Delighted to have you, Vonnie, and excited for you in your new release.
I first fell in love with the Love Letters Series from The Wild Rose Press when I read your Into the Lion’s Heart, a glimpse into history in a well-crafted, charming story. The premise of the series intrigued me enough to go online and read the submission requirements.
How kind of you to say, and I agree it’s a great premise for a broad ranging line of stories. I’m glad you’ve joined in with Tumbleweed Letters.
Now back to Vonnie.
In this historical series, a character’s life had to be forever changed by the receipt of a letter. These stories had to be historically accurate and range between 20,000-25,000 words. In addition, the letter must occur within the first three pages of the story. Interesting, I thought. But what era would I write about? What type of storyline could I develop? Writing historical requires a certain skill-set and more research than is ever included in the story.
A couple weeks later, I began dreaming of tumbleweeds blowing across fields and a little boy throwing temper tantrums. Slowly a storyline coalesced, and I began delving into research of the late nineteenth century in the Dakota territories, the coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania and the Molly Maguires.
I learned that tumbleweed seeds were brought over in bags of grain from the Ukraine and were often referred to as “wind witches” or “Russian thistle.” I even found a website that makes interior decorations and Christmas trees from them. http://www.prairietumbleweedfarm.com/history.htm
Still, throughout my weeks of heavy research, a little boy kept crying, “Mine. Mine.” To which I’d mentally respond, “Honey, I’m writing a romance, not a story about a child.” As it turned out, I did both.
***Sounds awesome, Vonnie.
When rancher and single father Cam McBride finds a letter tucked in a strip of cloth tied to a tumbleweed, he is captivated by the mysterious author. Finding a second tumbleweed letter further pulls him under the lonely writer’s spell. He needs a mother for his little boy and a wife to warm his bed. Could this mysterious woman fill his needs?
Sophie Flannigan is alone, scared, and on the run from a rogue Pinkerton agent. She spends her days as a scrub lady at Madame Dora’s brothel and her nights writing notes to the four winds. Her life holds little hope until a small boy lays claim to her and his handsome father proposes an advantageous arrangement.
Can these three benefit from a marriage of convenience, or will a determined Pinkerton agent destroy their fragile, newly formed bond?
She could not, would not look at up him. He was so tall and broad-shouldered, he was downright intimidating. “That really won’t be necessary, Mr. McBride. Good day.”
“Will you at least accept my apology?”
Sophie nodded and made a beeline for the door. For some reason, she wanted to get away from this man.
“Ma’am?” Footsteps echoed behind her. “Your name?” His hand wrapped around her wrist, feather light, yet firm.
Her stomach fluttered and her mouth went dry.
The child leaned forward in his father’s arms and grabbed her collar. “Mine.”
Saints preserve me, this child will tear apart my clothes yet. “Sophie…Sophie Flannigan.”
“Won’t you look at me when you talk?”
She shook her head and tried to move away.
“Where do you live?” His grasp on her tightened.
Goodness, but his voice was spellbinding. Something about it made her body react in strange ways that disturbed her. “I live where I work. Madam Dora’s brothel.”
His hand fell away, and she hurried out.
Behind her, a child wailed, “Mine. Mine, Daddy…mine.”
Jethro Rhinehardt leaned against the pillar when she stepped out onto the porch. Although she couldn’t see the man’s face, she recognized his build and mud-splattered canvas duster. If she hurried, she might sneak past without his noticing her. She’d have made it, too, if a nail poking out of the porch hadn’t snagged the twine on the bottom of one of her shoes and ripped it, causing her to stumble.
“Well, well, little Miss Scrub Lady.” He turned and side-stepped, blocking her path. For a heavy man, he slithered quickly, just like the snake he was.
Sophie tried going around him, and he stepped to the left, stopping her again. “Can’t you say good morning? Or are you too high and mighty?” He spit tobacco juice on the porch, and it splattered against her skirt.
“Good morning, Jethro. Now please let me by. I have errands to run for Dora. I can’t afford to lose my job.” She stepped to her right this time.
Once more he slid in front of her. To her surprise, he grabbed her around the waist and lifted her so they were eyeball to eyeball. Tobacco juice stained his scruffy beard that reeked of something foul. Her stomach lurched and she fought to swallow the bile. She still clutched the folds of material over her petticoat, determined this man would not see her undergarments.
Her slap cracked in the morning air. “I’ll not be spoken to like that.”
Jethro’s eyes darkened and his jaw clenched. First the bear of a man shook her and then he had the audacity to slide his paw over her rump.
In response, she fought like a barn cat—hissing, kicking and scratching. She scratched his eye and tore a pocket off his shirt. “Get your filthy hands off me, you heathen.”
Men—miscreants, really—circled them. A few called out obscene suggestions for Jethro. There were hoots and hollers. A few men laughed and pounded Jethro on the back.
She fisted her hand and punched him in the nose. Blood splattered onto her bodice.
“How about you unhand the lady and put her down before she kills you?”
Jethro shook her again.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me. I said put the lady down.”
Sophie’s head whipped around to locate the man who’d spoken in her defense. Cam’s face was a dark mask of fury. He slowly set his son on the porch and laid his purchases at the child’s feet, his gaze never once leaving Jethro’s face. When he straightened and stepped toward the dirty man, her captor set her down.
***THE WILD ROSE PRESS — http://bit.ly/TumbleweedLetters
***AMAZON — http://bit.ly/TumbleweedLettersDavis