Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Online Dating in the 19th Century???


with guest Karen Witemeyer.

One of the hazards of being an historical writer is getting sidetracked with fascinating research rabbit trails. You open Google looking for specific information on how to harvest sorghum and an hour (or two) later, you've not only learned how to harvest sorghum but how to make sorghum syrup (basically molasses), discovered which living history farms in Pennsylvania can demonstrate this process to you (not very helpful when you live in Texas), found a recipe for beef ribs with a sorghum glaze, and uncovered a whole slew of arguments on why one should never eat refined sugar but use natural sweeteners like sorghum when cooking.

Not that this example actually happened to me recently or anything . . . OK, it did.



Yet, every once in a while one of those crazy rabbit trails leads to a valuable tidbit. Like in 2011 when I started researching telegraph communication for an older book. I stumbled upon a novel written in 1879 by female telegraph operator Ella Cheever called Wired Love.


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Apparently many operators were women in the late 19th century, and they were often identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out conversations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another.

There is one scene about halfway through the book that served as my inspiration for my latest book, Heart on the Line. A case of mistaken identity had scared Nattie away from “C,” but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boarding house, and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble table top. Nattie recognizes her call name and, taking up a pair of scissors, drums out a reply. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one in the parlor suspecting their actions were anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C”.

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!”

Hysterical!

Of course everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind except the hero who crosses the room to take her hand.  Awww…

So, online dating in the 19th Century? You bet. On the telegraph line!

In Heart on the Line, I had a great deal of fun creating situations where my two telegraph operators communicated through coded tapping without anyone else being able to understand the significance of their private conversations.

Here's an excerpt from my book where Grace and Amos meet in person for the first time. Grace has been hiding out in a women's colony to escape the man who killed her father and recently learned that her location had been discovered. Amos overheard the information on the telegraph line and immediately hopped on a train to lend his aid. Only Grace doesn't know if the stranger who just arrived in town is friend or foe. The town marshal has locked Amos up in the jail as a precaution.


Grace willed her hand not to tremble as she fit the hairpin over her finger. A difficult task when her insides were jumping about as if she'd swallowed a family of crickets. Straightening her shoulders, she took a step forward, intent on tapping out a message on the cell's crossbar. But a hand grabbed her arm and tugged her backward. 
"Don't get too close, Miss Grace," the marshal instructed as he gently steered her away. "You can do your talkin' from back here." 
Actually, she couldn't, but Malachi obviously didn't know that. And why would he? He wasn't an operator. She glanced around the office, her gaze zeroing on the desk. And the tin cup resting on its surface. Yes. That would work nicely.Smiling at the marshal, she stepped away from his hold and moved toward the desk. "May I?" she asked, indicating the chair. 
Malachi looked at her oddly but nodded. "Be my guest." 
"Thank you." Grace swept her skirt aside and settled herself on the seat before reaching for the coffee cup. She peered inside and frowned. Still half full. She glanced around for a place to dispose of the unwanted beverage, but there were no potted plants or conveniently located knotholes in any of the nearby floorboards.
Without giving herself time to think better of it, she lifted the cup to her lips and chugged down the cold, bitter brew in one long gulp. She grimaced and nearly choked on the awful stuff, but she got it down.
"You . . . ah . . . want a fresh cup?" Malachi asked, the shock on his face rather comical. "I got a pot on the stove in the corner."
"No, thank you." Her reply emerged more as a rasp than actual words, as if the horrid concoction had paralyzed her tongue and throat. How did the man drink that swill? It tasted like boiled shoe leather. "I just need the cup."
She promptly turned the tin cup on its side and hovered her hairpin-covered finger above it. Grace glanced past the befuddled marshal to the man waiting expectantly in the jail cell. He was gripping the edge of the right side of his jacket and holding it away from his body. He'd fitted the bottom button between the first two fingers of his right hand, and held it an inch above the iron crossbar.
Grace turned away and bit the inside of her cheek to contain the smile that was trying to edge its way onto her face.
He knew exactly what she was about and was ready to respond.
Focusing on the silver cup in front of her, Grace began the test. 
Call me like you would on the wire. 


A series of dull raps came from across the room, the cloth-covered button muffling the sharpness of the reply. Dn calling Hs. The sound might be off, but the rhythm wasn't. It only took the first few clicks for Grace to recognize the sender's unique style. To an untrained ear, one tapping pattern might sound like any other, but to an operator, the rhythm, tempo, and phrasing combined to create an outcome as distinctive as a signature.
 Mr. A's signature.
The two continue their coded conversation as Grace digs for more of the truth, but it is here that the fantasy of a mysterious admirer first begins to turn into the reality of true love.

So you see, not all rabbit trails are bad. Following one could lead you to the perfect plot for a new book. At least that's my current justification. Ha!

  •  If you are a writer, what do you like least/most about researching?
  •  If you are a reader, what is the most interesting tidbit you've learned from reading a novel?

I'll be giving away an autographed copy of my telegraph love story, Heart on the Line, to one lucky commenter. (US addresses only, please.) Winner announced in the next Seekerville Weekend Edition.

P.S. As a fun trivia note – Look carefully at the decorative swirl on my cover. See the pattern of dots and dashes? My very clever designer used Morse code to spell out "love" over and over again in that flourish. Cool, huh?


Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can't let the villain she believes responsible for her father's death release his wrath in Harper's Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she's ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.


Christy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader's Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

135 comments :

  1. Karen, what a fun book!! I've always enjoyed your wit & humor in your novels ("How did the man drink that swill? It tasted like boiled shoe leather."); yeah, if I had taken a drink of coffee (or other liquid while reading that) I'd have spewed it out! Love a novel that makes you laugh and nobody else knows why :-)

    I just got done reading Jody Hedlund's newest release "With You Always" where she covers the topic of the Orphan trains and the Children's Aid Society who helped place-out the children in the late 1850's. I know she does a tremendous amount of research to get the facts just right and it definitely shows! I learned quite a bit more on this subject. How abject the poor were, how many children were orphaned or given up by their parents because they could no longer care for them. They could barely care for themselves! And the child labor, oh my, it just broke my heart.

    I've learned a lot of tidbits from fiction. Not all of it bad either! I think historical is my favorite genre because of that. I never liked history in high school, but I sure have re-learned it the fun way in reading!

    I also wanted to comment on the unconventional hero figure in this novel. I know you mentioned on another blog just the other day how completely opposite he is when you think about a hero in a book. He's more of the nerdy, bookish type with a heart of gold :-) I really enjoy reading about unconventional characters. They can surprise you!

    I hope to get a chance to meet Grace & Amos in Heart on the Line! Please add my name to the pot for a chance to win, thanks so much. If you remember, I also mentioned I requested my library to purchase both "No Other Will Do" and "Heart on the Line", and I'm crossing my fingers (and toes) that they will :-)

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    1. I'm so glad you said this, Trixi... because I like some variety in heroes, too! The nerdy Indiana Jones... :) Clark Kent.... Jacob Whiting in "Sarah Plain and Tall".... heroes come in all types and I get a kick out of seeing how they win hearts!!!!

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    2. Hi, Trixi. Jody Hedlund does great research! She's a perfect example. One of my favorite things about reading historical novels is learning tidbits about life in times past. I, too, did not enjoy history in school. Too much emphasis on wars and politics. I just wanted to learn about everyday life and people. That's what I try to give my readers. Along with a few smiles. :-)

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    3. Ruth - Great examples of unconventional heroes. We need to mix it up a bit every now and then, don't we? There's more to sexy than just swagger. ;-)

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  2. As a former Morse Code Intercept Operator (O5H) with the US Army, I am simply IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK! So excited to have you back, Karen and so excited to read this book.

    I have been wandering around repeating dots and dashes since you sent me the post!!!

    LOLOLOL.

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    1. Too funny, Tina! Thank you so much for having me as your guest. I love the Seekerville community - and even more so now that I know you have an authentic Morse Code Intercept Operator in you ranks! :-)

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    2. Loved learning this additional tidbit about you, Tina!!

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  3. As a writer I love learning new things with research, but I hate looking up and realizing I just lost three hours, lolol.

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  4. I just researched and am bringing a snack from the 19th century. Texas Ranger Cookies. Enjoy!

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    1. Tina, you got a recipe you could share? Or point me to a website where the recipe is listed?? I love cookies!!!!!

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  5. Cannot wait to get my hands on this one! Karen, your books never disappoint. As a writer, my favorite part of researching is getting all the little details right but giving it an original twist. Ironically enough, I used to hate doing research papers in high school. Now, it's a pleasure when writing my novels.

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    1. it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? And the fact that you can actually research what you want and not what you have to. :-)

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  6. Jessica, welcome to Seekerville. A pleasure to have you here.

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  7. Welcome, Karen! Your book looks great. I've always been fascinated by Morse Code. I love to learn knew things, but time is always an issue when it comes to research.
    Tina, a Morse Code Intercept Operator? How cool!

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    1. Thanks, Jill. And yes, the price in time can be high, especially when those rabbit trails fail to lead to anything actually useful for the story. I've been working on refining my search skills and practicing more restraint, but sometimes the rabbits just call like the sirens of Greek mythology. Ha!

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  8. Good morning, Karen!

    What a fun concept for your book. As a writer, I love rabbit trails. They provide lots of new ideas for plot twist. But I'm also guilty of getting sucked down rabbit holes. Before I know it, a whole day will have gone by.

    One time I needed research on late nineteenth century practices for counterfeiting. I ordered a book from the Library Exchange and waited patiently for a week for it's arrival. But when I opened the book, the section I needed was missing. Someone had used a razor blade to steal the pages...which got my juices creative flowing again--the case of the missing pages.

    Thanks for visiting us today. Please put my name in the hat for a copy of your book.

    ~ Renee

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    1. Renee - I'm impressed. I would have been so frustrated and angry about those missing pages I probably would have missed the idea entirely. Good for you! Inspiration can strike anywhere. We just have to have eyes to see it.

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  9. I love this concept... and the cover is perfect, Karen! Oh my stars, what fun! I love writing contemporaries and historicals, I'm always amazed by how people functioned and thrived with so little comparatively for material goods... but then so much when it came to heart and soul and spirit! The gumption to take things by the reins and go with it.

    This is such a fun idea for an online dating story... I am still laughing at the idea!

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. You are right about the gumption. I try to emulate my heroines when I think my easy life is difficult. In fact, sometimes I like it when we lose the water heater or electricity and I have to get creative with cooking and entertainment. Well, at first anyway. Then it just gets old. Ha! And expensive - at least where the water heater is concerned. Just had a new one installed yesterday. Ouch!

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  10. Hi Karen,
    I love the idea of them sending coded messages to each other even when in the same room. I can't wait to read your book.
    Thanks for sharing today!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie. That was my favorite element of the book. I have them communicate this way on at least three different occasions. I like being sneaky. ;-)

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  11. This books sounds so intriguing. It is a unique plot and I love unique plots. Have a great day!

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    1. Thanks, Wilani. I hope you'll give it a try.

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  12. What a great scene! What an interesting concept, and the cover with Love in Morse code is really cool. :-) Congratulations on your new book.
    Becky B.

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    1. Thanks, Becky. This is one of my favorite covers of all my books. The designer did such a great job!

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  13. Cool stuff you have and you keep overhaul every one of us. sites for adults

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  14. Rabbits trails can be fun... In my a couple of my books I use Morse between spies and enemies. How interesting to use it for "online" romance and how they knew whether someone was male or female by the pressure of the tap.

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    1. I agree, Tina. I had fun turning this around and coming at it from a different direction.

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  15. Welcome, Karen! I love how your research evolved into such a fun story concept! I'm a contemporary writer, but I LOVE history, so can easily get pulled away into other worlds when researching a bit of background for my fictional towns and characters.

    This charming story looks to be another winner!

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    1. Thanks, Glynna. Contemporary writers do a lot of research, too. Giving a character or setting authenticity is so important. I imagine you do a lot of digging for your own stories.

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  16. This book sounds soooo fantastic...but all your books are, and I have read them all! Please enter me in the drawing for this one. Loved your post.

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    1. Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Jackie!

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  17. The book sounds really interesting. Love the idea of
    "Love" in morse code! As a writer, I too find myself going down rabbit trails looking for inspiration. What I like least about researching is that feeling of never quite getting the information I need and the fear that, somehow, the translation onto the page will prove to be a fraud because I haven't been somewhere in particular or experienced something myself. Thanks for the post. I would love to be entered in the draw.

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    1. I hear you, Lara. I experience those same fears. what if I misunderstood something or got something wrong? And there is nothing more frustrating than looking for one specific detail for three hours and still not finding it. Grr!

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  18. Welcome, Karen! That's such a wonderful story in how you came up with this book idea!! It makes me want to go out and start researching. :)

    What I like least: the time I spend when I get sucked in (I died laughing at how you ended up with a recipe, etc. I do that, too! I get so sidetracked sometimes.)

    What I like most: when I find a perfect source for the information I'm looking for. I love when I find the basics but also land on a site that is even more in-depth than I had hoped.

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    1. That's the best, Missy! Finding not only what you need but a ton of other practical details you can sprinkle in later. It's a rarity, but so nice when it happens!

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  19. I also meant to say I love that special touch of having the word "love" spelled out in Morse code on the cover!

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  20. Ah!! This is so exciting!!! I can't wait to read it!

    As a writer, I love research. One research point I found for my current story is the cemetery in my story once housed a jail for those who sped through the cemetery. The offenders had to stay overnight in a cemetery at the height of superstition in America. I am contemplating doing some short stories or a novella as promotion on my website when the comes time using that setting. The pranks that could have been pulled make me laugh so hard I cry. It is so tempting to break away and write it now. :-)

    Thanks for sharing, Karen!! I am so excited about your story. Yay!!!

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    1. Crystal, that's hilarious!! I can't believe they did that! hahaha

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    2. Wow! What a great tidbit! So many possibilities. Especially around October. :-) Great fodder, Crystal!

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  21. Many younger people now don't fully understand, considering our new technology, how important and vital the code was. Interesting, whimsical twist to this story! Always love Karen's books, having read every one, and I am looking forward to this new release. Thanks!

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    1. CC, you're right! My kids probably wouldn't appreciate the technology. :)

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    2. Great point, CC. Although with all the shorthand and abbreviations the operators used, it reminds me of "text speak" and emoji codes. Ack! Though, not nearly as romantic as the telegraph codes of the past. Those actually required skill to execute.

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  22. Karen, this is a great post. I don't mind being sidetracked, I figure there's always something I can use, and at least I'm being sidetracked for my writing. Better than mindlessly perusing Facebook or watching TV sitcom reruns, two of the things that sidetrack me to absolutely no gain or progress. History is fascinating.
    I'm doing a contemporary series right now, but am girding up my loins so to speak for another historical project, most likely concerning the Revolutionary War. Fortunately, I live near Boston, Lexington and Concord.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    My husband is on vacation so I'm working the writing around him, but he's pretty good about giving me time. Going to Boston for two days, he's in a conference, but I can write during the sessions, and Boston both stimulates and relaxes me, so I should come back energized.
    KB

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    1. Kaybee - It sounds like you are right in the heart of the Revolutionary Zone! Perfect excuse to visit all those fabulous historical sites. Soak in all the research you can. Maybe even take your hubby with you on an excursion or two. :-)

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  23. Welcome, Karen! I agree--rabbit trails can lead you to some interesting places. I followed one while working on my recent release, A Rose So Fair. It led me to info on the Civilian Conservation Corps, a perfect fit for my out-of-work Depression-era hero and the answer to a plot problem I'd been brainstorming.

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    1. Myra, that's great how that worked out!

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    2. I love it when things work out like that! Fabulous, Myra.

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  24. That story sounds so cute- and yours too. I saw an advertisement of it last week about bespeckled heroes being spectacular. So funny! Too bad the guy in the picture couldn't have somehow made it onto the cover too...

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    1. Yeah. I wanted to create a promo item with a custom glasses-cleaning cloth and my designers came up with the bespectacled hero. They had to photoshop the glasses on, but he still came out pretty nice. :-)

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  25. What an interesting post! This sounds like a great story!

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  26. This was a fascinating post, Karen. I never imagined telegraph operators flirting over the lines, but not sure I knew there were so many female telegraph operators.

    I love doing research but it is easy to get sucked in. The other day I was researching something I needed for my writing that day. I had to tell myself to stop when I had what I needed at that time. Otherwise I could have been doing it all day.

    Please enter me for the book. It looks so good. I love the coded "love" on the cover.

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    1. Those rabbit trails can be dangerously addicting, Sandy. You showed admirable restraint by sticking to your time limit. I'm still working on that level of self-control. :-)

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  27. Karen! I love this!
    I just love that story of the two tapping in the dining room.
    I bought a copy of the book!
    The very first eHarmony!!! :)

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  28. Telephone and telegraph operators seem to have fun jobs. I love reading books about these occupations and I'm looking forward to this one.

    nina4sm at Gmail dot com

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    1. They sure had the inside scoop on all the local goings on, didn't they? I still picture Harriet Olson in the Little House TV series, picking up the phone receiver to listen in on her neighbor's conversations. A busybody's work was never done.

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  29. Wow, great insight and a clever twist. I love it! I'm trying my hand at my first novel and find that it is hard picking which details to keep. The history nerd in me wants to soak up everything! :)

    I found myself packing as much of the information as possible into the story until it detracts from the plot. How do you decide which information to plop into your story?

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    1. Great question, Kristin. it's a delicate balance. Think of it like a recipe. You want to add enough historical spice to flavor the scene and give that rich taste of authenticity, but you don't want it to overpower. Story always comes first. Remember that the readers care about the characters not the information. Find ways to weave your research organically into the scene building, but never overstuff. I usually only put a tiny fraction of what I learn into my books. And everything I use has to have a reason for being there beyond it simply being interesting.

      Best of luck with your book!

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  30. Hi Karen and welcome to Seekerville. What a fun post. You really had me with the title. So how could there be online dating and there it is. How fun is that? Love the premise. Thanks for sharing with us and have fun today.

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    1. Thanks for being such a gracious hostess, Sandra. I love being a guest here!

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  31. KAREN -- WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE! And I absolutely LOVE the plot to your new book AND the fact that your cover designer included the word "love" in Morse code on it -- INGENIOUS!!

    You asked: "If you are a writer, what do you like least/most about researching?"

    I absolutely despise research, which is deadly for a historical author. Case in point: I made a research blunder that almost derailed my plot completely in A Passion Most Pure mere months before it was to be released. It got past me, my critique partners, my copy editors, and my editor. A huge mistake caught, ironically, by my editor’s husband who happened to be — what are the odds? — an Irish historian! He innocently pointed out to his wife that the O’Connors traveling on a ship to Ireland during World War I would not have been feasible as passenger ships at that time were commandeered for war. Not to mention the annoying fact that German U-boat warfare made it too dangerous for ship travel. And I couldn't move my timeline either way because too much was tied to it. Sigh.

    I practically had a breakdown, frantically researching Irish community locales on our side of the pond to switch settings from Dublin to Nova Scotia in North America (one of the largest contingents of Irish after Boston). But Nova Scotia SURE didn't have the Irish flavor I was going for with Dublin. So naturally I prayed my heart out, and lo and behold, the answer came in the form of lunch with a friend. A very WELL-READ friend, who said she JUST HAPPENED to recently read an article on WWII, how the U.S. figured out that they could greatly reduce the threat of Germans sinking their supply freighters if they grouped them in convoys. BOOM! I squealed and hugged her, gave Patrick O'Connor a cousin who owned a freighting business, had Marcy have a near breakdown because her grandmother in Dublin was dying. Then I got those O'Connors to Dublin when Patrick begged his cousin to take them before he himself was shipped off to war.

    That was the day that I learned just how important research is to a historical romance, and it is a lesson I hope and pray I have learned well.

    Great blog, Karen, and sounds like another great book for you!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. What a fabulous story, Julie! Don't you love how God takes care of us? All those last minute research scholars who "just happened" to cross your path - angels in disguise. :-)

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  32. Karen, as always, it's great to have you here! Your book sounds fascinating, very unique. I'll head out to Amazon for an eCopy, though your heroine's flirtatious expression and that swirl imagery makes me want to hold your book in my hands.

    Fun to learn you're an avid cross stitcher. My last project was 22 count on linen. I kept making mistakes and taking out those tiny stitches took more patience than I had.

    I love research! It's important to get the details right, but what always impacts me most is the people that lived and worked and triumphed--or failed--during the time I set my story.

    Janet

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    1. Janet - Another stitcher! WooHoo. Apparently Eric Vetch is one, too. I love working on linen. Such a finished look. But I usually use 28 count over two threads. I have a couple of projects that I bought patterns for from Heaven and Earth Designs (gorgeous stuff over there!) but it calls for stitching on 25 ct linen over one strand. Yikes! talk about tiny. I should probably get to it before my eyes get any older, but I have a few other projects in the queue ahead of it. Ha!

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  33. Tina, fun to learn you were Morse Code Intercept Operator in the Army. Maybe you can use that knowledge in a book of your own!

    Janet

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  34. Hi Karen
    There's not much about researching that I don't love. Genealogy research gives lots of insight into traditions, lifestyles, and people. My biggest genealogy thrill was to hold an actual Revolutionary War document of a relative who fought under Washington at the Battle of Long Island. If I could teleport I'd be in D.C. on a regular basis for more research. I adore history.

    When I did genealogy it was first using soundex at the public library with two children in tow in the days when quiet was the rule. We are so fortunate to have the internet where we can search the world at any hour of the day or night and make as much noise as we want! I guess the biggest downfall for me is that time passes so quickly.

    I love your books and thoroughly enjoy your writing style. Thanks for writing such an enjoyable post for us.

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    1. What a find, Barbara! That document is a treasure for sure.

      Yes, I am thankful for the Internet. Saves me so much time.

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  35. Well...who knew?! It's always great to learn something new and interesting. Now I have to read the book!!!

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    1. Hope you have fun with Amos and Grace, Vicky!

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    2. Welcome to Seekerville, Vicky Sluiter!

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  36. Karen, this is so interesting. Who knew online dating goes that far back. I love doing research but you're so right. I start out with one simple question and two hours later, I'm writing out a grocery list for a new recipe that had absolutely nothing to do with my research.

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    1. Ha! The hazards of research. Could have a yummy outcome, though. :-)

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  37. Literally an on line love story. I love all your books Karen. I can't wait to read this one.
    As a reader, I've learned so many tidbits in historical novels. One I used on my mom when she caught me rinsing dishes in cold water. I told her the pioneers did not waste wood to boil water for dishes, then I showed her the reference book I found that in.

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    1. Ha! Perfect rationale, Andrea. Way to use that research to your advantage.

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    2. Welcome to Seekerville Andrea! So great to see avid readers!!!

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  38. This is going to such a fun book to read!

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  39. I am so excited to read this new book! I enjoy historical romance and learning each new tidbit I can get out of them. I appreciate when an author takes time in the back of their book to explain some of the research they have done and interesting facts about what they uncovered. Especially stories like the one story here.

    Like someone else had commented, I too did not enjoy history in school- so historical books really open a whole new world for me.

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    1. The history in novels is just so much more fun than the history in textbooks. :-)

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    2. Kelli! Welcome to Seekerville. Glad to have you here. Pass the Ranger Cookies.

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  40. Hi, Karen, I wonder if you had mentioned Ella Thayer's book before as I downloaded it Aug. 15, 2013. I so enjoy your communication themes. Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. Thankful for all of the research so much more than we learned in school. I, too, like the everyday and people of the times past. So interesting to me to travel along with them. My favorites are immigrant stories and their adjustment to coming to America. Stayed in neighborhood communities together because of language, customs, food supplies, and... music! The Italian neighborhood was removed in one city because of "urban renewal." So sad to lose their history for today's children to tangibly have their ancestor's way of life in photos, recipes, and house and gardens...
    I would love to win a copy of Heart on the Line. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    1. I agree, Kathleen. It is so sad when we lose pieces of history to "progress". I know we can't keep it all, but then I see places in Europe where they still live in building that have been around since the 1700s and I mourn that loss all over again.

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  41. I love the cover of this new book! Very cool with the dots and dashes - clever designer for sure. People never cease to amaze me with the talents they have. A sure sign of the Master Creator's design. I would love to win a copy of your book. One of my favorite things about your books is your sense of humor.

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    1. Thanks, Aimee. There's nothing more uplifting than I good laugh. One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 17:22 - A cheerful heart is good medicine. That's one of my life's mottos.

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    2. Hi there Aimee, welcome to Seekerville.

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  42. Karen's newsletter just hit my in box. IT IS GORGEOUS and has a cover reveal x2 and...No Other Will Do is on sale June 15-18 for 1.99.

    You must sign up for this terrific newsletter peeps.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. If people are interested in the newsletter, head to my website - www.karenwitemeyer.com. The newsletter sign-up is in the sidebar on the homepage.

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  43. Karen Witemeyer fans have joined us today. Welcome to Karen's posse. Must go fill up the ice tea carafes and bring in more food!!

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  44. What a clever premise. I love the idea of "secret" codes and that telegraph operators can recognize one another's signature styles.

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    1. Thanks, Beth. I've always been a sucker for a good secret code. Ha! Especially between a courting couple. In fact, if you read the book, toward the end you'll notice a numeric code Grace and Amos use to say "I love you" over the telegraph line. My husband created that code for me when we were dating, and we still use it today. In fact, we've passed it down to our kids.

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    2. BETH CARPENTER! WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE.

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    3. Aw, that is a heart melter!!! Love it, Karen.

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  45. Karen, Welcome back to Seekerville! LOVED this post and I found your research fascinating (and fun). I adore the premise for Heart on the Line!

    I smiled when you mentioned opening Google to research. How easy it is to get sucked into the great vortex! But...like you said. Sometimes, you unearth such great info, it HAS to be used! You just gave a whole, new meaning to online dating. LOL

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Cynthia. Solomon was right when he said there was nothing new under the sun. :-)

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  46. Hi Karen!!!!
    I LOVE your books! I think I read an excerpt for this one in one of your other books because it sounds so familiar. I am very much looking forward to reading it. I would love to be in the draw, but I'm thinking I'm not patient enough to wait.
    I always enjoy your books because they have such great characters and information. I love the story behind how you found information. Bunny trails are great for some things - especially if you're a bunny, but knowing when to stop is key. Unfortunately, I know when, but I tend to not have the wherewithal to actually stop. *heavy sigh*
    I'm off to go check out that Wired Love romance you mentioned in the post. Looking forward to reading Heart on the Line. I do so love clever designers who add subtle things to covers.
    I have an alphabet code I created when I was attempting a sci-fi story. I showed my seven year old son, and he loves it. He likes to play a "code" game with me and write messages to me. I never thought he'd like it so much. It's fun to see him get excited about that. Maybe I should introduce him to morse code - he might like that as well.

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    1. How wonderful that you and your son have a secret code, Deb. Love that! There's just something so cool about communicating in code. It makes you feel special and intelligent when you know something others don't. No wonder your son loves it!

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  47. KAREN, I'm so excited to read Heart on the Line. Sounds like the research rabbit trail lead to a wealth of information. The cover is lovely!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Thanks, Caryl! This was one rabbit trail I'm glad I followed. :-)

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  48. All this talk of Morse code has nudged memories from my childhood. My dad was a ham radio operator. He taught me Morse code before I was old enough to go to school. And I used to fall asleep to the lullaby of that tap-tap-taping. :-)

    Love this idea of online dating 19th century style. Brilliant backdrop for a love story for sure! Looking forward to reading Heart on the Line but don't enter me in the draw 'cause I live in Canada.

    Oh -- and interesting tidbit I've learned from reading fiction? Chapel cars!!!! From The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller. I'd never heard of them -- and as far as I can tell we never had any in Canada. This book inspired me so much that I had to do my own research. I don't know I never heard about chapel cars before. And why no one has ever written any historical fiction around them. Such a unique angle to use in a story.

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    1. Very cool tidbit, Kav. Love those Chapel cars. And how fun that you have a connection to Morse Code! One of the reason women could work as telegraphers was that they could bring their babies to the office and let the nap or play while they "manned" the telegraph. You were living out the traditions of the past with your father.

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  49. Karen, so glad you could be with us today. Loved your blog post and loved learning about the special touch each Morse Code operator had. How interesting!

    As a kid, I used to stand at my bedroom window and flick a flashlight on and off at night to signal friends who lived nearby in Morse Code. We considered ourselves detectives who were so very clever!

    Great cover. Great blurb. I know Hearts on the Line is a great story. Congrats!

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    1. What fun, Debby! You sound like very clever children indeed. :-)

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  50. This sounds like such a wonderful story ,Karen! Thanks for sharing this post with us ! Everything about your new book is so clever from the plot to the cover! It's so cool that you happened to find that old story (which sound so sweet) as inspiration! As for your reader question I would say that when I started reading the Little House books as a little girl (my first foray into historical fiction) they taught me many things about daily pioneer life that watching westerns just didn't tell me. From them on I was off and running anxious to read more historical books and learn all the new info I could! Thanks for your stories Karen and for your giveaway!

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    1. We share a love of Little House, Lynne. I remember my third grade teacher gave me a copy of the main book (second in the series) as a prize for working hard in class and after reading it, I went out and devoured the entire series. Plus, I loved the TV show. That series along with Anne of Green Gables started my love of historical fiction.

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  51. I think what I like least about research is the amount of time it takes. As a mom of three, I have very little time to write, and when I get that time, I want to WRITE, not research. I think, too, that it gets overwhelming; the more you learn, the more you realize you need to learn, and I end up paralyzed with fear that I will write something incorrect and forever lose credibility in the eyes of a reader. Even when I write what I know, my experience may not be the same as someone else's, and that might cause them to dismiss me. I guess it just feels like a big test and I'm terrified of getting the wrong answer. :)

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    1. I get that way, too, Amanda. That is the main reason I promised myself I would never write a book during the Civil War. Too many people know too much about that era. I'm SURE I would get something wrong. But if the source is credible, I feel confident using what I find. So far, I haven't had any experts bash my research, so maybe I'm on the right track.

      Don't let fear slow you down, Amanda. You can do it!

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  52. Karen, thanks so much. I love the excerpt from your book. I can't wait to read it. I can't imagine writing historical ... but I so love to read it. The lesson I've learned is that it's definitely worth doing all your homework up front so that you don't have to do repairs later. And I definitely want to represent others well. My story might be fiction, but I want my facts as close to reality as possible.

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    1. Amen, Shelli. That's my philosophy, too. Stay true to the facts of the time period while fictionalizing the characters and plot. It's an important balance. No, fiction writer don't just make everything up. Ha!

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  53. Hi Karen,
    Ever since I read No Other Will Do I've been waiting for a return trip to Harper's Station. Grace from Heart On the Line is just the type of character I'm drawn to, a strong woman in an untraditional role. I've learned a lot about women and the unusual roles they've held while enjoying some terrific reading too. To name a few I've read recently that taught me some things I didn't know:

    All of You by Sarah Monzon, WW2 had female pilots that aided in the war effort. There's also a modern day airplane restorer, a very male-dominated career.

    A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander, a talented violinist wasn't allowed to play in an orchestra because she was a woman, but managed to use her talents anyway.

    The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck features a female writer who isn't taken seriously because she's female.

    Susan May Warren's Montana Fire series with female firejumpers, didn't know women did this type of firefighting.

    And TINA! A Morse Code Intercept Operator! I love finding out this tidbit!

    Please enter me in the book drawing, I'm looking forward to Amos and Grace's story. Thank you for the drawing and the fun post!

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    1. Great examples, Tracey. Women are strong, and I love reflecting that in my stories. whether they have traditional roles or nontraditional ones, they all gumption and determination to accomplish their goals.

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    2. Yeah, darn, couldn't find a job equivalent when I got out. Bummer. Had to become a writer.

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    3. Haha Tina, I'm glad you chose writing, but glad I don't have to learn Morse Code to decipher your books, it seems hard to memorize.

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  54. Hi, Karen! Just dashing in and out for now, (hope to come back later and read all the comments) but wanted to say how much I enjoyed the excerpt from your book. Sounds so interesting! I love research, all methods, and actually prefer it to writing some days (although I truly do love writing, too :-) Those rabbit trails are a frequent problem/favorite pastime for me. Thanks for such a fun post!

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  55. I agree that the best part of research is learning something new, I'd say that probably the worst part is having to find the stuff to research, having to search through the less fun tidbits to get to the interesting stuff.

    Thanks to everyone who prayed for me today. The procedure went well and now I am on the road to recovery, and so hopped up on drugs that my mouth only feels a little weird.

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    1. Nicki! I'm so glad things went well, Praise the Lord. Yay for good medicine and the guiding hand of God.
      And good pain killers!!! :)

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  56. Karen, thank you so much for spending the day with us. Praying for continued success for you. Ditty, dum dum ditty.

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  57. Congrats on your new release Karen. It sounds so interesting. I love the secret communication. :) I love learning new things so research can be really fun, but the rabbit holes can be frustrating. :(

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  58. Such a delightful post! Love the whole Morse Code idea and can't wait to read your new book, Karen!

    Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. And, sometimes it's right in our own family history! My Great Aunt Hattie rode horseback in the Missouri Ozarks to take the census and still managed to take care of her eight children! She's the only family member I remember with a three-hole outhouse! LOL

    Happy Tuesday evening to all!!

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  59. Love this! Welcome back to Seekerville, Karen. :)

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  60. Yay! I loved Ella Cheever's Wired Love, and am currently loving Heart On the Line!

    I've always wondered (and this may show how little I know about telegraph machines), how does one communicate a "dash" by tapping? Especially if not using the machine? I'll have to check out a youtube video or something, haha.

    I'm not fond of research, because of the rabbit trails, haha! I'm easily distracted, and can spend hours researching and come out with little to show for it. It's kind of scary to me, like a bottomless pit, though I do what I must to try and to make my stories authentic. :)

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  61. In an upcoming blog post, I found pages in two books that became the backbone for a piece entitled Two Women and a Dumpster about clearing out my Aunt & Grandmother's house. The two books? Dani Shapiro's Hourglass and Ruth Bell Graham's Legacy of a Packrat. Call it serendipity; I call it a God thing.

    I am new to Seekerville and appreciate the positive vibe here.

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  62. I am looking forward to reading this! I looked up Wired Love and read it! (I love how one of the characters perfectly described a cell phone)
    I can't wait to have my own copy!

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  63. I can't remember everything that I've learned from novels! There's so much knowledge there, both historical and spiritual! One recent example is the book The Perfect Horse. I learned quite a bit about WWII that I never would've known otherwise. It's all so fascinating to me!

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  64. I loved reading about your rabbit trails. I quickly went and downloaded the free Kindle book that inspired Heart on the Line. I look forward to reading it later today. Your book immediately went onto my wish list. If only there were more money to buy books! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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  65. Oh my goodness, reading this article has sold me on this book. Sounds perfectly irresistible.

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  66. Hi Karen, another proud member of your posse here! I love your books and Heart on the Line sounds like another wonderful read! I face the same problem when I research but so far no new novel idea has come from my rabbit trails but I'm going to give myself permission to go down a few more looking for inspiration!

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  67. Well done, Karen! Your book sounds intriguing!

    As a reader I pick up all kinds of wonderful tidbits from novels. I guess the freshest is about traveling the rivers of France, from a book I'm currently reading.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  68. As a librarian, one of my favorite duties was reference. I loved researching so that I could help a patron so I appreciate authors who do extensive research to present readers their best stories. I am like Trixi because I also recently learned about Orphan Trains but it was by reading Keira's Escape, a novella by Name Greene. Karen, this book sounds like an excellent read and I would love to have my name entered.
    Thank you and Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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