At sunset, Travis and Hillerman reached St. Joseph, a smattering of buildings perched on the grassy eastern bank of the Missouri River. Thousands of people were already encamped around the frontier town. Tired as the two travelers were, the sight of countless glittering campfires sprinkled across the low rolling hills fueled them with energy. As they drew closer to the expanded town, a cacophony of guitars, banjos, and voices reached their ears. The emigrants played and sang the raucous, popular melodies of the day, as well as the occasional staid church hymn, all at the same time. Here and there the popular Christy’s Minstrels tune “Oh! Susanna” was belted out, but an intent listener would have noticed that, now and then, the destination named in the song was not Louisiana but rather California. In fact, new versions of the song had been written, in which a young man with a gold pan on his knee said goodbye to the poor forlorn Susanna and set out for the West.
~ Excerpt from WEST FROM THE CRADLE, Brigid Amos' latest release from Clean Reads! ~
If the West doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.
Travis Cooper was not meant to be a prospector. Small for his age, he has never been much help on the family farm in Missouri. How could he survive the journey west to take up such backbreaking work? But when he sees a copy of the California Star in the fall of 1848, everything changes. One shining word jumps off the page: GOLD! Now staying alive is a struggle. Keeping his partner from getting himself killed is even harder!
Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. Her first novel, A Fence Around Her, was published by Clean Reads in 2016. A produced playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the boards of Angels Theatre Company and Women Writing the West. She is also an active member the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.
I had the wonderful opportunity ask Brigid a few questions about her writing process and stories. Here's what she had to say:
Who's your favorite character in WEST FROM THE CRADLE?
My favorite character in West from the Cradle is my protagonist Travis Cooper. When I used to hike through the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California, dreaming of writing a book about the Gold Rush, Travis was the first character that appeared to me. I saw this young man astride a horse, looking down from a ridge upon a valley of Ponderosa Pine, Manzanita, and Madrone. In my mind, this optimistic and enthusiastic young man had just arrived from a farm in the Midwest and was looking with hope upon his future. If you read the novel, you will imagine something quite different. Perhaps you will see Travis barely able to walk, leading the mule he purchased in Fort Laramie, all his remaining possessions packed on her back. But the enthusiasm and optimism are still there, despite all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he has faced on the trail west. Travis is my favorite character because he rises to a challenge while remaining humble. He is a survivor while maintaining his good heart. And most importantly, he is the best kind of friend a person could have. He would risk everything, even his own life, to save his friend. Who wouldn’t love someone like that?
What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is how I feel after a productive writing session. I can only describe this feeling as euphoric. This feeling doesn’t last of course, but I know I can always get it back by opening up a notebook and clicking a pen. I suppose this is addictive behavior, but I thank God for such a healthy addiction!
There is nothing I don’t like about the actual act of writing. I even enjoy revision. However, the editing process before publication, in which every little comma must be properly placed and every adverb assessed can make writing feel like work. I think this is because at that point, there is less creativity involved. As a writer, I so appreciate those who actually enjoy editing. I was at the Nebraska Writers Guild booth on Labor Day, and a woman who told me how much she loved editing stopped by. I must have been looking at her as if she were an alien from another planet, an exotic creature whose thought process I could never understand. I’m at my best while scribbling with abandon in a notebook and everything that pours out is new and exciting. Not so much when I’m trying to make it perfect on a computer screen.
Thank you for sharing your passion for those characters and your craft, Brigid!
Brigid Amos' newest release, WEST FROM THE CRADLE, has hit shelves everywhere, and if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll want to grab this one quick!
Click on the link below to download today!
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/west-from-the-cradle-brigid-amos/1126943650?ean=2940158732119
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Brigid will be giving away one FREE copy of her book to one participant who comments on this blog post. Winner will be chosen at random by October 13th. Simply comment on this post to enter!
In working with Clean Reads, I've gotten to virtually meet some cool people who write great books. One author, Sara Turnquist, has written some historical romances which I wanted to share about because I enjoyed reading them so much. So these books are Kadee Carder Ink verified, in that you can trust that you'll enjoy them. Five stars! After reading these stories, I had to reach out to Ms. Turnquist and ask her some questions. She graciously answered my questions and I wanted to share them with you. She’s put a lot of thought into writing these books and I adored hearing her take on the backstory.
For your reading pleasure, here's two quick book reviews and a fun question/answer sesh with Sara Turnquist!
Now let’s chat about "Hope In Cripple Creek." I ABSOLUTELY adored this book! Imagine if you combined “When Calls The Heart,” by Debbie Macomber, “Anne of Green Gables,” and a Kate Alcott historical, and you've got this delightful story of a girl following her heart, even when it forges into the wild unknown. About halfway through I just started grinning and almost couldn't stop, except a few times when my eyes widened in shock. I couldn't put this one down. Romance, heartache, a headstrong heroine, and some twisty characters who don't know how to keep their hands to themselves, the bunch of them make up the fascinating little town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. The challenges that Katherine faces really spoke to my heart, and I think a lot of women will appreciate the struggle and how she manages it. It's a quick read with great pacing, lovely characters, a fun setting, and I wanted it to be longer. Grab this one RIGHT NOW. You will love it.
“A Convenient Risk” offers a tale of love lost, tricky relationships, and redeemed hope. Amanda is one hot mess. She cries a lot, she doubts her worth and parenting abilities, and she finds herself making out a TON with a super hot rancher whom she can’t seem to read. Ms. Turnquist provides a sweet story with swoon-worthy kisses, entirely relatable characters, and some brilliant (and, fun fact, historically based) plot twists. Through a winding road of risky business deals, unnerving country living, and lovely sunsets, “A Convenient Risk” provides readers a memorable story of second chances worth their weight in gold.
Directly from Sara Turnquist:
1) Have you been to the places where you set the stories? Or, What made you place the books in these locations?
Other than through Google Maps/Google Earth, I have not visited these places. I did a great amount of research on them.
For "Hope in Cripple Creek", I was looking for a city in Colorado for the last great gold rush to that area. I asked my husband, who lived in Colorado for a short stint, to give me the name of a small town in Colorado to set my story in. He offered up "Cripple Creek". When I started researching this town, I found this whole history of this great miner's strike that gave me my secondary story line. Love when that kind of thing happens.
For "A Convenient Risk", I knew that I needed to anchor this story brewing in my mind somehow in time. I wanted it to be in the late 1800s in the west...and that sparked my interest in a renowned outlaw. Billy the Kid's timeline worked out with my story's timeline. For that reason, I placed the story in Arizona as Billy the Kid was in Arizona in the late 1800s. But I chose a small town, Wharton City, for the story to be set in to fit in with some of the events pertaining to Billy the Kid's timeline and my own story's needs.
2) What kind of research did you do for these books? How long did it take to write them?
This is a time period I am somewhat familiar with due to books I have read and TV shows/movies I have seen. However, I that is not really primary research. So, while I rely on that for a general feeling/tone of that era, I researched when I needed details. Research for novels, as you probably know, has to be reliable. Especially since anyone can post anything on the internet. Wikipedia is a great place to start, but I would not consider it a reliable source. The bibliography on Wikipedia are great resources though.
3) Where did you get the ideas for your main characters?
"Hope in Cripple Creek"...I'm not really sure where these characters came from. I'm sure they are pieces of personalities of characters I have read and seen in other characters, but I cannot point to one place and say, this is it.
"A Convenient Risk" - this is a different story. A friend of mine loves to visit cemeteries for the interesting history there...just go with me here. We found a set of tombstones that appeared to be where a woman had married a man much older than her, he died, and then she married a man closer to her own age. It intrigued me. It was a marriage from the early 1900s. I wondered if that first marriage had been arranged by her parents or a marriage of convenience for monetary reasons. But then I began to think about second marriages and the way we tend to remember people who have passed on sometimes differently than they really were...in a glassed over sort of way. We tend to remember the good times and gloss over the bad times. Is it difficult for a second husband to compete with the memory of a first husband when the wife tends to gloss over or forget the bad times altogether?
4) What's your next project in the works?
I rarely have only one project going on. I have a book coming later this year, called "The Lady and The Hussites", that is a sequel to my debut novel "The Lady Bornekova". I just this past week turned in my last round of edits (proofing edits). This story continues to follow my characters into the Hussite Wars (the religious civil wars in the Czech lands in the late 1400s). I am also working on my backlog. "Trail of Fears" (about the Cherokee Trail of Tears) and "Among the Pages" (about the Women's Suffrage Movement) are getting covers this summer and edited for release early next year. I am also starting to plot my first Biblical Fiction (or Historical Fiction set in the Biblical Era).
So reader friends, if you’d like to grab these lovely romances, I highly recommend them. Seriously, go get Hope In Cripple Creek. If you have a heart for adoption or caring for the weak, you’ll adore it. If you need a refreshing romance that's hot but not too spicy, grab A Convenient Risk. And check out Ms. Turnquist on her blog: http://saraturnquist.com/ She’d love to connect with you!
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