Please welcome Colleen L. Donnelly, a bestselling author and sister Rose (published by The Wild Rose Press). She’s here to tell us about her new release, Letters and Lies, and why she wrote it. Take it away, Colleen!
Something about the old west brings out the humorous side of me, while other time periods I’ve written about have dredged up more hard-hitting dilemmas that pertain to the heart. Maybe this era, with all of the hardships homesteaders encountered as they forged their way across what became the United States, created the perfect mix of conditions to cause a woman to stand up and be counted along with the men. The grit and determination to lay hold of and maintain what was she believed was hers is awe inspiring…but then an amusing romp when the heroine tightens her grip behind a ladylike smile.
This story was written for fun, but also for the Louise Archer in all of us. I may have planted my character in the 1870s, that uncomfortable time when women teetered between the need to be strong and the rejection of it, but we each have our moment of knowing what we want, deciding a small lie or a red face are costs we’re willing to suffer for it, and facing in the end that we have far more savvy than anyone…including ourselves…thought.
If there is any “lesson” in the story, it is faith and hope in your open door. When the doorway to the West opened up, people and families felt the call to go find theirs and pass through it. When Louise receives a mailed proposal from a homesteader out West, she accepts with relish the open door to marriage she’d always waited for. But back then, as now, open doors close. Louise’s did, and with the spirit of a determined pioneer, she puts herself through over three-hundred pages of embarrassing escapades to wedge that door back open again. Only to find, like many frustrated settlers and even us, faith takes us to the door always meant to be ours to begin with.
A little more about Letters and Lies:
Louise Archer boards a westbound train in St. Louis to find the Kansas homesteader who wooed and proposed to her by correspondence, then jilted her by telegram – Don’t come, I can’t marry you. Giving a false name to hide her humiliation, her lie backfires when a marshal interferes and offers her his seat.
Marshal Everett McCloud intends to verify the woman coming to marry his homesteading friend is suitable. At the St. Louis train station, his plan detours when he offers his seat to a captivating woman whose name thankfully isn’t Louise Archer.
Everett’s plans thwart hers, until he begins to resemble the man she came west to find, and she the woman meant to marry his friend.
A peek between the pages:
“He wrote and changed your plans? Why didn’t you tell me? You know I love hearing his letters.”
Everyone loved hearing his letters. Or at least they’d pretended to. I glanced at my friends, especially the one who’d first suggested I correspond with her husband’s homesteading friend in Kansas who was ready to look for a wife. She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief while she flicked the fingers of her other hand in a weak wave. I dredged my soul in search of a smile. The man she’d introduced me to truly had penned everything I’d ever wanted in a husband, months of letters which convinced Mama Jim was my open door. Letters I’d foolishly carted from family to friend to blather every word like a desperate spinster. Drat.
“He didn’t send his change of plans in a letter, Mama. He sent them in a telegram.” Don’t come, I can’t marry you. The only words I never shared.
“Well I imagine your Jim has a surprise for you and didn’t have time to send a letter before you left for Crooked Creek. How thoughtful to wire you instead.”
Thoughtful…I felt poisoned and Mama would too if she ever found out Jim had shut my open door. Which she wouldn’t, since as soon as I got out there and found him, I’d wedge it back open again.
Buy the book:
More about Colleen:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen studied and worked in science, using that career to travel and explore other parts of the country. An avid fan of literature, both reading and writing, she loves tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.
Where to find her:
Thanks for joining us today, Colleen. Wishing you all the best with the book!