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Friday, March 29, 2013

A Happy Easter and Joyful Spring

There are those of us who celebrate the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Saviour at Easter.

And then there are us kids at heart who watch for the Easter bunny and the chocolate candy.

Hopefully, we are a good mix of both! 
May you have a safe, blessed, and healthy holiday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


>Hi everyone! I have kind of an odd research topic today. Because everything I write takes place in Oklahoma or Texas, and because I was born and raised in Oklahoma, most of my research tools are right at my fingertips. Talking to older people in the area, going to the actual places where my stories are set, and visiting museums and landmarks are all part of my research practices for just about all my novels. Louis L’Amour said that if he wrote about a creek or a particular landmark, it was authentic; that is was actually where he said it was and looked the way he described it. I don’t quite go that far, but I try to keep the setting and every other component of my writing as true to life as possible. In order to do that, sometimes you just have to “be there.”

Tamaha, Oklahoma, was an unlikely candidate to be included in my story, FIRE EYES, until I visited there. But how its inclusion came about is a story in itself—and proves that sometimes our research, as that other saying goes, “happens.”

Though there’s very little to say about the actual town of Tamaha as it exists today, I couldn’t help but use it in my story, Fire Eyes, first released in May 2009, then re-released with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER in 2012. (SEE FOLLOWING EXCERPT) In those long ago days of more than a century past, Tamaha, Indian Territory, was a thriving community.

There’s an odd thing that happened that made me include Tamaha in my book. I’d been working on it, and had come to the part where the villain and his gang needed to reference a landmark. But which one? And what was the significance? As I said, I try to stay as historically accurate in my writing as possible, and this story takes place in the eastern part of the state, toward the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. I must admit, I’m not as familiar with that part of the state as I am with the central part, since that’s where I was born and raised. A lot of these smaller towns don’t even dot the map, and I had never heard of Tamaha, until one day in May, 2005.

I’d just spoken with a lifelong friend, DaNel Jennings, who now lives in a town in that eastern area of the state. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she and her husband, Jeff, were doing some genealogical research and she had learned she had some relatives buried in a small cemetery in Tamaha. Now, the intriguing part of this was that her relatives bore the same last name as my maiden name, “Moss.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if we really WERE related?” she asked. We’d always secretly hoped we were, and pretended that we were, when we were kids.

“Yes,” I responded with a laugh, “but where in the HECK is Tamaha?” (As if I would know.) She began trying to tell me where it was, and I said, “Never mind. It’s a good thing Jeff knows where he’s going. Let me know what you find.”

I hung up, wistfully wishing that I could go with her—but that was a three-hour drive and they were leaving the next day. No way I could take off and drive down there on the spur of the moment, with family obligations.

A couple of hours later, my sister Karen called. “Cheryl, I need you to come down this weekend,” she said. I was really intrigued, because she is my “much older” sister—10 years older—and never much “needed” me for anything before.

“What’s going on?”

“I promised Mr. Borin I would take him to visit the graves of his parents and siblings for Memorial Day, and two of his brothers are buried in a cemetery in Tamaha—”

I never heard the rest of her sentence. I was sure I had misunderstood. “Where?”

“Tamaha. And the others—”

Stunned, I interrupted her. “Wait, I have to tell you something.” I couldn’t believe it. I’d never heard of this place before, and now, within the space of 2 hours, two people who were very close to me had told me they were going to be going to the cemetery there!

Chills raced through my body. This was no mere “coincidence.” I promised her I would be there—no matter what—Friday afternoon. We would be going on Saturday morning.

I would never have found the place on my own. I doubt that Mapquest even has it on their site. But Mr. Borin, an older gentleman my sister had befriended in years past, knew exactly where to go. Once we got there, I stepped out and found the headstones for the “Moss” family. It was amazing to think that my best friend, DaNel, whom I had not seen in over a year, had been standing where I was just a few days earlier—a place neither of us had been before. Again, I wondered what our research through family ancestry would yield. Were we related, as we’d always hoped? There was an incredible sense of connection, for me, not only for what we were doing that day for Mr. Borin and his long dead relatives, but for what DaNel and I might discover about our own.

As the three of us, Karen, Mr. Borin, and I stood in the quiet peacefulness of the old cemetery, a man made his way toward us. “Can I help you?” he asked. We explained why we were there. “Let me show you the historical side of Tamaha while you’re here,” he said cheerfully. He had lived there all his life, and there was no detail about the once-thriving community and surrounding area that he didn’t know. He was glad to share his knowledge, and believe me, I was writing in my little notebook as fast as I could while he talked.

The cemetery is on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River. “Right down there is where the J.R. Williams was sunk. She was a Confederate ship, but the Union seized her and changed the name to the J.R. Williams. But Stand Watie and his men seized her back.”(June 15, 1864) Our guide chuckled at the thought.

NOTE: (Stand Watie was one of only two Native American brigadier generals in the War Between the States. He was the last Confederate officer to lay down his arms, and was also Chief of the Cherokee Nation at the time.)

“Come on, I’ll show you the largest black oak tree in Oklahoma—and the oldest.” Sure enough, it stood towering over one of the first buildings of the settlement of Tamaha, dating back to the 1800’s.

Next, we visited the town jail, the oldest jail in Oklahoma, built in 1886. We were able to walk right into it and take pictures. “We’re trying to get money up to preserve it,” he said. It stood in the middle of an overgrown field. “Watch out for snakes, hon,” he told me. Yep, he didn’t have to tell me twice. My eyes were peeled. NOTE:The oldest jail in Oklahoma still stands near Kerr Lake at Tamaha. Tamaha was one of the earliest port towns and trading centers in the Choctaw Nation, I.T.. Choctaws were brought from Mississippi up the Arkansas River to Tamaha on steamboats as early as 1831.
>< Tamaha developed as a port and ferry crossing around 1836. The Post Office was built in 1884, and the jail in 1886. The last steamboat landed in 1912, three miles east of Stigler. When we left, I knew I had my landmarks that I needed for my book. I had seen it, and my imagination took over. It was the “jog” I needed to get on with the writing, but I will never believe for one minute that it was coincidence. I use many research resources, but because of the nature of what I love to write—western romance—and because I have been so blessed to actually grow up in the area that I’m writing about, I feel like the most invaluable resource available to me are the people and places I meet and visit. It’s all around me. One of the best “hands on” research places I’ve ever been is The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. I worked there for two years, and I loved every minute of it. The best advantage of working there was the fact that every morning when the doors opened, there was a whole new crowd of people to visit with, and yes, I carried a piece of paper and a pen in my pocket at all times. As for research books, I swallowed very hard and bought the complete set of Time/Life books about the West. I use it constantly. Another set of books that I have that really have been a great research tool have been Shelby Foote’s three-book series on the War Between the States. Very easy to read and full of rich detail that you wouldn’t find in a “regular history book.” But my day of research at Tamaha is one that I will never forget, and that I’m so glad to have been able to take part in. Have any of you ever experienced anything like this? Some kind of remarkable occurrence that has affected your writing in some way? Do you classify that as “research”? Share it, if you have—I know I can’t be the only one! Below is an excerpt from FIRE EYES. I hope you enjoy it! Cheryl's Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson


THE SET UP: A stranger has shown up at Jessica’s door in the evening. She is reluctant to let him inside, even though good manners would dictate that she find him a meal and a place to bed down. There is something about him she doesn’t like—and with good reason, as we find out.

“Evenin’, ma’am.”

The stranger looked down the business end of Jessica’s Henry repeater. It was cocked and ready for action.

She drew a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. She stood just inside the cabin door, the muzzle of the rifle gleaming in the lamplight that spilled around her from the interior.

He raised his hands and gave her a sheepish grin. “Don’t mean to startle you. Just hopin’ for a meal. Settlers are few and far between in these here parts.”

“Where’s your horse?” She didn’t lower the gun.

“Well, funny thing. I kinda hate to admit it.” He rubbed the back of his neck and looked away. “I, uh, lost him. Playin’ poker.”


“Over to Tamaha.”

“You’re quite a ways from Tamaha,” she said. “Even farther from where I expect you call home.”

He gave a slow, white grin. “More recently, I hail from the Republic of Texas.”

Jessica raised her chin a notch. It was almost as if this man invited dissension. She disliked the cool, unperturbed way he said it. The Republic of Texas. “Texas is a state, Mister. Has been for over twenty years.”

“Well, now,” he said, placing his booted foot on the bottom porch step. “I guess that all depends on who you’re talkin’ to.”

Her eyes narrowed, and she stepped back to shut the door. “I think you better—”

“Ma’am, I’m awful hungry. I’d be glad for any crumb you could spare.”

“What did you say your name was?” Her voice shook, and she cleared her throat to cover her nervousness. Most people had better manners than to show up right at dark.

“I didn’t. But, it’s Freeman. Andy Freeman.”

“Are you related to Dave Freeman?”

“He’s my brother.” He gave her a sincere look. “Look, ma’am, I’d sure feel a heap better talkin’ to you if I wasn’t lookin’ at you through that repeater. I been lookin’ for Dave.” There was an excited hopefulness in his tone. “You seen him? Ma, she sent me up here after him. She’s just a-hankerin’ for news of him. He ain’t real good about letter-writin’.”

Jessica sighed and lowered the rifle. “Come on in, Mr. Freeman. I’ll see what I can find for you to eat, and give you what news I have of your brother.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. I sure do appreciate your hospitality.”

Sunday, March 10, 2013


PARAPROSDOKIAN - I had never heard of this word nor even known of its existance until I received a list of examples in an email from a friend. Then another friend sent me this expanded list of examples. And don't ask me how to pronounce it. I'm lucky if I can spell paraprosdokian correctly, being spelling challenged as I am. If fact if I misspelled paraprosdokian incorrectly, I'm not sure that even my spell checker could bail me out. So without further ado here is a list of paraprosdokians. If you're like me when you read these, you'll recognize a few. Others, may be new to you. Enjoy!

A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it. 
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.  

Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.


Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.   

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.  

In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR'.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.  Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak
Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left.  

We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public. 

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Where there's a will, I want to be in it
Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet? 

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice. 

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Read an Ebook Week - 3-9 MAR 2013

Kindle, 3rd Generation

An "Ebook" is a book length publication in digital form. No one really knows when the first ebook came along, but it's been several decades in the making. "The Index Thomistiticus" was a heavily annotated electronic index to the works of Thomas Aquinas in the 1940s put together by Roberto Busa. 

However the idea of the ebook reader came to Bob Brown in the 1930's, inspired by the "talkie" movies. In an article Jennifer Schuessler writes, "The machine, Brown argued, would allow readers to adjust the type size, avoid paper cuts and save trees, all while hastening the day when words could be 'recorded directly on the palpitating ether.'"

In 1949 a teacher from Spain, Angelia Ruiz, patents the 1st ebook. She wanted to decrease the number of books her kids brought to school.  

In Star Trek, The Original Series and even The Next Generation, Capt Kirk and Capt Picard each use "ebook" readers - though Kirk's was a bit bulker than Picard's. 

In 1992, Sony launched the Data Discman, an electronic book reader that could read e-books that were stored on CDs. 

The establishment of the E Ink Corp. in 1997 led to the development of electronic paper a technology which allows a display screen to reflect light like ordinary paper without the need for a backlight. The Rocket Ebook is introduced but doesn't gain any popularity. 

In the mid 2000's, Amazon released the "Kindle" a slim, convienent, ebook reader that is affordable to the every day public.  Sony does the same. 

"Read An Ebook Week" was first listed in 2004. The purpose was to educate and inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically.

Popular formats include: PDF, EPUB, and HTML. 

Some advantages of having an ebook: 

--All fiction books published prior to 1900 are considered in the public domain and free.

--An ebook can be ordered and downloaded immediately.

--The cost is affordable.

--A single reader can have many books.

--There is a wide variety of ebook readers that are affordable.

--It saves on physical space.

--You can ajust the font and add notes if you want.

If you go to: http://www.ebookweek.com/index.html
There are two contests along with a great list of "deals and steals." It's a great place to hang out and enjoy an ebook this week. 

Question for you: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one. Why do you recommend it? The price? The size? The features?  

Do you have any "Deals and Steals" you'd like to share this week? Leave a comment! 

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. Her ebooks with Victory Tales Press include: A Polish Heart, Journey of the Heart, Feast of Candles, and Christmas in Bayeux.