Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Tag: Oregon Trail

Author Interview with Angela Couch & a Giveaway

Although today’s guest, Angela Couch, has visited Romancing History on numerous occasions, I’ve never sat down with her for an interview. Grab a cup of hot tea, or coffee if you prefer, put your feet up, and let me introduce you to one of my dearest writing friends.

Shameless plug, if you haven’t read Angela’s Heart at War series, I highly recommend these Revolutionary war stories that pit Loyalists against Patriots.

Angela has graciously agreed to offer a $5 Amazon gift card to one Romancing History reader. To enter, see the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post.

Before the interview, let’s learn a little bit about Angela and her new release, Heart of a Warrior.


About Angela

 

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K. Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after four munchkins.

You can connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or by visiting her website.


About the Book

 

The Man She Fears Is Her Only Chance For Survival . . .

All Christina Astle wants is to reach Oregon before her baby is born, but the wagon train is attacked, and her husband killed, stranding her in a mountain labyrinth. Raised in the East, within civilization’s embrace, survival is not a skill she’s learned. Neither is evading the lone warrior dogging her trail.

Disgusted by the greed and cruelty of men like his white father, Towan has turned to the simpler existence of his mother’s tribal people. He is not prepared for the fiery woman who threatens to upturn his entire life … and his heart.

Amazon     B&N     Pelican Book Group


Author Interview

 

Fast Five

  1. Dogs or Cats: Dogs
  2. Chinese or Mexican: Mexican
  3. Sound of Music or Hello Dolly: Sound of Music
  4. Oatmeal Raisin or Chocolate Chip: Chocolate Chip
  5. Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre: Pride & Prejudice

RH: I’m so tickled to have you back on Romancing History, Angela. How is it that we’ve never done an author interview before? Why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself.

AC: I am the mom of 4 awesome kiddos under 10 – three boys and a girl. We are also very excited for #5 who should make his or her debut in Feb! I home school my oldest three and write when I have a few minutes during naps and afternoon play (thankfully my kids play together really well!) As far as writing goes, it has been hard settling into an era. My first series is set during the American Revolution and I have shorter stories spread between Colonial days and WWII. My latest release is late 1850s on the Oregon Trail.

RH: Congratulations on the new baby Couch on the way! I’m so impressed by all the different time periods you’ve written about. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

AC: Technically, I met my husband at church when he was visiting his sisters, but I still don’t remember that. The meeting I remember happened about 4 months later when he came to visit his sister who was now my roommate. I had spent the morning writing in my fuzzy PJs and housecoat, and had just emerged to eat something—though it was early afternoon. We chatted in the kitchen for a while with his sister and I remember thinking two things: 1) I feel like we’ve met before, and #2) I really want him to like me.

RH: You must have made quite the impression, even in your fuzzy PJs and house coat! So if you were already writing at that time, about when did you first feel the calling to tell stories?

AC: I always loved the idea of writing books even before I could write. I would draw squiggles across pages until I had a nice thick stack. When I was a teen I started my first novel and set the goal to be published…someday.

RH: I’m always a bit jealous of those authors who’ve known they wanted to write as soon as they could hold a pencil. I didn’t start writing until my late 40s. Speaking of your writing, what three words best describe the type of stories you write?

AC: Action. Adventure. Romance.

RH: As a huge fan of your books, I’d have to say you hit the nail on the head. Do you have any unpublished stories stashed away that you really hope see the light of day someday?

AC: There are two stories I would like to find a home for. One is a post WWII story, exploring buried pain and trauma from the war and attempts to recover past loves. The second is a series I am working on right now about dashing Canadian Mounties.

RH: Since we are critique partners, I’ve had the privilege of reading these stories and I, too, am hoping they find a home so that readers can enjoy them as well. Can you share with us the inspiration behind Heart of a Warrior?

AC: Driving through the Rockies Mountains quite a few years ago, I looked down into a valley and its dense forest full of shadow and wondered how it would feel to be lost down there? I pictured a young woman trying to find her way over the sometimes-impassible terrain, afraid and very much alone. How would she survive? How would she find her way through such an impossible labyrinth of valleys and peaks, rivers and lakes? What if she was pregnant and there was no civilization for hundreds of miles…except maybe a village of a people she couldn’t even communicate with?

I wrote her story, enjoying her adventure and the finding of her courage and faith. And then, a few years later, added another point of view—that of the Shoshone warrior who saves her. Writing from Towan’s eyes took the story to a whole new level, one that moved me very deeply. I think it is too easy for society to lump people into cultures and races, instead of accepting each person as an individual with their own experiences, outlooks, and challenges. After all, Jesus Christ is the Savior of us all.

RH: Wow, it sounds like your story has a lot of cultural relevance for modern readers. Before I let you go, can you share a little about what your working on now?

AC: Honestly, right now I am working on house renovations and canning fruits and veggies! But as soon as we settle back into school, I will go back to my Mountie series. I have been having a lot of fun with those stories!

RH: I marvel at how busy you are and how much writing you get done. Speaking of writing, can I persuade you to give us a little taste of Heart of a Warrior?

AC: Sure. I’d love to! Here’s a little bit from Chapter One.

Autumn 1859

Eyes clamped shut against the subsiding ache in her abdomen, Christina Astle sucked in cool mountain air. Pine saturated the breath and constricted her lungs like the corsets she’d happily given up only months earlier. Her hand stole across her extended stomach. What had she been thinking, agreeing to follow Anthony away from society, safety, and a house with four walls? What if they didn’t make it to Oregon in time? She refused to give birth with nothing but canvas overhead.

The wagon wheel dropped into another rut, and a gasp escaped her, drawing her husband’s gaze. “I’m sorry. I wish I could go slower, but we’re at least a mile behind them.” He glanced at the sun hovering above, then slipped the gold watch from his breast pocket and flipped it open. “It’s after three already.”

“I know…and I am fine.” Christina raised her chin a degree but refused to look at him and his perpetually concern-laden eyes. Anthony did everything within his power to keep her comfortable, stopping often, even when it meant trailing behind the rest of the wagon train. As long as they caught up by nightfall. Still, heat rose in her chest. They should have waited another year, or—better yet—never left Cincinnati in the first place.

The crack of a discharging rifle pierced the valley and deepened into echo. Then a scream, soft and haunting. More gun fire followed, ricocheting off the high mountain ridges.

The wagon lurched to a halt, and Christina grabbed for the seat. She stared ahead at the empty trail scarred with evidence of those who led the way. Horses. Cattle. Families with children. God, no!

The wagon jerked and rocked off the trail, reins slapping the backs of the mules.

Christina dug her fingertips into the raw wood. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking it away from the trail. I’m not leaving you sitting in plain sight.”

“Leaving me? You can’t. We don’t know what’s going on.” Her head spun. “No, Anthony. Not with these mountains full of savages. Don’t you dare leave me here.”

The wagon tipped slightly then righted, dropped over the slope, and rolled into an aspen grove. White bark glimmered in the bright sun, and young saplings sprang back into place as the wheels passed over.

“There’s only one way to find out what’s happening. If they’re being attacked, they’ll need help.” Anthony lunged to the ground and unharnessed the mules, fastening them farther out of the way. All except the one trained to ride. Anthony left him near the wagon, heaving a saddle over his withers and forcing a heavy bit into his mouth.

Christina remained paralyzed on the seat. “Anthony…no. Don’t go.”

He said nothing as he loaded his revolver and strapped it to his thigh. With the Winchester tucked under his arm, he swung onto the back of the animal and twisted the reins through his fingers. “You’ll be safe here. Most likely it’s nothing.” He looked away, giving the mule an angry kick. The animal balked but lurched to a trot toward the trail.

“Anthony!”

He rotated in the saddle enough to meet her gaze and yanked back on the bit. His brown eyes studied her face, and his chest released a sigh. “Chris, I have to go. You know where the other rifle is, and the shells are under the seat if you have any need of them. I’ll be back soon.”

Christina sagged against the back of the wagon seat. The edge bit her spine. Hooves scraped the loose rock of mountain trail and faded with the distant gun fire.


Giveaway**

This Giveaway is now Closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Andrea DeDeaux!!

Angela is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter the drawing, please tell us if you’ve ever traveled to the Rocky Mountains.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 26th, EST**

When “Happily Ever After” Isn’t Quite Enough — Guest Post & Giveaway by Kathleen Bailey

I’m so excited to welcome another fellow Pelican Book Group author and friend, Kathleen Bailey, back to Romancing History. Kathleen’s latest release, Settler’s Hope, is the second book in her Western Dreams series which follows a group of pioneers on the Oregon Trail. To learn more about the first book in the series, Westward Hope, click here.

Kathleen has graciously offered not one, but three giveaways so be sure to see the details below!


About the Book

Before Kathleen shares her some insights on “Happily Ever Afters,” here’s a little bit about Settler’s Hope.

After years of wandering, Pace Williams expects to find a home in the Oregon Country. He doesn’t expect is to fall in love with a fiery Irishwoman bent on returning home to avenge her people.

Oona Moriarty expects one thing: to exact revenge on the English overlords who took her home. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with a man who looks like he’s been carved from this Western landscape.

Together they vow to trust the unexpected and settle into a life, but when Pace’s ancient enemies threaten to destroy the life they’re building, Oona must choose between helping the man she loves and seeking the revenge she craves.

Available for purchase on Amazon and B&N

 


When “Happily Ever After” Isn’t Quite Enough

~By Kathleen D. Bailey

 

Romance writers are in the business of happy endings. Right? Where he gets her and she gets him and, if there are kids involved, they get a complete family. It’s what we do, why our hero and heroine go through whatever they have to go through to, ultimately, be together.

But life is funny. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we shouldn’t have it. And sometimes God does say “Not now.” I was recently pointed in this direction by two novels and a movie.

In “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” starring Julia Roberts, the heroine has been BFFs  with a college friend for most of their post-college lives. They’ve seen each other through crashed relationships, job debacles and more, while never recognizing their attraction to each other. When Dermot Muloney tells Roberts’ character that he has found The One, she begins to wonder if an early attraction to each other should have been, and should be fanned back into flame. The Julia character’s dawning realization of her feelings is thrown into relief when the Dermot character asks her to be his “best person” at his wedding to a very young Cameron Diaz. Things hit fans, Julia tries to sabotage the wedding and at one point steals a bread truck, and Dermot actually begins to wonder himself, even kissing her at one juncture. You’re rooting for the two best friends to get together, you can’t help it. But at the end of the day his future is with the Diaz character, and Julia backs off.

In Lynn Austin’s novel, Waves of Mercy, debutante Anna Nicholson has two men to choose from: her wealthy and exacting former fiance, William, and a young seminary student, Derk, whom she meets on a respite trip to Lake Michigan. Anna undergoes a voyage of discovery that summer, finding out exactly who she was when the Nicholsons adopted her, and cementing her faith in Christ. While William is mellowing and more than ready to give her a second chance, even accommodating her faith, she is drawn to gentle Derk, who has always accepted her for who she is. The reader is drawn to him too. At least this one was.  But Anna knows who she is now, and she goes back to Chicago to serve and learn more about her Lord. She’s still not certain of a life with William, and though she’s fond of Derk, she honestly doesn’t know if she’s cut out to be a pastor’s wife after a life of luxury. Can love overcome all? We don’t know. But at the end of this book, it hasn’t.

 In Debra Clopton’s Betting on Hope, the cowboy does get the girl, with quarter horse champion Tru Monahan and writer Maggie Hope overcoming their painful pasts for a life together serving God. Tru was rendered sterile by a series of childhood cancer treatments. A subplot features a very young unwed mother, Jenna, who desperately wants to keep her baby. Maggie and some townspeople create a plan to support her. But Jenna knows that even with help, she can never give her daughter what a solid adoptive family can. The reader is pulling for that family to be Maggie and Tru – but that doesn’t happen.

When people do the right thing, for their best friend, unborn child or for their own spiritual health, it hurts. It’s not always fun to be the grown-up. In fact, it hardly ever is.

Because there is something even better than “happiness.” It is joy.

The joy of doing the right thing.

There are doubts along the way, and none of the authors or screenwriters sugarcoat them.

  • From Betting on Hope

            “Maggie walked out of the hospital. Disbelief weighed heavy on her heart over Jenna’s decision. She told herself Jenna’s baby would grow up better than either of them had. That this child would be loved. And wasn’t that what was ultimately important? Not who was raising her. After all, she’d had two parents and both of them had tossed her by the wayside.

            But would Jenna ultimately grow to hate that she hadn’t kept her baby?”

            And finally there is the freedom of letting go. For what isn’t perfect, what can’t be on this earth, but what is right.

  • From Waves of Mercy

            “He pulls me into his arms and holds me tightly. I feel so comfortable there, and as I return his embrace I wish with all my heart that it could be different for us – but it can’t.

            ‘Derk, I truly believe that God brought you and me and Oma together this summer for a reason. All three of our lives have been changed. Now…now it’s just so very, very hard to say goodbye.’

            ‘Then we won’t,’ he says, still holding me tightly. ‘We’ll just say…until next time.’ We finally release each other and stand at the same time. ‘You’ll always be in my prayers, Anna, and I hope I will always be in yours.’

            Tears stick in my throat as I nod. I can’t reply. Derk bends to kiss my cheek, and I watch him turn and walk away. I think I understand how hard it was for Oma Geesje to say good-bye to Hendrik on that long ago day, to watch him walk away into the woods and out of her life forever.

Joy

When we give up what we want, in ourselves, for the Better that God has for us. In genre writing there are certain conventions—the mystery gets solved, the Hero and Heroine end up together—but sometimes it comes at a cost. We, and our characters, should be prepared to pay that.

Another cinematic example: “Casablanca.” Rick doesn’t get Ilsa, and it’s his own choice. The man who didn’t “stick his neck out for anybody” gave away the love of his life to a man who had stuck his neck out, and suffered for it. Rick did the right thing, and we know what it cost him.

But the ultimate example of the perfect ending is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He could have come down from that Cross at any time. Hugged his mother, gone to supper with his anxious pals. Forgone the physical pain and the shame of carrying our sins, opting instead for a Happy Ending. Done what made sense to everyone except Him.

He didn’t. Joy trumped happiness, and we are the better for it.

For future reading:

Betting on Hope, by Debra Clopton, Thomas Nelson 2015, ISBN 978-1-4016-9049-6

Waves of Mercy, Lynn Austin, Bethany House 2016, ISBN 978-0-7642-1761-6


About Kathleen

Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.

Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020.

She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.

For more information, contact her at ampie86@comcast.net; or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit her website.


Giveaway**

This giveaway has now ended!

Congratulations to our winners!!

Ebook Copy of Settler’s Hope: Annette

Paperback Copy of Westward Hope: Peggy Clayton

NE Gift Basket: Theresa Sissions

Kathleen has generously offered not one, but three giveaways to three separate lucky Romancing History readers–one eBook copy of Settler’s Hope, on paper copy of Westward Hope (U.S. Residents only), and one New England Gift Pack (U.S. Residents only). International winners will receive their choice of an eBook copy of one of Kathleen’s books.

To enter, please share with us a favorite book or movie that has a bittersweet ending.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 5th, 2020.**

My Fascination with the Oregon Trail & a Giveaway!

I’m pleased to welcome friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Kathleen Bailey, to Romancing History today. Kathleen’s debut novel, Westward Hope, released September 20, 2019. You can read my review here.


About the Book

 

Why him? Why here? Why now?

Caroline Pierce O’Leary expects to work hard to earn her passage to the Oregon Country. She doesn’t expect to find that the wagon train scout is a man with whom she shares a troubled past. Though Caroline is a Christian now, thanks to her late husband, she finds forgiving Michael to be the hardest part of her journey, harder even than the Trail.

Michael Moriarty thought he’d left his past behind in “green and hurting Ireland.” Seeing Caroline on his wagon train, brings his past to the forefront. With a price on his head, he doesn’t want her to get hurt, but he can’t deny what they were…and could still be.

Michael once betrayed Caroline in the worst possible way. Can she trust him to get her across the Oregon Trail? Can he trust himself to accept her forgiveness and God’s?

Westward Hope is available for purchase on Amazon

 


My Fascination with the Oregon Trail

Guest Post by Kathleen Bailey

 

It was the greatest mass migration the young country had ever seen. In 1843, more than 1,000 Americans packed or sold everything they owned, to travel to the storied West with nothing to protect them but a wooden farm wagon and a canvas roof. They endured searing heat, raging prairie storms, dangerous river crossings, hunger and thirst. Some were running away from something, some were running to something.

And every one of them had a story.

I’d been fascinated by the Oregon Trail era for a long time, and knew I had to write about it. As I pondered the phenomenon, two characters began to take shape. Caroline, a gently-bred, impoverished young widow staking her all on the Western journey, because she had nothing left. Michael, a silver-tongued Irishman, running from his “green and hurting” homeland and a crime he didn’t commit. I began to ask the writer’s questions, “What if?” and “Why not?”

Caroline (as portrayed by actress Olivia de Havilland) in my mind’s eye.

What if…the pair had a history, a history so monumental she had trouble forgiving him for it? What if…he’d left town to protect her, and hadn’t known the consequences of what they’d been to each other? What if…her first husband led her to the Lord, after she lost the Irishman’s baby, and she then lived life as a new creature in Christ? What if…the Irishman had never forgotten her, even as he criss-crossed the country as a wagon train scout, but he knew she’d be better off without him? And what if…they met again in a crowded hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri, and he was tasked with taking her West?

What if…they had to work together to combat the dangers of the Trail? And what if they knew they still loved each other, but she couldn’t be yoked to an unbeliever and he couldn’t get his mind around a God who loved him, no matter what?

Michael (as portrayed by actor Tom Selleck) in my mind’s eye.

Well, why not?

The Trail proved an excellent backdrop for this and more. It’s almost a third major character, as the emigrants threw themselves against a hostile environment every day for six months. Some people, especially women, went mad. Others formed cliques and bickered, like a small town on wheels.  Passions ran high, and people were lynched or almost lynched, if not for the wagon master. But still others found out what they were made of, found love forged in adversity, and found their God.

Oh, and the things they saw! Though rumors passed among the travelers that they would “see the elephant,” that fabled beast eluded them. But they viewed Chimney Rock, Castle Rock, and herds of buffalo thundering over the plains. They carved their names on Independence Rock. They saw strange plants, new animals as they pushed West. They courted and married and birthed. Some met Indians for the first time. And they kept journals, knowing that they were on the brink of something momentous.

I had trouble parting from Michael and Caroline, my characters in Westward Hope, and I rolled them over as supporting characters in the sequel, Settler’s Hope. But I had more trouble parting with the Trail itself, with the crates of research I’d amassed and the vastness of the undertaking. Are there other Trail stories to be written?

Well, why not?

“Westward Hope” is available from Pelican Book Group’s White Rose imprint. Visit www.pelicanbookgroup.com. Bailey is contracted for the second book in the “Western Dreams” series, and is at work on a sequel. A novella featuring two minor characters from “Settler’s Hope,” “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” will be part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza” this holiday season.


About the Author

Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.

 

Authors enjoy connecting with readers. You can find Kathleen on Facebook and Twitter.

“Westward Hope” is available from Pelican Book Group’s White Rose imprint. Visit www.pelicanbookgroup.com. Bailey is contracted for the second book in the “Western Dreams” series, and is at work on a sequel. A novella featuring two minor characters from “Settler’s Hope,” “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” will be part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza” this holiday season.


Giveaway**

This Giveaway is now CLOSED!

Congratulations to out winner Stacy Meyers!

Kathleen is generously offering an eBook copy of Westward Hope and a gift pack of New England products to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell me how adventurous you are in the comments below. If you lived in the mid-19th century, would you be willing to pack up and follow the Oregon Trail west and in search of a new life? Why or why not?

**Giveaway ends 12a.m. (midnight) EST, Thursday October 10, 2019.**

 

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