Writing About Calico

Years ago, I wanted to write a historical romance, but my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make it believable. Research wasn’t necessarily one of my strong suits, so I sat down to figure out the best way to accomplish a historical, without making too many period mistakes. My solution? A time travel. What better way to show historical times, but through the eyes of a modern twenty-first century woman?

Then I had to settle on a specific time period. I love westerns, always have. I mean really, who doesn’t love a cowboy? I grew up on Gunsmoke, with Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty (le sigh), so I guess, in a way, the old west picked me.

Now that I had my era down, research was fun! I watched a lot of old re-runs of Gunsmoke and Bonanaza, watched movies like Tombstone, and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western I could find. Then there was Quigley Down Under, Cat Ballou, Maverick and Young Guns. But I didn’t limit my research to Hollywood. I spent hours at museums, looking at all sorts of frontier items. I’m the worst artist ever, but I made sketches of clothes, furniture and other assorted things that were used in the period.

Next was the most fun of all. Finding my setting. I decided that I wanted to use a real place, not just a made up western town, so I scoured the history books (which means I did an extensive internet search!) and found Calico, California. There was just something about this little town that sparked my imagination, so I took a closer look and fell in love.

Most of the layout of the town is my own creation. I did use some existing/former buildings in my version of Calico, though.

 

 

There really was a Marshal’s Office, and Lil’s Saloon exists to this day. If you look inside the interior of her saloon, you’ll see the tablecloths that Jenny O’Farrel gave Lil to use after Riley’s thugs tore up the place.

The old schoolhouse is still there, sitting at the edge of town, just as it did in Amy Mallory’s time (New Prints In Old Calico) as school teacher. This is the second schoolhouse, since the first one was burned down in a fire long ago. It was fun making up a reason for the arson, but in truth, no one really knows how the fire started that destroyed the first schoolhouse.

The backdrop of a real location really helped fuel the ideas for the two Calico novels (New Prints in Old Calico, Under A Calico Moon) and the one novella (Calico Bride). I’ve got another Calico story in the works and I’m sure there will be more short novellas as well because let’s face it, the people of Calico are not finished telling their stories yet.

And me? I’m just happy to share them with you.

Ellie

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Release Day!

 Wahoo! It’s a cold, wintery day (yep, I woke to -20C) but Under a Calico Moon is available today! So far I see live buy links at Kobo and Amazon (go to my book page http://www.ellielynn.ca/book/under-a-calico-moon/ for the updated links) but I’ll update others as I see them come in.

Did I say it was cold? Oh my goodness, yes! And it’s only the beginning of November. We’ve had lots of snow these last few days, and it’s too dang cold for my liking for this time of the year. We don’t usually get this weather until late December/early January. Global Warming my arse!

Anyway, back to Calico. Y’all know how much I love this town and the people in it. And no, not just because  it’s a might warmer than Canada this time of year! This was an exciting story for me to write because not only did I get to return to Calico, but I was able to bring two people together who deserved happiness. And who doesn’t like to see the demise of a real, honest-to-goodness bad guy? But is Austen’s legacy really gone for good? Hmm. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m plotting out a new Calico story, as well as working on another short story in the Calico world.

Off to tweet and post my excitement over the new release. If you see me, say hello!

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Coming Soon-Under a Calico Moon

 When everything you love has been taken, sometimes all you have left is revenge.

We are just going through the final editing and formatting stage, so it won’t be long before Under a Calico Moon hits pre-order status. With a release date of November 6, we are well on our way and I’m so excited to share the new artwork, created by Trisha FitzGerald, the same talented artist who did New Prints in Old Calico. I love it!

Recovering from the death of his brother, Chet Bowman is finally finding a sense of normalcy. He’s through hiding from the world on his ranch, and he’s tired of being alone. He’s ready to act on his long-time attraction to Lil Kersey, the sultry saloon owner who runs his favorite watering hole.

While his relationship with Lil blossoms, their courtship comes under fire from the former marshal of Calico, now gone rogue. As Austen Riley ramps up his revenge on the cowboy who thwarted his plans to control Calico, Lil struggles to survive Austen’s unwanted attentions.

When the dust settles after one final gun fight, will Lil and Chet find their happily ever after? Or will Austen’s maniacal revenge tear them apart forever?

In this book, you’ll briefly see Brianna and Sean James, whom you met in Calico Bride. You’ll also get to revisit Amy and Matt, who are still just as much in love as they were when you last met them. You’ll also be introduced to one of Lil’s girls, a feisty saloon gal named Ginnie. Ginnie comes with her own story, which I’m working on now. Not sure if it will be a novella or the next full length, but I’m leaning towards a full length story, since she’s got a lot to say.

But for now, I’m so happy to share Lil and Chet’s rocky road to romance. They both deserve all the happiness they can find. Under A Calico Moon, coming soon to retailers everywhere, from Champagne Books.

 

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New Release

 A storm halts Marianna’s return to civilization, but there are worse things than being stranded in the wilds with a handsome rancher.

I love writing frontier romance, and Wyoming is becoming one of my favorite locales, besides Calico! It’s such a beautifully rugged area and the people had to be equally strong to live there. Of course, I happen to love the series Longmire, which is set in Wyoming, so maybe that’s part of my fascination. Still, cowboys are the yummiest thing this side of… well they’re just dang yummy so I love writing about them.

Under A Calico Moon is in edits with my publisher right now, and expected to release in November, so in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this novella of new love in the frontier.

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Almost Done!

Working diligently on Under a Calico Moon. And it’s paying off, I’m three quarters of the way through now, and it’s really getting exciting! My goal is to finish by the end of the month, so I have two weeks to get another fifteen thousand words in.

Today I shared the shiny new cover with my newsletter subscribers, and I’m dying to post it here, but that won’t be for another week. It’s been really hard keeping it under wraps, so I’m really excited to share.  Here’s the tagline:

An old adversary seeks revenge on a lonely cowboy by ruining his chances for love and happiness.

Life’s been hectic the last few weeks. I’ve moved from our home in High River, and am now living exclusively in our house in Climax, except for a few days a week, when I’m in Calgary with the day job. When I’m there, I’m staying with a friend. I found the expense of maintaining two homes was beginning to be a bit much.

Am I happy about being at home? Oh for sure! I get to spend more time home with Bruce and my furry babies. But since I’ve spent so little time here lately, it’s going to take some time to get used to things and make my writing space my own again. I’ll post pictures once I have an actual dedicated place. Right now, I write at the kitchen table, or in the living room, with a tv tray. Not ideal because if the television is on, it can be distracting, and the chairs in the kitchen are not the most comfortable. Dying to get the basement renovated so that I can have my office built, but that won’t be for a while yet. We just had the roof done in the fall, so another big project has to wait.

In the meantime, I’ve got some gardening to worry about, which you may see me comment on if you follow me on Twitter. I’ve got several pots of potatoes growing, as well as onions, radishes, tomatoes and lettuce. Next year, I’ve got a raised garden to put in, just didn’t have time to get it in this year. My father was an avid gardener so I blame my need for growing my own food squarely on him. Learned a lot from dear old dad. And I’m slowly teaching hubby how to keep an eye on things when I’m not here! He’s a reluctant learner, but he’s doing well.

Anyway, that’s the update.  If you’d like to be the first to hear about new release information, contests and giveaways, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter–link on the right side.  I have it on good authority that my subscribers will be eligible to win a special gift celebrating the release of Calico Moon.

Until next time,

Ellie

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Courting Carlie

One of the beautiful things about self publishing is the immediacy of making changes.  When something isn’t working, it can be changed relatively easily. Not so much with a traditional publisher. That doesn’t mean I don’t like my trad publisher, but this self pubbing thing is a whole other beast. Instead of a marketing department making decisions for me, I’ve got to do it myself, and sometimes, (oh horrors of horrors) I’m not always right.

I love the contemporary romance I recently wrote, with Carlie Barnes, a free-wheeling paranormal investigator, and Michael-Bloody-Denton, the uptight scientist who lives upstairs. I thought the title, Hide and Spook was cute, a little playful. I thought the first cover was good, but it didn’t seem to resonate with readers, so I changed the cover out to something a little more traditional.  I didn’t really like it as much, but I thought it was worth a try. Apparently my love for the story clouded my vision of what would work best for a title and artwork.

Readers are a savvy bunch. If they don’t like something they’ll tell you. Sometimes via email, sometimes to your face, and sometimes with their pocket books. I got the message loud and clear that my cutesy title and cover design was not what they were looking for. So, after a little angst (I am a writer, after all),I swapped them both out today for something more contemporary. And you know, I really, really like the new artwork. A lot. The title speaks to me way more than the previous one did, too.

It’s working its way through the vendor sites now, so all links should be available in the coming days, but so far, the Kobo link is the only one to go live first. They seem to be much quicker than some of the other folks. Might just be why I like ’em so much.

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Next in the Love in Calico series

Calico Bride, a Love in Calico novella is ready! I’ve been diligently working between this novella and the next full length novel in my Calico series, Calico Moon. While I’m almost half way finished Calico Moon, this story reached the end first. It’s a short novella, that introduces two new characters to our Calico family, whom you’ll meet again in subsequent books. I know this, because Sean appears in Calico Moon. I’m not sure if Brianna will or not yet. I guess time will tell there. And it was nice to revisit a few old friends, such as Dory, and Doc Witmer.

Here’s the set up:

After the death of her parents, it broke Brianna Campbell’s heart to send her younger brother out west on the mercy train, but with no means of supporting him, she hoped that he’d find someone to take him in. When she is finally able, she sets out for Calico, California, to reclaim him, and make a home to start a new life together. With no time for love, she doesn’t count on meeting a handsome rancher who makes her heart race.

Needing help for his ranch, Sean James takes in a couple of orphans from the mercy train under his temporary guardianship and provides room and board in exchange for good honest work. Still recovering from the death of his wife, he’s shut himself off from the outside world, especially the marriage hungry young women of Calico. But the boys worm their way into his battered heart, and he finds he doesn’t want to let either of them go when a sister comes to claim the younger of the two.

Brianna’s fierce independence earns Sean’s respect, and to his surprise, his interest in more than just a friendship. His attraction to the pretty blonde grows with each passing day, but can he convince to trust him and take a chance on love?

Grab this one for 99 cents at the retailer of your choice! Book links will be updated on the book page as they become active. Kobo’s links go live first!

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Sale!


Wyoming Wild is on sale for one week only!

You heard me right, look for it on sale at all the major retailers from now until April 10, for only 99 cents.

 

I’m diligently working on Under A Calico Moon, just into the back half of chapter four. The drama is unfolding as Lil’s life has been put in jeopardy and Chet has to figure out what the hell is going on. We’ve met Palamino Pete, who is Chet’s new cook. According to Matt (you may remember him as the hero from New Prints in Old Calico), you don’t want to ask him why he’s called that. Apparently, it’s a tad bit of an embarrassing story. I’m not sure I want to know. But it has something to do with a horse.

I’m also plotting out a little novella, also set in Calico. I love this town and the people in it so much that I can’t help it. This one will be about another of the townsfolk, and how this widowed rancher finds love with a woman whose only concern is her two young brothers. She doesn’t really need, nor have time for a man, anyway. I haven’t got a title for this one yet, since it’s so early in the process. Maybe ‘The Rancher’s Mail Order Bride’, or something like that. I’d ask for opinions, but it’s hard to get opinions when I haven’t given you much to work with. Still very much a work in progress.

I’m going to be at LitCon in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in a couple of weeks. If you’re in the area, do drop in. I’ll post more about that closer to the date.  In the meantime, I’m busy planting seeds and watching seedlings grow in anticipation of gardening season. I’m really looking forward to planting a bigger garden than last year, which was really just a combination of planters. This year, I have a raised garden plot to go along with those planters. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see me post some of the images as my little seedlings sprout and grow.

I need to take off now. Jasmine, my new fluffy cat, is giving me the evil eye. She says it’s bed time, and darn it, if I don’t go, she’ll not stop meowing. Yep, she’s training me well.

‘Til next time,

Ellie

 

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Western Romances Rule!

Since beginning work on Under A Calico Moon, which is the sequel/companion book to New Prints in Old Calico, I’ve really re-discovered my love of the era. Now I realize that what I’m writing is a bit more of a ‘romanticized’ version of reality, but heck, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Manly men who love and protect their womanfolk with every breath in their bodies, and women who love their men just as much. And what’s wrong with a handsome cowboy rushing to the rescue anyway? Not a darn thing.

The other night an old western came on, that I hadn’t seen in years. Pale Rider, which stars Clint Eastwood. Granted, it’s not your typical western romance, but it sure has a lot of action! I ended up staying up until 2 am to finish it, which is completely unlike me. I’m an ‘in bed, lights out by 11:30’ kinda gal. If I even make it to 11:30! So while I was watching the movie, an idea for another novella came to me, and I quickly plotted it out, using the beginnings of an old story I found on an old computer of mine. It’s not a long story, should come in around 20k or so for word count, but I like it so far.

I’m calling it Wyoming Wild. I was hoping to have it finished by March 19, because I’ve got a great Bookbub promotion started that day for New Prints in Old Calico, but unfortunately, it’s very doubtful it will be ready on time. It won’t be long though. I haven’t written the tagline or blurb yet, but it’s going to sound something like: “After Cora’s husband abandons her and their infant child in the wilds of Wyoming, she wonders if she’ll be able to cope, much less ever find love again.”

That’s all I have so far, and I kind of like it. I think I might keep it.

If you’d like to know when this novella releases, or keep up on all my latest events, contests and giveaways, please don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list at http://eepurl.com/czwOCj

Til next time,
Ellie

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