Welcome, Heather Blanton

Today we’re happy to welcome Heather Banton! Today Heather will tell you about her book, A Good Man Comes Around, and she will give away three copies of her book to three winners. If you prefer, you can choose a book from her back list. Welcome, Heather!

In the Tragedy, Find the Blessings…

Greed is good.

Greed is good?

Hardly. But the 19th-century discoveries of gold and silver inarguably drew men by the thousands to the American West. Some prospectors were good. Some were bad. All played their part in settling America’s frontier.

As I researched gold rushes for a few previous books, I was struck by one man’s random, utterly stunning gold strike, and the way it impacted his life. His tale is the basis for my book, , the expanded version releasing today!

 

Oliver Martin was one of the few men in the goldfields who was there more out of directionless boredom than Gold Fever. Ostensibly, he was in the gold camps to strike it rich. The fact was, though, Oliver was a good-for-nothing slacker who didn’t even own a pan. Hard work didn’t pull his trigger. He meandered around boom towns like El Dorado and Yuba, panning, drinking, doing odd jobs, but mostly, drinking. Drifting, lost, he had no real plans for his life.

Then tragedy struck. And in nearly the same instant, Oliver was handed an incredible, amazing blessing. I mean, a jaw-dropping fork in his road.

 

After an accident, the young man had to bury his lifeless best friend in the wilds of the Sierra Mountains. Grief-stricken and with no conscious thought to location, he merely chose the first spot he saw. Along a bustling creek, he dropped to his knees and started clawing at the sand. He had not dug down two feet when he found a nugget of gold that weighed in at over eighty-five pounds.

Eighty. Five. Pounds.

In modern money, the rock had an approximate value of $650,000. Digging less than a foot in any direction and Oliver would have missed the nugget entirely.

I was fascinated by this turn of events in the man’s life. Wham! Suddenly he had a pot of gold sitting in his lap. He had gained something of great value yet lost something priceless, irreplaceable, in one fell swoop. I thought of Job—God blessing him, then Satan cursing him.

Receiving an overwhelming financial windfall is definitely a blessing or a curse. Depends on how you use it. We know most of these stories don’t end well. The goldfields were killing fields, rife with thievery, murder, and mayhem. And even when the prospectors managed to hang on to their money, they often spent it on riotous living before they could get out of the mountains.

Oliver found himself facing an unfamiliar choice: squander the unimaginable wealth or use it wisely, to become a better person, maybe make the world a better place.

What would he do? He had spent much of his life breaking promises, abusing friends, and running from God. Now it was time for him to examine his heart. He was still reeling from the painful loss of his friend. How could his future be so bright and yet so grim? Was it even in him to be a better man?

Meanwhile, God was working on someone else’s heart. Moved by Oliver’s tragedy, Abigail Holt, the mail-order bride Oliver had rejected, offered him friendship and forgiveness.

So, the question is, did Oliver go the way of so many lottery winners? Did he drink and gamble the money into oblivion? Loan it to moneygrubbing friends more lost than he? Or did he grow up and find the path God had for him? Did Abigail play any part in his choices?

I hope you’ll read releasing today and find out what drew me to this true Gold Rush story.

What about you? Have you or anyone you know been able to look past an enormous tragedy and find a blessing in it? Comment to win your paperback copy OR any paperback by me of your choosing! I’ll do THREE (3) winners!

Geiser Grand Hotel

I’ve been busy working on the next book in my Baker City Brides series, set in historic Baker City located right along the Oregon Trail in Eastern Oregon.

The series begins in the early 1890s when Baker City was experiencing its second gold rush period. (The first came in the 1860s). Baker City was the geographic center for booming gold, copper, and silver mines. It became a center for trade and commerce and was the second city in the state to boast electricity and paved roads.  In fact, it’s said Baker City almost became the capital of Oregon.

During the heyday of Baker City, new buildings and businesses were popping up all around. The town had earned the name “Queen City of the Mines.”

And one of those new buildings just happened to be a wonderfully luxurious hotel named Hotel Warshauer. Merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the hotel in 1889. Built in an Italianate Victorian style, the building was designed by architect John Bennes and constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the region.

The hotel featured a four-story clock tower and a 200-foot corner cupola. Supposedly, the hotel cost $70,000 to build and included 80 guest rooms as well as seating for 200 in the elegant dining room.

A second-floor balcony overlooked the dining room’s marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and mahogany paneling. Presiding over it, was a beautiful stained glass ceiling (reportedly the largest in the Pacific Northwest) that allowed light to drift into the interior.

The Hotel Warshauer was innovative and ahead of its time. It offered electricity in every room along with hot and cold running water and bathrooms! The hotel also boasted the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River.

They even had a little gold tasseled cloth that hung in each room with a list of rules.

Rule #2: “Fires in rooms charged extra.” Presumably, this was the fire in a stove to warm the room, not setting the room ablaze.

Rule #6: “We will not be responsible for boots and shoes left in the hall. Guests desiring them blacked will please leave with the porter.” I love this one because in Corsets and Cuffs (book 3 in the series) the heroine leaves her shoes in the hall to be cleaned and polished, and they disappear. I wonder how many people had that happen back then?

The hotel was eventually purchased by the Geiser Family of the Bonanza Mine fame. They renamed the hotel the Geiser Grand Hotel, a name it carries to this day.

Baker City and the hotel did well through the 1920s, up until the depression. After that, the hotel began to lose business and fell into a state of disrepair.  One highlight was the cast of Paint Your Wagon staying at the hotel when the movie was filmed in 1968. (The movie starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Several fun tidbits about the filming of the movie and even a few costumes are on display at the Baker Heritage Museum.)

The hotel was closed in 1969, though. The exterior cracked, the interior sustained massive damage and decades later, the threat to tear it down was real.

In 1978, the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places, including the hotel. Attempts were made to preserve the hotel, but it wasn’t until Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel in the early 1990s and poured millions into a restoration and renovation that brought the hotel back to life.

Today, guests can step inside the hotel and find that it looks much as it did back in its days of glory. The stained glass ceiling still floods the restaurant with light, and the opulence of days gone by prevails from the mahogany wood in the lobby to the chandeliers in the guest rooms.

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To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Crumpets and Cowpies, the first book in the Baker City Brides series, please post your answer to this question:

If you were traveling in the year 1890, what luxury item or amenity would you want to find in your hotel room?

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Baker City Brides