On the Journey with an award-winning photographer

Seven years ago, I launched my first novel in the Steam! Romance and Rails series. The covers of several books in this series, and in the subsequent Bride Train collection, feature the work of award-winning photographer Matthew Malkiewicz. His breath-taking photos of authentic steam engines captured my fancy and provided a perfect backdrop for book covers that looked as lush and evocative as the time period they represented. (In fact, the header for On The Journey features one of my favorite images!) I asked Matthew to share a memory about each of the photographs featured on my books. Come with us on the journey to visit the last of America’s steam railroads.

E.E. Burke

“Opening a window to the past”

Matthew Malkiewicz is a widely recognized photographer specializing in steam railroad history, “keeping a window to the past open for us to see.” His work has appeared in print and online. He is the recipient of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s prestigious John E. Gruber Creative Photography Award, and is a Hasselblad Masters of Photography 2016 finalist, and has been published on CNN International, The Weather Channel, DPReview and PetaPixel websites. He earned honorable mention in the 2017 Monochrome Awards in both the professional fine art and landscape categories. His entire portfolio can be viewed at his “Lost Tracks of Time” website.

Take a journey with Matthew:

Photos used in Steam! Romance and Rails series

A Dangerous Passion cover: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama, New Mexico, March 16, 2014 

A long day of plowing the line after a recent winter storm, #489 catches its breath with snow still on the front pilot. Living at sea level, this day winded me from being in the upper elevations of the Rocky Mountains. I was at the rear of the train and hustled getting into position to capture this image while daylight was quickly turning to night. The things we do for fun.

Fugitive Hearts cover: Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland, Maryland, December 10, 2009

Sunrise as the train pulls into the station to pick up its passengers. I remember well capturing this image. The dramatic smoke and steam combined with gorgeous morning light spoke to me.

Photos used in American Mail-Order Bride Series

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride cover: Steam Into History, New Freedom, Pennsylvania December 8, 2013

This location is only a few hours from my house. I knew of an oncoming snowstorm and arrived extra early in the morning. My 4×4 kept me safe, and the train crew put on a great show in the falling snow. The Christmas garland, ribbons, and illuminated lanterns on the locomotive add to the festivities.

Photos used in The Bride Train novella collection

Valentine’s Rose cover: Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, Yacolt, Washington, October 13, 2014

One of the all-time favorites in my portfolio – a foggy morning in the Pacific Northwest. Two minutes earlier there were horses grazing in the field. The train scared them away. The ground fog would soon burn off, taking with it a lot of the mood and atmosphere.

Patrick’s Charm cover: Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, Alamosa, Colorado, August 22, 2011

Sadly, this steam excursion railroad is no loner in operation. The locomotive sits locked up in a dark engine house. But on this summer day it was in all its glory. I don’t know why the smoke plume goes from black to gray to almost white to black and then gray again; but it draws my eye as much as the train in the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

 

Tempting Prudence cover: Cass Scenic Railroad, Cass, West Virginia, May 17, 2008

A workhorse from the days of a thriving logging industry in the West Virginia Mountains. A shay locomotive, its cylinders and drive train on one side with the boiler offset to the other for balance. A timeless reproduction on a foggy rainy day.

Seducing Susannah cover: Cass Scenic Railroad Cass, West Virginia, May 17, 2008

The same locomotive used on the Tempting Prudence cover. The three vertical steam cylinders in front of the engineer, connecting to the horizontal drive shaft are much different than a traditional steam engine with rods on both sides. One of the few times it was not raining on this day.

Born too late…

My hobby of photographing steam trains across our country has taken me well off the beaten path – without it I doubt to have ever visited any of these locations. I truly believe that life is about the journey and not the destination–the people met along the way and the stories they share, or that moment that takes you back to a better, vanished time. E.E. Burke and I have collaborated quite a bit over the years. I am thankful for her vision in selecting these images for her stories. Her choices were perfect.

Thank you, Matthew! You and I share a love for the grand old age of steam. My historical romance novels set during this period feature many characters and events straight from pages of America’s railroad history. If you are interested in reading the Steam! Romance and Rails series or The Bride Train collection, I’ve provided a handy guide for the reading order here.

You can see Matthew’s full gallery at www.losttracksoftime.com.

Steam on! 

E.E. Burke

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Take a journey with Huck Finn

“When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.” ~ Mark Twain

Embark on a new adventure with an old friend

TAMING HUCK FINN, inspired by Mark Twain’s iconic adventurer, begins in the summer of 1870 in Atchison, Kansas, which served as a bustling port along the Missouri River.

In those days, steamboats transported goods to settlements and army forts up and down the river, as well as hauling miners traveling to and from the Montana gold fields. Freedom-loving Huck Finn works as a part-time steamboat pilot when he’s not off searching for gold.

The sprawling, unpredictable Missouri River provides the perfect landscape for my story about a restless man whose goal is to stay one step ahead of civilization.

In those days, it took nerves of steel to pilot a steamboat on the wild, untamed Missouri River. A few of the things steamboat pilots encountered: elusive, ill-defined and ever-changing channels, getting stranded in low water, innumerable and often invisible snags, whirlpools, Indian attacks–to name but a few.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, close to 300 steamboats went down in the river between 1830 and 1902.  Historians estimate almost half of all the boats that plied the Missouri were lost to various accidents, with snags taking most of them to their watery grave. The “Muddy Mo” had a voracious appetite for steamboats!

Near Kansas City, a construction company dug up a steamboat from the 1850s out of a farm field (the river had long since changed course). While there were no human casualties, the boat went down with its entire load of supplies. The Steamboat Arabia exhibit at the Kansas City riverfront is filled with some of the most well preserved displays of 19th century goods you’ll find anywhere.

Far West pilothouse replica
 courtesy Dave Thomson Gallery

The type of boat Huck pilots is a “mountain boat.” These sternwheelers were smaller and lighter, equipped with spars, which were a bit like stilts to help the boat “walk” over obstacles. One of the best-known mountain boats was the Far West, piloted by Captain Grant Marsh.

A replica of the Far West pilothouse shows a pair of antelope antlers mounted in front to indicate it was a “fast boat” — Grant made a record-breaking run down the Missouri River in 1876 after he picked up the wounded from the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Packet steamboating on the Missouri River lasted from the 1820s to the 1880s, with the greatest period of activity between 1840 and 1860. The railroads contributed primarily to the demise of steamboat business by siphoning off long-haul passenger and freight business. In 1867, there were 71 steamers regularly plying the Missouri River. Three years later there were only 9. (Wild River, Wooden Boats, Michael Gillespie, Heritage Press).

Some of the landing points mentioned in Taming Huck Finn were busy ports in the 1870s: Weston, Missouri, Sioux City, Iowa, Fort Sully in the Dakota Territory, Kansas City, and eventually St. Louis, where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers converge.

His greatest adventure is about to catch up with him.

Steamboat pilot Huck Finn lives life on his own terms and steers clear of messy entanglements that might tie him down—until he takes charge of an orphaned boy that needs rescuing.

Starched and proper, Miss Hallie MacBride is determined to atone for past sins by raising her estranged sister’s son. She doesn’t expect footloose Mr. Finn to challenge her, much less up and run off with her nephew.

On a wild journey fraught with danger, a freedom-loving adventurer and an avowed spinster battle over the destiny of a young boy, who is doing his level best to convince them they belong together.

Excerpt:

June 2, 1870, Atchison, Kansas

“What you layin’ in there for, mister?”

A childish voice disturbed Huck’s sleep. He screwed his eyes tightly shut, willing his mind to return to dreams of pleasanter things than inquisitive children.

Something struck the bottom of his boot. He jerked awake, his head connecting with a crack against the inside of the hogshead barrel. “Ow! Blame it.”

Gingerly, he touched a rising lump and grimaced at the painful reminder of where he’d ended up. After celebrating into the wee hours, it appeared a convenient place to await the next packet chugging up the Missouri River. Sobriety declared it a bad idea. Only halfwits and drunks slept in discarded barrels. Not men who commanded steamboats.

Curling around, he squinted at the opening where his legs were exposed. Daylight outlined the figure of a child. Hopeful it was just a dream Huck shut his eyes. When he opened them again, the boy had bent to peer inside the barrel.

Gap-toothed smile, snub nose, merry eyes that held the promise of mischief… “Tom?” Huck rasped.

The boy giggled.

No, he couldn’t possibly be. Tom had been nearly full-grown fifteen years ago.

Huck rubbed his stinging eyes. He must’ve gotten ahold of some bad brew like the Fire Rod his old man used to swig by the jug full; that stuff made Pap see crazier things than a boy that wasn’t there.

The spitting image of Tom laughed again. “Uncle Huck?”

Uncle? Huck shook his head to clear it. By God, he’d swear off whiskey forever if it brought on these strange imaginings, and it had to be his imagination. Huck Finn weren’t nobody’s uncle.

Pick up your copy of Taming Huck Finn at the following retailers:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love for all seasons with 99c Brides of Noelle sale

Get four bestselling romances for less than the price of a box of chocolates! 

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JOLIE by E.E. Burke

On sale for 99 cents this week only

Jolie LaFemme has been a working girl at La Maison for four long years…ever since being betrayed and left penniless, grieving and adrift. She’s jaded, distrustful and blind to the possibility of love. As far as she’s concerned, being the madam of a popular sporting house is the best she can hope for, and nothing will convince her to give up the coveted and lucrative position. 

Hank Donavan arrives in Noelle with a plan to ensure his sister’s financial security, and regain his pride. He’s a man in his prime, handsome by any measure, but an accident ruined his vision, and his future. Now, he travels with his dog, Bear, and sells beautiful handmade Valentine’s cards. His big opportunity comes when he gets a chance to invest in the town’s richest silver mine. There’s only one catch: he has to be married first. 

Who would marry a blind man with little to recommend him when there are plenty of hale and hearty men to go around?

OPHELIA by Kit Morgan

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Clint Jones comes to Noelle for one purpose and one purpose only. Get in, assess the town and get out. Then he’d report to his superiors at Wells Fargo and Company to let them know if Noelle is respectable and prosperous enough to open a branch there. What Clint finds is anything but respectable! Toss in a violet-eyed beauty who takes his breath away, a mayor and a preacher he things are consorting with the worsts sorts of evil, and the fun begins.

NORAH by Amanda McIntyre

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Not proud of his seedy entanglements back East, Irish immigrant Seamus Malone is determined to create a new and better life in the western frontier. Despite attempts to reach the woman that captured his heart, his letters for the last four years have gone unanswered. 

Will a plea for help from Noelle’s new matchmaker convince his estranged wife to join him in this new world, proving his love, and that he is a changed man?

Passion (and a controlling aunt) drove Norah into marriage, but when she finds her new husband dabbling in drink and dangerous liaisons, she bid him farewell, relenting to his pipe dreams of a better life, while she remained behind living in the shame of a broken marriage. When a dark truth is discovered she must now decide if the love she once felt is enough to survive a second chance?

ROBYN by Jacqui Nelson

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Raised by three free-spirited older brothers, Robyn Llewellyn has learned to fight for what she wants—and now she wants to transform her boss and best friend, Max Peregrine, into a lifelong partner. Determined to become the image of what a marriage-minded man wants, Robyn trades her trousers for a dress and heads to Max’s hometown of Noelle, Colorado. But changing who she is with the help of the now happily married Brides of Noelle puts her friendship with Max at risk, and now he fears he may take her away from him forever.  

This year, my husband and I celebrate 32 years of marriage the day after Valentine’s Day. We intended to get married on Valentine’s Day, but it fell on a Friday that year, which wasn’t good for out of town guests, so we pushed our wedding to one day later. Now we get to celebrate for two days!

I picked Valentine’s Day as the setting for my story because for me it is the most romantic time of the year. I thought it fitting that Hank Donovan would sell Valentine’s cards and did some research into Victorian handmade cards. They were truly works of art.

Hank happens to be blind, which makes his story all the more intriguing. When he gives one of the handmade cards to a cynical madam who considers “love” a transaction, something magical begins to happen, and two people who had nearly lost hope begin to dream again.

May you find your happily ever after,

E.E. Burke

Pick up all four delightful Brides of Noelle romances for a sweet deal, only 99 cents each. Click the names below. 

Ophelia |Jolie | Norah |Robyn

Have you read any of the Noelle books? in the Twelve Days or Brides series? If so, which character would you invite to dinner and why?

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His greatest adventure is about to catch up with him

TAMING HUCK FINN by E.E. Burke

Steamboat pilot Huck Finn lives life on his own terms, steering clear of the kind of messy entanglements that would tie a man down–until he takes charge of an orphan and defies the “old maid” determined to raise him.

What follows is a wild journey filled with humor, high jinx and heart-pounding danger, as a freedom-loving adventurer and an avowed spinster battle over the destiny of a young boy who is doing his level best to convince them they belong together.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure from award-winning author E.E. Burke in a novel inspired by one of America’s most beloved characters.

Read an excerpt

Order your copy today:

Amazon | AppleB&N Nook

Other retailers

E.E. answers your questions:

Where did you get the idea for this story?

I’m a big fan of Mark Twain’s original story and always had a soft spot for Huck. I wondered what kind of man he would grow up to be. This is the story Huck gave me when I asked him what happened to him after he “set out for the Territory.”

How did you decide what occupation Huck would have as an adult?

It didn’t seem a far stretch to imagine Huck growing up to be a steamboat pilot. He was a child of the river, and I couldn’t see him straying far. Plus, he had the intelligence and temperament to pilot steamboats, which requires a unique combination of skills, instinct, excellent reflexes, and steely nerve.

Of course, I couldn’t write a book about Huck being a steamboat pilot without referring to Mark Twain’s Life On The Mississippi, which is largely based on Samuel Clemens own apprenticeship as a riverboat pilot. Reading the diaries of Missouri River pilots helped me place Huck on a different river, one that I think it fits his personality.

Why put the story on the Missouri River rather than the Mississippi – the original setting?

In Taming Huck Finn, as in Twain’s original book, the river itself is a character.
The Missouri River of today is nothing like what it was at the time of Huck’s story (1870). Before being dredged and tamed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 20th century, the “Big Muddy” was sprawling and unpredictable. I have a map that shows where steamboats sank along the old path of the river, and it is littered with wrecks. Taking a steamboat on the Missouri River was a dangerous undertaking, especially into the north part of the river where it was shallower and rocky and prone to flooding. Just the kind of challenge Huck Finn would relish.

During this same time, the era of the steamboat was giving way to the steady advancement of the railroads. Huck sees himself, the old boats and even the river, as relics of a past that is quickly fading. He’s struggling to figure out how he fits into a new world rapidly catching up with him. Does he keep running? Or does he risk his freedom for the one thing that’s eluded him all these years?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

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Seventeen stories for one great cause.

How can you get your Wild West “fix” and also support a great cause? Buy a limited edition copy of Wild Deadwood Tales.

This anthology, written exclusively to benefit rodeo athletes, brings the wild town of Deadwood to life in 17 original works of short fiction, including contemporary and historical romance, western and young adult fiction, even a few ghost stories.

Contributing authors include USA Today and Amazon bestselling authors: E.E. Burke, Zoe Blake, Paty Jager, Teresa Keefer, Megan Kelly, Sylvia McDaniel, Amanda McIntyre, Peggy McKenzie, Angi Morgan, Nancy Naigle, Jacqui Nelson, Terri Osburn, Ginger Ring, Maggie Ryan, Lizbeth Selvig, Tina Susedik and A.C. Wilson.

My contribution is Unexpected Calamity, a tale featuring two larger-than-life historical legends, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. Here’s a brief excerpt.

Martha Jane Cannary, aka Calamity Jane, has returned to Deadwood two years to the day after Wild Bill was shot to death during a poker game. 

Jane slapped her hand on the smooth surface to get the booze clerk’s attention. “Pour me two fingers of oh-be-joyful,” she bellowed.

The bartender wiped out a glass with his apron and set it in front of her. For some reason, he held the bottle upright instead of pouring. “That’ll be two bits.”

“I’ll pay when I’m finished.” She reached for the bottle.

He held it away and narrowed his eyes. “Here, you pay before you drink.”

If she had anything to pay with, she’d have pulled out the coins. As it was, she was broke. She could always pay later. “How do I know it ain’t bluestone swill?”

“Pay or go elsewhere,” he insisted.

“Don’t you recognize me?” She took off her hat. “Calamity Jane. I’ve been featured in dime books with Deadwood Dick. That’s worth a free drink.”

“Not in here it isn’t.”

“I’ll buy her a drink.” From behind, a man reached out and laid two bits on the bar. She glimpsed his strong, long-fingered hand and neatly trimmed nails, almost familiar…

When she spun to look at him, she couldn’t see his face on account of it being so dark inside and him having a wide hat brim pulled low over his eyes. But she could make out the light brown mustache framing his mouth.

A shiver rippled over her skin like an unexpected cold snap.

As he sauntered away, she stared in disbelief at the fine frock coat stretched across his shoulders, the long golden hair hanging from beneath the hat. With his back to her, he dragged out a chair. It looked like he was rejoining a poker game with four others.

A gambler. Of course, he just reminded her of Wild Bill.

“Hey, mister,” she called out.

He didn’t turn around. Some of the other men glanced up at her but went right back to playing cards.

“Here’s your drink,” the bartender said.

Jane gave her attention to the whiskey long enough to toss it back in one burning gulp, set the glass on the bar and turned to give the stranger her thanks.

He was gone. In fact, there wasn’t even a chair where he’d been sitting.

***

Wild Deadwood Tales is available as an eBook or paperback.

Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Every Purchase is a Donation 

Proceeds from Wild Deadwood Tales go to the Western Sports Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing a wide range of assistance to athletes competing in Western lifestyle sports.  Whether they need help getting back on their feet or planning for their future, the WSF is there for them.

Where to buy your limited edition copy:

Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Available in eBook and Paperback

PBR Velocity Tour Rodeo June 8-9:   At the Deadwood PBR Velocity Tour Rodeo on Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, have your book autographed by the authors. While you’re there, enter to win signed posters, receive fun swag, and meet the authors! You can also enter to win the spectacular multi-author sponsored raffle basket being given away at the Wild Deadwood Reads book signing on Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM, at the Deadwood Mountain Grand. All proceeds go to WSF.

Wild Deadwood Reads, June 7-9,  Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel: Conference attendees can purchase signed copies of Wild Deadwood Tales at the Meet and Greet on Thursday night, or at the Book Fair on Saturday morning. Preorder your paperback copy and have it waiting for you at one of the events (this option is only available for conference attendees). This year’s conference features 80 authors representing a variety of genres. Scheduled events include a special VIP Rodeo Experience “Behind the Chutes.” Learn more: www.WildDeadwoodReads.com.

Purchase WILD DEADWOOD TALES today and we’ll turn it into a donation!  LIKE us on Facebook and help us spread the word about this great cause!

Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

To find out more about the Western Sports Foundation visit their website: www.westernsportsfoundation.org

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The Bride Train Series Collection

The Bride Train Series Collection Introductory Offer

Taming the West one bride at a time

Four women answer a railroad advertisement seeking single young ladies as brides for settlers on the Western frontier. The Bride Train carries them to a land plagued by violence and unrest…a place where passion rules…and only a woman’s touch can tame it into love.

Valentine’s Rose

An English nobleman searching for riches, an Irish laundress seeking love… Only in American would Fate be foolish enough to put them together.

Patrick’s Charm

A disabled veteran’s fortunes improve after he hires a beautiful and talented performer…but when her past catches up will his luck run out?

Tempting Prudence

An upright spinster is kidnapped to become the bride of a notorious bootlegger and finds an unexpected chance at love…if she’ll risk everything, including her reputation.

Seducing Susannah

The arrogant railroad agent must marry a proper lady to reclaim his inheritance, but the woman he wants despises him passionately.

Prequel: A Bride’s Journey

“BONUS!! Prequel: A Bride’s Journey Enjoy this brief introduction to The Bride Train Series, which provides a glimpse into the journal of one of the brides traveling west.

This series features a cast of characters taken straight from the pages of history. Why not try your hand at matching them? Who would YOU put together and why?

All four of the Bride Train books have become Amazon bestsellers, and Tempting Prudence won a readers’ and bloggers’ book award for Best Western Romance in 2016.

The Bride Train Series Collection

Take a ride on the Bride Train out to the American West and fall in love!

Purchase the collection today!

 

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