Friday, March 12, 2021

My Story Inspiration for Between Heaven & Hell

By Jacqui Nelson

I've included a Story Inspiration page in the back of each of my books, but today I thought...why not share them everywhere and start with Cowboy Kisses? And why not start with my first book as well? 

So here we go! 

Between Heaven and Hell's book cover

Story Inspiration page ~ from the back of the book

Between Heaven & Hell was the first novel I wrote (and the second I published), so you can imagine how honored I was when it won both the 2010 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® for Historical Romance and the 2014 Laramie® for Western Romance Drama.

The inspiration for Hannah and Paden’s story came from many directions. First was the astounding idea of traveling 2,170 miles (3,490 km) on foot, wagon, or horseback but also leaving behind everything you knew—family, friends, the familiarity of home, the disappointments of the past. All for the hope of a better future. Few people crossed the trail more than once as Paden did. From the 1830s the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by over 400,000 travelers. To put that into perspective, America’s population was 23 million in 1850, the year of my story.

Attack by anyone including Native Americans (whose land was being taken and abused) was my initial worry for my travelers. It was an eye-opener to learn that disease posed the most danger. Cholera killed 3% of all travelers in the epidemic years from 1849 to 1855. Other common causes of death included hypothermia, drowning in river crossings, being run over by wagons, and accidental shootings.

So how to protect yourself? From the early days, Native tribes believed tattoos held protective powers. Symbols were tribe and individual specific because if everyone’s life story is unique, then a tattoo (and its guardian spirit) should be unique as well.


Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – 1850

Hannah knows one thing the moment she enters Fort Leavenworth—she’s arrived in Hell. But inside the fort is the means to a new life, a position as a scout on a wagon train bound for the Western Territories. All Hannah has to do is convince the wagon master, Paden Callahan, she’s the right person for the job.

After his wife was murdered by the Comanche, Paden let his work as a Texas Ranger consume him. Now he wants nothing more than to forget his past and disappear into the West. Unfortunately, the one man he can’t refuse has asked him to guide a wagon train full of tenderfoots across thousands of miles of Indian land. But Paden’s greatest challenge turns out to be Hannah, a woman his heart won’t allow him to ignore even though she’s been raised by an enemy he hates.

On a trail full of danger, will he guide her to heaven or hell?

Click here to read an excerpt on my website.

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Between Heaven & Hell is book 1 in my Lonesome Hearts series, which follows the frontiersmen and women who meet on the Oregon Trail and afterward. Each story includes one or more of the characters from the other books but is also a standalone read.

Hope you enjoyed my writing inspiration and that you all have a very happy Friday! 

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Julie Lence said...

The What If's to begin a story are always so much fun to explore. So is learning what makes a character tic. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration with us, Jacqui. Hugs!

Jacqui Nelson said...

Yes, the What Ifs--and sharing them--are super fun! Thanks for sharing this writing adventure with me, Julie!!

Elizabeth Clements said...

My two favorite words as a writer: What if.... My first published book was inspired by a song. What if he comes back? Congrats on winning the Golden Heart for your Heaven and Hell book. I will definitely have to order it.

Jacqui Nelson said...

There's so much inspiration in music. I love that your book was inspired by a song, Elizabeth! ❤️