Tag Archives: Allegheny Mountains

The Story Behind Historical Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song


Award-winning historical romance novel

Award-winning historical romance novel

Red Bird’s Song is inspired by events that occurred to my ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier. This award-winning adventure romance centers around their conflict with the Native Americans during the French and Indian and Pontiac’s War and has a The Last of the Mohican’s flavor.

Research into my English/Scots-Irish ancestors unearthed accounts that led to my writing Red Bird’s Song. My fascination with Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My forebears had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. I have ties to Wicomechee, the hero of Red Bird’s Song, an outstanding Shawnee warrior whose real-life story greatly impacted the novel. More on Wicomechee  is included at the end of the novel, as a bonus for those who read it.

I’ve written other Native American themed historical romances, some with paranormal elements, each carefully researched. I’m grateful for the help of historians, reenactors, anthropologists, archaeologists, and the Shawnee themselves. All the titles in my Native American Warrior series are available in kindle at Amazon.

Handsome Native American warrior

The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the beginning of Red Bird’s Song was born in a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction pieces to historical/paranormal romance novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues.

At the start of Red Bird’s Song, I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another dream. When I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I know. Eyes of the Wolf became a spirit guide and spoke to me throughout the writing of this book, and others. He’s there still in various guises. My journey with him is not complete.

pipetomahawkThe attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them. I’d initially intended to make Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song the historical villain that he was, but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.

Hawk EyeRegarding the setting for Red Bird’s Song: In the early mid 1700’s, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains was the colonial frontier. Only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish, among them my ancestors. If 18th century warriors only had to fight regular British troops, they might ultimately have prevailed. They scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare. But the long knives were born fighters, and not easily intimidated. They learned from their cunning enemy and adopted their methods, weapons, and clothing.

The ruggedly beautiful Alleghenies are also the setting for some of my other historical-paranormal romance novels, Through the FireKira, Daughter of the MoonThe Bearwalker’s Daughter, and my short historical romance, The Lady and the Warrior. I see these ridges from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The foothills are only a hop, skip and a jump away from us. The ever-changing panorama of the seasons never fails to inspire me. My Young Adult/Native American Wolf Shifter romance series entitled The Secret Warrior is also set in the mountains.

The Alleghenies, the Virginia colonial frontier

Red Bird’s Song is Book 3 in my Native American Warrior Series. The series loosely ties together based more on time and place and strong Native American characters than as a traditional series that follows the story line. However, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the actual sequel to Through the Fire, and there will be other sequels. In addition to Native Americans, hardy Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women, colonial Englishmen and ladies, and even a few Frenchmen also play an important role in this series. So far, it spans the gamut from the dramatic era of the French and Indian War, through Pontiac’s War, The American Revolution, and shortly afterwards.

Story Blurb for Red Bird’s Song:

Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.

George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.

ReviewerTopPick-NOR

“A beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense…This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating.” —Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

Eppie

“I loved the descriptions…I felt I was there…Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events…The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself.”  —Seriously Reviewed

***For more on Red Bird’s Song and my other titles, visit my: Amazon Author Page.

Native American Man Headshot

Historical Romance Kira, Daughter of the Moon Re-Released by Amazon Encore!


Can a beautiful Scots-Irish healer suspected of witchcraft and a renegade white warrior find love together and avoid the hangman’s noose in the colonial frontier?

47e0552b-2612-4663-8b23-a4529a4ce9bf_zpssfu8rraeSet among the superstitious Scots in the rugged Alleghenies, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is an adventurous romance with a blend of Celtic and Native American flavors. Although written to stand alone, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the sequel to my award-winning historical romance novel, Through the Fire, and book 4  in my Native American Warrior series.

The series loosely ties together based more on time and place and strong Native American characters than as a traditional series that follows the storyline, except for Kira, Daughter of the Moon and Through the Fire. In addition to Native Americans, hardy Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women, colonial Englishmen and ladies, and even a few Frenchmen also play an important role in this series. So far, it spans the gamut from the dramatic era of the French and Indian War, through Pontiac’s War, The American Revolution and shortly thereafter.

Foothills of the Alleghenies

Foothills of the Alleghenies

Kira, Daughter of the Moon  opens in the spring of 1765, about six months after the close of Red Bird’s Song in the fall of 1764. Through the Fire takes place the summer of 1758 at the height of the French and Indian War. For those of you interested in this obscure but vital era of American history, a second war led by Chief Pontiac (who united a number of the tribes) followed on the heels of the French and Indian, a sort of part two. That’s the war wrapping up in Red Bird’s Song, but to  anxious settlers, the Indian Wars just flowed together with times when attacks were more prevalent than others. These harried folk trying to survive didn’t keep track of the names of the wars. They didn’t always even know which tribe was attacking them, and some war parties were a mix of allied warriors. But the Shawnee gained the distinction of being the most feared tribe in the Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia frontier—the ultimate badass. The French officers who lead some of these attacks were particularly hated, to this day in some mountainous regions of Virginia and now West Virginia. Memories run deep. Bear in mind that Virginia used to be vast and encompassed states.

Dread of Indian attacks, of being killed or captured, of what happened to captive loved ones, and mistrust of white men who turned renegade and ran with war parties was on the minds of these mistrustful and superstitious Scots-Irish. Not that all settlers were Scots. Some were German/Swiss and English, but the clannish Scots tended to band together. And they were ever on their guard for witches.  This is the volatile background for Kira, Daughter of the Moon.

LOGAN FROM KIRA, DAUGHTER OF THE MOON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb: Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family.

Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay––and anyone else from getting too close.  Now that he’s back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft.  And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.~

Kira, Daughter of the Moon is available for pre-order now and officially out on 9-22-2015 in kindle at Amazon through their Encore Publishing Division. Red Bird’s Song was re-released by Amazon in August. Both novels are also available in print. Amazon has all  my books.. For more visit my Amazon Author Page.

Old-Time Cures and the ‘Granny Women’


Old Home in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Old home in the Blue Ridge Mountains—image by my husband, Dennis)

About the Granny Women: Historically, they were elderly women from ‘back in the holler’ reputed for their healing and midwifery abilities. The term is often associated with ‘Appalachia.’  However, I don’t know anyone who actually lives in Appalachia. We refer to the specific mountain ranges, the Alleghenies, the Blue Ridge, or the Smokies…but I digress. In a time and place when doctors were few or nonexistent and no one had the money to pay them anyway,  the Granny Women were relied on for the wisdom and practices passed down to them by the hardy females who’d gone before them. Sure, a generous dollop of superstition and white magic was mixed in with their practical herbal remedies, but they did a lot of good. In the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains, these women were invaluable. Some of my friends with deep ties in the holler (or gap) remember their family calling in the Granny Woman when they didn’t know what to do for an ailment or injury. One of them had a grandmother who was the Granny woman. Officially, these women are no longer with us. Unofficially, they are.

I recently learned more about the Granny Women after reading The Red Flannel Rag, by Peggy Ann Shifflett, a fascinating book about life in the Alleghenies. Hopkins Gap, where Ms. Shifflett grew up, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley, and yet, how different is the world she brings to life. Some of these customs and practices were known in the valley–still are with the real country folk–but many are unique to this more isolated mountain community. The little elementary school Ms. Shifflett describes being bussed to from Hopkins Gap is the same school my children attended, and their father before them, now replaced by a far larger modern structure. Much is gained, and lost, in our modern era. The author also happens to be the aunt of my friend, Sandy, who grew up with many of the old ways. Sandy’s widowed grandmother made moonshine to keep the family afloat, but that’s another story.

Log Cabin, Cabin, Hillbilly, Forest, Log, Appalachian Mountains, Rustic, Tennessee

(Mountain cabin, royalty free image)

Before taking a closer look at the Granny Women, I’d assumed they mostly used herbs and other old-time remedies to cure, but they were also very into white magic. In a section of The Red Flannel Rag entitled Witches and Granny Women, Ms. Shifflett explains the widespread belief in and dread of witches among the mountain people (parts of the valley too, I add). The bad witches, she says, were just called witches and the good witches were referred to as Granny Women or Healers. These women used their powers not only to cure illness but to remove an evil spell cast by a witch. The lengths Granny women, and other fearful souls, went to in order to avoid being cursed or rid oneself of an evil spell boggles the mind. For example, when brushing your hair, or trimming a baby’s fingernails, care must be taken to collect and burn every remnant or a witch might come into your home and take these personal leavings to cast a spell on you or your infant. And if a bird were to snatch your hair and use it to build a nest, you will have a headache until you find and destroy that nest. It’s a whole other mindset.

old log cabinMs. Shifflett describes incantations and instructions given for everything from ridding oneself of freckles on May Day to detecting and thwarting a witch. Here’s one: Make a three-pronged pitchfork red-hot and poke it through the bottom of a chair then pull it out.  If at any time in the future a suspected witch sits on that chair and can’t get up, then he or she is definitely a witch. Another ploy is to lay a broom across the doorway, as though its fallen. A witch will not step across a broom to enter a house. However, it was believed they could change themselves into a snake and sliver in through the keyhole, or transform into a cat and enter through the rafters, so then you have another problem. The lore, beliefs, and superstitions among mountain people is a class in itself. Some of the treatments have practical herbal applications, but much falls into the realm of magic or faith healing. If you believed the ritual employed by a Granny woman would cure your ills or break an evil curse, then maybe it could, that whole mind/body connection thing.

(Image of cabin in the Smokies)

Shenandoah VoicesFor a more in-depth exploration of the subject, read the book. I also recommend late Shenandoah Valley author and historian John Heatwole’s wonderful collection of Folklore, Tradition and Legends of the Valley entitled Shenandoah Voices. Mr. Heatwole interviewed older mountain and valley people to record this valuable resource before his death. I often refer to his collection both for the herbal lore and superstitions. Again, some are quite useful practices, others fall into the realm of fancy, unless you believe a witch can change herself into an egg and float across the stream and this worries you. Then I refer you to the time-honored ways and herbs for protection against spells. Which brings me to our next topic:

Acifidity bags: Small cloth bags worn on a string around the neck containing a mixture of chopped roots and/or spices having a strong disagreeable odor. The purpose of these bags is to ward off illness or evil. I asked my friend (mentioned above) what she remembered about acifidity bags. Sandy said her grandma (the moonshiner) made up these bags when she worried a witch had put a curse on the farm and hung them around the kids necks and put them in the hog pen to protect the pigs. Her grandma was dirt poor (likely used feed sacks to make the bags as they came in printed cotton cloth) and Sandy didn’t think she bought anything special to go in them, that she’d have filled the bags with whatever herbs she could gather, and they stunk like rotted wild onions or garlic. Children, and even pigs, wore these bags around their necks to protect them.

IMG_5998

(Image of the Alleghenies  by my husband)

Another friend, Jana, whose husband, Jerry, grew up back in Nelson County, Virginia, an extremely isolated region where they experienced a terrible flood in 1968, also had to wear these bags around his neck. Neither Jana nor Jerry remember what went into the bags, only that they stunk to high heaven to ward off anything and anyone who might cause harm to the children. There’s a pungent spice called Asafoetida, but it’s not native to the United States and has to be imported. If mountain or country women had access to a drugstore and could get asafetida, then likely that’s what they used in these bags, if not, they improvised. But I suspect the term acifidity is a corruption of asafetida, and before its introduction into America, these bags would have been called something else. Maybe just medicine or charm bags. Putting herbs, spices, or amulets into bags worn around the neck is an ancient practice.

From an article entitled: What’s in your Acifidity Bag by Bev Walker

“According to the book “Healing Spices,” asafoetida was endorsed by the US Pharmacopedia as a remedy for the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed almost 100,000,000 people globally and claimed tens of thousands of American lives per week for two years. The putrid smelling spice was stocked by pharmacies to be draped around the neck inside acifidity bags in an attempt to deflect the deadly strain of influenza. Naturally, the word “flu” struck terror in the minds of generations to follow, and the smelly cure-all medicine bags appear repeatedly throughout history whenever an outbreak of potential epidemic illness or disease occurs. Babies and school-aged children were forced to wear acifidity bags during outbreaks of polio, measles, and during the winter to stave off influenza.”

***An interesting article on Appalachian Healing Traditions

Award-winning Historical Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song on .99 Sale


Red Bird's Song CoverThis sale is for the novel in kindle and nookbook, and runs through Nov 1st, so get yours now.

Red Bird’s Song is a 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist. The setting for this story is the same as the other novels in my Native American Warrior Series, Through the FireKira, Daughter of the Moon, and The Bearwalker’s Daughter, the spectacular Allegheny Mountains, On a clear day, the ridges of the Alleghenies are visible from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Much of the history depicted in Red Bird’s Song was inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots (among the first settlers in the valley) and the Border Wars. The French and Indian War is the most well-known, but there were others. Pontiac’s War followed on its heels, and is the war taking place in Red Bird’s SongDunmore’s War came after that one and so on it goes. Life in the frontier was unsettled even after The American Revolution had ended and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just keep shifting farther west.

(*Images of the Alleghenies by my mother, Pat Churchman)the Allegheny Mountains toward Reddish Knob

In the early to mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains were the colonial frontier. Only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish. If the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops, they might ultimately have won because they scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy. The famous rebel yell came from the Cherokee.

Last of the Mohicans 2Although Hawk Eye in The Last of the Mohicans is an adopted Mohican, his lifestyle is that of a colonial frontiersman. The more rugged of these men dressed as he did, much in the Indian way. They hunted and fought with muskets, tomahawks, and their famous knives. Skilled marksmen had long rifles. Indians soon acquired these weapons and blended traditional ways of living with the new-found tools and warfare of Western man. A highly adaptable people.

The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song is based on one that occurred to my ancestors in the Shenandoah Valley and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them.  Initially I’d intended to make the Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song a villain but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.

Wicomechee, the hero in Red Bird’s Song, is based on the Shawnee warrior by that name who lived early in the nineteenth century and to whom I have ties. The Moffett’s, an early Valley family I’m related to, include a reference to him in their genealogy. Wicomechee’s father, John Moffett, was captured in Kentucky by the Shawnee at the age of eight and adopted into the tribe. It’s said he was a boyhood companion to the great war Chief Tecumseh, a chief for whom I have enormous admiration. The accounts of John Moffett and Wicomechee are recorded by Waddell. It’s also noted that during the Black Hawk Wars Wicomechee recovered the captive daughters of a Dr. Hull and brought them safely into camp, which reminds me of Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve included more on this amazing warrior at the end of the novel as a bonus for those who read it.

the-alleghenies-the-virginia-colonial-frontier.jpg“With “Red Bird’s Song”, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!” Amazon Reviewer Virginia Campbell

Blurb: Can a Scots-Irish woman terrified of warriors fall in love with her Shawnee captor?

Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.

George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.

As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.~

ReviewerTopPick-NOR“A beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense…This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating.” —Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

“I loved the descriptions…I felt I was there…Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events…The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself.”  —Seriously Reviewed

Also Available on sale from The Wild Rose Press and other online stores.

August in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


COVER FOR SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS NONFICTION BOOKAn excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life,  Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 Epic eBook finalist. Available in Amazon Kindle and in print.

We’ve had many misty starts to the day this August. Haze hugs the pond, parting just enough to reveal the long-legged blue heron fishing for his breakfast. There’s a country saying about the number of foggy mornings in August being an indicator for the amount of snows we’ll have this winter––a heap, at this rate.

Dozens of swallows skim over the pond as the sun sinks below the Alleghenies. If I were standing on a distant ridge, would it sink behind me, or the ridge beyond that one?

TheTrisselPondThe water is calm now but was awash with waves during the storm that hit a short time ago. The grassy hill and maple tree are reflected on the surface, silvery and streaked with rose from the western sky. All is peaceful as a soft twilight settles over the valley. Utterly idyllic, until I pause to consider what all of those swallows are after. There must be clouds of mosquitoes.

Here’s another thought, where do all the birds spend the night? Are the woods up on the hill lined with birds perched wing to wing jostling for space on the branches? I’ll bet they make room for the big red-tailed hawk. He gets the whole tree––as many as he wants. It’s good to be king.

Hawk

Dennis, Elise, and I once saw a magnificent rainbow arching across the sky over the meadow. The magical multihued light streamed down into the pond and gilded the back end of a cow as she stood in the water. It startled us to discover that this was where we must seek our pot of gold. Though it’s apt, I suppose, for dairy farmers.

This is the day, sprinkled with fairy dust and frosted with gold. Go forth and find treasure, or seek it deep inside your heart, at true rainbow’s end.~

Huge Rainbow Pic

**Image of our pond taken by my mom, Pat Churchman

**Image of Hawk by daughter Elise taken up in the meadow behind our house

**Rainbow by Elise

 

Sweet Saturday Snippet from Historical Romance Kira, Daughter of the Moon–Beth Trissel


 
From Chapter One:
“My secret in exchange for yours.”
Tantalizing.  He was drawing her into his snare, but she couldn’t resist asking, “How do you know I’ve a secret?”
“To begin with, you’re hiding in a tree.  What from, a wild beast?”
“Near enough.  You.”
He smiled.  “Was I to think you a large red bird, or overlook you entirely?”
Drawing her remaining shreds of dignity around her like a mantle, she said, “This isn’t one of my best hiding places.”
“Indeed?  Where are the others?”
“That would be telling.”
The strengthening breeze tossed the branches around them as he considered.  “You never could keep secrets from me, Cricket.  I’ll discover them and you.”
An assertion she found both disturbing and oddly heartening.
His lips curved as if the deed were already done.  “Why were you hiding?  Am I so very frightening?”
“Oh––I feared you were some sort of warrior.”
The humor faded from his eyes.  “I am.”~
pipetomahawk
‘A beautiful Scots-Irish healer in the rugged Alleghenies finds herself accused of witchcraft. With the terror of the French and Indian War fresh in her mind, can Kira love a white warrior?’
BoM_April_2013_copy (1)Although written to stand alone, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the sequel to historical romance novel Through the Fire.
***Available in print and eBook from The Wild Rose Press,  Amazon, at Barnes & Noble in Nookbook, and other online booksellers.
***To visit more authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples Click HERE!

Sweet Saturday Snippet From LASR Book of the Month Kira, Daughter of the Moon–Beth Trissel


Kira Daughter of the MoonExcerpt from Chapter One:

May 1765, The Allegheny Mountains of Western Virginia

He threw back his head and laughed.

Disconcerting. Most people simply stared at her or shook their heads when she acted peculiar, not this undisguised mirth. “I can’t imagine why you’re taking on like this.”

“No?” He succumbed to another paroxysm of laughter. “I must admit you’re good.”

A lift of her chin. “At what, pray tell?”

“Play acting.”

Stiffening her reply, Kira said, “I haven’t the faintest notion what you mean.”

He wiped his eyes on the wide sleeve of his loosely belted shirt. “Haven’t you, now?”

???????????????????????????????????????Her eyes strayed to his browned chest where the earth-colored cloth gapped open at his neck. “Not at all.”

“If you truly wish me to think you tetched, dim the brightness in your gaze. Try for a more vacant expression.”

“I can manage quite well without direction from you. “ She hesitated. “I mean–”

“I know what you mean. I see you’re quite the actress.”

Shifting her gaze from the intensity in his expression to the swaying branches, she asked, “How so?”

“I could always see right through you.”

An odd flop in her stomach and she slid her gaze back to his penetrating eyes. “Always? “

musket_powder horn“Don’t you know me, Cricket?”

“Good heavens,” she breathed out, and leaned weakly against the tree. She could have toppled to the forest floor. Only two people had ever called her by that name and this definitely wasn’t her brother. The teasing youth she’d adored had returned a man in warrior’s clothing, hardened now, tested by wind and fire. “Logan?”

***Kira, Daughter of the Moon is available in print and kindle at Amazon and the Wild Rose Press, in Nookbook at Barnes & Noble, and ebook at other online booksellers.

And a big woot for ‘Kira’ winning Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews!

***To visit more authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples Click HERE!

*Image of old family musket, powder horn and shot pouch taken by my mom