Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Preacher's Wife Book Tour with Brandi Boddie (& Giveaway)

Researching the Old West

By Brandi Boddie

When you hold a novel in your hands, the chances are good that a lot of research went into it. If it’s a historical novel, then the research for those 300-400 pages is probably twice as long. But does all legitimate research consist of long afternoons at the library or nights spent blinking at the computer’s glare? It certainly doesn’t have to be.

The research for my debut historical romance The Preacher’s Wife started with a genuine interest in the history of the Old West. That time period was filled with so many interesting people and events that shaped the United States.

I remember watching Saturday morning westerns with my grandfather when I was a child. I also have collected a number of books over the years detailing the lives and times of ranchers, cowboys, prairie settlers, townsfolk, saloon girls, and the like. So when I began plotting the story and creating characters, I already had an idea of the environment I was building a world in. Am I saying you have to have a working knowledge of your novel’s time period before you start researching? No, but you should enjoy the setting or at least the chance to learn about it.

My research wasn’t all books and John Wayne movies, though. My initial inspiration to write The Preacher’s Wife occurred shortly after my husband and I moved to Oklahoma four years ago. I learned firsthand how the wind moved across the prairie, how the stark rolling plains and solitude plays upon one’s psyche, etc. I visited historic cattle drive towns and conversed with modern day cowboys. Their methods of ranching have changed, but their values and work ethic certainly have not.

In addition, I attended Native American heritage festivals and learned so much about the Comanche tribe that my heroine Marissa Pierce is descended from. I even got to learn more about the Choctaw heritage in my own family. In general, talking to the citizens who crossed my path allowed me to glimpse the persevering and independent spirit of their ancestors, the early settlers and Native Americans.

After living in Oklahoma, we moved to Colorado. I was also able to visit Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, and other states that share in our country’s Old West history. The years that I lived and visited in these states served to enhance my interest and knowledge of the culture. I like to think that my appreciation reflects in The Preacher’s Wife.

The Preacher’s Wife
Can this small-town girl trade her tarnished past for a respectable life?

During the hot, windy summer of 1870 in the burgeoning prairie town of Assurance, Kansas, Marissa Pierce is fed up with her abusive boss. She longs to start a new life and is growing weary of convincing townsfolk that she is most certainly not a prostitute.

Civil War veteran and preacher Rowe Winford arrives in town intent on leaving the tragic memories of his deceased family behind. Although Rowe has no plans to fall in love anytime soon, the plans of God rarely match those of man.

Faced with adversity and rejection from the town and Rowe’s family, can Marissa overcome her past, renew her faith, and experience the life of love that God has planned for her?

Book Excerpt:

This excerpt takes place shortly after Rowe arrives in Assurance, Kansas. Marissa sees him on her way to deposit the saloon’s earnings in the bank. The town’s gossipy seamstress Linda Walsh stops to have a word with Marissa about the new preacher.
           "That must be our new preacher.” Linda Walsh, the town’s young seamstress, walked up beside Marissa. Always eager for conversation, Linda would speak to anyone who stopped to listen, as Marissa had learned since coming back to Assurance a couple years ago. “We weren’t expecting him for another two weeks. I wonder what made him take off from home so fast.”

            Marissa groaned at the thought of meeting another preacher. Every preacher she came across had turned her away once they discovered her profession.

            She watched the small schooner pull up to the local inn. She recognized the driver Dusty Sterling seated beside the other man. Dusty hopped down and tethered the horses. The man in black stepped onto the dusty curb. His recently polished boots gleamed.
            “Fancy one, he is,” Linda continued. “I hear he comes from a city somewhere in Virginia.”
            “Where did you hear that?”
            “It was in the paper a month ago. Our advertisement for a new preacher was answered from a man back East.”
            Marissa focused again on what was in front of her. The traveler indeed looked foreign to the prairie. Not a hint of travel dust stuck to his long, black frock coat and four-inhand necktie, probably changed into just before departing the train. His gray pants were new and expertly tailored. He removed his hat briefly to wipe his brow, and Marissa saw the dark, wavy hair cropped close to his head.
            “He doesn’t have a wife or children with him. Such a shame.” Linda clucked her tongue. “He’s a handsome fellow, for certain.”
            Marissa agreed with her on that. He must have stood over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a powerful build. The man’s profile was strong and rigid, his square jaw and straight nose a true delight for the eyes. Assurance’s former preacher, Reverend Thomas, did not look like this. “Would having a wife and children make him a better preacher?”
            Linda tossed her a look. “That’s got nothing to do with it. One ought to be settled down at a certain age, wouldn’t you say so? Instead of running wild with the barmen?”
            Marissa absorbed the sting of emotional pain. Anything she said in response would not sway Linda or anyone else’s notion that she was just a beer-serving streetwalker. She put on a polite stoic face. “I’m sure the ladies of this town will clamor for his attention. Will you excuse me, Miss Linda? I should be going.”
            She left the seamstress just as Dusty carried the new preacher’s valises inside the inn. The preacher moved to follow then stopped short, pausing for Marissa to walk past. Marissa saw his blue eyes widen and take in her entire form, from the feathered hat on her head to the dainty-heeled boots on her feet. By his expression she didn’t know whether he admired or disapproved.
            His lips settled into a firm line of what looked to be distaste, and she got her answer.
            The preacher hadn’t been there for an hour and already she drew out his scorn. Marissa returned the stare until her image of him blurred with beckoning tears.
            He jolted from his perusal. His low, straight brows flicked. “Good day to you, ma’am.” He amiably tipped his hat to her.
            She paused, not used to being addressed in that fashion. Kindness was in his greeting, not the sarcasm she normally heard from others. Marissa tilted her head to get a clear look at him. His eyes were friendly, calm deep pools. The rest of his face, with its strong, angular lines, remained cordial.
            “Good day,” she replied, hoarse. Awkwardness seized her person. Marissa hastily continued on her way to the bank.

Brandi Boddie holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a BA in political science from Youngstown State University. Her love of writing and research has led her to work that includes case management for the Office of the Attorney General in Washington DC and teaching assignments for elementary and secondary students. When she is not working on a story, Brandi enjoys hiking, fencing, and swing dancing. Soon to be a Texas resident, she lives with her husband and a cocker spaniel who aspires to be a food critic. Visit Brandi’s blog at

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1 comment:

Brandi Boddie said...

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today, Melissa!