What inspires a novelist to create characters, explore a setting, tell a story? For me, it’s often visual stimulus that stirs my imagination, sparks memories, and starts me spinning a tale of love and loss, loneliness and community, grace and second chances.
Prairie Song on PINTEREST
The end of the American Civil War reopened the floodgates for humanity headed west. Men and women hungered for land and business opportunities to help them rebuild their war-torn lives and families.
Wagon train companies were typically a ragtag group of pioneers–families and individuals–fleeing their past, headed for a brighter future. Or so they hoped. A captain was usually hired to guide the caravan safely across rivers and the prairie, and over mountains to their destination of promise.
Prairie Song, the first book in the Hearts Seeking Home Series, chronicles the overland journey of the westbound Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company setting out on The Oregon Trail from Saint Charles, Missouri, in the spring of 1866. Here is a peek at the roster and some of the characters who are provisioning farm wagons and a Connestoga, selling off property, and saying goodbye to friends and loved ones for the Oregon Trail. (more…)
I didn’t write this post from my home office. I was traveling, which required that I pack for another state, a higher elevation, and cooler temperatures. Before I left home, piles of clothes, shoes, and sweatshirts lie on the bed awaiting their fate, vying for room in a suitcase already spoken for by toiletries, a blow dryer, and a makeup case.
I awarded flat space to crucial outfits, the nooks and crannies to necessities like a sun hat, umbrella, and tennis shoes (since the impatients behind me in the airport security line would rather I quickly slip in and out of slides or flip flops, not concerned with the added weight and bulk in my suitcase).
Once the first stacks of necessities had made the cut, I pulled out a second suitcase. Now you know why I prefer to fly Southwest—two bags and a carry-on fly free. A big bonus when you don’t have the time or inclination to scrutinize every piece of cloth and plastic in your stacks on the bed, and a true gift to those of us who like options.
The above scenario is one of the reasons some family members find it amusing that I’m writing historical fiction, specifically, a wagon train series. (more…)
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What would drive people from the familiar into the unknown? What would cause men to venture into a harsh wilderness, leaving their families behind? Or uprooting them?
For the Israelites, it was captivity in Egypt and the hope of freedom in a Promised Land that drove them from the prison they’d known for generations.
In the early 1840s, emigrants from the Eastern United States began traveling overland by covered wagon to escape grief, persecution, and poverty. Driven by desperation, curiosity, and greed, several hundred thousand people sold the bulk of their possessions, bid family and friends adieu, provisioned a covered wagon and took bold or timid steps toward what they hoped would be their promised land. A land of boundless opportunity. They’d heard stories of the wide open spaces, big forests, rivers and streams teeming with fish, flowers that bloomed all year, and abundant land for farming. Developing cities ripe for businesses. Gold, silver, and copper sat ready to be mined.
That is the backdrop for the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company in Prairie Song, Book 1 in my new Hearts Seeking Home Series. The women in the Saint Charles Quilting Circle—from The Quilted Heart novellas—have been devastated by the War Between the States. From the youngest to the oldest, they’ve lost brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers. Not only were their plans changed, they were crushed under the heavy weight of endings, some gradual and some abrupt. But their faith is anchored in a faithful God. Fresh starts await them on the horizon.
Carrying their friendships in their hearts, some of the women will travel west to rebuild their lives, in search of home. (more…)
Boney’s turn to cook supper. A fact that has the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company captain, Garrett Cowlishaw, and the other four trail hands sticking close to camp. All the wagons are set in their curved line, the livestock graze hobbled in the meadow, and the company’s children haul buckets of water up from the creek. Men are greasing wheels and tending hooves while the women see to their families’ needs.
Outside the company’s chuck wagon, supper boils in an iron pot suspended over the campfire. The scraping of the wooden spoon along the sides of a tin bowl says mealtime won’t be long off now. (more…)
Since I write women’s historical fiction, it makes sense that I’d want to hear from women and men from the time and period in which I’m setting my stories. For my Hearts Seeking Home Series, I turned to the diaries and journals of folks who had made the trek west by covered wagon. The grammar, spelling, and punctuation remains authentic, as found in the diary entry.
March 14, 1854 We picked out two other quilts with patterns Ann and I especially like: the Memory Block, made with bits of material from relatives’ clothing, and the appliqued Mountain Lily in bright colors. The Slave Chain quilt, stitched by our black mammy, we kept to remind us of the dear woman who took care of us when we were young. Trail of Thread – Historical Letters 1854-1855 by Linda K. Hubalek
In celebration of my upcoming wagon train series, I hosted a WAGON TRAIN RECIPE CONTEST! The winning recipe will be published in my next full-length novel with WaterBrook Press!
During the month of October, entrants in the recipe contest sent in beloved old family recipes! Folks voted on the recipes, narrowing the finalists to three. Now my hubby Bob and I are preparing the top three recipes and will decide which is the tastiest. It’s going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it. 🙂
We’re preparing the three recipes and sharing the process in no particular order. The winning recipe will be announced here on Thursday, December 20, 2012!
Kuchen Koffee Kake by Natalie is one of the three finalists!
2 C. scalded milk
2 pkgs yeast dissolved in a little water
(On the road west, Anna would’ve used a starter dough in place of the yeast.)
3 1/2 C. ﬂour
- Mix above together & let sit for 20 minutes
2/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 C. ﬂour
1/2 C. shortening
- Let rise.
- Roll out to 1/4 inch and place in pie plates as you would a pie crust.
- When it starts to rise, put on topping and bake immediately for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Place cooked prune halves on top of Kuchen before topping of cream.
TOPPING: Two options.
1. If sour cream is available, spread thickly over top and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Sweet cream works nicely too. If no cream is available, spread with softened butter and cinnamon.
2. Another topping can be made from 2 eggs beaten, with a little cream and sugar. Spread on top.
Natalie Note: Makes a most delicious Kuchen (this is from my paternal grandmother’s church cookbook, so very old).
What would you serve with this Kuchen Koffee Kake?