Tag Archives: Eastern woodland Indians

The Story Behind Award Winning Colonial Native American Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song


Quantcast2012 EPIC eBook Award Finalist!

Red Bird’s Song is the story of my heart for many reasons.  The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the river was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a highly 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 essays (by hand back then) to historical romance novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life.  That was years ago and the saga continues.  I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another vivid dream at the advent of this adventure, so when I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I feel I know.

The setting for much of Red Bird’s Song is the same as Through the Fire, the spectacularly beautiful Alleghenies.  Much of the history and events depicted in the storywere inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots and the Border Wars.

Most of you have heard of The French and Indian War, the time period in Through the Fire, but there were others.  (Chief) Pontiac’s War followed on the heels of the French and Indian and is the time frame of Red Bird’s Song

Lord Dunmore’s War took place a decade later–all occurring in the colonial frontier.

Actually, life in the frontier was continually unsettled up through and even after The American Revolution had drawn to a close and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just kept shifting farther west.

In the early-mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was the frontier and only hardy souls dared settle here.  The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish.  I think if the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops they might ultimately have won because they scared the s— out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives were another matter. They weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy.

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

The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors at the tail end of Pontiac’s War and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta County. A 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.  He’s now one of my all time favorite characters.

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 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.

Charity, the heroine in Red Bird’s Song, is drawn from a reference I came across of a young Scots-Irish woman captured along a river in the Virginia frontier.  Remember, early Virginia was enormous.  Augusta County, near where I live, encompassed present day states and was later sectioned off.  Nothing is known of what happened to that young woman.   Just a single line in an old account of captives taken during the Indian wars.

The same sort of capture and subsequent lack of information occurred to the sister of my great grandmother a number of greats back.  Both of these women may have made new lives with the Indians.  There are records of women who married into the tribes and did not want to leave their warrior husbands and adopted people.  Tragically, some those captives who wished to remain were later forced to return to their white families through treaties, causing great heartache.  There are also accounts of captives who couldn’t get out fast enough!  One such captive was Daniel Boone.

Charity’s cousin Emma in Red Bird’s Song is based on the young, very  pregnant wife carried off in that original attack.  In the actual account it’s uncertain whether or not her husband survived his injuries.  His last name was Estelle, as it is in the story, and we have early Estelle’s in our family tree.   However, that name is no longer common in the Shenandoah Valley but has vanished into the mist of time along with a mostly forgotten era and its people.  Few remember or care.  Perhaps you will come to.

James, the little boy in Red Bird’s Song, is drawn from the lively child taken in the original attack who lived to tell about it and did so with great relish.  He’s also modeled after several high spirited little boys I’ve known and loved.  James is a tribute to my young nephew, Matthew Trissel, killed in a farm accident, and my youngest daughter Elise’s close friend, Garry Keens, killed by a drunk driver.  Wonderful boys, gone before us but never forgotten.

Although Eastern woodland Indians had a reputation for brutality, once a captive was adopted they were well treated and regarded as equals.  Warriors were unpredictable and didn’t always behave in a certain manner anymore than all European men acted alike.  Warriors could be unexpectedly gentle or sadistic.

I’ve read accounts of warriors getting up in the night to stir up the campfire and cover captive women and children with blankets, even delay their journey while a woman gave birth.  These men protected and fed their captives while other warriors burnt them at the stake.  It all depended on who took you captive and why as to what your fate would be, and whether they kept, traded, or sold you.  Or killed you in retribution for a love done lost at the hands of the English.  Of course, some braves didn’t take captives.  Just scalps.  The warriors most feared in the Shenandoah Valley were the Shawnee, regarded as the fiercest of all.  The more I studied these remarkable people, the more engrossed I became, especially as they figure into our family roots.

The sources I used in researching Red Bird’s Song would take up pages, my list of reading material sizable, and I’m indebted to the long-suffering anthropologists and archeologists who answered my many questions and supplied me with research materials, also helpful reenactors, historians, and historical sites.  Most of all, I’m indebted to my own forebears.  Without these hardy souls, their faith in God and determination to forge a life in the New World, I wouldn’t be here.  Neither would many of you.

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*Red Bird’s Song is available from The Wild Rose Press in print and digital download (ebook), and Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.  Your bookstore and library can  order it in.  To read excerpts from the novel.

*Image from the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans and royalty free images   ***I am seeking good quality Native American images to purchase.  If you know of a source please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo.com  or leave me a comment.

Do You Remember The French and Indian War?


through-the-fire-cover-final

Anyone?  I do, almost as if I lived back then.  My early American ancestors did.

When I wrote historical romance novel Through the Fire I felt as though I’d been through the flames. My hero and heroine certainly had. This adventure romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor and a mystical weave was born in the fertile ground of my imagination, fed by years of research and a powerful draw to my colonial roots.

My fascination with stirring tales of the colonial frontier and Eastern Woodland Indians is an early and abiding one. My English/Scot-Irish ancestors were among the first settlers of the Shenandoah Valley and had family members killed and captured by the Indians. Some individuals returned and left intriguing accounts of their captivity, while others disappeared without a trace. On the Houston/Rowland side of the family, I have ties to Governor Sam Houston, President James Madison and Malcolm 1st of Scotland (that last one’s a stretch).

Family annals list early names like Beale, Jordan, Madison, and Hite (a German connection I discovered). A brief account of my grandmother (six times removed) Elizabeth Hite, says her sister Eleanor was taken captive and sister Susan killed, though not by which tribe. Their brother Jacob was killed by the Cherokee.

Another ancestor, Mary Moore, is the subject of a book entitled The Captives of Abb’s Valley. A Moffett forebear captured as a child became a boyhood companion of the revered Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. When young Moffett grew up, he married into the tribe and had a son, but that’s the subject of a different novel. A Pennsylvanian ancestor on the Churchman side of the family was invited by the Shawnee/Delaware to help negotiate a treaty with the English because he was Quaker and they were more sympathetic to the plight of the Indians.

Many accounts are left unrecorded, though. Historian Joseph Waddell says we know only a fraction of the drama that occurred during the Indian Wars. I invite you back to a time long forgotten by most.

*A blog visitor recently asked who lost the French and Indian war–the French and the Indians who sided with them.  Mother England won that round.

Excerpt

Shoka held out the cup. “Drink this.”

Did he mean to help her? Rebecca had heard hideous stories of warriors’ brutality, but also occasionally of their mercy. She tried to sit, moaning at the effect this movement had on her aching body. She sank back down.

He slid a corded arm beneath her shoulders and gently raised her head. Encouraged by his unexpected aid, she sipped, grimacing at the bitterness. The vile taste permeated her mouth. Weren’t deadly herbs acrid?

Dear Lord. Had he tricked her into downing a fatal brew? She eyed him accusingly. “’Tis poison.”

He arched one black brow. “No. It’s good medicine. Will make your pain less.”

Unconvinced, she clamped her mouth together.

“I will drink. See?” he said, and took a swallow.

She parted her lips just wide enough to argue. “It may take more than a mouthful to kill.”

He regarded her through narrowing eyes. “You dare much.”

Though she knew he felt her tremble, she met his piercing gaze. If he were testing her, she wouldn’t waver.

His sharp expression softened. “Yet you have courage.”

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Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully. As Rebecca and Kate travel in the wilderness, though beautiful, many dangers lurk for the unsuspecting sisters. Away from the gentility they grew up around, the people they meet as they travel to their uncle in the wilderness are rougher and more focused on survival regardless of which side they belong. I love historical novels because they take me to times and places that I cannot visit and Through the Fire is no different. As I read, I’m transported back to the mid-1700’s on the American frontier as Britain and France maneuver to control the American continent. I can see how each side feels they are right and the other side the aggressor. I watch how the natives take sides based on promises made but not kept. I felt I was there through Ms. Trissel’s descriptions and settings…

Rebecca and Shoka are so believable as lovers. Shoka is calm but can be roused by Rebecca’s stubbornness. They are well matched as they challenge each other, teach each other, and learn from each other. This is not a boring relationship by any means! I enjoyed the secondary characters from the French Captain Renault to Shoka’s cousin Meshewa. The Shawnee fight on the French side of the war. It’s refreshing not to have the novel from the English point of view but to see the conflict from the eyes of the eventual losers of this war and to see the villains as those who we’ve been brought up to see as the “good guys”.

This is an excellent story where there is so much happening with Rebecca in the center of it all. I’m glad I read it and look forward to reading more of Beth Trissel.” Reviewer: Sheila from Two Lips

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“I had previously admired Ms. Trissel’s use of descriptive language in one of her other works, and that is one of the reason’s I chose to read Through the Fire. I was very pleased to discover that this story contained the same strong imagery. “Shafts of late-day sunlight streamed through breaks in the thickly clustered trees to touch the nodding heads of columbine and rosy mountain laurel. The woods were like a garden long ago abandoned.” As I read this passage, I felt as though I were riding through the woods alongside Rebecca. “Wounded men writhed in the crushed grass, their piteous cries in her ears, while the dead lay where they’d fallen. Crimson stains pooled beneath them.” This brief passage describes one of the many action-packed battle scenes that really pulled me into the story so that I could see and hear the fighting around me.

Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance.” ~Poinsettia Reviewer with Long and Short Reviews

***Through the Fire  is available in kindle at Amazon and other online booksellers.

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More About Beth


As Galadriel said to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, “You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone.”

To be passionate about history so that you feel it in your very essence and long to commune with the past is often to be alone. One profound way I’ve found to connect with those who’ve gone before me is through my writing.  My work reflects the heart and soul invested in each word.

Years ago, while researching family genealogy, I gained the courage to take the leap from penning non-fiction essays about rural life to plunge into writing historical romance novels set in early America. That first story, Red Bird’s Song,  written and rewritten more than any other and the book of my heart.  I recently signed for Red Bird’s Song with The Wild Rose Press.  The original manuscript, about the length of Gone With The Wind, had to be considerably reduced.  I cut, cut, cut, and reworked without cutting out the heart of the story.  The initial idea for the plot came to me in a dream on New Year’s Eve 14 years ago, a  highly propitious time to embark down a new road.  Many dreams have guided me on my way.

Raw, powerful, the colonial frontier drew me with stirring tales of the French and Indian War, Pontiac, and Lord Dunmore’s War. My ancestors had interactions with the most feared tribe of that day, the Shawnee, including family members taken captive.  Some forebears returned with tales to tell, others didn’t; no one knows what happened to them except in my imaginings.  One man captured as a child and adopted into the tribe, was later restored to his white family.   He returned to the Shawnee and then journeyed back and forth between the English and Indian world, trying to keep a foot in both.

Much of my writing features my early Scot-Irish forebears who settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains, spreading into the Carolinas and Tennessee. The beauty of my valley and mountains inspires me. My extensive research has been generously aided by historians, anthropologists, archeologists, colonial reenactors and the Shawnee themselves.  Not to mention a mountain of reading.

This communion with the past is my motivation for the novels I create, not the market; I was informed early on by New York editors that I should write other settings, preferably European.  I’m thankful that at the Wild Rose Press a good story is judged according to its merits and not the perceived popularity of the time period.

So, welcome to the colonial frontier where the men fire muskets and wield tomahawks and the women are wildcats when threatened. Hear the primal howl of a wolf and the liquid spill of a mountain stream. Are those war whoops in the distance? Ever heard of bearwalking?

Daughter of the Wind is a light paranormal/historical fantasy romance with strong American historical roots. Set among the clannish Scots-Irish in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies, it’s a tale of the clash between peoples and young lovers caught in the middle. Ever influenced by my regard for Eastern Woodland Indians, I interwove mystical, Native American elements with ‘Daughter.’

A bearwalking Shawnee warrior, secrets from the past, a rugged frontiersman, gifted heroine, magical moonstone, love at first sight…DAUGHTER OF THE WIND.

Through the Fire is an adventure romance with a The Last of the Mohicans flavor and a mystical weave.  Some of the most unusual aspects of this story are based on individuals who really lived. A passionate love story set during the French and Indian War, Through the Fire has finaled in more contests than any I’ve written, including the prestigious 2008 Golden Heart®.

The French and Indian War, a Shawnee warrior, an English lady, blood vengeance, deadly pursuit, primal, powerful, passionate…THROUGH THE FIRE.

Not to neglect my fascination with gracious old homes and the high drama of the American Revolution. I have ancestors who fought and loved on both sides of that sweeping conflict. My research into the Southern face of the war was partly inspired by my great-great-great grandfather, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, who kept a journal of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, 1781, that is used by historians today.  Stick around for a wild ride into Carolina Back County and the battle between Patriots and Tories. Our hero is the former and our heroine the latter.  Both of them bear names that belonged to my ancestors.

Enemy of the King , a historical romance with paranormal element, is my version of The Patriot. A big fan of Daphne Du Maurier since my teens, I was also influenced by her mystery/ghost story, Rebecca. Our Virginia home place, circa 1816, and other early homes left deep impressions on me. I’ve long harbored suspicions that those who’ve gone before us are not always entirely gone.

1780 South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost, the battle of King’s Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.

SomewhereMyLove_WRP_2024_300Which brings me back around to my first release, Somewhere My Love, a murder mystery/ghost story romance with flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia and Hamlet parallels.   Somewhere My Love won the 2008 Preditors &Editors Award Readers Poll for Best Romance Novel.  Most recently, it won the clash of covers contest at Embrace the Shadows blogspot.

Star-crossed lovers, flashbacks to early 18th century Virginia, ghostly, murder mystery, light paranormal romance, Gothic flavors…SOMEWHERE MY LOVE.

I am currently at work on the next in my ‘Somewhere’ series, a unique suspenseful Scottish time travel.

All three of my new releases won book of the week at Long and Short Reviews and received fabulous reviews.  Highly gratifying, but I would write them anyway.  I will always write what I love.  More recently they made the top ten Publisher’s Weekly Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009!  For more on that click on Barbara Vey.

My most recent release, not officially out until Dec. 11th, but already available as an Early Bird Special At The Wild Rose Press and at Amazon, is An American Rose Christmas, an anthology featuring six fabulous stories by American historical romance authors.  My story in this anthology is A Warrior for Christmas.

In addition to the next in my ‘Somewhere’ series, I’m writing sequels to Through the Fire and Enemy of the King.  For starters….

And this catches you up through December 2009~

For more on my work please visit www.bethtrissel.com