My Guest Today: Shanna Hatfield

Hardman Community Center

Hardman Community Center


My guest today is Shanna Hatfield, author of the Hardman Holidays series. Shanna, tell us about the setting for your exciting new series. I understand you’ve breathed life back into the ghost town of Hardman, Oregon.

Thank you, Mary. Two years ago, I decided to write a sweet Victorian holiday romance. As I debated making up a town or using a real one, I happened to come across information about Hardman, Oregon and chose it for the setting of The Christmas Bargain, the first book in my Hardman Holidays series.

Although classified today as a ghost town, Harman was once quite an exciting place to be.

John L. Royse, reportedly one of the most successful farmers in the area, and his brother were said to be the first permanent settlers in Hardman.

Originally named Dairyville, the town was popular as a freighting center and saw promising growth in its early days. Dairyville became known as Raw Dog, while a mile away a rival settlement sprang up, known as Yellow Dog.

Stagecoaches and wagon trains traveling north and south through eastern Oregon and Washington found convenient shopping points in both Raw Dog and Yellow Dog. The rivalry between the two locations escalated as they competed over which town would secure the stagecoach depot for the area. When Raw Dog received a permanent stagecoach station, the two towns became one, known as Dogtown.

The town’s name changed to Hardman in 1881 when David N. Hardman, a pioneer farmer, moved to town and, with the government’s consent, brought with him the post office which previously had operated from his farm. The town took the name of the post office, Hardman.

In the 1800s, the town boasted a skating rink, four churches, a school, and newspaper office.

In the late1800s, excitement rippled through Hardman with rumors that the railroad would be coming through town. When the railroad was routed through the nearby town of Heppner instead, the community of Hardman suffered a devastating blow, effectively stunting future growth.

By the 1920s, trucks replaced horses, mail routes changed and Hardman began its decline. The last business in Hardman closed in 1968.

Thank you, Shanna. I’ve always found ghost towns fascinating and your bringing fictional life back to Hardman is intriguing. For more information about the author and the Hardman Series, visit


Shanna christmas-bargain-cover

Today’s guest: Amy Hale Auker, Author of Winter of Beauty



Winter of Beauty by Amy Hale Auker brings readers right into the dust and grit of contemporary ranch life. Shiney, ranch owner since the death of her father, and Monte, the foreman, run a large ranch with the help of a handful of colorful characters, people I came to know and care about. Their motto seems to be “live and let live,” but when there’s trouble, each and everyone puts aside his or her own comfort to give a helping hand. Winter of Beauty is a fine, heart-felt novel of depth. Hale, an award-winning author, knows what she’s talking about. She lives, works, and writes on a large ranch in Arizona where her husband is foreman.

Today, my guest is the author of Winter of Beauty, Amy Hale Auker. Welcome, Amy. Please share your writing philosophy to give us some insight into how you perceive your writing experience.

Amy Hale Auker:
I found out a hard truth about myself in 2006. I found out that while I can write and I love writing, I am terrible at waiting for a manuscript to be published. I am impossible to live with while going through the long slow slog of seeing a book come into print. (And I was great at being pregnant, so go figure!)

When my new husband and I were first together, I was waiting on my first book to go through the academic review process at a university press. The glacial pace was driving me crazy. He suggested that (duh) I write something new. He commented, “I read to be entertained. Go look at our shelves.” We had just combined libraries and we had duplicate copies of several much loved books. I did my survey on a snowy afternoon, and I still remember the light filtering in through the windows. What I found on our shelves were… novels. Fiction. Volume after volume of fiction. Some great, some not so great. So I set out to write a novel. And I did! I wrote a novel called “The Story is the Thing.” “Story” has not found a home yet, but I was hooked. I was hooked on the idea of writing characters who could do and say anything I needed them to, and often, took over the story to say and do what they wanted!

Immediately upon finishing the third or fourth draft of “Story,” I started writing “Winter of Beauty.” I did not know what “Beauty” was going to become, but I knew that I wanted certain elements in it. I wanted the mountain, the land, to be a character in the book. I wanted to explore the idea of belonging. I wanted to write Jody Neil and Delbert Lincoln’s relationship. I wanted to bring Sunshine Angel Lewis to life. I wanted to explore an issue that every novelist encounters: names. The idea of giving characters names and how that shapes them. The first draft of “Winter of Beauty” was terrible. With this book I learned the power of the rewrite. I learned the craft of weaving plot and characters together. I learned the value of research and outside voices to augment authenticity. I learned that I can cut characters completely out and promise them a book of their own. I learned that not everything has to be wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow.

I learned that shifting gears between essays and fiction and poetry is therapeutic, like cross-training is for an athlete.

I learned that I can’t not write.

Thank you, Amy. After reading Winter of Beauty, it’s clear to me that your writing is a passion fulfilled.

Winter of Beauty will be officially released October 15 and available through regular book channels. In the meantime, a Special Author Edition is available through Amy Hale Auker’s website: