I'm so very happy to be able to introduce Jacqui Nelson. She's a very good friend, a RWA conference roomie and a very talented writer. Jacqui has finalled in and won a huge number of contests including RWA's prestigious and highly coveted Golden Heart. She's one of today's writer's whose dream is to be traditionally published and - no doubt - she will be one day. In the meantime, I know there are many readers who will love her self-published work.
Yesterday on Mimi’s blog, my Passion’s Prize anthology partners and I discussed what had inspired our anthology. Today, I’d like to share what inspired the next step—writing my individual novella, Adella’s Enemy.
What inspires me personally?
I adore stories of high adventure, stories that sweep you away to another time and place. So what adventure could I craft around a cutthroat railroad race set in 1870 Kansas?
The starting point
My anthology partners and I began with two ideas:
1) Our stories should relate in some way to the real life construction race between the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad (aka the Katy) and its rival, the Border Tier Railroad.
2) We should aim for stories similar to the “Hell on Wheels” TV series which follows the making of America’s Transcontinental Railroad.
But where to go from there?
Who is my hero?
Every romance story needs a great hero. While brainstorming possible characters as a group, a railroad foreman was mentioned. Many of the men working on the Katy Railroad were Irish, so that was the next logical attribute for my hero. And why not make my Irish foreman a relative newcomer to America, a man who hasn’t lost his delicious Irish accent? But what else?
What motivates my Irish foreman?
I decided my hero would be struggling to understand a new country while dealing with a difficult past from his homeland. Ireland’s Great Famine sprang to mind. Approximately 1 million people died during this famine. Anyone who did survived would’ve known someone who died, someone they might have wished they’d been able to save.
So my hero is determined that no one else will die on his watch. He has a railroad to protect and men to keep employed. And if the Katy doesn’t reach the Indian Territory border before its rival, then the Katy loses the race, and the men lose their jobs. Even worse, they might lose their lives as the desire for rivals to best each other heats up. If any of that happened, my hero would feel he’d failed those who depended on him. Again.
Cormac McGrady was born.
But who could I throw in the path of my hard-working but tortured Irish foreman?
Who is my heroine?
This actually turned out to be the most difficult part. My anthology partners and I tossed around several ideas: schoolmarm, suffragette, shop keeper. To me, none of the these said, “High adventure.” Then another word came to mind: spy. A female spy sent to provoke unrest and slow down my Irish foreman’s railroad so the rival railroad could win.
But why is she really a spy?
Because she has a tortured past of her own. At the start of our anthology, the American Civil War had ended only 5 years earlier. Many men working on the railroads were veterans of that war. Could my heroine have a connection to the war as well? Had she been a spy in the war and lost someone dear to her? I decided my heroine was on her own private mission against the man responsible for her twin brother’s death, a man connected to the Katy Railroad.
With this background, my heroine would be a woman with unique talents and a ton of grit. But she just might meet her match in one determined Irish foreman who is as highly invested in keeping the Katy rolling forward, as she is in halting it.
Adella Willows is her name.
Hope you enjoy reading Cormac and Adella’s story!
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Here’s an excerpt from Adella’s Enemy:
Adella’s fingers brushed the telegram hidden in her cleavage and she went as still as Cormac. Blast! She’d forgotten about the telegram! She needed Cormac to stay in her hotel room, but she couldn’t let him see the telegram.
“How do you know what I want?” she whispered, stalling for time.
“I don’t. But this is what I want.” In two strides, he devoured the gap between them. Then his mouth claimed hers in a hot, heady possession.
Pressed against the door, all she could do was kiss him back. She did so with abandon. Her skin tingled, and her blood raced as if her body had woken from years of sleepwalking. She didn’t want the feeling to stop. She wrapped her arms around Cormac’s neck and pulled him closer.
He suddenly lifted his head. “I want more than one kiss,” he murmured against her lips. “And I don’t mean merely claiming everything that’s under this dress.” His hand slid up her ribcage to cup her breast.
The telegram! With a gasp, she covered her cleavage with both hands. The corner of the telegram brushed her palm. Thank Dixie. It was still there. But had he seen it? She pressed back against the door.
Cormac retreated as well, lifting his hand to rake it through hair that was already disheveled. Had she done that? He reached for the doorknob and she jumped aside.
“Stay away from the worksite, Adella.” He opened the door without his customary restraint. It banged against the wall. “And, for God’s sake, stay out of trouble. Don’t provoke a man beyond his patience.”
Passion’s Prize—an anthology featuring the novellas Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson, Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes, and Kate’s Outlaw by E.E. Burke—can be purchased on Amazon at http://bit.ly/PassionsPrizeKDP and is also available at B&N Nook store and the Apple iStore.
***For one lucky commenter, Jacqui will be pleased to present a
Amazon gift copy of her new E-book, Adella’s Enemy.
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Can the pursuit of an old enemy lead to a new love?
In a race for riches, anything can happen. Five years after the Civil War, a Kansas railroad race heats up as former Rebel spy Adella Willows receives her mission from a Washington senator. Play havoc with the Katy Railroad and derail its bid to win the race. The senator craves wealth. Adella craves revenge against the man responsible for her brother's death. But her plans crumble into chaos when she matches wits with the railroad's foreman, a handsome Irishman torn between two desires: winning the race or winning Adella's heart
Jacqui Nelson writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London. Her love of Western stories came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm. Her passion for Victorian London wasn’t far behind and only increased when she worked in England for four years and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends. Jacqui currently lives in Victoria on the west coast of Canada where she works as a book seller. Her previous jobs have included animator, systems analyst and fundraising event coordinator.
Her debut release, Adella's Enemy, is part of the Passion'sPrize anthology and the Steam! Romance and Rails series. She is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.