Friday, July 03, 2009

Sacrifice of the Sage Hen by Susie Schade-Brewer

1859: Pre-Civil War Independence, Missouri. The people are restless - the effects of prejudice and hate. Blood has already been spilled by some from over the border, and there is talk of war.

To add to the unrest from the border skirmishes, a devastating drought has fallen over the entire Northern region of Missouri.

Full of spirit and restless rebellion, Charlotte Mary West, called Charlie by her friends, is concerned, but what captures her most frequent thought is finding relief from her own boring and uneventful life. Grant, her husband of an arranged marriage, owns a general store in the embarkation town of Independence, Missouri. His only ambition is to make fistfuls of money selling supplies to the pioneers of the wagon trains leaving down the Oregon and California Trails. But waiting on customers and stocking shelves in a general store has never been Charlie’s idea of adventure. She feels life is going on without her.

And now her father and her best friend are joining a wagon train to go west, leaving her behind with her husband. Already chafing at the expectations he places on her to act like a proper lady, Charlie longs to break away and fly to freedom. Somehow, someway, she must convince her husband to forfeit his dream and join the wagon train.

Then tragedy strikes when a fire comes off the dry prairie and ravages half the town. Many buildings including West’s Mercantile burn to the ground. Some are injured – and a few die, including Charlie’s husband. Now at only age 19, she is a widow, no means of support - and quite unexpectedly - a mother to an orphaned mixed-race child.

Dirks Braelen is on the run from his life as a hired gun in Texas. He's ready to hang up his holster and try to find some peace for his soul. He may be ready to leave his old life behind, but the people he knew then may not let him.

He's trying to escape his past. She's trying to escape her present. To find happiness, Charlie and Dirks have to reach back into a story from Charlie's father and find out the true sacrifice of the Sage Hen.

For More Information:

Interview with Susie Schade-Brewer:

Why did you write this book?

At the time I started writing the book, I was around 50 years old, and although I had done a lot of writing over the years, it had been bits and pieces, mostly because I was busy working, raising my family, and taking care of elderly parents. By the time the kids were raised and gone, my marriage was falling apart. I found writing to be like therapy. One can be as sweet – as angry – as submissive -- or rebellious as they want, and (I hate to admit it) the empowerment was wonderful.
I remembered an idea that had stuck in my head since I was about seven years old. The storyline revolved around one central character, a feisty young woman who was not remiss to speak her mind, and for some odd reason, a sage hen was always there too. I don’t know why that in particular, but who understands the brain anyway, right? I thought, ‘now is the perfect time to indulge this flight of my imagination.’ The manuscript underwent about 20 revisions over a 6-year period, and the end result was exactly what I had always wanted. Plus, the therapeutic value probably saved me a lot of money!

What was your favorite part?

I think the easiest parts to write, because they just flowed out of me, were the more intimate thoughts and feelings of the main character, Charlie West. She is 19, and stuck in a loveless marriage. Because she is living a life that others had arranged for her, she is unable to pursue her own dreams -- all of which seemed apropos for me (except the 19 year old part – but I was once). And although she wishes to be good and dutiful and obedient, there is a certain defiance at having lost control of her life.

What was the hardest to write?

The parts about the fire and the dying and having to describe to the reader how bad it hurts and make them really feel it. Also the parts about the criminal acts of the villains, because he killed and mutilated animals.

What do you hope your readers will get from your book?

This story is about life – and love – and making choices, which all humans must do. And making our dreams as much a priority to us as others’. I guess it’s about understanding our self-worth, the importance of not allowing anyone to take that from you. It is my hope that the reader will take that key message away with them.

What’s next for you?

I am working on the sequel to The Sacrifice of the Sage Hen. In this first book, much of the story takes place in Independence, Missouri, which in the 19th century was what they called ‘the jumping off’ place for those who wanted to travel over the Oregon or Santa Fe Trails. Charlie’s life is as a storekeeper’s wife.
The next book, which most of my readers have said they really want to read about, will be when they actually get on the trail and deal with the day-to-day challenges and dangers of trail life. At that time, those who were brave enough to pack up their families and all their worldly goods into a 4’ x 10’ wagon knew that 1 in 5 of them would die before reaching their destination. The trail to Oregon was wild and 2,000 miles long, would take them 4 to 6 months to get there, and was fraught with many hidden dangers.

So, this is what I’m currently working on, plus working at my other business, a professional writing service called TPW Writing Services, doing copywriting and resumes. Both projects are very time-consuming. I’ve thought about petitioning my Congressman to pass some kind of bill to avail more hours in the day, but I didn’t think it would do much good.

If anyone wants to visit my book’s website, it is Please also visit my blog,, and leave a comment on a subject written there, or start a new one. I like discussing anything having to do with western lore or the writing life. Thanks, Karina, for the interview. All the best to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful tour.

Dr. Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak