The Real West by E. Ayers

EllenCoverKW LOGO900x600dpi300Thank you, Cynthia, for inviting to your blog. I’m always thrilled to be here and to answer questions from your readers. I didn’t start out to be a historian; in fact history was horrendously boring to me in school. But it was required so I studied whatever it was that I had to know, passed the tests and exams with flying colors, and promptly forget all the dates and battles. Yes, I know that history is important. But it’s boring!

Even the History Channel usually has failed to keep my interest. Turn it on and there are the RAF flying across the English Channel, brave young men that often didn’t make it home, and a bomb being dropped on something below. Is there something else we can watch? My husband would roll his eyes at me.

My husband spent time in VietNam, his father was in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and his grandfather spent time in the trenches of WWI. I’m supposed to care, right? Well, I do, but ask me what day Peal Harbor was bombed… “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date that will live into infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” FDR Of course I didn’t know that off the top of my head. I am getting really fast at looking stuff like that up. But learn it in school? Ugh.

So how did I wind up writing historical westerns? My readers have asked for it. Once I started writing the diary of Clare Coleman, I realized I needed to know more about the history of the west. I needed to know who went west. Why? I needed to know more about the people. Suddenly history isn’t so boring.

I look stuff up and wind up spending hours researching. But it’s not just the west, it’s the whole timeframe and what was considered proper. Let me ask you this: Would you go someplace far away from your family because you might have a chance of surviving and having your own place? Would you leave your creature comforts to hack down a few trees and create a house out of nothing? Where your nearest neighbor might be a day’s ride away? Will you give up your job to do it? Sell off your worldly possessions and your grandmother’s fancy brooch that you’ve loved since you were a child?

stage coachThe answer to that is usually a big NO! And so it was back then. So who did go west? Well, cowboys were boys! Rare was the cowboy who was over fifteen years old. They were often as young as seven or eight when they started. They were runaways, children of families that couldn’t afford them, and orphans. Working cattle meant meals. The numbers seem to vary but approximately one boy out of three never survived. Most of them perished under the hooves of the cattle they were driving. If they lived long enough, they rose in the ranks or left to find other work. Eventually the boys faded out of the job and it slowly became a man’s job in the 1900’s. Those cowboys were drifters, criminals, or unskilled men who wanted to eat. It was a job. If they lasted a week, they got a few bucks.

Mail order brides… Oh, boy! We have to look hard at the times. These women were desperate. For starters women didn’t marry as they do today. Most marriages were arranged or at least semi-arranged. Lucky was the gal who got to choose a suitor. Fathers often chose a man for their daughter. But sometimes there were several eligible men and the daughter might go to her father and inquire about a particular man. If she didn’t have a father, sometimes an older brother, uncle, mother or some other family member would make arrangements. Women were a liability to a family. The sooner they could marry her off, the better.

But what if there was no one to find them a husband? What if no one wanted them? What if they were horribly bucked-toothed, cross-eyed, or a gazillion other possible things might be wrong with them? These are things we don’t think about today. We put our children in braces, and children have surgeries to correct certain flaws. If a child is born with an extra finger today, that finger is removed immediately. But that didn’t happen back then.

tweet mine smYou might call it selective breeding but men didn’t want women that were flawed. It’s not much different from today. Women instantly form an opinion of an eligible man based on his looks. Of course we want cute, handsome, or whatever. And men do the same to women.

In my newest western, Loving Ellen, she was married, and her husband died. Having two small boys from that marriage, she tried to keep going on her own by taking in laundry, mending, etc. But the idea of finding a man through an advertisement meant that she would have some security for her and her boys. And a man with a ranch had great appeal, because he seemed stable. On the flip side, she appealed to a rancher because she had two boys. Boys were needed on a ranch to help with the chores.

With great hopes and dreams, she went off to marry a man she didn’t know. She was probably worn out when she did that. Tired of trying to keep her boys tummies filled, tired of a lot of things. But the picture Joseph had painted of the ranch was not exactly accurate. She went from the frying pan to the fire. But don’t worry, this story will end with a happily ever after!

Have things changed? Yes and no. Today women look at a man and consider what he does for a living. Do they dare marry a man who stocks merchandise at a warehouse or should they marry the one who is a lawyer? Well, if you are reading a romance novel, I promise he’s not stocking merchandise at the warehouse!

Traveling westAll of that doesn’t mean that only the dregs of society populated our west. There were others, young men and slightly older ones who looked at the west and saw an opportunity. It was a chance to build their own empire, and become wealthy. These are the same guys who would have probably done it in the towns and cities where they grew up, but that wide open called to them. I like to write about those men.

To me, they are the more romantic men. They are the ones with… May I say it? Home training – men who respected women and knew how to treat them. Yes, there were plenty of good men in the west, even those who took jobs that provided them with an income that was decent for those days. They worked in gold or copper mines, and in the coal mines; they worked for the railroad or did a dozen other jobs.

One of these days I’m going to write a novel about a man who isn’t making a fortune and that gal with crossed eyes. But everyone wants to read about perfect people. Maybe because the female reader wants to step into that woman and become her for a few hours or maybe she wants that handsome guy to whisk her off her feet. It’s an adults’ game of pretend.

Well, guess I don’t write Let’s Pretend. I write about the real west. The people, who populated it and made the west what it is today, are the ones that interest me. So I mix that with a romance and you get a historical western with a romance.

FamilyI don’t write Christian books. I understand the Christina values, etc. I know the vast majority of the people who settled the west were Christians. But if they had been Jewish, Wiccan, or Buddhist, I would have willingly written from that perspective. In all my research, I’ve not found one instance of someone washing their stones during the solstice to renew their energy, but I have found quite a few Jewish families that went west. The vast majority of the North America is Christian, and the USA was founded on Christian principles.

I write what was there and who was there. I write the times as accurately as I possibly can. If they lived with an outhouse, I’ll write it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and I have plenty of readers that feel the same way. That also doesn’t mean that I’m right and the others who write in this era are wrong. It’s Vanilla and Chocolate.

I love Cynthia’s characters, and her females in their pretty dresses. But my gals are less apt to wear such a dress. They are probably in a drab color with an even less exciting fabric. They are probably milking the cow or goat and slinging a rifle over their shoulder. But they are probably dreaming about those pretty dresses and are envious of those who wear them. When I wrote Loving Ellen I took a young woman who had come from a modest home to a young marriage where making do was quite normal but she still could dress in her finest and stroll the park with her young husband, to a woman who was almost destitute and became a mail order bride to a twice widowed woman with absolutely nothing, living in the middle of nowhere in Montana. And well I don’t want to tell you the end, but I will say for a few days she discovered what it was like to live as royalty.

Ask me a question in the comments, I’ll answer it, to the best of my ability, and put your name in the hat for a free ecopy of my first Montana Sky Series KW, Loving Matilda. Or if you have that one, I’ll give you your choice of another one of my historical westerns.

Morgan’s Crossing, Montana

A new mail order bride, Ellen has now been widowed.


With two young boys from her first marriage to raise, a newly deceased mail-order-husband, no food and no money, she is forced to accept an offer of shelter from the neighboring rancher who found her latest husband’s body. Ellen is no stranger to sacrifice as a means to achieve a better future for herself and her children, but there is something different about Nik.

Amazon Buy Link:


2 thoughts on “The Real West by E. Ayers

  1. I know what you mean about the addictive nature of historical research, even when you thought you weren’t a history buff. All it takes is one story idea, and we’re sunk. I enjoyed this post a lot and look forward to reading Loving Ellen.

    • Thank you, Patricia, for stopping by. I do hope you enjoy the book. Yes, the research tends to take on a life of its own. 🙂 I wind up spending hours on something and then I might not even use it. Now I read with a more critical view of historical books and I spot errors all the time. When a friend asked me to read her book before she published it, I just about died. She was doing post Civil War on the east coast and I’m freaking as I went through it. No she could not take the train like that! That was not the type of pen she would have used, etc. I’m lucky my friend is still speaking to me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *