Prairie Ho! New Historical Western & a Giveaway!

It’s here!

My first full-length historical, a book that I absolutely love, set on the Western frontier and chock full of the sweetness of Little House on the Prairie, the romance of When Calls the Heart and the yearning of Love Comes Softly

But with the Ruthy-twist of tongue-in-cheek humor, women’s rights and the rise of women not as helpers in settling the West, but as full-fledged partners who came to win rights to vote, hold property and bear the rights and privileges of the time long after they should have.


Settling the frontier wasn’t easy. The lure of free land brought a lot of people west. First in wagons, following the Oregon trail and sometimes veering off and seeking settlements along the way.

Or dying.

It was not for the faint of heart and if you had the misfortune to die in a rocky area, well… you got buried under rocks because there was no way to dig rock, right? ๐Ÿ™ But there were other parts of the country that were more inviting and user-friendly.ย 

This story parallels the settling of eastern South Dakota, in the area of DeSmet where the Ingalls family settled when Pa worked for the railroad and helped bring the railroad to the area.ย ย 

Western settlement was rugged. A host of things blocked people from comfortably making a living off their free land. Blizzards, dugouts, soddies, wooden claim shacks (the coldest of the three!!!), droughts, grasshoppers, fires, thick sod grass, unreliable railroad, lack of food, lack of supplies… You were required to live on the claim for six months of the year and develop the land annually.


Some folks thought that once the railroad came through, things would get easier.

Well, they could have but it wasn’t as if the railroad was able to run 12 months of the year and getting supplies into the west through impassable rails meant people went without. On top of that, there was little to provide fuel on the prairie…. it was fairly treeless except in creek bottoms where cottonwoods stretched long, leggy roots to drain excess water. Buffalo chips provided some fuel, but the bison herds didn’t last long. ๐Ÿ™ย 

Hay twists burned quickly without much heat.

When the railroad brought coal to the west, people cheered. Finally a commodity that allowed them to stay warm through the brutal months of a South Dakota winter!

Except when the trains couldn’t get through, there was no fuel. No goods. Nothing to stock the shelves of the claim shack or the mercantile.

So the train brought a false sense of security and a lesson: To thy own self be true.

Take care of yourself.

Avoid dependence.

Blaze a path.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

And use fuel sparingly. Better a sweater in November than frostbite in March. Use it up, wear it out, make it last.

This story winds its way around your heart. In a very Darcy-like fashion, Seb Ward finds a five-year-old boy on his doorstep, a gift from his father and now the thirty-something proud and private businessman must figure out what to do with his illegitimate brother… The secret must be kept, too many people in South Dakota know Ward’s lumber family in Minnesota and Seb wants to spare his mother and sisters the embarrassment of his father’s misdeeds. But the sudden appearance of a child raises eyebrows, suspicions and gets tongues wagging, doesn’t it? And when the man in question stays close-mouthed but begins arranging for a house and schooling and ordering little boy clothing, well– it’s pretty clear that there’s been some monkey business going on somewhere.

Rachel Eichas’s father was a stern, dispassionate man who raised his four children in a similar home. He drained the joy out of two women, and he’d have done the same to his kids except he died…. Oh, dear! … and now Levi, Rachel, Miriam and Esther have a chance to embrace a different kind of life. Different thoughts. Different modes!


And to be part of the town their father eschewed… except for the money-making wagon business he developed with Levi.

This is a time of discovery for the Eichas women. A time of venture, a time of challenge and choice and when Rachel is offered the job of schoolmistress after a rather rough school year, many doubt her capabilities.

Not Rachel.

She knows she was born to teach. Called to teach. But when she’s attracted to the good-looking lumber man who suddenly has a little boy who looks just like him, she regrets her lack of experience around men.

And when her attraction threatens the job she’s longed for, can she see beyond the obvious to the heart and soul of the people she loves?

Small towns do love to talk, but every now and again, that same small town would do well to sit back and listen…. and maybe they’ll do just that in Second Chance, South Dakota!

Gossip and loose talk are dangerous entities…. have you had a bad experience with either? Leave a comment below and I’ll tuck your name into the prairie pot for a Kindle version of this beautiful new story!

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40 thoughts on “Prairie Ho! New Historical Western & a Giveaway!”

  1. Gossip can be a very cruel evil aspect of daily life, I try to make sure anything I repeat I know to be true before I speak, but I like staying to myself and not be the cause of it.
    Ruth your books sounds amazing. Congrats on another great release.

    • Tonya!!!! Thank you so much, I am thrilled so far with how folks have responded to this story… but we’ll see what the first month brings! EEK! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Gossip is a killer, isn’t it? In Veggie Tales they do the “Rumor Weed” analogy and how it grows, and that’s so true. And gosh, I’m as guilty as anyone, although I hope less so now… than when I was younger and thought I knew so much!

      Not causing trouble is a wonderful attribute!

  2. God Bless those first pioneers who helped developed the west. To endure hardships like they did says much about their character and determination .Interesting post.

    • Carol, I agree. I feel the same way about the original colonists… not the rich men who were handed extensive land grants to come and forge new colonies per se, but the every day person who wanted freedom. Who wanted a chance to get out from under gentrification (oh that word is thrown around today very loosely, as if we didn’t all have access to education and opportunity… ee gads!) and from under the king’s thumb.

      Such courage!!!!

  3. They were a hearty and tough bunch to survive If it wasn’t for the shear determination of those that started out west there would be no west that we know of today.

    • Kim, you’re so right. And every year people would flock back east like homing pigeons, because it was tough. The whole idea of “True Grit” made a difference, for certain. It took grit and guts and sacrifice. But of course it took similar attributes for most of our immigrant ancestors, didn’t it? I had some come over in the early 1600’s and that had to be a walk on the wild side… and the Dutch side was early, too…. But then my Irish side (on three sides) was mid 1800’s from the potato famine and we fight that same blight on our farm, every year.

      So history follows us right along, doesn’t it?

    • Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. Names do hurt us… and sometimes we lay the path for our own sadness. I did some stupid things as a youngster and a teen, and I look back on that and realize that there’s a reason the Bible cautions us to use grace with young people because they’re not fully cooked. They’re not of an age of understanding and compassion and they don’t always see the full import of their actions…. but then if they suffer for it, they learn a hard and sometimes valuable lesson.

      It is hard to know when to speak… and when to listen!

    • Charolette, that won’t be out for a week or so, I’m sorry. We’ll do a giveaway of that once I’ve got a copy in my hands and can check for errors. The paperback versions take us a little longer to get out into hands….

    • Janine, I love that it’s not a big problem in my family any more… and that my circles don’t get into it. First they’re too busy living their lives and trying to get through the crazy cycles of life and second, they understand how imperfect we all are…

      Now don’t get me wrong, there are always a few people we mince our words around because we know it’s going to travel 110 MPH and even faster with Internet and social media, but that just makes me more cautious. And it’s amazing that I can even BE quiet sometimes, but I can be. In the right company. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh, you don’t have to share it! We understand! All it takes is a sly look one way and a false word the other and the fire erupts.

      Glad to see you here, Estella!

  4. This looks good, Ruthy. Love the West in all its aspects — the Gold Rush, the Land Rush, the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the brave people who settled the Dakotas. Good for them for pushing the boundaries, and good for you for pushing yet another writing boundary!

    • Kathy, I didn’t realize how many directions went west in diverse fashion until I started playing with historicals. I’ve watched Ken Burns “The West” and it’s fascinating… and an eye-opener, too.

      I like that it gives us differing points of view and that I’m old enough now to understand what it all means.

      It’s good to have insight and a sense of humor, isn’t it???

    • Like wildfire, Caryl. And you know, you can see it on facebook if you watch. There are folks who like to stir things up, feed the fire, add to the frenzy and I’m not talking Russian bots… I’m talking plain old folks who have nothing better to do than to jump all over someone’s post…. Which is their freedom, right?

      And act mean or know-it-all or insulted or be insulting.

      And it kind of amazes me that we all think that’s okay.

      (I’m frowning, can you see it???)

      I love that we can keep one another informed on social media… and I like that I can get a clear picture of politics on either side, once you clear the smoking guns out of the way…

      And that it’s quick, but that quickness is crazy sometimes.

      Literally crazy.

  5. Gossip I think is really bad everywhere but I think worse in small towns. I would love to read this story sounds like an awesome one to me.

    • Quilt lady, what is your name???? Did I know it and forgot it????

      I know lots of quilters and I need to find one to quilt an old pieced top to a bottom and filling… you just reminded me of that!

      Small towns are especially hurtful because there’s no where to hide on either side… if you’re the one hurt or the one discovered to be doing the hurting.

      That’s a tough scenario!

  6. I truly am very careful about what I say because what may seem innocent to many people may be “fuel on the fire” for those who thrive on gossip. I look forward to reading this new historical western. Who doesn’t love westerns?

    • Thank you, Connie! I’m with you 100%. Fueling the fire…. blch. And I don’t watch TV shows that do that, either. Not any of them because it adds a layer of acceptance to meanness and pettiness and that’s not the way I want to think or live.

  7. Growing up, everyone pitched in and helped out when families were in need or something happened. I’m finding in today’s world, people don’t want to be associated with it. It’s very hurtful!

    • Linda, that’s so sad. I haven’t experienced that here, maybe because we’ve stayed in one spot and we know so many and we have lots of family and friends close by… but I can see how easily that could be different if we’d moved around or didn’t have a core group.

      But we soldier on, one way or another. When things get rough, I picture Mary at that cross. On the road to Calvary. Watching her beloved son.

      She set the best example for strength and I cling to that often.

  8. Having just gone through 3 days without electricity because of a snow storm here in southern Oregon (we rarely get snow and if we do, it’s only an inch but this time it was a FOOT!), I can relate to your post, Ruthy!!!! Our whole town has had a lesson in what’s important and what we really need to sustain us!!! I’m tired of wearing 4 layers of clothes and gloves IN the house, plus eating cold cereal all day!!! I’d love to be entered into the drawing for your book. It sounds like just my type of reading ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh, Val! That’s crazy in winter, isn’t it??? I’m always grateful for March because when we lose power (which is almost a given in March) at least it’s only TWELVE HOURS OF DARKNESS…. when we lose it in December, it’s 16 hours of darkness and gosh, that’s a huge difference.

      Isn’t it amazing what a major power outage will do to us? How we shift priorities???

  9. Fascinating post, Ruthy! I’m so thankful for modern conveniences. I’m quite attached to all my creature comforts, especially my heated mattress pad! Your book sounds fascinating! Throw my name in the drawing.

    • Heated mattress pads…. AHHHHHH………..

      That would be right there with heated seats in my car, which I also don’t have, LOL!

      And a heated steering wheel??? BE STILL MY HEART!

      Winnie, we are blessed, aren’t we?

    • Denise, me too, and then I go ahead and say something snarky or make an observation that shouldn’t be made. And then I’m ashamed of myself.

      Duh on me!

  10. I’m in love with this story already, and I have a copy waiting on my kindle (added to my already-too-long to-be-read list!). Can’t wait to read it!

    • Jan, I hope you love it! You have to tell me when you read it, let me know if it passes muster from another historical author that I love!

      I won’t have Miri’s story done for a while, I’ve got contracted stories and the only indie I’m working on at the moment is the next Wishing Bridge story… That’s been promised for fall, and I can’t let folks down.

      Now I’m going to pray you love this story!

      or at least that you LET ME DOWN EASY, GIRLFRIEND. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. We laugh about it now, but my husband and I got engaged just 7 weeks after we met. A few weeks later, I got lightheaded in my boss’ office and had to sit down for a few minutes. The next day, she quietly pulled me aside and asked kindly if I might be in the family way. (She was very sweet about it and truly meant to be a help.) I reassured her I was just prone to lightheadedness from time to time, but I left wondering just what rumors might be going around the building about me! When I got married 10 months later, still no baby on the way, I figured they’d be put to rest.

    • Oh, that’s the ticket right there! And I love that she was genteel about it, Carrie! That was actually kind when she could have been throwing daggers at the water cooler…

      Good for her.

      And that would have been a Very Long Pregnancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Yes, I have been gossiped about, I believe most everyone has. The hardest part is forgiving the person who did the gossiping and ever those who listened oh so gleefully. It has caused many hurt feelings but I know it is a lie and some day the truth will come out. Gossip can and has destroyed many relationships so if you want to say something go talk to the person you want to gossip about and fix it between the two of you.

    • Vicki, you’re so right. We do talk too much and too freely sometimes. What on earth is wrong with us, lovely lady???? That’s a great solution, go one on one and enough of the talking behind folks’ backs. It’s wrong… and we know it!

      Thanks for being here today!

  13. My family moved when I was in 8th grade. My family chose to leave me in the school where I was to finish the school year since we hadn’t moved that far. I think they were hoping the nuns could straighten me out. Didn’t work. Anyway, my 5 siblings transferred to the county school. I was rather shy back then and when the next school year started, I felt like odd man out. My siblings knew everyone on the bus and I knew no one. I got on the bus, kept my head down and either sat alone or with my sisters, never talking to anyone while my sibling were chatting with all their friends. Many years later, my best friend told me, everyone’s impression by my behavior was that city girl that I was, I felt I was too good to talk to anyone. The word got around and that is the way many saw me for a long time. I don’t make friends easily and was afraid & insecure, not “stuck up.”

    • Patricia, that’s a story conflict right there, especially at that age. And why do kids at that age have a pack mentality??? A bunch of little vultures or velociraptors! Ay yi yi, if we could all go back and change the sins of childhood and adolescence!

      Thank you for sharing this. I can totally see this happening, and now I want to know more about the nuns straightening you out! I loved our Sisters of St. Joseph here in Rochester. They were such a blessing to this poor kid… I’m so glad you stopped by today!

      • Ruthy, We had Dominican nuns and they were for the most part very strict with no sense of humor. As for straightening me out, it was a hopeless cause. I am the oldest of 6 and am still stubborn and opinionated, and my siblings would say bossy. The more strict they were, the less I felt like cooperating. I did, though, and didn’t really give them a hard time. They were of the ruler across the knuckles theory of getting your attention. It was an all girls school that my mother had attended. In her time, it was much larger. Families from Montreal, Quebec would send their daughters there to stay in the dorm and study. I guess it was a way for them to learn english well.

  14. Not sure if you had the drawing yet (just got this email) but … I would love to read this book. Sounds so funny and interesting story lines.

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