Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sample Saturday - Book 0

Before I get too far removed from the beginning of the story of the Owen Family, here's a sample from Book 0, Gone for a Soldier.

How did this novel become Book 0 in The Owen Family Saga? That happened mainly because I'd already marked The Man from Shenandoah as Book 1, and it's a bit difficult to change the numbering scheme at all the online vendors, not to mention on the covers. So Book 0 it is. Perhaps that's fitting for an origin story like Gone for a Soldier.

In this sample, second brother Ben is waiting for his sweetheart, Ella Ruth, to meet him.

Ben waited in the darkness of the lane that led up from the north fork of the river. Before him on a rise stood the grand house, the centerpiece of the prosperous farm owned by Miss Ella Ruth Allen’s father. Behind him, tied to a low-hanging tree limb, his horse nickered softly and stamped a hoof.

Ella Ruth was late in arriving to their tryst, but that was to be expected. Ella Ruth was late for every occasion.

He smiled momentarily at her habitual tardiness, and then adjusted his leaning position against the smooth tree trunk. If he had his wish, he would scoop her up and run away to the nearest place he could marry her, but she hadn’t yet agreed to elope with him. He hoped his powers of persuasion would be sufficient to the task tonight. If not, he only had a few more days to win her over to the idea.

Hearing footfalls on the lane, he pushed away from the tree and straightened.

“Ben?” Breathless. Timid. Hopeful.

“I’m here,” he called, keeping his voice low.

The footsteps slowed. Hesitant. “Where? I cannot see you.”

She was close, so close to him that he could smell the scent of the rose water she wore. He moved forward. “Here,” he said, bringing the girl into his arms.

“Oh Ben,” she sighed, snuggling against him, her head fitting into the hollow beneath his chin. “I worried you wouldn’t come.” Her anxiety showed itself in a constrained giggle.

“You can depend on me,” he told her, repeating a phrase he’d said many times before in his attempts to woo and win her.

“You always say that,” she said, a bright little chuckle in her voice.

“I want you to remember it. I want you to know I am true to you. There is no one in my heart but your dear person.”

“Oh Ben,” she repeated. “It’s Poppa you need to convince, not me.”

He sighed. “Don’t I know it.” He held her, rocking her slightly. “What’s the secret? How do I make him see my worth?”

“I cannot advise you on that point.”

He heard the despair in her voice. “Ella Ruth, what does your ma think? Does she influence him?”

“Oh no! Momma doesn’t meddle in Poppa’s affairs. She wouldn’t dream of telling him to let you—” Her voice choked.

No help in that direction. Ben sighed again. “There has to be a remedy. Does your brother have influence?”

“Merlin keeps out of Poppa’s business.”

Gall rose in his throat, and he couldn’t speak until he had cleared it away. “My pa always told me life wasn’t fair, that I should buck up and realize it for truth. I reckon I didn’t know what he meant until now.”

“Don’t you get disheartened, Ben. I adore you. Poppa will have to see, sooner or later, that you are not merely a farmer’s son, but a person of real substance, real importance. Like I do.” Her voice rose to a squeak.

Marveling at her remarkable speech, he patted her hair, then stroked her cheek. “I won’t lose heart, but time is growing short. War is coming, the papers say. I expect I’ll go fight for the Confederacy.”

“Oh no. You can’t. You would have to leave me.” She snuggled tighter against him.

“That’s the way it is with war. All the more reason to redouble my efforts. When can I talk to your pa again?”

“Not for days. He’s on a trip for business.”

“Humph.” Ben pondered on the problem, still stroking Ella Ruth’s cheek until she stayed his hand.



“How much do you care for me?”

He shook his head, drew all his focus together to answer the question. “There ain’t a measure large enough, girl.” Moonlight fell upon her brow. It gave him an idea. He took her chin between fingers and thumb and gently turned up her face so he could gaze directly into her eyes. “You are the sun, the moon, the stars to me. No man ever loved a woman more.”

Ella Ruth giggled. “I wish Poppa had a romantic soul. He couldn’t help being moved by such tender words.” She shivered. “He’s a businessman.”

“A very wealthy businessman.”

“Yes.” She sighed. “Can’t you make a pretty speech about business, Ben?”

Thanks for visiting. You can purchase Gone for a Soldier in your chosen version from the vendors below.

Gone for a Soldier: Prequel (Book 0) - in print and ebook formats
Print: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | ebooks: Smashwords all formats | Kindle | nook | Kobo | iTunes Bookstore

If you want an autographed print copy, click here to purchase one.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sample Saturday

EEK! It's Saturday again, and I almost missed it.

Here's a scene from Book 2 of the Owen Family Saga, Ride to Raton. James Owen has just had "firm" words with the man for whom he is working to pay off a debt of honor. He is also two weeks or so out from being shot by a disgruntled drunk, which is why he's so cautious.

James turned on his heel and walked out the door. He paused at the doorway leading outside and looked into the yard. Everything seemed normal. Then he strode toward the stables.

As he entered the dimness of the interior, James stepped to one side of the door and stopped, hand on his pistol butt. This was the time for an attack, while his eyes were adjusting to the half light, so he listened. The scuffling sound he heard sent him into a dive behind a stall partition, trying to draw the revolver as he went down. He fell hard on his left shoulder, landing on scar tissue from a bayonet wound he’d received during the war. He swore softly, rolling to a crouch with his pistol in his hand.

James blinked several times to free his eyes of fragments of straw, but remained otherwise motionless, trying to locate the source of the danger. There was no sound but the pounding of his heart in his ears for long moments, then, the shuffling noise he had first heard came again from the other side of the shed.

From the darkness beyond the door, through the rectangular light, and into the darkness again, scurried a large rat. James holstered his revolver and wiped sweat from his eyes. He got to his feet and started toward where the hay fork hung on the wall.

James heard the report of the pistol at the same moment a lead ball whizzed past his right ear. He hit the straw covered floor again. James rolled to his left, toward the protection of the nearest stall. The shot had come from the direction of the shuttered window near the back of the shed, close to where the harnesses were draped to dry on pegs, looking like so many brown spider webs in the dim light.

Ma, they’re at it again. Can’t a man pay his debt and leave a place still in one piece? With his revolver in his hand, James waited for what would come next—another shot, a rush of men, or the marshal, Tate. As he waited, a bead of sweat ran out from under his hat, down his temple, and into his beard. His side and shoulder throbbed with pain. Six little beans! Why’d I ever stop in Pueblo Town?

No shot came, and James slipped out of the stall and rushed to the doorway. He glanced into the alley. No one was in sight, so he slid through the door and made his way to the back corner of the shed.

Holding his breath, James craned his neck around the corner. One man stood there with a revolver pressed to a crack in the shutter and one eye up to a knothole in the wood. Two steps, and James was behind him. The man reacted to the slight noise of his coming by whispering, “That you, Li—”

James laid the pistol barrel un-gently alongside the man’s head and caught his body as he crumpled.

No. It’s me, James Owen, and I’m tired of dodging lead for no good reason, he thought as he holstered his gun and laid the limp body on the straw covered dirt. Tarnation. This can wear a man down.

Thanks for visiting. You can purchase Ride to Raton in your chosen version from the vendors below.

Ride to Raton: Book 2 - in print and ebook formats
Print: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | ebooks: Smashwords all formats | Kindle | nook | Kobo | iTunes Bookstore

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Sample Saturday Returns

With one thing and another, I've been missing here for a few weeks. Now I'm back, and here's a scene from Book 1 of the Owen Family Saga, The Man from Shenandoah. Carl Owen has returned home after the close of fighting in the American Civil War, and is down at the creek fetching a couple of pails of water and washing up.

Carl had to use the creek because General Phil Sheridan's troops marched through the Shenandoah Valley and caused a bunch of destruction to the Owen family's farm, including wrecking the well.

As night fell, Carl shrugged his shoulders to rearrange the damp shirt, picked up the pails, and headed back to the house, guided by the lamplight from the kitchen window. Breeze on the shirt chilled him, and he walked a little faster. At the steps he re-scraped his boots, then opened the door and went inside.

“We’re just fixing to eat,” Julia called. She turned and saw the water buckets. “Thank you, son. You saved me a trip.”

Carl pulled up a chair to the table and joined Rod and Albert.

“It ain’t much, Carl, but it’ll keep you from blowing away.” Julia waved her hand toward the food. “We’re lucky to have greens. They popped up down by the crick, and I picked them late this afternoon. ‘Course, there’s corn pone, and we have milk, but there ain’t no real coffee, just roasted chicory.” She sighed as she sat at her place. “We’ll have real food again once we get a crop up.”

“That’s something we need to do some talking about,” Rod declared. “First, let’s give thanks for Carl’s safe return, and for this food we got.”

At the end of the grace, Carl glanced across the table at his father. There’d been something in his voice that foretold serious business. Rod must have felt his stare, for he looked up, his beard wrinkling as he chewed.

Rod swallowed. “Tell me how it looks south of here, son. What did Sheridan leave for the folks in the south end of the Valley? You came from Staunton, I reckon?” Rod took a bite of greens.

“He burnt or pulled down homes, barns, crops, orchards, ‘most everything, all the way to Staunton and beyond. It’s a famine time. A crow flying by would have to bring his own rations.” He paused to chew a piece of pone. “Ma, it’s a wonder to me the Yankees left our house alone when they came back through.”

“I had my good Sharps rifle, and I set right there in the doorway and wouldn’t budge none. After a while they left me be and went out back to burn the barn.”

“Marie could-a been killed,” Albert said, frowning. “Them dirty Yankees didn’t wait ‘til she was out of the barn to set it afire.” Albert’s eyes looked dark and fierce. “I wish I’d a been down here shooting me some Yankees instead of up in the hills with Clay and all them cows!”

“Likely they’d have shot you, Albert,” Carl said. “Praise God you was up there!”

Rod’s mouth tightened. “What about livestock, son? What did you see?”

“I reckon we’ve got more cattle than any five stock men down the Valley, Pa. Maybe five pigs, thin stuff; not more’n ten hens anywhere. I reckon Grant didn’t want no more supplies coming out of the Shenandoah. He meant for little Phil Sheridan to clean us out, and he did the job.”

“Lucky I was warned some,” Julia said, “or I wouldn’t have had time to send the boys off up the hill.”

Rod chewed his food slowly, his face looking thoughtful. “I reckon we’re eating about as well as Rand Hilbrands. The Yankees missed burning the store in Mount Jackson, so he still has food to put on his table.”

“What happened over to Chester Bates’ place, Pa?”

“He lost his barn, and the house is gutted out. They burned his fields bare. The Bates family is about wiped off the face of the earth, I’d say.”

“Are they all dead?”

“They’ve got their lives and little else.”

“That’s sure a pity.” Carl wiped his mouth with his hand. “They had the prettiest stone house I believe I’ve ever seen. Where are they living now?”

“Right on the place, in the old tool shed.”

“Hush, that’s a shame. There’s no finer man than Chester Bates, ‘cept for you and John Mosby, Pa.”

“Andy Campbell says his pa’s so mad about his place being wrecked, he wants to clear out and go someplace else,” Albert reported.

Rod Owen cleared his throat. “That’s just what I aim to do.”

Thanks for visiting. You can purchase The Man from Shenandoah in your chosen version from the vendors below.

The Man from Shenandoah: Book 1 - in print and ebook formats
Print: (new edition) CreateSpace | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | ebooks: Smashwords all formats | Kindle | nook | Kobo | iTunes Bookstore

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