The Branded Heart
The Story Behind the Story

It all began with the infatuation.  Surprising?  He was a character in a Western film that I could not set aside.  This was pattern for me.  Every time I had a crush on someone I couldn't shake, I found it effective to just "write them off".  So this story I wrote as a form of catharsis that I never intended to share with anyone.

Another inspiration was the BBC mini-series, Lost In Austen.  It, too, served a great escape for me.  As said Amanda Price, "It is a truth, generally acknowledged, that we are all longing for escape."  

I daydreamed my way through my fictitious story, as it began to  unfold, until I'd hit a wall and have to set  it  aside for a time.  

To help flesh out the world of the frontier town of Barlow and the Egan homestead, I'd take notebook and pen to nearby Paramount Ranch:  a "Wild West" movie set-turned-national park.  The Sunday picnic after church (in the book) I wrote lying under a sycamore tree there.  Most of the story I hand-wrote before typing; I think better that way.  

Working at the Leonis Adobe Museum was also very valuable as it replicates ranch life in the late 1880s.  There I was able to experience the lifestyle and pick up interesting facts about the era otherwise hard to come by.   It was also there that I became the adopted Mama of a lamb born with crooked legs and "Dobby"-shaped ears. I named her Feliz, thinking Feliz Navidad, when she was born a week before Christmas of 2013. She lived to be a year old -and what an extraordinary life she led!  But that's another story.

Now that the book is done, my heart throbbing for  ol' "what's his face" has long since ceased.  But I now have a heart for the characters and story of The Branded Heart
Michele E. Fischer   
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Most dear to my heart are the animals in The Branded Heart : two of them (shown here) were animals I knew well,  each bringing a special purpose to the story...

"Thursday, February 7, 1878
We've had a new visitor of late:  a white dog with a blondish tint to his 
short, floppy ears and coat; a fluffy, gleaming white tail that curls up;  
big paws; and the most unusual, slanted, pale blue eyes...
It's a mystery where he comes from."

                                                                                                        -  The Branded Heart

 photo by Tommi Trudeau
Writing some of The Branded Heart at a 
Civil War reenactment (2013-14)
"the fabulous fleece"
                        Blue Eyes "Bluey"
"Casper" is a real dog named Blue Eyes, who I call "Bluey", most just call him "Blue".  He is a stray dog who escaped several times from a rescue. He since lives free and happy, and well cared for by my former pastors.  He was a good friend of mine in California who liked to follow me around and helped with looking after the other animals I took care of.  I described him just as he behaved in real life in The Branded Heart.

"And those ears!  Her ears hang like God had put them on upside down; they look a little like the flaps on 'The Flying Nun's' cornette (headpiece on her habit) or the ears of Dobby, the house elf in 'Harry Potter'.   

I made diapers for her to wear inside at night, out of some old burlap they had in the barn (eck, I know).  I cut a hole in it for her tail."

                                                              -  The Branded Heart