Thursday, March 20, 2014

SPRINGTIME IN THE COUNTRY BLOG HOP



To celebrate spring, here is an excerpt from my upcoming Western historical novel, Walls for the Wind, to be released in April from Whiskey Creek Press


Even Bad Guys Look Forward to Spring
Toward Hell on Wheels, somewhere near Brule, Nebraska, early spring 1867

The sun rose, bringing another day to the vast Western plains. The gambler stood fingering his new silk vest in the faint warmth of the rising sun. Ever since he was a small boy, he’d received much of his sensory information through touch. The feel of the new vest’s cool smoothness pleased him. It soothed for a time the constant jittery feeling that dwelled in his head somewhere behind his eyeballs. His new prize was fine. Very fine. It was even more pleasing to him that he’d wiped out everyone at the card table down to their undergarments in such a short time. He was good at what he did, the cards. It was the only thing he’d ever been good at. He had the touch.

Sometimes, not often, his thoughts drifted back in time. He wouldn’t have made any kind of farmer, that was for sure. His real father had been a farmer back in Iowa. A good one, too, come from a long line of farmers and knew what he was doing. And still it hadn’t made any difference in the end. He’d still lost it all. Lost it, ironically, on a bad turn of the cards while he was deep in his cups. Old Dad had a problem with the drink: couldn’t stop once he started. So he’d squandered it all, the land, the equipment, the livestock. The gambler remembered the bleak, hopeless look on his mother’s face as the last steer was led away, her life and her children’s, everything they knew and depended on, brought to abrupt ruin.

And yet his father hadn’t been a bad man. Not in the way some of the men his mother brought home later, after her husband deserted them, had been bad. Bad for young boys, at least, who hadn’t the strength to fight them off in the dark of night after the woman had stopped her drunken shrieking and moaning, and collapsed in a sodden heap. For one who absorbed fully, seeming with his whole body, the feather lightest of touches, those long-ago hours of endured pain at the hands of men his mother insisted he call father had been horrifying and excruciating.

He was relieved to finally be on the move again. He’d spent the winter in St. Louis after the railroad company shut down operations for the winter at North Platte. The Nebraska town newly sprouted from the prairie grasses possessed an ice house, a wash house, a blacksmith shop, stock pens and a slaughterhouse. All the comforts a town built to service the Union Pacific could need. What North Platte didn’t have was liquor. North Platte was a dry town, the single dry town with a temperance house in existence out on the plains.

Since the gambler’s business depended on the rotgut whiskey that greased the wheels of his commerce, he had quickly decided to head for Denver and then parts southward and eastward for the cold months, instead of staying in North Platte. He’d followed the Missouri from Omaha to Kansas City, where he fortuitously met up with his brother, whom he hadn’t seen in a while. They’d made their way thence to St. Louis, almost scouring clean the purses of that town’s overwintering trappers and emigrants before spring found the two making their way back upriver to open their mobile tent-based business, following the railroad. He got itchy to get on the road again as soon as the weather gave hints of warming. And St. Louis hadn’t been sorry to see them go either, the Brothers Grim, as some witty French tavern keeper had dubbed them.

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Author bio:
Alethea Williams
Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I've lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I'm always open to your response to my writing. 

Winner of 2012 WESTERN HORIZON AWARD, 2011-2012 WYOMING STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY PUBLICATIONS FICTION AWARD, MAY 2012 KIRKUS INDIE NEW AND NOTABLE!, and based on an immigrant's true experiences:
Willow Vale
From opposite sides of an ocean, two people wounded by the Great War are fated to meet and try to rebuild their lives. Alethea Williams explores the powerful pull of love and endurance through an intriguing page-turner full of heartache, romance, and overcoming hardship. Set against the captivating frontier of Wyoming, Willow Vale is the captivating story of two strangers struggling with their own demons who manage to create a life together.
Buy links:
Kindle
Nook




Coming in April from Whiskey Creek Press
Walls for the Wind
Can an angel survive Hell on Wheels? When Kit Calhoun leaves New York City with a train car full of foundlings from the Immigrant Children’s Home, she has no clue she might end up as adoptive mother to four of them in rip-roaring Cheyenne, Wyoming. Kit has spent her life in the Children’s Home and now she rides the Orphan Trains, distributing homeless children to the young nation’s farmers as fast as the rails are laid.

The first time handsome Patrick Kelley spies Kit in Julesburg, Colorado Territory, he wants her. But circumstances, and a spectral-looking demented gambler as well as Kit’s certainty no one in his right mind would want her cobbled-together family, conspire to keep them apart. As Patrick and Kit and her brood ride Hell on Wheels into their destiny, they’re all forced to leave behind everything they knew and forge new lives in the raw American West.