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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Writing of “A Love Returned”



Keli Gwyn here. I’ve had four novels published. They’ve ranged from 70,000 to 100,000 words. Novellas are much shorter. Those in the Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection are roughly 25,000 words. Telling a satisfying story in so few words isn’t easy.

Sometimes things an author really wants to include in a story have to be cut, which happened to me while writing “A Love Returned.” I had to omit a bit of history I found fascinating. I have a hunch you might find it as interesting as I did, so I’m sharing it here. Think of it as one of those bonus features on a DVD. This one would fall under the heading: deleted material.

When Erica invited me to write a story for the collection and came up with the idea of Houston having spent time in California, I got excited. I love the history of the Gold Country I call home and was eager to include some of it in my story.

I dived into the research, something I greatly enjoy. I knew California’s gold was used to help finance the Union’s efforts in the Civil War and that men from the Golden State did head east to serve in one of the armies. What I didn’t know was whether or not any fighting actually took place here. Even though it seemed unlikely, I wanted to find out for sure.

I’ve been surprised by my research findings many times. This was one of them. While there wasn’t a full blown battle, a single armed skirmish did take place in California in the Gold Rush town of Volcano, about forty miles from where I live.

Several of Volcano’s residents were members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a sizable Confederate militia in California. In 1862, members in the town of Volcano, which was producing a lot of ore, made plans to seize large shipments of gold bound for the Union and send it south instead.

A pro-Union group known as the Volcano Blues got wind of the planned robberies and petitioned the arsenal in the port city of Benicia for artillery. They received a 737-pound brass cannon that had been made in Boston and used during the Mexican era.

It’s hard to know what actually took place after that, but most sources agree that the cannon, renamed “Old Abe,” was smuggled into Volcano inside a hearse. From there, the accounts vary.

According to folklore, the Volcano Blues set up the cannon on the main street, loaded it with gunpowder, nails and scrap iron, opened the windows of their businesses and fired a single shot. Supposedly, the concussion broke the windows of shops owned by the Confederate owners who hadn’t opened theirs. Since glass was quite expensive, that would have been a considerable loss.

While that colorful tale is more exciting than the truth, more accurate accounts say that the cannon wasn’t actually fired. Its mere presence was enough to quash the Knights’ plans. Had it been fired with the makeshift ammunition it was purported to contain, the blast could have killed a number of those standing nearby.

Old Abe, seen below in a 1925 public domain photo on file with the Library of Congress, is on display in the town of Volcano. The hearse, which dates to about 1850, is owned by the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation. The most recent information I could find says its undergone some renovation and is in storage.


Although I wanted to use this real life event in “A Love Returned” as a way to show Houston’s loyalty to Texas and its fight for states’ rights, I didn’t have room. Since I couldn’t use this bit of history, I chose not to mention Volcano by name.

In my mind, though, Houston’s hardware store was in Volcano, he was a member of the Knights and he was one of the merchants whose windows would have been blown out if Old Abe had actually been fired. I’m sure if Coralee knew all that, she wouldn’t be as inclined to doubt Houston’s loyalty to her beloved Texas. What do you think?

Questions for You

If you were to take a visitor on a tour of your town, which historical sites would be must-sees?

What interesting facts about your town excite you?

What is your town famous for?


The E-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g Giveaway

Each day this week, I’ll be adding a new item to the prize package, making it BIGGER and better than the one before.

Yesterday’s prize package included three tasty Texas treats: a Texas Millionaire, a Texas Longhorn and a pecan praline. The winner is ablst nlki I. Congratulations! Please send me an email me at keligwyn (at) keligwyn (dot) com with your mailing address, and I'll get the package on its way to you.


Today’s prize package includes the same three items plus one more. I’m adding the first book in the Lone Star Cowboy League continuity series from the Love Inspired Historical line that Erica, Gabrielle and I write for: Stand-in Rancher Daddy by Renee Ryan.



To enter one of my giveaways this week, all you have to do is leave a comment with the answer to one of the questions I ask in that particular post by midnight EST on the date that post is published. I’ll choose the winner using random.org and will announce the winner’s name in the following day’s post, so be sure to check back to find out who won. (I’ll ask Erica to include Friday’s winner in her Saturday post.)

We’re saving our biggest and best prize for the final post in three weeks, when Erica will announce the winner of our Kindle Fire giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a Kindle Fire loaded with other books written by the authors of the Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection, including my three Love Inspired Historicals and two by Gabrielle. You can enter the giveaway below, if you haven’t already done so.

36 comments:

  1. Sir Walter Raleigh founded our town! His statue is downtown & his history is very interesting! rw620 AT aol DOT com

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    1. Robin, how special to live in a town founded by such a famous man. Have you ever had your picture taken by that statue?

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  2. There are so many places in Denver, CO to visit. We have only lived her for 4 years and haven't seen everything that we want to. One place we have visited is the oldest standing structure in the area. They have named it Four Mile Historic Park. It was a stage stop at one time. http://fourmilepark.org/m/#./home

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    1. Joy, I got to visit Denver once and was struck by its beauty. I'd love to go back someday and take in all the sights, especially the historic ones such as Four Mile Historic Park.

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  3. How fascinating! I lone the idea of deleted material for books! I'm always curious about things like that :) I really enjoyed the book, and am loving all these behind-the-scenes tidbits from you authors :)

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    1. Crystal, I'm glad you like going behind the scenes with us and learning about the process we went through to create Hartville and the people there.

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  4. Well, there aren't many places to visit in the actual town I live in other than restaurants and shops and some parks. But, if you look at the whole Minneapolis/St. Paul area including the suburbs, then there are a lot of fun places to visit! I'd probably take visitors to see Minnehaha Falls and the James J. Hill house, which is part of the MN Historical Society. It's a beautiful mansion. I'd also take them to Stillwater. Those are just 2 spots that would be interesting to a visitor.

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    1. Kristine, I would love to visit Minnesota and see the sights there. Erica and Gabrielle have posted pictures on Facebook of the wonderful places they've visited there. I'd love to see them all.

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    2. Congratulations, Kristine! You won the Expanding Giveaway Day 2 prize package. If you'll send me your mailing address at keligwyn (at) keligwyn (dot) com, I'll get the prize package on its way to you.

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    3. Thank you! I just sent you an email with my mailing address. Let me know that it goes through okay.

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    4. Kristine, I got the email and have replied. Your package will go out in tomorrow's mail.

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  5. If you were to take a visitor on a tour of your town, which historical sites would be must-sees? We have two museums to enjoy!

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    1. Deanna, like Erica, I love historical museums. I would enjoy visiting yours.

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  6. I so totally love this tidbit of history!!!!!!!! MORE DELETED SCENES! :)

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    1. Thanks, Jaime. It was hard not to be able to include the Volcano skirmish in my story, but you know how things can change during edits. That was certainly the case for me.

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  7. I live in a very small town (about 3500) not really many historical places. I would definitely show someone the big statue of an Orange moose we have in town. Not really historical but definitely an oddity. Lol Love hearing about the back stories!

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    1. Nancy, that orange moose sounds like a fun sight. I would totally have my picture taken with it. Have you done so?

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    2. Maybe you could one day, Nancy. I'd like to see you with your famous moose. It's not every town that has a great BIG orange one. =)

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  8. We could visit nearby Civil War sites, Blackwater Falls, Lindy Point, etc. There is nothing in my actual town, not even a gas station. Haha

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    1. Lucy, I've lived in many small towns, so I understand not having any claims to fame. I would be quite interested in visiting the Civil War sites in your area, even though it would be a sobering experience. The war is part of our history, and I can't get enough of that.

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  9. I like that mr town was originally named "Jam" because of an annual river log jam.

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    1. Jen, what an interesting bit of history. Love it!

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  10. Our town really isn't famous for anything. Herman used to be the township before Madison. I'm not quite sure of all the history. So I could be wrong about this. Plus I'm exhausted. My grandson was admitted to the hospital today. We also have an area called Prairie Village, it's a replica of a small western town. In the summer they have events.

    I'm loving all of these blog posts about the book! It makes seem more realistic!! Not just fiction.

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    1. Regina, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandson. I can understand why you're wiped out. I hope the young fellow fares well and is home again very soon.

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  11. My town isn't too famous for anything. But nearby is Salt Lake City and I take visitors to temple square. Then to where I work at the Family History Library to do a little research with them to find out about their family's past.

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    1. Sonja, I got to go on a vacation with one of my best friends in high school. Salt Lake City was one of the places we visited. I remember hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse and the pin drop beforehand. We got to float in the Great Salt Lake, too. I'm sure that library is a fascinating place. If I went inside, it would be hard to get me out.

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  12. I missed commenting yesterday, I read yesterday's and today's at the same time. I'm loving all the bonus extra's.
    I live in the boring burbs. I would probably take someone to Chicago, though I'm not fond of the city. There are a few surrounding towns that pay homage to their prairie roots with settlement towns or replica's. That would probably be more fun then the city.

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    1. Andrea, I've only been in Chicago once. Briefly. We had a layover there when we were flying back to California from our home in Germany. Our daughter, who was born in Germany and had yet to visit the US, was only six months old at the time. We had to walk from the plane to the terminal across the tarmac. I stood our little gal up, so that's the first place her feet touched American soil. :-)

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  13. I love history like this! So fascinating!

    My town is famous for the Mayo Clinic. More than 1 million people a year come here to SE Minnesota for world class health care. For visitors, there are so many things to see here, the National Eagle Center, Forestville History Center, Mayowood Mansion, the SPAM museum (Yes, it's a real thing) and much, much more!

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    1. Erica, I know how much you love museums and have enjoyed seeing pictures of those you've visited on Facebook over the years. I'd love to see the ones in your area, even the SPAM museum. That one would bring back memories of my grandparents.

      I'm so thankful for the Mayo Clinic and the many people it's helped.

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  14. Wow! Did not know that about Volcano. Very interesting. I have to say, I know a bunch of history from our Gold Country region, but I have learned something new in each of your stories! Thanks for such fun reading!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Coral, and for rushing to our local Walmart to snap up the one copy of the Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection that they got. Your support of me and my writing means a great deal to me.

      As you know, I love the rich history of our area. I haven't been to Volcano yet, but you can be sure I'm going to visit and snap a picture of "Old Abe."

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    2. In fourth grade at our school, all the kids go to Volcano to visit the Black Chasm Cavern. When you finally get a chance to go there, be sure to go to Black Chasm as well!

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    3. Thanks for the tip, Coral. Appreciate it.

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  15. I popped over to random.org to find out who the Day 2 winner in the Expanding Giveaway is. That would be Kristine Klein. Congratulations, Kristine! If you'll send me your mailing address at keligwyn (at) keligwyn (dot) com, I'll get the prize package on its way to you.

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