Monday, August 19, 2019

Writing Out of My Comfort Zone by Paty Jager

When I started the Silver Dollar Saloon series, I did my research. I picked the Dakota Territory along the North Pacific Railroad for a reason. I loved that it was as big or bigger melting pot of nationalities and cultures than some of the large cities at the nineteenth century. 

To attract immigrants to the Dakota Territory stories were circulated in papers about how it would be as fertile and grow abundant crops like the Red River Valley along the Minnesota state line. Once the Northern Pacific Railroad ran from Chicago to Bismarck, more towns and businesses sprang up along the line. 

Germans, Scandinavians, Russians, and immigrants who initially landed in the big cities on the east coast moved to the Dakota Territory to either farm or after gold, when it was found in the Black Hills.

Farming began in earnest in 1868. It was 1879-1886 when the big settlement boom happened in the northern part of the territory, before it became a state in 1889. 100,000 people surged into North Dakota during the boom. While most came to start farms and sustain their families, others saw the potential in selling goods to the new farming communities. 

Towns sprang up along the railroad. This is why I set my fictional town of Shady Gulch along the North Pacific Railroad between Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota. Where there were towns, there were saloons. Usually multiple saloons in one town. And that is what gave me the idea for the Silver Dollar Saloon series. Only the Silver Dollar isn't your usual saloon. 

Beau Gentry, along with his partner Creole Jules Mathieu run the saloon more to rehabilitate woman who have been wronged by men and help them find men who treat them like well and love them.  The Silver Dollar is and upscale saloon. The patrons aren't allowed to touch or say lewd comments to the women who serve the drinks, dance, and sing. 

The women live in a boarding house behind the saloon that is run by a widow who makes sure the women behave appropriately and slowly incorporates them into society. The town knows about the wronged women working at the saloon and that they don't bed men or behave unbecomingly. 

Because the area was populated with many cultures, I also populated the saloon with a diverse group of women. Savannah, Beau's sister, was a Southern Belle; Lottie Mae was a teacher who was attacked and ridiculed; Belle is a woman who had been sold a child to a man three time she age who tossed her out when he wasn't satisfied; Liesa, is German and was treated poorly and left for dead; Darie, is a Czechoslovakian girl who was raped and thrown off a train; and Freedom a Black woman who was put on a train and sent off with no money and only the clothes she had on because she knew the truth about the death of a child she'd been the nanny. 

My new release in the Silver Dollar Saloon series is, Freedom. She is a Black woman who was near dead when Beau and Jules found her and brought her to the saloon. She has been there several years and yearns to get out of the saloon and start a family. 

Because I am not Black, and while I feel all of us have the same emotions, I asked a Black author to be my sensitivity reader for this story. When I received her feedback, I learned a lot more about being Black and how there are so many things in my life I take for granted that would not be seen the same by someone who is not White.  It was eye-opening as I have had little contact with Black people in my life. A short friendship in college, I worked for a Black woman as her secretary for a couple years a couple days a week, and then my fleeting meetings with Black authors I know. 

This book would not have rang true to Freedom's feelings if I hadn't found someone to read it looking at her background and upbringing.  So a big Thank you to C. Morgan Kennedy. 

This book is available at Amazon in ebook and hopefully by the time this posts, at most other ebook vendors. I'm giving you the Universal Link as it will show you the places it is available now. 

FREEDOM: Silver Dollar Saloon

Their dreams brought them together. But will violence tear them apart?

Freedom longs to be out of the Silver Dollar Saloon, with a family of her own. When a white man promises marriage and children, she takes the biggest risk of her life, and follows him to the wilds of Montana Territory. Where he shows his true nature.

Water Runs Fast, a Crow off the reservation, comes upon a white man whipping a brown-skinned woman. After stabbing the white man and riding off with the woman, he realizes she is the woman from his visions. The one who pledged to help him and his people survive in the white man’s world.

On the run from the tragedy, the two grow close. Together, they begin a life as husband and wife. But will they have their chance at a life together, or will they hang for murder?

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 40 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.


Renaissance Women said...

I absolutely love that you want and work for authenticity in your work. This story sounds like another great one. All the best. Doris

Elizabeth Clements said...

Research gives a writer so many tidbits to add authenticity to a story, and I agree about consulting with professionals for a better understanding of the vocation for your characters. We so often see the world through our own eyes and experiences, so by discussing your book with this black lady, your book benefited even more. We don't really think about all the prejudice colored people have suffered--for me, reading the book and seeing the movie, The Help, really struck a chord with me. I think you have a wonderful series with your Silver Dollar Saloon series.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you, Doris!

Elizabeth, I don't write anything I don't know without researching. I prefer to over research and use one sentence than write anything without knowing what I'm writing about. This book was a challenge but so far the readers are all liking it, so it was worth the extra effort. Thanks for commenting!