Tag Archives: Oregon Trail

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:

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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!

#MondayBlog is here! Woo!

I can’t believe I’m actually writing a post on Monday! Usually, my Mondays are jam packed with house cleaning and errands to replace snacks eaten during the weekend. That, and I just forget.

So a couple of posts ago, I went into the dubious joy of changing covers. They’ve not made a bit of difference. While I received some valuable feedback on the text inside and why the story might not be working, that doesn’t explain the lack of sales. No one is buying it to give bad reviews to hamper sales. The covers and those male torsos aren’t leading readers to buy just to lick the covers, either. Alas, I must market and that’s a future post. My business partner and I are throwing all sorts of marketing spaghetti on the wall and I’ll report back what sticks.

Meanwhile, because pretty pictures are fun, here are some before and afters in the manual cover art. This is for Unfortunate, Daggart’s story. A short work for those who’ve read Undeniable and wondered whatever happened to their favorite villain.

It’s pretty, crude, monochromatic, much like the characters and their landscape. There’s even a horse trough where Daggart is found at the beginning of the story. Hooray, right?
IMG_1657Not so much. I kept getting a lot of critique on it, about how one tone, the buildings, just eh in general from those I polled. I liked it, but not a lot of other people did.

 

So what was next?

 

 

 

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This!

Unlike the picture above, this one wasn’t painted with precise little strokes. It was done with bold colors and a bold hand. I was afraid of the style being too different from the prior paintings. So, I made sure to use the exact same colors in this painting as I did in every other one. While the colors are carried from one painting to the other, the ratios aren’t and that gives them a familiar but different feel.

I also wanted to highlight the warm arid feel of California. The only tough part? Not painting a covered wagon and who knows? I might go ahead and add one in later.

In the digital age of publishing, everything is fixable.

 

Freebies and Prequels!

I’m still loving this cover. There’s four paintings around here, one for each book so far.  Considering I have something to paint on the Santa Fe trail, the Pony Express, and the Orphan Train subject… I’m going to need more canvas.dfd51ab2-3820-4ce0-98e1-d1a15c2ca851

 

Unavoidable is one of those projects I found irresistible.  I always knew the story of how Samuel Granville convinced his brother Nicholas to come back home. This is a little snippet of a day in the life that begins a huge change in Nick’s life.  I love how the brothers interact and their sniping has a strong undercurrent of love.  The romance is at the very end, but is a doorway to another, longer book.

Where can you find this particular story? Just pick your favorite and it’s there!

Amazon USNookiBookKoboSmashwords

Next Week: The latest information in Self Publishing as gleaned from a plethora of bloggers.  I have a lot of research to share but still need to write it all.

 

 

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#MondayBlogs Post and You Want Me To What??

Howdy #Mondayblogs fans!

 

My book, Undesirable, hit Amazon on the 14th.  Since then no less than four people have asked me what’s next.  Sure, I know what’s next on my plate, but it might be a while.

Secretly?  I like the impatience and curiosity of my friends and family.  It means they like what I do well enough to want more.  That’s never a bad thing and I’m thrilled.  So while I’m writing a prequel to my Oregon Trail series, get started reading Undesirable or maybe Undeniable first if you’ve not read it yet. Out of order is fine, too, and you won’t be lost, it’s just not what I’d prefer.  Meanwhile, I’ll be planning arguments, fights, and love at first sight.  When that’s done and I get to type the last line, my next task is to paint another cover for Unavoidable, the Oregon Trail series prequel.

After that, there’s a lot more down the road. The last book in the series, The Very Worst Man, three more American West novels, some paranormal romances, and some science fiction.  There’s be mysteries, romance, and all sorts of plot twists in these.  I’m so excited at the projects hovering on my horizon and hope my readers are, too!

Book Release date set!

Available on Amazon July 14th, everywhere else October 13th.  

Want an email the second it hits the store?  Sign up for the newsletter, the link is on the right side. No spam, not now not ever.  Scroll down for more content. 

Undesirable, available July 14th!

Undesirable, available July 14th!

It’s been a long time since Lucky’s Christmas Wish dropped into stores and I’ve forgotten how much fun this is!  I’ve also forgotten what all I need to do to get the word out about this book.  I’m a new enough author that I can’t get, or rather haven’t dared to get, the pre order option.  So I feel odd about advertising before the product is out there for purchase.  At any rate, I’ll probably make time on this blog each day for a post.  Today is nervous excitement, tomorrow may be the value of a good editor.  Who knows?  I’ll be posting things I’ve learned each day before the book drops, so that if nothing else, when Uncivilized is ready to go, I can come back.

In the meantime, and if this sounds disjointed, it’s because my mind is still back in Oregon Territory, August 1858.  There’s a rescue to choreograph, a death to mastermind, and maybe a gratuitous sex scene to write.  

 

I have a ton of them in paper form and several more bookmarked on my web browsers.  Some were hand drawn and now available via Google, while others are the latest in tourist roadmaps.  Still more are from National Geographic with infinite detail of every mountain and valley in our country.  I have more maps than those of just the United States, of course.  I’m trying to ignore them in favor of finishing the Oregon Trail series. After this project and all its intensive research, I’m totally in favor of writing something either present day or set in the far future.

“What?  That can’t happen!  You just pulled that out of your butt!”

“Why yes, yes I did.”

So back to the maps and why I have access to so many.  Well known landmarks in the 1800’s aren’t the same as the ones we take note of now.  In some places, the original trail crisscrosses highways.  In others, it runs through privately owned land.  Is every single step along the way to Portland vital to the story?  Yes, and no.  Sure, I could have a character die by falling down a steep cliff into the river below.  Could it be the Green River, or would it best to use the Snake River?

 

This is Green River.

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A bad place for a cliff death. That might be a good thing.  So, the victim will have to wait until the Snake River.  Even then, the banks aren’t steep the entire way.  Landscapes like this is why I study the topography of my settings.  It’s also fun to see what surprises the terrain and weather can bring to my characters as well.

Fun fact about the Oregon Trail!  You could have left Independence, Missouri, near where I live, and maybe reach Oregon before October.  If nothing tragic happened, other than a death or two, it would be possible.  But if you waited to leave next week?  It’d be a whole lot better if you just waited until next April.  Otherwise, you’d risk a catastrophe of Donner proportions.  Read here for more information.

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.