Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweethearts Guest--Linda Carroll Bradd

Behind the Book Details on The Ring That Binds
by Linda Carroll Bradd

Every time I start a new story, I begin with setting. In my process, I have to know where the story will take place before I can populate it with characters.

With The Ring That Binds, I knew I wanted to write a historical holiday story. Years ago, I’d written a story that was set in a fictional mine in southern Colorado and decided I could use the same setting. But when I started researching on the Colorado state website,  I learned the Aspen area had been the lead US producer of silver ore in 1891-92 (population around 10,000). I had my location. My idea was a story set in a smaller town so I went back five years when the mine was just starting to produce, and the population hadn’t boomed.

With the mining industry as the financial backbone of the town, I cast my characters in businesses that would have been needed by the mine’s workers. Since few professions were available to women, I thought of seamstress for the heroine.

For her to have her own store, she must have had money at one point. Back to the research. I discovered in 1880, about ten miles from Aspen, a vein of silver was discovered at a place that would become Ashcroft. Within two weeks, a group of 97 prospectors created a miner’s union, built a courthouse, and laid out the city streets. In 1883, the population was 2,000 and the town was settled. But the ore played out and the town was deserted within a year. Perfect.

By placing my heroine and her first husband in that town, I gave them the opportunity to gain wealth and have a reason to arrive in Aspen. Then I needed that husband gone. So I made him crazy for silver, and sent him to Leadville, another famous silver producing area. He left behind debts and got killed almost upon arrival. Now I had my heroine who was also a single mother.

Every town of any size needed a general store and I invented one that was co-owned by two brothers of Basque descent. Purely because I wanted a heritage from which customs and foods would be different for my Irish heroine to experience. In my mind, the hero and heroine would have had business dealings at the general store as an introduction. One of the few social events available to a widow and small daughter would have been church functions. I built the story from there and I hope you will be intrigued by this information to seek it out.

I’m proud to say The Ring That Binds spent 7 weeks on the
Kindle Top 100 western romance list.


Barnes & Noble:

Prism Book Group:

BLURB: 1886 Aspen, Colorado--Widow Celina Innes struggles to run her dress shop and pay her late husband’s debts for the sake of her four-year old daughter, Keena. Following his dream for silver was a mistake and Celina has sworn her independence. Co-owner of Toussaint’s General Store, Mikel, wishes to make this proud woman’s life easier. He slips treats to the child hoping to please Celina. When illness strikes Keena, Celina turns to Mikel for help and they work together all night, deepening their friendship. But when the crisis ends, Mikel disappears and Celina learns he wishes to increase his stores. How could she have been so wrong about him? Can a woman sworn to put down roots and a man seeking more riches find happiness?

The bell over her door tinkled, and a whoosh of cold air swept inside.

“I’ll be right with you.” Celina glanced over her shoulder and spotted Mikel Toussaint, one of the two owners of the general store. Her heartbeat kicked at the sight of one of the town’s most eligible bachelors. “Oh, hello.”

“Mikel!” Keena ran around the counter to greet the tall, dark-haired man. “See what I made.”

“Ah, a necklace fit for a princess.” He scooped up the little girl in his arms then tickled her tummy before turning to acknowledge the women. “Hello, Mrs. Innes, Mrs. Peabody. How are you ladies this fine day?”

“Fine?” Mrs. Peabody sniffed, turning back to preen before her silvery reflection. “A Colorado winter hardly deserves that compliment.”

“A winter day in the mountains without snow is a fine day, my papa always says.” He smiled, white teeth flashing above his green woolen scarf. “Back in the old country, in Espana, on a day like today, people sit on verandas, enjoying wine and pintxo.” He raised Keena to head height and swung her around, causing her to erupt into a fit of high-pitched giggles. In a flash, a peppermint drop appeare
d in his hand and he presented it to the little girl.

Mikel’s smile softened his dark, slashing eyebrows, and nose with its hawk-like bend, making him almost good looking. Celina had heard ladies whisper about his older brother Danel’s rakish handsome features. But her preference was for a man who knew how to smile.

Celina shook her head at his foreign word that she’d learned meant some type of tasty food from his Basque homeland.

A throat clearing behind her was a not-so-subtle reminder that she was with a customer. Her stomach tightened with a nervous twist.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Toussaint?”

“Oh, my errand. I forget when surrounded by three lovely ladies.” He set Keena down with a pat on her head, and then reached inside his jacket for a flat brown envelope. “I know you look for magazine with eager eyes each month. All the way from Philadelphia.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book. Her link with the latest in the fashion world was the one item of pleasure in her tight budget. When she accepted the mail, she felt the warmth left by his hands on the paper, and her fingers slid to capture it. “Thank you for dropping by with this.” She jerked her head toward the waiting customer, hoping he’d take the hint and depart.

“I am off to café for early dinner and wish you all a good evening.”

“Bye, Mikel.” Keena dashed to the window so she could watch his exit.

“Yes, yes.” Mrs. Peabody waved a hand in his direction. “Good evening to you. Now, Mrs. Innes, back to my jacket.”

Celina lifted the envelope in a good-bye salute, and then laid it on her desk before crossing to the fitting platform. To satisfy her customer, she etched light chalk marks at the waist and bust line of the jacket, and then stepped onto the platform to ease the garment off Mrs. Peabody’s rounded shoulders. “Those markings will do the trick. I can have this ready by Saturday at noon. Will that suit?” That allowed her another week to work on holiday decorations and presents for Keena.

“Yes, that will do. I want to wear it to church services on Sunday.” She stepped down and headed to the changing area, her boots making dull thuds on the wooden floor. “I’ve often commented to Mr. Peabody on that man’s strange eating habits.”

Strange? Wondering what she meant, Celina folded the jacket and laid it on the wooden display case that held samples of embroidered collars, cuffs, hankies, and aprons she sewed during her evening hours.

BIO: As a child, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. Upon reaching a landmark birthday, she decided to write one of those romances she loved so much. Easier said than done. Perseverance paid out and twelve years later, she received her first call from a publisher and a confession story was published. Now Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor, and many have a tie to her previous home of Texas.

Linda currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of 34 years and their two spoiled dogs, Shiba Inu Keiko and terrier mix Phoenix.

You can learn more about Linda and her stories at these sites:


  1. Linda--welcome to Sweethearts of the West.
    I love your excerpt. As to creating a story, I always begin with a character--one character. I'm never sure where this person is, but I know my character(s).
    I wonder how many create a story like you do? It's a sound way, and obviously it works.
    Hope you have a great day-Celia

  2. Interesting look into your writing process. I like your character choices. They do say opposites attract. Sounds like a fun read!

  3. I loved reading about your research and how your story came together. I just love westerns! And your excerpt was great!

    As for creating stories, your process is interesting. I don't have a set way of creating them sometimes it's the characters, sometimes the setting, but most times it's the inciting incident.

    Thanks for sharing. :-)

  4. What a fascinating telling of how you designed and pieced together The Ring That Binds. I enjoyed it very much!

  5. No wonder I enjoyed "The Ring That Binds" so much! The characters felt so genuine - no doubt because of the author's careful preparation before she wrote the story. Interesting post! Carlene

  6. I always love to hear how you come up with your stories!

  7. Enjoyed reading about your process. Your stories are fantastic.

  8. I loved everything about your post and excerpt, Linda. My last book had a seamstress heroine with a daughter, so this attracted me immediately. I'm eager to read your book. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  9. Linda, your stories are always so intriguing. Congrats on making the Kindle Western bestseller list!

  10. I had the great privilege of seeing this story while Linda submitted it during critique group. She is so good at writing love stories that would make the biggest cynic would sigh in delight.
    I am thrilled for you, my friend.
    Great big Congrats!

    Patricia W. Fischer

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  12. As a Coloradan, I'm always fascinated with its history, particularly in mountain communities. In fact, my next book is set in a fictional town based on Leadville. Many women first tasted independence in the West, and your heroine certainly confirms this.

  13. So nice to have you as a guest today, Linda. You have an easy voice to read. I can see why your book was so popular.

    I am lucky that I live where the 189 gold rush happened as it has opened a lot of door for me to seek information for my stories. So far I haven't run out of information yet, which is a good thing. :)

  14. I loved this story. Linda did a wonderful job portraying the the gold rush and the wonderful love of two people.

  15. Great blog. I enjoyed learning how Linda Carroll puts together a story line. Her book is a winner for sure.

  16. Dear Linda,
    I do appreciate all the hard work you put into your research, not only making your story credible, but readable. I enjoy learning something when I read a romance. Thanks.

  17. I enjoyed your post. I often begin with setting in my books too!

  18. Great post, Linda. Like you, I enjoy doing the research and finding the right details to bring to the story. Will have to look for this book! :-)

  19. This sounds so good, Linda! I love stories that weave in history. I haven't read any of your books yet. I need to fix that!

  20. It's so interesting how you fit the pieces of your research into your story to make it realistic and yet imaginative.
    I wish you all the best, Linda.


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