It’s 1991. Reba Cahill loves ranching with Grandma Pearl in north central Idaho. But there’s a lot of work and only two of them. Can she find a man worthy of her attentions and strong enough to help her run the ranch? She finds few prospects in the small town of Road’s End.
But Reba is also missing something else: her mother. Deserted by her at three-years-old and never knowing her dad, she feels a sense of longing and loss. And bitterness.
When elderly, quirky Road’s End citizen Maidie Fortress dies, Uncle Seth presents Reba Cahill with an expensive piece of jewelry that turns Reba’s world upside down. And leads her down unexpected paths and toward unsuspected admirers. Will the truth also ruin all hope for romance?
He reached into his pocket and handed her a slip of paper.
Keep it, Reba was tempted to scream. She wanted nothing to do with her mother. No matter what, she wouldn’t change her mind. She refused to take a slow boat to anywhere. Or a snail’s pace Model T car trip to the desert. She gaped at the folded note, not much larger than a man’s thumb, as though torn from a scratch pad. Whatever the words, they could not begin to make up for years of silence. Of abandonment.
Why bother? Why deepen the wound?
Author Janet Chester Bly
Janet Chester Bly is a city girl with a country heart. She doesn’t corral horses or mow her own lawn. “I’m no womba woman,” she says. But she followed her husband award-winning western author Stephen Bly to the Idaho mountain top village of Winchester to write books and minister to a small church. When she lost him, she stayed. She manages the online Bly Books bookstore, rakes lots of Ponderosa pine needles and cones, and survives the long winter snows.
Guest Post: Fiction Starts With Facts: A 1991 Timeline
Janet Chester Bly
Although a novel most often centers on fictional characters, imagined plotlines, and sometimes made-up settings, facts from the real world ground the story as real episodes for the reader.
My new novel, Wind in the Wires, happened in both fictional and actual Idaho and Nevada towns in the year 1991. So, I studied the events and environment of those states in that time period. Then I determined what might most personally impact my characters in small and big ways.
The hardest challenge after all that diligent research: to eliminate blustery, unnecessary historical data intruding into dialogue and description. Actually, my volunteer readers and hired critiquers caught most of those errors. The author is often oblivious.
For instance, the year before in 1990 centered around much of the Soviet Communist Party giving up its monopoly of power since the coming down of the Berlin Wall. The Cold War ended. Germany reunited. In 1991 the Soviet Union tumbled. One of my minor characters is Russian and I kept trying to sneak in these politics through him. I felt it most fascinating as a backdrop to what’s happening in the present day and overdid it.
However, all of that fascinating data got edited down to a brief mention of Gorbachev, glasnost, and perestroika. Still, I had to agree, that hinted at and maybe tamped down the era without wordy expounding that distracted from the main plot.
Other details of regional and national mentions that fit into conversations and scenes here and there and made the cut… The spotted owl on endangered species list. The Hubble Telescope in orbit with its original blurred photos. Alluding to the unusual sunsets caused by volcano eruptions such as Mt. Pinatubo. The shocking separation of fairytale couple Prince Charles and Princess Diana. And actress Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth wedding.
Researching the era also revealed interesting tidbits like music background, nights of full moons, and weather patterns. I knew the rainy, windy, and hottest days, as well as cold and dry spells. And I could provide comments on movies such as Silence of the Lambs, Thelma and Louise, Joe Versus the Volcano, and an oldie from the past, The Misfits starring Marilyn Monroe with an aging Clark Gable.
A major event of the year was one of the first televised wars that captivated the nation. Elliot Laws, a Nez Perce tribal character, returned to Road’s End, Idaho after duty early that year in Desert Storm and the Gulf War. A frequent frustration spouted by many Americans at the time echoed through one character who confronted the hapless soldier, “Why didn’t you take down Saddam Hussein while you could?”
Inspired by an elderly character’s unusual trip in his Ford Model T, Elliot and his grandfather determine to do a pilgrimage together. They go horseback along the Nez Perce battle trail of their real life ancestor Chief Joseph. Elliot remarked, “I’m recovering from one war by a memorial journey along the scenes of another.”
And that plot point also provided potential bonding with Grandpa Thomas Hawk, to follow a featured theme throughout Wind in the Wires.
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