Introducing Mary Perkins Olmsted from Gail Ward Olmsted’s Landscape of a Marriage

I’m talking today with Mary Perkins Olmsted, wife of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Hello Mary. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Please tell us how you met your husband? Was it love at first sight?

Oh hardly. I was only eighteen when I met Fred at a neighborhood gathering. He was quite the ladies’ man back then. He barely gave me a second glance, which was all well and good as I promptly fell in love with his younger brother John.

Was that your first husband, Dr. John Olmsted? Oh, I’m sorry- I did not mean to upset you.

I still get a bit emotional talking of dear John. Yes, he and I married and honeymooned in Italy. We had three children together but he died at the age of thirty-two. Complications from tuberculosis. So sad.

How did you end up marrying your brother-in-law?

John begged Fred on his death bed to not let me suffer. So, Fred did the right thing and asked me to marry him and he adopted our three oldest children. He married me out of a sense of duty, but very soon, we found ourselves deeply in love. 

Can you tell us a little about your family?

Of course. John Charles is our firstborn. He joined his father as soon as he graduated from Yale University. He has a very good eye and a keen mind. Our daughter Charlotte is married to a wonderful man, a doctor and they live just outside of Boston with their sons. Owen is still in school and plans to join his father and brother in the family business. Our Marion is a lovely girl, her nose is always in a book and last, but not least, our son Rick. He keeps us in stiches with his antics. I am blessed to have such a wonderful family.

How would you describe your husband’s design aesthetic?

Well, you’ll rarely see a straight line in any of his plans. He like to take direction from the land itself. The hills and valleys. Always vast expanses of green pastures. Everything is very natural and lush. I heard him describe his style as a sort of organized chaos. I think that describes it perfectly. 

Does your husband consult with you on any of his design projects?

Oh yes, we frequently talk about the plans, the types of trees, the smallest of details. As the children are growing up and leaving home, I enjoy spending part of my day in the office. I set up appointments,  meet with clients and make a few adjustments to his designs every now and again. Fred always seems to like my suggestions.

Which one of your husband’s projects is your favorite?

Oh my! I would have to say his first project, Central Park right here in Manhattan is my favorite. We  are constant visitors- we walk, ice skate, go boating, ride horses. It is delightful. You should have seen it before my husband got his hands on it. 800 acres of smelly swamp land it was. 

You sound like you are quite proud of your husband.

Oh, I am indeed. He has worked so hard to create lovely green spaces for all to enjoy. I can’t wait to see what he does next!

Thank you for speaking with me today, Mrs. Olmsted.

It has been my pleasure.

The real Fred & Mary 

About the Author

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com or email her at gwolmsted@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/gailolmstedauthor

www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted    Twitter: @gwolmstedInstagram: @gwolmsted 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8158738.Gail_Ward_Olmsted

About the Book

A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space. 

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man. 

Pre-order Buylinks 

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Meet Hazel from Rachel Fordham’s A Lady in Attendance

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

After spending the last five years in a New York state reformatory, Hazel is
desperate to begin life anew, but she knows that a tarnished name could ruin her
chances. She accepts a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’ lady in attendance but does
so under an alias so she can hide her shameful past.
Dr. Watts has come to enjoy the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, but
he senses her sadness and wonders if there is more to her story than she’s shared with him. As their friendship deepens, Hazel must grapple with her desire to trust him.
Can Dr. Watts and Hazel’s friends help expunge her record? And can Hazel possibly find hope and love
along the way?

Thank you for having me. 

Tell us something about where you live.

Currently, I am living just outside of Buffalo, New York in the much smaller village of Amherst. I moved into a boarding house and have already made a friend here. Not so long ago, I lived in a reformatory (like a prison, but with the goal of rehabilitation). While living there I learned to make friends quickly due to its ever changing dynamic. 

I am getting off subject. You asked about where I live and now, I’m talking about my time behind iron gates. I don’t normally talk about those five years. When I do everyone judges me. My five-year sentence feels like a lifetime one. Even now I have taken to using a false name so that I can get a job without anyone knowing my past. I would love to leave all that’s happened before behind me but it follows me. I no longer dream of romance or family, but I do hope that here in Amherst I will be able to put bread on my own table. 

You say you’ve taken a job. Can you tell us about that?

I was only just hired by the quiet dentist, Dr. Watts three weeks ago. He does not know my real name and for that I feel immense guilt. I do work hard and he seems satisfied with my efforts. When I was first hired, I believed him a very shy man, and he is, but he is also kind and has wit that many would miss but I find it delightful. 

I do not find the teeth or saliva particularly appealing but I enjoy the patients. You never know who will come in each day. Some make me laugh and others are very afraid. It’s hard to explain but I find it all rewarding and Gilbert (he allows me to call him that when there are no patients there) is always kind. I fear he is my superior in piousness. He is good to a fault but that is far better than working for someone who does not believe in the virtues.

Despite my looming past, I enjoy my days and find them rewarding. It is also a blessing that I can afford my rent at the boarding house. I fear desperation would have pushed me to taking any job, but Providence has led me to a job I actually enjoy.  

It sounds like you’ve had a very rough life. What of your family? Can they help you with your troubles?

My family raised me well. I can not blame them for anything that has happened. If I had listened to my mother when I was younger, I would have been able to avoid many of the hardships that have befallen me. 

It’s difficult to talk of them. I ache for them so badly, but I can’t turn to them, not now and perhaps never. I have already brought enough shame to them. 

Can you tell us about your past? What is it that brought you from high society to a reformatory and now to separation from your family?

That is a very long story. But I will say that I am innocent of the burglary charges that were brought against me, but my past is far from innocent. 

I would rather not dwell on it. 

I understand. Thank you for spending time with us today. After listening to you talk, I find that I am now hoping you will find a future that is hopeful and happy. 

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!


Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas,
and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart, and she delivers, diving
deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves
connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future
projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy
mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate
about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of
Washington.

Meet Richard Stevens from Kathleen Denly’s Sing in the Sunlight

After hearing several interesting rumors about Richard Stevens, I decided to track him down for a few answers. I found him on Montgomery Street.

Good afternoon, Mr. Stevens. I was wondering if I might have a moment of your time to ask a few questions on behalf of our Novel PASTimes readers. 

I was just about to dine at this restaurant. If you don’t mind joining me, I’m happy to answer your questions. Although, I can’t imagine why your readers would be interested in me.

I followed Mr. Stevens into the restaurant and we were seated at a long table beside several other hungry men. It was a bit noisy, but I managed to speak above the din as we waited for our food.

Well, to begin, someone informed me that you have a connection to one of our previous interviewees—a Miss Eliza Brooks. Is that so?

She’s Mrs. Clarke now, but my connection isn’t so much with her as with her husband. We grew up together in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Did the two of you come to California together? 

No, he came years before I did. Do you mind if I pray before we eat?

Of course not. Go right ahead. 

Richard bowed his head to silently pray before nodding that I could continue.  

I’ve heard rumors of scandals involving your family back east. Something about your father’s drunken temper and your mother falling down a flight of stairs. 

Who told you that? 

It’s true then? Did you come west to get away from your father?

Listen, I agreed to answer your questions about me. Leave my family out of it or this interview is through.

Of course, my apologies. I was just trying to establish your reason for coming to California.

I escorted my sister here, but before you ask, I’m not going to talk about why she came. I stayed because of the opportunities available to me here that I couldn’t find back east. The people here, the life…it’s very different from the parlor visits and society dinners I grew up with. I know I can make a difference here, but…

Stevens’s words trailed off as our food arrived. Once the waiter had gone, I encouraged him to continue.

But what?

Forget it. What’s your next question?

I understand you’re now the owner of the Prosperity Mine in Nevada City. Can you tell me how that came to be?

There was an accident last year that took the previous owner’s son. Mr. Pollack and his wife decided to move back east and sold me the mine. 

Why you? Certainly there were others able to offer a better price for such a valuable enterprise. If you’d been working for them you couldn’t have saved up that much money. Unless you have family money…?

That wasn’t it. Mr. Pollack didn’t trust another investor not to cut corners. He was a good man who cared about the men that worked for him. He knew that, having worked there for two years, I knew what changes were needed to see that another accident didn’t happen. He trusted me to get it done.

That says a lot about you. Tell me, is it true you’ve hired a female as your secretary?

Yes. I encountered Miss Bennetti on a trip to San Francisco a few months ago. She was in need of a job and I was in need of a secretary. She has proven herself to be an excellent employee. I couldn’t be more pleased with her work. 

There are several who think you hired her with ulterior motives. Your miners claim they aren’t allowed to even speak to her because you’re planning to propose marriage to her.

When did you speak with my men? Forget it. Wherever you heard that nonsense, it simply isn’t true. My relationship with Miss Bennetti is strictly professional. In fact, I’ve recently learned she’s formed an attachment with…well, I’d better not say. I’m not sure they’ve made their announcement yet. 

Hmm. If not your secretary, perhaps you’re romantic interests lay with this Miss Johnson you’ve been searching for? I hear you’ve been knocking on doors all over the city. 

I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed again. I’m looking for Fletcher Johnson—a man. 

Hmm. Just a moment while I check my notes. Ah, yes, my apologies. It’s a Mr. Johnson and a Miss Humphrey whom you’ve been asking about. Is she the one—?

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I thought you were going to ask questions about me, maybe about the mine or…I don’t know, what. But so far you’ve insulted my family and continued to poke your nose into topics that are none of your business. I think this interview is through. 

But you didn’t answer—

My food’s getting cold. 

I tried several more times to get Mr. Stevens talking again, but he just kept eating in silence. When he was through, he smiled politely, thanked me for my company, and took his leave.


Kathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.

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A Conversation with Dorothy Clark from Amanda Cabot’s Dreams Rekindled

NOVEL PASTIMES: Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

DOROTHY: Thanks for inviting me. Others, including my sister-in-law Evelyn, have told me how much fun it is to chat with you.

NOVEL PASTIMES: She had quite a story. When I talked to her, she and Polly were living in the apartment you now call home. I was surprised when I learned that you’re living there alone. 

DOROTHY: You’re not the only one who was surprised. My mother wasn’t thrilled by the idea of my leaving the ranch and moving into the apartment, but with Evelyn and Wyatt gone, someone had to keep the restaurant running. Oh, I see the questions in your eyes. You know that Evelyn’s the owner of the restaurant, but you may not know that she recently married my brother Wyatt and that they’re in East Texas taking care of some business.

NOVEL PASTIMES: I hadn’t heard that congratulations were in order, but I’m not too surprised. When Evelyn and I talked, I thought there was a special man in her life. But back to you. You must be a wonderful cook if Evelyn left you in charge of her restaurant. 

DOROTHY: You’ve obviously never tasted my cooking. Fortunately, my best friend Laura is an accomplished chef. I just help her. 

NOVEL PASTIMES: If cooking isn’t your passion, what is? 

DOROTHY: Writing. I don’t know whether you’ve read Uncle Tom’s Cabin – after all, it’s banned here in the South – but more than anything, I want to write something that will change people’s lives the way Mrs. Stowe’s book did.

NOVEL PASTIMES: That’s certainly a worthy goal. Why haven’t you done it?

DOROTHY: I could say it’s because I’ve been too busy, but the truth is, I haven’t had a single idea that’s important enough to be turned into a book. The only writing I’ve done was an article to help my brother publicize his first horse sale.

NOVEL PASTIMES: That sounds interesting. Did it bring more people to Mesquite Springs?

DOROTHY: It did.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Then maybe you should write more articles.

DOROTHY: Are you a mind reader? I’ve been thinking about that ever since Brandon Holloway came to town. Laura’s convinced he’s the man she’s going to marry, but what attracts me is the fact that he’s starting a newspaper here.

NOVEL PASTIMES: So you don’t find him attractive?

DOROTHY: I didn’t say that. Brandon’s handsome, but more than that, he’s kind and thoughtful and doing something important. Mesquite Springs needed a newspaper, and he’s giving us one.

NOVEL PASTIMES: That makes him sound like the perfect man for you. Would you consider marrying him if Laura weren’t interested in him?

DOROTHY: No! I won’t ever marry.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Oh, Dorothy. You surprised me before, but now you’ve shocked me. I can see you believe it, but I don’t understand. Why won’t you marry?

DOROTHY: I can’t.

NOVEL PASTIMES: You can’t? Why would you believe you can’t marry?

DOROTHY: It’s more than believing. I know I can’t. Please don’t ask me to say anything more, because it’s not something I talk about to anyone, not even my family. 

NOVEL PASTIMES: And nothing would change your mind?

DOROTHY: No. It’s too great a risk.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of Out of the Embers, as well as the Cimarron
Creek Trilogy and the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds series.
Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and
the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com.

Meet Julia Phillips from Heart’s Desire, book one in the Heart’s Desire series by Linda Hoover

~Julia, I understand you’re a member of one of Boston’s old families. Will you tell me what that means for a single young woman?

Certainly. Girls and young women are taught how to organize and manage a household and the ins and outs of entertaining. Marriage is one of the few options for women, so parents do their best to see their daughters well settled. When they reach a certain age, daughters accompany their mothers to call on friends for tea and help with charity events. And of course, we attend dinners and balls.

~Are marriages arranged or do you get to have a say in who you marry?

I’m the youngest of four and Momma’s advice to all of us was, “Family and finance are the most important considerations when finding a husband.” Many times, it goes that way, but up until recently I was given more freedom. Because of that, I was shocked when I came home from shopping one day to find out Papa had made an agreement on my behalf.

~It sounds like you’re not happy about it.

I’m not. I would never consider marrying the man Papa betrothed me to and it just so happened I met someone that very same day who could be the one I’ve waited for. He’s not in our social class so I thought my biggest problem would be how to get my parents to see beyond that. Now I have a bigger challenge.

~Can you change your father’s mind? You can’t go against his wishes, can you?

I’ve tried to talk him out of it. He tells me I have no choice. I don’t want to cause a scandal for my parents, but I can’t marry that man. Somehow, I’ll have to change his mind. 

Three months later:

~Thank you for speaking with me again. I’m interested to know what your progress is.

With the help of friends and two of my sisters, I’ve gotten to know the young man I met in February. My heart was right about him. We’ve fallen in love, but my fiancée informed me that because of a blackmail threat, I have to marry him to save my family from being ruined. I’ve been praying every day. I know God has a plan and if I have to marry Lucien, God will be with me. 

~I’ll pray too, Julia. I look forward to seeing how it all works out.


Heart’s Desire Kindle edition is available now on Amazon.

The print format is coming soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda lives in west central Ohio with her husband, daughters, grandson, two cats and a dog. She earned a degree in psychology from Anderson University where she learned the voices in her head were actually characters from stories waiting to be told. 

Linda recently retired from the county’s public library system. It was the perfect place to indulge her love of young adult and Christian fiction. It was also a good place to build a long “To Read” list. These days she enjoys being a fulltime author in her home office, despite interruptions from family members and pets. Linda is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

To learn more about Linda and the books she writes visit her website:

http://www.LindaHooverBooks.com

While you’re there, subscribe to her newsletter to keep informed about new books, author activities and giveaways. Or stop by her Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/LindaHooverAuthor

Introducing Lieutenant William Prescott from Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today, Lieutenant Prescott. Hm, William Prescott. Wasn’t that the name of a famous Revolutionary War hero?

It was. Though he’s no relation, I was given his name. Growing up near Boston, I knew I was destined to serve in the military, even after my father was killed in the Civil War.

And so you joined the Cavalry. Where have you served? 

The Pend Oreille country, Fort Walla Walla, the Presidio in San Francisco, the Arizona frontier. Oregon.

Is there something special about Oregon that made you hesitate just now?

It’s not something I’m proud of. I’ve done all I can to atone for that time. Right now, I’m serving in Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park. The government called in the Cavalry when civilian superintendents lost control of the area. They say we won’t be here long, but I don’t see how we can leave. There are wildfires raging through parts of the park, vandals harming the natural wonders, and poachers after the game. 

But it’s millions of acres. How can one Cavalry troop cover all that?

It’s not going to be easy, especially since we have been given only one guide. That’s why I made a bargain with Kate Tremaine at the Geyser Gateway Inn. She knows this land better than most. She’s going to help me and my men understand and protect the park. In exchange, I’ll help her with some of the tasks around the hotel. It can’t be easy being a widow with a young son out here.

I imagine not. She must have her hands full running one of the busiest hotels in the park.

You ought to see her. Every inch of that hotel shows the mark of her work. More, she’s warm and welcoming to everyone who stops by, shares everything she knows about this amazing park. Sometimes I wonder whether the government shouldn’t have just put her in charge.

Sounds like you admire Mrs. Tremaine.

More than words can say. 

Interesting. Is the admiration mutual?

How can it be? I’ve no right to expect admiration, not after what I’ve done. But sometimes, when she looks at me, I see something more, something that makes me want to be the kind of man she could admire, the kind of man who could be a good husband and father.

So, what are you going to do?

I wish I knew. I have my hands full with leading my men and trying to find a poacher who’s vowed revenge against us all. But you can learn more about me and Kate Tremaine in Regina Scott’s Nothing Short of Wondrous.

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!


Regina Scott is the author of more than 50 works of warm, witty historical romance, including A Distance Too Grand. Her writing has won praise from Booklist and Library Journal, and she was twice awarded the prestigious RT Book Reviews best book of the year in her category. A devotee of history, she has learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research. She and her husband of 30 years live south of Tacoma, Washington, on the way to Mt. Rainier.

Meet Ruby Weaver from The Roll of the Drums by Jan Drexler

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Help us get to know you – What do people notice about you when they first meet you?

It has to be my red hair. Not just red, but wiry and curly. It never lies flat and never does what I want it too. Especially on humid days! Most Amish women have straight brown hair that lies smoothly under their kapps. My hair is always in my way.

What would someone notice about you after they learn to know you?

That I’m not the typical Amish woman. I don’t like to do quiet things like quilting or sewing. I’d rather be working outside. I like the open sky, and the wind blowing, and the smells of the earth. I enjoy spending a day in the woods hunting for a bee tree or an evening watching the stars come out.

Tell us about your family and where you live.

I don’t think my family is anything special. After all, we’re much like the other families in our community. My grandparents settled along Weaver’s Creek here in Holmes County, Ohio in the early 1800’s. They were the first Amish settlers here. I remember Grossmutti’s stories of bears and other wild animals in the forest, but now, sixty years later, this is a peaceful and settled area.

In my family I have two brothers, one older and one younger, and three sisters. Two of my sisters are married and live away in Berlin Township. My younger sister is my best friend. We’re having fun keeping house together while her husband is away fighting in the War Between the States.

You said your sister is your best friend. Who are your other friends?

I didn’t have any other close friends until recently. The girls I grew up with have all married and are busy with their husbands and children. Since I don’t plan to marry, we have even less in common than we did when we were growing up.

But when Gideon and Lovinia Fischer came to Weaver’s Creek, I found a kindred spirit in Lovinia. I long for the day when she finally recovers from her illness and we can do more than sit in her sickroom and visit. She is a true friend and I love her dearly.

You made an interesting comment earlier, that you don’t plan to marry. I thought all Amish girls wanted to get married.

That’s probably true. Every girl I know wants to marry and have a family. But in my experience, most men – except for my Datt and my brothers, and maybe Lovinia’s husband Gideon – are selfish pigs who only think about themselves. I had a bad experience with a boy when I was younger, and then I see my sister Elizabeth’s unhappy marriage. I’m not going to take a chance on any man when things can turn out so badly. 

There I go, being too outspoken. It’s a good thing I don’t plan to marry because I can’t think of any man who would put up with my temper and my opinions. Mamm says that both of those things go with my red hair!

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

I would be careful to think before I speak. Mamm is so wise and good. Everyone comes to her for advice and help. I’ve never heard her say anything unkind and she is always patient, even when Salome Beiler is visiting.

There I go again! I should never have said that about Salome, and yet I can’t seem to stop myself. Forget I said anything, please.

But back to your question, if I could change anything about myself, I would want to be more like my mother. She is as strong-willed and opinionated as I am, but she tempers it with a gentle spirit. I can’t seem to learn to do that.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?

Even though I say I will never marry, I would marry the right man if I could find him. All I want is to meet a man who will love me for who I am and not try to change me. Is that too much to ask? 

What are you most afraid of?

I did something very stupid when I was younger, and because of me, Elizabeth married the wrong man. I didn’t realize how much influence my actions and my words would have on her. My greatest fear is that another younger girl would follow my stupid, sinful life. I don’t fit in with the others at church, and that’s all right. I’m used to it. But I fear that someday one of my nieces or another girl will think that kicking the goads is a good thing to do. I fear that I will unknowingly influence one of those girls to be like me.

What do you think your future holds?

I hope I will spend the rest of my life surrounded by my family and friends. I would like to watch Lovinia’s children grow, and to reach the end of my days being useful to them and to my nieces and nephews.

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!

About the Author Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of The Sound of Distant ThunderThe Roll of the DrumsHannah’s ChoiceMattie’s Pledge (a 2017 Holt Medallion finalist), and Naomi’s Hope, as well as several Love Inspired historical novels. 

Meet Abigail from Jane Kirkpatrick’s Something Worth Doing

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today. I’m happy to be here too! I travel a lot despite the stagecoach discomforts, the sometimes-smelly trains and of course, on horseback and walking, so it’s nice to have a little respite here with you today and put my tired feet up. Thanks for asking me to stop by.

Tell us something about where you live. I live in Oregon but I was born in Illinois and crossed the Oregon Trail in 1852 with my parents and siblings. I was asked to keep the diary of our crossing (I was 16 and love words!) and later I used the diary to help me write my very first novel. I’ve written over 20! My husband and six children have lived on farms (one I named Hardscrabble and it was!) and then we moved to Lafayette, Oregon where I taught school and later Albany, Oregon where I ran a millinery and owned a school and then Portland where I was one of the few women in the country to start and operate a newspaper supporting women’s rights for 17 years. We lived on a ranch in Idaho for a time too. We Duniways did get around, sometimes because of poor choices we made.

Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name? My name is Abigail Jane Scott Duniway. My family called me Jenny. I never knew why my parents gave me that name but my mother did admire Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, a signer of the Constitution and later President of the US. Perhaps she indirectly affected my life with that name as women and the rights of other minorities became my life’s calling in response to Micah’s question what does the Lord require?  “To seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with my God.”  I have to work on the humbly part though. That name, Abigail, gave me a sound base from which to seek justice for women.

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work? My most important occupation is being a faithful wife and mother. But my calling is to help the downtrodden especially women. My husband and I both felt strongly that helping women get the vote would be the best way of helping women deal with the way the laws discriminate against us. There are laws forcing us to turn over our egg money to husbands or fathers who may well drink it up; or making us pay the debts of fathers and husbands who deserted us. Or not being able to take jobs to support our families because we’re women or like my sister, who was widowed, becoming a teacher but who got paid half of the previous teacher – who was a man. My work of fighting for women’s rights is invigorating, frustrating, inspiring, draining but most of all rewarding.  I get to travel to other states and territories, speak before legislatures; listen to the stories women tell me about their lives. Sometimes I go to court with them. Sometimes I visit them in prisons to offer hope. I also write for a living: novels, articles and then editing my newspaper.

I have a full plate. Novels are considered ideal ways to change people’s hearts and minds so writing them an hour at a time at 4:00am before I get ready to serve the boarding house girls who live with us and then off to work on the paper or off to give a speech, or listen to my one daughter Clara Belle play the piano while I’m stitching a dress for the millinery – I rarely have a minute to myself. In your time, you’d call me a workaholic I guess. In my time, I was often considered strident, maybe a little pushy, but absolutely passionate about my cause to change the lives of women for the better. By the way, I traveled around the Northwest with the famous suffragist Susan B. Anthony and she camped with my family at the Oregon State Fair in 1871. Now that was an adventure!

Who are the special people in your life? My mother was…but she died on the trail along with my youngest brother. Both of Cholera. My mother hadn’t wanted to go west but my father had the bug as they called it. She gave birth to 12 children and I think she was weakened on the journey. She told me once that she was sorry I was a girl because girls had such hard lives. She inspired me to do what I could to make girls’ lives easier.

The other special person in my life is my husband Ben. He is the kindest of men, generous, puts up with me. He invented a washing machine! He has a beautiful singing voice and he’s the diplomatic one who has to smooth over his wife’s sometimes intemperate tongue. I wrote a column for awhile called “The Farmer’s Wife” that was funny and pointed about martial life etc. It was published widely in Oregon and surrounding territories. Sometimes he was the brunt of my stories and he never complained. He was also badly injured in a horse accident and his chronic back pain affected our lives. But he was always there for the family when I traveled and was sometimes gone for months at a time, he was the father and mother of the household. I never could have accomplished what I did without his support.

I have friends, too, of course. Shirley is one such friend though she lives in California. I get to see her on my buying trips for the millinery. And we are both suffragists. And my children are incredibly special to me. One girl and five “potential voters.” I know, I can be a bit much about the voting. 😊

Do you have a cherished possession? My mother’s earrings. I had my friend Shirly and two of my sisters pierce my ears on the trail after my mother died. It was a way of stating I would try new things despite the pain, especially if it meant working on behalf of women trying to make a woman’s life better. It was how I keep her with me and honor her life.

What do you expect the future will hold for you? A big challenge I have is convincing my brother – who is the editor of the largest newspaper in the Northwest and my business competitor– that he should support the right for women to vote. My newspaper, The New Northwest, strongly supports that effort and we have our first vote (only men get to vote!) in 1883. Pretty exciting. My sisters and I are meeting with Harvey, the only surviving boy in our family, to try to convince him to endorse the petition. If the vote fails, we will keep trying. That’s what my future holds – working on behalf of women getting the vote. Falling down and getting up again.

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story? I confess, I have a hard time learning from past mistakes. I work at it, I do. And I’ve discovered that I am at times envious of my brother and others who seem to have an easier life which is not very Christian of me. I have come to see though, that it’s in the challenges that we discover who we really are. I’ve had a rich, full life and while I always thought I’d want easier days, when we moved to the ranch in Idaho and I had all the time in the world to rest and write, I found myself missing the excitement of what I called “the still hunt” working for rights without losing my femininity or credibility as a woman. I never participated in a parade or rumbled through a saloon decrying men. I worked quietly and encouraged the same in the organizations I helped start and run. I have few regrets and that to me means a great deal as I grow older. And I can see looking back that it was in the trials that I discovered who I really was.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? At a time when women were not supposed to be public, I began giving speeches.  I gave more than 1500 in my lifetime from New York to California and in between. Some of them are now posted on this thing called the internet. I never read them when I delivered them, hough I wrote them out. But my passion for the subject enabled me to talk for more than an hour, inspiring, encouraging and praising the work of women as wives, mothers, daughters, workers. You can read some of them at www.asduniway.org

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better! It’s my pleasure! I love chatting with people. I hope you’ll find my story Something Worth Doing worthy of your time. I 

About the Author 

Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty books, including One More River to CrossEverything She Didn’t SayAll Together in One PlaceA Light in the WildernessThe Memory WeaverThis Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Caesar. Learn more at www.jkbooks.com

Meet Destiny McCulloch from Carole Brown’s Caleb’s Destiny

Hi, Destiny. It feels as if I know you personally after all the contact we’ve had for the last three months. Thank you for agreeing to this interview to help promote the book, Caleb’s Destiny.

Destiny:  I’m glad to do it. 

Let’s get started. Why did you come to the wild west? I mean, you had it nice back in Boston.

Destiny:  Why? Ever since I was sent east, I’ve wanted to come back west and find a little boy I knew years ago. He was such a good person who cared for me like no one else ever has. We lost touch, so I figured if we were going to unite, it was going to come from me. 

That’s interesting. But why were you sent back east?

Destiny (tears in her eyes):  I lost my parents when just a child. The young boy who rescued me—his  father couldn’t raise me by himself because his wife was dying. I think he felt helpless in raising a girl child.

That’s so sad, but understandable. I understand you’re engaged. Can you tell me a little bit about your fiance?

Destiny:  Hmm. What to tell? We’re not actually engaged, just almost there. He’s very good-looking and well liked in Boston. Many parents there wanted him to notice their daughters. Oh, yes. He’s a minister too. So very proper.

What did your fiancé, excuse me, the man back east think of you traveling west?

Destiny:  He really didn’t say much. I know my own mind, so I don’t usually ask for permission. But he didn’t protest too much. (Under tone):  It wouldn’t have done any good if he had.

So, do you think you know what you want in a man?

Destiny:  Well, I’m not thinking I’ll get married any time soon. I like my freedom too much.

(Smiling)  I guess we’ll see how that goes, won’t we? But if you were choosing a man for marriage, what would be the character traits you’d like to see?

Destiny:  Since you insist, I would say I like to see a strong man—not just in bodily strength, but in knowing his mind. A man who is also gentle and not afraid of what others think, but will do what he thinks is right. Of course, I’d like him to be handsome, but the other traits are more important. 

So, have you met anyone lately that attracts you? That tempts you to open your heart?

Destiny:  Maybe. There’s Bert Bottoms who’s handsome and has a very good job as president of the town bank. Then there’s Mr. Michael, who makes me angry, but I know he’s a really good man. And he can be charming if he tries. 

You’re saying you have three men to choose from, is that right? 

  • Richard, who is a minister, and loves you, and will probably give you a good and safe life;
  • Good-looking, financially stable Bert Bottoms, and;
  • Mr. Michael, who makes you angry, but can be charming and you think is a good man.

So who will you choose?

Destiny:  Oh, I can’t say. If readers want to know, they’ll have to read my story in Caleb’s Destiny. I think they’ll love it. It’s very romantic, if I do say so myself. 

Well, then, if you won’t tell, I want to thank you for sharing just a bit of your life, Destiny. I’ll be sure to encourage everyone to read your story. 

Thank you for visiting!


Mr. Michael, Destiny Rose McCulloch, and Hunter have a mysterious history. Why were three fathers, all business partners, murdered under suspicious circumstances while on their quest to find gold? Hunter, who is Mr. Michael’s ranch manager, is determined to find the answers and protect the precocious young lady who he suspects holds a key answer to his questions. Mr. Michael wants only to be left alone to attend to his property, but what can he do when Destiny refuses to leave and captures the heart of everyone of his employees? Destiny almost forgets her quest when she falls in love with Mr. Michael’s ranch and all the people there.And thenMr. Michael is much too alluring to ignore. The preacher man back east where she took her schooling tried to claim her heart, but the longer she stays the less she can remember him. She only came west to find a little boy she knew years ago. A little boy all grown up by now…unless, of course, he’s dead.

Readers, you can find Destiny’s story on Amazon here:  https://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

and on Barnes&Noble here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/calebs-destiny-carole-brown/1137072312?ean=9781941622636


Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

FB Fan Page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/183457429657732/

Amazon Author Page:  https://amzn.to/38Ukljnhttps://amzn.to/38Ukljn

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carole-brown

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/browncarole212/?hl=en

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/carole-brown-79b6951a/

Meet Agnes Pratt from Rachel Fordham's A Life Once Dreamed

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Will you introduce yourself? 

Of course, thank you for asking. My names is Agnes Pratt and I am the only school teacher in all of Penance. Teaching has been my life since I left Buffalo, New York, six years ago. I find great satisfaction from working with my school children but there are days when I wish there was more…

 Why did you leave Buffalo?

 Oh, um…I came here to teach. I wanted a fresh start. 

I feel like there’s more to your story than you are sharing. I’ve heard you were well to-do back east. Weren’t there schools there you could have taught at?

You are correct. My family was well to-do and they were so good and kind to me. I love them and miss them dearly. But…well, I couldn’t stay. I have a secret that I can’t share right now and maybe never but it forced me to leave the city, family and man I loved. 

A man? 

His name is James Harris. He was my dearest friend when we were little and then one day we realized we were in love. I don’t want to talk about him. It’s been so long but even now it hurts my heart to think of him and all I left behind. Wondering what might have been is too painful.

Very well, we’ll talk about other things. Do you have friends in Penance? 

Yes! I have such dear friends. The children of course but also the townspeople. I have a loud and obnoxious friend named Minnie. She says the most outrageous things but I love her and I know that if I were ever in a pinch she’d be there for me. I have a gentle friend too. Her name is Hannah. She suffered a great loss recently but is still so full of hope. I do wish you could meet her. I think you’d find her as amiable as I do. 

Penance is a small town and we’re so isolated in the Black Hills that we’ve all grown close and despite our differences we care for each other. 

I know you have a lot to do so I’ll only ask one more question. What are you most afraid of?

That’s a difficult question. When I was young, I would have said I was most afraid of living a life without James but now that is my reality. I’m much braver here in Penance than I was before, perhaps, because I have to be. There are still nights when I find myself afraid that this is all there is. That I’ll never see my family again, that I’ll never have a child of my own or feel the rush of emotion that comes from love. 

That’s a silly fear. Forget I said it. I don’t have time for fears or daydreams anymore. My life is full and for that I’m grateful. 

I thought we were done but I have one more question. If James were to walk back in your life what would you do? 

James…I, well, I would tell him that the same reasons I ran still exist and then I’d lock myself in my room and hide my tears from him. Some things can never be. 

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better! I hope you get to be more than just the teacher and that somehow your broken heart can heal. 

When Agnes Pratt discovered a shocking secret, she fled her hometown in search of a new life. Now six years later, she has made a predictable life for herself as the lone school teacher in the rugged Dakota Territory town of Penance—one devoid of romance but filled with work and friendship. But when her childhood sweetheart, James, arrives on the scene, her life threatens to be upended by a man who must never know her secret.  

James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor with an ulterior motive—to finally get answers from the girl who left him behind. Undeniably still carrying a torch for “Aggie,” James can tell she’s desperate to keep her distance even if he doesn’t know why. Can James convince Aggie that her secret—and her heart—are safe in his hands?

A Life Once Dreamed is a beautiful story of love and healing that affirms that where you come from matters far less than where you are going.

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.