Monday, January 16, 2017

Researching Nolan's Vow by Linda Hubalek

I released my latest book, Nolan's Vow, a historical romance set in 1885, in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World in December.

Here's the description

Nolan Clancy finished his military career in Fort Ellis, Montana Territory and is traveling home to run his grandparent’s café in Kansas. His train is delayed in Sweetwater Springs, MT because of a snow storm, and he helps a woman feed the waylaid passengers in the café in town.

Holly Brandt grew up on military forts where her father was an interpreter between the soldiers and the Indians. Her mother, a full-blooded Cheyenne, and Holly’s two sisters died in Kansas before she and her father moved to the Montana Territory. Her father’s death leaves Holly orphaned and homeless until she finds work in a café.

When the café owner decides to sell her business and move away, Nolan invites Holly to travel to Kansas with him.

People don’t always treat Holly with respect because of her mother’s Cheyenne heritage, but Nolan sees her as a kind woman always wanting to help others. His pastor has always told him to respect and honor women as it says in the wedding vows, and Nolan realizes he wants to say the real wedding vows to Holly.

But will their differences, along with the townspeople’s interference, let them have their happily ever after?

Researching the book

Being set in someone else's story line took a lot of research for the setting, and the characters who Debra Holland and other authors had already introduced.

What businesses were in Sweetwater Springs, and who ran them? Age, married, any children?

Was there a church, sheriff, undertaker, a railroad...a stage coach which went through town, and on which day? (The list went on and on with every scene.)

I had the couple travel from MT to KS. How long did it take on a train and on which railroad lines?

Then I researched forts both in the Montana Territory and Kansas because I wanted to work in military history. I tend to work fact into my fiction stories, so it takes more work, but I think my readers enjoy it, and have come to expect it.

I started Nolan's Vow in the Montana Sky Kindle World, but the story went on to
 introduce the Grooms with Honor series, the next series after my Brides with Grit series.

What it worth it, working in someone else's "world"?

At first it was hard to think outside my own characters "normal world" but I'm glad I did it. It's always good to learn something new, whether its about life in the 1880s, or working on a new computer program. It's the challenge that keeps us researching and writing.

Thanks for visiting Sweethearts of the West today!

Linda Hubalek


  1. Research is one of my favorite aspects of writing western fiction. I learn something fascinating every time I do it. I like it so much I sometimes I get a little lost in it instead of in the book.
    I have to laugh about this now, but once, I made a terrible faux pas. I wrote a scene in which my character, Banjo, was coming home to Hazard, WY, a fictional town in the southwest corner of the state. He rode the train into town and received a hero's welcome. Only thing is, there is no train in that part of the state--not one. I live in the southeast where trains are as plentiful as pebbles in a brook. I should have researched that little detail more. So, I get the importance of good research when an author writes historical fiction.
    I liked this blog, Linda. I want to wish you every success with Nolan's Vow.

    1. Sometimes small things we take for granted, are the one we should have researched first. I'll stop and search so many things on google each day- we're now spoiled. Thanks for reading my post today.

  2. Railroads can be a real problem. They show on a half dozen maps yet they didn't actually exist! The government set that land aside and marked it for railroads, but they often weren't built for another 50 years! Plus the number of times they were started and stopped because the companies ran out of money or something happened to prevent them from doing more, delayed their physical existence. Stage coaches were the primary method of travel and they weren't nice! Trains existed for goods and not people. And it's that sort of thing that drives me nuts when I'm researching! It's great having you in Debra Holland's Montana Sky Series in Kindle World.I'm slowly working my way through all the books in this last release. This little town keeps growing!

    1. Yes, we need to be accurate on our research- even though 95% of the readers wouldn't know the difference- but those 5% sure would! Being in a KW really 'pushed my buttons' on getting facts right! Thanks for the comments!

    2. Yes, it's that 5% and the feeling of satisfaction of knowing you got it right. But getting it right is quite difficult sometimes. Who would have thought all those maps were wrong?

      My conversation with the RR company went kinda like this.

      Me: "How long of a ride is it between 'Point A' and 'Point B' in 1896? How fast would that train be traveling?"

      RR: Laughter. "That train isn't going anyplace. That line wasn't built until 1912."

      Me: "Huh? It's on the maps. From Point A to--"

      RR: "Hold it. Let me explain what happened to that land and..."

      And sometimes that's how we learn. I like going directly to companies for info on certain things. Many have pages of history and others are direct contact with humans whose job is to keep the history alive.

  3. I love research, Linda, and I too had to figure out distances and times for train travel. My story is set in Texas so my biggest problem was determining which railroads were built in my time period. I found maps but it wasn't always clear when the rail roads were in actual use. Interesting post and your story idea is a different. Good luck with it!


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West! We are very sad to require comment moderation now due to the actions of a few spam comments. Thank you for your patience.