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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Story Behind the Story . . . A Train Ride to #Heartbreak By Donna Schlachter


MUSE MONDAY

Please welcome Donna to Discover Yourself. If you'd like to be in the drawing for a free print edition of Mail Order Brides (US only), please leave a comment!

The idea for this story came from a love of a movie and a friend with a great story to share. 
The movie was “The Fugitive”, both the original series pilot and the more recent remake. I loved the idea of a train ride leading to a second chance. 
My friend had recently taken a train ride from Denver to San Francisco, and she shared several delightful stories. I wondered if a train ride might be like a cruise in that it would provide an insulated environment where the travelers might do something they’d never done before. If so, this was perfect fodder for a romance, much like the old TV show, “The Love Boat”. 
And then I saw “Murder on the Orient Express”, and as a lover of anything Agatha Christie, decided to incorporate a few of the details in my story. 
The result? A chance meeting, two characters with integrity, and a way for God to reach both of them. 
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free print (US only) copy of Mail-Order Brides Collection.

1895, Train to California
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love. 
October 1895
Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home. 
John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother. 
Though separated by thousands of miles, they commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart? 

About Donna:
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

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Excerpt: (when John and Mary first meet)
John handed his bag to the porter, an older, stooped Negro, who nodded and smiled, thanking him for riding with him. John held back the sharp retort itching on the end of his tongue for release. It wasn’t the old man’s fault he had to change trains. 
He climbed the three steps and hesitated. Left or right? With no assigned seating, the only question was which car would be quieter. He’d had his fill of crying kids and snoring men. 
He glanced through the door of the car on his left. A woman reading a magazine, and two men playing cards. On the right, a woman with three children who ran up and down the aisle. 
Left it was. 
Inside this car, he sat in the second row. The woman was to his right, and the card players were behind him. He propped his feet on the seat facing him, crossed his legs at the ankles, tipped his hat over his face, and closed his eyes. With any luck, he’d have a good long rest before the conductor woke him for dinner. 
But while his body screamed for sleep, his mind wouldn’t settle. He worried about his daughters. He fretted over how Martin was handling things on the ranch. Sure, he was experienced. Sure, he’d managed things before when John was preoccupied with Sophia’s illness. 
He’d always been there in case Martin had a question. Now he was hundreds if not thousands of miles away. What if a cow went into a breach labor? What if a steer broke through the fence again and ended up in the mire? What if— 
He snapped his head up. He could “what if” himself to death. John drew a deep breath and settled his chin on his chest. No matter how bad things got in Heartbreak, there wasn’t one thing he could do about it. He might as well relax. 
Pages rustled beside him, and he glanced at the woman reading the magazine. Pink tinged her cheeks, and her mouth formed a tiny “o” as though she was reading something pleasing. He couldn’t make out the cover of the magazine from this angle, but he doubted it was a Sears catalogue. She was much too engrossed in it. 
The irony of the situation didn’t escape him. Here he was, caught up in worrying about what was happening in the real world—his real world—beyond the confines of this train, and there was this young woman purposely losing herself in the make-believe world of her reading material.



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