From Erotica to the grit of Western Historical Romances

southern-seduction

The Victorians - Two

 

 

Thanks to Sherri Goodman for an article on the resurgence of interest in the romance genre. She makes some good points here comparing today’s erotica and western romances to those of yesterday. Covers shown range from Luna Zega’s erotic Southern Seduction to Velda Brotherton’s gritty Rowena’s Hellion. I’m pleased to have her as a guest while I tend to some health issues. Hope to be back next week.

It’s difficult to talk about the recent surge of interest in the romance genre without mentioning E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Erotic romance had a following before, no doubt, but it is now a genre that is adored, lauded, and openly discussed by millions of women. And while Fifty Shades certainly isn’t the first of its kind, it’s safe to say it played a role in catapulting the contemporary romance genre into the mainstream.

Then again, perhaps it’s not just the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy that has the genre buzzing, but a shift in the attitude of the modern American woman toward erotic reading material. It seems the majority of women are no longer ashamed of their preference in reading material. And if they are shy, the popularity of the e-book allows for a certain level of discretion, not to mention convenience. After all, downloading an e-book is a much more anonymous transaction than hitting the checkout line at a brick and mortar retailer.

According to Romance Writers of America, women make up 84 percent of romance book buyers—76 percent of whom are talking with friends and acquaintances about the romance novels they’re reading. Therefore, it makes sense that the romance genre should adapt as the wants and interests of the modern American woman shift. So what is it that women expect from a romance novel?

Contemporary Romance Evolved

A quick stroll through the romance section of any book store will provide plenty of options for the avid reader of this genre.  While the covers look mostly the same as they always have—handsome, shirtless man with impeccably good hair holding a beautiful, cleavage-baring woman in his (ridiculously toned) arms—the content inside has evolved quite a bit. Romance novels of today are not what they used to be. They’ve changed, and it’s for the better.

The same formula is still there—the love story with a happy ending—but the themes, characters, and language often differ from the Harlequins your grandmother may have kept stashed beneath the mattress. No longer the damsel in distress or the virginal young woman prone to blush at even the hint of stirrings beneath her petticoats, the heroines of contemporary romance tend to be independent, brazen, and vocal about their interest in sex, in very not-safe-for-work terms.

There is also more variety available when it comes to what we define as “erotic novels.” They no longer have to be those aforementioned formulaic pieces that so many of us have come to expect or, at least, assume about this genre. According to Adam and Eve, these books now “run the full gamut of sex positive possibilities,” which means you can find novels that dip into political/societal themes, how-to guides in a more long-form setting, and everything in between. This diversity in terms of content only leads to a bigger, equally diverse audience for erotic novels as a whole.

Some of the purported reasons why women are so infatuated with romance novels are fairly expected: they provide an escape from the stresses of reality and allow them to play out their deepest desires. But it’s more than that. Psychology Today notes that by reading romance novels, women can live vicariously through the heroine and fall in love with the hero without any of the consequences—no cheating, no pregnancy, no regret the next morning.

The heroine of the novel could be anyone, even the reader. She is often described in vague terms as the average, every-day woman, solely for this purpose. The reader, then, can instead see herself as the heroine. By the end of the book, all of her desires are fulfilled: she snags the roguish-yet-sensitive, adoring, handsome man who only has eyes for her; a sex life that is always hot and never neglected; and then live happily ever after. When it comes to reading contemporary romance novels, women really can have it all—at least for three hundred and some odd pages.

Bio: Sherri is a blogger and freelance writer with a passion for all things health. Whether she’s researching the latest super food, or new ways to keep a long-term relationship hot, she’s always on the hunt for new ways to better herself, and help her readers do the same. Right now the only guy in her life is her adopted dog Charlie, but ever the (somewhat clumsy) optimist, she loves having the opportunity to share all of her relationship adventures and blunders with her readers.

My blog :: sherrigoodlove.wordpress.com Twitter: @sherrigoodlove.

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Andromeda’s Fall (Shadowcat Nation #1)

Abigail

Welcome to a guest author, Abigail Owen,  whose shape shifter romances are compelling. Let her tell you something about her latest book and about herself.

Andromeda Reynolds is being hunted. After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of a pack of wolf shifters, Andie has devoted her life to protecting her community of cougar shifters from a similar fate. But now, a greater threat lies within her own dare, and she must run. If she stays, Kyle Carstairs will force their mating, seeking the added political power their union would provide.

Andie would rather chew off her own foot than end up with Kyle. Though, knowing him, she won’t live long either way. Andie’s only hope of survival is to mate Jaxon Keller, the Alpha of the Keller Dare with which she is seeking asylum. But before she can get to him, Andie must first go through A.J., one of the Alpha’s Protectors.

What Andie doesn’t realize is that A.J. has secrets of his own. All Andie knows is that the incredibly frustrating shifter insists on challenging her story, her skills, her trust… and her heart.

Paperback | eBook Pre-Order

AndromedasFall_w9277_300 (1)

 

How I Came to Write This:

It always seems as though my best ideas—or at least the ones I’m most excited to write—come to me when I’m in the middle of another book or series. I don’t know if it’s the creative juices flowing that triggers more creativity or what? The initial idea for Andromeda’s Fall happened that way.

I was in the middle of writing the third book of the Svatura series, Crimson Dahlia. That series happens to have many different kinds of shifters. Mostly wolves and dragons, but also alligators, bears, falcons, jaguars, and so on.

In the middle of all these shifters I suddenly had a vision of a single scene with a mountain lion shifter. In my head, I knew she was female, bad ass, and trying to prove herself. She was sitting on a rock on patrol with a male mountain lion shifter above her watching her carefully.

That started everything. I had to figure out who my characters were, what kind of world they lived in, how to get them to that point, and then how to continue from there. Basically, this book is the result of my own mental version of a writing prompt.

I had a ton of fun figuring out exactly how that scene led to an entire book. Not only that, an entire series. Andromeda’s Fall is the first in a four-book series. You can get a sneak peek into this world now. Hannah’s Fate is my short story in the Here, Kitty Kitty anthology and is a prequel to the series.

Andromeda’s Fall is now available for pre-order (see links)!!!

Excerpt:

He glanced down at her. “You really are a tiny thing, aren’t you?”

Andie scowled. “Don’t let my size fool you. I can pack a wallop when I want to. Even with a broken arm.”

A.J. laughed. “I’m sure you can.”

Andie stared straight ahead, her mouth thinning. She hated being patronized. Men were so dense sometimes. They never took her seriously until she showed them exactly why they should.

Keeping her left arm protected, Andie suddenly dropped. One leg shot out and she spun low to the ground, sweeping A.J.’s feet out from under him. As he landed on his back, she was on top of him, her knee on his windpipe—not crushing, just sending a message.

Before she could gloat too much, though, she was flying through the air. Andie tucked into a back flip, landed on her feet, and then spun and launched herself backwards in a one-handed back handspring. A.J. had just gotten on his feet when her legs wrapped around his neck. She used her momentum to drop him back to the floor.

Andie rolled and ended up in a crouch close by. A.J. held up his hands in surrender. “All right, wildcat. You’ve proved yourself.”

Andie glared at him. “Don’t doubt me. And don’t insult my intelligence by pretending you just lost either,” she said in a severe voice, made harsher, perhaps, by the fact that she’d just realized exactly how incredible his blue eyes were. They were a vibrant color made even more interesting by the black ring that rimmed the irises. And she was more than irritated with herself for having noticed that at all.

He levered himself up off the floor. “Fair enough.”

The only thing that kept her from proving her point more—because she could tell he’d held back—was the small amount of respect she could see in his eyes. With a brusque nod, she followed him down the hall.

Bio

Award-winning author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado, and raised in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Northern California with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Thank you, Abigail, for sharing with my readers. And congratulations on the release of your book.

 

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A World of Terror and Hope

soldiers

Beyond The Moon was written entirely in Katie Kelly’s point of view. That means we never stepped into Glen’s world except when he spoke of it to her. The following is something he did not tell her. I’d like to share with you a moment in his life, written originally as a prologue in his point of view, but left out of the book after much consideration.

Prologue

He coiled into a fetal ball, terror distending his skin until it crackled and ripped apart. Harsh light violated his hoarse bellow and he scrabbled across the bare, cold floor. In his blindness, he felt for the comforting shape of the M16.

It was nowhere. He’d lost it.

For a while he whimpered, then grew silent. Listened.

A deadly quiet thumped at his ears like the rhythm of a failing heart. A dim glow pulsed from the four walls. The droning of a machine kept him alive. Filling his space with oxygen, conditioning him to an abhorrent existence. When all he wanted to do was die, he could do nothing but struggle to live.

He had something to accomplish. A final killing before he could surrender to that inevitable death.

He must have slept or drifted into his other world, for the whoosh of the door opening, the thud as it closed, awoke him. He peered at six pointed and shiny black shoes coming toward him, padded soles whispering and squeaking on the waxed floor. A mixture of aromas ─ cologne and alcohol, disinfectant and toothpaste ─ tumbled over him from their hovering, indistinct shapes.

The walls tightened, leaking streaks of blood. His blood, slashed by shiny blades, the incessant shout of his tormentor, over and over, branding him with a pain he could not long endure, if not for the bitch who’d betrayed him.

In and out of the dirty water, swinging high in the trees, the bars held him for an eternity, an agony that would never end. Blinding him, slicing his skin off in strips. A yearning for death that would not come, would never come. Morphed instead into this new world where men came to peer at him, prod him, question him, when all he wanted was to coil back into that ball and remain forever neither dead nor alive.

A specter appeared, a chart in the crook of one arm while working a hypodermic with the other hand. Glen couldn’t fight, couldn’t utter a cry while they restrained him right there on the floor. He scarcely felt the burning pinch in his arm. Held his breath as if that would save him from the long dark spiral to pseudo-death. A preview of things to come. Soon perhaps he would be unwilling to climb back out. But he couldn’t let the final killing go. Not yet and not this easily.

End of Excerpt

Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Being subjected to such terrors. I assure you, it happens, continues to happen to our warriors sent home from terrifying battles. We like to think of them as so brave nothing touches them, when in reality most are marked for the remainder of their lives with the memories of those killing fields. They are brave beyond measure, but that doesn’t protect them from the suffering of post traumatic stress disorder.

Beyond The Moon is the story of a woman who will not give up in her efforts to help the man she loves more than life itself. Their strength makes this a hopeful and touching love story.

What readers are saying: “OH, MY God I couldn’t put your book down. You have told our story. We are the wives of the vets who returned damaged. There is always hope that our love will be enough. We, the silent women who have walked this story, know Katie ‘s world.”

“It’s no wonder this book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Great read.”

“Brotherton’s storytelling and character development skills set her high above many better known authors.”

Join us Saturday, Dec. 6 from 1-3 at the West Fork, AR Library Annex at 210 Garland for a Christmas celebration of the release of Beyond the Moon and Rowena’s Hellion, the story of a veteran of an historical war that shows how wounded warriors were perceived in an entirely different time period.

I’d love to meet you. There will be door prizes, book giveaways, refreshments and books galore for your Christmas shopping. See you there.

The Victorians - Two

 

 

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Changes in Sexual Appetites

Victorian women

Victorian women

2000 sexy

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s no secret that I write pretty hot sex scenes in my romances, mysteries and main stream novels. Writing romances placed in the 1880s I always depict the hero and heroine as enjoying sex and foreplay, but did they really?  I would like to think that they liked it very much indeed, but it was simply not something one discussed out of the bedroom. Words like pregnant and intercourse and the term making love were not used in polite company.

Sadly, in the good old days women were often brought up to be ashamed of their bodies and afraid of men who might want to look at them. My grandmother once told me that my grandfather had never seen her unclothed.

A true Victorian at heart, she and her sisters were born in Kansas to my great grandmother, Minna Gregg. Minna journeyed with her family to Kansas when she was 13 and when she grew up married Daniel Gregg, a handsome man who served on the first police force in the small town of Winfield.

Many times I wish I’d paid more attention to Great-grandmother’s stories and asked more questions about her early life. It occurs to me now that she could possibly have been not quite so inhibited as my grandmother. Chances are she was, though.

Of the four girls in the family, I would imagine that the youngest, Aunt Sylvia probably would have taken great pride in stripping down for her husband. A man we all knew as Joe, but never saw. Aunt Sylvia divorced him because he asked her to choose between him and taking care of her mother. Minna, you remember her, was widowed by then. She weighed somewhere around 300 pounds later in life. Despite her diet and weight, she lived to be 96 years old.

Aunt Sylvia worked for the local newspaper, and what I best remember about her is that her fingers were always ink stained. Those were the days before computers and typesetting was done by placing lead slugs (letters) in narrow ridges of the printing press. These slugs were inked by rollers, thus when a typesetter began to set letters they were inky and it transferred to their fingers, permanently staining them. She was a beautiful woman with golden hair and a statuesque figure that filled out with age.

The reason for this is that Minna was a fabulous cook with old ways. She drenched everything in butter and thick cream, baked scrumptious bread and desserts, and set a table that groaned with the weight of the food. Therefore, most of the family suffered from too much weight. But two of the girls, my grandmother and great-aunt Vera remained . . . well, not thin exactly, but well proportioned. Both were six feet tall. Great-grandfather must have been about six foot five inches.

To this day I’m curious about how many of the girls took after their Victorian grandparents and hid in the closet to change from their day clothing to their night wear. During the day Grandmother wore long cotton stockings winter and summer, the hem of her dresses always hit her mid-calf, and beneath that she wore a long slip, knee-length drawers and an undershirt over her corsett. I never knew, but from the look of her, she continued to bind her breasts long after that went out of favor. I don’t think she ever wore a bra.

As a writer I’m often curious about subjects that are none of my business, so I wonder what their sex life must have been like. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had none to speak of. It was a common belief that sex was only a tool used to procreate, and once the amount of children a couple desired had been conceived, there was no further need for the practice. Grandmother had four children, and I often wonder how many tries it took to manage that, and was that all the sex she and Grandpa enjoyed. He must have prayed nothing would take. Or perhaps they had no notion that sex could be enjoyed and simply went about the task as if they were hoeing corn or picking green beans from the garden.

None of the ladies in my books are shy about their sexual appetites, whether they live in the nineteenth or twenty first centuries. Therefore my brand: Sexy, Dark, and Gritty applies to most all of my writing.

Happy Days

Happy Days

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Is it True or Can We Lie?

1896 razorbacks

The 1896 Razorbacks. No? This photo was presented to me that way. A good look reveals very young boys and what looks like it might be a girl. Or could it be true? It would take some complicated research to find out. Want to give it a try?

Have you ever wondered where a writer obtains historical information or interviews? I began writing regional history long before the advent of the Internet as a feature writer for a weekly newspaper. Searching for the same facts today is much easier if we’re computer literate. Yet nothing beats contact with the people who have stories to share. Have you ever read a book where the author just makes everything up including facts? Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, make sure what needs to be true really is. In fiction as well as nonfiction, history, language, clothing, living conditions and so much more must be true. So I urge all writers to do their research.

Someone told me she only wanted to write contemporary stories so she wouldn’t have to do research. WRONG. Where does her hero/heroine work? In what city? Who do they deal with? What’s going on in the world around them? Good grief, check it out. Make your story ring true, make it real. Our story can be fiction, but unless you’re writing fantasy or making up urban worlds, what happens around our characters must be true or at least possible.

Fiction and nonfiction run parallel with each other in so many ways. During the twenty years I wrote for newspapers, I must have interviewed hundreds of people. My main interest soon became the history of the area where I lived and worked. The editor gave me a page where I began an historical column which I’ve written in one form or another for all those years. So I must modestly say that I’ve gotten pretty good at getting information out of people.

The first thing I learned was to write stories about the people who lived our history. It’s pretty easy to look up a bunch of facts, dates and place names and the like and put them down. Not so easy to tell the stories that will keep your readers coming back for more. So once a writer hears or reads about a specific happening, the next step is to find someone whose family history includes stories of that event. Take the lady who, when we talked about the Battle of Prairie Grove during the Civil War here in Arkansas, immediately remembered that her great-grandmother had told a story of how, from where they lived, gun fire sounded just like popcorn popping. She also told of a man who lived in a cave to keep from having to serve in the war, so he could care for his family who lived in a cabin nearby. Such stories lend color to any tale about that battle.

For years I saved tons of interviews in the hopes the stories could one day be put into a book. And when that day finally came I learned that having those stories simply wasn’t enough. I had to revisit all the places where my stories took place. Ten to twenty years can bring about a lot of change. So one entire summer my husband and I drove through four surrounding counties taking photographs that could be compared with old pictures we had and talking to folks in all the small settlements. I wanted some new stories that had never been published in any form. I wanted reality to ring true. I want the same thing in my historical and contemporary novels as well. They may have stories I dream up, but they are set in a time frame that must be spot on to keep the reader intrigued.

The worst thing you as a writer can do is publish something that isn’t ready to be published. Please, please, let a good editor read your book and take his or her advice. Or better yet, sit down and write another book, then another, until by practice you become the best writer you can be. Or quit writing now if you’re not willing to hone your craft.

Writing is a profession, and as such cannot be learned overnight. No one can teach you to be creative, but those of us who have a lot of experience in the trenches can help you learn the mechanics of turning that creativity into a well written book.

If you think good writers became good overnight, then you aren’t thinking straight. Or, go ahead and publish your book because you can do it in today’s market, but it could be the last one you publish if you don’t take the advice of well-published authors who know what they’re talking about. Study hard and long and write, write, write.

One piece of advice I give novice writers who truly want to be the best they can be is, go buy a copy of Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain and study it like you would study for a Master’s Degree. Do the exercises and pay attention to what this fabulous writing teacher has to say. If you are going to become a good writer, then Swain can get you there if anyone can. If you aren’t willing to work toward a successful career as a writer, then get a good day job you’ll enjoy.

Were you able to check out the photo I posted? Let me know what you learn. And here’s a hint. Don’t trust Wikipedia. There’s so much wrong information there.

 

 

 

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Old Patriotism vs New

This article appeared in a small weekly newspaper where I worked from 1990 through 1999. It’s interesting how we can compare some of the subject matter to what’s going on today. Let me know what you think.

Vietnam Vets React To New Patriotism, by Velda Brotherton  published in July, 1991

The long fourth of July weekend has been chosen as the ideal time to honor those who fought in the Persian Gulf War.

When it comes to parades and welcome home celebrations, our nation has never seen the like of what’s been going on since our men began returning from Saudi Arabia. Parades and welcome home parties have been constantly in the news since the end of that conflict. Why are we experiencing such an outpouring of patriotism?

It isn’t that this country hasn’t lacked wars since World War II ended to the biggest ticker tape parades ever staged.

There was that little conflict in Korea, now referred to as the forgotten war, and then there was Vietnam, the war we all wished we could forget. We tried to forget Vietnam in various ways — some of which forever scarred those young men who fought as valiantly for our country as those who went before. Those young men are now nearly twenty years older and some of them also went to Saudi. How do Vietnam vets feel about the extended fanfare?

Army reservist Max Hall of Springdale spent six years on active duty including two tours in Vietnam. He flew a Medivac helicopter. Then one morning nearly twenty years later, with that war behind him, he answered the telephone and in a few weeks found himself in the Persian Gulf. Hall entered this war as a member of the 374th reserve medical detachment. He was one of the oldest trainer pilots to serve in the desert.

Max told us that comparing the two wars, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia is not possible. Those who try, he said, are guilty of trying to compare apples and oranges.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t ask why there’s been such a change in the attitude of the people of this country toward its wars and its warriors. Rationales are plentiful. This war was shorter. Not so many died. Saddam’s a bully and he was pushing people around. Americans have a duty to help the helpless of the world.

Hall thinks the overall acceptance is because the people better understood the Persian conflict, while they never understood the one in Vietnam. Others don’t feel it’s quite that simple.

During those months our fighting men spent on that faraway desert, it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “How many lives is a barrel of oil worth?” The dissent was there but now in the minority, not so loud, not accepted. We all prayed there wouldn’t be another Vietnam.

And the overall and abiding feeling seemed to be, “We’ll never again do such a terrible thing to our fighting men. We can somehow make it up to them now.”

Hall agrees that the country was suffering from a lot of guilt. But he goes farther. “This country needed a victory somewhere and the Gulf was it.”

Hall says that he’s proud of what we did over there. “There will be another Saddam sometime in the future, and we have to remain strong because of our morale obligations and the agreements we’ve made which must be honored.”

General Norman Schwartzkopf recently said about the aftermath of Vietnam, “The wounds are healed but the scars will never go away.”

Lonnie Hussey is a disabled veteran of the Vietnam conflict. He is also the Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 323, in Fayetteville. Lonnie will take part in the parade in Little Rock July 6. He will ride proudly with other vets on a float depicting the various armed services who were involved in Vietnam.

“It’s taken me twenty years, but I’m finally getting my parade,” he told (me).

He says this and other parades like it will give a lot of veterans a chance to feel good. “The Desert Storm guys were just lucky. Vietnam was the biggest mess I’ve ever been in,” he goes on to say.

Like Hall, Hussey feels that nothing smells so sweet as victory.

Both certainly agree on one thing. Come Sunday morning, July 7, it’s time to get on with it. Put all the parades and talk of the war behind us.

Hussey calls it a lot of hoopla, but still an important event in American history that will have a lasting effect on (Vietnam) veterans.

Another Vietnam vet who asked to remain anonymous, said he couldn’t really explain fully how it makes him feel to see the guys coming back to open arms. “I don’t resent them, in fact they deserve every bit of it. I thought my wounds were healed, but seeing all the accolades, it feels like having a scab knocked off of a sore. It stings.”

War isn’t romantic and patriotism doesn’t cure the ills of our country. And if good, indeed, does come out of war, which is what Max Hall told us, let it be that we as a nation learned a lesson we’ll never forget.

If we ever again ask our men, young or old, to go to war, then we should honor them, win or lose.

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From the Sands of Saudi Arabia 1990

desert moon

A Vet Writes from the desert of Saudi Arabia 1990

In response to my newspaper’s “to any service member letters from home program” we received this from a serviceman in the desert. This is an excerpt from the letter in which he speaks of his home in the Arkansas Ozarks and how much he misses his loved ones. He had this to say in regard to the war:

Letters from our War Veterans have an amazing effect on all of us stationed here in the desert. They’re often filled with good sound advice, humorous stories and word of encouragement. There is an amazing bond between soldiers of different generations. It’s good to know that others have been through what we’re going through and have survived: the not-knowing, the loneliness, the worrying about wives and children, parents and sweethearts left behind. It’s reassuring to know that even the guys who participated in World War II, Korea and Vietnam were plagued by the same self-doubts that we are plagued by. They had what it took when their time came and I’m sure that we will too.

ABOUT BEYOND THE MOON, my latest novel recently released: This is not an excerpt, for none of the book is in Glen’s POV, but this is what happened before Lt. Glen Tanner was first reported MIA, then later KIA over the killing fields of Vietnam. 1985

choppers

choppers

Glen took off for the Medevac mission early in the morning, the sky the color of swirls of cotton candy, his wife Ellie’s letter of betrayal wadded into his pocket. She was leaving him and his disappointment, hurt, and anger fueled every action. Blinded to enemy fire, angry at her betrayal, his emotions may have driven him into the danger that brought down the chopper. As a medevac chopper pilot he’d survived dozens of missions in his three tours of duty, hauling back the wounded, the dying and the dead. And always their screams and the smell of blood echoing in his head. He’d begun to think himself invincible.

That morning he was proved wrong. His plane went down. He survived long enough to stay hidden from the enemy for nearly twenty-four hours before they found him, trussed him up and herded him back to a tiny village where people threw rocks at him, spat on him and beat him with heavy sticks. Surely he wouldn’t be left behind to suffer and die. He vowed he would live for however long they kept him. For nine grueling years they sliced his skin, trapped him underwater, and left him hanging in a bamboo cage in a tree with dead and dying comrades. He fed on his hatred for the wife who had abandoned and betrayed him. He would live so he could return home and kill her.

But everything changed when Katie walked into the VA hospital where he was confined, sat next to him and took his hand. And here begins the story of the healing power of love.

Read the first chapter of this love story on Amazon. Beyond the Moon is available in print and Ebook.

Cover by Casey Cowan

Cover by Casey Cowan

“Oh my God. You wrote my story…” writes a Vietnam vet’s wife about Beyond the Moon.

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Has Afghanistan Taught Us Nothing?

Men in war

Men in war

This article which I wrote appeared on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1990, during the time of Desert Shield, the precursor to Desert Storm. I interviewed several veterans of different wars including Desert Shield and Vietnam.

Veterans Comment on Operation Desert Shield

Once called Armistice Day, November 11th has long been set aside to honor all of our veterans. This Veteran’s Day we remember not only our veterans but those who are currently serving in the Middle East.

This reporter questioned several veterans about American’s controversial involvement in Operation Desert Shield.

Colonel Keith Taylor, who retired in 1988 after 42 years and 18 days wearing the uniform of his country, served in World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam. He stresses that he came up through the ranks in the Navy. “…in case anyone wonders why I was only a Colonel after all those years,” he says with a twinkle. “At one time I helped train Iraqi officers and even then wondered how long it would be before something like this happened,” he told us, then added,  “I don’t feel we have much of a choice. Basic principles demand that you can’t let bullies run over little people.”

That seems to be the opinion of more than one veteran. Another told us, “In Vietnam the enemy executed and buried so many victims in communal graves that when the SeaBees went in to clean it up, it looked like Buchenwald.” Those things, he says, never were published, because of the mindset of the general public at the time.

He fears some of the opinions being voiced, namely that we’re in the Middle East to preserve the price of a barrel of oil.

“Nonsense,” this Vietnam veteran with three purple hearts says. In essence, he feels we’re there because we can’t let such horrible things happen to people who can’t defend themselves.

Gene Kinsinger of Yellville was aboard the USS California when it was torpedoed at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. He served in the Navy for twenty years.

USS Enterprise standing offshore Dec. 7, 1944

USS Enterprise standing offshore Dec. 7, 1944

Gene says of the matter of oil, “We’ve got plenty in this country if we’d just get it out.” But he does go on to say, “Sooner or later they’re going to have to remove Saddam. Any war is bad but we love our freedom and if we hadn’t of put our troops over there he’d (Saddam Hussein) have had Saudi Arabia by now.”

How does Gene think the Middle East conflict compares to the Vietnam War?

“Vietnam was a politicians war, not a soldiers war, and if Truman had let MacArthur cross the 38th parallel (in Korea) we would never have had Vietnam. It takes a show of force to stop aggression.” This too is an opinion shared by others we spoke to.

Rick Keyes, Elementary Principal at West Fork School, spent ten months in Vietnam and four years in the Marine Corps. He is currently in the Arkansas National Guard.

Rick says, “You always have to expect things like this if you’re in the military. If I get called back in, I’ll go and not worry if it’s over oil. Most wars are fought for economic reasons. That’s just the way it is.”

Elaborating, Keyes said “If we allow them to control our national economy we’ll have a severe depression. And people wouldn’t stand for that. Just as in the Great Depression the people would demand the government do something.” He maintains that’s why we went to war then, too.

How does this conflict compare to Vietnam? Will the American people begin to protest as they did in the 60s?

Keyes seems to think it’s a matter of timing. “If it lasts a long time, protests can build and we’ll have another Vietnam. If we do what we should—get in there and get it over with—we won’t.”

“And if we do that,” he goes on, “It won’t last two weeks. Once we’re geared up with our massive firepower, it’s all over. But lives will be lost. I’d like to think it’s for humanitarian reasons, and maybe part of it is. As long as Hussein has the Americans I think we’ll back it as a country.”

All the veterans we talked to agreed on one thing. Defeating this kind of enemy is going to be difficult.

As Keyes puts it, “The American soldier tries to stay alive, while to those people it’s an honor to die…”

Colonel Taylor agrees, and maintains that it will take a Middle-East Army to defeat Hussein.

Whatever it takes, the United States forces are committed for the time, and there are a multitude of opinions regarding the consequences.

Comparing things stated in this article with what we’re hearing today, it’s easy to see we’re still embroiled in the same old idiocy.

Next coming up:  Max Hall, a lifer talks about World War II, Korea and Vietnam and speaks about what’s in store for America.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Today I’m asking followers to click on a link to read my post on a friend’s site. Apropos to

Men in war

Men in war

Veteran’s Day I wrote  a special post on PTSD, which affects so many of our veterans and posted it. There’s a link there for anyone with questions about the disorder.

Also, you’ll see a beautiful teaser for my book, Beyond the Moon, a love story about a wounded warrior with PTSD and his angel.

 

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Lance Isn’t a Western Name

western women

In a western mode today. My latest western historical romance, Rowena’s Hellion: The Victorians – Book Two was released last week. Check it out on Amazon or The Wild Rose Press site where the Ebook version is discounted to half price. In order to find names of people in the book, for they came over from England and Scotland, I had to research the names of that time and place. There was a list on one of the sites I went to that named all the people who came in the first emigration to Victoria, Kansas. I stole first and last names, but mixed them all up so they wouldn’t be the real people. The one real name I used was the founder of Victoria, George Grant.

The Victorians - TwoThe following story, which I ran across during other research for a nonfiction article, might well have influenced Larry McMurtry when he wrote the fabulous Lonesome Dove.

Mason Holcomb was scheduled to hang on the gallows at Fort Smith on April 17, 1885. A native of Kentucky, he had migrated to Missouri after being mustered out of the Union Army. He married a woman known only as Miss Bridgeman, and took her to Arkansas where they lived for a while near Jasper in Newton County. From there he moved to Franklin County near Ozark, then migrated into Indian Territory. For seven months prior to the killing that would hand him a hanging sentence, he lived on the Canadian River near McAlester.

Later, folks claimed it was the devil in whiskey that brought about the killing, and it would seem so. For Mason and his friend Siegel Fisher were working in the hay fields and on July 23, the two became intoxicated. Late one evening they started home and on the way Mason killed Fisher. Who knows why? He claimed it was a fight Fisher started that escalated into the killing.There was no witness to the deed, and leaving the body out in the open, Mason fled to his native state of Kentucky. In 1884 he was arrested by a brother of the man he had murdered and taken to Fort Smith for trial.

He pled not guilty, saying that Fisher had a pistol and he pulled it, so the killing was in self-defense. The trial lasted over a week. Because Fisher was shot in the back and there was no evidence of a struggle in the grassy area where the body was found, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.

gallows Ft. Smith

The gallows at Ft. Smith, Arkansas where many a man hung from a rope during the reign of Judge Isaac Parker

I found a list in the same article which told of several outlaws who received “guilty” verdicts, over a period of those few days prior to April 17, 1885 when Holcomb was sentenced to be hanged, and they were commuted to life. Among them was a white man who lived under the name of Blue Duck.

I can see McMurtry, paging through those old records and running across that fascinating name, filing it away somewhere in his writer’s mind and pulling it out when he began to create his characters for Lonesome Dove. Or perhaps he found the name somewhere else, or maybe he simply made it up. Yet I prefer to think he read the same article I did and remembered the name.

In one of my earlier western historical romances, Angels’ Gold, available on Kindle, I used an old telephone directory from the small town of Circleville, Kansas, where the book takes place. Mixing first and last names I came up with some good names that fit the time and the place. Western historical writers have to be careful not to use names like Lance and Dylan, Madison and Shelby. Way too modern and misplaced for the early American West.      Gold and an outlaw rescue Angel

 

 

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