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The Canon City Chronicles

Davalynn Spencer
Davalynn Spencer Author Interview

A Change of Scenery follows a woman trying to reclaim her life by moving and finds a cowboy’s who challenges her in more ways than one. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

A Change of Scenery is Book 4 in The Canon City Chronicles series, and deals with the lives of twin little boys, Cale and Hugh Hutton, from Book 3, Romancing the Widow. In continuing the family saga, time passes until the boys are old enough to tell their story, which takes us to the silent-picture days of filming Westerns in Canon City, Colorado. Canon City was an early “Hollywood” before Hollywood, with actors such as Tom Mix filming many pictures here. Local ranchers and cowboys were often used as extras in the films.

Ella is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Ella Canaday feels robbed of the two most important things in her life, but she refuses to remain in her prominent father’s home as an invalid. She sets out to make her own life, yet with no hopes of regaining her losses. However, when faced with the “impossible,” she does not shrink away from the risks and rises to the task — with common-sense encouragement from a local rancher, Cale Hutton.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Important themes for this book are second changes, forgiveness, and courage.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on Book 5 in the series featuring Cale’s widowed brother Hugh. However, on June 1 Barbour Publishing is releasing a contemporary romance collection titled Always A Wedding Planner. My novella in the collection is “Taste and See.” And of course, my hero is a cowboy.

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Inspirational Historical Western Romance

A hidden fear. A daring challenge. A liberating love.
A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever.

Cale Hutton needs the money the moving-picture company is paying for use of his cattle and horses, but he’s not keen on some city gal gettin’ in the way out at the ranch. Between the filming crew by day and a rogue cattle-killing bear by night, his attention snags on the little bob-haired seamstress. Something about her easy manner around his horse sets his mind to find out what she’s hiding and why she has such a pull on his heart.

A Change of Scenery: The Canon City Chronicles

A Change of Scenery: The Canon City Chronicles - Book 4 Sweet Historical Western Romance (The Cañon City Chronicles) by [Davalynn Spencer]

Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer follows the life of Ella as she tries to reclaim her life by moving to Colorado. And while she has made peace with the fact that her love for riding and romance had been permanently taken away from her by a tragic accident, a chance meeting with Cale changes everything.

Throughout the story, we get insight into both Cale and Ella’s lives and the tragic events that have shaped who they are. Although the story is based in the 1900s, many of their problems are quite relatable, especially their grief.

The main themes of this emotionally-charged novel are; love, family, healing and second chances. And the author does a splendid job at bringing them to life. Davalynn Spencer brings us into Ella’s pain, making it relatable and easy to empathize with. We are also given details into the life of Cale’s grief-stricken brother, Hugh as he struggles to move on in the wake of his wife’s death.

Another important character is Hellen, a mother figure to both Cale and Hugh who takes up the care of the latter’s young children, eventually filling a big hole in their family. Ultimately, this story is as tender as it is personal. The plot is solid though somewhat predictable and the characters are well developed. The author has really excelled in bringing the 1900s to life, successfully building a narrative that combines both the age of horses and that of the automobile.

The one thing that I did not expect was how Cale behaves towards Ella – he pushes her to be better and not settle for less. Otherwise, most of the narrative tallies with what I expect from a western romance novel. The writing style used matches the typical style of historical fiction, perfect for fans of the genre looking to be immersed. When it comes to catering to historical romance audience, the author has truly excelled.

If you love elegant and heartfelt historical romances, filled with intriguing characters, and set in the western frontier, then Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer is the book for you. This was a western that was hard for me to put down, and stayed with me long after the last page.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B08RWJBTWG

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Second’s Chance

Second's Chance by [Kwen D Griffeth]

Second’s Chance, by Kwen D Griffeth, is about a middle-aged woman named Miriam and an enigmatic man named Reuben. By a coincidence, Miriam finds herself in the middle of a mysterious yet enchanting place amid mountains called Beaver’s Slap, Wyoming. She came as a traveler and a wanderer but destiny had something else in mind. She finds herself caught up in the attraction of not only Beaver’s Slap but also a new life that seems to be forming around her. She starts to get familiar with the surroundings and makes new friends. But what sparks her interest the most is the handsome man Reuben, whose entire past is a mystery to everyone. Under the common spark of attraction lies a story of both the character’s hidden past which brought them to an isolated location in the first place. They are both running from their past and find solace in the company of each other and the people around them.

Kwen D. Griffeth did an excellent job of keeping just the right pace in the story. With every line, I was more glued to the book than ever as there was more to know and more mystery to uncover. The writing is very powerful and you can feel the character’s every emotion and their personality as well. The scenes are set beautifully. The friendship between Evelyn and Miriam is very refreshing and so is Oliver, the owner of Happy Trappers.

The characters were very well developed, each was intriguing in their own way and felt authentic. Miriam’s character as a woman was a breath of fresh air. She has a depth and intelligence that comes out organically throughout the novel. Her character is a strong, independent woman with wit, humor, and charm. She can talk and hold an audience’s interest with ease. Reuben is written with equally engrossing style as well. Although he’s a typical form of a handsome man, he’s still enigmatic and he’s one character that I felt was consistently alluring because of it. There were some moments where the narration of the surroundings felt a bit elongated and stretched, but this did not have much impact on the overall readability of the book.

Second’s chance is a wonderful book with an amazing hook that will keep you captivated until the end. Fans of western’s that are looking for a grounded but enthralling will find plenty to love in Kwen D Griffeth’s charming novel.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B08HPCNDVM

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Stay True to the Genre

Roy V Gaston
Roy V Gaston Author Interview

Beyond the Goodnight Trail follows a former Texas Ranger who goes on a trail drive where he expects danger, but finds much more than expected. What was the inspiration for the setup to this wild western?

My love of the mythic West. The inspiration was that I really just wanted to write a good cowboy story. I have always loved westerns. My generation grew up reading Westerns, and I have always been thrilled by them. My books revolve around real-life historical characters and I do intense research.

A large factor, although I’m not so sure it was a conscious decision, is the racial makeup of my family. My son is black, as are my five grandchildren. Writing a story with identifiable characters they can relate to, I guess, was always somewhere in the back of my mind. In Beyond the Goodnight Trail, my protagonist Pete Horse is a Black Seminole, and real-life black cowboys and frontiersmen Bass Reeves, Britt Johnson and Bose Ikard play prominent roles.

I also thought following a cattle drive would be a good plot device for delivering what Western readers want in a story, and a way to cross paths with many of the amazing people from that era. Originally the book was going to be about the Chisholm Trail and the protagonist was going to be Cage Carew, the college professor turned Civil War warrior from my first novel, How Can A Man Die Better. However, once I started Beyond the Goodnight Trail, I decided the “easterner new to the wild west” story had been done to death, and that there was only so far I could go with Cage without it devolving into cliches. I wanted to stay true to the genre, while hopefully avoiding that trap.

Pete Horse, a minor character in How Can A Man Die Better, emerged as the fictional narrator of Beyond the Goodnight Trail. Pete’s backstory is that he is the brother of real-life Black Seminole hero and leader John Horse. He was a child-warrior in the 2nd Seminole War. After some more investigation, I discovered the immense role the Black Seminole had in the settling of the West, and that became the central focus of this book and the forthcoming series. The more and more I researched the Black Seminole, I found it to be an absolutely fascinating history that very few people seem to know about, or have ever written about.

Following the history of the Black Seminole, I just kept finding one great character after another that I wanted to read more about, write about, and not only tell a good story about, but inspire folks to look into these fascinating people even deeper. I knew once I had decided Pete was going to be the protagonist, I wanted to add Bass Reeves. While I was researching Bass Reeves, I discovered the incredible story of Britt Johnson. Some of the other historical characters in Beyond the Goodnight Trail are Charlie Goodnight, Bigfoot Wallace, Bose Ikard, Quanah Parker, and James Henry Carleton. So, I was researching several different historical stories at once and they slowly dove-tailed into what I thought was a pretty original, and historically detailed, story. I stayed true to the real-life experiences and personalities and each one of their respective backstories kind of guided my story to its conclusion.

I discovered Charlie’s close ties to Quanah Parker, which I did not realize went so deep. Being true to history, I could not make Quanah and Charlie adversaries. Also, researching the Goodnight trail drive, I discovered legendary gunslinger Clay Allison was actually on that drive. Of course, Clay needed added.

Even though legendary Texas Ranger Jack Hays doesn’t appear in this book, he will in later books in the series and I wanted to show his influence on Texas. The vast landscape plays an important role, the beauty and ruggedness of the Llano Estacado and the Palo Duro Canyon.

Saying all that, it’s not a hodge-podge, slap dash collection of western fables. It’s a carefully crafted and accurate historical fiction.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this story?

That’s actually a pretty tough question, as I didn’t really go into it thinking in terms of literary themes. It’s about the quest, and the code of the mythic West. Individualism. Personal courage. Self-determinism. Independence and self-dependence. Traits and attributes that seem to be taking a beating in the media these days. I tried to portray the wanderlust of the cowboy, the nomadic wanderer, the “knight errant” with his own code of honor. A cowboy that is always loyal to “the brand.” One who has Integrity. Chivalry. It’s about revenge and redemption.

It was important to me that I stayed true to the genre that I grew up reading, and re-reading, and re-reading: Ralph Compton, Charles Portis, Louis L’amour, Owen Wister, Alan LeMay, Elmore Leonard. It’s somewhat of a morality tale. I wanted to give the readers exactly what readers of Westerns want. Identifiable good guys, bad guys. A sense of the land. Justice. “True Grit.” That good wins and that even if reached by a circuitous route, bad guys get their deserved fate.

There is also a theme just sort of emerged with the work. There’s an interconnectedness of the historical characters that pops up about every third paragraph. That’s how the research progressed; that’s how the story progressed. Going down those rabbit hole was great fun, even if it slowed the writing process considerably. I could get lost for days researching and reading about new people.

I wanted to show my reader that history is cool and messy and ugly and enlightening and illuminating and fascinating and ignored at our own peril.

Westerns these days seem to get very bad, and un-earned, rap as sexist, racist, whatever. However, the fact is, Westerns have always taken a leading role in addressing social issues of the day. Maybe not as “sophisticated” as these issues are allegedly addressed today in books and movies, but they often tackled, and in a very progressive way, women’s rights, racism, immigration, government corruption, war, violence. Sure, the cowboy can be cliché, but there’s nothing wrong with heroes. If people spend a few hours watching them, or reading them, with an open mind, they might be surprised.

I’ve received mostly very positive reviews, but there were a couple, from a review service, that actually criticized my Western for being…a Western. Which in itself tells me we need more Westerns. Kind of irritates me, saddens me at the same time, that apparently so many (actually only three, but it still stung) people were so unfamiliar with the traditional western theme. I stay true to the genre, but I also think it will appeal to many readers.

Pete is an interesting character with an intriguing past. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

The Black Seminole played a huge role in the adventures and settlement of the West. There were many more black, brown and red cowboys than are usually depicted. Pete is John Horse’s brother, and John led the Black Seminole from 1835 through the 1870s. Pete’s background stays pretty close to the actual tale of the Black Seminole. They did fight the U.S. Army to a standstill in the 2nd Seminole War. They were removed on the Trail of Tears. Once out West, they did face repeated slave raids by the Creeks, whites, and Comanche. They did later scout for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marshals, and Texas Rangers. They did become the U.S. 10th Cavalry that conquered the Comanche and charged up San Juan Hill in 1898.

I’ve had an interest in Black Seminole history for 40 years, but I didn’t actually create Pete to ever be a protagonist or even central character. However, Pete was persistent and as I dug deeper into Black Seminole history I realized I could use him to explore another fifty years of history of the American West. As his personal backstory grew, it really served as a great catalyst to work the other characters into the story in a natural way.

Pete has a past. He’s done some bad things in the violence-filled West. However, he’s not a conflicted, angst-ridden, guilt-filled narrator. The brooding, introspective (or moping, self-pitying and whiney, depending on your perspective) anti-hero filled with inner turmoil and doubt is sooooooo boring. So 2020. So tedious, but Pete’s not exactly the ever-virtuous Hopalong Cassady in his enormous white ten-gallon hat either. There are still things that need done, unpleasant, tough, dangerous, but he’s going to do them, because that’s what cowboys do.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on a series featuring Pete Horse and the Black Seminole. The next is actually a prequel, beginning in 1835 and covering through 1844. Teen-aged Pete is removed from Florida and forced to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears. He then becomes a scout for Jack Hays’ Texas Rangers. Right now, it’s four or five more books, just depending, that will follow the Black Seminole from the Second Seminole War through the relocation to the days of their being the U.S. 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers” that eventually conquered the Comanche in Texas. The Black Seminole 10th remained an active U.S. Army unit for many years and led the way in Teddy Roosevelt’s 1898 famous charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. I’d like to follow them that far. We’ll see. I’m still looking into the Black Seminole story between the 1870s and 1898.

I’m also nearly finished with a hard-boiled private detective novel set in 1940s Hollywood. I also plan to make that a series. Unlike now, back then there were real tough guys in the movies. There were several big stars of the time that played heroic roles in World War II. Stories that should be told. My series will focus on a different one of those guys, Jimmy Stewart, for example, in each book.

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When former Texas Ranger scout Pete Horse agrees to join his old friend Charlie Goodnight’s first trail drive across Texas to the New Mexico Bosque Redondo Navajo reservation, he knows the way will be fraught with danger. He expects to encounter bandits, hostile Comanche, bad weather and stampedes, and he’s not disappointed. He hadn’t been expecting the treacherous Comancheros, renegade Apache, and night riding gangs of unreconstructed Rebels seething with resentment, and all of them fighting over a thousand stolen Army rifles. When he’s forced to kill two men who are stealing his prized horse Pete incurs the wrath of an ex-communicated religious zealot and his sect of trigger-happy disciples. The entire Texas Panhandle is about to erupt in a shooting war that could spread across the West. Riding up with old friends Bigfoot Wallace, Bass Reeves, Britt Johnson and more legendary men of the west, Pete still faces the longest odds of a long, turbulent life on the violent frontier.

Stone Fever

Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 by Norman Westhoff is a captivating adventure story full of inspiring narratives! In the story, we follow Keltyn, a geologist who is exploring a now defrosted Antarctica. Keltyn is trying to find iridium around Mount Erebus, a volcano that the local Onwei tribe has predict will erupt soon! While on her mission, Keltyn makes friends with two teens from the tribe; Luz and Joaquin. While on their adventure, the trio grows, learns, and discovers the ulterior motives of a certain Oscar Bailey! Keltyn must find a way to stop Oscar before it’s too late!

Despite the hardships found within this story, Westhoff has managed to create a heartwarming tale that I could not get enough of! He touched on so many relevant topics, including colonization, global warming, and cultural diversity!

The character development was spectacular and a particular focal point of this novel. We watch Luz grow emotionally from a naïve young girl to a fierce young woman by the end of the novel. I must say, I really enjoyed Luz’s relationship with her mother in this book; it strayed away from the typical nuclear family unit.

The world-building was fantastic! Westhoff took a risk using the real-life issue of global warming as a plot device and world-building tool, but he handled it with grace and elegance. His portrayal of the issue left me with a hopeful outlook, despite it being fiction.

Westhoff’s storytelling abilities are also praiseworthy! He can keep you hooked from page one all the way to page 299; it is incredible! There was never a dull moment; wait until you get to chapter 13; you will not be able to put the book down!

The writing style also captured my attention. It’s simplicity made the story easy to follow and a joy to read. There was never a moment where I had to go back and reread a passage due to intricate text, which can be a common issue amongst indie authors. The chapters where Keltyn was narrating were my favorite!

Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 is a thrilling adventure story that touches on important topics while always entertaining the reader.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B085YF4RWG

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Beyond The Goodnight Trail

Roy V. Gaston brings us a Classic Western novel based on true historical events. This compelling story follows Pete, a former Texas Ranger, in an action-filled adventure. Pete rides with his friend, Charlie, with the goal of travelling across the state bringing cargo and other riders. All the while there is a dangerous threat looming over them. That is, they need to traverse through land owned by the Comanche; a Native American tribe who are tired of seeing other Natives being used, abused, and taken from their land.

Beyond the Goodnight Trail is based on historical figures and events, and author Roy V. Gaston effectively delivers an engrossing read that feels authentic. Not only did he choose a very intriguing time to write a novel about, but he was able to capture that time cleverly. The dialogue between characters captures the dialect and slang of that period especially well, this can get tiring depending on the reader, but it shows Gaston’s skill in depicting a certain time and place. The author puts even small facts in this novel, like calling Native Americans ‘Indians’ and describing fine details of riding in the West, which helped immersion immensely. Overall, this created a fully realized atmospheric setting that was easy to fall into, though this became easier after the first quarter.

I enjoyed this novel and felt that the pace was quick overall, but I did feel that the start was a bit slow as it was filled with long descriptions of characters. But characters in a novel are arguably the most important, especially for historical-based ones, so this time is beneficial in creating engrossing characters. Beyond the Goodnight Trail performs smoothly in this section as well with an antagonist you love to hate and charming protagonists and side characters. The small biography-like sections at the end of the book were a cherry-on-top as the reader gets to see what became of these historical figures afterward.

Beyond the Goodnight Trail is an exciting adventure novel filled with interesting characters and striking settings. Readers who enjoy a good western will truly appreciate this story, but anyone looking for an entertaining read will find plenty to enjoy.

Pages: 264 | ASIN: B08KSKYZ2P

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Can’t Ride Around It

Can't Ride Around It (Deadwood Undertaker Series Book 3) by [Ann Charles, Sam Lucky]

Clementine Johanssen is Deadwood’s slayer and also doubles as the town’s undertaker. She’s responsible for burying the dead and protecting the region from paranormal creatures. When dead bodies start disappearing from graveyards, Clementine understands what she must do next. Her instinctive reaction is to attempt to get to the root of the matter and stop whoever is behind the strange events. However, another problem arises when a massive infestation of flesh-eating beasts looms in other parts of the region. Now she must decide which problem she must tackle first. Which would it be? Dead men walking or murderous mad dogs? Whatever decision she makes, she can enlist the help of the dependable trio of Hank, Jack “Rabbit” and Boone to bring an end to at least one of the evils. Or at least try to.

Can’t Ride Around It is the third part of a series that cuts across several genres, including horror and mystery. Penned by talented couple Ann Charles and Sam Lucky, it’s one of those captivating wild western tales. But this one packs an extra element of intrigue in the form of a splash of the supernatural.

Ann and Sam take us on a fast-paced, nail-biting journey of camaraderie and bravery punctuated by checkpoints of light romance. Throw these themes in alongside the breathtaking battles with scary beasts, and you have a real page-turner on your hands.

Set in the town of Deadwood, Dakota, this book has all the elements of the 19th-century Western fiction it is. From the language to the scenery described by the authors, you get a good feel of the old Wild West. Plus the authors include in tales of the Black Hill gold rush that add figments of authenticity to the book. Historical tidbits never hurt anyone.

The authors deliver the story with a sustained flurry of infectious verve that keeps you engaged all through. There are hardly any dull moments, and that’s not because the characters hack down otherworldly beasts from start to finish. It’s mostly down to the authors’ adeptness at using vivid language and riveting conversations to keep you interested.

And speaking of conversations, there’s no end to the characters’ exchange of humorous banter. You have witty remarks, cheeky comebacks and a lot of hilarious moments too. You can tell both writers would be fun people to have around from the way they write.

I also loved how the characters’ personalities didn’t get lost amidst all the freaky stuff. Rabbit’s childish playfulness jumps out, and Clementine’s tethered tenderness doesn’t go unnoticed either.

With the way 2020 has been, we all need some sort of escapism to keep on keeping on. And if you prefer to get lost in another good book, I’ll recommend this one. It’s so good that I’m giving it 5 solid stars.

Pages: 308 | ASIN: B08K5XJYCT

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Iron Dogs

Iron Dogs follows a group of outlaws who are wounded and on the run. They seek shelter in a deserted New Mexico town. However, they soon realize that something is seriously amiss in the town. Something evil lurks in the shadows. The band of outlaws, once the ones bringing the trouble to town, are now the ones who must fight against it. Each man is tested beyond his limits. Who, if any, will survive the evil that lurks within this desolate town.

Iron Dogs book mixes horror with action and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story begins with Father Ramon, and immediately there are little tidbits that lead you deeper into an intricately woven story that continues to gain layers as the story progresses. The tone is set from the start, a blend of western thriller with modern horror. I could tell from the first page that the novel was setting a gritty and intense tone. The band of outlaws are close at first, but the challenges that lay ahead test their personal limits as well as the limits of their relationship when they must decide who will be sacrificed.

One of the characters, in particular, Virgil, reminded me of people I knew (in certain scenes) that had me feeling more invested. Especially as the book began to get creepier. One of the things that really thrilled me about this novel was the western feel that permeated the novel, reminiscent of George A. Romero’s gruesome and satirical horror films. Though Virgil was one of the characters who stood out the most to me, I enjoyed Frank’s character as well. As with any good book, the characters act the way they do because of inner motivations and characteristics, making the reader feel a connection to them. A word of warning Iron Dogs will pull you into the characters, but it takes a few chapters. They seem a bit shallow at first, but given time they develop into some intriguing characters.

Iron Dogs is one crazy good story. If you are a fan of riveting horror novels with plentiful action then Neil Chase has written a novel just for you.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07CV85D36

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