A Young Woman and the Pony Express

With email and social media, it’s easy to forget just how hard it used to be to get information from one place to another. As the US expanded, it fell on live human beings and their horses to help get information where it needed to be. That leads us to Lizzi Tremayne and her tale of the Pony Express, “A Long Trail Rolling.”

Lizzie, you have quite a background. What’s your deal?

My writing has been called unpretentious, eminently readable Contemporary and Historical Fiction… by a horse vet! It always gives me a giggle. I write awarded rural fiction about the Old West, Tsarist Russia, Scotland, and Colonial New Zealand, as well as veterinary fiction and non-fiction. I write these stories because they’re the sort I love to read. I love reading about horses as they are my favourite animal, if you have any horses you will know that they are beautiful creatures and they require a lot of care, you can take a look at E3Live for Horses is a blue green algae nutritional hoof supplement for quarter crack repair treatment. This treatment will ensure that your horse gets all the vitamins and minerals needed to take part in enhanced activity.

I grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods of California, graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in the Equine Track, practiced in the California gold mining country of Placerville, then emigrated to NZ a few years later. I’ve been here ever since and raised a family near Waihi. My partner is a techie in the big smoke and we live on a trout river in a beautiful green valley so I have no excuse NOT to write, when I’m not vetting or marketing my Equi-Still horse stocks and equine dental instruments. I’ve written for many horse magazines and veterinary journals over my 30 years in practice. When I’m not writing, I’m swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding, driving a carriage or playing on my hobby farm or cleaning the run-in horse sheds on said farm, singing, or looking into a horse, zebra or rhino’s mouth.

So, straight from the rhino’s mouth, what’s A Long Trail Rolling about?

Aleksandra flees through 1860s Utah disguised as a Pony Express rider, trying to keep her father’s killer from discovering their family secret. Xavier, runaway heir to a California rancho, usually keeps the world at arms-length, but it doesn’t take long to discover his new rider-recruit is a girl-one he wouldn’t mind letting get close. The cards are stacking up against them. Can they learn to trust in time to escape the Indians on the warpath, evade the killer, and win through to safety?

I can guess (what is it with girls and horses?) but what is it about this story that inspired you?

It was really the Pony Express, in the 1860s, which intrigued me, and I’ve always loved history. Just about any history, but especially history of the areas where I’ve been. I grew up in a California endurance and horses were my life. I know everything there is to know about horses. From retiring a horse to horse floating, I know it all. Horses are my passion and my spirit animal. From the time I woke up in the morning, to the time I went to bed, my days were centered around my horses. This was the one thing that I didn’t mind doing; I enjoyed it that much. From feeding them their hay through something like a round bale feeder, to grooming and riding them, they were my life and my responsibility. If truth be told, I loved it and would do it all over again if I had the opportunity. I’d set up a horse home in a heartbeat if I could, with a feeder, a stable that I could use from Norseman Structures, and all the right grooming equipment! My biggest goal (other than getting into and out of veterinary school at UC Davis) was to ride across the whole USA. There was an opportunity to do it when I was ten, but financially, it was beyond my reach… and I wasn’t old enough to do it on my own. I couldn’t understand the part about not being old enough, at the time, however, as it’d never held me back before. So, instead, I got hooked on the Pony Express, or the “Pony”, as it was called back in the day.

So, some forty-something years later, it wasn’t a huge surprise to me when my first novel had to be about the Pony. With a girl rider, no less-one I flattered myself by thinking was more than a little bit like the girl I was, or would have been in Aleksandra’s situation. There’s no historical precedent for a female Pony rider, but in light of the modern discoveries of women who fought as men during the American Civil War during the same time period, I took that license. It’s all in the Author’s Notes, as always when I vary from the historical record as I understand it. As a historian, that’s non-negotiable. Always.

Without giving away the goods, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

It would have to be the stable scene… the rough form of that scene was the first part I wrote… and that was before I even started “writing” or called myself a writer-that time long ago when “being a writer” was just a whisper in the dark. The snippet was written as homework before my very first RWNZ local branch meeting, where the topic was “writing sex scenes”. We were to write a 500 word sex scene…(blush) when all I’d done was write veterinary articles for horsey magazines and technical articles for vet journals. It was a stretch, but I managed it. And I kinda liked it. I liked it enough to begin a story from it after I got home. It was this, my first novel, A Long Trail Rolling, which won me the RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award and the following year, the RWNZ Koru Award of Excellence (New Zealand Romance Writer’s equivalent of the RWA’s Golden Heart and RITA Awards). It’s all been up from there!

You have a big social media presence. How can folks find you?

Lizzi’s website and blog

Lizzi’s VIP Club


Horse and Vet Books website


Amazon author page

Apple Books (iTunes)

Barnes & Noble

Books + Main Bites




A quick note to please support the authors who appear in this blog. Buy a book and tell a friend. Of course, that also applies to my own work. The two-book Kindle set of Lucca Le Pou Stories is available on Amazon for $7.49

A Role Play Game Turned Historical Fantasy

Everyone’s writing journey is different. I started writing semi-off-color jokes to tell in front of brick walls, then tried my hand at screen plays (2 optioned. Suck it!) and wound up writing both non-fiction and novels. That’s one way to do it. But there is a whole industry out there (about which I know diddly) of role play games and other fantasy stuff. These days, those who have grown tired of the official stories and adventures included with their favorite RPG can actually sit down and write their own. It doesn’t hurt to have a few tips to writing a D&D campaign, for example, but you never know what journey creating your first original adventure will lead you to.

That brings us to this week’s interview. Joab Stieglitz has turned his fascination with Lovecraftian horror from the 20s and 30s and a bump in his RPG career into a new novel series.

Joab, your story is different than a lot of us, and I confess I’m not familiar with half of what you’re talking about, so use small words and give me your story…

I grew up in suburban New Jersey, where I was the youngest of four children. My siblings were significantly older than me, and my mother was quite ill, so I spent a lot of time by myself. I was a pre-school drop out and was instead taught by Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek, Bugs Bunny, and the 4:30 Movie. I started writing stories for myself when I was in fourth or fifth grade.

I have been active role-player and game master since middle school. I have played or run games in a variety of genres over the past forty years, and I made notes about those adventures as I went along, and I wrote short stories about some of them which unfortunately were lost to time in the pre-computer age.

I have always wanted to be a writer, though I didn’t realize it for quite some time. Over the course of my career, which has always been in Information Technology, I have gravitated toward writing tasks. I have written various forms of documentation, training materials, project plans, requirements, design documents, and even computer programs.

In the early nineties, I started writing a short story that I had intended to submit to a game publisher for their new setting, but by the time I had finished it, they had published their own description of the region had selected, which was incompatible with mine. So I retooled the story for another game setting, but this time, my choice of heroes was not allowed in their universe. So finally, I decided to create my own setting.

I devised an entire fantasy world that incorporated analogs of various Earth cultures, each identified by their own unique accents and mannerisms. I created maps and descriptions of various locations, with the intent of writing multiple stories there. I again retooled my short story, and this time, it morphed into a novel.

Over the course of the next twenty-five years, I would add onto that initial piece, a few pages or chapters at a time, “when the muse hit me.” When I turned fifty, I had over three hundred pages of materials, but the story had changed. The disparate pieces I had written over time varied in plot, tone, writing quality, and even the genre.

I considered rewriting it, but that was too daunting. Instead, I shelved that project, looked over the notes of various games I had played over the years, and started writing something new. I wrote a 1500-2000 word chapter each week, and have published four novels, roughly one every six months.

A lot of us have re-purposed old work but that’s pretty dramatic. What’s your book about?

My first book, The Old Man’s Request, is the story of three people assembled by the aging trustee of a small college to address an indiscretion from his own college days where he and some friends dabbled in the occult with tragic consequences.

My main character, Dr. Anna Rykov, is a Russian-American anthropologist in 1929 New York. This presents her with a number of challenges as a woman in a not fully recognized field who people think could be a Bolshevik. Anna is aided by Harold Lamb, a medical doctor from a sheltered upbringing, and Father Sean O’Malley, a Catholic priest with his own secrets.

These three agree to the trustee’s death bed request to deal with the horror that he and his friends had unleashed, and The Old Man’s Request tells what happened. Of course, they make discoveries that lead to subsequent adventures.

What is it about that time period that fascinates you?

I’ve always been a fan of cosmic horror, the notion that humanity is insignificant in the vast universe, and extra-terrestrial interaction with humanity is purely coincidental and insignificant from their perspective. The works of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle inspired me to write my own cosmic horror story, but unlike those works, I decided to write stories where the heroes can win to some degree. The cosmic horror genre appeared in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, which was a time of tremendous cultural, political, economic and technological change. I have always been a cultural history buff, so this was the obvious setting in which to place my stories. The first three books take place in the summer of 1929, right before the stock market crash and the Great Depression, where people enjoyed life with reckless abandon.

Where can we learn more?

Information about me and my books can be found at www.joabstieglitz.com. I am also on Facebook at Rantings of a Wandering Mind, and on Twitter at @joabstieglitz.My works are all available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats on Amazon.

Don’t forget to support the authors we showcase. Of course, you could give some love to my novels as well. Acre’s Orphans is available on Kindle and Paperback. And if you enjoy what you read, spread the word with a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads.

Acre’s Bastard is free on kindle until Saturday

Acre’s Bastard, the first of the Lucca Le Pou stories, is available FREE on Kindle until Saturday, April 20th. If you haven’t read it yet, or want to read the first in the series before devouring the sequel, here’s your chance.

Acre’s Bastard was short-listed for the 2017 Illinois Library Associations “Soon to be Famous” competition for independent authors.

Like all good crack dealers, I’m also using the “give the first taste away free and get them to buy the next one” scheme. Hopefully, it will lead folks to Acre’s Orphans and beyond.

This is also an experiment to see if these are, indeed, marketable as YA or NA (New Adult, because we can’t possibly have too many marketing genres to confuse readers). Chapter 2 is a tough read for some people since it involves an attempted sexual assault on a kid. There’s your warning.

If you’ve already read it, please share the information on Facebook, Twitter or however you converse with the rest of the planet.

You can get your FREE Kindle here until the offer expires

A Young Girl and Her Violin with Mary Hughes

Historical fiction often deals with big themes: war, politics, violence and upheaval. But no matter the time period, there were also individuals living fascinating lives out of the view of most. These little stories can be as interesting, involving and intriguing as anything else. Mary Hughes took the story of a young woman with a dream to learn music in pre-WW1 Germany and turned it into “Imaging Violet.”

Mary, what’s your story and how did you come to be a writer?

My name is Mary Hughes, and I live on a beautiful small island off the west coast of Canada. Salt Spring Island, population around 10,000, is an amazing place to grow live, with its healthy moderate climate, a strong culture of volunteerism and an extraordinary enthusiasm for the arts. There are 117 writers here and just as many potters and painters.

Saltspring is a truly amazing place, and not for nothing it’s the home of my friend Howard Busgang’s deli, Buzzy’s Luncheonette so if you’re jonesing for Montreal smoked meat…. but I digress. What’s Imagining Violet about?

Imagining Violet is the story of a 16 year old Anglo-Irish girl who goes, on her own, to study violin in Germany in 1891. The 1890s were a period of tremendous change, with new technologies (typewriters, bicycles, sewing machines) affecting what women could do with their lives. My MC, Violet, is based on my grandmother’s life; I wanted to explore what her student life in Germany might have been like.

To give the book intimacy, I chose to craft it as a book of letters, an old-fashioned epistolary novel. I knew I could do it when I found a Guide Book for Northern Germany for 1892  on-line, complete with railway schedules. One of my favourite scenes is in one of the early letters; young Violet’s journey by train from Edinburgh to Germany.

You really got into the research for this, didn’t you?

My research was extensive. At one point I decided to take violin lessons in order to be able to write plausibly on that subject. Then Violet’s actual violin came my way – truly – and today I play it in a local amateur string ensemble.

Where can we learn more?

Imagining Violet is available through Amazon or through my website: https://imaginingviolet.blogspot.com.  I am a Goodreads Author, and I am on Facebook.

Acre’s Orphans is out in the world! You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book like Imaging Violet (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

The French and Indian Wars with Jean M Roberts

The early history of white settlers in North America was violent and tempestuous. We often think of it as a straight line from Eric the Red to the Founding Fathers but it wasn’t nearly that simple. One of the most violent periods were the French and Indian Wars. Jean Roberts tells the story of her family during that time in Blood in the Valley.

The Jean M Roberts story. Go…

Thank you for this opportunity to tell you and your readers a little something about myself and my book, Blood in the Valley. I am proud to say I am the author of two works of historical fiction, but it was a convoluted road that led me to writing. I’ve always loved history, in fact I wanted to be a history major but was talked into getting a degree in nursing instead. So, for a long time, I was a nurse who loved to read history books. I joined the United States Air Force soon after graduating from college and was stationed in England for many years. I married an Air Force pilot and we spent 20 odd years traveling around the world, and visiting my favorite historical places in Europe. When my husband retired from active duty, we returned to my hometown in Texas. I currently work as a nurse for a non-profit. I have one son, who is serving in the U.S. Army. I’m sorry I have no pets.

About ten years ago I got sucked into genealogy, a highly addictive pastime, and thought I might want to become a professional genealogist. But I realized what fascinated about my ancestors were not names and dates but their stories. Who were they, how did they live, what were their life experiences? I got this crazy notion that I could combine my love of history and genealogy into an actual book. I had no idea how to write a book, but I’d read so many, I felt certain something besides ink must have rubbed off all those pages I’d turned. And so it seems it had.

I’ve been doing some research into my family as well. I know how addictive that can be. What’s Blood in the Valley about?

Blood in the Valley is the story of my ancestor Catherine Wasson Clyde. She was born in New Hampshire in 1737 but moved to the Mohawk Valley of New York in 1753. Her family settled in Schenectady just before the onset of the last of the French and Indian Wars. (Picture Last of the Mohicans.) The book follows Catherine’s life through the American Revolution and resumption of peace in 1783. Catherine’s husband, Colonel Samuel Clyde, participated in some of the most brutal fighting during the war. Together they and their family struggled to survive as their world devolved into a state of chaos and guerrilla warfare.

I think most Americans do not realize how the war affected the lives of ordinary civilians and other noncombatants. The Mohawk Valley was decimated by the war. Raiders swept down from Canada and laid waste to the settlements; killing women, children and the elderly. Many were taken as captives back to Canada, never to be seen again.

Is it safe to assume that your family inspired the book?

The Colonial period of American history is of particular interest to me. My first book is set in the 1650s when the fledgling colonist still saw themselves as Englishmen. By the time of the revolution, the colonists, or at least many of them, had transitioned into Americans with only nominal ties to England. I love the idealism and drive of the period. Daily life remained fairly primitive, at least by our standards, but the thoughts and ideas that spurred on the war were progressive and fearless.

The main character in this book is a woman and the story of the war is told through her eyes. Her husband was gone for months at a time, either fighting or as a state representative in the New York Assembly. The running of the farm fell squarely on her shoulders, and she had nine children to boot. She was an exceptionally strong woman.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene in the book is an intimate moment between Catherine and her husband as he prepares to go to war. The Canajoharie District militia was scrambling to confront British Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger and his army. If they could not stop him, St. Leger would march straight through New York and cut the colonies in half. Samuel gives Catherine his will and tries to talk to her about what she should do if he does not return or the Americans lose the battle. As the wife of an Air Force fighter pilot, I think I was able to put a little bit of myself into that scene. Anyway, it makes me cry when I read it.

How can folks learn more about you and your work?

By now, you’re all dying to get your hands on a copy of the book and can’t wait for this interview to end. Blood in the Valley is for sale on Amazon in both e-book and paperback format. If you have Kindle Unlimited it’s yours for free. My blog, The Family Connection, has several articles about the book, events that took place during the time period and bios of many of the main characters. It can be found at . You can follow me and my pithy comments on Twitter at @jroberts1324, on Instagram @jeanie1701 where you may be forced to view my brother’s photos of birds. I have an author page on Goodreads as well, it can be found at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17599776.Jean_M_Roberts.

I hope that some of ya’ll will check out my book(s) give it a read and leave me some kind words in a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Remember good reviews are the life blood of Indie Authors! Thank you again Wayne for letting me ramble on about my book.

De nada. But now I get to put in a shameless plug for mine.

Acre’s Orphans is out in the world! You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book like Blood in the Valley (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Acre’s Orphans is an Award Winner

Just when you wonder if your book is being read, or if people actually enjoy it you get news like this. Pauline Barclay (blessings on her home and camels) and her website Chill With a Book have given my latest baby not one but TWO awards.

Her readers and reviewers have given us the reader award, but I also got her personal stamp of approval. Here’s what they had to say:

The storyline was packed with action and emotion. Well written with characters that brought
the terrible events poignantly to life. There were times when the story had me feeling deeply
sad at the turn of events. I look forward to the next book.

Chill with a Book Awards

They blessed Acre’s Bastard the same way two years ago, so it’s good to know their standards haven’t dropped!

Thank you for this, and if you’re looking for more great indie books to support, check out past winners.