Kaitlene Dee: Apples and Gold in California

The Fillies welcome Kaitlene Dee to our little neck of the woods. She has some fascinating history of an old mining town that she built a story around. Scroll down for her giveaway.

Thank you for having me. I have always been fascinated with small towns, especially ones with a place in history and one such town is Julian, California, which is an official California Historical Landmark. This small mountain town was the only place in San Diego County to have its own gold rush in the late 1860s, early 1870s.

Julian started as a small mining camp that was set up virtually overnight, shortly after Fred Coleman discovered placer gold at a creek in the area in 1869. Many miners rushed to stake their claim at the creek. The summer of 1872 would’ve seen the miner population grow to about 300, the tented mining camp had grown into a bustling town of 50 houses, 4 stores, a couple of restaurants, a schoolhouse, and nearly a dozen saloons.

Later, when the placer gold dried up, the town still survived because of hard rock mines that continued on and yielded nearly $5 million dollars in gold ore.

Julian’s climate also made it ideal for growing orchards, specifically apples. Mr. James T. Madison first brought apple trees to Julian in the early 1870s. Eventually, ranchers moved cattle onto the rolling hills and ranched in the mountain area.

Today, Julian is known for its apple pie festival in the fall (and the aroma of baked apple pie fills the air throughout the town), as well as the numerous cozy, romantic bed & breakfast inns dotting the outskirts of the town.

Currently, a couple of the hard rock mines can still be toured, and the town boasts the fascinating Julian Pioneer Museum with many incredible pieces from history.

Is it obvious that I absolutely love this town? What I haven’t touched on is how amazing the people who made Julian were—and they made it rich in history. These founders and citizens are the true treasure of Julian. For instance, Julian’s first mayor, was in trouble with the residents after a dance at the town hall. During the dimly lit evening dance, the babies were all sleeping in a very dark room, where the mayor went in and switched all the babies around, so the families of the town didn’t discover, until the next morning, that they’d each brought home the wrong baby. Silly mayor!

There is too little space here to share more about them, but they have inspired my heart to write an entire series called the Brides of Willow Creek series (currently, 8 of 10 novels are either written in rough draft or heavily plotted). Originally, the series was to be called the Brides of Julian Creek, but I had to change the name with my new penname for historicals (vs the contemporary westerns I write). The first book, Josina, will release in December 2022 (though the pre-order will have a temporary release date of 3/2023).

As the first book in Brides of Willow Creek series, Josina is about a young lady who is helping friends run their store while the owner’s wife is bedridden. A miner places an order for a rocker cradle for his placer mining work and she mistakenly orders a baby cradle. The encounter between them, when she goes to right the wrong, is hilarious and full of growing romantic tension.

Josina has only a sister, who is currently serving time at a women’s prison for cattle rustling, which has left Josina to fend for herself. When help arrives from the store owner’s family, Josina sets off for adventure and to make things right with the customer, Henry. He turns out to be a handsome grump with an old prospector sidekick who befriends Josina and seems bent on helping her find the adventure her heart’s looking for by way of matchmaking her to the handsome but cranky Henry.

A lighthearted, Christian mail-order bride romance set in gold mining town of Willow Creek, Josina is part of the Brides of Willow Creek series. All books in this historical Christian romance series are stand-alone novels and can be read in any order.

For a chance to win a signed paperback of Josina, please leave a comment

on the trope you love best in historical fiction.

Order your copy of Josina and read how a gold miner discovers a treasure worth more than her weight in gold—the zany lady with her blonde curls and uncontainable adventurous spirit! Pre-order your copy of Josina, available at the special pre-order price of 99 cents for a very limited time only! Order HERE

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Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, not far from Julian CA, and writes contemporary Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please join my newsletter at: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

As a thank you, you’ll receive a sampler containing the first couple of chapters for the first 4 books in the series—yes, it’s just a teaser but I hope it will whet your whistle to give my new series a chance for a place in your reading stack.