Welcome back! This week I'm so happy to have my friend J.J. Devine on the blog. J.J. is sharing not only what it takes to write about cultures that are different from the writer's (she writes about Native America cultures), but she also shares with us how helpful a good set of primary research materials can be, so long as you're making sure to cross-check your references. So sit back and enjoy J.J.'s approach to writing historical romance! Thanks so much for coming out today, my friend.
Thank you so much, Victoria, for having me here today. For those out there who have no idea who I am, my name is J.J. Devine and I write historical and historical/paranormal romance. Today I will be touching base on the research that goes into writing my Acceptance Series, which takes place in the Wyoming Territory.
The Cheyenne Bride is the first in my series and sets the stage for the rest of the books that follow, Destiny’s Price, Passionate Pursuit, Jessie’s Revenge, Shadows of the Heart, and two more which have yet to be started.
I was fortunate years ago to happen upon a wonderful great condition encyclopedia set that today are 111 years old. The historical detail of these monster size books is truly amazing. I use them for all my research and cross-check facts from internet research. Their detail for terrain, crops, industry, and detailed maps have been worth their weight in gold.
Writing books which delve between cultures takes a good deal of research. Whether or not all of one’s research is used or not, an author needs to connect with the worlds they are writing. When writing The Cheyenne Bride, I spent a good deal of time discussing Cheyenne culture with those who know it much better than myself, Native American friends. I wrote to a council who were working on bringing back the Cheyenne language that had all but disappeared from Native American children being rehabilitated in white schools. Not allowed to even speak their native tongue, hold onto their religious beliefs, or even go by their Native American names. This made me very grateful for the times we live in today versus that of the 1700s and 1800s.
I spent a good deal of time researching and learning about Native American herbs and the natural arts of healing, to better bring to life my character, Nichole Michaels (White Deer to the Cheyenne) who’s Cheyenne grandmother, nishki, was the tribes medicine woman.
When I began the research for Passionate Pursuit, third in the series and Sam Davis’s story, which takes place with his heroine, Rae Black, following him after Sam had purchased cattle from her father on a ranch in Texas. I thought, why not, cattle drives are something that took place in the old west all the time.
Imagine my surprise when I found out there was this little thing (not so little really) called, Texas Cattle Fever, prohibiting cattle from the south to be moved past the Mason Dixon line unless it was between November 15 to February 15. Texas Cattle Fever was a disease transmitted from an infected cow to a healthy cow by way of ticks. So the cooler time of the year north of the Mason Dixon would kill off the ticks before the herd was introduced to the herds in the northern part of the Country.
Another interesting fact I learned when researching Passionate Pursuit was not all Cheyenne are the same. There were Northern Cheyenne and Southern Cheyenne. When the Northern Cheyenne were placed on the same reservations as the Southern Cheyenne in the south, the Northern Cheyenne began dying off. A new reservation was then opened in Montana.
I love writing historical romance and especially historical romance that takes place in the Old West. Times were wild but could you imagine the beauty of walking out on your front porch each morning, watching the sun come up over the mountains, feeling the cool mountain air on your face as you lift your eyes to the heavens?
If you would like to know more about me and my writings please feel free to find me here:
Reading and writing have been J.J.'s passion her whole life. Starting out with being the poet, everyone came to in high school to get that "perfect" poem for his or her boyfriend/girlfriend. She spent her weekends locked away in her room, curled up on her bed, writing short stories for only a selected few readers.
She has been happily married for 28 years to her trucker husband. She is a mother of three, grandmother of three; a lover of dogs, cats, and fish.
J.J. started to pen historical romance as a hobby when her youngest child was a year old, creating the Acceptance Series. She got serious about her writing career joining Romance Writers of America and Indiana Romance Writers of America moving on to help start Crossroads Romance Writers in 2014. She penned her first paranormal romance, Into the Darkness, in 25 days, taking herself beyond her comfort zone and just giving the characters free reign of their story.
Since taking herself out of the outside working world, she has dedicated her life to her writing and her writing world and raising consciousness for Domestic Violence Awareness.
Excerpt for The Cheyenne Bride:
One Wolf paced the fence line like a caged animal. He should just bust down that door, rip White Deer from that man’s arms, and take her far away from here.
She should never have gone to the fort, never have found her way to the Bar D, to Chris Davis. Why had he been stupid?
The opening of the cabin door drew his attention. The cover of darkness hid him from view, but he could see her basking in the moonlight. Never had she looked more beautiful. Her dark hair flowed down her back. The doeskin dress molded to every perfect curve.
His body reacted, as it always had, growing hard and rigid. The taste of her lips filled his mouth, the innocent tenderness of her tongue against his own.
Damn, Chris Davis.
“What are you doing?” he demanded, drawing her attention.
“One Wolf, where have you been?” She glided down the steps coming toward him. His heart picked up its pace. Every part of his existence ached to claim his woman.
“You know where I have been, White Deer. Or have you forgotten the tribe you have wanted to belong to since you were a girl?” He spit the bitter words from his lips.
“I see you have now become this white man’s whore.” He nodded toward the cabin door. “I thought you had more pride.”
He grabbed her by the arms, pulling her inches from his face. “Is this what you want?”
“One Wolf, this life is my mother’s vision for me.”
“And your nish ki’s knowledge of your life had nothing to do with a white man.” He reminded her angrily.
“One Wolf, let her go.” Chris’s angry voice filled the night air.
“I asked you to do that once, Chris Davis. Did you not refuse?” His eyes never left hers as he roared his resentment.
“White Deer belongs to me now.” Chris’s tone was livid.
One Wolf threw his head back, a wicked laugh coming from somewhere deep inside him. “White Deer is it now? Only months ago, you could not accept the Cheyenne blood that runs through her veins. Are you telling me now you can accept that blood?”
One Wolf spun her around to face her lover, gripping her shoulders against his palms. “Look at her! Does she belong in your world? She dresses like us. She speaks our tongue. She is her mother’s daughter. She will please her husband as Cheyenne women please theirs. Is this what you want?”
Anguish strained Chris’s face as his eyes fixed on the image he was painting for him. With White Deer in his arms, shoving the truth back into this white man’s world, even Chris couldn’t deny where she truly belonged.
“One Wolf, let me go,” Nichole ordered, pulling hard, she gained her release.
“Chris and I are working to build a life together. You must learn to accept this.”
One Wolf laughed again. “Accept what I know is not right. He cannot even answer a simple question. Sure, he allows you to dress as one of us. He even calls you by your Cheyenne name. But can he truly say, in his heart, he accepts the Cheyenne blood in your veins?”
“How is he any different than you, who only wishes to see the Cheyenne half of my heritage?” One Wolf grabbed her up once again, pulling her roughly against his chest. Chris sprang into action. He ripped Nichole from his grasp, shoving him away from her.
“One Wolf, White Deer could be carrying my child, you’ll not touch her again.”
“A child she should be having of mine!” He shouted. The words penetrated his heart so deep, it felt like a hot knife twisting into his flesh.
“No, One Wolf, it was me her mother envisioned for her, not you.”
One Wolf laughed again. “You speak of visions as if you believe in them. Do you remember I have known you for many years?”
“She belongs to me, One Wolf.”
“Stop this,” Nichole ordered. “Do either of you care what I want? You both claim to love me, but do either of you care that this tears me apart inside? To see two men, who once claimed to be friends, go at each other like two dogs over a bone?”
“Chris, you must understand this is hard for both One Wolf and I. We’ve spent many years as friends, we’ve shared much of our life, and yes, at one time I fancied myself his wife.”
She turned to One Wolf. “But now, One Wolf, you must understand, with Chris is where I belong. I know this in my heart, as sure as I know you and I will always share our past. I have given myself to him as a woman gives herself to her husband.”
“There was a time when you were going to give to me this same honor, or have you forgotten?” The ground felt as if it were slipping from his feet. He had let this go too far. Now, it seemed, he had lost the only woman he would ever love.
“I haven’t forgotten,” she said softly. “But it wasn’t meant to be. Can’t you see this? We’re meant only to share our lives as friends, nothing more.”
Her words finished, shattering his heart. The pain in his chest was more unbearable than anything he’d ever felt before. He stared into those lovely dark eyes, and knew she believed what she said.
One Wolf turned on Chris.
“If you hurt her, I promise you, as I told you before, I will kill you,” he growled. “She deserves the acceptance she seeks. If you cannot give it to her, then I beg you now let her go with me. I can heal her heart.”
Something in the form of guilt flashed from Chris’s eyes, giving a short-lived hope to his heart. The moment Chris wrapped a protective arm about her shoulders, One Wolf knew he didn’t stand a chance against the one thing tying her to her mother. A vision.
His tone grew softer, as his eyes locked and held hers. “White Deer, I give you what you wish, in hopes one day you will come to me with the knowledge it is our hearts which belong together. It is something I have always known, and one day I know you will see it, too.”
He reached out, brushing the back of his hand against the soft skin of her cheek. His eyes drifted closed, as he took in the feel of her. “Nemohotatse, my little warrior.”
He left the couple standing in the darkness, his heart in turmoil. No matter what she told him, he would love her until his dying breath. For only when his heart stopped beating, would his love for her die.