Colorado, 1880s, at an outdoor city dance –
He rested his hands on the wagon side just above her shoulders. Even in the dim light he saw the pulse in her throat beat. Close enough to feel her warmth, hear her slightly accelerated breathing. Her tongue nervously crept out to moisten her lower lip and his gut tightened. Did she taste as sweet as he suspected? Feeling his own blood pulse, his voice hardly more than a whisper, he asked, “What’s your name, sweetheart?”
Her knees strangely weak, Julie leaned gratefully against the high side of the wagon. Her heart raced and she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. On impulse she had allowed him to lead her past the punch table. With his nearness he’d stolen her ability to think clearly.
Why was she being so jittery? They were still only yards away from the dance floor, she still heard the orchestra, the buzz of conversation.
But how could she think when he was so close? Every breath she took carried the scent of soap, tobacco, and his warm, musky indefinable male scent. The dim light cast his face into planes and angles. Would the mustache be stiff and scratchy or soft and silky? The thought of finding out made her breath catch.
“Tell me your name, sweetheart,” he repeated. His mouth moved closer to hers, his low voice a velvet caress that sent shivers across her shoulders.
“Julie,” she managed to whisper. “Juliette Marie.”
“Julie,” he repeated as if he liked the sound of her name in his mouth. He bent his head. Her heart raced with anticipation and dread. She wondered wildly if she was afraid his kiss would be just like others—or more afraid it wouldn’t.
He touched his lips to hers. At the soft caress of his mouth, her eyes fluttered closed. His gentleness left her without resistance, the liquid heat of his kiss seeped through her body to lodge in the most unusual places. How could the warmth of his lips and the silkiness of his mustache make her breasts tingle? He lifted his head and she realized the soulful sigh she heard was her own.
One of the things a writer friend of mine says that people always ask her is where she gets her idea. If you’re like she and I, it’s not getting the ideas, it finding the time to write them all.
The story for Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold grew out of the location. Having driven through Durango on several occasions, I loved the place. Doing research on the history of Durango brought up the city’s connection with Wells Fargo. And reading about Wells Fargo I found that the company in the era of my story did in fact, have detectives.
Wow, what a great idea – my hero, Wes, could be a detective for Wells Fargo. Many of the incidents that happened or are related to my hero as a Wells Fargo detective actually occurred (although I’ve used my hero, with changes in times and place). This is why I love research.
The Wells Fargo connection also gave me some of Wes’ backstory/background. To communicate between office and various other businesses in San Francisco (giving me where my hero grew up), Wells Fargo employed boys to carry messages at twenty-five cents a message. This would be Wes’ first job, connecting him with the company. This allowed Wes to advance in the company eventually becoming a guard for the iconic green box (green painted box wooden box bound with strap iron and sealed with a hasp and lock) which became a trade mark of the company. His foiling of a robbery ended up with him becoming a detective for the company. (more…)
The “soiled doves” of the wild and wooly west needed vacations, too. In the summer when the cities were hot and the men busy tending crops and cattle, some of the brothels would load up their “girls” and head to the mountains where it was cooler and they could entice the shepherds and cowboy tending the summer herds to come visit and spend money they had no place else to spend. It also made them appear “new and fresh” when they returned to the city and their usual customers.
I’d run across the fact the “girls” would go on vacations in one of my research books and didn’t think much of it until my husband and I were driving around in the Steens Mountains and there was a meadow with a sign- Merry Meadow. We began asking around it was the meadow where the “girls” would vacation in the summer. There were Basque shepherds in the area and a stray cowboy would wander by, visit, and spread the word to the neighboring ranches.
Then we were watching the John Wayne movie The Cowboys and there’s a scene where the cow”boys” come upon a wagon of scantily clad women. My husband laughs every time he watches that scene with the reactions of one of the boys.
Having three coincidences like that in a row, I knew a project had to include vacationing soiled doves. I’m working up that project right now.
Have you had that kind of a coincidence when things kept repeating themselves and you knew it had to be put in a book or story?
Blurb and Excerpt for Doctor in Petticoats
After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the physician at a School for the Blind. She’s happy in her vocation–until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.
Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations. Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him no pity, though. To her, he’s as much a man as he ever was.
Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as their own internal fears, and find love?
“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.
She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.
His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.
Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.
My August release, Spirit of the Mountain is available already in print format at my publisher. The Wild Rose Press. It’s my first attempt at a paranormal, but to me it feels like a historical. I did major research into the Nez Perce or Nimiipuu tribe to be able to write this story about the daughter of a chief who is asked for in marriage by a warrior of the Blackfeet(Blackleg) tribe which at the time of the story were according to the words of a current Nimiipuu “considered the same as how you considered the Huns”. I used this fear and hatred throughout the story when the heroine is talking and thinking about living with the Blackleg(the name the Nimiipuu called the Blackfeet).
I not only researched books on their day to day living conditions, their society, and their beliefs, I also read as much as I could in their own words. Myths and legends books and any snippet I could get that was in English but translated directly from their words. It helped me to get a feel for their speaking and cadence to their dialogue.
Here is a Nimiipuu story that I copied from the Nez Perce loop I’m on. As you can see by reading the story all of the stories handed down through the generations were like our fables. They taught a lesson.
Nez Perce boy legend
A long time ago there lived in our Blue Mountains a boy who was an only child. His parents had pampered and spoiled him until he was quite selfish and disagreeable.
His parents died and he was obliged to live with the rest of the tribe as an orphan. Because of his selfishness he was not well liked and the other children did not like to play with him. Some of the children learned that the camp was to be moved and made plans to get rid of the spoiled boy.
No one told him that they were moving and that morning they took him out to the high cattails to play hide-and-seek. They would hide and then call, “Who! Who!” Part of the time the boy was following his own echo. The children slipped away and hurried back to the camp in time to go.
The boy wandered about listening to his own echo for some time before he decided that the others had left. When he found his way back to camp it was deserted.
He was hungry and by rummaging about he found some roots that had been left. Still hungry, he decided to try some fishing. With a thorn on an improvised string he made from fibers and hair left at the camp, he placed a worm on the thorn and fished. Thus he secured fish.
Not wishing to eat it raw, his mind turned to fire, and investigation proved that someone had banked a bed of coals and he soon had a camp fire going.
Night was approaching. Where would he sleep? At last he remembered the little stone and mud igloo down by the stream where the people had taken their sweat baths. He crawled into the igloo and slept quite comfortably.
In the morning, he decided to try fishing, but this time a strange thing happened. When he felt something on his line he pulled steady and hard. Slowly it came, but it was not a fish. It was a boat loaded with many provisions and an extremely homely old lady. The old lady spoke to him, “Don’t be afraid little boy, I will not hurt you. I am your Grandmother Experience. I have come to help you.”
Grandmother Experience lived with him, after that and helped him do many things – make bows and arrows to kill game, gather food, build shelters, and many other things.
Time went on and the boy lived with the grandmother and grew up big and strong, but wondered where his people were. He commenced traveling about in hopes of finding them. One day he did find them and they marveled at the change he had undergone. He was no longer a spoiled selfish boy. Grandmother Experience had made a self-reliant, pleasant young man of him.
If you’d like to read an excerpt of my book Spirit of the Mountain you can visit my website: www.patyjager.net and click on paranormal. While you’re there enter my website contest.
I’ll be blogging for six days straight at Seriously Reviewed starting tomorrow, Sunday July 25th. Come on by and read about my hero and heroines from my last two releases. The last day I’m giving away a pdf of Doctor in Petticoats my historical western that released in June. And starting on Sunday August 8th I’m doing a six day blog tour with a contest. Check out my blog to learn more.
I prefer researching and writing about the U.S. in the 1800’s. Specifically the western U.S. However, I find myself time and again having to research farther back and overseas to fully develop my characters.
A character’s roots tells a lot about that character and I find that by going back on the family tree I can develop my characters and make them more real. My problem is even though I’m researching for my book set in the west in the 1800’s I have to delve into 1700’s Europe sometimes.
I remember my Social Studies classes and learning all about the “boiling pot” that makes up America. I know the only true American is the Native America who has been on this continent the longest though I’ve also read they came from another continent as well, long, long ago. My heritage is a “Heinz 57”. My mother’s side being predominately German and my Dad’s side Dutch, Irish, English. So even to find my ancestral background I have to travel abroad.
Which brings me to- I have a book case full of western reference books and few on European history and find myself either going online or traipsing to the library to find the research materials need when I work to “discover” family history on a character. Anyone wanting to comment and leave me some good reference books I’d appreciate it.
For my latest release, Miner in Petticoats, the heroine took some research. I wanted her Scots, but while researching for her background I found that many of the Scots at the time she would have been a girl were exiled to Ireland due to clan wars. So I put her in Ireland and she married an Irish man who was killed during the uprisings between the Irish and the English.
While none of the story takes place in Ireland, I still had to research the living conditions and the upheaval going on there to be able to give my character back story that made her who she is in this book.
Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brothers’ growing families.
However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.
How far have you gone to build your character in your mind as well as your reader’s?