Category Archives: horse ranch

Blog on New Title Releases

After many years as a best-selling contemporary author, developmental editor, and writing instructor, it’s a great pleasure to announce the release of my fourth historical novel.

The Harper Ranch Series features sweet, sweeping historical romance with high emotion and realistically-rendered settings in 1880s Montana Territory, including research sources and notes. The series is published by Montana Sky Publishing.

Restless Heart 26 FINAL COVERWhile I’m writing Book Five, Royal Rescue, the new Restless Heart is here! Book Four of the Harper Ranch Series….

Once adversaries, now forced to be partners to bring back her abducted son…

Near the battlefield of Custer’s last stand, a devoted mother, Margaret,  and a free-spirit federal agent, Taylor, must overcome their months-old animosity and mistrust to find Margaret’s three-year-old boy, who was abducted in the wilds of Montana Territory in 1887.  A bitter scoundrel’s revenge, a second chance at love, and a life-changing decision about the future create a memorable romantic adventure not to be missed.

Special  surprise from my friend and colleague…

Debra Holland’s 9th Montana Sky historical romance, Montana Sky Justice, features  an extended cameo of Taylor ten years later as he and the heroine-sheriff of Sweetwater Springs pursue bank robbers. An exciting read!

Redemption RoseBook Three in the Harper Ranch Series

Woman in Victorian dress, London UKSusan Harper, a beautiful spinster with a scandalous past, must find the courage to love again.

From the Wild West to the steamy jungles of Panama and across the American Territories, shipping scion Joseph Rawlins courts the eldest Harper sister, Susan, through correspondence. His letters are fascinating, romantic, and above all safe. While she’s drawn to him, Susan fears the discovery of a past scandal will not only hurt him and ruin her, but also damage her sisters’ reputations and jeopardize the political career of Joseph’s father. A rose plant from Joseph’s match-making mother ironically foreshadows Susan’s inner journey to healing. In the striking conclusion, as wedding preparations begin for a sister, Susan confronts the past and finds it’s not just her who hides secrets that could destroy a family.

Rebel Love SongBook Two in the Harper Ranch Series

What will she do to keep up her secret suffrage writings in the face of government pursuit?

Jessamine Harper, a suffragette like her mother and a ranch hand Rebel Love Song retitled 20 FINALon the family ranch, scours newspapers (a scandal in itself for a Victorian woman) to find victims of cruelty at the hands of husbands, clergy, politics, and unfair work practices. Taylor Temogen, government land agent for Southern Montana Territory, is committed to stopping Jess’s insurgent writings so women will brave the rigors of homestead life to settle the West. Bethesda Janes, a Jewish goldminer, closet cellist, and gifted artist with iron and steel, who loves Jess but feels unworthy, must forgive the sins of his father to find the courage to claim love. What breaks the threads that bind these three in struggle are decency, courage, and abiding love.

And here’s the book that started the whole series:

Rye’s Reprieve, my first historical novel, Book One of the Harper Ranch SeriesRye'sReprieve Retitle 2018 by Hill

A doctor with a secret discovers that truth is the only medicine that will heal the heart

Gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine in Montana Territory. But saving people is second nature, whether it’s doctoring a man mauled by a mountain lion or battling a wolf to save a child. Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper suffers through the worst winter in Montana history to provide for three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. Dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators make survival precarious.

Rye comes to Missouri’s aid, putting his life in danger and Missouri in his debt. As they fall in love, his secret and her promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

I hope you enjoy the Wild West adventure storylines and find a moment to post a review on Amazon. All the books fall into the category of “sweet” or G-rated historical romance.

Lou's Logo

Advertisements

Snuggle & Read in This Cold Weather

One desperate young woman.
A chance meeting.
A life-changing outcome.

You might think that’s the promotional hook for one of my own novels, but you’d be wrong. It’s from Caroline Clemmons’ Amanda’s Rancher, one of eight stories on sale at Amazon and featuring strong heroines, gorgeous heroes–books full of danger, twists, cry-out-loud woe, plenty of romance, and feel-good endings. While the snow swirls and the surf pounds the shore, snuggle up with one of these delightful historical romances, on sale through January, and get lost in the lives of courageous pioneer women. The books are well-written, sweet romances set in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World locations, Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory.

The Complete List of Engaging Titles

On Sale for Less Than a Buck The Author’s Facebook Page
Loving Matilda Elizabeth Ayers
Hope on the Horizon Cassie Hayes
Amanda’s Rancher Caroline Clemmons
Slater’s Bride Patricia Thayer Wright
Rye’s Reprieve Louella Nelson
Nolan’s Vow Linda Hubalek
Thorpe’s Mail-Order Bride Cindy Woolf
Laced by Love Linda Carroll-Bradd

News Item: All Kindle World books are now in Kindle Unlimited.

For a complete list of Debra Holland’s Montana Sky novels, click here.
For a complete list of other authors’ novels set in Debra’s Kindle World, click here.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention my own book on sale, Rye’s Reprieve, and its metamorphosis.

I woke up one chilly morning at four AM with a complete scene whining and begging and crying to be written. I obliged, of course.

Rye's Reprieve (3) Final - CopyWhen the scene was polished, I sent it to best-selling author Debra Holland, for whom I serve as developmental editor for all her fiction. She read the scene on the plane en route to a writers’ conference in New York and meetings with Amazon’s editorial personnel. There, they hashed out the details of launching a new Kindle World based on the many successful Montana Sky novels she’s written, and Rye’s Reprieve came into being on February 8, 2016 in the first KW launch.

The book rose to #5 in Amazon’s Top 100 Historical Romance list and for weeks was in the first two slots for KW Westerns and KW Romance. It gets even better.

Through a private Facebook group, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting the authors who have joined Debra’s Kindle World. We now have a map of one of the town settings, Morgan’s Crossing, where my own Harper Ranch Series is set, and many pages of a “bible” in which we list out titles, characters, date-span, and settings to keep them straight. We often collaborate by including some of the other authors’ (or Debra’s) key characters in our own books. It’s fun, and the readers love the huge “family” we’re building and visiting with in the books.

There are now five pages of our Montana Sky Kindle World book titles on Amazon, and I’m currently working on Book Four of my Harper Ranch Series.

It’s cold outside. Get under your favorite comforter, snuggle up with a cup of tea or cocoa, and enjoy these wonderful historical romances.

Three new opportunities for down-home reading

Rye's Reprieve WR rank 2017-05-08My friend Debra Holland emailed me a couple days ago to say Rye’s Reprieve climbed to #41 on Amazon’s prestigious Top 100 Western Romance ebooks list, lingering among the latest works of leading historical romance authors of the day, including Debra. My historical novel is currently #1 in Kindle World Westerns, #3 in Romances.

I have many of you to thank for buying Rye’s Reprieve and for the more than 75 reviews received to date. Book One in the Harper Ranch series will be on sale for 99 cents for the month of May, a savings of $3. Look for an announcement in eReaderNewsToday on May 15. This is my first historical romance: In 1886 Montana Territory, Rye, a gifted surgeon, hides his healing gifts working as a gold miner. Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper, the sole support for her three sisters and ailing aunt, must fight her attraction to the handsome miner, whose secrets are cause for hesitation and whose bravery puts her in his debt. http://amzn.com/B01BLWL8X8

Rye's Reprieve (3) Final - Copy  rebel-love-song-final-300dpi  Together on sale for $4.98 through May

Rebel Love Song, Book Two in the Harper Ranch series, will appear on http://www.BooksButterfly.com May 24-26. http://a.co/7XQ5LX2  Intrigue, jealousy, and ambition bring suffragette Jessamine Harper, talented metalsmith Bethesda Janes, and a determined government agent to a dramatic stand-off.  Book Three, Rose of Redemption, launches July 18 and features a third Harper sister, Susan, who expects to remain a spinster because of an earlier serious mistake in judgment, and Rye’s older brother, shipping magnate Joseph Rawlins.

Night Sky Stars Clouds Northern Lights mirrored Sale June 4 – 11

The best-selling Mail-Order Mate will be on sale June 4 through June 11, also at 99 cents, regularly $3.99, and will be advertised on http://www.RobinReads.com. Don’t miss this tale of romance, deception, and danger in the wilds of Alaska. http://a.co/3C9Fsao

Delle Jacobs created the covers of Mail-Order Mate and Rebel Love Song. Erin Dameron-Hill designed the cover of Rye’s Reprieve. The interiors of all three books were designed by Amy Atwell at http://www.AuthorEMS.com.

Collaboration Between Writer Friends

In 2016 we wrote together, did speaking engagements, and supported one another through the loss of a beloved pet.

lou-deb-at-kindle-worlds-panel-rwa-2016

New York Times best-selling author Debra Holland and I spoke on a panel in July 2016 at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. The topic was writing for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. About 100 attendees asked questions about the financial and marketing side of writers developing stories in a famous author’s fictional “world.” In the case of Debra’s Montana Sky Kindle World, authors may have their own characters interact with Debra’s already created and established characters, they may link their World books to other series the authors have created via traditional or independent (self) publishing, and they may spin off new series within Debra’s Montana Sky towns, Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing. Other World creators have their own rules for participation. Amazon must approve World books before they are released.

In my case, as many of you know, I began a new series on a ranch  I created in the mining camp of Morgan’s Crossing. Rye’s Reprieve, set in 1886, features a doctor with a secret and a veterinarian who has come west with her sisters to make the family-owned Harper Ranch flourish. It was my first historical novel and rose in Amazon rankings to #7 in Historical Romance in August. The next in the series, due to release by Amazon December 15, 2016, features a suffragette being tracked by a federal agent and a miner with secret gift and a mysterious past–Rebel Love Song.

Debra and I will do a second panel discussion on Kindle Worlds, with other authors, at the March 24-26, 2017 California Dreamin’ Writers Conference at the Embassy Suites in Brea, CA.

On October 13 we spoke to Professor Karen Felts’ class on Sexuality and Gender at Orange Coast College and fielded questions about romance writing, the writer’s journey, publishing, and the link between imagination and life-experience in writing fiction.

These collaborations emerge from 15 years of working together.  Debra came to me in the late 90’s because she wanted to augment her work counseling stars in Hollywood; she wanted to become a published fiction writer.

I was already teaching writers through classes I developed at UCI Extension, and I was mentoring a women’s writers group on Fridays in my home. I took Debra on as a client.

After a series of one-on-one consults focused on the basics of scene and story design and character development, Debra joined the Friday group. Wild Montana Sky was the result of a prolonged association with this critique group; the book went on to win national awards and Debra spent the next ten years trying to be traditionally published. It was a disappointing ten years.

However, when she self-published Wild Montana Sky on Amazon for Kindle, over the next 11 months the book sold nearly 100,000 copies. Suddenly the big houses who had rejected her were calling to ask her to choose them to publish her Montana Sky series. She turned them down and went with Amazon, publishing several sweet historical novels in the series, self-publishing spin-off novels, collaborating with a sister romance author on a series, and releasing fantasy novels as well as a text on grief and grieving and a chapter in an anthology on self-publishing. For all her titles, visit her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Holland/e/B004XXKZH8

I remain Debra’s developmental editor, making suggestions on the flow of the narrative in her fiction, on the consistency of characters, on logic, on dates and weather and opening hooks and all the myriad complexity that makes a successful piece of fiction.

In 2015, to help keep each other motivated (because writing is very hard, lonely, draining work even if exciting at times), Debra and I began to write together at my dining room table. We continue to do so. She just completed An Irish Blessing, book 2 of The O’Donnell Sisters Trilogy, related to the Montana Sky novellas. It releases this month. I have been working on book 2 of the Harper Ranch series, Rebel Love Song.

The collaboration goes beyond writing, though.

lou-n-tux-9-18-16-jLast month I had to put down my 18-year-old kitty pal, Tuxedo, who was approaching kidney failure, and Debra, as both friend and a doctor of psychology, was just the right kind of support: loving, expressing condolences, backing off on the writing regimen while I grieved, and checking on me. I was grateful–as I was for all the wonderful notes I received on Facebook from my followers.

I won’t go into details, but I was able to support Debra through a house-move and a personal challenge or two.

When I was ill this summer and unable to write, Debra graciously released me from a pending Montana Sky release date and kept in touch on a friend level.

That’s what we do as friends: encourage, support, guide. Communicate, even on the tough issues. Defend. And above all, create. We create both a friendship and our own rich life,  like close sisters.

Making Ads and Amazon Rankings Work for You

This article is directed to the many writers I mentor and teach who are interested in promoting their books and stories via Internet advertising. The main focus for my own initial experience in book advertising was when Amazon, my publisher, put my first historical romance, Rye’s Reprieve, on sale for 99 cents without warning.

Rye's Reprieve (3) Final - CopyAmazon in its publishing role effectively uses email blasts to promote the works of its authors, so immediately my novel began climbing in the Top 100 of various lists: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Inspirational Romance, Kindle Worlds, as well as Westerns and the Romance category under Westerns.

Even after the advertising I’m going to talk about below lost its influence, today, September 19, 2016, the book is #97 on the Western Romance list, which could mean Amazon is still doing a modicum of promotion, or my own humble ad campaign combined with theirs has residual effect, or there is some mysterious force at work. It’s too much to hope that the book has a following, a life of it’s own. That would be too exciting for words.

Even more importantly, Rye’s Reprieve, which had only 13 reviews before July 2016, currently has 54 reviews on Amazon (79 % are 5-star reviews) and 80-plus ratings on Goodreads. And finally, I enjoyed seeing my new readers find and buy my other books and stories.

Here is the report I wrote in late August (with updates today in red):

Yesterday my book Rye’s Reprieve hit #7 on the Kindle Historical Romance Best Sellers list. Perhaps you are jaded by all the wonderful best-selling authors who regularly hit #1 on all the major lists and don’t think #7 is all that much.

But consider: Rye’s Reprieve is my first historical and my first novel-length fiction to release in more than two decades*. Reestablishing a writing career equates to pushing a two-ton boulder up Mt. Baldy. So seeing your new book hit #7 is about as good as eating homemade blueberry ice cream made with blueberries you picked on the hill behind your house just that morning.

*In May 2014, my period short story “Cora Lee” achieved #6 in Literary Short Fiction, following behind stories by Stephen King and Lee Child. For that launch the only promotion I did was to mention the book on Twitter & Facebook and in a newsletter to my email list of about 1200. I reissued my Harlequin titles and put out several short stories. My Amazon author page shows all fiction.

I didn’t achieve this recent modest success on Rye’s Reprieve without friends’ advice and a bit of luck. Here’s how I did it.

Decoding the rankings

On March 9 after my initial email promotion, Rye’s Reprieve went to #6 in Kindle World Romance. In contrast, this go-round, August 7-11, with the 99 cent sale and some low-cost promotions, the book hit #1 in Kindle Worlds Romance and Westerns (and at this writing, it’s still #1 in Kindle Worlds overall.) It achieved #3 in Kindle Western Romance and held there, which, together with #7 in Historical Romance, is more prestigious because the competition is huge. This “little engine that could” is still #97 in Western Romance!

Screen Capture by Snagit

Screen Capture by Snagit

How do you begin for your own promotion? Make a study of Amazon’s ranking structure. It’s complex—more complex than what you see beneath your title’s descriptive data on the book’s Amazon page. Here is the link to see all the lists available under Best Sellers Kindle Store eBooks: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-eBooks/zgbs/digital-text/154606011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_1_kstore . You can see the list above, with Romance and then Western Romance highlighted. From there, click on your genre and drill down until you find the various lists where your book exists.

Under ebook subcategories, Romance is the umbrella topic. I then checked Historical Romance as well as Western Romance. Clicking Westerns takes you to Western Romance.

Another ranking, Westerns, can be found by clicking on Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction. Strangely, under Genre Fiction, Romance is not listed!

I found Kindle Worlds rankings in the Ranking area on my book’s page.

But also, if your book is on sale, think seriously about placing relatively inexpensive ads on websites whose sole mission is to promote free and 99 cent ebooks.

What worked in promotion

First, Rye’s Reprieve was released in February 2016 in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World. For all its Worlds releases, Amazon controls when price-reductions occur; they put my book on sale without warning at the beginning of August. I’m assuming they did multiple email blasts that included my book, but even those didn’t keep the book up in the rankings for long.

In addition to my own Facebook and Twitter announcements of the 99 cent sale, a member of OCC RWA and Novelists, Inc. (NINC), Lauren Royal, opened her Friday Freebies & 99-Cent Bargain Books and her weekly newsletter featuring historical novels to NINC members, so I submitted my book cover and blurb. She also mentioned my title on Facebook and Twitter. The promotion at www.LaurenRoyal.com hit on August 5 and was free.

Debra Holland recommended I try for an ad in eReader News Today (ENT) and I was lucky to be chosen to participate. The fee for an ad on a specific day for historical romance is only $60. You can pay by PayPal or credit card (as most of the sites I mention allow). The morning the ad appeared at www.ereadernewstoday.com, August 7, the book shot to #1 in the Kindle Worlds mentioned above and #5 on the Western Romance list. Unfortunately, I did not think to check the Historical Romance category, but when I did a couple days later, the novel was ranked #22, rising to #7 in the past few days.

ent-ad-8-7-16I credit Amazon emails, the ENT ad, and Lauren’s newsletter for Rye’s Reprieve’s initial rise in rank.

Meanwhile, I contacted colleague Linda Carroll-Bradd and asked her advice about advertising. She recommended I look into www.JustKindleBooks.com and www.Ebookshabit.com. The ad at Just Kindle Books costs $20 plus Add Ons (keep the book on their homepage for extra 3 days $20; Facebook post to 26,000 followers, $10) for a total of $60. The fee includes cover image/link on Pinterest, Tumblr, and other main social media.

That promo hit August 11. The book rose to #7 in Historical Romance, # 3 in Western Romance, as well as #1 in Westerns, and #1 in KW both Romance and Western. This is a pretty good indication that Just Kindle Books is worth the money. In contrast, I did not get the bump I was hoping for from a $10 ad with eBooksHabit.

After reading a chapter email and attending the Published Authors Workshop at RWA on Saturday, I gathered the following advertising ops for ebooks that are free or 99 cents from Kitty Bucholtz, Vicki Crum, Shelley Bleackley, and others.

I had spent $120 so far. With a remaining budget of about $250, I placed ads here:

Robin Reads (August was closed when I checked but I wrote to them about the success of the initial advertising efforts, they encouraged me to submit my book, and voila! A spot in their calendar opened up: Aug. 25. If they select me, the cost will be $45.)

Choosy Bookworm accepted me and will advertise Rye’s Reprieve on Aug. 18. Yay! The Rush Premium Feature costs $70 and the cover will remain on their Featured eBooks Page for a week.

Book Sends is pricey at $90 for the spot on Aug. 18 and just about ate up my budget—I have only $25 left to spend.

However, when you’re making pennies per book, money can’t be your main motive for promotion. It has to be gaining new readers, racking up a few more reviews and even cross-over sales to your other books and stories, and seeing your efforts pay off in a rise in rankings that you can share with followers. Some authors also experience a bump in sales when the book returns to its normal price, which in the case of Rye’s Reprieve is $3.99.

Did I mention BookBub? If they agreed to let me advertise with them—a slim possibility—the cost would be $500 and they anticipate I’d have roughly 2500 sales. If that happened, I’d clear $375 after costs, and the ranking would no doubt shoot Rye’s Reprieve to single digits on most coveted lists, plus bring a whole bunch of new readers to my author page.

I did not yet advertise with eBookWorth, Bargain Booksy, or Fiverr’s BKnight with its $5 price tag and 50,000 readers, because I needed to meet Marianne Donley’s deadline for A Slice of Orange. However, I will at least check out their sites.

I probably don’t need to mention…most of the authors and professional newsletter editors want the authors they feature to put the newsletter link in their social media announcements.

I would appreciate having an email from anyone who wants to share their promotion/ranking journey, and if things really jump by the end of August, I may give a follow-up report in a future blog post.

Contact me at lounelson@cox.net or this website. Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/louella.nelson.1 and Twitter: @LouellaNelson


This post first appeared in the Orange County Romance Writers of America blog machine, A Slice of Orange, in August 17, 2016, and has been updated here.

Rye’s Reprieve, featuring a doctor with a secret in 1886 Montana

RhysReprieve (3) 72 66 reduction

After many years as a best-selling contemporary author, developmental editor, and writing instructor, it’s a great pleasure to announce the release of my first historical novel. I hope you will enjoy the Wild West adventure storyline and find a moment to post a review on Amazon. Rye’s Reprieve falls into the category of “sweet” or G-rated historical romance. Following the synopsis of the novel, you will find how the book came to be, a map of the fictional town, and, finally, acknowledgements and research notes.

About Rye’s Reprieve (The Harper Sisters Book 1), a Montana Sky Kindle World release:

In 1886, gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine in Montana Territory. But saving people is second nature, whether it’s doctoring a man mauled by a mountain lion or battling a wolf to save a child.

Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper suffers through the worst winter in Montana history to provide for three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. Dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators make survival precarious.

Rye comes to Missouri’s aid, putting his life in danger and Missouri in his debt. As they fall in love, his secret and her promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

How the story came into being:

The fictional town where the novel is set, Morgan’s Crossing, was first conceived by New York Times best-selling author and close friend Debra Holland. As her developmental  editor, familiar with her settings and characters, bringing her town and three of her characters from Mail-Order Brides of the West: Prudence into being in my book was fun. During the writing of Rye’s Reprieve, we sat at my dining table working on our separate projects, and I alternated between writing my novel and editing a novel and a novella she was releasing. Other authors writing in Debra’s Kindle World can be discovered here.

Map of Morgan’s Crossing

Map

Acknowledgements & Historical Research Notes

I would like to thank my close friend and colleague Debra Holland for inspiration, for making this novel better by her suggestions, and for the opportunity to write a book set in the world she established through her best-selling Montana Sky series. The setting for my novel, Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory, was first invented by Debra. Since writing is a lonely endeavor, of particular pleasure is that we spent many hours at my dining table writing together and encouraging one another on our separate projects. For more on her book titles and background visit her Amazon Author Page at: http://www.amazon.com/Debra-Holland/e/B004XXKZH8.

Thanks also go to the wonderful authors who wrote books in this Kindle World series. We shared historical research, encouragement, and character exchanges so readers could enjoy seeing their favorite characters in other books. To learn about the authors who launched books in Debra’s Kindle World series along with Rye’s Reprieve, go to: http://debraholland.com

I must thank my copy editor, Adeli Brito of FourEyesEdit.com, my formatter, Amy Atwell of Author E.M.S., both of whom came through for me at the eleventh hour, and my cover artist, Erin Dameron-Hill of EDH Graphics.

In addition, thanks go to Dr. Janis Thereault for help with the scene in which Albert is injured; Christine Ford, Integrated Resource Program Manager of the Grant-Khor’s Ranch in Southwest Montana, now a national park; Brian Geiger, PhD, MILS, Director, CBSR, University of California, Riverside; Lori Cassidy and John Dale of Orange Coast College Library; Erin Eldermire of Vet Library Reference, Cornell University; and Randy Thompson, Senior Archivist, The National Archives at Riverside, California.

Finally, I would like to thank my cheerleaders: my daughter Stacee Nelson, my sister Grace MacMillan, my sister-in-law Anna Marg Rear, my nephew and niece Ken and Debbie Rear and niece Shannon Rear, my current students, my former students now published—Alexis Lusonne Montgomery. Frances Amati, and  Janis Thereault—and my dear friend Carl Baggett, Jr.

The lyrics from “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” that open this novel are attributed in several sources to the Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876).

The snap fasteners you see on the clothing of the cover model were apparently not in common use for American clothing in 1886 but were patented approximately that year by a German inventor. Other sources suggest the snap was used in stage clothing for quick changes.

“Thou art in Rome” is a quote by Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) that appears in the skating party chapter.

The origins of lyrics from “Blow the Man Down,” an English sea shanty, are obscure. The title may refer to the act of knocking a man down. “Contemporary publications and the memories of individuals, in later publications, put the existence of this shanty by the 1860s. The Syracuse Daily Courier, July 1867, quoted a lyric from the song, which was said to be used for hauling halyards on a steamship bound from New York to Glasgow.” More can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blow_the_Man_Down.

The most helpful sources for weather conditions and the ravages of the worst winter in Montana history, 1886-1887, can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/grko/learn/historyculture/winter.htm; for a vivid depiction at: http://theweatherforums.com/archive/index.php?/topic/21388-the-winter-of-1886-87-in-montana/; and at: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/record-cold-and-snow-decimates-cattle-herds.

For sources on the American land grants of the 1880s—most of which conflict as to acreage—which nonetheless are interesting reading, go to: http://history.nd.gov/lincoln/land8.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Land_Act; and to pour through the various codes of the Desert Land Act of 1877, which modified the Homestead Act to allow more land to homesteaders in the west, go to Cornell Law and with great patience consult their archives. Here is a start to your investigation: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/43/1303

A non-traditional medical technique for lowering heart rate by massage is found here: http://www.wikihow.com/Slow-Your-Heart-Rate-Down

For early veterinarian practices, see Vets in 1880s: http://www.commercevillagevet.com/historic-hospitals-veterinarians-share-stories-of-three-practices/. Although I’ve owned horses, I needed to reacquaint myself with the parts of a horse and used this site: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/identifying-horse-parts-and-markings.html

A truly excellent source for lists of items pioneers often brought with them in wagons crossing the territories is here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/frontierlife/essay2.html

I took Rye’s middle name from a Civil War hero and claimed the man as his uncle:

John Aaron Rawlins (February 13, 1831 – September 6, 1869) was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A confidant of Ulysses S. Grant, Rawlins served on Grant’s staff throughout the war, rising to the rank of brevet major general, and was Grant’s chief defender against allegations of insobriety. After the war, he was appointed Secretary of War when Grant was elected President of the United States, but died of advanced tuberculosis five months into his term. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Aaron_Rawlins.

Books I consulted from my library are listed here by title and author and are available currently online:
Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865, the diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon
Bright Star in the Big Sky by Mary Barmeyer O’Brien
Doc Susie: The True Story of a Country Physician in the Colorado Rockies by Virginia Cornell
Pioneer Doctor: The Story of a Woman’s Work by Mari Grana
Doctors of the Old West by Robert F. Karolevitz
Medicine: A History of Healing, Ancient Traditions to Modern Practice, consulting editor Roy Porter (lent to me by Colleen Fliedner, a member of my plot group)

If you would like further information, contact me through my website: www.LouellaNelson.com