Today the sun shines on western author Velda Brotherton. She lives in a home she designed and helped build in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The house wraps around an old rock chimney and the original well of the homestead place, on property she and her husband bought in 1972.
Tell us about your home and why today is so special to you, Velda!
We have ten acres with a creek in the valley below. From my office I can look out sliding glass doors to a small patio that includes the well. Out the back windows the mountain slopes upward to the Ozark National Forest which is also the Boston Mountain Animal Refuge, so there are lots of wild critters that include small black bears, deer, an occasional mountain lion –they are reclusive and rarely seen, only heard — but we do have many smaller visitors. It’s a perfect place to write.
What’s special about today? It’s our 59th wedding anniversary! Getting married on December 19 wasn’t exactly what we’d planned, but circumstances can instantly change plans, as everyone knows. Korea was in an uproar in 1953 and we had been engaged since I graduated from high school in May. Then my fiancee got called up and was sent to Kansas City. I was a mess. Too young to understand all the feelings about loss and fear and that first love stuff. You know, can’t be out of sight and had to be on the telephone when we were apart. So when he returned I had a fit, as only girls of that age can. I wasn’t letting him go without us being married. My dad hit the roof, but my mother, bless her heart, completely understood. Later I learned that she told him if he didn’t give in, we’d run away and she didn’t want a split in the family. So within two weeks she handled everything from making my wedding gown to arranging the church, flowers, cake and reception.
Christmas was the farthest thing from our minds as we fled the reception to the tiny house we’d purchased in a suburb. One of those $79 down and $49 a month. Hey, it was 1953, what can I say? I worked for an insurance company and brought home $30 a week. We postponed a honeymoon until March when we spent two weeks in the Ozarks.
As it turned out, he was never sent to Korea. Something about flat feet, or some such ridiculous thing. For our first Christmas we bought a tiny tree, put it in a coffee can filled with sand. My parents were great, had us at their house for the day and we had a grand time, despite my father’s disappointment.
Every year celebrating our anniversary the week before Christmas strains things a bit, but it’s just become a part of the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s craziness. We drink champagne, sometimes go out. One year we went to the Fayetteville square and rode the buggy on a Christmas tour for our anniversary. Some years we don’t do much but get together with our children, grandchildren and maybe a couple of friends. My parents are gone now, but they would occasionally join us if we had a stay home party.
Last year things were so rushed between families that we celebrated with champagne on Christmas Eve when everyone could be with us. We have a small family so even one missing is troubling. Our 50th Wedding anniversary was pretty sad. I had just had back surgery and my brother was in the last stages of lung cancer, so it was April before we finally celebrated that event with a get together of all our friends at our daughter’s beautiful home.
Our daughter and her husband built a home on an acreage attached to ours. It’s only a short walk through a stand of pine trees to her back door. She has a daughter, a son and a grandson. We have a son who has chosen not to be part of the family because of his lifestyle. His son lives in Austin and is close to us.
Hubby and I have a cat who is six years old. She was born on the same day as our great grandson. Our daughter presented her to us when she was six weeks old. She is a bob tail and her father was part Bob Cat. She is spoiled and follows my husband around like a dog and is never far out of his sight.
I once enjoyed gardening and canning and preserving our food. We also raised our own beef and pork and chicken. I had a beautiful Tennessee Walker mare that I enjoyed riding all over the countryside. We’ve had to give that all up as we grew older and couldn’t handle the work involved. Now writing is my main source of enjoyment. We travel by car for conferences and enjoy that a lot. I drive, my husband rages. That’s why he doesn’t drive.
We share a swimming pool with our daughter and her family so the summer is filled with water play. I still like to make apple sauce and strawberry jam, things I can freeze. I’m also an artist but haven’t had time to paint since this joy of writing grabbed hold of me. My husband continues to do a lot of my research online, and I spend a lot of time promoting my books online. I guess you could say our computers are our friends. What little time I have to read is done mostly from my Kindle. I like Craig Johnson, James Lee Burke, Thomas Harris, Michael Connolly. My reading tastes are far from what I like to write, but I feel safer that way. No danger I’ll accidentally incorporate one of those writers’ words into my historical romances. I’m also a movie buff and stream them late at night for relaxation. My favorites are thrillers and drama.
My current release is Wilda’s Outlaw. Here’s what it’s about:
Wilda Duncan will do anything to escape marriage to Lord Blair Prescott, and roguish outlaw Calder Raines with his shaggy dark hair, jade green eyes and flirtatious manner will do quite nicely. All she has to do is convince him to kidnap her.
Excerpt from Wilda’s Outlaw
“You want me to kidnap you so you don’t have to marry this remittance man?”
“Remittance…? I…never mind, that is essentially it, yes. I don’t wish to marry Lord Prescott.”
“What do you think they’ll do to me if they catch us?”
She shrugged, then remembered he couldn’t see her in the dark. “Well, but they are already going to hang you if they catch you. Is that not so? So what difference would it make?” He uttered some words under his breath that she didn’t understand, but she decided it was best that way.
“I suppose that’s true,” he finally said. “But tell me one reason why I ought to do this. Just one would do, two would be better.”
“Or are you uppity English so used to having your way you thought all you had to do was ask? What’s in it for me, lady?”
Uppity? How dare he? Her tongue stuck to the roof of her dry mouth, and it was a moment before she could go on. Afraid to reply to his second question, for fear he might be getting at something she wouldn’t want to deal with, she answered the first.
“No. I don’t recall ever having my way. Not since my parents were killed and they sent me to that orphanage.”
A short silence, followed by a snort. “Oh, that’s good. Make me feel sorry for you. I watched my father murdered and my mother died of the pox when I was off fighting the damned Yankees, who burned down our house and killed both my brothers. Nobody’s ever given a damn about any of that, and they sure as hell won’t give me any breaks when they go to hang me, so why should I give you any?”
She thought about that. He was right of course. She had said nearly the same on occasion. “I’m sorry about your family, but at least I didn’t start robbing and killing people.”
“No, you just sold yourself to a man and now you want out of it.”
“That’s not exactly true.”
“And it’s not true I’ve killed…well, except in the war, and that doesn’t count. Where’d you get that idea anyway?”
“I suppose I…oh, I have no idea. I just thought – ”
“Thinking’s not good. Tell me, what do you suggest I do with you…that is, if I agree to this crazy idea?”
“Do with me?”
“Well, I can’t carry you around on the back of my horse the rest of my life, or stuff you in my saddle bags and only let you out to…uh, do your business once in a while. I do have one, you know. A life, I mean. Plans too, me and the boys.”
“Boys? What boys?”
“You’re really hard to talk to, you know that?”
“Well, I don’t understand half what you say. It does make it difficult to converse. Do you have children? Sons?”
“Holy shit. No, I don’t have children. The boys, that’s my gang.”
She batted her eyes at the expletive, tried not to be judgmental. After all, this was another culture, but he certainly possessed a gutter mouth. “The boys are your outlaw gang?”
He snapped his fingers, startled her. “Hey, I got it, you could join the gang. Do the cooking, help us rob banks. How about that?”
“Oh, dear. I’m afraid – ”
A low, pleasant laugh interrupted her. “I was only kidding. Don’t you see how impossible this is?”
“I only see how impossible my situation is. Take me to another town where I can hide from him. I cannot marry him, I simply cannot.”
“Then why don’t you just tell him so, and then leave? He can’t force you to stay, can he?” He was silent for a long while, and she made to leave. “You aren’t going to threaten to expose me…for the train robbery? If I don’t do this, I mean.”
“No, why would I do that?”
He thought for a while longer, and this time she remained still, ears clogged with the beat of her heart. “If I kidnap you and it’s not your fault you can’t marry him, you think he’ll continue to care for your sister and cousin.”
“Yes, I do. It would be a matter of honor. But─”
“All right, then. I’ll do it. We can figure out what to do with you later. But we have a problem.”
Joy cut short, she stared at him. “A problem?”
“How do you propose to convince him that you’ve been snatched rather than simply run away? Do we leave a note, or maybe I could go knock on the door and say, ‘hey, in case you didn’t notice, I’m kidnapping your fiancé, or whatever.’ Maybe that’d work.”
Pondering on that a moment, she frowned. “Oh, you cannot do that, and I’m afraid he would not believe a note…I mean, would he not think I wrote it and ran off?”
“Yeah, you may be right. Okay, let me think.”
She did, glancing occasionally toward the house. The lights had been extinguished on the lower floor, but some still burned in the bed chambers. Suppose someone went to her room, found her gone, raised the alarm? This was taking far too much time.
“Can you scream?” he asked finally, startling her.
“Why…yes, I suppose I can.”
That said, he grabbed her around the waist and tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of feed. “You can scream anytime now.”
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Check out Velda’s other books — Click the title below each photo for the link.
Stone Heart’s Woman Wolf Song
Check out Velda’s Amazon Author page to see more of her books!