Harlequin Love Inspired Author Erica Vetsch Talks Story Inspiration

Renee here! As you may know I love dogs (I have two!), I also love to read romance. Any time someone writes a love story with a fantastic hero and heroine, I'm on board. When they include a precocious dog among the cast of characters, I'm done for! Author Erica Vetsch has penned a story for the Harlequin Love Inspired Historical line that includes all of the above and then some! Erica has graciously agreed to discuss her novel and the inspiration behind the story and that great cover below! 


Thank you, Renee, for hosting me here on your wonderful blog. I am honored!

His Prairie SweetheartThe inspiration behind the story.

I. Am. A. History. Geek.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love, love, love history. It was my favorite subject in school, I studied to be a history teacher in college, and I have never met a history museum I didn’t love. My shelves are full of history books, I watch history documentaries like some people watch Downton Abbey, and my dream job (aside from being a writer) would be to act as a docent at a historical site.

One of the things I love as a writer of historical romances is including actual events in my stories, and basing stories on things that really happened. Thus far, I have used a shipwreck on Lake Superior, an avalanche that took out a train in the mountainsthe Easter Blizzard of 1873, a World War I Red Cross signature quilt, and more! I am always on the lookout for the next historical tidbit that can inspire a novel, so when I read David Laskin’s book The Children’s Blizzard, I knew I wanted to include something like it in a story sometime.

The Children’s Blizzard is so named because in January of 1888, after weeks of snow, sleet, and sub-zero temperatures, the Dakota and western Minnesota prairies experienced a mid-winter thaw. The weather was so warm that ice and snow melted, children itched in their long john underwear, and farmers began to think of spring. However, as the day wore on, a storm swept down from the northwest, dropping temperatures dozens of degrees in just minutes! The storm hit with an unparalleled ferocity, and unfortunately, it came just as many schools were dismissing for the day. As a result, many children were caught out in the blizzard which raged for several days. 

Estimates of the death-toll vary, ranging from 250-500 souls, most of them children. So sad. But there were some accounts of bravery and heroism that shone in the face of this tragedy, one being of Miss Minnie Freeman, who saved the lives of her thirteen students by leading them a half-mile through the storm from the schoolhouse to her home on the Nebraska prairie. That kind of bravery astounds and inspires me, and I knew when I read her story that I wanted to create a heroine who was a teacher during The Children’s Blizzard of 1888.

The perfect opportunity to write a ‘Children’s Blizzard’ story arose last spring when Love Inspired opened its Blurb2Book contest. The contest was held in stages. First submit a 100 word 'blurb' and the first page of a story. After the editors sifted through the more than 300 entries they received, they selected 75, (25 for each of the three Love Inspired Lines: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense.) Contestants then submitted a full synopsis and three chapters of the proposed story. The editors then cut the list to 10 finalists in each category, providing feedback to each entrant. Based upon that feedback, the finalists were to write a complete novel and submit it before the deadline. Then the wait was on. One by one, the contracts were announced to those that had been chosen. I was thrilled to receive the news that my story was chosen!

Here's a bit about the story that released May 1st!

Available now from Amazon
or your favorite bookseller!
A Home for Her Heart 
After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students' lack of English, the rough surroundings, and Sheriff Elias Parker's doubts and distrust, Savannah's unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she's determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way.

Elias gives it a week—or less—before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty dresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn't give up. Yet the real test is to come—a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her…

In one fun side note, if you read Renee’s blog, you might recognize the handsome chap on the cover of His Prairie Sweetheart…no, not Elias, though he’s certainly handsome. Rather, I’m speaking of the gorgeous collie racing across the snowI needed a friendly, smart, herding-type dog for my story, and I immediately thought of Renee Chaw’s beautiful collies. I patterned Captain in the story after her dogs Toby and Coco, and when I needed to supply photographs for the cover art designers at Love Inspired, Renee generously supplied portraits of her dogs.

I am thrilled that when my daughter created a scrapbook page for His Prairie Sweetheart, she included a photo of Renee’s dog Coco.

So, a question or two or three for you:
1. Have you heard of The Children’s Blizzard of 1888? (FYI, this was not the blizzard in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book The Long Winter, where the children almost wander out on the prairie during the storm.)

2. Do you have a pet? (I have a cat who rejoices in the name of Pookie.)

3. Who was your favorite teacher as a kid? (Mine was Mr. Heter.)

I love to connect with folks on social media! You can find me
On the World Wide Web: www.ericavetsch.com

And you can sign up for my newsletter at http://www.ericavetsch.com/newsletter-sign-up.html to receive book news, fun giveaways, and bonus content reserved just for newsletter folks!

Also, at the end of the month on http://coffeecupsandcamisoles.blogspot.com/ I’m doing a gift basket giveaway to celebrate the release of His Prairie Sweetheart. Remember to stop by and enter!

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.


  1. Thank you so much for this fun post,Erica! I loved learning the behind the scenes story of His Prairie Sweetheart! To answer your questions: No,despite being a history buff,too I've never heard of The Children's Blizzard. 2) I have 2 cute pet cats(Batly and Mew Mew 3) My favorite teacher was my 7th grade English teacher Mrs. Troike .She introduced me to O.Henry stories and helped me when I was being bullied. Thanks again Erica for your great stories,can't wait to read this newest one!! (Thanks also to Renee for posting this .)

    1. Hi Lynne!!! Thank you for visiting today! Your cats sound wonderful. I have one cat named Oreo who is quite the comedian! Your teacher sounds awesome too. Gotta love anyone who introduces us to new authors and sticks up for us! Thank you for sharing!

    2. Lynne! I love the names Batly and Mew Mew! And yay for English teachers, especially those who teach middle grades...that is a special calling! :)

      And I LOVE O. Henry. The Last Leaf is my very favorite O. Henry story.


Post a Comment

I love your comments, keep 'em coming!!!

Popular posts from this blog

Happy 50th, Doctor Who (Giveaway Post!!)

Celebrate Lit: A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: Phoebe's Light (Nantucket Legacy, Book 1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher