In the category of “dreams come true”, here is one of my best ones so far. I became
a member of the WESTERN FICTIONEER group a couple of years ago with the help of one of my friends, Kit Prate. Kit’s a fantastic western writer who’s been doing this a lot longer than I have, with many more “notches in her belt”—figuratively speaking—in the writing world. She put my name before the group and I was accepted—a greenhorn in the truest sense of the word.
I’m still totally in awe. Robert Randisi, Jory Sherman, Peter Brandvold, Kit Prate, Kerry Newcomb, Troy Smith, Larry Martin, James Reasoner, Livia Washburn Reasoner…the list goes on—these are the members of the WESTERN FICTIONEERS.
A few months after I joined up, they decided to put together their first anthology. Livia and James Reasoner worked tirelessly on it—collecting the stories from those of us who wanted to submit, editing, formatting, writing the introduction to the book, and even deciding the order of the stories. One of the other contributors, Pete Peterson, provided the gorgeous artwork for the cover of the book.
This book is not, by any means, a romance offering. But there are stories from 24 different authors with many different “takes” on the west. It’s the largest anthology of original western short stories ever put together, and though every one of them might not be to your liking, you’re sure to find some different authors you might want to try out for further reading pleasure from this fantastic collection.
My story is called THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. It has a LOT of paranormal twist to it, but it’s one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on.
I’ll leave you with a blurb and an excerpt.
Jericho Dean is on a one-man mission: to track down the outlaw gang that murdered his wife and daughters. When Freeman Hart joins forces with him, Jericho isn’t sure which side this peculiar stranger is on. Determined to gain his revenge no matter the cost, Jericho finds redemption in a most unlikely circumstance. Will he take that fork in the road, or will his thirst for revenge end his chance for a new start?
EXCERPT FROM “THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS”
Jericho gave Dan one final pat. “Ain’t many men lost as much as I did on that day, Freeman. My wife, my daughters, and my desire to exist in this world without them.” He pointed at the growing pile of wood. “No fire.”
Hart gave a sage nod. “I see. You’re expecting to be reunited once you complete your mission—kill the Comancheros. Once you die, you think you and Elena will be together again, along with Maria and Ana.”
Jericho stood completely still. How did this stranger know the names of his family? How did he know Jericho’s own heart and purpose so clearly?
Hart dropped the last two pieces of wood on top of the pile, then dusted his hands. “We need to have a talk, Jericho. A good long visit about things. I don’t aim to do it in the cold. And make no mistake, this night’ll be an icy one—way too cold to spend without a fire. Trust me, boy. They ain’t gonna know—or care—if you spend it warm or freezin’. Got a match on you?”
Jericho sized up the other man once more, a shiver running up his spine. No, things were not what they seemed, but whether for good or evil, he didn’t know. He cursed his luck, either way. He didn’t want to be burdened with whatever it was this Freeman Hart brought to the table. He hadn’t asked for it, either way. He remembered that he had deliberately not prayed, carefully refrained from asking God for any favors, so he wouldn’t have to be in His debt. Well, he still didn’t plan on owing Him anything, no matter how this all worked out.
He finally forced his legs to move, walking stiffly to his saddlebags. He put the brush away, and drew out the box of matches wrapped in oilskin.
Hart caught them when Jericho tossed them over, opened the box and struck one of them on the bottom of his boot. The match head flared in the gathering semi-darkness and Hart hunkered down, cupping his hand around the flame as it caught the base kindling of the pyre and the wood above it began to burn.
Jericho stood watching as the fire flared to life, remembering how he’d burned the cabin. After he’d buried Elena, Maria and little Ana, he’d poured kerosene throughout their home. The smell of it had made his stomach twist and roll over. He’d poured it over the cabinetry he’d built so lovingly for Elena, remembering how proud she’d been to have a pantry in her kitchen. He’d poured it across the bed where they’d made love. Made children. Made a family together.
He’d opened up the old trunk that had been Elena’s, full of her keepsake treasures. He had taken only one thing from the chest before he’d saturated the rest of the contents with the kerosene remaining in the can. He’d stood at the door and tossed in the match, watching as the trail of fire raced across the dirt floor of the cabin and began to eat the furniture, the woodwork, and finally the walls.
Then, he had turned his back on the entire dream he’d created and then destroyed, riding away from it as it burned. It maybe burning still, he mused. That entire northern part of Indian Territory could be nothing but acres of smoldering blackness destroyed by his hand. Right now, if he could, he’d set the entire world ablaze.
Yes. A fire would be good to have tonight.
“Say, Jericho. You hungry? Me, I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut. I’ve got some tins of beans and peaches we can open up.” Hart rose and crossed to where his saddlebags lay, rummaging for the tins of food. He pulled them out and came back toward Jericho, who stood rooted to the spot where he’d gone moments earlier to get the matches.
Hart nodded toward the fire. “C’mon. Let’s get some grub. Talk a spell. I can see you’ve got some questions.”
“Who are you?” Jericho’s voice was hoarse.
Hart laughed. “I knew that’d be the first one.”
THE TRADITIONAL WEST is available at Amazon for Kindle
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
and here http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-traditional-west-western-fictioneers/1104416089?ean=2940012796264&itm=1&usri=the%2btraditional%2bwest at Barnes and Noble for Nook.
Cheryl, you know I love your writing so I have to have the rest of that story! James and Livvia live in the same county as I do, but I haven't met them. She donated some of her mystery books when I asked, though for my church's bazaar. And Troy is on my blog today. Love his writing too. I'm sure I'll love this anthology.ReplyDelete
Cheryl-I bought this book, and if it had been print, I'd have flipped right to your story and read it first. As it was an ebook, I waited until I got to it to save myself some trouble.ReplyDelete
I loved this story! I'm sure I told you how much I enjoyed it. Cheryl, you have such a unique way of writing--very professional, of course, but still with that mystery and emotion.
Everyone will enjoy the whole book, I promise..and it's a treat when you get to Cheryl's.
I also bought this -- on my TBR pile, so I can't wait to read your story, Cheryl! And the rest of them in the antho, of course. I'm a new greenhorn to the Western Fictioneers, so I'm glad I'm in good company. ;-)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! Hey, I put out the word for Troy being on your blog today over at Rebecca's sites. That was a great interview--good questions, and Troy is always a good subject. LOL I really enjoyed it. I've done lots of editing for Troy, so I've read a lot of his work, but I don't have Cherokee Winter yet--will be getting it soon, though!
Oh, Celia! You are a dear friend. Thanks so much for those very kind words--I'm thrilled that you enjoyed THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS so much. That story just practically wrote itself. And I am glad to be in the company of so many wonderful authors in that collection.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for popping in to comment here at SOTW. I know you are busy. That's a very good anthology and I'm glad to be a part of it.
You don't play fair, Cheryl. Leaving us with that great ending hook is making me wonder who the guy is...ReplyDelete
The books sounds like a must read. Thanks for letting us know about it.
Well, of course I don't play fair, girl! LOL I have to leave you with a cliff hanger, don't I? I hope you pick up a copy of THE TRADITIONAL WEST, Paisley. There are a lot of wonderful western stories in there. Lots of good authors.
Great excerpt! My TBR list is getting soooo long. ;)ReplyDelete
Cheryl, I love the way you write, too! Cannot wait to get the anthology and read ALL of THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS!!!! :)ReplyDelete
I know, Lauri, mine is too, and I wonder when in the world I'm ever going to have a chance to sit down and just READ. My son's graduating from college on Saturday and we're planning a part for him, but once that's over, maybe I WILL just prop up my feet--at least for a day--and READ.ReplyDelete
Thank you sooo much, my friend. You are a dear, and I appreciate those kind words. I hope you enjoy the anthology, but especially THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.
You've been a great asset to WF with both your writing and your enthusiasm, and the organization is lucky to have you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate those very kind words coming from you!I truly do enjoy WF and the people there, and am proud to be a member. Thanks for coming by here at SOTW and commenting--I know you are extremely busy.
Cheryl, I particularly enjoyed your story in the collection - and said so in my Amazon review. It strikes a very strong chord. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! I am glad to know you enjoyed THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, and that it made such an impression on you. That's quite a compliment, coming from you--especially with so many other wonderful stories in that anthology. I enjoyed your story, SILENCE, too--I think I've found a kindred spirit who loves "twisty" endings as much as I do! :))
Amen to what James Reasoner said- you have been a huge asset to our group. And you've been a huge asset to me, in a number of ways- both via your editorial assistance and your friendship, which I have come to treasure. And thanks for spreading the word, about my appearance at Caroline's blog and about Western Fictioneers... I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for our next anthologies!ReplyDelete
Troy, you are a dear friend--one that I'm very thankful for. I appreciate you and treasure you and your friendship as well. Thanks so much for coming by here at SOTW today! I know you are busy--bet you're getting ready to give finals. :)) Ohhh, I am so anxious to see the galleys for that WF Christmas anthology, and super excited about the WC project, too!ReplyDelete