Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Bringing My Hometown History to Life, by author Keli Gwyn

I live in the heart of California’s Gold Country in the town of Placerville, just eight miles from Sutter’s Mill, where James Marshall discovered those nuggets that launched the Gold Rush. This area is rich in history, and I love bringing it to life in my stories.

My latest Love Inspired Historical, Make-Believe Beau, is my fourth published book, but it’s the first set in my hometown. I had a blast doing my research so I could transport readers back to 1874 Placerville and present the town as accurately as possible.

One of my favorite research findings happened at our local library a few years back. I discovered drawers filled with microfilmed copies of the state’s oldest newspaper. The Mountain Democrat has been published right here in town since the 1850s. Our local library has issues going back to the very beginning. Talk about striking it rich!

When I’m working on a story set in this area, I scroll through yards and yards of microfilm as I read the issues of the newspaper published when the story is taking place. I love to mention businesses from that time along with the people who operated them.

What’s even more fun is working in actual events that occurred when my story does. Make-Believe Beau takes place during the summer of 1874. Placerville held its annual Independence Day celebration that year, so I included the Fourth of July festivities in the story.

The race’s finish line (at least in my story) is located at the Plaza, pictured from a Fourth of July celebration some years later when photographs weren’t quite as rare. When I walk past the Bell Tower in the middle of the Plaza these days, I can almost picture Flynt and Jessie standing there. I recall that memorable scene and smile.
When I learned that a horserace was held, I thought that would be a great opportunity for my hero, Flynt Kavanaugh, to show his supposed sweetheart, Jessie Sinclair, how well he could ride. Things don’t go quite as Flynt expects, though, and he’s in for a surprise at the end of the race.

The Courtship Charade 
As a draftswoman in a man’s world, Jessica Sinclair causes a stir as her new male colleagues vie for her attention. And the company manager  has an ultimatum: fake a courtship with her boss, Flynt Kavanaugh…or lose her job. But pretending to be smitten with the handsome engineer unleashes a real, complicated attraction—and could reveal the past she hoped to keep hidden.

Jessica is certainly the best person for the job. But as their make-believe romance escalates, Flynt knows that’s not the only reason he wants her on his team. However, with his past shrouded by a shameful secret, Flynt has always focused his ambitions on building a career, not a family. Now he has designs on Jessica’s heart, but can they trust each other with the truth?

Question for You

What are some of your favorite hometown traditions?


If you’d like to enter my giveaway for a copy of Make-Believe Beau, leave a comment with your answer to the question above.



  1. Sounds like a wonderful book,Keli! Thanks for the giveaway! Here in Sandusky,Ohio there are a couple of traditions that are my favorite. One is the 4th of July fireworks at our amusement park,Cedar Point and during Christmas we always have beautiful light displays in the old fashioned parks downtown.

  2. We always have a huge parade for the beginning of baseball season for little leaguers . All the kids are dressed in their uniform riding in floats down Main Street. Opening day they have a carnival atmosphere. I love seeing the kids waving and smiling. We also do a holiday parade . It draws crowds from other towns.

  3. Lynne, fireworks are such fun, aren't they? There's a big display on the Fourth of July at our fairgrounds. It's too crowded there for this introvert, but the high ones are visible from our church, so we join other members to watch them.

    Christmas light displays are lovely, aren't they? They add such a festive atmosphere.

  4. Deana, there's nothing like a hometown parade or carnival, is there? It's such fun to watch the various entries go by. The local bands are my favorites.

  5. I grew up in Vermontville, Michigan, The Sweetest Little Town in the World! The area was chosen by settlers for it's similarities to New England. The village was laid out like a New England village. We still have a village green surrounded by churches with tall white steeples. We have a Maple Syrup Festival the last weekend of April celebrating our sweet heritage. Love our village.

  6. Sadly our town has no traditions. I feel that it really lacks a sense of community. Where I grew up our town would have a Memorial Day parade. One year I got to march and hold our Pioneer Girls banner from our church group.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

  7. Jennifer, what fun it must have been to grow up in "The Sweetest Little Town in the World." It sounds like a pretty place. I love the idea of a Maple Syrup Festival. I'm sure there's plenty to eat at that event, along with plenty of syrup.

  8. Maryann, I'm sorry your current town doesn't offer the sense of community you experienced when you were growing up. I think people today are so busy that it's harder to find folks willing to head up events.

    What fun it must have been to participate in the parade when you were a girl. That's such a great memory.

  9. I love how the whole town seems to be decorated for the Spring Carnival & then again for Christmas.

  10. Mary, it's fun when a town goes all out for big events, isn't it? Carnivals and Christmas are wonderful times to celebrate.