Tag: Fire Eyes

THE HEROINE’S BACKSTORY–HOW MUCH DO WE NEED TO TELL?

What has made our heroine into the person she became for the purposes of our story?  What occurrences in her life have shaped her personality?  And how do we decide on the balance between what we, as the writer know about our heroine vs. what the reader needs to know?

Obviously, we don’t have room to tell the reader all that we, the writer must know about her.  Nor would the reader be as enthralled with that deluge of information as we are.  It’s not necessary for the reader to know every single thing—yet, as writers, one of the hardest parts of creating believable characters is giving them a past, and knowing how much of that history we need to go into.

In my novel, Fire Eyes, one thing we learn about the heroine, Jessica, is that she married young.  She thought she was marrying for love, but as it turned out, she grew to understand that she was not in love with Billy, nor he with her—at least, not in the way she had always dreamed of.  This is a huge issue with her after Billy dies.  She tells Kaed, “The next time I marry, it will be for love.”  This shows how much it means to her, because her existence as a single mother is not easy, and the threat of Fallon is still there.

There are many reasons for her to hold onto that dream so tenaciously, but I didn’t have room to talk about in the novel. Her life before Billy was not easy, and marrying Billy was just the ‘icing on the cake.’  But rather than me tell you about Jessica, how about letting her describe her background to you? 

My name was Jessica Lea Beckley.  That was before I married Billy Monroe, when I was only seventeen.  I thought I was in love with Billy.  He was handsome in his own way.  I was glad when he started courting me, because he was the only boy my father seemed to like.  Once he started coming around, it seemed like word got out we were ‘a couple’—and the other boys quit coming by.

 

That suited Pa just fine though.  I was the only girl in a family of boys—four older brothers and one younger.  My ma died when Mitch was born, and somehow, Pa always seemed to blame him for it.  I had to come between them many, many times.  Pa was always heavy-handed.  Mitch was determined to prove to Pa that he was worthy.  He ran off when he was sixteen.  Said he wanted to be a marshal.  We never heard from him again.  I missed Mitch more than my other brothers.  He was always special to me.  But Mitch is dead now, killed by Andrew Fallon’s men.

 

They killed my husband, Billy, too.  I did what I could to save him, but he was just hurt too bad.  Most of what I did was just making him comfortable as he slipped away.  It took him two long days.   Even though I didn’t love him, I was sorry for not being able to save him.  Something really sad was this.  Billy never wanted to be touched—he wanted to do all the touching—what little of it there was between us.  How I would yearn for him to just hold me sometimes!  But it wasn’t in him.  Still, just before he died, he opened his eyes a little and said, “Jessica, would you please just hold my hand awhile?”  Even then, I knew I couldn’t touch him the way I wanted to—just pull him close and hold him.  I took his hand in mine, and he smiled.  It wasn’t long after that, he passed.

 

Somebody had to bury him, and there was no one but me to do it.  Me, two months gone with our baby. But I lost it, too, when I buried Billy. Nearly died myself, from bleeding, but my good friend Rita, and her husband, Wayne, took me in and cared for me.

 

In an odd twist of fate, after Rita had her baby girl, she was bitten by a copperhead a few weeks later.  Wayne waited too long to come for help, and Rita passed.  If Wayne had come sooner, I might have saved her.  I think he knew it, too.  Not long after that, he asked me to marry him.  It made sense, me with no husband, him with no wife and trying to care for little Lexi.  But I didn’t love him, and he didn’t love me.  I had to keep true to my promise I made myself, to only marry for love.  A few days later, he showed up at my door with the baby, asking me to take her.  I felt sorry for Wayne, but I was glad to see him go.  Gladder, still, that he left me precious Lexi.

 

It was good to leave home.  Sometimes I think my pa just wanted me there to cook and clean.  I wanted my independence, and maybe I saw Billy as my ticket out of there.  I’ve never been back, even though it’s less than a day’s ride from here.  Pa was a hard man to deal with, and I was glad to see my older brothers marry and leave, one by one, too.

 

I’ve always felt bad about not saving Rita and Billy.  I’m a healer.  Had to learn that, being raised as I was with all those boys. They were always getting hurt somehow.  I believe things happen for a reason, though.  If I hadn’t gone through those hard years of growing up where I did, I wouldn’t have been able to save Kaed Turner when Standing Bear dumped him on my porch.  He was hurt worse than Billy, but he had more to live for.  I wasn’t enough for Billy, but to Kaed, I was everything.

 

Remember when I said that I wouldn’t marry again except for love?  Kaed’s the best man I’ve ever known.  When I look at him, I see love in his eyes—for me—every time.  But more than just the love, I see understanding.  And that’s just as important, I’ve learned, because, love can be many things to many people.  Kaedon Turner knows my soul as well as my heart. We’ve both suffered loss and despair.  But now, we have each other. And when he says, “It’ll come out all right,” I know it’s true.

 

And now, you know what I knew when I created Jessica Monroe Turner.  A lot goes into making up a heroine’s personality–a lot that the writer must know about her.  This knowledge makes the heroine a well-rounded person to the reader, although you, as the writer, might not be able to include everything.  Still, snippets of conversation and insights will provide for a deeper look into the heroine’s character.  What about your heroines?  How did you manage to convey their backstory to the reader?

To order Fire Eyes or any other Cheryl Pierson short story or novel, visit Amazon at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Pierson/e/B002JV8GUE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

PLOTTING WITH WOUNDED HEROES

My heroes are all wounded.  Not just emotionally, but physically, as well.  Being a hero in a Cheryl Pierson story is like being an expendable member of the landing party on Star Trek.  If you had on a red shirt when you beamed down to the planet’s surface, you could pretty well figure you weren’t going to be returning to the Enterprise in one piece, or alive.

In my debut TWRP historical western release, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is tortured and shot at the hands of the villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang of cutthroats.  A band of Choctaw Indians deposit Kaed on Jessica Monroe’s doorstep with instructions to take care of him.  “Do not allow him to die,” the chief tells her.

Can she save him? Or will he meet the same fate that befell her husband, Billy?  Although Kaed’s injuries are severe, he recovers under a combination of Jessica’s expert care and his own resolve and inner strength.

The injuries he sustained give him the time he needs to get to know Jessica quickly.  Their relationship becomes more intimate in a shorter time span due to the circumstances.  Under normal conditions of courtship, the level their relationship skyrockets to in just a few days would take weeks, or months.

Wounding the hero is a way to also show the evil deeds of the villain.  We can develop a kinship with the hero as he faces what seem to be insurmountable odds against the villain.  How will he overcome those odds?  Even if he weren’t injured, it would be hard enough—but now, we feel each setback more keenly than ever.  He’s vulnerable in a way he has no control over.  How will he deal with it, in the face of this imminent danger?

Enter the heroine.  She’ll do what she can to help, but will it be enough to make a difference?  This is her chance to show what she’s made of, and further the relationship between them.  (If he dies, of course, that can’t happen.)

From this point on, as the hero begins to recover, he also regains his confidence as well as his strength.

It’s almost like “The Six Million Dollar Man”: We can build him stronger…faster…better…

 

He will recover, but now he has something to lose—the newfound love between him and the heroine.  Now, he’s deadlier than ever, and it’s all about protecting the woman he loves.

Or, his injuries may give him a view of life that he hadn’t hoped for before.  Maybe the heroine’s care and the ensuing love between them make the hero realize qualities in himself he hadn’t known were there. 

In my holiday short story, A Night For Miracles, wounded gunman Nick Dalton arrives on widow Angela Bentley’s doorstep in a snowstorm.  Angela is tempted at first to turn him away, until she realizes he’s traveling with three half-frozen youngsters, and he’s bleeding.

As she settles the children into the warmth of her home and begins to treat Nick’s injury, she realizes it’s Christmas Eve—“A Night For Miracles,” Nick says wryly.  “I’m ready for mine.”

In this excerpt, the undercurrents between them are strong, but Nick realizes Angela’s fears.  She’s almost as afraid of taking in a gunman with a reputation as she is of being alone again.

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

To order A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, FIRE EYES, or SWEET DANGER go here:

 

http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=534

THE ROMANCE OF A ROOM ADDITION

What is the most romantic room in a home?  In our romance stories, it’s quite often the bedroom where the romance actually physically happens.  Other rooms in our characters’ homes are romantic and meaningful to the hero and heroine for various reasons as well.

 The room I think of as most romantic is one that doesn’t exist yet:  the room addition.

 How can adding on a room be romantic?  Okay, first of all, let’s remember this IS make- believe! In real life, home construction or remodeling projects will cause the topic of divorce to be introduced into the loving couple’s conversation at some point.  Over and over.

 Two short rollers and a can of paint in a bathroom can break a marriage faster than an overdrawn bank account.  But come with me to the world of fiction—historical fiction—where women are heroines and men are heroes…and the announcement of “needing another room” is a joyous occasion, and not just another “honey-do.”

 The addition of a room most generally heralds the impending arrival of a baby, or the growth of the young family in some way.  Because cabins were so small and were generally put up as quickly as possible to provide a more permanent shelter for a family, improvements often had to wait until time, weather, or supplies permitted.

 In our historical romances, our heroes are always eager to do whatever is necessary to provide the best possible quarters for their families.  You’ll never hear them say, “I’ll do it when the playoffs are over.”

 All joking aside, I believe we find the room addition romantic for several reasons, the most obvious one being that our heroine is pregnant and there needs to be a room for the little one the couple has created.  Most women can relate to that maternal instinct of preparing a safe, warm place for their baby to sleep.

 The second reason a room addition is romantic, is that the hero is actually building something with his skill, knowledge and love to provide for his growing family.  It’s his answer to the heroine’s maternal need.  Generally, the delivery of the news that a baby is on the way and discussion of the room addition is a shock to the hero, but not an unwelcome one.  It transitions him from “husband” to “family man” and gives him the opportunity to “show his stuff.”  He proves himself by his reaction to the news.  The action he takes toward following through with the reality of building on shows the heroine (and the reader) that he is our “dream man.”

 The family unit, complete, is probably the most romantic reason of all.  The room addition shows the reader that the heroine and hero have matured, grown in their love for one another and are able to look toward the future as a family unit now.  In the child to come, they will see themselves and one another, and will risk everything for the safety, comfort and protection of that child.

 And it all starts with…the addition of the extra bedroom for the new life they’ve created.

 In the following excerpt from FIRE EYES, Jessica gives Kaed the news that they’re going to be needing a nursery.  This is an especially poignant moment because of Kaed’s past, and what it means to him personally.  He’s being given a second chance—one he wasn’t sure he wanted, but now is desperate to hold onto.

FROM FIRE EYES:

  “Looks like we gave up our bed.” Kaed’s gaze rested on Frank and the two girls. Nineteen. God, he looked so young, like a boy, as he slept, all the lines of worry around his eyes erased. Nineteen. I remember nineteen. Just didn’t understand until now how young it really is.

“Twice now.” Jessica’s voice called him from his thoughts. She grinned and nodded toward where Tom lay talking to Harv. “Maybe by this time tomorrow morning we’ll get lucky,” she whispered, reaching up to kiss his cheek.

“Neither one of us is going to ‘get lucky,’ in any respect, until everyone’s gone,” he grumbled softly, letting go a frustrated sigh. “One thing’s for sure. When everything settles down around here, I’m gonna add on a bedroom. With a door that shuts.”

Jessica was quiet for a moment, then very softly she said, “Better make that two.”

“Two bedrooms?”

“Uh-huh. Ours, and a nursery.”

Kaed nodded. “For Lexi.”

“And the new baby.”

His gaze arrowed to hers.

Our baby, Kaed.”

The blood rushed through his ears, pounding at his temples. Nothing existed but the woman standing in his strong embrace, her love washing over him in warm waves as her eyes sparkled into his.

“Jessi.” The words he’d spoken to her the day he left came back to haunt him. I just hope that maybe we got lucky. Maybe it didn’t take.

But it had. And damn if he didn’t feel like the luckiest man alive. A baby. He read the unasked question in her expression, and he bent to kiss her. To reassure her. To let her know a family was what he needed and wanted. He felt her relax beneath his hands.

“I told you I was working my way through it, Jess,” he whispered against her cheek. “I’ll be a good father.”

Tears rose in her eyes. She nodded, her hair soft against his stubbled beard. “You’ll be the best.”

“Better than I was before, that’s for sure.” The words slipped out before he could stop them. He took a deep, jagged breath as Jessica finally dared to meet his eyes. He looked away, his gaze wandering about the small cabin, finally returning to lock with Jessica’s.

“I can appreciate what I’ve got this time, Jessi. I took it for granted the first time, and I lost it. I won’t let that happen again.”

Jessica shook her head. “Promise—” she began, but he tilted her face up, putting his lips to hers once more in a gentle, reassuring kiss.

“I’ll never let you go, Jessi. And I’ll never hurt you. I want what we talked about, the family, the farm, maybe a ranch.” He stopped and moistened his lips that had suddenly gone dry. “But most of all, I want you.” He glanced across the room at Tom, who gave him a fleeting grin. After a moment, he returned his gaze to the fathomless pools of Jessica’s eyes. “None of it means anything without the woman I love, Jessica. You. Yes, I promise, sweetheart. I promise everything.”

Travis leaned against the kitchen doorjamb, fresh coffee in hand. “Guess we’d better start beating the bushes for a preacher-man, boys. Get it done up legal and right for Miss Jessi while Kaed’s in this mood. I never seen him like this. Never heard him talk so serious.” He took a drink of his coffee, his green eyes mischievous above the rim of his cup. “I do believe he means it, Miss Jessi.”

I hope you enjoyed this post and excerpt.  Do you have any experience with a “romantic” room in your house?  I’d love to hear about it! 

 These gorgeous covers are from my novel, FIRE EYES, available at:

http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=534&zenid=bbb2b42b9ad603f1802c0800fac01b38

and a new Valentine anthology from VICTORY TALES PRESS called A VALENTINE COLLECTION, available here.

http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/online-store.php

  My story, “A HEART FOR A HEART”, is a contemporary about a single young woman who is a tutor.  When one of her young Indian students, Cory Tiger, loses his parents in a tragic automobile accident, she steps in to be his foster mother. But the night before he is to become her ward, his uncle, Sam, returns from his military service in Iraq to claim him.  Here’s the blurb:

 A Heart for a Heart by Cheryl Pierson – Kiera takes Cory into her home, but when his uncle returns from military duty he wants to take over. Can  they work this out for?

DREAMS FOR SALE–THE MILLER BROTHERS 101 RANCH

On a vast open plain a few miles south of Ponca City, Oklahoma, lies the burial ground of one of the greatest ranching empires of the West—the Miller brothers’ 101 Ranch.

None of the former 101 Ranch estate remains today. All of the buildings were destroyed and the land subdivided and sold after the Miller Brothers’ final bankruptcy. This photo shows the 101 Ranch as it existed with ranchhouse, corrals, and out-buildings.

Established in 1893 by Colonel George Washington Miller, a former Confederate soldier, and his wife Molly, the 101 became known as the “Largest Diversified Farm and Ranch in America.”  It was nicknamed the “White House.”

 Not only was the 101 one of the largest working ranches west of the Mississippi, it was even more famous for its Wild West shows.  These displays of horsemanship, roping, and daring “rescues” transitioned from local shows to the national level in 1907 when the 101 Wild West Show performed at the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia.  In 1908, the tour circuit began in earnest.

Mural Honoring the Miller Brothers and the 101 Ranch & Wild West Show. Located at 207 W. Grand in Ponca City, OK

The Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show wagons.

Pawnee Bill and Zack Miller on horseback in Oklahoma.

The Miller brothers, Joseph, George Jr., and Zack, had permitted some of their cowboys to perform at a local fair, and from this, their own Wild West show grew to become known worldwide.

It was essentially a Wild West show, complete with cattle, buffaloes, cowboys and Indians.  It included an all-around crowd pleaser—the attack on the stagecoach.  But it also contained elements of the circus with sideshows, and “freaks” such as the Bearded Lady.  In the heyday of its popularity, the Millers’ 101 Wild West Show netted them over one million dollars per year!

The idea of formalizing the performing cowboys into a Wild West show came from the Millers’ longtime friend and neighbor, Major Gordon W. Lillie—also known as Pawnee Bill.  Pawnee Bill eventually combined his own Wild West show with Buffalo Bill Cody’s.  The 101 Wild West Show, however, remained solitary, boasting stars such as black bulldogger Bill Pickett, Bee Ho Gray, early movie star Tom Mix, Mexican Joe, and eventually, Buffalo Bill Cody as well.

The Miller brothers were latecomers to the Wild West show circuit, causing them to suffer financially with the advent of movies.  Even so, their show became the largest in the nation by the 1920’s, requiring more than 100 train cars to travel from town to town.

By 1916, the two younger Miller brothers, George Jr. and Zack, gave up trying to work with their temperamental oldest brother, Joe.  It was during this time period that Joe hired an aging Buffalo Bill Cody to star in a WWI recruitment show:  The Pageant of Preparedness.  Cody quit the show due to illness, and died within a year.  Still, Joe tried to keep the show going, but was unsuccessful.  He offered it for sale to the American Circus Corporation in 1927.  They were uninterested, suffering from financial distress as well.  On October 21, 1927, a neighbor found Joe Miller dead in the ranch garage of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Several months later, his brother, George Jr., was killed in a car accident.  In 1932, Zack Miller was forced to file for bankruptcy.  The U.S. Government seized what remained of the show’s assets and bought 8,000 acres of the 101 Ranch.  Zack Miller died in 1952 of cancer.

Today, what remains of the once-glorious three-story stucco 101 Ranch headquarters is rubble.  Over ten years ago, efforts began to turn the site into a roadside park. 

Bill Pickett, the inventor of bulldogging, or steer wrestling, is buried there.  On the same mound where Bill Pickett lies is a memorial to the Ponca chief, White Eagle, who led his people to a nearby reservation during the 1870’s from their holdings along the Nebraska-Dakota border.

 The stone monument was built as an Indian trail marker where signals and messages could be left by different friendly tribes who passed by.  These tribes generally understood the signals, and could tell which way the other travelers were going.  Gradually, settlers took away the stones for building purposes.  Because Colonel George Miller and White Eagle were lifetime friends, and Joe Miller was adopted into the tribe, the renovation of the trail marker had significance to the 101 Ranch for many reasons.

 The 101 Ranch was a bridge between these old, lost days of the early West, when Colonel George Miller started the venture as a settler after the States’ War, and the modern times of change.  The 101 Ranch was the headquarters for the show business contingent of cowboys and other western performers of the early 1900’s.  Will Rogers was a frequent visitor, as well as presidents and celebrities from around the world.  Some of the first western movies were filmed on the 101 Ranch. 

Though there isn’t much left of the actual building, the 101 Ranch exceeded the expectations for a “cattle ranch.”  Indeed, it was a virtual palace on the Oklahoma plains; a place where dreams were lived.

 In my historical western novel, Fire Eyes, Kaed Turner talks with his friend and mentor, Tom Sellers, about giving up law enforcement and settling down to ranching.  At first, Tom sees it as an unattainable dream; but as the conversation progresses, the possibilities look better.  Here’s what happens!

 FIRE EYES:

Tom smiled. “Glad you’ve got somebody good—deep down—like you are, Kaed. Ain’t too many men who’d take on another man’s child, love her like you do your Lexi.”

Kaed put his hand against the rough wood of the tree and straightened out his arm, stretching his muscles.

Tom drew deeply on his pipe, and Kaed waited. He’d known Tom so long that he recognized the older man was going to broach a subject with him that he normally would have avoided. Finally, Tom said, “I told Harv he needed to find someone. Settle down again. Grow corn and make babies. Think I might’ve offended him. But after seein’ him with little Lexi, it hit me that he seemed content. For the first time in a long while.”

It had struck Kaed, as well. Harv rarely smiled. But when he’d played with Lexi, it seemed that grin of his was permanently fixed on his face.

“Seems that way for you, too, boy.” Tom wouldn’t look at him. “Seems like you found what you’ve been looking for. Don’t let marshalin’ ruin it for you, Kaed. I’ve stayed with it too long. Me and Harv and Jack, we’ve been damn lucky to get this old without gettin’ killed either in the War, or doin’ this job.”

“Tom? Sounds like you’ve got some regrets.”

Tom nodded. “You made me realize somethin’, Marshal Turner, and now I don’t know whether to thank you or cuss you. When I saw the way that woman looked at you, the way that baby’s eyes lit up, it made me know I shoulda give this all up years ago and found myself somebody. Taken the advice I gave Harv. Planted my seed in the cornfield and in my woman’s belly, and maybe I’d’a been happier, too.”

“It’s not too late.” Kaed’s voice was low and rough. The doubt he’d had at starting his own family again was suddenly erased by the older man’s words. Nothing would bring his first family back. But he had a second chance now, and he was a helluva lot younger than Tom Sellers. He’d had it twice, and Tom had never had it at all. Never felt the love flow through a woman, through her touch, her look, and into his own body, completing him. Never looked into the eyes of a child who worshipped him. He wouldn’t have missed that for anything the first time. Or the second. Tom turned slowly to look at Kaed, the leaves of the elm tree patterning the filtering moonlight across his face. “You think that cause you’re young, Kaed. Twenty-nine ain’t forty-three.”

“Forty-three ain’t dead, Tom. There’s plenty of women out there. Plenty of land. Room to spread out. What’re you grinnin’ at?”

Tom laughed aloud. “Got any particular woman in mind?” Quickly, he added, “Now, remember, Kaed. She’s gotta be young enough to give me a baby, but not so young she’s a baby herself. Gotta be easy on the eye, and I want her to look at me like your Jessica looks at you. And by the way, have you got any idea where a fella could get a piece of good land for raisin’ cattle, with a little patch for farmin’?”

Kaed’s lips twitched. Tom was dreaming, but only half dreaming. The serious half had taken root in his heart and mind. Kaed knew before too much longer, that part would eat away at the lightheartedness until it took over completely, becoming a bold, unshakeable dream that he would do his utmost to accomplish. Now that Tom had envisioned what his life could be, Kaed knew it would fall to him to help make it a reality.

“Let’s end this business with Fallon. After that, we’ll find the land and the cattle.”

“Don’t mean nothin’ without the woman, Kaed. You oughtta know that.”

“I do.” Kaed smiled, his thoughts straying to Miss Amelia Bailey, the not-so-young-but-young-enough school teacher in Fort Smith, who always seemed to trip over her words when Tom Sellers came around. Just the right age. And very easy on the eye. “Stick with me, old man. I may even help you find a decent woman to settle down with.”

To order FIRE EYES:

http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=534&zenid=559cec992e1a9f21828c206cc4d35d47

CAN SETTING BE ANOTHER CHARACTER?

Location.  Setting.  Why is it so important to the stories we love to read and write?  It seems obvious in some cases.  In others, there could be a ‘hidden’ agenda. It can actually become another character.

Fifty years ago, the choices were limited.  Regencies and Westerns were prevalent sub-genres in the historical category, and mysteries and detective stories captivated the ‘contemporary’ nook.  Science fiction was still relatively uncharted.

The setting of a novel was a definitive device, separating the genres as clearly as any other element of writing.

The glittering ballrooms and colorful gowns and jewels whisked historical romance readers away to faraway, exotic locales.  Sagebrush, cactus, and danger awaited heroes of the western genre, a male- dominated readership.

But something odd happened as time went by.  The lines blurred.   Rosemary Rogers combined the romance of exotic places with the danger of an action plot, and an unforgettable hero in Steve Morgan that, had a man picked up ‘Sweet Savage Love’ and read it, he certainly could have identified with.

By the same token, the male-oriented scenery accompanied by the stiff, stylized form of western writers such as Owen Wister (The Virginian) and Zane Grey (Riders of the Purple Sage, The Last Trail) gave way to Louis L’Amour (Conagher, the Sackett series) and Jack Schaefer (Shane, Monte Walsh).

Why is the evolving change in description of location so important?  In older writings, many times the location of a novel was just where the story happened to take place.  Often, the plot of the story dictated the setting, rather than the two forming any kind of  ‘partnership.’

But with the stories that came along later, that partnership was strengthened, and in some cases, location became almost another character in the plot.

Take Louis L’Amour’s ‘Conagher.’  As good as the movie was, the book gives us so much more insight into the characters’ thoughts and reasoning.  As he describes the heroine’s (Evie) dismal hopelessness at the land her husband (Jacob) has brought her to, we wonder how she will survive.  Yet, Jacob has plans, sees the possibilities that Evie cannot, or will not see.  The underlying message is, “The land is what we make of it.”

As the story continues, she begins to appreciate the beauty of the prairie, while acknowledging the solitary loneliness of her existence.  She plants a garden, nurturing the plants, and gradually she sees the farm being shaped into a good home from the ramshackle place she’d first laid eyes on.

The land is beautiful, but unforgiving.  Her husband is killed in a freak accident, and for months she doesn’t know what has happened to him.  She faces the responsibility of raising his two children from a previous marriage alone.

In her loneliness, she begins to write notes describing her feelings and ties them to tumbleweeds.  The wind scatters the notes and tumbleweeds across the prairie.  Conagher, a loner, begins to wonder who could be writing them, and slowly comes to believe that whomever it is, these notes are meant for him.

At one point, visitors come from back East.  One of them says to Evie something to the effect of “I don’t know how you can stand it here.”
This is Evie’s response to her:

“I love it here,” she said suddenly.  “I think there is something here, something more than all you see and feel…it’s in the wind.

“Oh, it is very hard!” she went on.  “I miss women to talk to, I miss the things we had back East–the band concerts, the dances.  The only time when we see anyone is like now, when the stage comes.  But you do not know what music is until you have heard the wind in the cedars, or the far-off wind in the pines.  Someday I am going to get on a horse and ride out there”–she pointed toward the wide grass before them–”until I can see the other side…if there is another side.”

The land, at first her nemesis, has become not only a friend, but a soulmate.  If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.

Within 40 pages of  ‘Conagher’, the reader understands that the land, with all its wild beauty and dangers has become enmeshed in Evie’s character.  She can’t leave it, and it will never leave her.

I think of my own writing projects.  What importance do I give setting in my description, plot, even characterization? In my latest contemporary release, SWEET DANGER, the setting is of utmost importance because of the fact that the story takes place in a neighborhood deli,  a normally friendly, safe place to be.  Jesse Nightwalker and Lindy Oliver are introduced to one another by the deli owner.  On a particularly crowded day, they are forced to share a booth.  It’s a “first date” neither of them will ever forget.   Here’s an excerpt:

FROM SWEET DANGER:

Jesse looked past her, his smile fading rapidly. As the flash of worry entered his expression, Lindy became aware of a sudden lull in the noisy racket of the deli. Jesse’s dark gaze was locked on the front door, a scowl twisting his features.

“Damn it,” he swore, reaching for her hand. “Get down! Under the table, Lindy…”

But she hesitated a second too long, not understanding what was happening. In the next instant, the sound of semi-automatic gunfire and shattering glass filled the air.

Lindy reflexively ducked, covering her head. The breath of a bullet fanned her cheek as Jesse dragged her down beneath the sparse cover of the small table. He shielded her, his hard body crushing against her, on top of her, pushing her to the floor. The breath rushed out of her, and she felt the hard bulge of the shoulder holster he wore beneath the denim jacket as it pressed against her back.

Her heart pounded wildly, realization of their situation flooding through her. A robbery! But why, at this hour of the morning when the take would be so low? The gunfire stopped as abruptly as it had started. From somewhere near the counter, a man shouted, “Come out and you won’t be hurt! Come out—now!”

Lindy looked up into Jesse’s face, scant inches from her own. What would he do? They were somewhat concealed here at the back of the deli, but these men were sporting semi-automatic weapons.

“There’s a back door,” Jesse whispered raggedly. “Get the hell out of here. I’m gonna be your diversion.” She didn’t answer; couldn’t answer. He was likely to be killed, helping her go free. He gave her a slight shake. “Okay?”

An interminable moment passed between them before she finally nodded. “Get going as soon as I get their attention.” He reached to brush a strand of hair out of her eyes, his own gaze softening as he leaned toward her and closed the gap between them. “Take care of yourself, Lindy,” he whispered, just before his mouth closed over hers.

The instant their lips met shook her solidly. Every coherent thought fled, leaving nothing but the smoldering touch of his lips on hers, burning like wildfire through her mind. Soft, yet firm. Insistent and insolent. His teeth skimmed her lower lip, followed by his tongue, as he tasted her. Then, he pulled away from her, their eyes connecting for a heart-wrenching second.

“Safe passage,” he whispered.

Lindy didn’t answer, more stunned by the sudden sweet kiss than by the madness surrounding them. Jesse pushed himself out from under the table and stood up, directly in front of where Lindy crouched. Only then did she hear his muted groan of pain, his sharp, hissing intake of breath. The blossoming red stain of crimson contrasted starkly with the pale blue of his faded denim jacket as his blood sprang from the bullet wound, soaking the material.

He’d been shot!

Lindy gasped softly at the realization. How could she leave him now? He was hurt. Somehow, it didn’t seem right for her to escape, to leave him to deal with these men while he was bleeding.

Jesse hesitated. Lindy couldn’t be sure if it was intentional, or if the agony of the hole in his shoulder kept him still for that extra instant before he slowly walked away from the table, his hands up.

Lindy crept forward. Looking past where Jesse stood, halfway between her and the front of the deli, she caught her first good look at the leader of the small band of thieves. He stood close to the counter, his hair spiking in thin blond tufts, his stance indicating he was ready for anything. From the carnage around him, his cocksure attitude was warranted.

Three of his gang stood near the entrance, guns held on the few patrons who hadn’t managed to get out the door. The leader’s Glock was trained on Jesse’s midsection, a wide grin on his pale face. Then, he began to laugh, the gun holding steady through it all. “Jesse Nightwalker, as I live and breathe.”

“Yeah,” Jesse muttered. “Unfortunately.”

The gunman’s grin faded, and his eyes found Lindy’s from across the room. Mercurial. Hard. Deadly. The Glock never wavered, nor did his stance. Only his gray eyes changed, giving Lindy a silent warning before he spoke.

“Bring that baggage with you, Jess,” he said mildly. “Don’t leave her cowering under the table. There’s a back door to this hole, you know. Wouldn’t want her to get shot trying to do something foolish…like, escape.”

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/cheryl-pierson-m-534.html

GERONIMO–THE LAST APACHE HOLDOUT

 It’s been one hundred years since he died—and the mystique still surrounds Geronimo.

 Who was he, really?  Even now, historians can’t be completely sure of the facts.  Some biographers list his birth date as June of 1829.  Others say he was born somewhere between 1823-1825.  He was the fourth child in a family of four boys and four girls, but even his birth name is disputed.  Some say he was called “The One Who Yawns,” his name being “Goyathlay.”  Others spell it differently:  “Goyahkla.”  But by the time he was in his mid-twenties, he was called by the name we remember:  Geronimo

 In 1850, because his mother, his young wife, (Alope) and his three children were murdered in a raid on their village by Mexican troops, Geronimo pledged that he would avenge their deaths.  He received “the Power”—the life force of the universe that gave him supernatural abilities.  These included being able to see into the future, walk without leaving tracks, and hold off the dawn.  In a vision, he was told that no bullet would ever bring him down in battle, a prophecy that proved true.

 Geronimo fought so savagely, so fiercely, that the Mexican troops began to call to Saint Jerome for deliverance from him.  Thus, their cries for help became the name he was known by: Geronimo.

 In addition to fighting the Mexicans, Geronimo found himself and his Chiracahua Apache tribe at odds with the U.S. Government.  By the early 1870s, the federal government’s newly-instituted policy of placing the traditionally nomadic Apaches on reservations was the cause of regular uprisings.  Geronimo fought for his peoples’ hereditary land for years.

 In 1885, he led a group of more than 100 men, women and children in an escape from the reservation, to the mountains of Mexico.  During this time, his band was pursued by more than 5,000 white soldiers, and over 500 Indian auxiliaries were employed to achieve Geronimo’s capture.  It took over five months to track Geronimo to his camp in Mexico’s Sonora Mountains—over 1,645 miles away.

 On March 27, 1886, exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered, Geronimo surrendered.  His band consisted of only a few warriors, women and children.  Also found was a young captive, a white boy, name Jimmy “Santiago” McKinn who had been kidnapped six months earlier.  The boy had become so assimilated to the Apache way of life that he cried when he was forced to return to his parents.

 As the group began the trek back to Fort Bowie, Arizona, Geronimo and some of the warriors, women and boys escaped once more, making their way back into the Sierra Madre.

 On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered for the last time to General Nelson A. Miles at Skeleton Canyon in southern Arizona.  He was sent to Florida in a boxcar, a prisoner of war.  It was May of 1887 before he was reunited with his family, and they were once again moved; this time, to Mount Vernon Barracks near Mobile, Alabama.

 In 1894, Geronimo was again moved with other Apaches to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He attempted to try and fit in, farming and joining the Dutch Reformed Church.  He was expelled from the church for his penchant for gambling. 

 The federal government made many empty promises to Geronimo and his people, but they allowed him to keep the money he made from selling buttons from his clothing or posing for pictures at numerous fairs and exhibitions such as the Omaha Exposition in Omaha, NE (1898), the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY (1901), and the St. Louis World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO (1904).

 In 1905, Geronimo rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade.  It was also during this year that he told the story of his life to S. M. Barrett, who wrote “Geronimo: His Own Story”, which was published in 1906.

 In 1909, Geronimo was riding home after drinking too much.  He fell off of his horse and lay, wet and freezing, beside the road until he was discovered several hours later.  Never having seen his beloved Arizona homeland again, he died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909.

 Geronimo is buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in an Apache POW cemetery.  There is a simple stone monument at his gravesite where people still bring icons and offerings and leave them.  Baggies of sage, seashells, scraps of paper—homage to the greatest warrior who ever lived.

 Geronimo was not a chief.  He was not a medicine man.  He was a leader of men—a fighter whose battle tactics are studied still in military institutions.  In the quiet of the cemetery, his children, warriors, relatives and wives buried nearby, he is still a leader, respected and recognized all over the world. 

 Did you know:  “Apache” is a word for “street thug” in France?

Did you know:  There is a rumor that some of Geronimo’s warriors “disappeared” mysteriously from the boxcar as they were being transported to Florida?

 Did you know:  Signers of the Medicine Lodge Treaty were given burial rights in the main post cemetery at Fort Sill?  (Quanah Parker and others are buried with white soldiers in the regular base cemetery.)

 Did you know:  The custom of paratroopers yelling, “Geronimo!” is attributed to Aubrey Ebenhart, a member of the U.S. Army’s test platoon at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  He told his friends he would “yell Geronimo loud as hell when I go out that door tomorrow!” Which he did!

 In my novel, Fire Eyes, Kaed Turner was abducted by the Apaches as a young boy, just as Jimmy McKinn was kidnapped by Geronimo’s band.  Kaed and his younger siblings were traded to the Choctaw, where they were assimilated into the tribe.

  This excerpt is a remembrance between Kaed and Chief Standing Bear, the man who raised him.  I hope you enjoy it.

 Cheryl

EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES

Standing Bear dismounted and came forward to stand beside Kaed, and Kaed turned his full attention to the warrior, waiting for the older man to speak.

It was as it had been all those years ago, when Kaed had come to live with the Choctaw people. The Apache had killed his mother and father, then taken Kaed and his younger brother and sister into captivity. The Choctaws had bartered with the Apaches for the youngsters, so they’d been raised in the Choctaw way.

The healing bruises Kaed wore today were reminiscent of the ones he’d been marked with when he first met Standing Bear, close to twenty years earlier.

 “Seems we’ve stood this way before, Chief.”

“Yes, Wolf. You were marked as you are today. But still strong enough to wear defiance in your eyes. Strong enough to stand, and fight.”

Kaed gave him a fleeting grin, remembering how, as a nine-year-old boy faced with being traded away, he had rammed his head into Standing Bear’s rock-hard belly, catching him off guard, nearly knocking him to the ground in front of the Apaches and Standing Bear’s own warriors.

Standing Bear smiled and put his hand to his stomach. “This recovered before my pride did.” He nodded at Kaed’s arm. “I hope it is not so with you, Wolf. You did all you could, yet I see you still hold some blame in your heart for yourself.”

Kaed had to admit it was true, and he didn’t understand it. When he went over it logically in his mind, as he had done a thousand times, he knew he wasn’t to blame, that he’d done everything he could have. But he’d never expected White Deer to do what she had done, and he understood the parallel Standing Bear was drawing. The chief had never expected the young boy Kaed had been to lower his head and run at him, either.

Standing Bear spoke in his native tongue. “Have you thought upon my words concerning Fire Eyes? Or will she go to one of my warriors?”

      “She is my woman now,” Kaed said in the same language, “and will belong to no other man.”

 

THE NAME GAME

I am a collector of names.  Have been, ever since I was a kid.  Probably because I always wished for a different one, myself.  Mine wasn’t really exotic, but it was…different.  Cheryl.  My parents decided on the pronunciation of “Chair-yl” rather than the more common way of saying it.  The way a million other people sad it…with a “SH” sound, “Sheryl,” rather than the hard “CH” sound.

So when I began writing, I knew my characters had to have ‘good’ names—names that fit.  Names that weren’t too strange, but not too common.  Names that were appropriate for the time period, the setting, and the culture.

The hero, of course, had to have a name that was also something that could be whispered by the heroine in the throes of passion, yet something that would be tough enough on the villain’s lips to strike a modicum of fear in his heart, just by uttering it.

Because I was writing historical western romance, I decided to pull up a chart that would give me an accurate “slice of life”—possible names for my heroes.  According to US Social Security records, the top ten names for men in 1880 were:  John, William, James, Charles, George, Frank, Joseph, Thomas, Henry, and Robert.

Okay, I could maybe work with the top four.  In fact, the first book I ever wrote was about a gunslinger of this time period called ‘Johnny Starr.’ 

And William could be shortened to ‘Will’—still masculine; but never ‘Willie.’  James—very masculine, and unwittingly, calls up the rest of the line—‘Bond.  James Bond.’  At least, it does for me.  I could even go with Jamie.  Charles is pushing it.  George, Frank, and Joe are names I have and would use for a minor character, but I’d never use those for my hero.  They’re somehow just too ordinary.  Thomas? Again, a great secondary character name, but not a show-stopper.  Henry…eh.  And Robert is just ‘okay.’

I fast-forwarded a hundred years to 1980.  Here are the top 10:  Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, Matthew, Joshua, John, Robert, and Joseph.  Four of the same names were there, though not in the same poll position.  By 2009, only William remained in the top 10.  John had fallen to #20, James to #17, Joseph to #13.  The others had been replaced, not all by modern names, but most in the top 10 were surprisingly “old fashioned.”

2009:  Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher, Matthew.

This told me something.  If you aren’t too wild with the names you choose, you have quite a lot of choices!  We know that Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Daniel, and Matthew were Biblical names.  Just because they weren’t on the “top 10” list in 1880 doesn’t mean they weren’t being used—a lot!

Another source of names for that time period is family records.  If you go back through old family documents, it’s amazing to find some of the odd names that cropped up.

Still maybe not ‘protagonist’ material, but your secondary characters could benefit.  And who knows?  You may find the perfect ‘hero’ name!

No matter what you choose, remember these rules, too:

1. Sound and compatibility—Say your character’s name aloud.  Does the first name go well with the last name you’re using?  Be careful about running the name together—“Alan Nickerson” or “Jed Dooly” may not be good choices.  Avoid rhyming names such as “Wayne Payne”—and try to stay away from cutesy names that might make your hero the focus of ridicule.

2. Uniqueness—I’m sure my parents were only trying to be ‘unique’ by pronouncing my name differently than the other 99.9% of the people in the world would automatically say it, but you don’t want your hero to have such an odd name that readers trip over it every time they come to it.  Louis L’Amour was a master at coming up with ‘different’ names that were simple.  Hondo Lane, Ring Sackett, Shalako, Conagher…and the list goes on.

3. Genealogy—Does it play into your characters’ storyline?  If so, you may want to come up with a neat twist somehow on a common name.  In my first manuscript, Brandon’s Gold, the gunfighter, Johnny Starr, is named for his father, but the names are reversed.  His father was Thomas Jonathan Brandon.  He is known as Thomas in the story.  Johnny was named Jonathan Thomas Brandon.  He goes by Johnny.  This keeps a theme alive in my story of the ‘fathers and sons’ of this family, and their relationships.  It weighs heavily, because Thomas is dying, but Johnny doesn’t know it.  They’ve been estranged for many years.

When Johnny’s own son is born, his wife, Katie, changes the name they’ve decided on just before the birth.  She makes Johnny promise to name him after himself and his father, Thomas Jonathan, bringing the circle around once more, and also completing the forgiveness between Johnny and his dying father.

4. Meaning—This might somehow play into your story and is good to keep track of.  What do your characters’ names mean?  This is a great tool to have at your disposal when you are writing—it can be a great conversation piece somewhere, or explain why your villain is so evil.

5. Nicknames and initials—this can be more important than you think.  You may need to have your hero sign something or initial something.  Don’t make him be embarrassed to write his initials and don’t give him a name that might be shortened to an embarrassing nickname.

In my book, Fire Eyes, the protagonist has an odd name—Kaedon Turner.  I gave him an unusual first name to go with a common last name.  I learned later that Caden, shortened to Cade, though not common for the time was not unheard of.  Kaedon, shortened to Kaed, was just a different variation.  It sets him apart from the other marshals, and emphasizes his unique past in a subtle way.

Below are some excerpts from Fire Eyes, available  through The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  I hope you enjoy!

EXCERPTS FROM FIRE EYES:

Marshal Kaed Turner has just been delivered to Jessica’s doorstep, wounded and   unconscious by the Choctaw Indians.  This is part of their first conversation, Kaed’s introduction.

 “Just pull.” Her patient moistened his lips. “Straight up. That’s how it went in.”

She wanted to weep at the steel in his voice, wanted to comfort him, to tell him she’d make it quick. But, of course, quick would never be fast enough to be painless. And how could she offer comfort when she didn’t even know what to call him, other than Turner?

“You waitin’ on a…invitation?” A faint smile touched his battered mouth. “I’m fresh out.”

Jessica reached for the tin star. Her fingers closed around the uneven edges of it. No. She couldn’t wait any longer. “What’s your name?” Her voice came out jagged, like the metal she touched.

His bruised eyes slitted as he studied her a moment. “Turner. Kaedon Turner.”

Jessica sighed. “Well, Kaedon Turner, you’ve probably been a lot better places in your life than this. Take a deep breath and try not to move.”

He gave a wry chuckle, letting his eyes drift completely closed. “Do it fast. I’ll be okay.”

She nodded, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “Ready?”

“Go ahead.”

                                                                        *******

From Kaed’s POV—Finding out his “angel’s” name!

“I need to stop the bleeding. You were lucky.”

“One lucky sonofabitch.”

“I meant, because it went all the way through. So we don’t have to…to dig it out.” There was that hesitation again, but he already knew what it was she didn’t want to have to say to him. He said it instead.

“All we have to do is burn it.”

She let her breath out in a rush, as if she’d been holding it, dreading just how she was going to tell him. “Right. Sounds like the voice of experience.”

“Yeah.”

She touched his good arm and he reached up for her, his warm, bronze hand swallowing her smaller one. Her fingers were cold, and he could tell she was afraid, no matter how indifferent she tried to act.

“You’ve got one on me,” he muttered.

“What’s that?”

“Your name. Or, do I just call you angel?”

He felt the smile again, knew he had embarrassed her a little, but had pleased her as well.

“Jessica Monroe, at your service, Mr. Turner.”

“Don’t go all formal on me.” He paused, collecting his scattering, hard-to-hold thoughts. “I like Kaed better.”

“Better than Mr. Turner?”

He opened his eyes a crack and watched as she gave him a measuring look, her cinnamon gaze holding his probing stare for a moment. “What you’re doin’ for me warrants a little more intimacy, don’t’cha think, Jessica?”

She glanced back down at the seeping wound, worrying her lower lip between even, white teeth. Her auburn hair did its best to escape its bun.

Kaed’s thoughts jumped and swirled as he tried to focus on her, wondering disjointedly how she’d look if she let her hair tumble free and unbound. And her eyes. Beautiful. A man could get lost in the secrets of her eyes.
Maybe he should’ve used a word other than intimacy.

HOWDY FROM A NEW FILLY

Hi everyone!  I’m Cheryl Pierson (Cheryl #2 here at P&P)!  This is my first “official” post as a new filly, and I’m very excited to be here at Petticoats & Pistols in such great company!  I’ve done a couple of guest posts in the past, and from the moment I began to get to know my “fellow fillies,” I knew I wanted to be here amongst ya!

I won’t bore you with too many details–just want to tell you a little about me and I’d love to hear about you all, too.  I was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1957.  I had two “way older” sisters (10 and 12 when I came along) and I was a Tomboy–with a capital “T” for sure!  Although I loved Barbie, I’d much rather have been playing cowboys and Indians–probably why I chose to write western historicals.

I finally got to go to a rodeo when I was about 9 with my cousin, and Larry Mahan was there!  I was in love.  After that, I wanted to be a barrel racer, thinking that would be a great way to get those handsome cowboys to notice me when I was older…of course, that was a huge pipe dream since my family was NOT into rodeoing at all.  But my first “serious” little story I wrote in elementary school had a guy in it named “Larry” and girl named “Cherry” (original, huh?)

My dad was an oilfield hand–a chemical engineer, on call 24/7 for as long as I can remember.  Mom was the “June Cleaver” type, and both of them were appalled when I told them I wanted to write books for a living.  As they predicted, that dream had to be placed on hold for many years–enough time for me to marry and raise my two kids–with a myriad of “real jobs” (as others called them) in between.

But I was writing all the time, every spare minute I got.  I started out with an idea for a western romance, and the more I wrote, the bigger the story became, until I had a 1000 page manuscript!  Of course, it’s still unsold (go figure!) but it’s the book of my heart–and I know each of you has written a book that holds that special place in your heart, as well.  That was what I needed to “get me going.”  Ideas flowed, and so did the words.

Although that first “tome” is still as yet unpublished, the third book I wrote, FIRE EYES, was published in May 2009, and went on to become an EPIC Award finalist.  The Wild Rose Press also published two of my western short stories, and my first contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, will be released on October 1.

The fourth book I wrote, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, was published through another smaller press.  After a few short months, we parted ways, and TIME PLAINS DRIFTER is homeless again. My daughter designed my cover for this book so it’s very special to me.  It also garnered me the award of Honorable Mention for Best New Paranormal Author in PNR’s PEARL Awards this year.

Right now, I am waiting (on pins and needles) to hear back from Berkley about one of my manuscripts that’s under consideration with them.  GABRIEL’S LAW was the third place recipient in this year’s historical category in the San Antonio Romance Authors’ Merritt Contest.  The judge for that final round asked for the full manuscript. It’s been thirty-five days, six hours and fourteen minutes…but who’s counting?

I live in Oklahoma City with my “transplanted” (from West Virginia) husband, Gary, who plans to make good on his threat to retire this fall.  My daughter, Jessica, is 23 and works at an actors’ casting agency here.  My son, Casey, is 20 and a physics major in college (and believe me, those math and science genes did not come from me!)  Along with my business partner, I teach writing classes for all ages, and have done lots of work with the Indian Education Program for one of the major school systems here in OK City.  And I’m FINALLY getting to actually write! 

Thank you all so much for your warm welcome and your generous friendships.  I am thrilled to be here–a “regular filly!”

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from one of my short stories,  A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES. 

When a wounded drifter and three children appear at her doorstep, widow Angela Bentley can’t turn them away.  Nick Dalton has a dangerous reputation, but is it truly deserved, or is it just talk?  Will love find two lonely people on this, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”:

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

http://www.cherylpierson.com

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