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Five Reasons to Read - And Write - the Oregon Trail with guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey

 

Five Reasons to Read - And Write - the Oregon Trail with guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey

 by Kathleen D. Bailey, author of Redemption's Hope

Twenty years ago, I had a glimmer of an idea for a novel. An impoverished young widow takes a place as cook on a wagon train, only to discover that the scout for that train is the man who betrayed her three years before. He’s under contract and she has nowhere else to go, so they find themselves slogging across the plains together. Old issues come out, new ones form in the pressure cooker that is 100 wagons filled with 200 to 300 scared, tired people. By the time they reach Oregon Country, both have changed immeasurably.

That gleam in this author’s eye became my first published book, “Westward Hope,” in 2019. I’ve since followed it with “Settlers’ Hope,” 2020, and “Redemption’s Hope,” out July 22 of this year. “Settlers’ Hope” takes place in an Oregon Country hamlet, with survivors of the trail, and “Redemption’s Hope” follows the trail in reverse, as Jenny Thatcher looks for the Native man she thinks she can love. But the Trail marks everything they do, from Oona Moriarty’s quest to find her brother (“Settlers’ Hope”) to Jenny’s retracing the route she took in 1846.

The Oregon Trail. The Great Migration. Opening the West. The Wagon Train era. Its names are legend; its legends are legend. Who hasn’t heard stories of the Americans who shook off their newly-minted country, less than a century after the Revolution, to see what lay beyond those hills?

The Oregon Trail is a gold strike (another beloved Western trope) for the reader.

1. It has tremendous range, from the transcendent novels of Jane Kirkpatrick to a simple novella. Choose your own adventure, there’s plenty of Trail literature, from an afternoon’s read in the hammock to something you can write a thesis about.

2. It can take you to another place, right in your own country. The Plains, desert and Western mountains are an exotic setting to anyone who’s never been there. Chimney Rock, Castle Rock, Independence Rock. Buffalo hunts. Amber fields of grain and snow-capped mountains. Bonus: the characters you’re reading about haven’t seen it either.

3. Oregon Trail books are a history lesson. You learn what they ate, how they ate it, what they packed and what they did when supplies ran low. You learn about the Louisiana Purchase and “Manifest Destiny,” all wrapped around a good story.

4. About that story…Anything can happen when you throw a group of strangers together under almost impossible conditions. You learn about the resilience of the human spirit, and also just how nasty we can be.

5. In the hands of a Christian author, Trail stories are a venue for strengthening your faith. (See #5, below).  


As satisfying as the Trail is for readers, it’s just as big a boon for writers. 

1. The Oregon Trail and its time period (1840s till after The War) is pretty forgiving from a research standpoint. You don’t need to know a lot of battles, dates and who massacred whom. (I’m doing a Lexington-and-Concord story right now, and believe me, there’s no comparison.) You do have to be careful if you throw in real historical characters, making them as accurate as possible, and you do need to have a rough framework of what’s going on Back East. But the real drama in your story will be between the men and women who board those wagons in St. Joseph, Missouri.

2. And drama there will be. Everyone on the Trail had a story. They were running from something or someone (Michael Moriarty in “Westward Hope”), they were running TO something or someone (Oona Moriarty in “Settlers’ Hope”), they were at rock bottom and had nothing better to do (Caroline Pierce O’Leary in “Westward Hope”), or they were good stable people who happened to have wanderlust (Ben Harkness in “Westward Hope”). Face a couple of them off against each other and watch what happens.

3. The Trail itself becomes a character, as the emigrants battle, well, everything. They fight river currents, arid deserts, plagues on their cattle and plagues on themselves. As they reach the higher plains, they throw out almost everything they brought, to make it easier on their suffering horses or oxen, and they learn what really matters. Or they don’t. (Ina Prince in “Westward Hope.”) People die on the Trail and are buried in places their loved ones know they’ll never visit again. Families become fluid, with parents taking in orphaned children and elders dying in the dirt.

4. By its very nature, the wagon train lends itself to high drama. It’s like a small town on wheels, and it has the best and worst of small towns. There’s gossip, backbiting, challenges to the wagon master’s authority. There are petty cruelties. A person’s past catches up with them on the trail, no matter how hard they try to outrun it. But there’s also transcendent kindness, as the emigrants help one another with everything from a loose wheel to childbirth. They are in this together. They don’t have anyone else. 

5. And it remains one of the best venues for exploring our Christian faith in fiction. Like Abraham, these pioneers went out to a land they knew not, or didn’t know enough. Like the Israelites, they turned their backs on their former lives in the hopes of something better. The Trail reduced every man, woman and child to their essence, and when they came to the other coast, most were forever changed. In the hands of an inspirational fiction author, at least part of the change will be spiritual. 

When I was doing library talks on “Westward Hope,” I occasionally encountered people who were skeptical about an inspirational novel. They would ask me, “Just how much religion is there in your book?” It’s a simple question to answer, I’m an inspy author, my faith permeates the books – I hope. My standard answer to “how much religion” is, “I wouldn’t want to take on the Oregon Trail without a belief in something bigger than myself.” There are no atheists in foxholes, or so the saying goes, and I doubt there were many on the Trail.

So check out the Great Migration, and I may be joining you. I thought I was done with the Trail, but new situations and characters are kicking around in my head, and I just might let them out!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Five Reasons to Read - And Write - the Oregon Trail with guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey
Two distinct sets of villains. Two orphaned children. A man without a country and a woman with too much past...All in a rambunctious young country where anything goes, especially in the West. Seriously. What can go wrong?

“Redemption’s Hope” is the third and last installment of Kathleen D. Bailey’s “Western Dreams” series, following “Westward Hope” and “Settlers’ Hope.” The novel takes Jenny Thatcher, a secondary character in the first two books on the ride of her life, from the Oregon Country to New Mexico to San Antonio to New Orleans and back, as she looks for her dream and finds herself in the bargain.

White Bear, the Cheyenne brave, has a foot in two worlds but feels at home in neither. He longs to reconnect with the spirited white woman who had sought refuge with his family three years before. Is his true home with “Blue Eyes,” the woman he knew for only three days? 

Only if he finds her.


Five Reasons to Read - And Write - the Oregon Trail with guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey
Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.

Connect with Kathy at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn 

 

What do you love about reading (or writing) about the Oregon Trail?

One commenter will win an ebook of Redemption's Hope and one commenter will win a New England gift pack (US only for gift pack) 



My Obsession with Research

By Michelle Shocklee

 

I often wonder what my high school history teacher would think if he knew I grew up to become an author of historical fiction. He would no doubt be quite surprised considering my utter lack of interest in bygone eras while spending time in his classroom. Dates, facts, ancient events. Blah. Who cares? I often wondered as he droned on and on about wars and people whose names were faintly recognizable . . . although I couldn’t tell you why.

 

Fast-forward to my late twenties, when I discovered that I not only enjoyed reading historical fiction but found deep satisfaction in writing it as well. And, as every historical author knows, it’s the research into those once-dreaded dates, facts, and ancient events that breathes life into the story. I can’t get enough of them now.

 

You might even say I’m obsessed with research.


My Obsession with Research

My latest novel, Count the Nights by Stars, is a split-time story. With each of the settings being historical, I had the wonderful task of researching two vastly different time periods. When I’m in the throes of writing a new novel, research books litter my desk and the floor surrounding my chair. Websites on historical happenings are constantly open, articles are printed, and I find there simply isn’t enough time in each day to read and research all the fascinating facts about my chosen topic.


After my husband and I moved to the Nashville area in 2017, I was like a sponge soaking up Tennessee’s captivating history. I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico (which has a captivating history of its own I plan to write about someday), and lived in Texas for thirty years after marrying a Texan, so I’d never given much thought to Tennessee. Sure, I knew Nashville was famous for country music and the Grand Ole Opry, but after moving here I discovered a rich history that had nothing to do with music. Those discoveries would eventually inspire me to write my Christy Award‒nominated novel Under the Tulip Tree. But because I’d learned so many interesting things about Nashville’s history through my research that weren’t included in that book, I knew I had to write another one. This time the two historical stars would be the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897 and the famed Maxwell House Hotel.

My Obsession with Research


To help readers envision the exposition, I needed to go beyond mere description. I had to make the expo grounds come alive with sights, smells, and sounds. This is true in any novel, but it is especially true in historical fiction because modern-day readers can’t place themselves in the setting the way they can with a contemporary story. Historical authors must, must, must bring history to life, and to do that we need to know the facts. Yes, those dry, boring facts we despised in history class now become lifeblood to our books. Without them, readers can’t experience the setting with the characters, which becomes a real problem for both the author and the reader.


One of the methods I used to help bring history alive in Count the Nights by Stars was to study photographs of the exposition grounds. Every black-and-white photograph—and there are hundreds of them—reveals large and minute details I incorporated into the story. For instance, while describing Vanity Fair, the amusement area of the fairgrounds, I let my heroine, Priscilla, and her group enjoy spicy pork sandwiches from the Cuban Village while sitting on the banks of Lake Watauga in the warm June sunshine. They discuss what they see—the Parthenon, the Egyptian pyramid-shaped Memphis building, and the giant seesaw—while feeding crusty ends of their sandwiches to the ducks. In those few paragraphs, the reader not only visualizes the setting but imagines the flavors and sounds as well.

My Obsession with Research


Historical photographs also allowed me to place Priscilla and Luca under the newly invented electric lights of the fairgrounds at night, which was especially vital for a pivotal scene. Had I not known electric lights had been employed throughout the fairgrounds, my characters would have been wandering around in the dark. My research also provided schedules and routes for electric streetcars running to and from the exposition, which was essential information at different points in the story. I hope readers of Count the Nights by Stars will truly experience the exposition in their imaginations.


My Obsession with Research


The Maxwell House Hotel is the other main location that appears in both time periods. Priscilla and her family stay at the hotel during their visit to the exposition in 1897, while Audrey and her family live in the hotel manager’s apartment in 1961. Even though it was the same hotel, I might as well have been writing about two separate places. Time had not been the old hotel’s friend, and by 1961 it was a run-down residential hotel rather than the grand dame of Nashville as it had once been. The detailed language I used to describe the magnificent hotel in 1897 was not applicable in the 1961 story. That’s where extensive research came in. Using old newspaper articles, firsthand accounts, and archived pictures, I was able to accurately describe the once-gleaming hotel as it was in 1961.


Writers often ask this question: When do you have enough research?

My answer: Never . . . but you eventually must stop researching and start writing!


Have you read a book where the setting positively came alive in your imagination because of the author’s description? Tell me about it!


(Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Count the Night by Stars).**


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

My Obsession with Research
Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels, including Under the Tulip Tree, a Christy Award finalist. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at michelleshocklee.com.

 



 ABOUT COUNT THE NIGHT BY THE STARS

My Obsession with Research
Count your nights by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears.

1961. After a longtime resident at Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel suffers a debilitating stroke, Audrey Whitfield is tasked with cleaning out the reclusive woman’s room. There, she discovers an elaborate scrapbook filled with memorabilia from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Love notes on the backs of unmailed postcards inside capture Audrey’s imagination with hints of a forbidden romance . . . and troubling revelations about the disappearance of young women at the exposition. Audrey enlists the help of a handsome hotel guest as she tracks down clues and information about the mysterious “Peaches” and her regrets over one fateful day, nearly sixty-five years earlier.

1897. Outspoken and forward-thinking Priscilla Nichols isn’t willing to settle for just any man. She’s still holding out hope for love when she meets Luca Moretti on the eve of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Charmed by the Italian immigrant’s boldness, Priscilla spends time exploring the wonderous sights of the expo with Luca—until a darkness overshadows the monthslong event. Haunted by a terrible truth, Priscilla and Luca are sent down separate paths as the night’s stars fade into dawn.

Count the Night by Stars releases on March 22, 2022. 



**Giveaway prize courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers. Subject to Seekerville and Tyndale House Publishers' Giveaway terms. US mailing address only. Thank you.

Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My! with guest Pepper Basham

Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My! with guest Pepper Basham

Hi Seeker villagers! Carrie here, and I am delighted to host my dear friend Pepper Basham today! Her new book, The Red Ribbon, released October 1st as part of Barbour's True Colors historical true crime fiction series! Take it away Pepper, my Pepper!

Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My!
(Or… What Writing My First Romantic Suspense Taught Me)

by Pepper Basham

On a little knoll overlooking the green rolling hills of Fancy Gap, Virginia, stands an old, white Queen Anne style house quite out of place among the country businesses and small houses scattered nearby. It had always been such a curious sight as I traveled from my house “below the mountain” to high school “above the mountain” in Carroll County, Virginia, where I grew up. The Sidna Allen House—a place which carried rumors of a courthouse shootout, nationwide manhunt, and a massive feud, and it all started with a kiss.

As a teenager driving the winding roads of the Appalachian Mountains, I don’t think I ever imagined delving into the true story of this scar on Virginia history. It’s not a happy story. It’s a true crime.

And as I began my research, many times, there appeared to be no REAL heroes. So when I took the opportunity to bring this unknown tragedy to light through fiction, I struggled with several things.

1.      How do I walk the fine line between truth and respecting the generations of families who still live in my hometown with the lingering effects of this story?

2.      How do I write a story about something that still rings with unanswered questions today?

3.      But most importantly, how can I bring grace into this tragic tale so that the readers will see the hope of Christ in the middle of tragedy?

I’m not a suspense writer, guys. I’m a ROMANCE writer. I write KISSING BOOKS. What on earth was I doing writing a TRUE CRIME fiction?

Well this tragedy starts with a kiss so that helped 😊

Plus, I added a few extra kisses to sweeten the deal.

But this story was dark. Sad. It peeled back the culture I love and shone light on its underbelly. Most of my family STILL live in Carroll County, so the way I handled this story mattered.

Here are a few things I learned.

1.      Writing suspense is painful 😊Seriously, I was sore from my jaws down after I finished this story. I like a little suspense here and there, but I’m not sure my body’s made for writing it on a regular basis. If you write suspense, do you have to see a chiropractor weekly or monthly? LOL

2.      Praise God for fictional characters! When I began working through the history of this story, my fictional hero, heroine, and a few secondary characters helped me weave hope, truth, and…romance into the darker creases of the true crime. Real people are fascinating, but sometimes, we just need to bring in a few make-believe people to round out the hardened edge of fact.

3.     Pain is pain, no matter the era, but kindness is universal too. Tragedy is no respecter of persons. Some pain we bring on ourselves and some happens to us because we live in a broken world. Life is HARD ya’ll! Writing this story just reminded me that pain has been around a long time, so has unforgiveness. What we all need is a lot more compassion, shorter fuses, quicker forgiveness, and quieter tongues. We also need a clearer perspective. Everyone has a backstory, and most of the time we don’t know the deeper hurts people carry which then influences their behavior. Compassion and kindness are universally beautiful and have the power to soften those hardened edges of tragedy and provide healing.

4.    We ALL need hope. Where would we be without it? At first, it was hard to find hope in the research of The Red Ribbon. The true events behind this story don’t have a happily-ever-after for many of the nonfiction characters, but as Christians we live in a dark world with the light of Christ’s hope shining into every shadow. It’s how we should think and breathe. And how much more light is needed when the story is so dark? That’s why, as Christians who write fiction, I think it’s important for us to keep that perspective. Our faith doesn’t have to preach on each page. It can be whispered throughout the story in the character’s actions, responses, and in the scenes, but of all things, our stories should carry the fragrance of hope within them. After all, we’re the storytellers of the God of Hope.

If Christ used story to bring truth and hope, it seems pretty natural for his kids to incorporate the same things into their stories. Don’t you think?

What books have you read lately that helped bring hope to your world? 

 About Pepper Basham & The Red Ribbon

Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My! with guest Pepper Basham

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
 
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
 
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912. 

Amazon | B&N 

Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My! with guest Pepper Basham

 As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about her on her website, www.PepperDBasham.com or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Carrie is giving away a print copy of The Red Ribbon to one commenter! Can be international shipping as long as Book Depository ships to your country. 

What books have you read lately that helped bring hope to your world?

A New Twist on an Old Setting


Brought to you today by historical authors Louise Gouge and Laurie Kingery

Louise M. Gouge here. I had the privilege of writing fifteen books for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical imprint before that line was discontinued in 2018. As a historical writer, I can’t seem to get into writing contemporary stories, so I sadly parted company with Love Inspired. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I learned they would be reprinting my very first LIH book, Love Thine Enemy (2009). Even more delightful is that my book will come out in an anthology alongside a book that impacted some of my future LIH novels: Laurie Kingery’s The Outlaw’s Lady. More about that in a minute.

Love Thine Enemy takes place during the American Revolution in, of all places, Florida! Did you know East Florida and West Florida were British colonies that very well could have joined the revolution when our original thirteen colonies broke with England to form the United States of America? Not only that, but East Florida—St. Augustine in particular—was a haven for countless colonists who remained loyal to the Crown? When I learned that tidbit of history, I knew I had to write about it. Being a romance writer who’s always looking for character conflicts, I also knew my hero and heroine had to be on different sides in the war. That’s when the fun began. Here’s the back-cover copy.
A New Twist on an Old Setting


The tropics of colonial Florida are far removed from America’s Revolution. Still, Rachel Folger’s loyalties remain with Boston’s patriots. Handsome plantation owner Frederick Moberly’s faithfulness to the Crown is as certain as his admiration for Rachel—but for the sake of harmony, he’ll keep his sympathies hidden. After all, the war is too far distant to truly touch them…isn’t it? A betrayal of Rachel’s trust divides the pair, leaving Frederick to question the true meaning of faith in God and in country. Inspired by Rachel to see life, liberty, and love through His eyes, Frederick must harness his faith and courage to claim the woman he loves before war tears them apart.

Sound exciting? I hope you think so.

A longtime resident of Florida, I had no trouble scouting out my settings. I knew that beyond the hero’s Loyalist beliefs, alligators, poisonous snakes, mosquitoes, and a garrison of British redcoats had to provide further danger for my Patriot heroine. Easy-peasy for a romance writer. But where in this sparsely populated colony should my action take place? With Florida providing valuable indigo to dye the blue uniforms of His Majesty’s Navy, an indigo plantation would be the perfect setting for the hero, especially if it’s near a small settlement where the heroine’s father owns a mercantile. But my characters must make a trip to St. Augustine and visit the governor’s mansion and the garrison at Fort St. Marks, so they sail up the St. Johns River by boat, then take a ship from Mayport to St. Augustine, all in the Florida heat. Danger is found at every turn of the river. My husband and I had great fun visiting picturesque 500-year-old St. Augustine, gathering research information about the times, and snapping a few pictures. We visited the colonial governor’s mansion and many shops that look just as they did in the 1700s.

Here’s a fascinating historical tidbit: On the orders of American General George Washington, several sorties into East Florida were advanced by the American Patriots, but none succeeded. Thus, the two Florida colonies remained under the control of the British. As more Loyalists fled to East Florida to escape the American Revolution, they held the line against Patriots who tried to breach their defenses. Just imagine of how different history might have been if Washington had accomplished his dream of winning this front of the American Revolution. Read more about it in Love Thine Enemy.

A New Twist on an Old Setting
 Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical romance fiction. She received the prestigious IRCA in 2005, was a finalist in 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2017; and placed in the Laurel Wreath contest in 2012. A former college English and humanities professor, she and David, her husband of fifty-four years, enjoy visiting historical sites and museums. Please visit her at https://louisemgougeauthor.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLouiseMGouge/, Twitter: @Louisemgouge. I love to hear from my readers. Please feel free to write to me through my website.

Question for my readers: Did you know Florida was a British colony during the American Revolution? If you had been a Patriot in those days, where would you prefer to live? In the northern colonies? Southern? Please tell us why you would make that choice.

As promised, I want to tell you why I’m honored to be with Laurie Kingery in this anthology. When I read The Outlaw’s Lady in 2009, I fell in love with her characters and was enthralled by her story. She took me back to the Old West that I loved while growing up in Colorado—John Wayne movies and the real-life cowboys I went to high school with. Further, Laurie’s story inspired me in my own cowboy stories. After writing seven LIH books set in the Revolutionary War and Regency eras, I turned to my roots and wrote eight LIH westerns. Thanks, Laurie!

Hi! Laurie Kingery here.
As a native Texan, I’ve found it natural to set my historical romances in Texas. In my opinion, few other states have such a rich history, with many events involving men and women such as my hero, Sandoval Parrish, and my heroine, Tess Hennessy.  So I was thrilled when Love Inspired decided to reissue The Outlaw’s Lady, paired with Love Thine Enemy by my fellow LIH author Louise M. Gouge. 

A New Twist on an Old Setting

Historical authors must research their eras to make the background of their stories accurate and believable. Fortunately, I love historical research. The Outlaw’s Lady required research on such interesting topics as antique photography, called daguerreotypes, the terrain of southern Texas and northern Mexico, the Texas Rangers, and famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. My story is set in 1880, a time when strife and cattle rustling were common on Texas’s southern border. I had to understand the process of developing daguerreotypes to make it conceivable that Tess could be rattling around southern Texas and northern Mexico in the company of her kidnappers while developing photographs. Here’s the story:

Rebellious rancher's daughter Tess Hennessy seeks adventure—and that's what she gets when she's abducted to chronicle the Delgado gang's exploits! Yet her kidnapper, gang member Sandoval Parrish, isn't what she expected. There's more to the mysterious outlaw than he shows—signs of gentleness and devotion that soften Tess's heart. Sandoval has one goal: retribution for the sister Delgado ruined. He hasn't the time to fall for the stubborn, beautiful photographer whose pictures he needs as evidence. But what can Sandoval do when his plan puts Tess in danger? Torn between the drive for revenge and a newfound love, Sandoval will need his renewed faith to resolve the past…and claim his future.

A New Twist on an Old Setting

  I love fish-out-of-water stories. Gently reared Tess is definitely out of her element among her dangerous Mexican kidnappers and the enigmatic, half-Mexican Sandoval, who may or may not be a traitor to Texas. I hope you enjoy Tess and Sandoval’s love story as much as I did in creating it. You may contact me at LaurieM440 at aol.com or on Facebook as Laurie Kingery. Thanks! 

A New Twist on an Old Setting
Laurie Kingery began her career as a published author in 1987 under the pen name of Laurie Grant, writing medieval and later western historical romance.  She wrote for Leisure and Warner books, then Harlequin Historicals. Then Harlequin opened up a Christian line of fiction, first known as Steeple Hill, and as a Christian, Laurie felt her writing should reflect her faith. Steeple Hill became Love Inspired Historical and LI suspense and contemporary. She wrote 15 books for them before they closed their historical line. Like Louise, she didn’t feel drawn to writing contemporary stories. Also, ill health has made it impossible for her to spend long hours at the computer at this time. So Laurie was thrilled when Love Inspired decided to reissue The Outlaw’s Lady along with Louise’s fine story and extend her career. When not writing her books, Laurie was a 47 year veteran RN at a level one trauma center ER. Medical knowledge often came in handy in her writing. A resident of Ohio, she lives with her husband Tom, whom she met via eHarmony, and their two dogs. Between them, Laurie and her husband have five grown children and thirteen grandchildren.

A New Twist on an Old Setting

 Ruthy here! 

Laurie and Louise have both offered to send out copies of the anthology to two U.S. readers. Leave a comment below to be entered.... and 

The Joy in History for Writers

by multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne

This is not your typical boring "here's why I love history" blogs.

If it is, I apologize, that wasn't the goal, #EPICFAIL.

But it's not, I can tell already, because if you don't have the proper love and respect and kind of AWE of what people did to claim half-a-continent as their own (by some good and some heinous means) then dudes... y'all are readin' the wrong books.

Or you slept through history class.

Or you're young enough and have been taught either:

1. Very little history
2. Shaded history
3. Alternative Fact History

But in spite of that, you're here, and while I love the image of guys who wrestled cows and rode horses and built cabins and barns and plowed land behind a stubborn as heck mule.... or two...

It's the women that made history come alive, that made things work, that became the jelly between the two slices of fresh-grained bread.


The Joy in History for Writers

And I hope that's what I bring across in my new anthology and the  Prairie Brides novels that follow it.

(Come on, you knew I must have some experience with historicals or I wouldn't be writin' this, correct???)

I've written eight "prairie" novellas, and I love them. I look back at these times when women were fighting for the right to vote...

OH MY STARS.... we had to fight for the right to vote, are you kidding me? (This galls me, the fact that women had to fight for rights... but yay! We did it! Yay us!!!)

In some states we couldn't own property. And if we did and had the audacity to get married, we had to cede it over to our husbands.

(Give me a minute, I'm processing this.... And breathing....)

Okay, I can breathe again. Barely.

I love stories that champion women. I love empowering women to be all that they can be, and that could be the Yankee in me or the snark...

Either way, it works because the good Lord made us strong in the image of his sweet Mama who followed him to the cross so how can we be weak?

We can't.

So in this small western town, we have a delightful middle-aged somewhat bossy seamstress who isn't afraid to use her clout and her instincts to make things better and when she starts bringing single women west, the men of Second Chance won't know what hit them... and that's just the way it should be! :)

Three brides.... who lead us into the stories of three sisters, working a triple claim on the prairie, self-taught women who deserve stories of their own. So coming next month:


The Joy in History for Writers
Sober businessman Seb Ward may have come from a wealthy lumber-baron family in Minnesota, but he knows that appearances can be deceiving, and that his illustrious family is pretty dysfunctional. Being in another state has provided the buffer he sought from his father’s misdeeds, but when a little boy shows up on a train… a little boy who looks enough like Seb to be his own child… Seb’s faced with a dilemma. Raise the boy as his own, or let his mother suffer the embarrassment of “a brother by another mother.” And when the boy takes a shine to the Rachel Eichas, the newly contracted school teacher, Seb can’t help but do the same.  But Rachel was raised by an unloving, business-first father and there’s no way she’s looking for those same qualities in a husband. Can she see through Seb’s focus and drive to find the loving man within?



Rachel's is the first in the "Prairie Brides" books, to join my growing list of independently offered stories... and aren't we blessed to live in a time when authors can work hand-in-hand with publishers of all kinds to get their books into the hands of an avidly reading public? We are truly our very own "small business" owner!

I'm giving away an e-copy or a print copy of  "The Sewing Sisters' Society" today, but you have to play along... who is your favorite historical character and why?

Mine is Ben Franklin. I use so many of his nuggets of wisdom and I love that he was always inventing things. He was so stinkin' smart!

I'm sure he had his faults, but gosh... I would love to just sit and have a conversation with that man sometime.

Extremely cool person.

Okay, coffee's on, you know what to do and I can't wait to talk historicals with youse!!!! Because I love 'em so much!

The Joy in History for Writers
Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne likes to make things up. She does it a lot. And now they pay her for it, so she's pretty sure she's the luckiest woman on earth. Find her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook or email her at loganherne@gmail.com or spin by her website ruthloganherne.com She loves to hear from readers and writers!


Five Reasons to Read - And Write - the Oregon Trail with guest blogger Kathleen D. BaileyMy Obsession with ResearchCorn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My! with guest Pepper BashamA New Twist on an Old SettingThe Joy in History for Writers

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