The story of a young woman’s courage in the face of unrelenting adversity.  Inspired by actual events.  Coming this January by Penner Publishing.

If you follow my website, you’ll notice a new tab at the top:  THE EDGE OF NOWHERE.   This new tab provides specific information as it relates to the novel, the inspiration for its telling, and background information on the era.

One question you may be wondering:  Is this story true?  Yes and no.  The Edge of Nowhere is a work of complete fiction, but incorporates many of the anecdotes I grew up hearing from my father’s generation.  It was inspired by the experiences of my own grandmother, with a whole lot of imagination thrown in.  As my daddy would say, “Why tell the truth when, with a little imagination, you can make up a really great story?”


Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene knows her family despises her.  She’s even heard her grandchildren snigger behind her back about the “Immaculate Conception of David” – her fifth child, conceived between husbands.  But Victoria refuses to die before revealing the secrets she’s held locked away for more than 50 years; the secrets only whispered about in family folklore that have made her the feared matriarch of her family.

Widowed with nine children, Victoria will do anything to provide for her children – even murder, and without remorse.  Each day brings greater challenges:  poverty, homelessness, death, starvation, degradation and disease.  Some challenges will require despicable acts to overcome. But at what cost?  Can her family understand the decisions she’s made to secure their futures?

The Edge of Nowhere is a work of historical fiction inspired by the experiences of my own grandmother during the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  While it is a complete work of fiction, many of the stories contained within its pages are based upon anecdotes that have been passed down from my father’s generation, through mine, and down to my children.  Several of the key factors of the book are taken from their actual experiences, and others are the product of my imagination or exaggeration.  As a reader, you’ll have to decide which is which.  The answers may surprise you.

Four of my grandparents' combined fourteen children. These four were their first together. Not pictured are the five he brought to the marriage, and the five that came after this photo was taken. Front Row: Bill and Geraldine Second Row: Shirley and Ed (My Daddy)Four of my grandparents’ combined fourteen children. These four were their first together. Not pictured are the five he brought to the marriage, and the five that came after this photo was taken. Front Row: Bill and Geraldine / Back Row: Shirley and Ed (My Daddy). For readers of the book, these four children inspired the characters of Jack, Grace, Sara and Ethan.

The Dust Bowl that swept through Oklahoma and neighboring states was arguably the most devastating natural disaster to ever hit American soil.  Unlike a tornado, earthquake or a hurricane, the Dust Bowl lasted nearly ten straight years.  What was once beautiful green prairie and farmland of wheat fields as far as the eye can see soon became nothing but dust and dirt.  A desert of sorts.  Everywhere you looked was blowing dirt.  It got into your mouth and ears.  You couldn’t help but to inhale it deep into your lungs until you choked.  Many during this time died of what came to be known as “dust pneumonia.”  It was relentless and brutal.

Photo Credit Dorthea Lange

Farming was the lifeblood of most Oklahomans during this time, but the soil had become so eroded that nothing would grow.  If your livelihood is farming and nothing will grow, what do you do?  How do you live?  These are the questions I began asking myself as Victoria’s story unfolded. How do you provide for your family when you’re a single woman alone with nearly a dozen children and no resources?

An important thing to remember about Oklahomans of this era is that most had no formal education.  They knew one thing:  farming.  If you’ve read Steinbeck’s epic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, then you know that many of these people moved West for a better life.  Most people were too poor to move, however, and so they stayed behind and hoped for better days.  The Edge of Nowhere is the story of those people.  It’s the story of the true Oklahoma Spirit — the dogged determination and tenacity that continues to see them through continued disasters like the Oklahoma City Bombing and the yearly tornados that destroy home and property.  It is the story of a people dedicated to the land they love and the place they call home.  An interesting side note is that many of these same families who stayed behind and endured the harsh life of The Dust Bowl are still there today.  The same lands that once had forsaken them are now being farmed by their children and grandchildren.

“Abandoned farmstead in the Dust Bowl region of Oklahoma, showing the effects of wind erosion, 1937”
Image Source:
My grandmother - Edna Hall Hedrick Golden - in her later years.
My grandmother – Edna Hall Hedrick Golden – in later years.

During this era, my grandmother was left a widow with her husband’s five nearly grown children and an additional seven smaller ones for a grand total of twelve children (she would go on to remarry after this era and have two more children for a combined fourteen).  She was only 28 years old.  Soon thereafter, she lost their farm and she found herself homeless, hungry and with few resources.  She had no family to speak of, so providing and caring for these children fell entirely to her.  I don’t know what she was like before my grandfather’s death, but I know that in the years I knew her she was strong and opinionated.  She ruled her children with an iron fist and they respected her for it.  She was a legend and not many people would dare to cross her path.

So sets the stage for The Edge of Nowhere.  You have a young woman, widowed, with a combined twelve children.  You have no resources.  You’ve lost your home, your children are hungry, jobs are scarce, what do you do?  Maybe a better question is this:  What wouldn’t you do to provide for your children?  And how do the decisions you’re forced to make change the person you are?

This book is currently under contract with Penner Publishing with an expected publication date of January 19, 2016.  While you wait, take some time to visit the PBS website dedicated to the Dust Bowl.  You can find that link here.

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Embedded Music:  My Oklahoma Home Blowed Away
Copyright by Pete Seeger from his 2005 album, The Essential Pete Seeger
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23 responses to “THE EDGE OF NOWHERE”

  1. Sheryl Stookey Avatar
    Sheryl Stookey

    Awesome!! What a lovely tribute to your grandparents. I LOVE the family picture of the four!! The little guy on the left reminds me of a current young boy who comes into my workplace. I call him trouble because he is forever locking himself in the bathroom. LOL. The little girl in the back also reminds me strongly of a friend’s daughter when she was little. The pictures of the farms..oh, my..all that dust/dirt looks like SNOW to me. I am looking forward to reading your book.


    1. Thanks so much! It was really fun writing; putting myself back in that time period. It was fun to imagine my grandparents as young people, and my dad and his siblings as children. The little boy on the front left was most definitely “trouble.” He was my Uncle Bill who passed away about two years ago. He was a wonderful man, rough around the edges but with the biggest heart you’ve ever known. The little girl behind him is my Aunt Shirley, who’s voice I heard in my head as I was writing the dialect. Amazing woman! Really, all of my dad’s brothers and sisters are or were amazing people. I feel truly blessed to’ve grown up in such a huge family of loving aunts and uncles who worked so hard to keep us all close so that we’d grow up knowing each other.


  2. Congratulations to you on your upcoming novel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so exciting! Do you have an agent?


      2. No, not for this one. It’s my first and I was just ready to get it “out there.” I was in the middle of querying agents when I got an offer from a small publishing house and just decided to go for out. So far, I’m so incredibly happy with everything they’ve done. They’ve been fantastic in every way.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen Jackson Estes Avatar
    Karen Jackson Estes

    I’m looking forward to your book. My father grew up in western Oklahoma, one of 7 children. He was born in 1921 and his stories were amazing. Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! My dad was one of a combined 14 with a widowed mom, so I have a feeling your story is fairly similar to mine! Crazy hard times back then! I can’t even imagine!


  4. Cathey,

    My mother was born in 1940 (from El Reno) and although the official news line was that the depression was over…it wasn’t for her family. Jobs were scarce for many years and my mom’s family (mother, father, sisters and brothers) hitchhiked back and forth to California looking for work. She (like your grandmother) told us many memorable stories. It left an aching in my mom in that all she wanted in life was a little house to call her own and children. Anyway, I will look forward to reading it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally believe it, Vickie! I bet our families knew each other…the El Reno area was even smaller then than it is now. My Aunt Gerry hated that era so much that she didn’t like anything to remind her of it. She wouldn’t have patchwork quilts in her home (even the nice ones) because they reminded her too much of what it felt like to be poor. 😦


      1. It would interest me to know who your mother is, Vickie, since we are the same age.
        Cathie, you mention the fact that your Aunt Gerry lived on Ellison, across from the Methodist church. We lived in the 600 block of South Miles and had family friends, Neal and Josie Vaughter, and their son Vernon, who lived at 601 South Ellison, across from the church that was next door to the Shaw family’s home, if I remember correctly. The Hobsons later lived in the Vaughter home after they moved to Perry, Oklahoma. How close is that to your aunt’s residence?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dang…I’m trying to remember the actual house number on my Aunt Gerry’s house. I just can’t remember. I’m thinking a block, maybe? For some reason, it seems like she was somewhere in the 500 block of South Ellison. I’ll have to check with my cousin and find out.

        It just occurred to me that I often heard my Aunt Gerry introduce herself as “Edna Hood.” I believe she was Edna Geraldine Hood and, not really seeing her visit with people who weren’t family, I’m not sure what name she used outside our family. But I know I heard her many times make phone calls and introduce herself as Edna.

        Mr. Patrick – My dad was/is Ed Hedrick who taught at the high school for many years. His mother was Edna Hall Hedrick Golden. There were a ton of those kids, but most of them moved away from El Reno and into Yukon. My Uncle Pete Hedrick lived out in Calumet and farmed until he died. Actually, his grandson was my cousin Grant Hedrick, the former county commissioner, who passed away several years ago when he rolled his truck on a county road.


  5. […] where most of my family still resides, and it’s where I placed the setting of my novel, The Edge of Nowhere.  I’m Sooner Born and Bred, and my blood runs the crimson and cream of my alma mater, The […]


  6. […] My name is Cathie Armstrong and I publish under the name of C.H. Armstrong.  My first novel, The Edge of Nowhere, is a work of Historical Fiction and is expected to release this January through Penner […]


  7. […]  As I think about the rich dirt and relate it to the Dust Bowl-era and the characters in my book, The Edge of Nowhere, I have no doubt that the tug and pull of a love-hate relationship was strong in the 1930s.  The […]


  8. […] — I relied heavily on the stories I’d been told over the years to write my book, The Edge of Nowhere.  My dad has always been a prolific storyteller, so I had no end of anecdotes at my fingertips. […]


  9. […] C.H. Armstrong is a 23-year resident of Rochester and is the author of the upcoming Historical Fiction novel, The Edge of Nowhere. For information and a synopsis about this title, follow THIS LINK. […]


  10. […] a special corner of my heart.  This is evidenced, first, by the fact that I based my novel — The Edge of Nowhere — on not only my home state of Oklahoma, but my actual hometown of El Reno, […]


  11. […] C.H. Armstrong is a native of El Reno, OK, and a 23-year resident of Rochester, MN.  A 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she is the author of the upcoming Historical Fiction novel, The Edge of Nowhere. For information and a synopsis about this title, click on  THIS LINK. […]


  12. […] due January 19 from Penner Publishing. For information and a synopsis about this title, follow THIS LINK.  To purchase an advance copy of this novel, see the sidebar of this page for […]


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