Shannon here: Donna Schlachter turns history and research into her latest Pony Express novel, Hearts of Julesburg. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for an e-book copy. Deadline: Oct 14th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
Hearts of Julesburg – a tale of the Wild West by Donna Schlachter
My latest Pony Express book, Hearts of Julesburg, is set in the rough and tumble town of Julesburg, Colorado, in 1861.
My main character, Annelise Harper, an orphan, decides the Pony Express is her answer to her longing for adventure. But, of course, they don’t hire girls. So she cuts her hair, dresses like a boy, and is hired.
Today, in America, there are plenty of opportunities for women to perform work once considered for men only, but not so much in 1861. Particularly in the Wild West. But that doesn’t deter Annelise. Her new persona, Andy Adams, is physically able to keep up with her male counterparts in most areas. Since folks didn’t bathe often in those days, she manages to keep her secret until…
Well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?
The town of Julesburg, Colorado, was named after a scoundrel who lived there, owned most of the town, and ruled with an iron fist. Jules was not a nice person, and eventually he committed enough crimes that he skedaddled, just ahead of a new law that decided to take back the town.
It’s no wonder then that Clint Baker, an ex-convict, heads there. He has nobody and nothing, except that he served his time for his part in a bank heist in another state. And now here he is, trying to prove the old Clint is dead and this new man is somebody worth knowing.
But his past keeps haunting him, in the form of his cellmate, who wants to drag him back into the life.
Can he resist the lure of easy money? Or is he really on the straight and narrow?
And, in case you’ve not read any of the other books in the series, the Pony Express began in April 1860 and ceased operations in October 1861. That’s right. Such an iconic part of American history lasted about eighteen months.
During that time, following a trail that covered some 2,500 miles from Independence, Missouri to San Francisco, California, the company employed hundreds of men and young boys, riding thousands of horses, who lived in one of the 250 homestations or waystations along the route.
Each rider was assigned a particular route that covered a hard day’s ride east or west, and they traded out mounts every fifteen to twenty miles, depending on the terrain.
Unlike the romantic movies, television shows, and most novels written about the Express, the job was difficult, tiring and tiresome, and sometimes dangerous. Nothing stopped the mail from getting through. Not floods, snowstorms, bandits, wild animals, or native uprisings. Surprisingly, not a single rider was killed, although many horses perished from the hard work, or were stolen or simply went missing.
Perhaps the sense of adventure engendered by the Pony Express is what keeps it in the minds of folks. Maybe the fact that the Express united a country at a time when mail otherwise took months to travel the southern route, or go down around South America and come up the other way.
Ultimately, the company closed, being in debt some $600,000, when the telegraph connected the east and west coasts, but before that, the Express helped families stay in touch, carried President Lincoln’s acceptance speech, and allowed businesses to expand from sea to shining sea.
Question for Readers: How do you think you’d have fared in 1861? Would you like to have lived back then? Why or why not?
About Donna: A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching writers at any stage of their manuscript. Learn more & connect:
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About the book – Hearts of Julesburg:
In 1861, in the Wild West, life is difficult. And often short.
Annelise Adams is more afraid of a life of drudgery and boredom than she is of dying young. Besides, only the good die young, right? She is determined to break the bonds of her gender and of society. Instead of submitting meekly to the expectation that she will either teach school or wed, she heads out of town on her horse, and ends up in Julesburg, Colorado, the roughest and toughest place she’s ever heard of. Then she sets out to make her own destiny.
Clint Baker wants more than he has. Although some would think he already has the world. As a ride for the Pony Express, he might not own much, but he roams the Wild West, crossing more land than a man could want. But circumstances conspire against him, threatening to derail his plans. Until a new friend enters his life: Alex Adams.
Can Annelise continue hiding behind her disguise, or will she be found out and expelled? If so, she has nothing and nowhere to go. Can Clint figure out what he really wants? Or will God have to intervene, to bridle them, rein them in, and get them headed in the right direction?
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Come back Oct 6th for Linda A. Hoover!