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
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