Thank you for allowing me to spend time on your blog today.
My name is Paty Jager, and I write historical and contemporary western romance. While researching for my books I can get lost in the newspaper archives and local museums as well as trekking to the areas I set my books.
For my latest release, Miner in Petticoats, my daughter and I loaded up in my Jeep and headed to the gold mining area around Sumpter, Oregon. I wanted to get a feel for the Cracker Creek area since that was where my hero would set up a stamp mill. While there was a good deal of mining on the Cracker Creek, there was never a stamp mill. That's where I like fiction. I can take a real area and add what makes my book work.
We did run across several old mining sites, but they were either boarded up or looked too precarious to search through. But I did get a good feel for the area and when I wrote my scenes I could easily visualize the canyon and tree filled mountain sides.
With the whole book being based on Ethan setting up a stamp mill, I had to research the different ways of finding gold as well as how a stamp mill worked and the set up. A stamp mill could be anywhere from three up to ten stamps. The stamps were heavy iron "feet" that moved up and down in a synchronized pattern and smashed the rock to separate it from the gold or silver ore. The huge mills were usually set up on the side of a hill to allow gravity to feed the rock down through the machines. Before electricity or in areas of no electricity water or animals were used to make the mechanics for the mill run.
In my book, Ethan finds the perfect spot on the side of a hill with a good section of fast running water on Cracker Creek to run the mill. The only problem is the widow who owns the land isn't about to give it up. And thus the sparks fly.
Here's an excerpt from Miner in Petticoats available at The Wild Rose Press in e-book or print and Amazon.
“Mrs. Miller?” he asked, extending his hand. She kept her head tipped forward just enough her face was shadowed and hidden behind the brim of the hat.
“Who be askin’?” Her voice caught his attention with its deep, lyrical tone.
“I’m Ethan Halsey. My brothers and I have a claim just over the ridge.” It aggravated him he couldn’t see her face and register how she took his words.
“Are ye lost?” The voice vibrated under his skin, causing his body to warm.
He cleared his throat. “No, I’m not lost. I’m looking for Mrs. Miller. I’m assuming that is you,
since you’re the only grown woman I see here.”
“Ah m Aileen. Ah dinnae fancy bein’ called Mrs. Miller.”
This disclosure piqued his curiosity. “Mrs— Aileen. I’ve come with an offer.” Her head tilted, tipping the wide-brimmed hat to the side and revealing a slip of her face.
“And whit may this grand offur be?” He saw the slightest curve on one side of her lips.
“Ma’am, not to sound bossy, but I’d like to see your face as we discuss this proposition.” Her
shoulders dipped slightly before she squared them, stretched her neck to its full length, and
whipped the hat from her head. Copper sparks reflected off her hair as the sun lit her dark locks.
Ethan hadn’t believed the words of a cowardly man like Miles, and he was happy to see there
wasn’t any kind of mark on the woman’s face, at least none put there by the devil. Her skin was
abundantly sprinkled with angel kisses. That was what his mother had called the freckles on her
face. Angel kisses. He’d always had a fondness for freckle-faced women and children.
“Thank you, I appreciate seeing people’s eyes when talking business.” Ethan took a step closer
to the porch, waiting to be invited to the shade.
“And whit be yer business?” The woman didn’t seem inclined to invite him any closer.
“I’ve scouted the land all around our claim. The five acres of your land down where Cracker
Creek drops in elevation is the perfect spot to set up a stamp mill. The side of the canyon has the
right slope and the water is moving fast enough to power the mill.”
“So yer business is askin’ me tae sell ma land?” She clamped work-reddened hands onto
those ample hips and glared at him.
“We’d give you a fair price for the five acres, and you could use the stamp mill to claim more
gold from your mine.” The information didn’t seem to change her opinion. She still glared at
him. “We’re allowing the nearby claims to build rails to bring their ore to the mill. They can use
the stamp mill, giving us a small cut of their profits.” He smiled at his family’s generosity.
“So ye’re doin’ this oot o’ the goodness o’ yer heart? Takin’ yer neighbor’s land and their gold.”
Her light green eyes flashed with indignation.
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