Homesteaders struggle to establish ranches in Central California in the 1870s, amid earthquakes, drought, banditos, remoteness and human failing. Young Virginia Nugent’s privileged life ends with the death of her mother and her father’s guilt-ridden descent into addiction. She is conflicted in her love of the ranch and her desire to escape until an old cowhand’s loyalty and a Southerner friend of her late mother offer hope that she can change her destiny.
“Return to the past in this exciting Western saga…well researched and finely written historical novel. Schroeder has a knack for placing her readers directly in the path of stampeding horses so that we smell their animal sweat, taste the grit of the dust, and envision the beauty of the land that surrounds us.”
—Velda Brotherton, Author of Rowena’s Hellion
Western Historical or Romance?
with Anne Schroeder
Like chocolate and peanut butter, historical romance is a hybrid that takes a zany female and sets her among real historical figures, times and events where the West is actually a main character. Confusing? Here’s a paragraph I wrote for Cholama Moon to make the reader “feel” the character of the area:
. With the first rumble, a piece of shale broke loose from Middle Ridge and tumbled down. Other pieces followed. In a nearby meadow a field mouse raised its head and scurried, wide-eyed, to hide beneath a rotten log. The shaking grew harder. A manzanita bush growing alongside the trail began to quiver and a meadowlark on its branches took flight. A tree squirrel hesitated, then darted up the trunk and disappeared into the tallest branches of a valley oak. For two minutes the earth buckled and groaned, the tall pines swayed, dust exploded from freshly formed fissures and Middle Ridge grew half an inch.
In Cholama Moon, Ginny Nugent begins her misadventures as a 12-year-old with a craving to find a family amid the harshness of her life. She’s a lovable brat who doesn’t even know what she’s lacking until her worst nightmare comes riding in to upset her life. After that she’s on a whirlwind adventure through early California.
The peanut butter part comes with the story need that builds to romance. Here’s an early paragraph from Cholama Moon:
“She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes. She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes…” Ginny climbed from her bed and shivered in the early morning chill of the unfinished loft. It was quieter than downstairs and she could hide without worrying that she’d be in anybody’s way if Patrón was drinking, or if he had a headache afterwards.
Through the opening in the wall that he intended for a window if he ever got around to finishing it, she watched the sun rising on the other side of the mountains. The butterball sun on its way to a fresh day made her forget about singing. With a sigh, she started over again. “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes. She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes…” She kept her singing to a whisper while she sounded out the words the way her mama had sung them—words about driving six white horses and somebody killing the old red rooster. She’d never seen six white horses all in one place, only the stallion that pranced like a dancer when Miguelito rode it in the yard. But she knew about dead roosters. She and Sancho killed them whenever the cook needed fresh meat for supper.
She liked the song because it was about a real family and with real families, one day her mama might come riding in, big as she pleased, and her dying would just be a mistake.
I’m President-Elect of Women Writing the West and I write inspirational romance about the woman’s story. If you love the genre and want to take a peek, check me out on Amazon and Goodreads .
About the Author
Anne Schroeder writes about the West in short stories, essays and two memoirs, Ordinary Aphrodite and Branches on the Conejo. Cholama Moon is her first published novel. The second novel in the series, Maria Ines, will be released later in 2014, both by Oak Tree Press.
She is President-Elect of Women Writing the West and chair of the LAURA Short Fiction Contest. She and husband Steve and their two dogs recently moved from Central California to Southern Oregon in search of new adventure.
A screenwriter gave her great advice: Say it in two sentences or less, eat lots of
red licorice, network with unlikely people on their way up and produce quality
stuff with no personal drama.