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:

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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

 

 

 

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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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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.

Goodreads Giveaway

Hi all, just wanted to let you all know that one of my co-authors, Johnnie Alexander, has put together a nice giveaway of the Courageous Brides Collection over on Goodreads. She took the time to get most of the authors in the collection to autograph a single copy, so the winner will get a multi-autographed book! Head on over to check it out.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Courageous Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander

The Courageous Brides Collection

by Johnnie Alexander

Giveaway ends October 23, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter Giveaway

 

Fun News

So it seems like there’s been some fun news to share lately–new contracts, cover reveals, bestseller placements, and now…A CONTEST WIN! I got the news yesterday that one of my unpublished stories, To Prove Her Worth, is the winner of the 2016 Olympia Contest put on by Clash Of The Titles

olympiawinnerbadge1

To Prove Her Worth is the first story in a proposed 3-in-1 novella collection titled Proving Up. Here’s a brief description of the novella collection:

A murder spree spanning five years and several western territories reunites three orphaned siblings who were adopted to different families fifteen years earlier. But when one sibling is accused of the murders, they must fight for their newfound family—and their respective loves.

And here is a description of the winning story, To Prove Her Worth:

Pinkerton agents Callie Wilson and Joe Trenamen head to Cambria Springs, Colorado, to investigate the latest in a series of unusual murders. Working in close proximity, romance blooms between the two. However, when a ghost from Callie’s childhood appears, their investigation takes an unexpected turn. Callie is forced to choose between the future she’s always dreamed of and a past she’s never forgotten.

My agent and I are working hard to get this and other stories published, so keep watching for further news!

And NOW…The Cover Reveal!

After checking with my publisher that I have permission to share, here is the cover of my July 1, 2017 release–Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection! Isn’t it beautiful? Barbour does a fantastic job with their covers, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way this one turned out.

OfRagsAndRichesCover copy