The Colorado Sun teamed up with Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book to publish articles about last year’s Colorado Book Award finalists and winners. HUNTING HOUR takes the spotlight in this insightful interview about the book’s inspiration and writing process, and an exclusive excerpt from this CBA finalist is also included.Read the article and excerpt here…
As part of our livelihood, my husband and I raise purebred, registered Angus cattle. The majority of our calves are born in January and February, so by March these babies are playing in the pasture. It’s so fun to watch them run and buck. One calf gets started and all the others bust a move, releasing all that energy that comes from mama’s milk, sweet grass hay, and spring sunshine.
And what’s happening with the books? I’m thrilled to tell you that HUNTING HOUR has been selected as a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards mystery category and in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards for best mystery. I couldn’t be happier for this book, which began as a project of my heart. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s almost (although not quite) like having one of your kids recognized for an achievement. I’m so happy that others love Mattie, Robo, and Cole about as much as I do!
What’s happening in your neck of the woods this spring? I love hearing from you.
The American Library Association held their midwinter conference in Denver this year and true to form, Colorado blasted us with an icy snowstorm. The convention center was nice and warm though and a lovely venue for thousands of participants who had at least one thing in common – we love books!
My publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and our distributor, Ingram Publishers Group West, gave away copies of HUNTING HOUR, the latest Timber Creek K-9 Mystery. Sharing free books with librarians and readers is a fun gig, and I’m so grateful to Crooked Lane for making it happen. It was wonderful to meet and greet those of you who were there that day.
I also spent time staffing the Sisters in Crime Colorado booth where we shared information about our national organization’s We Love Libraries program. Each month in a random drawing, Sisters in Crime National awards a $1000 grant to a library for purchasing books. It’s easy to enter and non-winners are automatically entered in the next month’s drawing. If you’re affiliated with a library and would like to enter, go here for details.
One nice thing about the snow, once I returned home after a long day at the convention, it felt great to snuggle under a comforter in front of the fire with a good book. Happy midwinter reading, everyone!
I’m thrilled to interview Patricia Stoltey on my blog this week. Patricia’s book, Dead Wrong (2014, Five Star Publishing), was a Finalist in the 2015 Colorado Book Awards, and it is a suspenseful thriller that I highly recommend. She has a new book, Wishing Caswell Dead, that will be released December 20, 2017, and I can’t wait to read it. Welcome, Patricia!
Please tell us about yourself:
First, Margaret, let me thank you for inviting me to participate in an interview for your blog. It’s always a pleasure to work with my Colorado author friends.
I qualify as a late bloomer when it comes to writing. I dabbled a lot during my “working in the real world” years, attended mystery fan conventions, took writing courses, and dreamed, but the only thing I had published during all that time was a humor essay on ham radio (“What’s a Nice Lady Like Me Doing in a Shack Like This?”) and a books-on-tape version of a pretty bad thriller about truckers and unions (The Troubleshooter) my brother and I wrote back in the 80s.
Illinois was where I grew up, but I also spent some years in Muncie, Indiana where Ball State University started the Magna cum Murder mystery fan convention. Then off to a couple of years in the South of France (an amazing experience), eleven years in south Florida (hot and sticky), and finally retired to Colorado (a writer’s paradise).
Once my husband and I got the travel bug out of our systems, I got serious about writing. A novel writing class was the beginning, followed by a critique group, joining Northern Colorado Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and finally, attending the Colorado Gold Conference where I signed up for a critique workshop moderated by Five Star editor Deni Dietz. The rest is history.
Let’s talk about your new book.
Wishing Caswell Dead is the novel of my heart. Even if I never get another book published, I’ll be content, knowing this one finally found its way into the world. It took a long time. I wrote the first draft back in 2006-2007.
The novel is the story about some of the people who end up in the Village of Sangamon on the day Caswell Proud is murdered, how each of those folks came to be there, and how their lives were impacted by the evil that lurked in the village. Caswell’s younger sister Jo Mae is a central character, and more than anyone else, wishes Caswell dead. The short synopsis on the Amazon page reads like this:
“In the early 1800s in a village on the Illinois frontier, young Jo Mae Proud wishes her cruel brother dead. Forced into prostitution by Caswell, Jo Mae discovers she is pregnant and vows to escape. When Caswell is injured by a near lightning hit, he becomes more dangerous and more hated. The flawed residents of the Village of Sangamon harbor many secrets. Caswell knows them all. Will he tell? Jo Mae runs away and eventually finds shelter with Fish, the old Kickapoo Indian who camps by the river. Wishing Caswell Dead is a historical mystery about the evil that hides within a village, one girl who is determined to save herself and her child, and a violent murder no one wants to solve”–
How did you go about your research for writing a story set in the 1800’s?
It helped that I grew up in central Illinois where the book is set, so I had a little bit of Illinois history in my memory bank to give me a running start. There is even a detailed local history of a small town that’s located just about where the Village of Sangamon would be if it was a real place. Once I started reading, I almost couldn’t stop. Did you know that part of the Mississippi River ran backward right after the main New Madrid earthquake struck in 1811? You learn the coolest stuff when you start researching for a historical novel.
To fine tune my knowledge of the land, occupants, tools, and events, I visited the Museum of the Grand Prairie in Champaign County, IL (http://www.museumofthegrandprairie.org/exhibits.html) and reviewed everything I’d ever learned about New Salem, IL, including when Abe Lincoln ran the little post office there.
Luckily, when Five Star asked for the sources for my information, I had every book title and author written down with my notes plus all the URLs for websites I’d consulted. I have everything carefully filed for future reference…just in case I decide to write a sequel someday.
Being a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards is quite an achievement. What has helped you most with the art and craft of fiction writing? Do you have recommendations for aspiring writers who wish to publish their work?
You know, I felt so prepared and so confident when I wrote my first novel because of all the reading I’d done, the classes and workshops I’d attended. When The Prairie Grass Murders was accepted by Five Star and I sent in my completed manuscript, I knew it was clean and ready to publish.
Can you imagine how I felt when I received the manuscript back from my new editor with corrections and comments and requests for changes on every page? Almost every paragraph? First I felt shocked, then anger, and finally, after reviewing every one of those comments and requests in detail, I felt embarrassed. I still had a lot to learn.
I had two choices. Quibble about everything and be a difficult author (and possibly lose my contract) … or put my nose to the grindstone and do the work. I chose to do the work. My editor, Deni Dietz with Five Star, taught me more about writing through the editing process of my four books that I learned in all those years of reading and attending classes.
Many of today’s writers want to shorten the process from writing to publication, and I don’t blame them. But each writer should be aware that we’re not our own best editors, and our critique groups probably can’t do the job an expert editor can. For the self-pubbing group, I recommend hiring a professional editor before publishing.
For those, like me, who prefer to stick with the traditional path because it’s easier on the time requirements and the wallet, be prepared for the worst when those editor letters arrive. If you managed to submit a clean manuscript the first time around, you’re a genius and I’m jealous. If you have a lot to work on, consider it a learning experience and be grateful for those wonderful editors.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Patricia! Please find contact details below in Patricia Stoltey’s Bio.
Patricia lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Katie Cat who keeps stealing her chair, and Sassy Dog who thinks watching Facebook dog videos is the only reason to turn on a computer. When she’s not writing, she gardens, crochets, and does a lot of lollygagging. Learn more about her at her website/blog (http://patriciastolteybooks.com), Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1105939.Patricia_Stoltey). Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/patricia.stoltey), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/PStoltey). Wishing Caswell Dead is available for pre-order at amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Wishing-Caswell-Dead-Patricia-Stoltey/dp/1432834401/) and other online booksellers.
I’m pleased to host mystery writer Leeann Betts on my blog. Here’s a spotlight for her new book.
In Search of Christmas Past
This romantic suspense set in the mountains of Colorado came to me a couple of years ago when I was struggling to develop an idea for a novella. At that point, I’d never written a novella and only read a few of them, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I wanted to write about a place I love—the mountains—and a horse stable I’d visited in Estes Park, Colorado.
The characters came to me one day when I was in a WalMart parking lot. I saw gulls soaring overhead and landing to eat a discarded hamburger when the idea came to me that those gulls—which I called seagulls because I’m an East Coast girl—must have been blown really far off course to end up in Colorado. I mean, any coast is more than 1500 miles away from here.
So I went home and did some research, and I found out they aren’t seagulls—they’re just plain gulls. And despite my wanting to connect them with the ocean, they’ve never been there and likely never will.
Intrigued, I thought about gulls and mountains and horse stables and came up with this story.
I love these characters because they reflect me at different times in my life. As a teen, I was certain I knew exactly what I would be when I grew up—a veterinarian. Well, that didn’t happen, so I left college and worked for almost 20 years before deciding I could get ahead faster with a degree, so I did business and accounting since I was already working in that field. Then I decided to leave that career and go to veterinarian assistant, but God had other ideas. Instead, I moved to Colorado to wed a man I met online. But that’s a story for another day.
Grace and Luke also mirror my faith walk. Just like Grace, I’ve been angry at God over the years. I blamed Him for not answering my prayers to heal my mother, at a time in my life when I wasn’t even following Him. And I’ve also experienced a loving, growing relationship just like Luke does, and I’ve been through the mountains and valleys of everything in between.
The good news is that just like with Grace and Luke, God isn’t done with any one of us yet. We just need to hang in there, get around the next corner, and then be able to see what He has in store.
Here’s a sneak peek at In Search of Christmas Past:
At the sound of tires crunching on the snow, Luke Fisher looked up from the stake he was using to anchor an errant sapling into an upright position. A shiny red sports car eased through the gate and into the single cleared space in the parking lot. The farm didn’t open for five days, and he hadn’t gotten around to plowing since the storm on Saturday.
Luke focused on the task. Nobody wanted to buy a crooked Christmas tree. The driver was probably just lost and using the lot to turn around. He pulled the cord taut and checked the rubber collar around the trunk of the baby tree. Satisfied, he stood. The driver exited the car and pulled her coat collar around her ears. Her brown hair escaped her knit cap, and the ends danced around her face.
Luke walked toward her, feeling underdressed, like a poor country cousin, compared to his visitor. Her leather jacket hugged her form as though made especially for her. He glanced at his flannel garment hanging open over a t-shirt and jeans and groaned inwardly. This was no way to make an impression on a customer. Or a woman as lovely as she.
He peeled off his gloves and extended his right hand. “Welcome to Valley View Nursery. We don’t open for a few days.”
She returned the gesture in a solid handshake. Not too strong, no shrinking violet. He liked that in a woman.
She glanced at the trees around them. “I’m looking for something.”
“Anything in particular?”
“Like I said, we aren’t open yet, but I guess I could sell you a tree if you find the one you want.” He eyed the car. “Planning to carry it back on that?”
She studied the acres of trees covering the hillside. “I don’t want to buy a tree. I’m looking for something on a bough.”
Luke offered a smile. “As you can see, we have lots to choose from. And if you don’t see the one you want, we have about a thousand acres more.”
She stared at him, one eyebrow lifted.
Luke shoved his hands in his pockets. Great, she thought he was a babbling idiot. Best to keep his mouth shut.
She sauntered down the first row toward a tree all dolled up in Christmas ornaments, and Luke followed close behind. The frozen ground crunched beneath their feet and the breeze carried their breath off in clouds.
She pointed to the Colorado spruce. “Maybe this one.”
Luke waited near her as she scanned the branches. After a minute or so, she turned. “Any other decorations?”
“Sure.” Hitching his head to one side, he walked away in the opposite direction. He paused at a clearing between the spruces and the scotch pines. “There.”
He loved the effect this section of the farm had on people, and he wasn’t disappointed by her response. In typical fashion, her eyes grew large and her mouth formed an “o” as she stared at the eight trees, bedecked in hundreds of ornaments and lights. She stepped closer to the first tree and craned her neck to survey the twelve-foot pine from top to bottom.
At his laugh, she glared at him. “What’s so funny?”
He sobered. “I love it when folks see these trees for the first time. Doesn’t matter how old or young they are, same look on their faces.”
“How nice.” She turned on her heel and resumed her study.
Or maybe that wasn’t the right word. Not so much study as search.
“Are you looking for a particular ornament?”
She kept her eyes on the tree. “Something to do with the seas.”
Luke followed her gaze. “Seas?”
She pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. “Right, and something about being lost.”
She returned the note to her pocket. “Is there an echo here?” Tilting her head to one side, she smiled in his direction. “Nope. No echo.”
Was she flirting with him? Or taunting him? “Think I’ll sit in my trailer and get something hot to drink.”
She touched his forearm. “I’m sorry. I-I need your help.”
He paused and looked off at the mountains in the distance as if considering her words. Which he wasn’t. The jolt of electricity at her touch warmed him all the way to his heart, and he never wanted her to remove her hand. Years had gone by since a woman said she needed his help. Not since his mother—and never Melanie. No, she showed him what she needed. Hundred percent diva, that woman. She didn’t need him. She needed money to support her in the lifestyle to which she wanted to become accustomed.
And that wasn’t him.
Surprising himself, he nodded. “I’ll help. Tell me again what you’re looking for.”
When she spoke, the wind carried the vapor toward the nearest tree like a wraith. “Seas. Lost. That’s all I know.”
About In Search of Christmas Past
Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jet-setter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.
Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.
Can Grace and Luke solve the clues and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.
Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.
I’m thrilled to announce that STALKING GROUND, book two in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series, has won a gold medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards mystery category. Recognition that you’re on the right track is always nice to receive!
It’s been a busy year. I completed the manuscript for the fourth book in the series and sent it to publisher Crooked Lane Books this morning. This is the kickoff to the editing process, which will take several more months, but it should be ready for release by late summer of 2018. I hope readers will enjoy it! Book three, HUNTING HOUR, launched in August of this year, and I’ve participated in conferences, book signings, and author talks centered on its release. I have a few events left this year to round out the season. Please take a look at the Events page on my website for future appearances and stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.
Go here to see a Reader’s Favorite review of STALKING GROUND, and please post your own review or a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
The writing life circles around seasons that are tied in with the four that most people recognize, and since I’m writing a series, late summer has become the time when my family and I celebrate the birth of a new book. This year the new Timber Creek K-9 Mystery is Hunting Hour, and we’ve anticipated its release on August 8 for several months.
The writing cycle for this book began winter of 2016 when I first began to incubate the idea for it and started the research. As always, I brainstormed with my husband and other consultants who know more about the subject than I, and by February, I put together a loose outline that included most of the major turning points but still contained holes that needed to be filled. I started writing the book by March of 2016, plugging those holes as I wrote.
It takes almost two seasons – or about five months – for me to complete the first draft of a manuscript. I write in the mornings and work my day job in the afternoons. By August of 2016, I had completed a rough draft that needed a great deal of revision before I wanted to show it to my editor. I shared a summary of the story with the team at Crooked Lane Books, however, and by autumn of 2016, they had designed a brilliant cover.
Beta readers and consultants read and provided input for the second draft, I revised again, and by the third draft, it was ready to submit to my editor. By now, we were into October. Two to three rounds of editing took us through the fall and into the winter of 2017. By that time, I also began planning the next book.
During winter and early spring of 2017, we finished Hunting Hour with a couple rounds of proofreading for those pesky typos and mistakes, and I started to write the fourth book, scheduled to release around this time next year. Now, here at the end of the summer and on the eve of launching book three, the first draft of book four is almost complete. I can’t wait to see the cover that Crooked Lane comes up with for this next episode.
I’m grateful for all the support provided by my agent, Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary, during the many seasons of the writing process. And now, we celebrate. My two daughters will fly to Colorado from the west coast and join the launch party. Joy! The weekend will fly by, and I’ll spend every minute that I can with them.
Then we’ll all go back to work, and the cycle continues.
I’m pleased to host Leeann Betts as a guest on my blog today. Her new book Hidden Assets, a mystery featuring forensic accountant Carly Turnquist, released in June and is now available. Here’s a word of advice from Leeann about a writer’s deadlines.
By Leeann Betts
There is something intimidating about deadlines. When you first sign that contract or make that agreement to have your book in your publisher’s hands six months from now, that seems like a long time. Sure, you can take a week off and celebrate. And another week to do some research. Then one of the kids gets the mumps. And another.
And before you know it, it’s April 2nd and your book is due April 25th.
What do you do? Panic!
But what about if you’re not under an official contract? You don’t have a publisher breathing down your neck, waiting for your book. You have all the time in the world, right?
No. You don’t.
If you are a writer, then you must write. And if you’re a writer, you must be writing for someone other than yourself. At the very least, as a Christian writer, you are writing for God. And even if He is the only One who ever sees what you’re writing, He has an expectation that at some point, you’ll be ready to move on to the next project.
Failing to set a finish date sets you up to fail.
So even if you’re not under someone else’s deadline, you should be under one of your own.
How can you stick to that date?
- Make up some business cards with the cover on it and the release date.
- Tell other people.
- Spread the news on social media.
- Write it on a calendar in ink.
- Keep a picture of the cover in front of you with the release date written on it.
- Schedule time to accomplish the work by the date you say.
What happens when life gets in the way?
You might need to put aside something else in your life so you can meet your personal deadline. That’s right.
- Get up 30 minutes earlier.
- Go to bed 30 minutes later.
- Skip your lunch hour and write.
- Skip television one or two or three nights a week.
- Take your laptop when you go to an appointment and work while you’re waiting.
- Tell your family what your goal is, and ask them to help you meet that goal
Self-Imposed deadlines might not be about finishing a book. Maybe you’ve spent way too much time on research but you can’t tear yourself away. So set a deadline. Two more days and then you’re done. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you get done in the next two days.
Maybe you’re spending too much time re-writing. Face it–ten years is too long. One year is probably too long. Repeat after me: it will never be perfect.
And that’s because you are learning as you go. You will continue to learn. You want to put out the best product possible, but not getting the book done isn’t going to help anybody. Let it go. Or pay someone else to re-write for you.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. The 6th in in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, Hidden Assets released the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.
I recently met Karen Docter, Membership Chair of Sisters in Crime Colorado. Karen is also a writer, and I’m delighted to host her on my blog today.
Welcome, Karen! Please tell us about your books.
Karen: It was great to meet you as well. I enjoy meeting people who love writing and reading as much as I do. Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your readers.
I write both contemporary romance as Karen Docter (Romance…with a Kick) and romantic suspense as K.L. Docter, (Women hunted by killers…Men who’d die to protect them). My taglines say it all. Basically, I have a split personality.
Some mornings, I wake up and want to work on a lighthearted and sexy story. When I want to write on the dark side, K.L. comes out to play. Light or dark, it’s all about romance for me. I love HEA (Happily Ever After) stories.
I am an Indie author with four books available in digital and paperback formats. (All of my books are stand alone novels, no cliffhangers.)
Here is a description of Killing Secrets, Thorne’s Thorns Book 1, a psychological, romantic suspense novel:
Some secrets are better left dead.
Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.
Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.
There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.
Do you have a work in progress that you can tell us about?
Karen: I was working on the second novel in the Thorne’s Thorns series, Dead Ringer, but I’ve been struggling with life events that are interfering with my writing time. So I’ve turned my attention completely to the second book in my True Love In Uniform series, Cop Crashes the Wedding. It’s a shorter book (around 60,000 words) and lighthearted is what is working for me right now. I have to follow my muse! J
How do you come up with your ideas?
Karen: Everywhere! I’m an avid observer. I might see someone with an interesting mannerism that triggers a character. Articles. News. Social media. I’m a title theme junkie. A title for a book will pop into my head from something I see or write and I know what the book will be about even before I populate it with characters. I have a full spreadsheet and it’s expanding all the time because ideas won’t leave me alone until I write them down. I can’t write a story until the title is firmly entrenched in my mind either. It keeps me on track.
My True Love in Uniform series came about because of a late night brainstorming session with one of my critique partners. I already had the romantic suspense, Thorne’s Thorns series, started and was having a hard time pinning down a contemporary series. My wonderful friend, who is always there to poke my brainpan, told me, “You love cops. Write cops.” An hour later, I not only had the True Love in Uniform series sketched out but I had 24 book titles. I have at least that many suspense titles on my spreadsheet so I currently have more than 50 books to write. Now, if I could just write faster than the speed of snail…or in my sleep.
I mentioned the Thorne’s Thorns series. The first book, Killing Secrets, popped into my head after I read an article about a con artist who’d married half a dozen women. My story isn’t about polygamy, but the heroine’s ex-husband is a con artist. When I started writing Patrick and Rachel’s story, I hadn’t thought in terms of a series. But I fell in love with Patrick’s five sexy, foster brothers and decided they all needed their own stories. And, yes, I have their titles, too. J
What new release by you should we watch for next?
Definitely watch for Cop Crashes the Wedding. I’m aiming for a summer release although it might be late summer since my youngest is getting married next month and I’m remodeling the house. Can we say, “Over extended”? When it’s done, I’ll return to Dead Ringer. I should be ready by then to have a serial killer running around my head again. If not, I’ve already started preliminary planning on a couple more cop books.
Thanks again for allowing me to visit with you. It’s been fun to share. Happy Reading!
Bio: Bestselling Author Karen Docter writes contemporary romance. When she feels the need to feed the dark side, she writes intense suspense thrillers as K.L. Docter. She’s an award-winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.
Connect with Karen:
Karen Docter FB: https://www.facebook.com/KarenDocterAuthor/
K.L. Docter FB: https://www.facebook.com/kldocter/
I’m pleased to host Donna on my blog today as she shares a bit of history pertinent to The Pony Express Romance Collection, which includes one of her stories.
The Pony Express in a Nutshell
Most people know something about the Pony Express, but few realize it only operated from April 1860 through November 1861. The first ride left St. Joseph, Missouri heading west, and from Sacramento, California heading east, on April 3rd, 1860.
The idea for a Pony Express was conceived in the minds of its owners because of the possibility of winning the contract for the overland US mail. Another company, Butterworth, was running a southern route that took up to three weeks to deliver to the west coast, and Majors and Waddell thought they could beat that time by taking the shorter northern route.
The irony of the matter is they never won the contract; instead, they merged with Butterworth to form the Overland Mail Company, and closed the Pony Express over $200,000 in debt.
My interest in this story came about because I met my friend Mary Davis at a writers conference, and I asked her what she was working on. At the time, she was doing the proposal for the book. I said I’d love to be part of it, but she said she had her authors. Still, I did some research, did a road trip, and when she emailed a month later to say one author dropped out, I was ready.
The time period, 1860, fascinates me as there were so many changes happening in America. The train is a near dream; the cross-country telegraph is nearing completion; the country is brewing for civil war; women are campaigning for voting and civil rights. In just a few short years, cameras will photograph the first war ever; telephones will be installed in people’s homes; electricity will light our lives into the dark of night.
Despite the changes, one thing is sure: the Pony Express lives on in our hearts and our folklore much longer than it actually ran.
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.
Echoes of the Heart: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW