Welcome Evelyn M. Hill, author of His Forgotten Fiancée!
Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancé finally arrives in Oregon City — with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall making, but Liza needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember…
Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future?
I will never write about a character who goes bungee jumping.
When possible, I try out the tasks my characters have to do. I want to know what it is like to cook biscuits on a cast iron griddle, how heavy a rifle is when I hold it, how wearing a prairie bonnet limits my peripheral vision like a horse with blinders and what it’s like to use a scythe.
When I wrote His Forgotten Fiancée, I had to write about Matthew using a scythe to harvest crops. He was a lawyer by profession; he knew as much as I do on the subject. I read about people scything, but that’s not nearly as effective as hands-on research.
Googling lead me to Scythe Supply. They sell scythes that are customized to your height, so you can use them comfortably.
Winslow Homer, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
They made it sound so easy to use one. And I did want to know what it felt like to scythe. Besides, my lawn was looking something like this:
Jim Clark, USFWS, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
All right, I have to confess. It wasn’t only for research. There were other reasons to try using a scythe. While my lawn is really too small to hire someone to come take care of it, I can’t cut the grass with a gas-powered lawnmower. Something about these lawnmowers triggers an allergic reaction. I don’t have problems with a push-reel mower, but those don’t do as good a job when the grass is wet. And in the Pacific Northwest, in spring and fall, the grass is pretty much always wet. Using a scythe appealed on more than one level.
So I got one and tried it out. I have to say that I loved, loved, loved how quiet the experience was. I hate the sound of my neighbors’ gas-powered motors. When I scythed, I could hear the birds singing over the swish of the scythe through the grass, and I had no problems breathing. Bonus, my arms got a workout. They felt a little sore when I was done, but not horribly so. And my lawn ended up looking like this:
This is what I wrote for Matthew’s experience of scything for the first time:
Matthew discovered he liked using the scythe. Gripping the snath, he swept the blade in an arc, keeping it low to the ground. The cradle attached to one side of the scythe scooped up the wheat stalks and laid them out on the ground to his left. Then he stepped forward and swept the scythe again. Another step, another sweep of the blade. He could mark his passage through the field by the ever-lengthening row of stalks lying on the ground on his left. The kitten watched for a little while before going off to explore the bushes along the stream.
Liza followed behind him. She gathered up the stalks, winding another stalk of wheat around the bundle and tying it into a knot. He stole a glance at her. Her fair face was flushed, and sweat trickled down and she wiped her brow, but she did not stop bending over and gather up the stalks.
It was laborious work at first, but soon he developed a rhythm. The heat of the sun beat through the thin cotton of his shirt, and sweat trickled between his shoulder blades. But soon, he lost awareness of everything but the swish of the scythe, the sound of bird song, and the sense that he was participating in life, becoming part of something greater than himself. There was a definite feeling of satisfaction when he reached the end of the row and looked back and see what he had accomplished. Here, the results of his efforts were tangible and immediately rewarding, not just moving paper from the In tray to the Out tray. —
For a chance to win a signed copy of His Forgotten Fiancée answer Evelyn’s question and leave a comment on this blog post.
QUESTION: Have you tried using a scythe? I admit, I’m not sure I’d like to have to use one to harvest the south 40, but for a tiny, rain-soaked lawn? It’s got a lot to recommend it.
According to family tradition, Evelyn M. Hill is descended from a long line of Texas horse thieves. (But when your family is not only Texan, but Irish, tall tales come with the territory.) This might explain why she devoted much of her childhood to writing stories about horses. Once she grew up, the stories naturally featured a tall, handsome cowboy as well. She lives at the end of the Oregon Trail, where she gets to do all her historical research in person, and she loves to hear from readers!
His Forgotten Fiancée released January 1, 2018