I’ve now written over thirty novels. Nearly all of them have been historical romances, with one thriller and a few contemporary romances thrown into the mix.
Last year, I started writing and self-publishing e-books. When I wrote for the New York print publishers, I was stuck doing romances. It’s where I made a name for myself and where my publishers wanted me to stay. But once I started publishing my own stories, I could write whatever I wanted.
And I wrote MUD CREEK.
It’s my first mainstream historical novel, and I got the idea from a bit of family history that always fascinated me.
My great grandmother homesteaded in the Dakotas in 1904. She and her twin sister grew up in a small town in upstate New York. They graduated from high school the year they were sixteen. That summer, they married two neighbor boys who were friends.
The local newspaper had been running an ad, announcing that the federal government had just released some of the last free land that would ever be made available for settlement under the Homestead Act. The ad pictured a plow in the dirt with a crop of dollar bills rolling out of the tilled furrows.
However, there was a reason this was some of the last land made available. The good land was all gone. The offered plots were in an area that was fairly unfit for human habitation. It was very arid, the ground rough and rocky and unsuitable to sustain either crops or cattle. The conditions were harsh, the weather brutal, the isolation extreme.
But the four optimistic teenagers—as with most homesteaders—didn’t know any of that. They were fascinated by the prospects presented in the ad and decided to seek their fortunes out west.
The boys left that summer. They chose plots of land that were side by side, and they built sod houses and prepared for the girls to join them.
The girls traveled by train the following spring. When my great grandmother arrived inSouth Dakota, she was carrying a newborn baby—my grandmother—who was six weeks old.
MUD CREEK is not my great grandmother’s story. But I think of her sometimes, holding that tiny baby and stepping off that train when she was just seventeen. I think of her climbing onto my great grandfather’s buckboard and starting off across that deserted, endless prairie. I think of how young she was, how brave and undaunted.
Then I think of myself, how—just a few short decades later—I’m a lawyer, the mother of a Hollywood film and television actor, and a New York Times bestselling author.
I’ve come a long way in such a short time, and I wonder what she’d think of me.
If you’ve read my books before, you know that I like to create really tough, strong heroines. And the setting of a bleak, barren homestead seemed to present unlimited opportunities for me as an author to write intense drama and conflict.
MUD CREEK is a story that focuses on a woman’s life, on family, duty, and loyalty. A woman has to balance so many competing burdens. How can she ever know if she’s making the right choices?
If you’d like to try MUD CREEK, and you have an e-reader, you can download it immediately. If you don’t have an e-device, I have published print copies of the book. They will not be available in stores, but can be ordered at Amazon.com, and you can receive your copy in two or three days.
I hope you’ll give MUD CREEK a try. It’s a dramatic, suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale, featuring the best heroine I’ve written in years.
At age seventeen, Helen Pendleton considered herself to be a modern woman, eager to embrace the new century. While the normal path for a female in herNew York town was matrimony and children, she shocked her parents by planning to attend college and hoping to eventually become a schoolteacher. So when her neighbor, Albert, surprised her by proposing marriage, she was smugly confident in her decision to decline his offer.
Yet time and adversity changed everything.
Three years later, with her parents deceased, and college a fading memory, she’s in dire straits. Her father’s business is bankrupt, and she’s losing her home. She is desperate, and as she reaches her lowest ebb, she receives a letter from Albert.
After she spurned him, he and his family moved west, pursuing their dream of homesteading in the Dakotas. When he hears of her dilemma, he offers marriage again, tempting her with tales of his prosperous ranch and the fine house he’s built for her out on the prairie.
With Helen out of ideas or options, she accepts his proposal, abandoning her prior certainty that she can be free and independent. But Albert has lied to her about his life on the Great Plains. He has no aptitude for ranching, and his family’s homestead is a bleak, barren place where wind, weather, and isolation guarantee that their survival is always in question.
Helen arrives in the Dakotas, seeking the security Albert has promised. But she is unprepared for the grueling reality that awaits. Trapped in a downward spiral of work and worry, and wed to a man she could never love, she must find the inner strength to endure the hand that fate has dealt her.
Bestselling novelist, Cheryl Holt, paints a world of triumph and tragedy, of joy and sorrow, where people are tested to their limits and the best and worst of humanity is revealed. Mud Creek is a tremendous, accessible, and heartrending book that whirls to a gripping climax, featuring Ms.Holt’s most memorable characters in years.
Contact Cheryl firstname.lastname@example.org