Welcome Guest – Valerie Comer

Angie and Valerie

Helena, Montana, had more millionaires per capita in 1889 than anywhere else in the world.

When Angela Breidenbach and I came across that bit of information, we knew we’d found the setting for Snowflake Tiara, the beauty pageant duo we’d been itching to write.

Angie set her novella, The Debutante Queen, against that backdrop. Inn-owner Albert Shanahan is worried about the future of Helena as the gold frenzy dies down. He doesn’t want his city to become a ghost town like so many gold rush sites, and devises the Miss Snowflake Pageant to showcase the beauty of Helena and its debutantes. If only he can get Miss Calista Blythe to enter the pageant, other young women will flock to join, ensuring both a successful event and successful placement of Helena as a cultured city in the eyes of the world.

Helena Mansion
Helena Mansion

Miss Calista Blythe fears being in the spotlight, but the plight of the orphan children (Helena is reputed to be the last stop on the orphan train) spurs her to action. She’s particularly focused on six-year-old Lea, who’s indentured to a brothel when her mother died before working off her westward train fare. Perhaps, if she wins the pageant, she can purchase Lea’s freedom.

Angela tucked so many bits of real history into this story it makes my head spin. Although the pageant itself and the story’s main characters are completely fictional, many of the other characters are part of Helena’s history, as are many of the background events. Yet you never feel like you’re reading a documentary. Angie’s love of Montana shines through every page.

Interior of the Montana State Capitol
Interior of the Montana State Capitol

I’m so honored to be the second author in this duo, following up with a contemporary tale featuring Calista’s 3x great-granddaughter, Marisa Hiller. Like her ancestor, Marisa is passionate about helping underprivileged children, and this is her primary reason for competing in the revived Miss Snowflake Pageant in Helena.

Angela and I enjoyed a research trip to Helena about a year ago. We toured the State Capitol and the Cathedral of St Helena, both resplendent with gold, marble, stained glass, and other trappings of the city’s wealth. Both were completed not long after Angela’s story takes place. We explored the museum, took a tourist “train ride” through the city, and roved the walking mall (several city blocks closed to vehicular traffic) where Last Chance Gulch once lay.

The Parrot Confectionary
The Parrot Confectionary

We interviewed the owner of The Parrot Confectionery (est 1922), the setting for several scenes in my novella, More Than a Tiara, and bought some candy—strictly for research purposes, you understand. We viewed the site of the Broadwater Hotel and Natatorium (the only indoor swimming pool in the world in 1889), featured in Angie’s story, but now just a grassy field. And we drove up one block and down the next in the Mansion District, where many of the red-rock homes built in the late 1800s still stand in good repair.

Montana celebrates its 125th anniversary this fall, while Helena itself is now 150 years old. Join us in commemoration!

Snowflakes and Tiaras
Click on the cover to order.

Snowflake Tiara: What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But if her hidden indentured orphan is discovered, Calista’s reputation and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, could both unravel. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

Valerie and Angie will be giving away one Kindle copy of Snowflake Tiara to a lucky reader, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the  drawing!

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30 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – Valerie Comer”

  1. Cute original idea for a duet. I like the combination of an older setting contrasting with the newer view of the same event with a relative.

    I’ve been to Montana twice. The first time we left Yellowstone and cut through Montana and Idaho on our way to Olympic National Park in Washington. We stopped in Missoula overnight to celebrate my husband’s 25th birthday. The second time we went to Banff and Jasper National Parks and then came down via Glacier National Park. We camped there. We also visited Hardin. I’ve never been to Helena but it sounds beautiful with all those treasures from the past.

    I’d love to read your stories.

    johns lake at usa dot com

  2. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this information. I have friends who live near Helena and I knew nothing about that area until now. I guess I need to plan a road trip.:)
    Your books sound like a fun and informative read.

  3. Hi Valerie! Welcome to P&P. We’re thrilled to have you visit. I’ve read a lot of stories that were set in Helena, Montana and they always made me want to go. The city has some amazing history. Both of the stories in Snowflake Tiara sound entertaining and fun. Great concept having one set in the 1800s and the other modern day with the 3x great granddaughter! Brilliant.

    We hope you enjoy your stay and come back again. Wishing you and Angela much success!

  4. We were in Montana last year, but in the Glacier Park area, never making it over to the central and eastern part of the state. It sounds like we missed a nice visit. Our travel interests are history and nature. In so many instances, they have a big impact on each other.
    I like the connection you have put into your stories. Not only does the pageant connect your heroines, but so does their interest in children who need help. I am glad you put much of your research findings into the book. It is a good way for four readers to learn about the setting of your story and lends a credibility to the story itself. It helps us understand the historicals and give a good foundation for the contemporary stories.
    I wis you good success with the release of SNOWFLAKE TIARA.

    • It’s neat to stand in a natural environment and think about the people who first saw and experienced it. How was it the same back then? How was it different?

      Angie and I had fun working in the various connections in our stories. Those came from multiple Google hangouts with words like, “Cool, if you do that, then I’ll do this, and it will be so much fun!”

  5. I am so appreciative of all the comments and really enjoyed sharing Montana with you all. Thank you, Valerie, for such a great post about our experience and thank you to the Petticoats & Pistols gals for hosting!

  6. Hello Valerie. Glad to have you visit. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for a chance to win it. I lived in Montana for a short time once on a place my sister-in-law owned where people came on trips to be outdoors and take horseback rides and other out door activities. The big house where people stayed was like an old fashioned motel. And we had a big dining room and meals. I saw some beautiful scenery while in Montana while going and coming. GOD bless you.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  7. I enjoy what you guys tend to be uup too.This sot of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve added you guys to mmy own blogroll.

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