Day 2 of the WordCrafter “A Ghost and His Gold” Book Blog Tour: Meet Peiter Van Zyl

A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #2 of the WordCrafter A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour. Yesterday Roberta Eaton Cheadle shared the origins of the story for this historical paranormal novel and I added my review of the book right here on Writing to be Read. Today we get a look at one of Cheadle’s characters, Boer, Pieter Van Zyl. Please join us as we snatch a glimpse into the author’s thoughts as she developed a character who represent one side of the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa.

A Ghost and His Gold Give Away

Each stop on this five-day book blog tour will offer the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift voucher. (*Winners must be able to retrieve Amazon US gift vouchers.) Author Roberta  Eaton Cheadle will also give away 2 paperback copies of A Ghost and His Gold. All you have to do to enter is drop by each tour stop and leave a comment!

Guest Post by Roberta Eaton Cheadle: Pieter van Zyl characterisation 

Pieter van Zyl is a Boer living on his farm in Irene near Pretoria in the South African Republic when war between the British Empire and the two Boer republics breaks out. Although the historical sections of the book are narrated from the points of view of a British soldier stationed in Mafeking during the siege, Robert, and Pieter’s eldest daughter, Estelle, as well as Pieter, he is central to the backstory and background of the other ghosts as well as the main themes of the book which are human greed, the horror of war, the desire for control and power and, most importantly, the erosion and corruption of the human spirit and individual’s morals, and ethics, under conditions of continuous war, destruction, and death.  

Pieter’s late grandmother was English, and he is familiar with the ways of the British and more understanding of their characteristics and motivations that most of his peers.  

Pieter is highly intelligent and well read and, although he is ready to play his role in fighting for the independence of his country, he is pessimistic about the eventual outcome of this war in the face of his peers excited optimism for a quick victory. Pieter is an introverted loner who keeps his thoughts to himself having learned his opinions and views on many topics are not popular with his peers. Pieter is a peacemaker and does not like conflict in his life. This is apparent in his relationships with his wife, Marta, and oldest daughter, Estelle. Pieter is incapable of dealing with the conflict between the pair and taking positive action to control his wife’s resentment towards her unusual oldest child. 

The suffering and trauma that Pieter experiences during the war, in particular the loss of his farm and the confinement of his family in a concentration camp, wear down his abilities to tolerate and cope with his circumstances and his will to live is destroyed long before he dies.  

Photograph credit: http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/review/war-reporter-anglo-boer-war-through-eyes-burghers

Relevant extracts from A Ghost and His Gold 

Extract 1 

He believed he would be safer among family and friends, having quickly learned that being obligated to fight for your country did not necessarily translate into an eagerness to do so. The reluctance of some of the Burghers to take up arms surprised him, and he chuckled at some of the conversations he’d overheard.  

“I don’t want to go to war now,” said François Naude, “it’s spring and I need to be here to oversee the planting.”  

Pieter, who was waiting to collect his grocery order from the proprietor of the Irene General Store, hid a smile at this amusing comment.  

What does he think our government should do? Ask the British if they mind waiting for a more convenient time before we commence hostilities. 

Extract 2 

Grabbing his loaded Mauser rifle from its hooks on the wall near the door, he hesitates for a moment to admire its smooth and shiny wooden length. The feel of the gun in his hands gives him confidence; he is an excellent marksman.  

This gun brought me a lot of respect.  

His ability with a gun had been his saving grace when, as a young man, his peers had been mystified by his interest in books and writing and had liked to share their derogatory thoughts in that regard. 

Extract 3 

Willem was in high spirits. “This war will soon be over, Pieter. It’ll be the same as the last one. We’ll defend our borders against the invaders, and it will be over in three months. We’ll be home by harvest time.”  

Willem shared the sense of excitement and euphoria that many of his fellow countrymen were experiencing, but Pieter did not.  

War brings bloodshed, grief and tears. This time the British will probably send 36 many more soldiers. I think this war is going to be a much harder win.  

He had not shared his own thoughts with Willem. There was no point and he had learned many years ago to keep his unpopular opinions to himself. 

Extract 4 

Pieter stops talking and gazes into space. Memories assail his mind in a kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and visions.  

“At about midday, we saw a large cloud of dust coming our way. Having no idea how many horsemen there were, ten other Burghers, Willem and I quickly set up an ambush. As they drew closer, we could make out a mass of at least seven thousand horses and men. It was a hopeless situation and we prepared to withdraw, but the Khakis saw us and started shelling our position. My horse took fright at an exploding shell and bolted. I fell and broke two ribs, but luckily my horse is well trained, and he came back to me. Oom Willem hoisted me back onto my horse, and we were able to escape.”  

Marta’s pale face and the tension around her mouth and eyes suddenly register with Pieter.  

Is she upset because of my injury or because the Burghers ran away?  

“It was cowardly of you men to flee, you should have stayed and fought,” said Marta, her lip curled with contempt.  

How does she think I could have carried on fighting with broken ribs? She’s being ridiculous; if we’d carried on fighting, we would’ve all been killed. A handful of men couldn’t hold back such a significant force.  

Smiling wryly, he took a sip of water. “Maybe you are right, Marta, but I was in too much pain to influence that decision.” 

The Blurb 

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.  

Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?   

After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened. 

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.  

I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.  

I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services. 

I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War. 

Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

Through the Nethergate 

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. 

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. 

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself. 

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at: 

Website 

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog 

https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Goodreads 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle

Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Amazon

Purchase Links:

TSL Publications (paperback) 

Lulu.com (ebook and paperback) 

Amazon  

https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gold-Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/dp/1913294943 


Welcome to the WordCrafter “A Ghost and His Gold” Book Blog Tour & My Review

A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour

Today is Day #1 of the WordCrafter A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour with an interesting guest post by author Roberta Eaton Cheadle explaining how she came to write this wonderful paranormal historical novel. I hope you will join us at each of the tour stops because this tour has a great giveaway! Each stop on this five-day book blog tour will offer the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift voucher. (*Winners must be able to retrieve Amazon US gift vouchers.) Author Roberta  Eaton Cheadle will also give away 2 paperback copies of A Ghost and His Gold. All you have to do to enter is drop by each tour stop and leave a comment!

And now, please welcome Roberta Eaton Cheadle as she introduces us to A Ghost and His Gold.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How A Ghost and His Gold came to be written 

A Ghost and His Gold started as a simple short story idea. I was reading up on Ouma Smuts, the wife of Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts who served as the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 to 1924 and from 1939 to 1948, when I came across an interesting ghost story involving their house. 

Ouma Smuts lived with her husband and their children in a house in Irene near Pretoria, the capital of the previous Boer South African Republic (Transvaal). The house is now a museum which I have visited many times. The original tin roofed house is quite spooky with each room featuring a scene frozen in time. Jars of Ouma Smuts’ home-made preserves and pickles are still on the shelf in the pantry. There is an open book on the table in Jan Smut’s former library, a wonderful room which is lined with books from floor to ceiling. 

Smuts Museum

Photo credit: https://showme.co.za/tourism/smuts-house-museum-irene-market-centurion/

It was during one of my tours of this museum that I first heard that the second-best bedroom, off the dining room, is purported to be haunted. The idea of a ghost interested me, and I decided to research it further. 

The story goes that the farm ‘Doornkloof’ was originally owned by a Boer family. Their house was built on the same spot that Smuts eventually put up his house in 1909. The previous owner had fled one night during the 2nd Anglo Boer War when it became clear that the Bristish forces were marching on Pretoria and his farm was in the way. Not wanting his family to end up in a concentration camp, he buried his valuables including £30 000 worth of gold and left hurriedly, never to return. There is no word on what happened to the farmer, but it is said that his spirit still lingers in the house on his old farm. 

The story of the ghostly farmer who is said to haunt the Smuts’ family home was so intriguing, I decided it needed to be told. Of course, any story about South African history is never going to stay short so it grew.  

After a few months of research and writing, it was a novella of 30 000 words. At that point I sent it to my developmental editor, Esther Chilton for her review and feedback. Esther loved the story and came back with some wonderful comments that set me off on the road to further developing this story. 

The history of South Africa is complex and involves more than one point of view, specifically that of the British, the Boers, and the native Africans. As I researched more about the time when the ghostly farmer lived, I discovered that the Boer and British perspectives on the Second Anglo Boer War conflict and vary. I also discovered that there is little recorded history about the involvement of the native Africans in this war. 

To accommodate these different points of view and to provide a reader with a holistic overview of this war, its causes, circumstances, emotions, and the role it played in setting the stage for the future of South Africa, I decided to introduce three ghosts: Robert, the British soldier in Mafeking during the siege, Pieter, the Boer and my depiction of the “ghostly farmer”, and Estelle, Pieter’s daughter from a previous marriage to an Englishwoman.  

The lack of recorded history made the inclusion of the native African perspective more difficult, but I introduced a few supporting characters who told their side of this story based on the information I managed to glean from hearsay, a thesis I discovered about the native African concentration camps, and other non-fiction and fictional works set in this period. 

I hope I have done all three perspectives justice and achieved my goals of providing insight into the psychology of this terrible war.  

The history is wrapped up in a paranormal tale which involves a modern couple and exposes their history and personal career mistakes which are, in many ways, a repeat of the past. 

Relevant extracts from A Ghost and His Gold 

Excerpt from A Ghost and His Gold

The Blurb 

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.  

Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?   

After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Purchase links: 

TSL Publications (paperback) 

https://tslbooks.uk/product/a-ghost-and-his-gold-roberta-eaton-cheadle/

Lulu.com (ebook and paperback) 

Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gold-Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/dp/1913294943 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

Roberta Eaton Cheadle

I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.  

I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.  

I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services. 

I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War. 

Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

Through the Nethergate 

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. 

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. 

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself. 

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at: 

Website 

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog 

https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Goodreads 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Ghost and His Gold

My Review of

A Ghost and His Gold

A Ghost and His Gold, by Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a cleverly crafted story that takes three lives from the past and converges their stories within the main story, which takes place in the present. Characters with depth drive this paranormal historical novel.

When Michelle and her husband, Tom, move into a new home, her future seems to be full of promise. But strange occurances soon lead Michelle to believe that her new home is haunted, and what’s more, Tom’s life may be in danger. In her efforts to unravel the mystery of what is going on in her new home, details in the lives of three ghosts, from the time of the second Anglo Boer War, are revealed: A British soldier named Robert, a Boer commando named Peiter, and a young girl named Estelle, who harbors anger and vengence against both Tom and Michelle.

As Michelle struggles to unravel the mystery of these ghosts and how they are connected to each other and to her new home, she uncovers a mystery in her own life, one that threatens to tear her marraige apart. Can she learn the truth and find a way to help them all before the vengeful poltergeist takes Tom’s life?

Cheadle has done her homework, and the South African history related within is quite educational as well as entertaining. Readers will be riveted to their seats as the tale of each ghost is revealed, with each of their stories being equally captivating. I give A Ghost and His Gold five quills.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


“No Secret Too Small”: A historical western novel

No Secret Too Small

I always love reading the historical western novels of Loretta Miles Tollefson, and No Secret Too Small was no exception. It has all the attention to detail that I’ve come to expect from her Old New Mexico Novels, placing me into a setting and time that no longer exist, yet Tollefson makes it feel oh, so real, even if only for the time it takes to read the story. Loretta Miles Toleffson masterfully paints a visual picture for the mind’s eye, bringing historical times and events to life with brutal clarity.

Miles’ Old New Mexico Novels are skillfully written to feature many of the same characters at various points in time. So, while No Secret Too Small features Alma, who was introduced as a baby in Not My Father’s House, (see my review here), this story is easliy followed when read as a stand alone book. This story is a part of more than just the saga of one family, it is a part of a piece of history, a time when living was a gamble, in a land where survival is no game.

No Secret Too Small speaks to that struggle to survive, but it also speaks to the racism and predjudice of the period. Old New Mexico in the 1800’s is no place for a woman alone with two children. But pride is a funny thing and that is just where Alma and her mother and brother find themselves in a time of civil unrest and rebellions, after her mother discovers the truth about her father’s heritage. We receive Alma’s story through her young eyes, as she watches her mother struggle to survive as she discovers and deals with the predjudices she didn’t even realize that she had. Alma learns much about the world and human nature, much of it too ugly for such young eyes to view. She yearns to return to her valley, and to be a whole family once more, but she has little control over the adult world around her. She can’t make her father come for them any more than she can make her mother decide to return home.

If you like historical novels that paint their periods vividly for readers, and features characters you can care about, then No Secret Too Small is a must read. A well-crafted story that holds the reader’s interest until the last page has turned, Tollefson draws you into the story and takes you back with her characters into times long past with period details that have obviously been well researched. A story that will no doubt touch hearts, I give it five quills.

Buy Link for No Secret Too Small

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Old One Eye Pete”: A western short fiction collection

Old One Eye Pete

Old One Eye Pete, by Loretta Miles Tollefson is a western short story collection, with individual stories that fit together loosely to form a part of a bigger story that takes place within the Old New Mexico territory. As always, Tollefson’s tales are based on historical events, people and places and are historically accurate, featuring interesting and memorable characters.

Most of these stories feature Old One Eye Pete, an old trapper who wanders the New Mexico mountains with his horse and pack mule, and knows more about the people, the area and the goings on there than near anyone in the territory. These stories are brief, and great reads when you just have a short wait or a few minutes to kill.

A light, easy read that made me chuckle from time to time. True western short fiction. I give Old One Eye Pete four quills.

Four Quills

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Old-One-Eye-Pete-Stories-ebook/dp/B07H1R1L5B/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Old+one+eye+Pete&qid=1583605164&s=books&sr=1-1 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Riding the Landscape of Westerns in March

Westerns

The western genre has always been about man against the elements, man against man, and man against nature. Western heroes are tough and rugged, and ready to face outlaws, Indians, wild animals, and any inclement of bad weather to uphold right and see justice done. In the western genre that I grew up with the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black, and there was no question as to who was who. Cowboys were rough and rowdy, but they were gentleman when a lady was present, tipping their hats and addressing her as Ma’am. There was a clear sense of right and wrong in westerns written by Louis L’Amore and Zane Grey, and right always won out in the end.

Today’s westerns are different. Although you can still find the classic western with authors such as my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest, Cherokee Parks, or the guest for my supporting interview, Alan Dean Foster. But, the western of today isn’t as clear cut. Today’s westerns look past lawmen and outlaws to the less known factions of western society, with protagonists such as soiled doves, Indians, Negroes, and immigrants from many different countries, who may be looked down upon by some as less desirable, so they must work harder to convince the reader that they are the good guy. They portray segments of the western populations which have been previously overlooked or devalued. Although members of near invisible populations, they were a part of the western culture and western fiction is now giving them voice. The tales may be fiction, but the portrayal of life in the western landscape is not romanticized as much as it once may have been. It may be more stark and brutal in many ways, but they are true to the places and times of their settings.

In the western genre market, there are more female authors than ever before, and that means more female protagonists. A woman as main character can’t be a delicate flower who cowers behind her man as in westerns of old. The women of the west were tough, because they had to be. It was often a matter of survival. Even in western romance, the women are strong willed and determined, and they play many different roles on the western frontier. We all know that many women made a living in the parlor houses, bordellos, and saloons, but women played many other roles on the western frontier, and today’s western authors are capitalizing on that.

Delilah 3 ed.My own western, Delilah, features a tough and gritty female protagonist who, at the age of nineteen, is already hardened against life’s trials. Although not actually a romance, it does have that romance element, but she must learn to love again before that story line can come to completion. Delilah is being re-released this month with a great new cover, (designed by WordCrafter), and new front materials, including forewords by western authors Robert Hanlon and C. Emerson Law. I’m looking for feedback, so please let me know what you think of the new cover in the comments.

The historical westerns of Loretta Miles Tollefson, such as her short fiction collection, Old One Eye Pete, which I’ll be reviewing, are embedded in New Mexico territory in the 1800s. Many of Tollefson’s books feature tough female protagonists who do what they must to survive the harsh landscape and harsher men of the times, who rise above the traditional female role through strength and courage. I think an author must work harder to sell to women characters in non-traditional roles to the reader, but if written well, they make interesting and, often colorful characters that enhance their stories. readers don’t want to put down. Western romance is in abundance. At the end of March, Writing to be Read will feature a special post about my experience as a judge of the western romance category, including reviews of some of my favorite entries.

But in contemporary times, space westerns venture into the science fiction genre, and there are even western fantasy stories, such as the steampunk western romance series of Jordan Elizabeth. Westerns have branched out to combine with the paranormal, creating the weird western sub-genre, such as Death Wind, by Travis Heerman and Jim Pinto, which I will be reviewing this month. This sub-genre is growing in popularity as authors realize the potential for supernatural tales from the old west. The western frontier leaves behind many ghosts and contemporary authors are realizing their story potential.

Ghost MinerParanormal western is the genre for the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, but there have only been a few entries. I think maybe authors shy away from the western genre, especially those outside the U.S. that are not so familiar with the history of the American frontier. But the American frontier is not the only possible setting for a western story. Think Quiggly Down Under, for a western story set in the Australian Outback. Every country has western style stories in their history. As long as there is a western element and a paranormal element of some type in your story, it qualifies as an entry. It can be about zombies rambling over the western prairie, on vampires nesting in the Rockies. It can be a haunted hotel or saloon in a frontier town, or a restless spirit that refuses to pass on until the hombre that pulled the trigger on them pays for what he done. If you are a creative writer, then step up and take the challenge to write a paranormal western and send it to me. The deadline is April 30th, so there’s still plenty of time. Don’t forget, the author of the winning story will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. You can find the complete submission guidelines here.

Join us on Writing to be Read as we ride the landscape of the western genre and explore the possibilities. The western genre is alive and well today, although it may look different than expected. I love to hear from readers, so be sure to leave a comment to let me know you’ve visited. Also feel free to like and share.

Reviews of westerns by Loretta Miles Tollefson:

The Pain and the Sorrow

Not Just Any Man

 Not My Father’s House

Reviews of steampunk western romances by Jordan Elizabeth:

Treasure Darkly

Wicked Treasure

Reviews of weird westerns:

 Hell’s Butcher series, by Chris Barili

Chance Damnation, by DeAnna Knippling

2019 interviews with western authors:

Scott Harris – classic western

 Juliette Douglas  – western romance

Patricia PacJac Carroll – Christian western romance

Loretta Miles Tollefson – historical western


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


“Not My Father’s House”:A work of historical fiction true to western genre

Not My Father's House

Historical fiction has almost as many flavors as there are time periods to write about. Not My Father’s House, by Loretta Miles Tollefson is an historical novel with a western flavor that leaves the reader smacking their lips for more. A true frontier wilderness tale, Tollefson takes true events and places from the annals of the wild backwoods of old New Mexico territory and crafts a tale of the struggles and hardships of frontier life in the untamed mountain wilderness.

Suzanna is a young bride of mixed blood, soon to be a mother when she moves from her father’s home in the village of Don Fernando de Taos, venturing into the backwoods of New Mexico territory to make a home of her own and raise her family with her husband Gerald and their friend Ramon. She knew she’d have to battle the elements and critters in the untamed mountain valley, but she never expected to have to battle with herself when cabin fever sets in each winter. Nor did she ever imagine that her biggest threat in the wilds would come from a predator that stalks her on two legs instead of four.

A story of female strength and courage in a time when the lands were still wild. Not My Father’s House is a finely crafted story in the western tradition. I give it five quills.

five-quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Lost Village of Delta

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

My earliest years were spent in Westernville, NY. Right down the street was the beautiful Lake Delta, a place we visited frequently. My parents and I played on the beach. We walked the trails through the woods. One day my father mentioned that when he used to fly his plan over Lake Delta, he could see the foundations beneath the water. That puzzled me – why would there be foundations down there? Were they like the shell fossils we found in our backyard sometimes?

trees near body of water photo

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

He explained that a village used to be there, but it was flooded to create the lake. My imagination went wild. He also told me that my grandmother’s house on the farm where we lived was moved from the lost village. That amazed me, and gave me my first glimpse at history. My fascination with Lake Delta continued, but we moved to a neighboring village and didn’t visit the state park as often.

One day, the Westernville Town Clerk, Mary Centro, spoke at my hometown about Delta. My mother and I attended the lecture, and we were enthralled. I wanted to write a story at once, but I didn’t know where to take it.

My parents moved back to Westernville and I met with the town clerk to discuss Lake Delta in more detail. She told me about walking the land while the lake is low and finding treasures washed up on shore. The next year, my parents and I walked the lake, but we didn’t find anything. Again, I felt the need to write about the lost village of Delta, but I didn’t know who my main character would be yet.

The town clerk wrote two non-fiction books about Delta and my dad bought copies. While visiting my parents, I looked through them, and then did some research online. I learned that one house hadn’t been torn down the first time they flooded the land. It wasn’t until later, when the water receded, that they demolished it.

That was my story. A little magic seeped into the tale, and Lottie came to life. You can read about Lottie in DELTA, my first historic fiction novella that is appropriate for teens and adults.

A woman in antique clothes near a swamp

About the real Delta…

landscape photo of riverand pine trees

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

New York State decided it was time to expand the Erie Canal. Many of the ports along the canal were no longer being used, because shipping goods by train became the more popular method. Shipping by train was cheaper than shipping via canal. It wasn’t just the price, though, that encouraged manufactures to choose train travel. The modern barges that were needed to ship the goods couldn’t go on the Erie Canal, which was too small and far too shallow. The water level of the Erie Canal tended to fluctuate. By expanding the Erie Canal, the ports would flourish once again. Many farmers were excited by this. They would be able to transport their goods to cities elsewhere in New York State. Expanding the canal required the use of five reservoirs. These reservoirs would provide enough water to keep the level of the canal even. New York State chose Delta because they would only need to build one dam.

The village of Delta rested inside of a deep valley. This made the perfect bowl-shape to fill with water from the Mohawk River nearby. Flooding Delta meant that privately owned land would need to be seized by the government. Everyone living on that land would need to move elsewhere.

In 1903, surveyors arrived in Delta to measure the land and create maps. In 1908, New York State officially authorized that Delta would be cleared to make way for the reservoir. Blue evacuation notices were presented to the village’s five-hundred residents, forcing them to relocate. One hundred buildings were torn down and destroyed. Some, however, were dismantled and moved to other towns in the area, where they were rebuilt. People moved away and their village became a reservoir. The dam was completed in October 1912. Water first went over in May of 1916.

Despite the great expenses incurred in the relocation of the Black River Canal, it closed in 1921.

65490592_10219455854724443_1722693824599293952_n

Jordan Elizabeth is a fantasy author who is obsessed with history and ghosts.  You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.  The photo above shows Jordan on the shores of Lake Delta.  You can often find she and her son enjoying the beach.


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jordan’s Writing for a YA Audience segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Seeking out Christian fiction in September

Christian Fiction

In his 2012 Relevant article, “Where Did Good Christian Fiction Go?“, Micah Levi Conkling claims that Christian fiction has been marred by the Left Behind series and Amish fiction, and is very difficult to find. So, in September, we’ve been seeking out Christian fiction to see if Conklin’s claims are true. Is there really no good Christian fiction out there anymore?

To start off, I want to define what Christian fiction really is. It’s not really a genre. Not really, because as you’ve seen if you have joined me in my search, Christian fiction comes in many genres. The two books I reviewed from the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings collection, Texas Tears and Mail-Order Misfire, are both western romances, and I also had the pleasure of interviewing the author of each, Caryl McAdoo and Davalynn Spencer respectively. My “Chatting with the Pros” author guest, Angela Hunt writes historical fiction, historical romance, heart-warming tales of love and friendship, and children’s books that can all be classified as Christian fiction.

Christian fiction is really a category that other genres fall under. The aforementioned Left Behind series might fall under the science fantasy genre, given it’s futuristic, alternative universe setting. As Christian novels can be so varied, let’s take a look at what they have on common like the portrayal of Christian lifestyles, and an underlying message of a loving God. A book in virtually any genre could be considered Christian fiction if it has these two components, even if the message is subtle and remains in the background of the story. According to the Christy Awards website, the award is “designed to nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview and showcase the diversity of genres.”

In spite of Conklin’s claims, not all Christian stories boldly shove the message of God down the readers throat. (Many children, and adults as well, turn tail and run from a story that give a hard push to moralistic messages, as is discussed in this month’s “Growing Bookworms” post.) I think the message in good Christian fiction is delivered subtly, in small doses, giving the reader the option to take it or leave it while still being able to enjoy the story.)

Christian fiction really has a bad rep in some circles, where any story  with no sex, no violence, no cursing, and no vice, it is believed that the reading of which might be comparable to eating white rice with no seasonings. Christian fiction, from my view, is a tale which portrays Christian beliefs and values in its character’s lifestyles. I think the historical may even be flavored a little more heavily with this, because in days of past Christian lifestyles were more prominent. That could explain why historicals and westerns, like those we’ve looked at here lend themselves so readily to the Christian aspects. I’m guessing that it would more difficult, although not impossible, to work Christian aspects into a futuristic work of science fiction or fantasy, but I have seen them worked into thrillers and mysteries, and they are easily worked into contemporary romance.

Most Christian fiction stories that I’ve read are heart-warming and inspirational, and I’ve walked away with a warm feeling at the story’s end, as if there might actually be hope left for this world, or for love, or humanity, depending on the individual story. In short, Christian fiction works are stories which are written for Christian readers. But you don’t have to be searching for something with Christian undertones to enjoy one if you come across one. A good, well-written Christian story lets the characters carry the reader through without being preachy and moralistic. The power of God shines through in the character’s lives.


Into the Catskills

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

I’m a huge history lover, so anything old has always sparked my interest.  I imagine that an old building can tell me the secrets of the past.  If I walk through its ancient doors, I’ll be transported back in time.  I’ll be able to experience everything that came before.

It hasn’t yet, but I’m still hoping.

One day I was bored, probably tired from work, and decided to look at abandoned buildings online.  I was scrolling through Pinterest and voila, there was a beautiful, crumbling resort.  The image showed an old pool.  Vines crept up broken windows and ferns fought their way through cracked cement.  It was beautiful and haunting.  I clicked to learn more, and discovered it was a resort from the Catskills.

daylight environment forest idyllic

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In their heyday (1920s through the 1960s), the Catskill Mountains were home to numerous fancy resorts.  People came from all over to experience the thrill of the mountains.  Many New Yorkers left the city to experience the calm of the country.  The popular movie, Dirty Dancing, takes place at a resort in the Catskills.

Overtime, interest waned.  From articles I read online, it seems that the readily people could travel on airplanes to distant wonderlands, the less they wanted to travel upstate.  There are still some resorts left and I hope to vacation there someday.  I must admit, though, the abandoned resorts fascinate me more than the ones still standing.

abandoned ancient antique architecture

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

While looking at more pictures of those abandoned resorts, a story idea came to me.  The world ends and the remains of civilization are holed up inside a crumbling hotel.  Thus was born my post-apocalyptic novella, BUNKER BOY.  If you decide to read it, let me know what you think!  I’d love to know if it has inspired you, too, to check out the old memories of the Catskills.beautiful blond young woman in black hood looking at camera

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She is most likely gazing at something in awe, something she will soon include in one of her novels. You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jordan’s Writing for a YA Audience segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


“Mail-Order Misfire”: Christian romance from the 2019 “Thanksgiving Books & Blessings” collection

Mail-Order Misfire

Mail-Order Misfire, by Davalynn Spencer is a Christian western romance that will touch your heart. The story is well-crafted and entertaining, with well-developed characters that you can invest in, and setting details accurate to time period for authenticity. You’ve got to love young Gracie as she takes on the role of matchmaker for her unsuspecting father.  It expertly portrays the Christian values of the historic west with a flare that draws you into the story and won’t let go.

Etta Collier is recently widowed and desperately looking for a way to get out from under the predatory banker who wants to claim all that her William left behind in this world, including her!  A well-intended letter from young Gracie Stidham requesting a mail-order bride for her father and mother for herself,  provides the only answer in sight, so she packs a bag and leaves her previous life behind, setting off for Lockton, Colorado with hope in her heart, as well as a fear of what might lie ahead. The results are a true love story as Etta, Gracie and her father Burn, who is both the preacher and the sheriff, come to terms with the rather awkward situation her arrival stirs and learn to love one another.

Mail-Order Misfire is a thoroughly engaging western romance that emphasizes Christian values without being ‘preachy’ in the least. An well-crafted example of Christian fiction that I give five quills.

five-quills3

Mail-Order Misfire is book two of the newly released Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection, available now on Amazon.