Friends! I’m super excited to be hosting Cynthia Woolf today. She recently released Capital Bride, the first book in her new Matchmaker and Co. Series. She’s going to tell us all about it and she’s giving away some fun prizes! Take it away, Cythia!
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Thanks Kristine for having me today. I appreciate being here and hope your readers enjoy the blog today. I’ll be giving away two copies of my ebook and two $5 Starbucks cards to four different commenters. So I everyone will need to leave their email in the body of their comment in order to be entered to win. There are four chances.
Using What You Know
They, whoever they are, say you should write about what you know. Well, I say write about WHERE you know. Whether it’s the mountains around Golden and Creede, Colorado or the universe I’ve make up for my scifi romances, they are places that I know and am familiar with.
I chose Colorado, Golden specifically because I grew up there. I’m a Colorado native and was raised in the Golden area all my life. I know it. Know its history. Its topography. It’s not hard for me to imagine in my mind what the area looked like in the 1860’s when my stories for the Matchmaker & Co series take place.
For Creede, Colorado where my Tame series, set in the 1880’s takes place, I had to take a research trip. I hadn’t been to Creede since I was a little girl and could remember very little about it. I needed to know the layout of the town, which hasn’t changed much in more than one hundred years. The proximity of the town to the ranch (yes, it is a real ranch and has been around since the 1880’s). Then I listened. Listened to my mother’s stories. Shared her memories and tried to relate some of the flavor from those stories to my work.
So I say write where you know. You can add a flavor to the story that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
Sarah Johnson and her daughter MaryAnn live by the good graces of her great Aunt Gertrude. All is well until Aunt Gertrude dies unexpectedly leaving Sarah now homeless. Not wanting to live with her cousin, William, she is left with only a few options. She is unqualified for any kind of work except perhaps a governess. But Sarah is a fallen woman with a bastard child and no one wants that type of woman teaching their children. She decides the best thing for her is to become a mail order bride and leave her past behind.
John Atwood lost his wife in a bank robbery, leaving him a daughter to raise. His daugher, Katy, hasn’t spoken since the bank robbery when she witnessed her mothers murder. John needs help raising Katy. No woman of his acquaintance wants to take on the task of helping with Katy, so he orders a bride from Matchmaker & Co. in New York City.
Together John and Sarah overcome their backgrounds and while their daughters help one another heal from their hurts.
New York City April 10, 1867
On the other side of the door was her last resort. Either this or prostitution and prostitution was not a choice. She couldn’t raise MaryAnn in that environment, nor if truth be told, could she lower herself to live like that. At least this way there would be some stability in her little girl’s life.
Sarah took a deep breath, turned the knob, and walked through the door to a better future for her daughter and, if she were lucky, for herself.
The office was small and precisely kept. A single desk with a straight, high backed wooden chair, one in front and one behind, sat in the middle of the room. She’d noticed the flowered curtains were open on the way in, curtains tied to the side. The small area was flooded with dazzeling afternoon light. The walls were whitewashed and the desk well organized. There were several tables with neat piles of files along one wall. The other wall held several rows of pictures of women and men. None smiling, as that was the way pictures were taken, but all appeared to be wedding pictures. Below each picture was a small brass place with the names of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding.
A small, woman in her late thirties with fiery red hair, sat behind the desk. When Sarah got closer she saw gorgeous dark blue eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses perched on the end of her nose. Her eyes were so dark a blue they could almost be called violet. They were striking and clear, honesty shone from them along with a “no nonsense” attitude.
“May I help you?” the woman asked.
“Um. Yes. My name is Sarah Johnson. I saw your advertisement for mail order brides.”
The woman looked Sarah over, taking in her clothes, her hands clasped in front of her and ending at her face.
“First, let me introduce myself. I’m Margaret Selby and I own Matchmaker & Company. Please, sit down. You’re older than the women we usually have. You’re also better dressed and don’t appear to be hungry. What would bring someone like you to my door?”
“I’ve been living with my great aunt. She passed away suddenly two weeks ago and the lawyer says I need to find other lodgings. My cousin, William, has inherited everything except a small stipend she left for me. William is selling everything. MaryAnn and I have nowhere else to go.”
“So, you are a widow?”
Now was not the time to be less than truthful, if she wanted this woman’s help. “No.”
“I see. How old are you, Miss Johnson?”
“And your daughter?”
“MaryAnn is five.”
“Tell me, Miss Johnson, how did you come to find yourself with child at age twenty-two without being married? Surely you knew how those things happened by that age.”
“My fiancé was killed at Bull Run.”
“I understand. Many fine men were killed there and throughout the war.”
“Yes, they were. Lee and I planned on marrying before he left. He still had two weeks before he was supposed to go back. He was sure the war wouldn’t last long,” she sniffled and blew her nose into her handkerchief. “They called him back early, and then he was killed.”
“No need to go into further detail, Miss Johnson. Let’s get down to business, shall we?”
Sarah sat straight in the chair. “Yes, of course.”
She was more nervous now than she had been showing up on Aunt Gertrude’s doorstep six years ago, pregnant and unwed. They’d planned on putting out the story that Lee was her husband but one of the servants overheard and passed the information on to other servants, some of them in the homes of her Aunt’s friends.
Aunt Gertrude took it all in stride. She actually handled it far better than Sarah had. She’d cried for days until Gertrude shook her and said to get under control and stop feeling sorry for herself. So she’d had her beautiful MaryAnn and was raising her with Aunt Gertrude’s help. She would be missed for so many reasons.
“Miss Johnson? Miss Johnson.” Margaret snapped her fingers bringing Sarah back from her memories.
“Yes, Miss Selby. I’m sorry.”
“It’s Mrs. Selby. Now, please pay attention. I have several candidates that might work for you. Two farmers in Kansas and a rancher in the Colorado Territory.”
“Do you have a recommendation?”
“Well, neither farmer has children, though they are not unwilling to consider a woman with children. It would be awfully lonely for your MaryAnn with only you and her new stepfather for company. The rancher, on the other hand, also has a daughter, who is seven, I believe. They would be able to keep each other occupied while you attend to the work you’ll need to do. Can you cook?”
“Yes. Our cook taught me the basics. If I have a recipe, I can follow it.”
“Then, I suggest you write down all of your cook’s recipes. You’ll need them no matter which man you choose.”
“I’ve already got the ones I want. I’d hoped to put them together in a book one day. These men you’re talking about, how old are they?”
“Raymond Jacobsen, farmer in Kansas, is thirty-two. Robert Kline, also a farmer in Kansas, is twenty-nine, and last is John Atwood, a cattle rancher in the Colorado Territory. He’s a widower, thirty-seven and has a daughter who is seven. I think he would be the best match for you.”
Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.
She was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her critique partners for saving her sanity, allowing her to explore her creativity.
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Cynthia, thank you so much for coming on the blog today and sharing your fabulous new book and series with us.
Readers, leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win one of two copies of Cynthia’s ebook or one of two $5 Starbucks cards.