Friday, August 9, 2013

Thrilled to introduce a new Anthology "Passion's Prize" and its wonderful authors!

I have been eagerly looking forward to introducing this wonderful Anthology called "Passion’s Prize" to my blog friends. We have a treat lined up for you. Each day, we'll meet one of the three authors who worked together to produce this book. I don't know about you romance readers, but personally, I have always enjoyed love stories set in the Wild West. Having three of them under one cover is fantastic!!


Today, we begin a special series of interviews with E.E. Burke, Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson, three award-winning authors whose fascination with the TV series “Hell on Wheels” led to a historical romance anthology they wrote together.

Thank you, Mimi, for hosting us and letting us share about our new release, Passion’s Prize. We’re calling it an anthology, but it’s actually three interlinked novellas that revolve around a historic railroad race across the Kansas plains in 1870. Passion’s Prize is the first release in the series, Steam! Romance and Rails, which will feature stories from America’s golden age of steam railroads.

How did you decide to work together on this anthology?

Elisabeth: It was almost accidental, or maybe I should say, pre-ordained. Last year, I saw Jennifer at a conference and we were commiserating about how publishers claimed there wasn’t a market for American historical romances. We’d both made the finals of the RWA Golden Heart contest in 2010 with Western romances. And Jacqui had won that year with a Western romance. I remarked, “We ought to write a book together and just put it out there. Find our audience.”

Jennifer:  And I said, “Yeah! Writing with other Western authors would be great. Let’s do it.”

Elisabeth: Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told her I’d been watching a Western series on television, AMC’s Hell on Wheels. Why not create something like that?

Jennifer:  I laughed. Because Hell on Wheels is one of my favorite shows. It’s like a required “course” for Western Historical writers. So I was all about using the HOW era as a base idea.

Elizabeth: I also mentioned I’d done a lot of research on the railroads for another story I was working on and we could use this.

Jacqui: I love it when someone’s done a lot of research and I can just build on their knowledge. And I was thrilled when Elisabeth and Jennifer contacted me after that conference and asked if I would join them on this project. 

Elisabeth: We wanted to create stories within a story, using characters with their own arcs impacted by an overarching plot line that drives much of the action. Some brainstorming sessions led to three story ideas and our anthology was born.”

Why railroads?

Elisabeth: Something about railroads calls to my romantic nature. Maybe it’s the passion and excitement of a long-ago era when America expanded its boundaries as fast as men could lay track. I wanted to give readers a glimpse into that exciting time period.

Jacqui: Jennifer and Elisabeth had me onboard at Hello.  And after watching season one of Hell on Wheels at Jennifer and Elisabeth’s urging, I was even more hooked on writing a railroad story. The Hell on Wheels characters are amazing, compelling, tortured, passionate, determined and multi-dimensional. Everything a writer dreams about.

Jenn: In my Golden Heart book, Rafe’s Redemption, I had touched upon the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and in doing the research on that, it sparked my interest in the expansion of the railways. When Leigh mentioned the Katy, I thought it was very cool since the Katy Trail (the old rail bed) is now a biking/hiking trail and my family and I have gone for bike rides there.

What have you enjoyed the most about working together?

Elisabeth: The opportunity to work with incredibly talented writers who are as jazzed up as I am about Western romance. We feed on each other’s ideas and enthusiasm. I’d gotten very beaten down and had even contemplated throwing in the towel. But coming together with these wonderful friends and fellow writers to publish the kind of fiction we love has revived me and given me back my energy and excitement.

Jacqui: After working on our anthology for several months, it was a blast to finally meet Elisabeth and Jennifer in person once more at an RWA conference. I felt even more connected to them because of our experiences working together on such an interesting writing project.

Jenn: I think the accountability of pressing forward with chapters. Yes, I’m a procrastinator and knowing Jacqui and Leigh depended on me to write helped me get my pages done. LOL

Tell us a little about the story of Passion’s Prize.


Passion’s Prize is based on an actual construction race between two railroads with very long names that were dubbed The Border Tier and The Katy. The race took place primarily in 1870, when both lines were laying track through Kansas as fast as they could to be first to reach the border of Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma). Congress had promised the winning line free land and the exclusive right to pass through Cherokee lands into cattle-rich Texas. 

The railroad owners were ambitious men willing to do just about anything to secure the prize. Their henchmen hired spies, saboteurs and even outlaws to disrupt the competition.

Our stories revolve around three women—a spy, a madam and a railroad heiress—whose lives hinge on the outcome of this race.

Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson

The race heats up as former Rebel spy Adella Willows receives her mission from a Washington senator—play havoc with the Katy 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.

Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes

Passions rise when a beautiful madam must rely on an Army major for help. Eden Gabrielli lives by three rules: Never trust the wealthy, do whatever it takes to survive, and never again believe a decent man could love a whore. But when a blackmailer threatens, she will do anything to protect her sister—even if that means deceiving the handsome and determined Major Bradford, the one man who tempts her to break her rules.

Kate’s Outlaw by E.E. Burke.

Fortunes fall as the Katy Railroad battles the Cherokee Nation over land rights. With bankruptcy looming, railroad heiress Kate Parsons takes negotiations into her own hands. Her plans go awry when she’s abducted, and worse, finds herself attracted to one of her Cherokee captors, a man so sinfully handsome he could steal more than her fortune if she doesn’t escape. t.

Rather than share an excerpt—because how could we possibly choose one excerpt from an anthology written by three people? —we’d like to share a small sample of each of our novellas…

Our Opening Paragraphs

Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson:

Standing on the fringe of a courtyard full of women, Adella Willows waited to make a bargain with the Devil. Not that the Devil himself was coming to meet her. He was sending a fat, yellow-bellied Yankee senator dressed in a suit as fine as President Grant’s.

Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes

Rain, rain, rain. Eden Gabrielli stared out the saloon window. The droning downpour seemed never ending. Memories flooded as fast as the creek south of town. Memories swirled in her mind—good, bad. Happy. Sad.

Kate’s Outlaw by E.E. Burke.

"The Indians call it a smoking dragon.” Kate’s father gestured to a framed image of a locomotive hanging in his private railcar.

Passion’s Prize has just been released and those who are interested can purchase it from Amazon as an ebook or paperback. It will also be available at B&N Nook store and the Apple iStore.









  1. Thanks so much Mimi for asking me, Elisabeth and Jennifer to be your guests! Working on this blog was a great way to reminisce about this incredible journey -- from the first words "we ought to" to now typing in my name on Amazon and actually finding our anthology.

  2. Congrats to the three of you on taking your writing destiny in your own hands!

  3. It's been quite a journey, but so worth it. The best part, actually, has been getting there together. Writing is most times such a solitary pursuit. Having each other to spark ideas off of, and to give and offer encouragement, and to see something really cool come out of collaboration. That's been a reward in itself. Thanks, Mimi, for letting us share about the experience.

  4. What fun that was to read! Congratulations on a successful collaboration and many many many more.

  5. Thanks Gail and Abigail for visiting us on Mimi's blog. I do like the word "destiny"...and "fun"!

  6. I finished Jacqui's Adella's Enemy last night and absolutely loved it. Like the stories in HOW the characters popped off the page, strong and determined but also moral and so human. Now I have to find the other 2 stories.
    Ladies I think this anthology was a great idea, and I hope you bless us readers with more.

  7. This book sounds terrific! I'm so looking forward to reading it. I love the setting and the concept for the overall story, and each of the novellas sounds intriguing. The first paragraphs definitely make me want to read more. Congratulations to the three of you. I'm sure it's been a huge amount of work putting this book together and I wish you loads of success.

  8. Thanks for reading my novella, Jo-Ann, and so quickly too! Glad you enjoyed it. Having you compare it to HOW makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :)

  9. Thanks for saying our anthology looks terrific and for the compliments on our first paragraphs, Susan! So happy you could stop by. And congrats to you on your most recent release, "Home on the Range, a Caribou Crossing Romance"!

  10. Thanks for having us here, Mimi! :) Hi, Jacqui and E.E. *waves*

  11. Wow, somebody already read it? I wish I could read that fast. :) But I'm over the moon happy that we have readers! Thanks for all the kind comments and encouragement. Speaking of characters, that's one of the things I really loved about working together. We brainstormed these awesome characters and came up with a cast that I truly love, and then we get to bring each others' characters into our stories and it's like introducing old friends. Such fun.

  12. I'm a big fan of Hell on Wheels, too, and found a kindred spirit when I happened to sit next to Elisabeth at lunch one day at the RWA conference. I've been waiting for the release since, and now it's waiting on my Kindle.

  13. Wow! JoAnn, that's some fast reading! LOL
    Thanks, Susan!
    Thanks, Gail!
    Thanks, Kay! Glad to find more Hell on Wheels fans!

  14. Thanks Kay! I remember that conversation. So happy to have found an HOW fan. Looking forward to the third season. Hope you enjoy the read!

  15. Congrats, ladies! Looking forward to getting to read this. I've known Jen and E.E. for a long while, and have had the pleasure and privledge of working with E.E. as well. Fantastic idea, fantastic, cover and I'm certain the stories are equally fantastic!!! So exciting to see this debut!

  16. Congratulations ladies. Looks like a great read, and I really like the railroad angle. Unique and interesting.

  17. Congratulations to all. I am lucky enough to have already read Kate's Outlaw and can recommend it highly. Can't wait to read the other two!

  18. Great interview, ladies. I can't wait to read this anthology. Every story sounds great!And that luscious cover! Best of luck with the release.Barb Bettis

  19. Hey Claire! *waving* Thanks so much :)
    Hi Sally! Thanks! Hope you enjoy!
    Hi Julie! And didn't you love Rick Mora on the cover of Kate's Outlaw!?? Hope you enjoy the rest of the series ;)

  20. great interview and good luck with the anthology. love that you decided to self pub this. hopefully you'll show editors that there is a market for historical westerns.

  21. I am so glad that you all agreed to visit my blog. I just got out of family commitments to see the post for the first time live and realized there are some repairs that need to be done. Scheduling is great but isn't perfectly reliable....groan!!
    Off to make the corrections!! :-)

  22. Hi Nora-
    Thanks! Yes, I think there are a LOT of readers who want Western Historical. Editors and agents just haven't figured that out yet....LOL
    Thanks so much for stopping by!
    And Mimi, no worries! We're just happy to be here!

  23. Hi Jennifer, E.E., Mimi and all our guests. I'm *waving* as well :)

    E.E., I agree our characters now feel like old friends and it was a true highlight of the writing process to weave your heroine, Kate, and Jennifer's heroine, Eden, into my novella. Too bad chronologically both your heroes weren't on the scene; otherwise I'd have had fun getting them in on the action as well.

    Kay, thanks so much for buying our book. It was wonderful to finally meet you at the RWA conference last month. Love that you are "Hell on Wheels" fan!

    Claire, thank you for your praise about the Passion Prize anthology. Love meeting friends of Jennifer and E.E.!

    Sally, glad you liked the railroad angle. It was super fun to write!

    Julie, isn't E.E.'s novella in this anthology wonderful? Can't rave enough about her writing and Jennifer's as well.

    Barb, glad you think our stories sound great. And, yes, we were truly blessed when Kim Killion created our covers!

    Nora, my super-fantastic critique partner from the VERY beginning! Self-publishing has definitely opened a lot of doors. Hope you are right about there being a market for historical Westerns -- especially romantic ones!

    Mimi, thanks again for hosting us and for keeping on top of the techie side of things, which I didn't even notice!

  24. Love the entire concept of the interlinked stories behind the race to complete the railroad. I think the correlation to the Hell on Wheels program is an exciting tie-in and sure to garner a lot of fresh readers. Best of luck on this venture, ladies.Can't wait to read it.

  25. Wow! Congratulations on such an immense undertaking. Working as a group means you'll be able to triple the marketing as well.

    I'm looking forward to reading all of your fine work.

    All the best for lots of sales!

  26. Thanks Claire, Sally, Julie, Barbara, Nora, Gemma and Jodie. Really appreciate the comments. And thanks, Mimi for hosting us. I really do hope there is huge secret market for Western historicals. I read an article about Hell On Wheels that basically said AMC had moved it to Saturday night and that would kill the show, and that a Western can't hold its own against these other shows. I disagree. Hopefully others do as well. Anyway, we're going to be holding a tweet-fest Saturday evening before, during and after HOW season premiere. So if you love the show, tweet and retweet!

    I'm going to be talking more about how HOW inspired me when I visit with Mimi again on Monday. Come on by if you want to join in that discussion.

    1. This is so exciting! Congratulations! I am so happy to see the 3 of you in published!
      The 1st paragraphs are enticing. Can't wait til out hits B&N bookstore

  27. I love the old west! This book sounds great! I'm thrilled to see EE Burkes and the other ladies taking the bull by the horns and wrangling Passion Prize! Can't wait to read this!

    Congratulations to all three of you!

    Diane Kratz

  28. Thanks Nan. It'll be in the B&N store soon. Thanks, Diane. We are very excited. Thanks to both of you for coming by.

  29. Hi Nan!
    Thanks so much :)
    Hi Diane! Thank you! It's been a great journey!

  30. Gemma, Jodie, Nan, and Diane: Wonderful to hear that you are all thinking of reading our anthology. And so very good to meet fans, or potential fans, of the old west :) Thanks for dropping by our guest blog!

  31. I love the idea of getting together with a couple of fellow writers/friends who love the same genre you love writing and putting out a novella. And since I've recently started watching Hell On Wheels that just makes me want to read this more. I must say the art-work for the cover is gorgeous.

  32. Thank you, Pat! The talented Kim Killion did all of our covers for this series! :)
    Hope you enjoy the books!

  33. It's been a fun journey and an awesome experience and I've loved sharing it with my GH 'sisters' Jennifer and Jacqui. If you love HOW, join us for the tweet fest we're having Saturday night for the premiere episode of season three.

  34. Now I absolutely cannot wait to see you at the Vancouver Island Chapter's meeting tomorrow, Pat. We can discuss Hell on Wheels along with writing and your recent trip to ThrillerFest. Fingers crossed you are going to the meeting! Thanks for stopping by Mimi's blog!

  35. Loved hearing how your project came about. How appropriate that the world-changing railroad is the backdrop for another exciting journey. Wish you all great success.

  36. Thanks for dropping by, Gwen! And thank you to everyone else who came and visited me, Jennifer, and E.E. on Mimi's blog. It was great fun chatting with you all!

  37. Those first paragraphs sold me! Congratulations. Great post.

  38. Good to know our first paragraphs have done their jobs, Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!