Don’t you love when God creates a “chance” encounter that leads to something so much bigger? That’s how I met Leanne. I came in late to a general session at a writing conference a couple years ago and saw a lovely lady sitting by herself at a table in the back of the room. Not wanting to cause any disruption, I slipped into the chair next to her. We got to talking afterward and discovered we had a great deal in common. We both wrote historical fiction, we both worked at Christian universities, and we both were in the market for a new writing friend. Fast forward a couple years, and Leanne’s first novel is ready to hit the shelves. I’m so delighted for her success, and I know you will love getting the chance to know her and her story. So without any further ado . . . my friend, Leanne.
It’s 1866. The Civil War has ended and Reconstruction has begun…just not for everyone.
Not for Abigail Baldwyn, who, on a cold day in February, finds herself standing in a post office in Tennessee trying to absorb the contents of a letter from Washington: your husband is not dead as previously reported.
If Robert is not dead, then why has he not come home? Or written this news himself to her and their four children?
When Abigail walks back to her house, the banker is there to collect on the loan Abigail has taken to provide for their family. Without Robert’s death benefits, she has no way to pay it.
Reconstruction hasn’t started for Hoke Mathews, either. That same February day, Hoke is riding a Texas trail when he narrowly escapes a mountain lion attack. Looking into the coals of his campfire that night, he regrets there is no one who would have mourned for him had he lost his life that morning. Hoke feels an undeniable pull to return to his roots in Independence, Missouri.
Abigail and Hoke are the central characters in my debut historical fiction/inspirational novel, Leaving Independence, released by Waterfall Press June 21.
Thirty years ago, when I was a new bride sitting at my kitchen table, I saw a woman in a nice pair of boots walking down the boardwalk of a western town. By the sound of her heels click, click, clicking on the wooden slats, I could tell she was upset.
But I didn’t know why.
Five years ago, when my youngest child was a senior in high school, I was walking in my neighborhood when God flipped a switch in my brain. Suddenly I knew how this mysterious story ended, and I knew it was finally time to share it with a larger audience than just myself.
I knew that in Idaho Territory, that same fate-filled day in February of 1866, a Piute woman would reach inside the pocket of a folded soldier’s uniform and pull out a picture…of Abigail Baldwyn.
And I knew that when Abigail stood in her Tennessee post office again weeks later, having finally received a return letter from Robert declaring that he had no plans to return, she would angrily walk her well-heeled boots toward home again, then eventually point them toward Independence to join a wagon train up the Oregon Trail to find him.
I also knew that the journey she suspected might be fraught with certain risks would indeed be…just not the ones she was expecting.
Leaving Independence is offered in paperback, e-reader and audio versions online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million (http://www.leannewsmith.com/purchase-book/) and perhaps in a brick and mortar store near you. (Ask for it!) Go to Karen Witemeyer’s website today to enter a giveaway for a free signed copy (http://karenwitemeyer.com/monthly-contest.html).
Leanne W. Smith is a novelist and professor grateful for the opportunity to guest post today on Inspired by Life…and Fiction. She serves on the faculty of a university in Nashville where she teaches business communication and mentorship skills. Visit her blog at www.leannewsmith.com to learn more about her book and course content.
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