Who likes the stories of King Arthur and his knights? I do! I have been fascinated with the entire legend of Camelot since I was a child. The Sword In the Stone, the Disney cartoon movie, was a favorite when I was young.

As I got older, I couldn’t get enough of the movie musical, Camelot, with Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, and Richard Harris in the starring roles. I valiantly tried to struggle through T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King” but finally had to admit, it was too heavy for a twelve-year-old. As an adult, I enjoyed it, along with Mary Stewart’s series of the Arthurian legend as told from Merlin’s POV—a “must read” set if you’re a Camelot fan.

So, the story I wrote for the “Six Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas” anthology is one that is dear to my heart in many ways. Even the title, “The Keepers of Camelot”, was not something I had to think about for long. This story has just been nominated for the 2013 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards in the Short Story Category. I am beyond thrilled.  It also received a specific mention in Publishers Weekly when the anthology came out. Here’s a bit about the story itself.

Legend says that Arthur will rise once more when the world needs him the most. But in my story, something goes awry, and Arthur has returned in many times, many places, throughout the centuries since his final battle.

The story opens with Arthur on a stagecoach in the American west—Indian Territory—of the 1880’s. But in this life, he comes across two people he’d never thought to see again—Lancelot and Guinevere. Why are they here—and how will it all end…this time?

The stage is attacked by Apaches minutes before the driver gets the passengers to the safety of the next stage station. Though they’re safe for the time being, a nerve-wracking Christmas Eve is in store as the Apaches wait for them outside.

Arthur has a plan. He’s seen the fearless leader of the Apache—the man they call “Sky Eyes”, a man he knew as Lancelot du Lac a hundred lifetimes ago.

Will Lance’s prowess as a warrior combine with his legendary arrogance to seal the fate of the people inside the station—including Guinevere, the woman he gave up everything for in the past?

One young boy in the group unknowingly holds the key to Lance’s decision. But will the glorious legend of Camelot be remembered?

I have to wait until June 1 to know the outcome of the decision, but no matter what, I feel like I’m a winner to be in such wonderful company of the other nominees, Troy Smith, Jim Griffin, Wayne Dundee, and C. Courtney Joyner.

There are some excellent stories in this book by many great western writers, including Troy Smith, Courtney Joyner, Robert Randisi, L.J. Washburn, James Reasoner, and many more. They’re all paranormal in some way, and they all take place in a western setting—it’s not just for Christmas! I will be giving away an e-copy of SIX GUNS AND SLAY BELLS to one commenter today! Please remember to leave your contact info in your comment.

Here’s a short excerpt for you:

In my story, Arthur, and Guinevere have come back during the 1880’s to the western frontier. They are under an Apache attack, and Arthur has recognized the leader of the Apaches as none other than Lancelot du Lac. He knows that Guinevere has recognized him, as well. Guinevere is married to the stage station proprietor, and Arthur finds himself on the stage headed for New Mexico . They’ve each lived a thousand lives since that last fateful day they spent together, when Lance rescued Ginny and then fought with Arthur. The legend says Arthur will return, but why are Lance and Ginny here, too? Here’s what happens:

“Come now, Ginny. Let’s have done with this pretense, shall we? We both know Lance is leading that band of savages.”
Her gaze faltered, and she looked away from him, not answering.
“Do you really believe he’ll harm you?” The note of gentleness crept into his tone, in spite of his resolve not to care.
“I—I don’t know, truly. He was—so angry when we last spoke. When I told him I’d made my decision to go to the convent—”
“You haven’t seen him since—since we fought?”
She shook her head. “Not really…Oh, I’ve seen him, during these attacks, but never spoken to him. Arthur, I’ve lived a thousand lives, but not fully. I seem to just wake up in another time, another place. Somehow, I—” She stopped herself, then went on in a controlled tone. “I believe it must be the same for you. And for Lancelot. We’re all trapped in this circle.”
“How do we end it, Ginny?”
She moistened her lips in the nervous gesture he recalled so well. “I’m not sure. But I—I wonder if maybe it’s not somehow connected to…forgiveness.”
Anger flared quickly in Arthur’s heart. She dared ask him to forgive? Forgive her treachery? Forgive Lance’s betrayal? Forgive her causing the death of the dream he’d held so dear? A cold smile touched his lips.
“You ask much, my lady. Especially after all you’ve taken.”
She nodded, the stricken look in her eyes almost too much for him. Even in the near darkness, he could see the pallor of her flawless skin.
“Yes. You were always a much better person than I, Arthur. You had a generous heart. A loving soul.”
“Make no mistake, Ginny—I am first a warrior. A ruler.”
In the gathering darkness, she laid a hand on his. “No, Arthur. You are first a man. And a good one.” The softness of her skin on his in the shadows brought a flood of memories that he’d thought were carefully locked away.
“You know Lance won’t attack now.” His lips curved caustically. “He loved Christmas-tide more than the rest of us put together.” It had always been Lance who suggested they find the biggest Yule log in the forest, spearheading the effort to organize the men and making it a festive occasion. It had been Lance who sang the Yule songs with such fervor, his deep baritone booming through the stone hallways of the castle.
Ginny’s eyes filled with sudden tears. “Arthur—when I see him as he was today…I wonder if he even recalls the things we remember. It seems he’s become absorbed in the ways of the Apache. The look on his face is so intent, so—cruel. I don’t believe he’s the person we knew.”
“He was never the person I thought I knew, Ginny. Never.” At her quick look, he smiled. “Yet, there’s a part of me that, even now, wants to call him my brother, as I did before—before everything fell apart.”

Ginny nodded “I hope that same part of you remembers me in another light as well, Arthur,” she whispered.

All my other short stories, anthologies, novels and novellas can be found here:

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
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  1. Ah, just my kind of story, Cheryl! I truly love Arthurian tales and when you add a mash up…well, this one goes on my TBR. And will probably migrate quickly to the top. 🙂

  2. What a story idea, Chery. How did I miss this.
    Well, it’s now sitting at home, patiently waiting on my Kindle. What a great premise for a story and the other stories look fun, too.

  3. Congratulations on the award nomination!!! That’s wonderful. I, too, love stories about knights and their ladies. But when you put them in the old west….oh my gosh! Love it. The excerpt is great. Wishing you much success.

  4. Major congrats, Cheryl! What a great idea. Like so many romance writers of today, I cut my teeth on just this kind of story. You deserve this honor and much more. Looking forward to seeing you at OWFI next weekend with fellow filly Linda. Again, congrats!

  5. I love the movie Camelot with Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero… I watched not too long ago again for about the 100th time…okay so I am exaggerating a little
    I love your inspiration for your book and how you developed it.. Looking forward to reading it…

  6. Thanks, Elizabeth! That was one of those ideas that just came to me and the story really flowed as I was writing it. I really enjoyed it.

  7. Thanks, Lizzie–I love Arthurian legend and lore, too. My friend Jacquie Rogers has a story about Merlin being a mule and I can’t think of the name of it right now. But I loved it when I read it–she has a great sense of humor.

    My story is a lot more serious, though. I hope you enjoy it. This entire collection is really interesting and fun.

  8. Hi Mary!
    I think you will love this collection. There truly is something for everyone–lots of good stories and awesome writers, which I’m so proud to be included with! Now, you know, if I win that award you will hear me shout all the way from Oklahoma! LOL I hope you enjoy the anthology.

  9. LINDA! Thank you so much for stopping by today, taking time out of your very busy schedule to comment! You are a dear. I’m sorry about the formatting of the excerpt–I tried and tried to fix it and finally gave up. Anyhow, I’m glad you enjoyed it even though it wasn’t formatted like it should have been. LOL I can’t wait to see you!!!!

  10. PHYLISS!!!!! I can’t wait to see you, either! I’m counting the days, and hoping that it will actually be SPRING weather when y’all get here–yesterday we broke the record low for that day–28 degrees!!!! What in the world is going on with this crazy weather? I’m so ready for summer. Please bring it with you when you come! LOL

    THANK YOU so much, my dear friend, for your very kind words. It would mean so much to me to win this award, but all of the nominees in this category are excellent writers and good friends of mine, so I will be happy no matter what the outcome. I’m thrilled to be nominated, but to win would be a dream come true.

    See you next weekend!!!!

  11. Kathleen, I loved that movie so much. It was a wonderful retelling of the story, and really brought it to life. I need to buy it! But I’d have to watch it alone so I could cry. LOL Thanks for coming by today and commenting!

  12. Hi Cheryl! What a delicious story idea! Camelot is one of my favorite musicals. My fingers are crossed for you for a big win, but I have to agree that the nomination itself is an awesome achievement. Congratulations!

  13. Congratulations, Cheryl!! I love the premise of this story. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Arthurian legends because of the the whole love triangle thing. But after reading the excerpt, I wish I was at home and could finish it!

    I’ll be pullin’ for you!


  14. Well deserved nomination. Whoever wins the readers are the real winners. Thank you for a great story. Please exclude me from the drawing, I have the book. Doris

  15. What a terrific combination of cool stuff, Cheryl! Congrats on the nomination. May you go the full way to #1! God bless you with continued success, my friend. xoxox

  16. Thank you so much, Vicki! I’m so thrilled, I can’t even put it into words. Even if I don’t win, I’ll still be thrilled. LOL

  17. Thank you Charlene! I need all the help I can get–lots of stiff competition in that category, for sure.

  18. Thanks, Kirsten! I feel the same way. LOL I tried to make it all come out right in the story, but of course, there’s no way to truly do that. I hope you enjoy it.

  19. Doris, that is so nice of you to say! I just hate being in competition with good friends, in one way, but in another, no matter who wins, it’s all good. And as you say, hopefully, the readers will feel the same as you–they’re the winners, to have so many good stories to choose from. Even though Troy is also a finalist and has a story in this collection, it’s not the story he’s a finalist for. And Wayne’s is in a different collection, as well.

  20. Aw, thanks so much Tanya! I’m so happy about this. It’s such a great honor to be included with so many wonderful writers.

  21. Lorrie, I appreciate those very kind words, dear friend. That means a lot. I’m so honored to be included.

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