Category Archives: The Oregon Trail

Field Trip!

I have big plans for this weekend. Not as big as the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, of course, but big on the research for a new series.

For the RT lowdown, head over to here to read and then come back.

Fun, right? But what’s this weekend? And that new series? Drumroll, please…

Introducing the American West series. Four stories set during the American expansion era. I have four books planned for sure about the Santa Fe Trail, the Orphan Train, the Pony Express, and a Northwest Shipping adventure. Characters from my Oregon Trail series will make guest appearances, too, and I’m so looking forward to seeing them again.

I’ll post on Monday what we did and saw on our intense research weekend.

Summer Vacation, Part 1 for #MondayBlogs

This year, I’m having three summer vacations. Yep, three. Am I lucky? Heck yeah! I’m also paying for it and working hard to earn them.

The first one and subject of this post was in Dallas for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention last May. I’d toyed with not going because money. The ROI (return on investment) isn’t there. I ended up giving away more books than selling, which I expected. I want readers who enjoy my work and if that means give to get, I’m ok with that a hundred percent.

Gosh, the workshops? Wonderful. Pushing myself to ignore the shy and meet authors I’d admired? Fantastic. Ava Branson deserves all the credit for me saying hi to so many people this year.

What was even better was I learned so much about being a better writer and getting my work out there. No one can follow exactly in an indie author’s footsteps but I can go in the same direction and find my own way. Isn’t that really true of everything in life?

Icing on the cake of work-I-love vacation? Seeing a beloved aunt and uncle, seeing the Red River full (too full!) of water, getting to decorate my parents graves (they’re nine hours south of my home), birthday cake ice cream from Braum’s (none near my home), mini champagne bottles at the events, new friends, and giving out swag like a big shot.

Not so fun things I missed? Being too self-conscious to ask my cousins to interrupt their weekdays or Saturday for a visit just from me. Their kids and grandkids are super active and I didn’t want to intrude. A champagne event that I was on time for but missed because of a meeting. Business first, champy and choccies later.

Pluses bigger than the minuses, right? I had an awesome time and am already looking forward to RT16 in Vegas. Even more friends will be there and we’ll get to be a gang! I really can’t wait.

Bonus for readers?

People who went to RT15 and saw my swag table already know this, but you don’t! I have Smashwords 50% off coupon codes for the Manly Series and for the current Oregon Trail novel, Undeniable.

The Very Best Man’s code is AP26W and The Very Worst Man’s code is NJ54V.

For Undeniable and Undesirable? Undeniable is free from today until June 20, 2015 everywhere, while Undesirable is $0.99 at the same time and places. It makes Undesirable’s 50% off coupon code of La32N redundant until June 21, 2015.

Coupon codes expire May 31, 2016, feel free to share.

Not Going There On The Oregon Trail for #MondayBlogs

I’m currently elbows deep in the third and final novel of my Oregon Trail series. A lot of writers feel sad when a series ends, but not me. There’s three more series hanging out in my idea folder at the moment and I’m wanting to start all of them right this minute. What are they? A three book set on the American West, a three to six book set on historical romances from around the world, and a six book minimum murder mystery series. I really can’t wait, all of them are going to be fun.

But, let’s get back to the salacious.

Like television most times, none of my books go into the bathroom details of live along the Trail. And you know, I don’t even want to think about it. They didn’t pack toilet paper and finding water was a treat. There’s nothing romantic about chafing due to unclean.

Food. My books has a little of the bland diet, but really? They only had what they could find, carry, or trade for along the way. No refrigeration or even an ice chest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE my fridge. Ours died a few years ago and it wasn’t pretty. Of course this happened in summer, winter would have been too convenient in the cold department.

Speaking of camping…what if every time you wanted a hot meal you had to build a fire from scratch. Even better? In a place like this:

wyoming-buffalo-sunset_17639_600x450

 

Just waiting for that buffalo to poop. Then it’s a wait until the poop dries. It might be a while. Hope you’re not starved. Speaking of buffalo, he’s looking mighty tasty….

 

 

 

 

Water that’s free of bugs, dirt, and amoebas. Cholera and typhoid free too, please. Add dysentery to the mix and it was an ugly death. Specifically death by diarrhea. I left that out, because, romance and all. Nothing kills the mood faster than, well, lots of poop.

Sleeping on the ground is in my books along with the getting the bedding out and putting it away every day. In the beginning, my husband asked about a romance (sex) in the wagon. I said no, too squeaky. Then he said, “Not on the ground!” as if aghast at the idea. I laughed at him, not knowing I’d married such a 5 star hotel kind of guy. But yeah, on the ground, against a tree, behind that bush, and hopefully quiet because who wants to get caught with their pants down or their skirt up?

It’s been somewhat nice for my characters that they’re in a very arid region. Wind and dust are huge problems, but rain isn’t. I’ve put in a skim-the-surface description of the cold at night. Which was fun because my southern editor called me on it. Water doesn’t freeze in August, right? Up in the high desert, it does! Maybe not solid, but it does get that cold. Especially in the 1850’s at the end of the Little Ice Age.

I’m positive there are other gritty details I’m leaving out that were also not included in my series. What do you find that writers tend to leave out of historical romances that would crack you up if they included?  Comment and tell me!

Being Accurate is Exhausting!

My biggest fear in writing anything historical is someone coming up to me and saying, “That was wrong.” Checking and rechecking everything takes a lot of time. Enough that, at the moment, I’d like to write anything that’s in the present day and familiar. Not the future, because that would take tons of research, too, into today’s technology extrapolated by X number of years.

Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE research. It’s my favorite part of writing. But sometimes? I just want the words to flow and damned the facts. Instead, I’m on Google Earth, inching my way along the Oregon Trail from overhead, and typing out each tiny little paragraph at the same time.

You Are Here!

Who doesn’t love a clear label? And who doesn’t love a map that says “You are here?” Especially when you’re lost and all.

This is a great picture showing where exactly I’m herding my pioneers in Undesirable. Between South Pass and Lombard Ferry, there’s a whole lot of nothing. Well, sagebrush and gravel, but no water. Even if they take one of the green routes to the Green River, there are two small rivers that might have water for the people and animals. Heavy on the might, because even in July, the spring thaw had just begun in the higher elevations. Snowfall was a real possibility in the high desert. Days there are hot and the nights freezing cold.

The average distance traveled per day for people so far had been anywhere from 15 to 20 miles a day. To get through this stretch of dry, people went as far as 30 to 45 miles in a day. By the time they reached South Pass, their shoes and clothes would be worn to nearly nothing.

There’s tons more information at Greater South Pass Historic Landscape alliance, the site where I found this picture. Click on the photo to go visit them and learn more about their work. For more information on my work, try one of the menu items above, particularly the Oregon Trail tab.