The Story Behind The Brigand and The Bride

The Mail-Order Brides CollectionHi all! Jennifer Uhlarik here. I’m so excited to share with you the story behind the story on The Brigand and The Bride, my selection from The Mail-Order Brides Collection. So…where did the idea for this story come from? As I pondered the idea of a mail-order bride story, I knew it needed to be different than a previous mail-order bride story I’d done (Wedded to Honor from The Convenient Bride Collection). I began thinking of different scenarios and quickly struck on the idea of a woman marrying a stranger to escape her outlaw family. Probably not the most original of ideas—but then, every story’s been told a million times already. It’s the fun twists you add that makes a story unique. So as I pondered the heroine that was taking shape in my mind, I saw a scene begin to unfold.

The heroine hurries through town, anxious about being caught by her brother. Rather than heading straight to the church, she stops in the seamstress’ shop to pick up a suit for her mail-order groom—something they’d pre-arranged through their letters. Suit in hand, she goes to the church, lays out the clothes and grooming supplies for him, then waits in the sanctuary. A bit later, the hero rushes in, shaves and cuts his hair, dons the suit, and steps out of the room, where the pastor’s wife shoves him down the aisle, scolding him for his lateness.

The scene played so vividly in my mind’s eye that I knew I had to write it and find out how the rest turned out. From the couple’s first awkward face-to-face meeting to the “quickie” wedding that ensues, I was giggling and grinning ear-to-ear. I sure hope you’ll read The Brigand and The Bride to find out why!

The Brigand and the Bride by Jennifer Uhlarik
1876, Arizona 
Jolie Hilliard weds a stranger to flee her outlaw family but discovers her groom is an escaped prisoner. Will she ever find happiness on the right side of the law?

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Christian Book Distributors

juhlarik-HR-3Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. She currently writes historical novellas of the American West for Barbour Publishing. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

 

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Lies Our Characters Believe

The Mail-Order Brides Collectionby Megan Besing

As we all know, lies are a part of everyday life—and every good book. Whether it’s one we tell ourselves for years or one someone else makes up, lies consume our time. In my story, Perfect for the Preacher, lies, gossip, and assumptions nearly become main characters themselves.

Despite his age, Pastor Amos Lowry believes he’s the man to fill the pulpit at Hilltop Chapel. He’s certain he’s qualified and longs to be hired. Wouldn’t a congregation with such generosity be a preacher’s ideal church? At least that’s what he tells himself.

Those on the council assume Pastor Lowry is too young and immature, and they believe marriage for Amos could be the answer to all their problems. Except no one asked for a mail-order bride with a sketchy past to apply as Amos’s wife. After all, won’t an ex-saloon girl ruin Hilltop Chapel’s reputation?

Sophie Ross was told she could be a pastor’s wife. Except when gossip mixes with the dreadful experiences from her past, Sophie fights the doubt in her head. If a man of God can’t love and accept her, what kind of future does that leave?

Behind every deception, whether in real life or story form, is the truth waiting to save the day and set us free. I hope you discover and enjoy the truths buried in the lies of Amos and Sophie’s happily-ever-after. What starts off as an unlikely match might just become a marriage built on unconditional love and a ministry for a renewed congregation. Lies may win a battle, but like the characters of Perfect for the Preacher, let’s not allow evil to claim victory of our lives.

Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing

1897, Indiana

Fresh from seminary, Amos Lowry believes marriage will prove to his skeptical congregation that he’s mature. If only his mail-order bride wasn’t an ex-saloon girl, and worse, pregnant.

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Christian Book Distributors

SONY DSCMegan Besing adores reading, writing, and reviewing stories with happily-ever-afters. Her own writings have received many awards, including being a multi-category finalist in ACFW’s Genesis and a winner of MCRW’s Melody of Love contest. Her debut Perfect for the Preacher releases February 1, 2018 in Barbour’s Mail-Order Brides Novella Collection.

She lives in Indiana with her husband and their children where she dreams of the beach and drinks way too many Vanilla Cokes. Connect with Megan on Facebook and at www.meganbesing.com.

The Villian of the Mail-Order Proxy

The Mail-Order Brides Collectionby Sherri Shackelford

The most important thing to remember when creating a villain, is that villains don’t know they’re villains. In my story, Mail-Order Proxy, the heroine is interviewing a notorious outlaw for her local newspaper. And why does this outlaw agree to the interview? He craves fame and attention, of course, but he also wants people to understand him. He want’s people to know his motivation.

Generally, most villains are sociopaths. They lack a conscious. While most sociopaths do not become predators, most predators are sociopaths. They may not feel guilty for hurting someone, but they are aware of the consequences of their actions. They are aware of how they are perceived in society.

As an author, when I’m creating a villain, I use a regular person as inspiration, and embellish their flaws and weaknesses.

Villains shouldn’t simply be twirling their mustaches while lashing the heroine to the railroad tracks. The outlaw in my story does some bad things, but he feels completely justified in doing these things: Why should the banks have all the money when he’s just a poor, working stiff trying to get ahead?

There should always be a reason for the villain’s actions. In Mail-Order Proxy, the outlaw is perfectly cordial to the heroine until she stands in the way of what he wants. That’s when she sees the darker side of his personality. Most folks aren’t entirely good or entirely evil. A well-written villain has human foibles and weaknesses.

It’s also important to remember that villains are often very charming and engaging individuals. The outlaw in my novella, “Mail-Order Proxy”, has convinced the heroine of his sincerity. Part of her growth is learning to discern the difference between a charming villain and a cantankerous hero.  As the old proverb states, ‘The lion is most handsome when looking for food.’

I hope you enjoy my story, “Mail-Order Proxy!”

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance MOB--Sherri Shackelfordnovels for Harlequin/HarperCollins Publishers.

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. She doesn’t live on the prairie, but she can see the plains from her house. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Look for her exciting new romantic suspense novel this fall!

 

 

“Miss-Delivered Mail” by Ann Shorey

The Mail-Order Brides Collection“Miss-Delivered Mail” by Ann Shorey

Helena Erickson impulsively decides to take advantage of her brother’s deception and travels to Washington Territory in response to a proposal of marriage intended for someone else.

WHY WASHINGTON TERRITORY?

Some of my readers know that I’ve often used my family’s history as a source for inspiration in writing my novels. For instance, The Edge of Light uses many details from the life of one of my great-great aunts. In The Promise of Morning, I went to my great-great grandparents’ lives for the storyline. The rest of my novels all contain tiny bits of family lore as well.

The takeaway here for new writers goes beyond “write what you know” to “write what you can find out.” What I know isn’t always a whole lot, but with an inquiring mind and a willingness to dig a little, I’ve learned that there is a world of story material out there, waiting to be pressed into a manuscript.

So, moving forward to my most recent publication, The Mail-Order Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing— here’s a bit of background for my contribution, “Miss-Delivered Mail.”

As far as I know there are no mail-order brides in my family history, so that part is fiction. But in “Miss-Delivered Mail,” the main character finds herself in Washington Territory in the 1880’s, where she meets the Halliday family. I chose this setting because the “Hallidays” in this novella are my great-grandparents. They are not the main characters, but they play an important role in the story. In real life, they homesteaded in eastern Washington in the 1880’s, settling there in the Coulee breaks long before the Grand Coulee Dam was ever imagined. Many of the descriptions of their lives and surroundings come straight from my grandfather’s memoirs.

So, now that you’re armed with insider information, I wish you happy reading! I hope you’ll enjoy “Miss-Delivered Mail,” as well as the other eight excellent novellas in The Mail-Order Brides Collection.

The Mail-Order Brides Collection can be purchased from your local bookstore, or online at the following sites:

Amazon
Barnes And Noble
Christian Book Distributors

MOB--Ann ShoreyANN SHOREY is the author of the At Home in Beldon Grove and Sisters at Heart series. She also has novellas included in the Sincerely Yours and The Oregon Trail Romance collections. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.

She may be contacted through her website, www.annshorey.com, or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnShorey

 

 

Traveling West on the Santa Fe Trail

By Michelle ShockleeThe Mail-Order Brides Collection

In To Heal Thy Heart, my novella in The Mail-Order Brides Collection, Phoebe Wagner travels from her home in Kansas City to the rugged New Mexico Territory to meet the stranger she intends to marry. But in 1866, train travel was not yet available in that part of the country, so Phoebe—or any mail-order bride of that day—would have been left with little choice. She must board a dusty, uncomfortable stagecoach for the 700-plus mile journey that would take nearly two weeks, assuming they didn’t encounter problems with the coach, the horses, or the weather. Luke, her intended groom, would have paid approximately $250 for her fare, and the route she would have taken is the famous Santa Fe Trail.

From 1821, the Santa Fe Trail served as a trade route between the United States and Mexico. Settlers used it as well, often facing terrifying situations including attacks from various Indian tribes, brutal weather conditions, and swollen rivers. But like Luke and Phoebe, those early settlers were willing to take the risks in order to be part of something new and fresh and exciting.

Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I often heard stories about the Santa Fe Trail. My family took many drives up the trail, now a highway, passing the same tree-covered hills and grassy fields as those brave pioneers. Even as a child my imagination ran wild, and I’d wonder about the people who traveled in wagons whose wheel ruts are still visible in some places. Who were they and what drove them to leave their homes and loved ones to come to a wild, untamed land?

Although Phoebe and Luke’s story is fiction, I would not doubt that many mail-order brides took to the Santa Fe Trail in search of true love. Did they find it?

To Heal Thy Heart by Michelle Shocklee
1866, New Mexico
When Phoebe Wagner answers a mail-order bride ad that states Confederate widows need not apply, she worries what Dr. Luke Preston will do when he learns her fiancé died wearing gray.

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Christian Book Distributors

MOB--Michelle ShockleeMichelle Shocklee is the author of The Planter’s Daughter and The Widow of Rose Hill, the first two books in the historical romance series The Women of Rose Hill. She has stories in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes an inspirational blog. With both her sons grown, she and her husband of thirty-plus years enjoy poking around historical sites, museums, and antique stores near their home in Tennessee. Connect with her at www.MichelleShocklee.com

 

 

 

The Story Behind the Story of the Heroine and the Hero in A Train Ride to Heartbreak

The Mail-Order Brides CollectionBy Donna Schlachter

Coming up with likeable yet flawed characters is always a struggle. I find my first draft is usually full of perfect people who always get it right, or else they are so flawed, nobody likes them. Then I have to go back in and tell myself that nobody is this good and they need at least one little thing they need to fix, or there’s no story. Or I have to temper all their issues with at least one redeeming feature.

For Mary Johannson, she had so many good traits—hard worker, thinks of others before herself, obedient, loving—yet the scars on her neck and arm from a fire she survived as a child constantly remind her that nobody could possibly love her. The years in the orphanage fed that lie, as she was passed over time and again for adoption. The opportunity to marry, sight unseen, seems the answer to her problems. And even better, a covenant marriage for twelve years or so, nothing expected except to raise this stranger’s children. Then she would be free to go wherever she wanted. Not that she had anywhere to go.

For John Stewart, he’s another good person that bad things happened to. His wife died, leaving him with two young daughters to raise. He has so many good traits, too—loving father, loving husband, industrious, loyal—so why did God abandon him? Why didn’t the Almighty choose to answer his prayers? And if not his, why not answer his wife’s? She loved God right to the end. Convinced he will never love again, yet he knows he needs help with his children. A covenant marriage seems perfect. No love. No intimacy. Just duty. Kind of like his relationship with God.

These characters both believe a lie—Mary’s that nobody could see past her scars, and John’s that he has had the one love of his life. We all believe a lie about ourselves. It might have to do with our past, with our present, or even with the bleak outlook for our future. What I hope readers will take away about this story is that God is bigger than our past, bigger than our mistakes, and has great plans for us.

1895, Train to California

John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

October 1895

Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, they commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?

Buy link: http://amzn.to/2Cur1I4

MOB--Donna SchlachterAbout Donna:

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 author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

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Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

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Other Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

 

 

 

First Loves Forever Romance Collection

I promised you further news…and here it is, better late than never. On March 26, I signed a contract for the First Loves Forever Romance Collection, a compilation of nine historical romance novellas where first love is rekindled. My story, Heartfelt Echoes, brings back characters from one of my earlier novellas, Mountain Echoes, (found in The Courageous Brides Collection). If you’ve read the earlier story, you will remember Travis, and perhaps you’ll remember the young woman, Millie, who Travis met and fell in love with in the final chapter of the story. Heartfelt Echoes brings the two back twelve years later. If you haven’t read the earlier story, you might be interested to know that both Travis and Millie are deaf. (Talk about a challenge–I never realized how often I layer in sounds as I put words on the page!)

I’m in the beginning stages of writing this novella, and already, I love it. It’s got excitement, intrigue, and a happily-ever-after ending I can’t wait to write. Hope you’ll look for the First Loves Forever Romance Collection. It releases April 1, 2018. Of course, be watching the Heroes, Heroines, and History blog for giveaways of this and other collections I’m involved in as we draw near to each release date! I blog there on the 25th of each month, and I have some just-released or just-about-to-release collections I’ll be giving away!

Thank you all for reading! Have a great weekend.