Following Maria’s Journey by Anne Schroeder

anne-croppedFellow member of Women Writing the West and Past-President (2015), Anne Schroeder writes memoir and historical fiction set in the West. She has won awards for her short stories published in print and on-line markets. She and her husband, along with their new Lab puppy, live in Southern Oregon where they explore old ruins and out-of-the-way places. Her new release, Maria Ines, is a novel about an Indian girl who grows up under Padre Junipero’s cross and endures life under the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquest of California.  You can learn more about Anne at and read her blog at

Anne has very kindly agreed to give away one copy of Maria Inés to one reader who leaves a comment.  And the winner is Barb Froman.  My thanks to everyone who left a comment.

If you’re like me, reading and writing about the historical West anchors us in a world that feels increasingly adrift. (The past fits neatly with my “earth person” persona, as I embrace home and hearth.) The “everywoman” character leads us into the story and we explore a world that feels familiar. It’s easy to love a character when we identify with her wants, her needs and her pain.

Maria Inés is the protagonist in my historical fiction novel of the same name. She’s on a hero’s journey to find her son who was taken from her as a child, and to find missing parts of herself. She is patient and accepting, and relies on her faith in God. Like all great historical characters, she is a “fly on the wall” for the events and times that follow the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquests of California, an era that is rich in story and color. A Mission Indian, a neophyte, she has been baptized by the padres who travel with Father Junípero Serra. She and her People provide hides, food and gold for the gente de razón literally “people of reason,” the high-borns in California and Spain.

I began writing this novel after I heard someone say that they would never visit a California Mission because the Catholics killed off all the Indians through genocide; that the Missions were an evil place. My research and my college studies showed me that the truth was a lot more complicated. Maria Ines seemed to agree because she led me (and is still leading me) through nuances that include her intense love for the Catholic Church in spite of how it overturned her world. Interestingly, by the time the Yanquis arrived, the gente de razón and the Church were split in their loyalties, some siding with Mexico, others with Spain, and a civil war was in the works.

The Salinans fared well under the Mission system, if one doesn’t consider the downside of cultural eradication. But the quiet world of the Missions ended in 1834, when the Mexican government, who had won its freedom from Spain, instituted a policy of secularization that set the Salinans free—of their occupations, food and religious strictures. With their native plants destroyed by tens of thousands of Mission cattle and horses, and little memory of the old ways, the people were depleted in spirit and health. Thus begins the Time of the Troubles of which I write. By then their numbers had been decimated by white men’s diseases, the big one being syphilis, introduced by the soldiers.

Maria Inés is a composite from stories shared by women of the Salinan tribe in California’s Central Coast. I read their stories, walked their beaches and rivers, camped in their great-grandmothers’ rancherías, visited their mortars and pounded acorns in the same worn stone pockets. I made adobe bricks to repair the walls of Mission San Miguel after the 2002 earthquake. I listened to their traditional music, sifted through chert piles for the bone fragments and broken sea shells they left behind. I stood beneath a huge valley oak and heard Maria Inés calling to me.

These facts and details provided a boundary for my characters to move within. My project began with a timeline drawn on butcher paper, stretched across a wall of my writing room. On this paper I included relevant scraps of info that I found in period biographies and non-fiction books. At present I have about 60 books, but I’m always adding to my collection. Many of the books are about the Plains Indians. It’s harder to find information about the California tribes, I suspect, because male writers and readers are intrigued by the guns and battles between the tribes and the US Army. Not much of that in California. The takeover by America was pretty much an insurgency of 49ers who poured into the state and overran the native Californios. Many of those who prospered married their daughters off to enterprising Yanquis.

Many of the Salinan married Mexican or Spanish soldiers and most of their descendents still live within the original tribal boundaries. The language root of the Salinan is the same as that of the Aztecan, and unique to only these two groups. One theory is that when the huge tribe migrated across the Bering Strait from Asia, the weak and the unwarlike were left behind in California.

I met with several Salinan women elders, heard some of their stories and read the books that were available about their history. Maria Inés’ story continues to guide me. I’m working with one of the Salinan women who is a direct descendant of Tiburcio Vasquez, an infamous bandido and gente de razon who terrorized early Yanqui arrivals. The result will be The Caballero’s Son, a story of Maria Inés’ lost son.

Cholama Moon, (Oak Tree Books) follows Maria Ines’s journey. Five Star Publishing has made Maria Inés available in hardcover for libraries and bookstores, and Kindle. If you feel so inclined, ask your library to order a copy so that readers can discover a strong California Indian woman. Both of these are available on Amazon and Kindle.

mariainesfrontMaria Inés is available at

Five Star:

AND  Amazon:és-Anne-Schroeder-ebook/dp/B01M7O422I/

Here’s an Excerpt:

Alta California

September, 1818

Chapter One

The fury of the storm seemed to be a warning. The few who still called themselves the People of the Oaks whispered that the flooding was the gods’ anger because they had left their villages and their traditional ways to dwell among the padres at Mission San Miguel Arcángel. But others argued not. For them the rain was a blessing from the true God.

“Let the rains come,” a young woman prayed as she lay waiting for her next birthing pain. “Let us be safe this night.” She was a neophyte, a baptized Indian with a name given to her by the padres and she felt afraid in this new place. But no travelers would arrive seeking hospitality in this weather. Tonight El Camino Real was flooded, the thin wagon track that followed the rivers and valleys from the border of New Spain, north to the Missions of Alta California. “Let the rains come,” she repeated. “Let our fields and our hearts be renewed.”

Her heart was one with the forces raging outside her walls, ancient winds whipping through the olive grove, ripping off branches and pitching them into the north wall of the dormitory. The sound of singers and cantors in the nearby church were muted as whorls of rain lashed the clay-tiled roofs, windows, and rough-hewn doors.

Alfonsa lay inside the adobe room assigned to her husband, Domingo. Restlessly, she stirred in her birthing bed, feeling its sturdy willow frame flex beneath her. A fragrant layer of pine needles sent out a sweet fragrance, sap freed by a layer of heated rocks in the trench beneath her. She breathed deeply and her mind saw the forest where, a few days earlier, she had walked from sunrise to sunset to gather pine boughs. Domingo had built the bed in the way of her ancestors to please her, a deep rectangular trench dug into in the hard-packed adobe floor holding five rocks still hot from the fire. His mother bound the frame with woven tule grass to protect the skin from the heat. Alfonsa now rested safely above the half-buried stones and waited.

“It is good, ’mingo,” she whispered, and her heart swelled with gratitude. She longed to tell him this, but he was not present. His mother had chased him from the room because the old taboos did not allow him to take part in the birth. The two were both at evening service, along with every other neophyte, and she was alone.

A basket of pine nuts lay nearby, a gift he had brought so she would have strength for her ordeal. She glanced at the basket, but her body was filled with anticipation, not hunger—a thing her husband would not understand because his belly was never full, even after he had taken his meal. Alone but unafraid, she bit down on an olive twig to blunt her moan from the world outside. “The rain is God’s gift,” she whispered through cracked lips. “Our prayers are heard.”

Another pain engulfed her. She shut her eyes, bit into the twig, and tried to hold onto yesterday’s memory when Padre Juan Martin had stood in the courtyard, his hands raised to the sky as a warm breeze wafted his robe like the wings of a dove. Strong and fervent, his voice swelled to the cloudless sky as he led his people in prayer for rain. Rain so that there would be more wheat in the fields and vegetables in the gardens. Food for the escolte, the Spanish soldiers protecting the Mission. Food for the padres and their guests. Grain to trade to the other Missions and to send to the governor for taxes. And if there was any left, food for the neophytes, for her and her baby soon to be born.

The summer heat had been intense, the rain sparse, but the Spanish Governor de Solá had levied extra taxes in the form of wine and cattle hides. Many workers died in the latest round of hunger and typhoid, leaving fewer to gather the crops. She did not complain like some of the others who groused under their breath about the six hours of labor required of them—even though the padres worked as hard as any of them—but drought made things harder. Her belly, big with baby, made drawing water difficult; carrying the burden basket pulled down her shoulders and strained her back with the pressure of the strap. This is why she knew God had sent the rain for her, and just in time.





christmas-clip-artDecember, as my readers will know, I always like to have as guests some fellow authors to share their thoughts on the holiday season. This year I had the pleasure of working with some of the best authors in western romance on Come Love a Cowboy, and the experience was so enjoyable that I asked them back for a Christmas reunion. Just to remind you, Continue reading

A Fence Around Her: Double-jacking Competitions

brigid-amos-headshot Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. As a  playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the board of the Angels Theatre Company. She is also an active member of  the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart Continue reading

A Friendly Ghost

I’m delighted to say this is the second anthology in which I’ve had the pleasure of being included with Patti Sherry-Crews. Patti lives in Evanston, IL with her husband and two children. She writes both contemporary and historic romance. Under the name Cherie Grinnell, she has written a series of steamy romances set in Dublin and Wales. She likes to include armchair travel with her books. Continue reading

Psychic Adventures

charlene-raddon-headshot-4Another  co-author from The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly, Charlene Raddon is also a talented cover designer. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels. These were later released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. Currently, they are self-published with new covers designed by the author. Continue reading

Stepping Back in Time

anitaphilmarppAnita Philmar likes to create stories that push the limit. A writer by day and a dreamer by night she wants her readers to see the world in a new way.

Influenced by old movies, she likes to develop places where anything can happen and where special moments come to life in a great read.

Naughty or Nice?

Read her books and decide.

One of the reasons we enjoy reading historical fiction is because it gives us a chance to step back in time and experience another way of life. In McKee’s Ghost, we travel to Nebraska positioned in the heartland of America.

The small town of Shelton, Nebraska, has an interesting history starting with the way it acquired its name. Its original name was Wood River Centre and it is one of the oldest communities in Nebraska. The Great Western Stage Company established a stop here on it’s route to Fort Kearney. Years later, the Union Pacific railroad decided to use this town as a stop on its line to the west coast.

Patrick Walsh, the postman for this small town, wanted the name changed because of the confusion it had with another small community call Wood River. In 1873, he wrote the Postmaster General pleading for a new name. He renamed the post office to Shelton after Nathan Shelton, an auditor for the Union Pacific Railroad.

The town’s name shows no record of ever being officially changed. Probably to end the confusion with the other city, the citizens just started using the same name as the post office, and the name stuck.

Another interesting fact about the town is some of the residents of Shelton and Buffalo County raised Draft horses. The huge creatures were a much-needed asset for farmers. These animals were used to do the heavy lifting for their owners. Not only did draft horses plow the fields but also helped with other chores. These amazing creatures have a gentle disposition and don’t spook easily, making them perfect to have around a growing family. Living for twenty to thirty years, these animals were a solid addition to a farmer’s family.

Today, this area has a solid reputation of having some of the best breeders of draft horses in the state. Even today, the draft horse pull is one of the most popular events at the Nebraska state fair.

Like so many small towns across the country, Shelton, NE, has a unique history and has created a proud legacy of hardworking people building a solid future for their residents.

TGTBTGFInalCoverAbout McKee’s Ghost

His fiancée called off their engagement after be accosted by a ghost in his house.

Now, a beautiful ghost detective has shown up at his ranch, saying his brother has hired her to take care of the unwanted spirit.

Konnor McKee is more than happy with PSI Agent Ruth Oliva Wilson. One look and he was hooked. Now, if he can only get some help from a ghost, he might be able to secure himself a bride after all.

With the return of his ex-fiancee, his life is turn upside down by an angry ghost, a vindictive woman and a sexy medium. Konnor doesn’t know which way to turn.

Can he get everyone out of this alive and marry the PSI Agent?

Or has he lost all hope of a happy future because of the ruthless ghost of one of his ancestors?

Excerpt for McKee’s Ghost

The hands he’d dropped to her waist shifted. One drew Ruth deeper into his embrace while the other nudged her chin up with a knuckle until their eyes met. His searing gaze lit a fire, heating her core and arousing every cell in her body.

“No. The gentleman in me heads south whenever you enter the room. All I can think about is getting my hands on you.” Konnor sprayed his palms over her back and tugged her deeper against his chest. “I want you in a way I’ve never wanted a woman before, under me screaming while I make you completely mine.”

She gasped. “But you don’t even know me.”

“You’re wrong. Some instinct inside me knew the moment we met you belong to me. Now, all I need to do is convince you of that fact.” He dropped his mouth over hers. His kisses were gentle and sweet one moment, demanding and urgent the next.

The crisp flavor of the apple he’d just eaten played over her taste buds. Pleasure overruled the sound logic of keeping him at a distance. Instead, she gave into the tempestuous assault to her senses and slid her arms around his neck. Minutes passed. The hunger inside her growing until she couldn’t catch her breath.

He tore his mouth from hers, and she gasped for air. “Please, sweetheart, I’m not a patient man, especially when I’ve waited so long for you. I need—”

“Don’t say it,” she whispered and lowered her head to avoid eye contact. She’d tempted him, let him think if he asked for more, she’d willingly give him whatever he wanted.

Realizing how much she already cared for him, she rebelled against the likelihood of losing her heart to another man. More than once, she’d fallen into the trap of believing a man would love her no matter what.

Every time, she paid with a broken heart. This time, she needed to give him a day or two to come to terms with the true nature of her abilities. Once he saw her in action, he’d change. The desire he felt would wilt until he had no feeling for her at all.

“I’m sorry, but we need to take this slow.” She lowered her hands and pressed them against his chest. “Now, you should tend to your horses.”

Konnor studied her for a long moment before he slowly released his grip. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve finished my nightly chores.”

She nodded, and he turned for the door with a sigh.

The light click of the latch falling into place felt like a shot through her heart. She’d come here determined to do her job and leave. However, Konnor had blindsided her with his charm. She’d broken her new rule of not becoming involved with a client.

Now, she had to figure out a way to keep her heart safe when everything inside her wanted to give in to Konnor’s demands.

Find Anita Philmar at







Adding a dash of Western. No big deal, right?

erin-hayes-profile-photoSci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist, Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books. She works as an advertising copywriter during the day, and is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author by night. She has lived in New Zealand, Texas, Alabama, and now San Francisco with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia. Here’s her take on moving from writing paranormal romance to a western historical setting. Continue reading

The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway

Title:  Long a Ghost, and Far Away   Box Set: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly   Author:   Andrea Downing   Genre:  Paranormal Western Historical Romance     Book Blurb:…

Source: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway

Because of Virginia City

Blaire EdensBlaire Edens is another fellow author from the Good, the Bad and the Ghostly.  She lives in the mountains of North Carolina. She grew up on a farm that’s been in her family since 1790. Of Scottish descent, her most famous ancestor, John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Guardian of Scotland, was murdered by Robert the Bruce on the altar of the Greyfriars Church at Dumfries. Continue reading

Yuma Territorial Prison – The Dark Cell and Ghosts

I previously had the pleasure of working with Keta Diablo on the anthology, Come Love a Cowboy, so when she asked me to join her on this boxed set I jumped at the chance. Keta  lives in Minnesota on six acres of woodland. When she isn’t writing or gardening she loves to commune with nature. A lifelong animal lover, she also devotes her time and support to the local animal shelters. Continue reading