That First Montana Year by Donna L. Scofield

Posted by on May 13, 2016 | 18 comments

That First Montana Year by Donna L. Scofield

If you love historical fiction, the 1800’s, and the pioneer spirit, you will love meeting my guest, author Donna L. Scofield. She is committed to research, accurate historical detail, and clean romance. We would love to hear your comments! Please sign in on the Rafflecopter at the bottom for even more opportunities to win a signed copy of her novel, That First Montana Year



Fabulous Fridays

Welcome, Donna! What inspired That First Montana Year?

I’ve always wanted to write a book about an innocent young couple caught in a mistake, forced into marriage, but trying to make the best of it. When my husband and I drove through Choteau, Montana and the countryside around it, I realized I had found the location for my story.

What is your favorite period in history and why?

My favorite period in history is the mid to late 1800s. Times were hard, especially for women, but there was a basic honesty in life. Faith in God and love for family were the benchmarks of everyday existence. Country women of that time were square in the middle of their world, and an important part of it: scrimping, saving, cooking, caring for sick ones, helping shoulder a husband’s burden, and creating joy for their family. Wives and mothers weren’t pulled in many directions by career, social functions, carpools, and driving children to activities. Their home was their world

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?

I’d love to have a cup of coffee with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books. She’d tell me how to make honey-cakes, and I’d pick her brain to see if all my research on her childhood era was worth the time I spent.

How did you go about researching and creating the setting for That First Montana That First Montana YearYear?

When my husband and I drove through northern Montana, near the Rocky Mountain Front, I was impressed with the rolling hills, unlike the flat plains of the south-eastern part of the state. I pictured the little town of Choteau with board sidewalks, a general store, a livery stable, and a dry-goods store. Historically, Choteau fitted in with the time I wanted to write about.

I had already done intensive research about country life in that era for a previous book. For this book we visited the Homestead Village in the Museum of the Northern Great Plains in Fort Benton, Montana, where I gained valuable knowledge about the life of homesteaders. Back in Choteau, the people at the Acantha newspaper office managed to find for me a copy of the out-of-print History of Teton County. Published in the 1920s, the book had many anecdotes related by old-timers of Choteau, in addition to facts, figures and historical data. By the time I had B’Anne and Will’s wagon pulling into Choteau, I felt I had lived there myself!

What was one thing you learned while writing That First Montana Year?

I learned that when writing historical fiction, fact-checking is vital. Originally I had Will and B’Anne making a trip back home to Iowa by rail, only to learn that the railroad didn’t come to that part of northern Montana until years later. Much back-tracking and many changes resulted. And I had B’Anne finding comfort in the hymns she’d heard as a child, until further research showed that they hadn’t been published yet at the time she remembered them.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

Simplicity. A friend in my writers’ group described my book as “that Little House on the Prairie for grownups.” I like to have the dialogue sound as they talked in the 1880s, no fancy long monologues, but an exchange emotion, facts and feelings. I like to show how my characters lived: what B’Anne cooked for Will’s supper; what Will did when he knew he had hurt her feelings; how they planned and built their cabin; what they did to ease the hardships of a hardscrabble immigrant family.

How would you like to inspire your readers?

I would like my readers to finish my book knowing that love can overcome obstacles, that faith can see us through hard times and heartache, and that the pattern we set for our lives will carry on into our children’s lives.

Faith can see us through hard times and heartache… Tweet:

What events in your personal life have most impacted your writing, and how?

I was fortunate enough to be a child before TV took over, when family stories were important. Both my parents told us about things that happened when they were children, and stories that were handed down from the previous generations. I learned how people lived long before I was born, and to appreciate family history. I was able to fictionalize many of the events into my books, and I think that adds realism to my writing. Also, I was able to see my parents and grandparents roll with the punches that life dealt them, without losing faith in God and in themselves. Thank you, Mom and Dad!That First Montana Year 2

Meet author Donna Scofield & one free copy of That First Montana Year… Tweet: Meet author Donna Scofield & one free copy of That First Montana Year 5/13-5/19 #histfic #romance #amreading

Please share a favorite passage from That First Montana Year with us.

In the early evening I fixed a pot of the macaroni, tinned tomatoes and bacon that I knew Will liked and pushed it to the back of the stove to keep warm while I let the fire go out. Then I took the bar of scented soap, not the sturdy lye soap, and my nightgown and wrapper, down to the creek. In the deepest part where the bottom was sandy, I washed my hair and took a bath. When the sweat was gone, and the sadness was a little better, I dried with the clothes I’d been wearing, put on my nightgown and wrapper and trudged back to the house.

Will was sitting on the bed reading a newspaper he’d picked up from Uncle Hiram on the way back from town. He looked up and raised his eyebrows when he saw what I was wearing, and my damp hair wrapped in my apron. “You took a bath in the creek? Should have told me; I’d have joined you.”

I stared at him. Ma had warned me that with our rocky start, I’d have to try extra hard to make my husband happy, but there was a limit to how much I had to put up with. My plan had been to present Will with his favorite supper, then a willing, rose-smelling, sweet-tempered wife, but the plan disappeared in a puff of smoke.

“After the way you’ve treated me the last few days, do you really think I’d come looking for you and say ‘Will, come take a bath in the creek with me’?” I could feel my resentment and worry turning into a little fire that was getting hotter by the minute. I didn’t care one bit what Ma had said about being meek and sweet. “Besides, my body’s starting to be ugly, which is probably the reason you’re avoiding me. Even in the creek when it’s almost dark, you’d see it.” I knew how close the tears were, and I didn’t want him to see them. “Your supper’s on the stove. I’m not hungry, and I’m going to bed.”

“B’Anne …”

“I’m sure it’s still hot enough. Just drop your dishes in that pot of water on the back of the stove when you’re finished, and I’ll take care of them in the morning.”

Can a person be sick from sadness? I doubted it, but suddenly I was so tired that I felt ill. I didn’t care about anything. Dropping my wrapper on the floor by the bed, I went around to the side opposite Will, crawled in, pulled the sheet over me, and turned my face to the wall.

I felt him move on the bed and his hand touch my shoulder.

“B’Anne …” he began again.

“It’s all right. I’m all right. Just go eat your supper.”

“No, it’s not all right, B’Anne.” A long silence, then, “I know I’ve not been easy to get along with the last few days. I guess it just kind of all hit me … how much we’ve got ahead of us, and how little to do it with. And with you getting so big, there’s no forgetting that soon there’ll be a baby to worry about, and a baby’s something you can’t make a mistake on. It’s just … I get scared, I guess. A man’s not supposed to get scared.”

I rolled over to face him. “Oh, Will, I get scared, too. A lot.” I thought I’d cried myself out this afternoon, but here the tears came again. “Maybe it’s too much. Maybe we handled our mistake the wrong way. It’s not too late. I’m sure you could let somebody else take over the claim, sell the house and improvements to them. Like I said before, right after we got married, I can go to my aunt Isabel in Des Moines. We can each make our fresh start in a different way.”

Will’s face was shocked. “No, B’Anne. That’s not what I want. I just want everything to slow down, let us catch up, that’s all.”

“There’s one thing that’s not going to slow down, Will.” I took his hand and laid it on my stomach, where the baby was moving as if it could sense how upset I was. “We just have to do the best we can to be ready for it.” I looked straight into his eyes. “I can do it by myself if I have to. Are you up to it?”

Book Blurb:

B’Anne leaves a loving family to homestead in Montana Territory with Will, her reluctant husband and father of the baby she carries. She’s willing to work hard at regaining the love they once knew, but is Will? Can sharing work and deprivation bring Will and B’Anne close again, or will it drive them even farther apart?

About the author:

Donna L ScofieldMy childhood love of reading grew into an adulthood love of writing. My column for our “The Family Chuckle” has run in our local newspaper for thirteen years. I enjoy reading, and writing, a book that can be passed onto a teenage daughter without worrying. I enjoy a tender romance that’s clean and wholesome without being sappy.

I’m a stickler for authentic details. For that reason, I fully research everything…EVERYTHING! I can see what the dress my heroine wore to church looked like, and learn what idioms and speech patterns country folks used in 1881, the era of my book. I should have lived in the late 1800s…well, except for things like washers, dryers and microwaves!

My husband and I raised four children, and we now enjoy traveling to my writing locations. My favorite leisure activities are reading, making holiday memories for my family, and having “Grandma Craft Days” with the two younger grandchildren and our two great-grandsons.

I’m represented by a wonderful agent, Linda S. Glaz at Hartline Literary Agency.

Connect with Donna:


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Book Links: 


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  1. I love stories of pioneers.

  2. Loved hearing how you develop your novels. This one sounds great! Love to win it.

  3. I love books set in the American West, particularly post Civil War!

    • I do too, Patty. And Montana has such an interesting history of that time that it gave me plenty of materia;.

  4. I enjoyed reading about this author. The way she researches for her books means it very authentic to that time period. I would really like to read this book.

    • I think you’d enjoy it, Linda. I certainly enjoyed all I learned while visiting and researching, and then writing it.

  5. I had put That First Montana Year on my Amazon Wish List when it first came out. I’m ashamed that I haven’t read it yet, but I appreciate Norma spotlighting it to bring it to my attention again.

    I was attracted to the story then and now, because of what Donna L. Scofield mentions, “Simplicity.” I truly enjoy a romance story, simply told.

    Thanks, Norma and Donna.

    • Norma, tlrosado is me “Terrill.” I’m still around and enjoying your blog. Just a little overwhelmed with life and can’t post regularly. I hope all is well with you. 🙂

      • Hi Terrill! I am hanging in there. I cut down my blogging schedule. I have had virtually no voice for weeks. I have PT twice a week and will be starting speech therapy. It’s all weird nerve and muscle stuff. But God’s still on His throne!

    • I agree with you. T write what I enjoy reading.

    • I write the kind of story I’d personally choose reading, myself. That’s a clean romance, written simply, about people I’d like to meet!

  6. I would like to check this author’s work out. I love the time period she writes in and think this would be a good read. I would love to win this .

  7. I love the era and read as much as I can get my hands on.

  8. Me, too. I think I should have lived then.I’m always writing stories about that time in my head!

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