Ramona K. Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance poet, and award-winning inspirational romance writer. First published in poetry, she’s had ninety inspirational verses published on gift items sold by Dicksons, Inc., a leader in the Christian gift market. Her other publishing credits include five inspirational historical romance novels and two novellas.
Ramona lives in southern Indiana with her husband, Jim. When not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.
Please welcome Ramona Cecil this week. Ramona is my dear friend and a wonderful prayer warrior. She is giving away a copy of her new release Heart's Heritage. Answer the question: How much historical facts do you like or How much is too much historical facts? Ramona is wonderful at finding the perfect balance between the two! Be sure to let me know if you're a follower and to leave your email addy.
Blending Historical Facts With Juicy Fiction to Cook Up a Sweet Romance
Hi everyone! I’m so glad to be here on Sword and Spirit. Thank you, Debbie Lynne for inviting me to talk about my latest book, Heart’s Heritage, and what inspired the story.
Those who know me know I love history, especially Indiana history. I often look to actual historical events as well as local lore for story ideas. Heart’s Heritage is the product of just such an inspiration. The story is set in my southern Indiana county of Jackson in 1812, just prior to the outbreak of the War of 1812 and four years before Indiana earned statehood.
I’ll try to give you a bit of background about the story’s setting without completely boring you with dry, historical facts. About thirteen miles from where I live is Vallonia, Indiana. Nestled in a bucolic valley surrounded by wooded hills, Vallonia is a small rural community with a rich history. First settled by French fur traders, the place was the site of a 19th Century settlers’ fort built as protection from the local Shawnee and Delaware Indian tribes. Each October, to celebrate the town’s history—Vallonia was once in the running for state capitol—the town hosts “Fort Vallonia Days,” an outdoor fall festival built around a replica of the old fort.
For me, the place has always conjured up colorful images of French Voyagers sporting red knit hats and baggy pantaloons as they step from pelt-laden canoes to trade with the local Indians on the banks of the White River. And if that were not enough to fire my imagination, add a local legend about settlers starving in the fort besieged by warring Shawnee. Turns out there is no truth to the legend, but hey, a great story, huh? Stir both images together briskly, throw in a dash of the War of 1812, a sprinkle of the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh and voilà, you get the story of a French voyager’s daughter and an American soldier on the lamb from the army. Think Alice of Old Vincennes meets The Last of the Mohicans.
Though I love history and I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, in the end, I peddle fiction. I didn’t want my readers to confuse all that happens in the book with the actual history of Vallonia, so I knew I’d need to fictionalize the place. A few years ago when the idea of the book was still fermenting in my mind, a local historian advised that if I chose a fictional name for the place it should be a French one since Vallonia is from the French word Vallon, meaning “small valley.”
I considered several options, but because two local rivers, the White and the Muscatatuck merge there, I settled on Deux Fleuves, which is “Two Rivers” in French. Fort Deux Fleuves in my story is patterned exactly after the modern day reconstructed fort that now stands in Vallonia. In my mind, Deux Fleuves settlement and Fort Deux Fleuves is Vallonia, and geographically it is. The names of the rivers, though, and all the other places mentioned in the book are real. Also real was the New Madrid earthquake that struck the Midwest in late 1811 with aftershocks that continued well into the early part of 1812.
Something fun I like to do in my writing is to work family names into my stories. I was able to do that in a couple instances with Heart’s Heritage. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Brock, the given name I use for my hero. My maternal great-grandmother’s maiden name was Martin, Brock’s last name and Annie’s married name. It’s kind of like giving a wink to my own family heritage.
As you’ve probably gathered, my recipe for a good romance is blending the right measure of fact and fiction. For me, the fictional story and characters help to bring the history of Indiana alive. In turn, I hope the real places and factual history I sprinkle through my stories help to give life to my characters and their fictional tales of romance. Hopefully I got the recipe just right, and Heart’s Heritage will leave you wanting seconds.
After the deaths of both her husband and papa, Annie Martin is left with nothing of their legacy but a small plot of land in Indian Territory. Her place is on the homestead they cherished, and she will not let anyone take what is hers. Until she meets Brock Martin and learns he has rights to half of the land .
Brock only recently discovered that his uncle bequeathed him land. Now he is torn between protecting Annie's feelings and protecting his own neck. A false murder charge forced him to flee the army, and the only way to clear his name is to hire a lawyer to defend his case. He needs money, and selling the land may be the only way to get it.
Can the two find common ground before something more precious than sod beneath their feet is ripped from their hands?
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