Hi, Anna, and thank you for having me here! I’m excited to share a bit about my time travel re-release, LOVING OUT OF TIME: Extended Version, and my characters Cody and Anya.
Chances are—if you’re reading this—you’ve survived Y2K. You remember the last century. Honesty, our living situation hasn’t really changed since 1999. But what about the century before? Electricity, indoor plumbing and combustible engines were all new to the average American. The rich had them, the poor craved them, and when it came to engines, the horses feared them. Life around town was a-changing, and those with money or power had new means at their disposal to flaunt their wealth.
I like the juxtaposition of old and new ways during this critical turning point in our history. While many families tied the team to the buggy or saddled their steeds to get into town, others climbed into their horseless carriage and bounced their way down rutted dirt roads in their gas, steam, or electric cars at a top cruising speed of 15 mph. After all, it wasn’t about getting there in a hurry; it was about arriving in style.
The Civil War was over; slaves were free to live as they chose, and many moved West in search of their own destinies. The country struggled with identity issues. California promised gold, and many pioneers tried their luck crossing uncharted terrain for an uncertain future. Oklahoma, my setting, wasn’t even a state yet. Grapes hadn’t made their way that far inland, but popcorn had. Medicine was questionable, with snake oil venders hauling their Conestoga wagons into town, proclaiming health and vitality in every bottle. Cocaine was available in green soda, and ingesting arsenic and strychnine were fad diets intended to increase the metabolism.
For this story to work, I needed a man who would not be overwhelmed by coming forward in time, but rather amazed at how far technology had progressed. I needed to select a time period where the world was in flux, a turning point between what had been and what could be. So I chose 1898, when society displayed this mishmash.
The past and present take place in the same location, in the fictitious town of Destino, Oklahoma, divided by a mere 117 years. From scrub land to suburbia, from an errant gazelle to the local grocer, the contrast was fun to explore. Writing this took me back to elementary school trips for Frontier Days, where dough was made fresh every morning, if the hens got spooked there would be no eggs, and if the crops didn’t grow it would be a lean winter. So much of this time period is gone to our memory, replaced with one fast trip to the local store. Having a chance to explore 1898, pretending to wander up and down the main street, plan a meal, or even to get dressed, was both exciting and challenging. I hope you, too, will smell the dust in the wind, the cloying smoke in the saloons, and Ma’s homemade chicken turning on the spit. I welcome you to the Old West.
Having a friend in the quantum physics field makes Anya Littlefeather slightly more receptive to Cody Bell’s claim that his horse tossed him from 1898 into her backyard of 2013. He certainly seems to be an honest-to-God— albeit prejudiced— handsome cowboy who is utterly surprised by the established neighborhood where he claims his family farm once stood. He’s a drifter, and Anya has too many abandonment issues with men to even consider dating someone who already breaks two of her four relationship requirements. This frees Anya to help Cody as one human does another, and not worry about the possibility of dating.
Cody had been racing home with medicine to save his niece’s life when his horse tossed him into this magical place. This Indian squaw confuses him, for she doesn’t act the way his grandfather spoke of them during the Indian/Settler Wars, and she’s courteous and helpful and respects him as a man. Her offer to help get him home seems genuine, and he fears every day spent in this amazing land jeopardizes the life of his beloved niece. The last woman he loved died, and that scar makes him hesitant to love again, regardless of his attraction.
As the time draws near for the next portal to open, Cody has to decide whether to go save the life of the last of his family, or stay here and start a new one. Anya has to either add one more abandonment issue to her list when he goes home, or ask Cody to let his niece perish and stay with her forever.
“Are we going to watch fireworks?” Cody felt his voice rise in expectation. He had only seen them once, when he happened to be in town, and really hoped Anya planned on taking him.
“Well, it’s not the 4th of July without fireworks, so, I was hoping you’d be my guest.”
He offered her his hand, palm up, and when she gave him her fingers, he placed a kiss on them. “Anya, you plumb beat me to it.”
She affected a falsetto and dropped into a makeshift courtesy, adding an accent he thought was Southern Plantation. “Why, Mr. Bell, I’d be delighted to accompany you to the fireworks tonight. Will my virtue be safe in your presence?”
Only a sinister rogue would dare steal a woman’s virtue, and he chuckled, for he knew she baited him. “Of course, Miss Littlefeather. I would have it no other way.”
She snorted, sparing him a jaunty grin as she yanked away. “Where’s the fun in that?”
His mouth dropped open in shock, his thoughts turning predictably that way, and he watched Anya saunter back home, laughing. If Anya wanted to give her virtue away, he wouldn’t complain. Not one bit.
He considered the merits of stealing a kiss.