

  40. Hi Patricia, we didn’t buy the cornmeal, but we touched it after it was ground. Definitely coarse and dusty! Mostly I remember the sounds and the smells as the mill operated. Thanks for coming by P&P!

  41. Hi Becky! The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning toward Daniel Craig. It could still change, but for this character I want someone who’s rugged-looking. I’m in the earliest stages of the book, the place where I do a lot of imagining.

    A note to all… I’ve got everyone’s name in the cowboy hat. I’ll post the drawing winners tomorrow. Good luck!

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