What’s a Harvey Girl? and a Giveaway

Linda Yezak is the final author I’m featuring from the novella collection The Cowboys. It releases today and I love having Linda round out the collection. She’s a Selah Award winner and loves all things western.

When I asked her to tell us about her research for writing Loving a Harvey Girl she graciously let me repost an excellent one she’d already written on the subject. Her excitement mirrored my own at being ask to be a part of the collection. Take it away, Linda.

When the managing editor for Smitten Historical (a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas imprint) asked me to join in a collection of historical romances, I got excited. I’ve always wanted to write a historical. I’ve even delved into it a time or two with Slider, published in The Saturday Evening Post’s collection of short stories and an unpublished short story called Masquerade.

The as yet untitled story I’m working on now fits in with my series of contemporary western romances, except it’s a historical western romance. Things aren’t that different—cows, cowboys, and the girls they give their hearts to—but they’re different enough that I need to research. I was flipping through MSB’s Time Life collection called “The Old West,” and found reference to the Harvey Girls. Immediately I had my story idea involving a cowboy and a Harvey Girl. I’ve never heard of the Harvey Girls, so of course I jumped on the internet and did a quick search until I found a great article about them plus a vimeo of an interview with a latter-day Harvey Girl.

Along with these resources, I found one more. Not long ago, PBS did a series called “Texas Ranch House,” in which 21st Century Californians came to run a 19th Century ranch in Texas. Several folks from all over the US came to join the experience. Everything for this ranch was supposed to be authentic to 1867, after the Civil War, when cattle roamed the ranges free of ownership. But Fred Harvey didn’t start his Harvey House hotels and restaurants until the 1880s, so I have to make time adjustments. Still, the PBS series is vital because it shows life on the 19th Century ranch, and as I said, very little has changed. They still needed pens and chutes, range and water, and the men necessary to work it all in 1887 as they did in 1867.

So there’s my research start: books, internet, videos. From these I can learn setting details; character descriptions; clothing, kitchen items, and everyday articles of use; attitudes of the time; hazards of the time—lands, with these three resources, I can learn everything I need to know to write a romance novella set in the 1880s.

Using the resources I have at hand, I study and observe, noticing everything I can in the pictures and videos and looking up terms I’m unfamiliar with. I went so far as to figure out what an 1880 barbershop looked like and what all a barber did, because one scene takes place in a barber shop.

The trick with research is not using in your book everything you learned. Doesn’t that sound odd? But it’s true—as you study your era, setting, and culture, the temptation is to show off your new knowledge for your reader. This kind of info dump (or research dump, as I call it) bogs down the novel and bores the reader. So use of the information is the same as in any novel: you reveal what you’ve learned through the character’s daily activities.

I learned some fun things about the 19th Century barber shop, but instead of describing them to the reader, I let my character, Cal Hardy, do it:

Walter Neville swept up what looked like a half pound of hair and sent a stream of tobacco juice toward the spittoon. “’Afternoon, Cal. Be right with ya.”

“Ain’t in no hurry.” Cal rubbed his jaw and studied the handwritten sign over Walt’s new National cash register. Walt had gone up two bits on both hair cut and shave—three bits on a bath. And heaven help anyone who needed a tooth pulled.

So, on the off chance someone didn’t know that the barbers also served as dentists, now they do. They can also see the progress of technology through the cash register. NCR was founded in 1884, and one of the earliest Harvey Houses was built in Ladonia, Texas, in 1887, and Ladonia is close to Fort Worth, one of the cattle capitals of Texas, complete with stockyards which were built in 1887. Now we know the era of my setting.

I can know all this about when the stockyards were built, when NCR released its cash registers, etc., but it’s not necessary that my reader does. I want my reader to feel immersed in the time and culture, not educated about it. If she learns while she’s being entertained, so much the better. And if I can convince hardcore Texas history buffs that I did my research, so much the better still! But I’m a novelist, not the author of a history textbook, so my goal is to entertain and enlighten through the stories I tell. Research dumps have no place in Historical Romances.

More about Linda:

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

 

Website: http://lindawyezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

Facebook: Author Page

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: Linda W Yezak

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/linda-w-yezak

Blurb: Loving a Harvey Girl

Eva Knowles can’rt imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls–women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth and home!

Don’t forget this is the last chance to enter to win a $10 Amazon card. You simple post here who your favorite cowboy is or anything you’d like to say about cowboys. If you haven’t commented on the other three posts about this collection go to mine, Jennifer’s and Sandy’s to add your comments for more chances to win and learn more details about the collection. I’ll be posting the winner next Thursday, August 22nd.

 

Romance, Research and Fun Factoids

Sandra Merville Hart is my special guest today. She writes Civil War Romance. I love historical romance. I’ve read a Stranger on My Land the first book in her Civil War series. I’m very interested in her newest release A Rebel in My House. Sandra tells us about it.SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2(1)

A Rebel in My House is set during the turbulent Battle of Gettysburg. The townspeople lived through a nightmare that extended months beyond the battle. This novel gives a glimpse of that suffering through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress. A Confederate soldier caught behind enemy lines after retreat needs her help. Sheltering him ushers in more difficulties than she ever imagined. Lines become blurred as her feelings for him grow. Loyalties threaten to divide them as Confederates seize the town.

Both have made promises to family members.

Some promises are impossible to keep.

How do you research for your book?

I read articles online to learn some initial facts. Then I check out nonfiction books from the library and take copious notes. I try to travel to novel settings. Visiting local museums and walking the historic streets piques my imagination. I learn the history and, along the way, the story is born.

What inspired you to write this book?

When it was time to write my next Civil War romance, I knew there was story waiting for me in Gettysburg. My husband traveled there with me. We spent long hours in the battlefields and attended several ranger tours.We took a private ranger tour with a Battlefield Guide who tailored the tour around my questions about Tennessee regiments. A hazy idea formed.

We visited museums in town and learned of the horrific nightmare the women and children endured. Then I knew I had to write their story as well as the experience of the Tennessee regiments.

Share a few Civil War factoids about Gettysburg most people are not aware of.

The Confederate Army gathered both runaway slaves and free citizens when they crossed into Pennsylvania in June of 1863. Many African Americans had fled by the time Confederate General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg on Friday, June 26, 1863, a few days ahead of the famous battle that began on July 1st.

After the battle, Confederates left behind 7,000 comrades too severely wounded to retreat.

The first Confederate soldier killed at Gettysburg was Henry Raison of the 7th Tennessee Infantry. The hero, Jesse Mitchell, in A Rebel in My House is from that regiment.

The Battle of Gettysburg ranks first among our bloodiest Civil War battles with over 40,000 casualties.

Now, I’d like to ask a few questions about you that my readers might find interesting.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8 (NIV)

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing now. Don’t let someone else determine whether or not you follow your dream. Take writing classes. Attend writers’ conferences. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Pray that God guides your steps.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is amazingly supportive. If I tell him I need to go to Gettysburg for a research trip, he checks his work calendar to plan a week he can take off with me. I take photographs; he logs where the picture is taken. He helps me figure out directions and mileage between historical towns. When I’m baffled by some historical object in a museum, he helps me figure out how it might have been used. He is amazing.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love to read romantic suspense, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, but my favorite genre to read for pleasure is historical romance.

About Sandra Merville Hart:

Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

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A Rebel in My House Book Blurb: Click to order.

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

If you’d like to find out more about Sandra visit any of the links below.

Sandra’s Blog, Historical Nibbles:  https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sandra_M_Hart

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandramhart7/

Sandra’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100329215443000389705/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j3JI-wECyY&feature=youtu.be

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