Search This Blog

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Release -- LONG RIDE TO LIMBO by Kit Prate -- Giveaway!


Hernando Cortez had lived his life. The glory had been his. God watched over his deathbed, and the gold…its secret would soon be buried with him.


Ten years ago that Reese Sullivan rode away from his wife Vanessa and young son Trey. His reasons were strong. And his own.

Vanessa used her beauty and cleverness to seduce an ambitious and kind Wes Underwood. Now he was dead. Ambushed and robbed. And with a cold irony, she has come to Detective Reese Sullivan the hunt the killers down.

Now an angry and bitter son will ride with the father he hates to avenge the death of the step-father he loved – and something more; to reclaim what was taken from his step-father’s body – the key to a vast and fabled treasure. They will embark on a perilous journey that will pit father and son against unseen enemies, natural disaster, and each other – while back home in El Paso the women they love face an unimagined danger at the terrifying end of the …


     “It's not a pretty way to die, lawyer. And it takes a long, long time.”
     Mendoza was laughing again, softly, something obscene in his joy at being reminded of past pleasures. Momentarily panicked, Wes Underwood began to bargain for his life. With the grinning giant that stood before him, and now—even more urgently—with the ominous figure that stood behind Trey's back. “For God's sake, man!” he pleaded. “I can't tell you what I don't know!” It was a lie, poorly told in a brief moment of throat-drying fear, a man's desperate attempt to hold on to a fortune in gold he was sure existed; a treasure that bound him with dreams of wealth so great that he was willing to die for it. Even now.
     Suddenly, Mendoza stopped laughing. There was the subtle sound of steel slicing through starched cotton. “For God's sake...” Underwood screamed.
     Trey Underwood watched as the knife ripped through his father's white shirt just to the right of the buttons. From the belt upward, in the blade's wake, a narrow rivulet of blood appeared, bright red and spreading. Instinctively, as much as the rough hands on his arms would allow, the older man backed away from the pain. He stared down at his taut belly, aware that he had been cut, his knees going weak, and then tensing as he realized the wound was only deep enough to draw blood. He swallowed, mentally cursing the dryness in his mouth that made his tongue feel thick and unmanageable, his keen attorney's mind working.
     He was no good to them dead, and that thought consoled him and gave him courage. He pulled himself erect, his posture changing as his spine straightened. “Kill me,” he breathed, “and you'll never find it. You won't even know where to begin to look...” A grim smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. For the first time during the long hours since his captivity, Wes Underwood felt in control.

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win the giveaway, the ebook LONG RIDE TO LIMBO.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Release -- GERONIMO MUST DIE by J. R. Lindermuth -- Giveaway!

Half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free has saved Geronimo’s life twice, but how long will that kind of luck hold? Though Mickey and Geronimo have never been friends, murder is serious business on the reservation—and Mickey’s curiosity may be the death of him, too.

When a sharp shooter assassinates several tribal leaders, Mickey believes it’s all part of a plot to incite the Apaches to run from the hated San Carlos Reservation—but proving it before another killing happens requires him to take a dangerous path.

With little to no help from the head scout and the reservation agent, Mickey must find a way to discover who is pulling the trigger—and why. Dangerous factions within the tribes let him know he must trust no one—not even the man he is trying to protect.

When his feelings for a beautiful girl begin to cloud his vision, he starts to question the risks of his mission—is it worth it? And…could the mysterious young woman he’s falling in love with be involved somehow? Before another tribal elder is murdered, Mickey must try to stay alive and learn why GERONIMO MUST DIE…


     The first shot raised a cloud of dust between our feet. Flinging myself against Geronimo, I knocked him to the ground and covered his body with my own. The second shot struck and crackled into the framework of the wickiup. After a moment of silence and no more shots, Geronimo barked, “Get off me, fool.”
     I complied. We rose, surrounded by a crowd of muttering warriors who’d been summoned by the shooting. The rifle fire came from a bluff above the camp and a number of men hurried off in that direction. They wouldn’t find the sniper. Having failed in his mission, I knew he was long gone.
      For the second time, I’d saved Geronimo’s life. He seemed no more grateful than he had the first time. Brushing himself off, he inquired if those within the wickiup were unharmed. Assured of the safety of his family, he turned to me. “Why are you here?”
Sieber had sent me. A fool’s mission, though I hadn’t told him so. I learned a long time ago not to argue with Al Sieber.
     Dawn on a frosty morning. Steam rising from the coats of the horses in the corrals. The boys watching the horses huddled with their arms clasped around themselves or blowing on their hands for a little warmth. Dry grass crackled underfoot. We were all hoping for an early spring. Winter was never easy at San Carlos, and this had been no exception

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


Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Release -- HARPER’S RESCUE by Sean K. Gabhann — Giveaway!

The Shiloh Trilogy
Book Two

Disgraced Federal officer James Harper must redeem his honor and face down his enemies if he intends to stay in the Union Army and avoid his scheduled court martial. Recruited by General Grant’s spymaster, Harper must prove that whore monger Franklin Bosley is a Confederate conspirator—a man who has no scruples, and will do anything it takes to see to his own “cause” above all else.
Harper realizes that Bosley and his men are a threat to the Union Army—but that’s not all. Maggie, the woman who has broken through Harper’s emotional walls, is also in immediate danger. Harper has to act fast or there will be more deaths on his conscience—and Maggie’s is one he couldn’t bear.

Meanwhile, indentured saloon girl Katie Malloy must find her own way to escape Bosley—or die. Finding solace in the arms of one of Harper’s men whom she has come to love, she realizes in one terrible moment that she cannot depend on him to rescue her—she must do that herself, even if it means murder.

Once at odds with Lieutenant Harper, Corporal Gustav Magnusson begins to understand that Harper will see this mission through or die trying. He’s going to need Magnusson’s help—but who can they trust? There may be just one way out alive—if they can both survive long enough to put their daring plan into action for HARPER’S RESCUE…


     A small paddle-wheeler emerged from behind the far side of the wharf boats. It made its way along the outside of the blazing boats, taking care to stay at a safe distance. As more of the boat moved into view, the crew attacked the fires with water shot from nozzles the size of small cannons mounted on pedestals, far more powerful than those ashore. The paddle-wheeler used its side-paddles in combination to hold the craft in place against the river current. Its hoses doused the flames on the far side of each blazing craft.
     The fiercest blazes rose where none of the hoses could reach, inside the deck houses of the two doomed craft. Before the fireboat reached the end of the wharf, flames burst through portholes and doors on the burning boats. These re-ignited the stores along the exterior decks. No one was organizing parties to fight the infernos inside their deckhouses. “I guess they’ll let the boats burn themselves out,” Harper said.
     The two longboats had returned. They pulled alongside the fireboat. After a short conference, the crews on two of the hoses redirected their coverage to the foredeck of the leading inferno. Under cover of this spray, the longboat crew attached a hawser. Firefighters on the wharf braved the heat to cast off the lines and the two longboats worked in tandem to haul the blazing wreck into the channel, away from the town. Once clear of the wharf and the undamaged craft anchored nearby, the tow boats set the doomed vessel adrift.
     “What will happen to the boat now, James?”
     “I’m not a riverman, but I’d guess—”
     A brilliant light flashed the entire scene into black-and-white silhouette. A second later:
Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Release -- BLOOD TIES: A Texas Ranger Will Kirkpatrick Novel by James J. Griffin -- Giveaway!

Texas Ranger Will Kirkpatrick brings a young outlaw, Jonas Peterson, in for trial in Pecos, Texas. But Will finds the tables have turned on him when the judge entrusts Peterson to Will’s care for a year rather than sending the youngster to Huntsville State Penitentiary for his crime. It’s up to Will to teach Jonas how to be a Texas Ranger—and how to be a man. 

When Will returns to his post with Jonas, Captain Hunter gives him some unwelcome news—Will is going home for his sister’s wedding, whether he likes it or not. Though Will has been estranged from his family since he left to join the Rangers years earlier, Will’s father, Silas, has the governor’s ear. Reluctantly, Will obeys his orders, intending to make the unwanted trip as short as possible.

But when his father’s bank is robbed, and Silas himself is jailed for the robbery, Will and Jonas go after the gang who pulled off the job, determined to see justice done. No matter how bitter the feud between father and son in the past, there’s no way a Texas Ranger can ignore BLOOD TIES…


     He eased Pete up to the edge of the shelf, then lifted his rifle to his shoulder. Below him, three men were seated around a small campfire, working on their supper.
     “Texas Ranger!” Will shouted. “Don’t make a move. I’ll put a bullet in the first man who tries.”
     Two of the men sat there, frozen in place, dumbfounded at seeing the Ranger on the rocks above them. The third jumped to his feet, spilling his tin plate of bacon and beans as he grabbed for the gun on his right hip. Will shot him through the middle of his chest. The impact of the heavy slug slammed the man backward, to haul up against a boulder. He slid to a seated position, his head drooping to his chest, as blood spread crimson over his shirt. A streak of blood from the exit wound in his back stained the rock. Will swung his rifle back to cover the two remaining outlaws.
     “Either of you want to get the same?” Will asked them. “If you don’t, then just stay hitched.”
     Both men shook their heads, and kept their hands well away from their guns.
     “Good. You’re both a sight smarter than your pardner was,” Pete said. “Now, stand up. Real slow and easy like.”
     Both men started to rise. The one nearest the fire edged his hand toward his six-gun.

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


Thursday, March 9, 2017

The $15,000,000 Cotton Loan - A 7% Solution?

This month, I’d like to take another story from Statesmen of the Confederate Cause by Burton J. Hendrick to tell the tale of the $15,000,000 Cotton Loan.

Having failed to gain English and French recognition in the first year of the American Civil War, the Confederate government found itself in possession of 450,000 bales of cotton which it had purchased and held in order to create cotton shortages in the mills of Lancashire and northern France. The Confederate government had hoped that the subsequent cotton shortage wouls cause such economic turmoil that those nations would ally through necessity. Last month, we discussed why that did not come to pass.

As winter came to an end in 1862, these cotton bails could have become an extremely lucrative product if it could be moved to Europe. However, the increasing effectiveness of the Federal blockade did prevent its shipment overseas, particularly after April 1862 when Farragut captured New Orleans. Even so, the value of this stagnant cotton did offer the potential for future wealth which proved too tempting for European speculators.

Frederic Emile Baron d'Erlanger

The banker who rose to the challenge was a certain Ferdinand Emile Baron d'Erlanger, of Erlanger et Cie in Paris. Erlanger offered to raise $25,000,000 in gold in exchange for Confederate bonds guaranteed by the cotton bales then sitting in Confederate warehouses. The success of this arrangement depended of course on Confederate victory. In the summer of  1862, this seemed a very likely outcome following a series of Confederate victories in the East and the predisposition of European elites towards an eventual dissolution of the United States, a country ruled as a democracy by rabble-rousing, venal politicians instead of a titled elite. 

After negotiations in which Judah P. Benjamin, then Secretary of State, led the Confederate side, the resulting terms required the Confederate government to redeem the bonds at face value. Erlanger et Cie would handle sales and would guarantee bonds at 77% of face value. The bonds would carry 7% interest until redeemed. Unlike the majority of loans to stable governments, the Erlanger loan demanded the Confederacy redeem these bonds at full value for Mississippi Valley cotton at the rate of twelve cents per pound not less than six months following the ratification of a treaty of peace between the United States and the Confederacy.

Such was the sense among European investors that, following the paucity of cotton for the duration of the American war, they would control the European cotton market and thus reap an eight-to-ten-fold bounty on their investment.

Erlanger had underwritten the entire loan at 77% of face value; however, when the bonds became available for sale on March 18, 1863, demands  for subscriptions reached $80,000,000 in the first week of sale, although only $15,000,000 had been put on sale. Erlanger offered the bonds to the public at 90%, yielding an immediate profit for Erlanger et Cie of $1,950,000, not including sales commissions. The value of shares peaked shortly afterwards at 95.5%. Subscribers were required to pay 15% of their pledge upon initial sale and installments thereafter.

The furor continued into early April 1863. However by mid-April, values began a period of downward fluctuations . The causes for this downward trend have not been fully documented. Certainly Federal successes in the Western theater, such as Union victories at Fort Donelson and Donelson, Nashville, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and New Orleans had some effect, but probably news of these victories was off-set by Lee’s victories in Virginia over the same period, since Virginia became the more widely-reported front.

The efforts of the Federal ministers to France and England, Charles F. Adams and John Bigelow, give a more plausible explanation. Little documentation exists to identify specifically how the Federals worked to devalue the loan shares but what does exist implies that William Seward, Federal Secretary of State, issued instructions, not only to paint Jefferson Davis as a “Repudiator”, one who had defended the default on Mississippi’s state debt while the senator from that state, but also to purchase as many shares as possible and then resell those shares at the lowest possible prices. Their counter-schemes worked so successfully that concerns arose within Erlanger et Cie that the investors would abandon their subscriptions altogether, even forfeiting sums already paid.

These fluctuations continued through the spring and into summer of 1863. Faced with the possibility of huge losses, Erlanger et Cie went to work. In order to shore up the value of the shares, the company embarked on a massive buying campaign. However, as bankers are wont to do, their plan did not involve using their own resources. By employing coercive tactics on the Confederate representatives, they used the sums already deposited by investors in the Confederate loan to buy-back shares of the same loan. Ultimately they used about $6,000,000 in gold for the buy-back campaign. 

The fluctuations continued until the European public realized the impact of the trio of defeats at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson in July 1863. Thereafter, the value of shares plummeted.

Having squandered $6,000,000 of the Confederate government’s receipts, can you guess who were the greatest beneficiaries of the Confederate bond offering? Following the buy-back, the Confederate Treasury obtained over $5,500,000 to purchase European arms, ammunition, medicines, and other military supplies and to outfit Confederate raiders. 

It was the bankers who saw the greatest returns. Not only did they collect $3,000,000 of the $5,500,000 from the Confederate government in the form of bankers’ commissions and other contract requirements, but the majority of the $6,000,000 used to buy-back shares went into the private accounts of the officers of Erlanger et Cie, since they were the first owners offered the opportunity to sell their shares back to the Confederate government!

We can see a number of interesting outcomes from the scandal of the Confederate Loan. First, the beneficiary of the loan, the Confederate government, actually paid more in banking fees than they received from the bond issue. Second, the Confederate Minister to France, John Slidell benefited personally through a closer relationship to the Erlanger family. In October 1864, his daughter Margaret Mathilde Slidell married the Baron d’Erlanger, the very manager of Erlanger et Cie responsible for the Confederate bond issue.

It is interesting to speculate about the post-war politics between the Federal government and the Confederacy in the event of a Confederate victory won in part through bonds held by the Federal government. These bonds held a commitment to deliver $15,000,000 (plus 7% interest) worth of New Orleans middling cotton, at twelve cents a pound, not less than six months following the ratification of the treaty of peace.

Lastly, we have a lesson in the nature of ethics in investment bankers which carries down to our own time.

Sean Gabhann


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 that war. He especially likes 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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Children and Pets

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

There was Lassie and Timmy, Petey and the Little Rascals, Comet and the Full House girls, Socks and Chelsea Clinton – and there was me and Precious, me and Whitey, and me and Bridgette. I’ve never forgotten any of the pets I shared life with when I was a child – nor any since.

Did you have a pet when you were a child? Do you remember your first pet?

Mine was a calico kitten named Precious. She followed me home from a friend’s house one summer day; she was a young kitten at the time, and we spent more than 10 years together. There was also Whitey, a white and liver-spotted German Shorthaired Pointer who didn’t cut it as a hunting dog for my dad, so he became my canine companion when I was 11 years old. After Whitey’s passing (he was a sickly pup due to his mother being bred to her own father and that union producing an unhealthy litter), came Bridgette, a part German Shepherd, part Fox Terrier and Coyote puppy who stole my heart with her tawny-colored, wavy coat and racoon-like facial mask. All three of these animals impacted my life in their own way, and all three were my special friends. Between age 7 and 24, I shared life and adventures with these wonderful creatures.

Precious put up with my childish years. She allowed me to cloak her in dresses and bonnets and push her in a baby buggy. She put up with rides on my bicycle, painted Donny Osmond purple. Precious sat in the white plastic basket with purple flowers woven through the slats that was attached to the swanky purple handlebars. At times, she placed her paws on the side of the basket and watched the world go by as I trekked along neighborhood sidewalks. She rarely cried in protest, but upon reaching home, Precious darted to the house’s second floor to hide in a closet for the remainder of the day.

Whitey never rode shotgun on my bicycle, but he did chase butterflies. Orange and black Monarchs and yellow and black swallowtails sailed across the fields and gardens of our Iowa home – and Whitey’s hunting instinct kicked in enough to follow after them. He and I spent many a warm summer day in the cool of our cedar and hickory woodland, kept native on portions of the 14-acres my parents had purchased when I was 10 years old. Whitey and I explored field and forest, following the butterflies, listening to songbirds, and watching white-tailed deer and cotton-tailed rabbits.

Bridgette came to us as a ten-week old puppy, all wiggly, joyous, and affectionate. As an only child, I loved sharing time with my pets, and Bridgette was filled with enough curiosity to follow me through the woods, sniffing the base of trees, the edges of our 2-acre pond, and the wildflowers growing in the woods. She cocked her head to listen as owls hooted, robins chirped, ducks quacked, and pheasants squawked. As I journaled our nature observations while sitting on a fallen log, she lay at my feet, vigilant to the sights, sounds, and smells around us.

Children and pets – they go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I was a writer and nature observer as a child; both traits have continued to adulthood. Pets were important to me then; they remain so today. I chronicle some of the animals who shared my life, and the lessons I learned from them, in my self-published fall 2016 book Tail Tales: Pets Who Touched My Heart and Impacted My Life, including remembrances of Precious and Bridgette. I share thoughts about my life with a blind dog named Sage and an aging cocker spaniel named Cody, both of whom shared my life as I entered middle-aged adulthood – my reflections about these two special creatures are noted in Sundown’s summer 2016 release Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints onMy Heart. Pets do touch hearts and do impact lives, whether we are adults or children, especially when our hearts are open to learning the lessons they quietly teach us.

What pets have touched your life and impacted your heart, whether you were a child or an adult? What lessons have you learned from your companion animals?

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults. She enjoys sharing about the pet-human bond and the lessons people can learn from animals and nature. She volunteers with various animal rescue groups in the Rocky Mountain region and donates a portion of her book sales to those groups. Learn more about Gayle and her writing at