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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Now Available — BLOOD ON BULL’S RUN by Kevin Crisp — Giveaway!

When Jed Deming sets out to bring home a beautiful runaway, he soon has his horse stolen and finds himself being chased by Paiute Indians. Wounded and barely able to make his escape, he comes upon a friendly camp that turns out to be not-so-friendly—leaving him at the mercy of a ruthless cutthroat gang of outlaws. But Jed has made a promise to Selena’s mother to find her—and though he’s young and inexperienced, he’s got more determination than many men twice his age.

Killing outlaws is not what he set out to do, but sometimes, a man has to test his own mettle to know what he’s worth… Will Jed be able to keep his word to find Selena in the rough mining camps she’s run to? His future depends on his success—and her decision to return with him, or stay with the life she’s chosen. The letter in his pocket explains everything—if Jed lives long enough to find Selena amid the BLOOD ON BULL’S RUN…


     Deming had never killed a man, but he didn't let himself dwell on that now. He had hunted plenty of game, and was sufficiently skilled with a musket. But the revolver was less familiar in his hand, and this enemy was new, as well.
     The Paiute paused in his tracks at the edge of the juniper. He studied the trees. His eyes swept over Deming, who could almost feel their dark, penetrating gaze.
     Deming pulled the trigger.
     There was an explosion and wood splintered a foot away from the Paiute's head. Unharmed, the Indian dashed to the ground and rolled out of view. That was the last straw for Rayo, who broke into a run out of the trees and up the canyon.

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blue, Gray, and Red

Blue, Red and Gray

This month I offer comments about a great reference book which I recently completed: Blue, Gray, and Red: Two Nurses’ Views of the Civil War. I received this book as a gift from my good friend, John P., whom you may recall gave me Statesmen of the Lost Cause, a reference source about political events at the highest level within the Confederacy.

Blue, Gray, and Red provides us with the reminiscences of two women, one from Concord MA and one from Mobile AL, who went to work in the army hospitals for each side. Most people will recognize the Massachusian: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), but I suspect fewer know of Kate Cumming (1836-1909). The book is actually a reprint of their two memoirs originally printed in 1869 and 1866 (reprinted in 1890) respectively.

The book’s premise seemed promising in comparing the circumstances of women in parallel situations but that promise was not met. The two women had vastly different experiences. Alcott served but six weeks in a Georgetown DC hospital (Dec 1862 – Jan 1863) before she contracted typhoid fever and was sent home, while Cumming served in numerous army field hospitals in the Army of Tennessee from the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 until she was ordered home from Georgia in May 1865. Alcott’s story suffers further from the fact that she chose to tell the story as a novel, Hospital Sketches. This, she wrote in the florid and profligate style of late 19th century novelists with run-on sentences and paragraphs which cover entire pages. Also weakening the narrative is the fact that of the 58 pages assigned to Alcott’s story, nearly a quarter describe how she made the decision to serve and her difficulties in traveling from Concord to Georgetown. 

Kate Cumming, CSA

By comparison, Cummings writing style, although covering essentially the same topics, flows easily and is quite modern, except for its biblical and mythological references. Cumming, who was in her late twenties at the time, saw enough of the destruction of war that her narrative becomes more mature in its outlook as the work progresses.

Unlike Alcott, Cumming’s family found themselves dispersed in England, New York. and Mobile at the start of the war. Later, she had a brother and many close friends in the Army of Tennessee. Here is a summary of Cumming’s service, taken from the University of Alabama Reynolds-Finley Historical Library website:

Kate Cumming was born in Scotland and, as a child, moved to America with her large family, first to Montreal, then to New York, and finally in the 1840’s to Mobile, Alabama. There she spent the remainder of her youth and early adulthood.  By the 1860s, Cumming had been in the South for many years and identified the Confederacy as home and “the cause” as her own. Several months after the start of the Civil War, Kate was much inspired by an address given by family friend, Reverend Benjamin M. Miller, at a local church. In his speech, Miller called for Southern ladies to help the wounded and sick by becoming nurses at the war front. Cumming was discouraged from volunteering by her respectable Southern family, who thought that “nursing soldiers was no work for a refined lady,”. Therefore, initially she relegated her involvement to assisting other volunteers in their preparation to leave for the hospitals. However, when a regiment of old school and church friends were sent off to war, Cumming was compelled to offer her services to Mr. Miller despite her family’s disapproval and her own lack of hospital training. In April of 1862, Mr. Miller summoned his volunteer ladies to head north to Mississippi to help those returning from the battle at Shiloh.

Conditions in the hospitals of Okolona and Corinth, Mississippi were so horrible that only Cumming and one other nurse stayed beyond a week. Despite the hardships, Kate remained through June and returned to serve in Chattanooga that fall. Her duties were many faceted – delivering food and medicine, managing laundresses, writing letters, keeping clothing and bedding fresh, and even cooking. In September of 1862, new laws allowed the employment of women to be officially recognized by the Confederate medical department, and at that time, Cumming received the rank of matron, or hospital supervisor. She worked in Chattanooga until the summer of 1863, and then traveled with Surgeon Samuel Stout’s medical corps in the Army of Tennessee, which was constantly moving as General Sherman swept through Georgia and the Carolinas. Stout was first hesitant to accept the role of women in the hospital, but was soon convinced, and commended them in his personal narrative. He specifically names Cumming and two others as “the first refined, intellectual, self-denying ladies, who in the midst of the suffering soldiers, served at their bunkside at night as well as day. Their self-denying and heroic benevolence inspirited many other educated and refined ladies to imitate their examples,”.

While traveling with the Army of Tennessee, Cumming faithfully recorded her experiences in a journal, which became her great contribution to history. Hastily published within a year of her return to Mobile after the war, Kate Cumming’s journal did not receive the readership it deserved, perhaps because it was too close to the events or because of the influx of Confederate narratives at the time. However, the journal is invaluable from a historical perspective because it is the most complete and realistic record of the workings of Confederate hospitals and the services of matrons. Later, in 1890, she republished the journal under the title, Gleanings from Southland. This shortened, edited version experienced more success in a market “hungry for ‘the romance of reunion’” . Cumming moved to Birmingham in 1874, where she remained until her death in 1909.

I found Cumming’s narrative both informative and compelling in an area of the Civil War where I had never before paid much attention. In addition, we catch glimpses of the social standards of the era and relationships among the Southern upper class and between the upper class and the lower orders. The reader is also treated to her understanding of the meaning of the war from the Southern perspective which I found worth consideration. Throughout the narrative, Cumming keeps a restrained tongue in describing the Federal soldiers.  I suspect that in the 1890 edition used in this book, she edited-out the more “colorful” names she may have used at the time. Of course, every single one of the Southern soldiers in her book is a hero. 

While she remained a patriot to her state and to the Confederacy but a traitor to the Nation, one cannot help but be impressed at the hardships she and the others overcame. The descriptions of the fear of marauding Federal raiders and the war-time destruction in Georgia and Alabama at the end of the war were particularly moving for me. As a citizen of a united America, I find it a great shame that the service of Kate Cumming and those women who served with her are not as well recognized as those of Clara Barton or Mary Ann Bickerdyke.

Cumming returned to Mobile after the war, and in 1866 she first published her journal. In 1874 she moved with her father to Birmingham, Alabama. She never married but resided in Birmingham as a teacher and active member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy until her death on June 5, 1909. She is buried in Mobile.
Many ideas here for Katie Malloy, my own nurse-in-training.


Sean Kevin Gabhann is a Vietnam-era combat veteran of the US Navy.  He first became interested in American Civil War history during the centennial celebration and he owns an extensive library of primary and secondary material related to Civil War.  He especially wants to write about campaigns in the West because of a fascination with the careers of U.S Grant and W.T. Sherman.  Gabhann lives in San Diego, California, where he works diligently on completing Book Three of the Shiloh Trilogy: Harper's Shiloh.
Sean's published works are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pre-Order Now Available -- Blood on Bull's Run by Kevin Crisp

When Jed Deming sets out to bring home a beautiful runaway, he soon has his horse stolen and finds himself being chased by Paiute Indians. Wounded and barely able to make his escape, he comes upon a friendly camp that turns out to be not-so-friendly—leaving him at the mercy of a ruthless cutthroat gang of outlaws. But Jed has made a promise to Selena’s mother to find her—and though he’s young and inexperienced, he’s got more determination than many men twice his age.

Killing outlaws is not what he set out to do, but sometimes, a man has to test his own mettle to know what he’s worth… Will Jed be able to keep his word to find Selena in the rough mining camps she’s run to? His future depends on his success—and her decision to return with him, or stay with the life she’s chosen. The letter in his pocket explains everything—if Jed lives long enough to find Selena amid the BLOOD ON BULL’S RUN

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Special Spaces

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

I’m a woodswoman. A few decades ago, I read a book by Anne LaBastille called Woodswoman, a memoir of her life in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. She sustained herself through freelance writing and conservation work. Inspired by Thoreau, she lived in a log cabin without modern conveniences, relying on a boat for transportation and neighbors to help with things she couldn’t do by herself. But, she did a lot alone. I admired Anne’s fortitude and independent spirit. I wanted to be her. But, alas my life differed from Anne’s but I’ve always enjoyed her writing and appreciated her life (my parents lived like that during my 20s and 30s, doing so for nearly 14 years, although neither were writers or professional conservationists). Anne had a special space, environmentally and emotionally – she lived in a beautiful place and she lived a life not many people, especially single women, would choose. I highly recommend her books, Woodswoman and Beyond Bear Lake, are the ones I’ve read; she also has written others before her passing in 2011.

There are many special spaces; each of us holds a “somewhere” dear in our hearts (maybe more than one place). It may be our childhood home, the community where we currently live, our own writing space, a place in which we’ve visited that made an emotional (even spiritual) impact. There are several special spaces for me, and most every one is an outdoor place. Here are a few of most favorite places:

  1.  National Parks – America is blessed by the foresight and fortitude of people like Stephen Mather, John Muir, Presidents Ulysses Grant and Teddy Roosevelt, and many others who deemed places throughout our country worthy of protection, and therefore, created the world’s first national park. From Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite to Kenai Fjords, America’s national parks are treasures that not only Americans enjoy, but that also beckon people around the world who basically have nothing like U.S. parks and marvel at the majesty and wonderment. I’m privileged to have a story I wrote about our national parks in last year’s Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. I’ve visited several parks and plan to visit more – they inspire me, both as a writer and a human being. 
  2. Ranch near Kaycee, Wyoming – I am fortunate to have friends who own a ranch about 70 miles northeast of Casper, where I live, and every few months I make a trip out there. I bask in the beauty of the landscape and the vast amount of animal life, a place where domestic sheep, cattle, and horses mingle with wildlife such as turkeys, deer, and sandhill cranes. Glorious sunrises greet me and the nearby Powder River lulls me to sleep at night. The quiet relaxes me, and the generosity of my friends brings me joy. I stay at the guesthouse with large windows that look upon the fields and woods nearby, and I write. I’ve composed many short stories, chapters of my book Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with a Blind Dog, and developed a children’s book about to be released called A Town Dog Named Mary Visits a Ranch, in which I’ll teach children about the domestic and wild creatures living in harmony together at the ranch. 
  3. Mountain Property and Cabin – this is truly my special space, for my husband and I own it. At 8,000 feet in elevation, the mountain property is a bit difficult to get to during the winter, but from May to October, I spend weekends and week nights at this place, only about 20 minutes from our home in town. We purchased the acreage nearly 14 years ago and found a Park Model mobile cabin in 2006; two years would pass before we could move the cabin to the property (lots of trees to cut for fire mitigation and lots of work to prepare the ground; thankfully our ranch friends had another small acreage close to Casper on which we parked the cabin as we prepared the land). A lot of writing occurs at the property, whether inside the 12x32 cabin (we had a tiny house before tiny houses became popular!) or outdoors beneath the coolness of the lodgepole pines. In fact, as I write this post, I’m at the cabin, soaking in the quiet on the 4th of July! Songbirds of all sorts are our neighbors, and mule deer grace the landscape. Our three acres brings us great peace, and me much creativity. My children’s book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest takes children on a woodland adventure as Cody the cocker spaniel uses his senses to explore the forest; kids learn about the plants and animals found in a Rocky Mountain forest and are encouraged to go on their own woodland adventure with a variety of activities found in the book. 

As humans and writers, we all have special spaces. I recently returned from a trip to Alaska; my husband, father, and I drove through the state, experiencing mountains, oceans, rivers, tundra, and forests and the creatures that live within each ecosystem – not surprisingly, I came back with a book idea. The 49th state is definitely a very special place!

My special spaces involve the outdoors. Although I may not be Anne LaBastille, she certainly influenced me for I find peace and creativity in the woods – I am a woodswoman!

Whether it’s a favorite coffee shop, our home office, a farm, field, or forest, perhaps even a city park, there are places and spaces people enjoy and at which we as writers re-discover our creativity. What are some of your special spaces? I hope you have time and opportunity to enjoy them this summer!

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming author and freelance writer. Her inspirational pet books for children and adults teach valuable life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. She is a contributing writer to magazines, newspapers, and compilation books, including last year’s Sundown Press release, Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart. Her short story about a rescue dog, titled Jasmine’s Journey, will appear in the August Chicken Soup for the Soul release called The Dog Really Did That? This will be her seventh contribution to the Chicken Soup series; last year her story about America’s national parks was a feature in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. Learn more about Gayle and her work at

Monday, June 26, 2017


Hi. I'm ANDREW McBRIDE. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive wide acclaim already for my Sundown Press novel THE PEACEMAKER, including 5 star reviews from 2 of the most successful western authors in the business. Spur award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author ROBERT VAUGHAN describes it as ‘a great book’. Meanwhile RALPH COTTON (also a Pulitzer-prize nominated novelist) writes: ‘For pure writing style, McBride’s gritty prose nails the time and place of his story with bold authority. …this relatively new author has thoroughly, and rightly so, claimed his place among the top Old West storytellers.’ I’m very grateful to both Robert & Ralph for their fantastic support.

I was recently interviewed about THE PEACEMAKER on the writing forum PARAGRAPH PLANET, run by RICHARD HEARN. You can visit PARAGRAPH PLANET here:

Meanwhile here’s the interview again:

Tell me about your latest novel 'THE PEACEMAKER.' 
It’s a western. To a lot of people under the age of 40 the idea of reading, writing or even watching a western is bizarre, but for people over that age, westerns were a huge part of their cultural landscape. If you grew up like me in England in the 60s into the middle 70s you were deluged with westerns – movies constantly on TV and a steady diet of TV Westerns like The Virginian, Bonanza & The High Chaparral. Any ordinary citizen in Britain c. 1970 was generally quite clued in about the history of the ‘Wild West’, most of it taken in from TV and movies, although writers like Louis L’Amour and J.T. Edson were quite popular. Then, almost overnight, the western reached saturation point and practically vanished - John Wayne’s last movie was in 1976, in 1977 Star War’s stepped in to fill the void and westerns stopped being made, apart from the occasional revival like Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven.’ Whilst I don’t think the western will ever entirely die, I can’t imagine it will ever again have the cultural dominance it had in the 40s, 50s and 60s. But I was raised on westerns, I still love them so I still write ’em!

THE PEACEMAKER is set in the Arizona desert in 1871. At its core is an interracial love affair – the young white hero finds himself in love with an Apache Indian girl whilst their 2 peoples are at war. They end up in danger from both Apaches and white men, whilst also struggling to survive the desert itself. It also brings in historical elements. The peace they’re trying to make is with the great Apache chief Cochise. It was fun trying to fit a real historical person (although much about Cochise is fairly mysterious) into a fiction narrative.    

What are your inspirations? 
I read avidly as a kid – but whereas others liked home-based/ school-based stories I liked adventure stories set in exotic locations and legends like Robin Hood and King Arthur. I particularly liked the historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff.

Rosemary Sutcliff
I knew if I started writing it would be adventure stories – the bigger and more epic the better. Getting into adolescence I read Ian Fleming, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler. Then I discovered western writers who could somehow humanise their stories, make them realistic and avoid clich├ęs – e.g. an Englishman, John Prebble in THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS, A.B. Guthrie Jr. in THE BIG SKY, Elmore Leonard in HOMBRE.

Elmore Leonard

In relation to westerns I’ve also been hugely influenced by movies and TV westerns, particularly movies starring John Wayne and/or directed by John Ford. That inspired me to read western history. I was particularly moved by accounts (such as ‘BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE’) of the tragic near-destruction of the American Indians in this period, aspects of which are covered in THE PEACEMAKER.  

What's your favourite part of the writing process? 
Editing. I tend to write a chapter at a time and it’s a 3 day process. Day 1 is my least favourite – it’s the grind of the first draft, which I find is the hardest part. You tell the tale of the chapter, you cover the story points, but it’s a slog and the writing may not be that good. But on Day 2 you wake up and re-draft it into shape, which in my case is almost all cutting. I may re-write or re-arrange bits but mostly all I do is cut – like pruning a hedge, or clearing the weeds out of the garden so you can see what you’re after. Day 3 is usually easy – polishing, just doing a bit of tweaking and tidying up. Then I sit back for a few days and let the next chapter simmer in my head until it’s ready to be tackled.

How important is setting in your books?
Enormously. I haven’t just written westerns, I’ve also written thrillers and historical novels, but they all seem to end up being set in big, wild landscapes. A common theme of mine seems to be a man and a woman being tested against a wilderness. The landscape itself becomes a character, shaping the behaviour of the characters. Westerns cover an extremely wide range of settings – there’s movies like ‘High Noon’ that are entirely based in a town – but my taste runs to outdoor ones, the more primitive the better. My favourite TV Western series was ‘The High Chaparral’ because it was filmed on location in the Southern Arizona desert, which is the setting of THE PEACEMAKER. Similarly John Ford’s best westerns used majestic locations like Monument Valley.

In landscapes like that you find beauty, poetry, harshness and drama, which are elements I hope feed into PEACEMAKER. It also creates authenticity and realism.

Any tips for aspiring writers? 

I’ve taught creative writing and picked up some good tips along the way. One is ‘don’t get it right, get it written.’ Don’t sit there agonising, waiting for the world’s greatest sentence to occur to you before you write. WRITE SOMETHING ANYWAY. Produce words, even if they aren’t great. You can always shape, change, expand on words written. You can’t do anything with a blank page. Novelists, particularly, need to have a time/ word count discipline. Give yourself a DEADLINE: for example you may decide you want to write an 80,000 word novel in 2 years. That works out about 110 words a day. Make sure you keep to your routine and write those words, otherwise you’ll join the ranks of would-be novelists who spend 7, 9 or 11 years writing a novel. And another tip is persist, KEEP TRYING. There’s a saying: ‘What do you call a writer who never gives up?’ Answer: ‘Published!’

What's your next project? Any clues? 
I’m lucky, I’m a story-teller, I don’t write just out of my direct experience (as Harper Lee did for example) but I’m happy to have a go at yarns set in any place or era. (Not that I’m comparing myself with Harper Lee!) I’m finishing up a novel about Robin Hood and I’ve got ideas for at least 2 more westerns, a thriller and at least half a dozen historical novels. Whether any or all of them get written is another matter!

Harper Lee

Eighteen-year-old scout Calvin 'Choctaw' Taylor believes he can handle whatever life throws his way. He’s been on his own for several years, and he only wants to make his mark in the world. When he is asked to guide peace emissary Sean Brennan and his adopted Apache daughter, Nahlin, into a Chiricahua Apache stronghold, he agrees—but then has second thoughts. He’s heard plenty about the many ways the Apache can kill a man. But Mr. Brennan sways him, and they begin the long journey to find Cochise—and to try to forge a peace and an end to the Indian Wars that have raged for so long. During the journey, Choctaw begins to understand that there are some things about himself he doesn’t like—but he’s not sure what to do about it. Falling in love with Nahlin is something he never expected—and finds hard to live with. The death and violence, love for Nahlin and respect for both Cochise and Mr. Brennan, have a gradual effect on Choctaw that change him. But is that change for the better? Can he live with the things he’s done to survive in the name of peace?
Buy it on Amazon — or read free with Kindle Unlimited — here:

Apaches 1886 Geronimo extreme right
Choctaw blinked sweat and sunspots out of his eyes and began to lower the field glasses; then he glimpsed movement.

He used the glasses again, scanning nearer ground, the white sands. He saw nothing.

And then two black specks were there suddenly, framed against the dazzling white. They might have dropped from the sky.

They grew bigger. Two horsebackers coming this way, walking their mounts. As he watched they spurted into rapid movement, whipping their ponies into a hard run towards him.

The specks swelled to the size of horses and men. Men in faded smocks maybe once of bright colour, their long hair bound by rags at the temple. They had rifles in their hands.

Breath caught in Choctaw’s throat. Fear made him dizzy. His arms started to tremble. He knew who was coming at him so fast.


And you killed them or they killed you.


Or my Amazon author pages on: