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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Welcome Guest Author E. E. Burke!


The Lady Scribes are happy to welcome historical romance author E.E. Burke, and we can't wait to hear more about her exciting new project, Passion's Prize.

OK, I admit it. I’m a fan girl. I love the AMC’s television series Hell On Wheels, which follows the construction of the transcontinental railroad through the lives of characters who inhabit the moving city they dub “Hell On Wheels.” Its deliciously gritty, authentic, the writing’s fantastic and the characters are amazing—tortured, passionate, determined, multi-dimensional.


When I first saw the show, I got excited about the idea of developing a historical romance series based on stories behind the early days of the railroads. That fascinating period in many ways shaped America into the country it is today.

But the most fun I had launching this project was the opportunity to write with two very talented Golden Heart® sisters, Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson. We were Golden Heart finalists in 2010 with historical Western romances, and the three of us got excited about the idea of writing a big railroad story like the one on television. The result of our collaboration is the anthology, Passion’s Prize, the first book in the series, Steam! Romance and Rails.


Before embarking on this project, I’d never given much thought to writing with other authors, but it’s been amazing. We feed on each other’s ideas and enthusiasm. They sharpen my steel. I’ve loved every minute of the opportunity to work with two incredibly talented writers who are as jazzed up as I am about Western romance.

We’re calling Passion’s Prize an anthology, but it’s actually three interlinked novellas. We wanted to create stories within a larger story, using our characters to tie them together. The overarching plot follows an actual construction race between two railroads with very long names dubbed The Border Tier and The Katy. The race took place primarily in 1870, when both lines were laying track through Kansas as fast as they could to be first to reach the border of Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma).

Congress had promised the winning line free land and the exclusive right to pass through Cherokee lands into cattle-rich Texas. The railroad owners were ambitious men willing to do just about anything to secure the prize. Their henchmen hired spies, saboteurs and even outlaws to disrupt the competition. Our stories revolve around three women—a spy, a madam and a railroad heiress—whose lives hinge on the outcome of this race.

Our novellas are also offered separately. Kate’s Outlaw focuses two people at opposite ends of a dispute surrounding the railroad’s claim to Cherokee land. Why did I pick this story? Probably because our family has Cherokee roots and I’m fascinated by the history and culture of Native Americans, and their struggle to adapt and survive in the face of aggressive expansion and extreme prejudice.


As bankruptcy looms, the Katy Railroad rushes to complete construction through unfriendly Indian Territory, but work comes to a screeching halt when a battle over land rights heats up. Determined to save the railroad, heiress Kate Parsons takes negotiations into her own hands. However, her plans go awry when she’s abducted.

Jake Colson, known as Wa-ya, “the Wolf,” among his people, didn’t intend to kidnap anyone, but now he's stuck with a white woman whose personality is as bold as her fiery curls. When his partner threatens to kill her before she can expose their scheme to save their land, Jake takes off with his beautiful captive. Now, he must protect the woman he’s named Redbird, and at the same time prevent her father's railroad from steaming ahead.



I’m giving away a free paperback copy of Kate’s Outlaw today in a random drawing of those who comment. Please include your email address to be entered into the drawing, so Samantha can contact you if your name is chosen. The winner will be chosen Wednesday morning. 

For fans of “Hell On Wheels,” I’d love to know who their favorite character is and why. I have a tie: I love the main character Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), mostly because he’s so deliciously flawed. He’s a tortured soul, a jumbled mass of contradictions. My other favorite is Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears) who appeared in seasons one and two. That character is the most upright and honorable of all the men on that show. He exemplifies the struggle faced by Native Americans who wanted to find a path to peace, but couldn’t reconcile two cultures so odds with each other.

If you don’t watch the show, do you have a favorite character from a Western? If so, who is it and why is he or she your favorite?


E.E. Burke writes sexy, suspenseful historical romance set in the American west. Her debut release, Kate’s Outlaw, is part of a new series, Steam! Romance and Rails, which features stories based on true events from the golden age of steam railroads. An avid fan of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, she was inspired to create a railroad-themed romance series after watching the show. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the prestigious Golden Heart®.

Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. Her stories are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all.

You can reach her at:




22 comments:

  1. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Ms Burke!

    I've never even heard of Hell on Wheels and I'm devastated--it sounds fantastic!

    As does your debut! All three stories sound delicious. Best of luck to you!

    As to westerns, I think James Garner's Maverick character is a favorite!

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    1. Thanks for the welcome, Deb. I'm so delighted to be a guest here today and to have the chance to chat about a couple of my favorite topics: Hell On Wheels and my books. :) I do love that Maverick! James Garner did an awesome job in that role. Now that you know about HOW, you'll have to check it out. I think Netflix has the first two seasons, and it's worth catching up. As for our books, I'm really excited to have had the opportunity to work with two amazingly talented writers, Jennifer and Jacqui, on developing this Western series. It's been a blast. Thanks again for hosting me here!

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  2. I have never had a chance to watch Hell on Wheels, but my husband does. I will sit in next time. I love a gritty series in a historical setting. Your anthology sounds great.

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    1. Thanks, Jane. Hope you do have a chance to catch up with the story. It's a great Western, best on TV since Deadwood. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. It's great to have you here, Ms. Burke. I had never heard of Hell on Wheels either until you and I met in Atlanta. I loved how excited you were about it and your books, so I found HOW on Netflix over the weekend. I only had time to watch the first episode, but I plan to watch more. I love that it's after the Civil War so there's that continuity between Western expansion and the after-effects of the war.

    My favorite Western hero is Gus McCrae from Lonesome Dove. I haven't read the series, but I heard it was fantastic. It's on my TBR list. I'm also very fond of our own Suzie Grant, who writes historical Westerns. I think my favorite character is her heroine Blaze from The Devil's Daughter.

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    1. Samantha, thanks so much for asking me to guest blog. This is a group of amazing authors and I feel very honored. Now you've got me intrigued by Blaze, so I'm going to have to check out Suzie's book. I LOVED Lonesome Dove. One of my favorites! I love Gus, too, but have a special place in my heart for Call. Of course, it might have something to do with me being a huge fan of Tommy Lee Jones. He just has to show up and I'm there. Thanks again for letting me share about my debut project, and it's been great getting to know you better.

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  5. I haven't watched it either, but it certainly sounds like it's worth tuning in. I used to write about William Jackson Palmer who brought the Denver & Rio Grande to Colorado, and started the narrow-guage rails in the US. I'll definitely check out the book.

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    1. I'd love to read what you wrote about Palmer and the Denver&Rio Grande. Let me know where/how to find it!

      We landed on the story of the Katy RR because the details and characters involved in this race were so fascinating. Honestly, I couldn't make up anything better. My next book, Her Bodyguard, which will be the second in the series Steam! Romance and Rails, is set against the same race, only from the perspective of the Katy's competitor, the Border Tier.

      And I'm writing a followup to Passion's Prize to be released later this year. Then I'll move on to other stories, other railroads. The possibilities are darn near limitless.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. For the drawing today, I'm going to throw in a copy of Passion's Prize as well as Kate's Outlaw. That means it doubles the chances of winning, with two FREE books.

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  7. My fav is Joseph and I truly want to see him back in #HellonWheels. Im part Cherokee, it is where my loyalties lie. Just wish I knew path to let series know to please put Joseph back in. Maybe in season 4? For a chance to win your book, my email: girlbabybear@yahoo.com. Thank you and best wishes on your endeavors.

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    1. Osiyo! And thank you for coming by. I am with you on wanting them to bring back Joseph. He is one of my favorite characters because he isn't stereotypical. Yet, he's entirely authentic. Part of the reason I chose a Cherokee hero for my book Kate's Outlaw was because I wanted to correct misperceptions that seem to get recycled in books and movies. Kate, my heroine, is a pretty progressive thinker, but even she doesn't entirely 'get it' and Jake awakens her to her own ignorance. It's a little how I felt as I began to explore the Cherokee history and culture. My husband's family has Cherokee roots and I wanted my children to know more about their ancestors, so that started me down the path of research, and writing books with Cherokee characters was a natural outgrowth of that. Thanks again for coming by!

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  8. Hello, Elisabeth, my super talented and gracious anthology writing partner! And hello to the Lady Scribes and all your visitors!

    My favorite character on Hell on Wheels is Thor Gundersen, aka "the Swede." The series writers' set the Swede up in such an intriguing and poignant way in season one. He became the inspiration for part of my spy heroine's backstory and for a lady farmer who helped complicated matters in my contribution to Passion's Prize. The Swede has a haunting past as a prisoner-of-war in Andersonville. Got to love a great villain with so much baggage.

    But of course Cullen is great as well. And Elam. And Eva. And Durant. And so it goes! So many great characters!

    Thanks Hell on Wheels, and Elisabeth and Jennifer, for the inspiration that became the Passion's Prize anthology.

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    1. Hey Jacqui, my awesome Canadian writing buddy!

      I never realized your favorite was "the Swede." Christopher Heyerdahl would be honored to know that, I'm sure. He does a fantastic job with that role, and last week's episode really showed how he can create gripping drama.

      I had a blast writing Passion's Prize with you and Jennifer, and it's fun promoting it together. I look forward to more joint ventures in the future. Absolutely love Adella's Enemy. For those of you who watch Hell On Wheels (and for those who don't), Jacqui's heroine is a spy posing as a newspaper photographer. So when a woman newspaper reporter was added to the Season 3 cast of Hell On Wheels, I just had to laugh. Great minds think alike.

      Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

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  9. What #HellonWheels and a western romance have in common, hummm, the book can go into more depth with romance than a tv series. The series has limits on what can come thru the screen along with age appropriate material. After all, with #HellonWheels we (the viewers) want to include our kids/grandkids to be able to watch with us. We can live/watch history in action. Where as in books us readers could/do enjoy a very spicy book at times. And reading about spice way back then just goes to show, they had the same ideas back then to highlight bed life. :-)

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    1. LOL. You are right about that, some things never change. What do Hell On Wheels and our new series have in common? We loved the idea of a railroad-themed Western, complete with all the action and adventure and historical authenticity of a story like the building of the transcontinental RR.

      Passion's Prize is set against an actual RR construction race, only this one was across Southeast Kansas to the border of what was then Indian Territory. We've got our share of blood (not as much as Hell On Wheels, I'll admit), love stories...and a good dash of spice. After all, we're romance writers.

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  10. Can't say I've ever seen HOW and I won't anytime soon because I'm feeding a newly found JUSTIFIED addiction. I have however read KATE'S OUTLAW and it is fabulous. Congratulations Elisabeth on a wonderful book.

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  11. Thanks Julie. I love your work as well and can't wait until I can talk about it on your worldwide blog tour!

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  12. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Ms. Burke! I've never watched Hell on Wheels but I think I'd like it! And the anthology sounds wonderful! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. I've had fun being here today. Hope you get a chance to catch the show and the anthology. Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. I don't watch (or read) many Westerns, but I loved Grace Kelly (and Gary Cooper) in High Noon. What a fabulous movie!

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  14. Ah yes, Gary Cooper. Another swoon worthy hero. Thanks for reminding us. I love that movie, too. Thanks for dropping by!

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