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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Welcome Erica Vetsch and A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas


ERICA VETSCH is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

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by Erica Vetsch
Published by Barbour


Even as a female businesswoman in a world that expects men to be in charge, photographer Addie Reid believes she can succeed in Dodge City, Kansas—if she can outwit a grasping banker and keep her own past hidden. Love is the last thing Addie thinks she needs, but Deputy Miles Carr, a man with his own secrets, begins to change her mind until a smooth gambler who knows them both arrives in Dodge. Will revealed secrets disrupt the attraction between Addie and Miles and jettison the career opportunities of both Addie and Miles?

Readers, buy your copy of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas today!


My debut trade-length novel, A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, takes place in my home state in the ‘The Wickedest City in the West’ during the height of the cattle-drive era. As a Kansas native, I was familiar with the basics of Kansas history and its cow towns, but I knew I would need to delve deeper into the factual accounts of life in Dodge City if I was to portray a setting more realistic but hopefully as entertaining as Gunsmoke. I found the research fascinating, and I hope I’ve given readers a real taste of the sights, sounds, and action of Dodge.

Kansas cow towns played a key role in the cattle drive era, being the terminus of those longs treks north. Longhorn cattle from Texas were rounded up, branded, and driven in massive herds into Kansas to the railroad for the trip to the meat-packing plants of Chicago. Between the years of 1866 and 1886 an estimated 20 million longhorns walked from Texas to Kansas, first to Abilene, then Ellsworth, Newton, Wichita, Caldwell, and finally to Dodge City.

The expansion of the railroad westward across Kansas accounted for some of the changing destinations for the cattle herds, but settlers, lawmen, and the Kansas legislature accounted for the main reasons that Dodge City became the Queen of the Cattle Towns. The state legislature moved the cattle drives further and further west in the state, claiming that Tick Fever brought up by Texas cattle were infecting the livestock of the farmers and settlers living in Kansas. In reality, as the towns of Abilene and Ellsworth and Wichita became more civilized, the residents were less and less willing to put up with the vice and violence that accompanied the Texas cowboys’ arrival each summer.

Eventually, Dodge City, in the far southwest corner of Kansas, became the last place cattle and cowboys were welcome, and boy howdy, did Dodge roll out the red carpet for those Texas wranglers. The law in Dodge was instructed by the city leaders to go easy on the cowboys, allowing them pretty much a free rein in the town as long as no citizens were endangered. This wide-open reception caused saloons, dance halls, and ‘houses of negotiable affection’ to spring up all along Front Street.

In the midst of all this vice, another faction in town comprised of lawyers, doctors, and the clergy, lobbied for stricter enforcement of laws and putting the safety of the citizens ahead of the fleecing of the cowboys. This led to tensions in the town and among the law enforcement officers, most of whom had invested in saloons and dance halls in Dodge City.

I tried to weave this underlying tension into the story, forcing my characters to choose sides in the debate. I had a great deal of fun researching Dodge City and her more famous residents (some of whom make an appearance in the book,) and I hope you’ll catch a glimpse of that when you read A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas.

As a bonus, here’s a little recipe I found for some real chuck wagon food. This dish was served as a treat for the cowboys to break up the monotony of a steady diet of beef and beans.

3 cups water
1 cups sugar
2 pinches cinnamon or nutmeg
1 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons of flour

First, mix water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Mix sugar and flour together and stir into the boiling liquid until thoroughly dissolved. Cook for 15 mins, then add the spice. Mix up a batch of biscuit dough and drop by spoonsful into the simmering liquid. Serve hot.

* * * * *

Thank you, Erica, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: Most folks know of Dodge City only through the TV show Gunsmoke, so my question for you is: Did you watch Gunsmoke growing up, and did you have a favorite character? If not, another western, another character? I’ll go first and say, Yes, I did watch Gunsmoke, and my favorite character was Festus’s mule Ruth. :)

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Lauralee Bliss said...

I did not watch Gunsmoke but I did adore the series "How the West Was Won" and really wish they would release it on DVD (this is the TV series, not the motion picture).


Charity U said...

I love the cover! Any book that has to do with long dresses and cameras is something I love. :)

I'm a teen, so Gunsmoke isn't even really very familiar to me...however, I do enjoy westerns. Roy Rogers (both the actor and the movies) is a favorite, and I enjoy Bonanza (especially Little Joe.). :)


Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Lauralee, Gunsmoke was a ritual at our place. Since my husband is a big-time John Wayne fan, we have the movie of How The West Was Won, but I haven't seen the tv series. I'll have to look it up.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Charity, when I was little, I was afraid to watch Bonanza because Lorne Green's voice was so scary!

I laugh now when I watch it, wondering what I was so afraid of.

Little Joe is cool!

Lauralee Bliss said...

(info) How the West Was Won TV series

Carol Moncado said...

Hmm... I never really watched westerns.

In fact, I can't think of a single one.

So what about reading westerns?

If so, Tom Linscott from Mary Connealy's Montana Marriages/Sophie's Daughters Serieses - mostly in Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

Hope that counts... :D Though my captcha is 'cheat' - hope I'm not cheating ;).

carolmoncado at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the fun interview ladies!! I would love to win a copy of this book, I have been loving the cover ever since I saw it on Facebook. I don't remember watching westerns outside of John Wayne movies growing up, but we watch Maverick now with the incomparable James Garner :) And he is my fave character, of course!

Judy said...

Yes I watched Gunsmoke when I was growing up. I laughed when I read that question because my husband and I watch Gunsmoke every night at 7 p.m.! So, we haven't stopped watching it! My favorite character is, Festus with Doc a close second!

I would love to win a copy of, Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. Sounds like a fun book.


Pam Hillman said...

Erica, A Bride's Portait sounds like a great book! Love the cover.

And, yes, I watched Gunsmoke growing up. I liked Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty and Festus!

I remember one episode where they found some loot hidden in a hollow tree. That's all I remember about that episode! lol

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, and I meant to say that sucamagrowl stuff sounds good! Kinda like sweet, cinnamony dumplings.

Erica Vetsch said...

Lauralee, thank you!

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Carol, I imagine reading a western would qualify you for the drawing, if you can't remember watching one.

Gunsmoke is on METV right now. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Jennifer, I love Maverick. One of my favorite characters from that series was Peter Breck as Doc Holliday. I have an autographed picture of Peter as Doc that I love.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Judy! I'm watching Gunsmoke right now. It's on at noon every weekday. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Pam, Thank you for stopping by. I always wanted Matt and Miss Kitty go get married. I guess it's the romance writer in me. :)

Linda said...

I agree, Festus and his mule was the catch of the evening. Festus made the show for me.

Then there's High Chapparel. Eric.....!!!

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Linda! High Chapparel! I think I might've had a crush on Blue Cannon. :) Isn't that a hilarious character name?

Jessica Nelson said...

Oooh, oooh, I wanna win! :-)

I'm in such awe of Erica and her ability to research history. Even though I like reading and writing historicals, my research skills are amateur, at best. I can't wait to read her book!
To answer your question, I've never seen Gunsmoke and don't think I'd ever heard of Dodge City until now. I don't remember any westerns when I was growing up, except maybe a few episodes of Zorro, which I really loved. :-)

jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo (dot) com

Carol Moncado said...

Missed it Erica :(.

Just out curiosity - is Dodge City anywhere near Dodge BALL City of VeggieTale fame?


Erica Vetsch said...

Hey, Jessica! Zorro was cool!

As to the historical research, I think some of it goes back to being a history teacher. I just love it so much! :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Carol, I'm pretty sure that Dodge BALL City is a suburb of Dodge City, Kansas, located somewhere near the elementary school. :D

My family is big into Veggie Tales. :D

Tracy Smith said...

This sounds like a great book. Would love the chance to win it.

Yes, I watched Gunsmoke growing up and can even catch it on TVLand now. The hubby loves all those old shows. Festus always makes me laugh and Doc is great too.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Tracy,

Do you watch the old westerns with your husband?

My husband is a huge John Wayne fan. We have a boatload of his movies, and we really enjoy watching them together.