|Fall in Tennessee|
I'd like to thank Pat for having me here today. I live in beautiful Tennessee. I was born and raised in California so relocating to a new state at this stage of my life was a shock to my system. The biggest surprise: I grew to love it here.
|Our First Snow Experience|
Unlike California, where the four seasons aren't as readily apparent, you can definitely see the differences here in the South. Spring brings back leaves to all the barren trees and is probably my most most favorite time of the year. By summer everything is lush and green, and the fireflies light up the night. Come Fall, all those leaves turn bright reds, oranges and yellows before they disappear again, and the winter temps aren't so horrible that you freeze, but give the opportunity to dress in layers while enjoying the intermittent storms that roll through. Moving to Sparta, TN was the impetus behind my historical novel, Sparta Rose. I also discovered a new calling in life here...serving as a correctional officer at the local jail. That experience provided fodder for another novel, but that's a story for another visit. *smile*
|A Genuine Log House|
|The Rock House - Stage Stop|
Colorful characters I met gave personality to those in my novel, and with Roselle Fountain as my guide, Sparta Rose came to life. I'd like to share the blurb and excerpt with you:
EllieFountain has a dilemma—Tyler Bishop, the handsome ranch foreman who's won favor with her Pa. Ellie's determined to prove to them she can do anything a man can do, even if it means buying a gun and learning to shoot.
Her father's ranch, Fountainhead, is her legacy and she aims to protect it from the Bryants, the trio next door who are using bullying tactics to purchase all the land in the area. When she accepts Ty's 'forced' invitation to a local dance, she never expects to find herself kidnapped and held hostage in an old drafty shack hidden somewhere in the snowy Tennessee Mountains. She shouldn't have left the dance in such a huff without telling someone.
Ellie led Chessie out of the stall and mounted. Ty walked alongside as she rode out of the barn. Hopefully he was wrong about the Bryant’s being in town because she planned to make this trip come hell or high water. One incident wasn’t about to keep her ranch-bound; if anything, it was the reason to go and buy that gun.
Once outside, she reined her horse and looked down at Ty. "Tell Pa I’ll be home before sundown."
Ty peered up from under the dusty brim of his hat. "You best be."
Those eyes pierced her very soul, until he opened his mouth and ruined it. She nudged her mount in the sides and left him standing in a cloud of swirling dirt. "Don’t tell me what to do, Tyler Bishop," she yelled over her shoulder. "You aren’t my boss."
A smile tugged at her lips. It pleased her to put him in his place and leave before he could utter a sound. Her smile blossomed into an actual giggle at the thought of him wheezing and sneezing in the wake of her departure.
The invigorating gallop created a cool breeze across Ellie’s face. She pushed thoughts of the gunshot from her mind, relaxed back against the saddle cantle and took a deep breath of fresh air. Her mare was so accustomed to the downhill trail to town there was no need for a heavy hand on the reins. The leather straps hung loosely alongside the mare’s neck while Ellie kept sync with Chessie’s movement.
Along the rim, Ellie admired the beauty of Calf Killer Valley, so named after a Cherokee chief whose tribe inhabited the area in the early 1800s. Ellie couldn’t recall ever seeing an Indian, but she tried to picture what the chief might have looked like.
Amid the sprawling fields of wheat, tobacco and rye, she imagined tepees and red-skinned people. Yet, most of them had Ty’s face and eyes.
She stopped daydreaming and focused on the type of sidearm to buy and tried to determine a good spot to practice, out of prying eyes. The area around the old mineshaft about five miles from the ranch came to mind. She’d have to pass the rock house where the stagecoach stopped, but the spot was well beyond there.
"Yep, that’s the place," she muttered and spurred her mount faster, anxious to get to Sparta and make her purchase.
Chessie’s sure-footedness handled the oft-traveled trail with ease. The ruts left by countless wagon trains ran deep, marring the road taken by hundreds in search of a place to settle—many in Bon Air and others passing through and following the bigger Caney Fork River to surrounding areas.
Ellie’s thoughts strayed to the many coal mines hidden deep beyond the trees peppering the hillsides. Luckily, there was one that had played out and would serve her purpose just fine.
Lost in reverie, the usual hour trip seemed much shorter. Before she realized it, she was in town.
Ellie slowed Chessie to a walk, waved at Reverend Franklin as he left the church, and reined the mare to the hitching post in front of the mercantile. She dismounted, stood on the plank walkway and brushed the dust from her clothing before going inside.
The bells on the door jingled.
Percy McCord looked up from the counter, and flashed a huge smile.
His teeth reminded her of Chessie’s—long andyellowed. In addition to his horsy appearance, countless freckles dotted Percy’s pasty skin, and fire-red curls framed his face.
"Good day, Miz Roselle. You’re looking particularly lovely this fine day."
"Thank you, Percy." She smiled.
"What can I do for you?"
The way he rubbed his hands together when he spoke made Ellie uneasy, but she forced herself to return his smile. God forbid he mistook it for any type of interest in him. Despite his good manners, he repulsed her.
She walked to the counter. "I’d like to look at some of your sidearms please."
One red brow arched. "Sidearms? Why Miz Roselle, what in the world are you going to do with a gun."
"It’s a gift," she lied. Her lips tightened into a thin line of impatience. She hated untruths. Why was everyone always in her business? First Ty, now Percy.
Percy moved to the weapons’ display case and gestured. "We have a large assortment. Will this be on your father’s account?"
"No, I’m sure I have enough money of my own." She crossed her fingers and studied the guns in the new-fangled glass display.
"I’d like to hold that one." She pointed to a shiny silver revolver.
Percy handed it to her. "It’s a beauty, just got it in this week. It’s one of those new Colts. A thirty-six caliber. But depending on who the gift is for, that big ol’ Colt might be a little too much. You might want to take a look at this new Smith & Wesson twenty-two caliber." He gestured to another pistol.
Ellie eyed the blue plated weapon with rosewood grips and wrinkled her nose. "It looks so small in comparison."
"Yes, but this one is a single action, seven shot model rather than the old cap and ball design. It’s much easier to load and fire." Percy eyed her suspiciously, "Are you sure this ain’t for you Miz Ellie? If it is, I’m certain you’ll find the Smith more suitable to your abilities."
A typical man’s attitude.
Her jaw tensed. When would people quit treating her like a child?
She held the revolver like an expert, measuring its weight and overall feel, but eyed the one to which he pointed, and then shook her head. The Colt was much more impressive. Its heavy weight wielded unbridled power in her hand. She turned and aimed toward the door just as it opened.
"Whoa, don’t shoot," Ty threw up his hands. His eyes widened. "Is that thing loaded?"
She quickly dropped the gun to her side, certain her face matched Percy’s hair. "No it isn’t, and what are you doing here?"
"A better question is what are you doin’ here. I thought…"
"I changed my mind, if that’s all right with you," she snapped. "And why are you following me?"
"I’m not. Your pa sent me to pick up a few things he ordered." With a huff, he turned his attention to the clerk. "Are they here, Percy?"
"Yes sir, Mr. Ty. Got those nails and rope in yesterday, same time as I got the new Colt Miz Ellie is holding."
Ellie promptly laid the gun back on the counter. "I was just curious, that’s all." She gave Percy a stern look then walked over to the yard goods.
"But…Miz Ellie, you asked…"
Ellie didn’t want him to spill the beans. "I came to look at material for a new dress, Percy. You must have misunderstood me."
"But-but," he stuttered. "You asked to see a sidearm."
She forced a giggle and ignored the confusion on the clerk’s face. Ellie fluttered her eyelashes at him and waved a limp wrist in his direction. "Oh, Percy, you silly goose, why would I say that? I said I need some yardage—just a might longer than my arm. When you showed me the new guns, I didn’t want to appear rude."
She averted her eyes from Ty and feigned interest in a piece of flowered material. "This will do nicely."
Ellie carried the fabric to the counter and promptly paid. Without another word, she picked up her parcel and left.
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Although Sparta Rose is not a new release, it remains one of my favorites. The novel won the Best 2009 Historical at Love Romance Cafe, and has been a best seller for me. If you'd like to read more, the book is available in both print and download at Eternal Press and on Amazon. Thanks again Pat. This has been a treat for me and I hope for the readers, too.
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