Jacqui Nelson Shares Her New Release (and a little research!)

In my new release, A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my hero is Brynmor Llewellyn (a Welsh American who runs a freight business with his sister and brothers in Colorado) and my heroine is Lark (an Irish-Cree Métis singer and musician from the Qu’Appelle Valley in Canada).

Who are the Métis?

The Métis are specific cultural communities that trace their descent from First Nations (Native American) women and European men who came together with the fur trade in Canada and the United States.

Their unions were often called marriage à la façon du pays which meant “according to the custom of the country.” Written with a lowercase m, métis is the French word for “mixed.”

In Canada, the women in these unions were (in the east) Wabanaki, Algonquin, and Menominee and (in the west) Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Nakoda, and Dakota/Lakota. The men were fur trappers mainly from France (but later also from Scotland, England, and occasionally Ireland). Their children grew up mostly in their mothers’ cultures but were often also introduced to European traditions.

The Métis were (and still are) very musical

Their instruments were portable and easy to tune and play by ear. Favorites were the violin, mouth-organ, accordion, jaw harp, comb, and spoons. Some sources say there was rarely a Métis home without a fiddle.

In A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my heroine is forced to give an impromptu performance in a remote cabin and plays the spoons—her favorite instrument after the hurdy-gurdy.

While people of Métis heritage are found all across Canada, an area where their culture developed as a distinct ethnicity is the Red River Valley in Manitoba. This region extends south across the border into North Dakota and Minnesota.

In the map below, the Red River is in pink and the Red River drainage basin is in yellow.

But why is my heroine from the Qu’Appelle Valley (shown north of Regina on the above map)?

Lark might have come from anywhere, even from the Red River Valley. All those R’s give it a nice sound. And Lark is a singer and musician, so sounds are extra important to her. But it’s all backstory anyway. So why does it matter?

It matters because I love history, and I love giving my characters a connected history.

What’s the Qu’Appelle connection?

The Qu’Appelle River and Valley got their name from a Cree legend about a spirit that traveled up and down the river. The Cree told the fur traders they often heard a voice calling, “Kâ-têpwêt?” When the Cree responded to the call, it would echo back.

In French, “Kâ-têpwêt” means “Qui appelle.” And in English that’s “Who is calling?”

The word “calling” is the connection. Qu’Appelle is the perfect place for Lark to be from not only because she is part Cree, but because A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (set in January 1878) is really a sequel to Brynmor’s sister’s story, ROBYN: A CHRISTMAS BRIDE (set a month earlier in December 1877). And Robyn’s book is the sequel to THE CALLING BIRDS (set a year earlier in December 1876) whose heroine, Birdie, is French-Canadian.

Qu’Appelle is a historical callback (and tribute) to those previous stories and their characters—several of whom make an appearance in A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (book 1 in my Songbird Junction series). It’s all in the family, whether they are connected by blood or by love. From Birdie to Robyn to Lark. But it doesn’t end there.

There are Oriole and Wren—Lark’s sisters-of-the-heart.

They became family while growing up in a missionary orphanage after their Cree mothers died. Now they’re a songbird troupe under the control of a lying and abusive manager who calls himself their uncle. Lark, Oriole, and Wren’s goal is to finally escape him and start a new life. A goal that Brynmor, Heddwyn, and Griffin are determined to help them achieve.

You can read A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR’s book blurb and the opening scene on my website.

Do you have a favorite name, place, or word that inspires you? Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR or an e-book of your choice from my backlist.


Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada.


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32 thoughts on “Jacqui Nelson Shares Her New Release (and a little research!)”

  1. Jacqui, what an educational blog to read. Thank you for sharing so much information Métis and your upcoming books. Very interesting. I always enjoy being introduced to new authors.

    If I had to pick one word it would be JOY. To me, it is a word that encompasses so many emotions. Even in sorrow there is the joy of Heaven for believers. I love the word joy.

    • Well I didn’t know very much of this history but I know very little about Canadian history. Thanks for sharing. This was a wonderful book full of culture and bits of history that was very intriguing. Hmmm your questions… I don’t really have a favorite name but I’m notorious for not being able to pick a favorite of anything. I mean just one of anything!?!? So a favorite place I pick one of my two favorite places and Tonya Lucas already picked one so I pick the other, Marion, Kentucky. I lived in Marion from the age of 4 through 4th grade and I have tons of great memories there. I used to go back there in the summer every year to visit and I’ve been able to reconnect with many friends there thanks to Facebook. I have a sister, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that live there as well as my brother’s daughter. It was also the last time and place in my life that my family still lived together. My oldest brother and oldest sister stayed in Marion when the rest of the family returned to Texas. Shortly after returning to Texas my other brother was killed I’m a dirt bike accident and then shortly after that my parents divorced. So as you can now understand Marion holds a special place in my heart. Great blog!

      • Hi Stephanie. Thanks for sharing how much Marion means to you! All those memories. Good and bad. I felt like I was there with you, even with the distance of place and time. Oh, the power of words!

  2. Welcome. Wow this is truly an interesting post. Thank you for sharing your findings in history about these men and women. I have always loved the name “Heather” I once saw a painting with heather all up and down the hills. I looked into the plant and just fell in love with those flowers. Consequently, when we had a girl, her name was to be Heather. And because at the time I would be having an infant and a toddler I tacked JOY as a middle name. For sure I would need loads of that. LOL

    • Hi Lori. I love the name Heather and the plant as well! I tried to plant heather on my balcony garden a few times but it didn’t do well. I assume it must be happiest – or most joyful 🙂 in those hills you mentioned.

  3. Hmmm, great question. For place, I love my own living room when we’re snowed in and all my family is safe at home. (Of course, I picture myself curled up under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and book.)

  4. The books sound great! The only name that really inspires me is Jesus, since He loved me enough to die on the cross for me, and yet He lives since His Father raised Him back up.

    • Welcome Jacqui. My Grandchildren inspire me. They inspire me to do more. Get up and play. Go for walks. Pick up a ball. What a wonderful blog and story. My husband has Algonquin in his heritage.

      • Hi Charlene. Love your inspiration! I haven’t been blessed to have children, but the young people that have found their way into my life (and me into theirs) definitely help to keep me going and trying new things.

  5. Fantastic blog, Jacqui! I am inspired by western balladeers such as Don Edwards. There is so much history in his songs and soul in his voice that it inspires me to write.

    • Hi Jeannie. Thank you for calling my blog fantastic! Happy to hear you enjoyed it. I feel the same way that there’s so much inspiration to be found in music and songs and voices.

  6. Jacqui- Amazing blog. I loved this book. Whoever wins a copy is in for a treat. A place would be back home in Stephenville, TX, a word is love, and I think those two go together very well. Congrats on another wonderful book and I hope you have an amazing holiday season.
    Love you my sweet friend!!

    • Hi Tonya! Fantastic to see you here! And, oh yes, I agree that the words home and love go VERY well together. Thank you for your awesome compliments about my guest blog and Brynmor and Lark’s story!

    • Hi Caryl. Water is a wonderful pick! I grew up on a farm in the prairies but always dreamed of living near the ocean. Now that I do, I dream of living back on the farm near a river or, even better, and a sweet little creek. Can’t beat the sound of water…unless it’s the wind rustling the leaves of a tree 🙂

  7. I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York. Our house sat on a hill from which we could see Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The seasons brought wonderful changes to the view and you never knew when Mt. Washington (visible from our house) would be covered in snow. Since then, the mountains have always spoken to me. We lived in view of Pikes Peak in Colorado and now live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have spent time in Alaska and Western Canada. The mountains call and it is hard to resist. I found your piece on the Métis interesting. Both sides of my family go back to the original French settlers in Canada which is now Quebec. There are several wives in the 1600’s who are listed with no birth date or last name, just a first name of Mary, etc. which would be typical of those First Nation women converted to christianity. The area was Algonquin territory. It is very possible these wives were First Nation since there were very few french or english women in the area. Of course records being what they are, or are not as the case may be, it is hard to get detailed information that long ago. They were several generations before your story. It would be interesting to know if the offspring of Mary were musical.

    • Hi Patricia. Your description of the mountains is making me want to be there right now! Your family history sounds very interesting. Lots of stories there. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  8. Research is fascinating and one can easily lose track of time reading up on things to add interest or authenticity to a book. I think we have a duty as Canadian authors, to share our wonderful history in our books. I so look forward to reading your book, which sounds absolutely interesting. I also love the cover the hope it wins for best cover.

    • Hi Elizabeth, my fellow Canadian! 🙂 I love the history in your area. Thanks for your lovely comments about “A Bride for Brynmor” and for voting for its cover in the October AllAuthor cover contest!

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