I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Colleen L. Donnelly online for more than a year. Along with a handful of other authors around the world, we beta read each other’s works in progress and provide critiques. So, I was lucky enough to be an early reader of her latest book, “Letters and Lies,” which releases today.
This comedic historical fiction centers around a woman in the 19th century American West who comes to know her fiancé via letters. When he jilts her, also via a letter, she hops a train to confront the man she’s never met in person. The story which ensues is unique and enjoyable, and certainly one I recommend.
Here’s a bit from Colleen L. Donnelly about why she enjoys writing historical fiction:
I’m either intuitively gifted as to what people did/might have done ages ago or old enough to have at least seen it, making historical fiction the perfect genre to plant my characters in.
I’m sometimes shamed by authors who do it right, their zeal for research turning hours into days as they pore through easily obtainable and well documented historical facts to build their characters and stories around. Yet I, a happy laboratory researcher for years, have to be dragged kicking and screaming to an encyclopedia or the internet to search for interesting historical data to support a novel on.
Ruing time spent reading instead of writing, I hammer at the laptop keys with a well-conceived dilemma until my character says, “Wait, this is what I want to do.” At that point I pause and do a quick search to make sure he won’t change history if I let him. And amazingly, the outrageous things my characters sometimes suggest turn out to be right—I’m not driving my cattle on the Chisolm Trail; I’m herding my cattle west of there so I can trample that other guy’s homestead. To that character’s pleasure, I learned he could.
Others have argued for the presence of telephones when I wasn’t certain they’d been invented yet, electric lights so they could see more easily at night, sleeper cars to travel in comfort in, and even protested the way laundry was done. And every time, that little voice in my head was right. Either because I’m old enough—living on the cusp of the prior generation, and having grown up hearing stories from the one before—or I’ve lived my years well and colorfully enough that human nature is second nature, and fits accurately on my page.
About Letters and Lies, out today!
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.
Buy Links: https://amzn.to/2yNFGNv
“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.
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.