Jacqui Nelson’s North of the Border - Rustic Cabin Inspiration

One Summer when I was a teenager, my best friend invited me to her family’s lakeside cabin in northern Alberta, Canada. The location was 370 km (230 miles) north-east of our families’ neighboring farms. The lake was named after a bird…whose name I can’t remember…but I do remember the lake was a smaller one near a larger one called…wait for it…Cold Lake. How fitting is that for a remote northern location? And yes, I remember the Mysterious-Bird-Named Lake being very cold to swim in.

But what I remember most is their cabin. It was small and rustic. No electricity or running water. Only a bed, table, wood stove, and a couple of kerosene lanterns inside a one-room hideaway in a small clearing in the forest. The walk to the outhouse on the other side of that clearing felt extra-long in the dark with only a lantern to light the way. In contrast, my family’s farmhouse was a 3-bedroom new-built 1960s bungalow which was very modern at that time.

In my new book, A Bride for Brynmor (releasing Sep 19), my heroine and hero (Lark and Brynmor Llewellyn) get stranded in a tiny log cabin at an equally small train junction. Brynmor and his brothers have hired the station attendant to transform the location (which sits in the perfect location between Denver and Noelle, Colorado) into a freight hub. But when Brynmor and Lark first arrive at the junction, they must get off the train unexpectedly.

Below is an excerpt that follows their getting off (or the jumping off) the train as it leaves the junction and picks up speed on its way to Noelle. And below that is a chance to win an e-copy of A Bride for Brynmor. 

But first my series & book blurbs...

Songbird Junction Series

Welcome to Songbird Junction where Welsh meets West in Colorado 1878. The journey to find a forever home and more starts here. Brynmor, Heddwyn, and Griffin Llewellyn are three Welsh brothers bound by blood and a passion for hauling freight—in Denver where hard work pays. Lark, Oriole, and Wren are three Irish-Cree Métis sisters-of-the-heart bound by choice and a talent for singing—in any place that pays.

A Bride for Brynmor - Book Blurb

Can a sister who’s lived only for others find freedom with one man? Family has always come first—for both of them. He’s never forgiven himself for letting her go. She’s never forgiven herself for almost getting him killed.

When Lark and her songbird sisters are separated fleeing their cruel and controlling troupe manager, only Brynmor Llewellyn can help Lark save her sisters and escape to the far west. But Lark wants more. And so does Brynmor. When they’re stranded in a spot as difficult to guard as it is to leave—a rustic cabin at a train junction between Denver and the mountain town of Noelle, Colorado—they find themselves fighting not only for survival but for redemption, forgiveness, and a second chance for their love.

Will the frontier train stop of Songbird Junction be Lark and Brynmor’s salvation? Or their downfall when her manager, a con artist who calls himself her uncle but cherishes only his own fame and fortune—demands a debt no one can pay?

A Bride for Brynmor -  Excerpt (with Cabin Inspiration)

(Some backstory: Ulysses is Lark’s troupe manager and Barnum and Bailey are orphaned lambs that they are transporting to Noelle.)

“I didn’t want to face Ulysses’ anger again so I jumped.” Lark pressed her lips tight, ending her story there. Let him think she had been most afraid for herself.

“Or…” Brynmor doffed his wool cap and raked his finger through his hair. The soft glow from the stove's growing fire turned his thick auburn waves even redder. “You didn’t want me to face him again.”

She’d accomplished that. Her stubbornly helpful Welsh giant was safe.

Her shivers lessened and her bravado returned. She raised her chin. “Or I never liked watching from the wings. Now I can see what you discovered in this cabin.”

“You’ll see nothing.” His long sigh left a ghostly trail in the air. “The attendant’s belongings are gone. He didn’t even stay long enough to make a dent in the food supplies we’d left him.”

“Good news. He left with intent, and there’s no need to search for him. You can stay here.” With me.

He grabbed several blankets from a nearby stack and arranged them on the floor by the stove.

“What are you doing?”

“Making a nest for our lambs.”

Our. Her heart thudded as she savored the silent echo in her soul. “How cozy,” she murmured, trying not to appear undone by a single word. When she placed Barnum and Bailey on their bed, her arm brushed Brynmor’s and her body flushed with heat.

“Everything in here is snug,” he muttered as he stepped back to give her room. Or at least tried.

She set the bag—that she’d slung over her shoulder before bolting from the train—on the floor, took out two bottles of milk, and handed one to Brynmor. They both knelt to feed the suddenly very wiggly lambs.

Barnum and Bailey’s eagerness to guzzle every drop consumed her attention. They rocked forward and back, bouncing against the bottles as they enjoyed their feast. Their darling eyes widened, their impish tails wagged, and their spindly legs quivered. When they finished, they flopped down on their bed and curled up close to each other, becoming one enticingly fluffy ball of wool.

No matter how cute, she couldn’t stare at them all night. She turned her gaze to the clutter in the cabin, so she wouldn’t be tempted to stare at Brynmor all night as well.

“If you see a feed sack,” he said, “let me know. When Barnum and Bailey wake up, they might enjoy some ground corn.”

The corner of a familiar shape caught her eye. She wound her way through the freight to get a better look. “Of all the things to have in an office, and one this size, why is a piano here?”

~ * ~ 

Is there a location from your youth that has inspired you? 

Maybe a cabin or a friend's house? Or even a treehouse? As a kid, I always dreamed of having a treehouse—they seemed like great fun in the stories I read and watched on TV.

Comment below (before the end of the day on Sunday, Sept 15) for a chance to win an e-copy of A Bride for Brynmor

~ * ~ 

Jacqui Nelson - Author Picture
Fall in love with a new Old West...where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. 

Website: JacquiNelson.com

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  1. I grew up on a farm, too, Jacqui. My favorite pastime growing up was getting on my bike with its balloon tires, and going for a ride after the chores were done. I'd always end up by the big irrigation canal and watch the sunset colours reflect in the water and let my mind wander. I was a dreamer, even then. I enjoyed your excerpt and love the little lambs. Cute names for them. I wish you loads of success with this new series.

    1. Now I totally want to go for a bike ride and watch the sunset over the water! You are a great writer, Elizabeth. You always pull me into your world 💕

  2. I am not entering due to ebook but I also grew up on a farm but it was an abusive foster home there were good memories like a trip they packed us all in the back of a truck with the small bed and off we went to Reno yes just where you want to go with 9 foster kids that were under the age of 13 my foster sister and I were almost 13 and then the rest. I loved the blog today and everyday that you Jacqui post as it always is so interesting. Good luck with the new books Hugs Peggy Clayton ptclayton2@aol.com

    1. Hugs to you too, Peggy. I'm planning to bundle the 3 eBooks in my Songbird Junction series in 1 print book. As soon as my plans become reality (sometimes a long process for me), then I'll let you know.

  3. I have lots of "cabin" memories, Jacqui, but the structure that I used in my very first book, "Love and Lilacs" was a hollowed out cedar tree that sat across the gravel road from our one room schoolhouse. You could hide inside it's hollow trunk. Love the name "Songbird Junction."

    1. Hiding in a hollow tree trunk sounds like the best hideaway, Alice! I always feel safe in the trees. Not up in them however. I'm scared of heights! Awesome to hear you like my series name!

  4. My sister and I discovered our favourite place in the tall weeds next to a railroad track close to where we were living. We would lie down, hidden from everyone and feel the vibrations through our bodies as the train passed.

    1. I can imagine you doing that, Jodie! Railroad tracks make me think of mystery and danger and possibilities. Complicated stuff all rolled together.

  5. not really
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  6. Looks and reads like a wonderful new series !!

  7. Thank you to all who visited and commented on my North of the Border blog! The winner of the e-copy of A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR is... bn100! I've emailed you.