Book two in my Jacob Blade – Vigilante series now has a brand new cover. It’s still available, though, at the same great price of 99 cents. Check it out:
I’m so excited because my book, Buffalo Soldier: The Iron Horse, was just nominated for the 2019 Readers Choice Awards contest by TCK Publishing!
Please vote for it at https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/
My book can be found under Category 14, Historical Fiction. It should be the first book on the page.
Get the latest adventure of Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves for your Kindle from Outlaws Publishing, LLC. Now available for only 99 cents. Bass is sent to arrest a young woman who has formed an outlaw gang that is terrorizing traffic on the Red River. You won’t want to miss this one.
Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MP47117/
It’s been a while since I wrote a short story. So, when I was asked to do one for a tribute volume to western author Scott Harris, I jumped at the chance. Believe it or not, my story was selected to open the book – how neat is that. A new offering from Dusty Saddle Publishing, and it’s quite a deal at only 99 cents.
Kindle version available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HCNK39Z
Get this one; my latest from Outlaws Publishing: ‘The Nearest Town is Purgatory’
I am excited to announce that my novel, Vixen, has been nominated for the Readers Choice Award in the Historical Fiction Category. I encourage all of my readers to go to www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting/ and go to category 14 (Historical Fiction) and vote for it. Vixen can be found near the bottom of the category page. Your vote will be greatly appreciated. Again, a reminder, go to www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting/ and vote.
I am excited to announce that my historical novel, Vixen, has been nominated for the 2017 Readers Choice Award in the Historical Fiction category. Please go to www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-vote/ and cast your vote. It will be greatly appreciated.
As a special treat to my readers, I’m making four of my books (Kindle version) available for free each month in November and December. Just click on the link to go to the book’s page on Amazon.
If I Should Die Before I Wake — November 4 – 8
Portrait of Africa — November 11 – 15
Buffalo Soldier: Range War — November 18 – 22
Vixen — November 25 – 29
My two recently published Outlaws Publishing LLC books, Wagons West: Daniel’s Journey and Wagon’s West: Trinity, part of the Daniel’s Journey series, have been temporarily removed from Amazon (paperback and Kindle version), but will be back soon under a new imprint, Rusty Spurs. They were automatically removed from my Amazon author page, will go back on when they go live under the new imprint. I have also removed them from my author website, http://charlesray-author.com/, but will reinstate them there as well. I apologize to anyone who tried to click on those links over the past few days and were greeted with Amazon’s ‘no such page’ notice.
Outlaw Publishers, a small publisher based in Texas, has just published the second book in the Daniel’s Journey series, western stories for younger readers. The first, Wagon’s West: Daniel’s Journey, the story of a wagon train journey through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy, was published in April.
Daniel’s adventures, however, don’t end with a wagon train trip. My plans are to follow young Daniel as he grows up in Oregon in the late 1800s, maybe all the way to maturity. The purpose of the series is two-fold; first, to introduce younger readers to the western genre, a uniquely American literary form, and secondly, to show that the American West was populated by more than steely-eyed cowboys and lawmen, dastardly outlaws, and Native Americans fighting to retain their land and culture. There were families as well, including children, and I’ve often wondered what life was like for them. In this series, I’m using my imagination, backed up with a lot of research, to create that world for myself, and hopefully, for a lot of new readers.
In book 2 of the series, Wagons West: Trinity, the little town of Trinity has been established near the ranch owned by Daniel’s parents. it too is experiencing growing pains, as people of different backgrounds learn to live together. I also explore the issue of women’s rights in this story, something that I imagine actually might have happened in a few places considering that the first woman to vote in the US voted in Wyoming.
If you have young readers in your household, or on your gift list, consider introducing them to the western. I’ve tried to ensure that these books contain no material that would be harmful to younger readers, but at the same time, make them interesting for adult readers as well.
I would love getting some feedback, on the books as well as the concept. And, if you happen to like what you read, a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog would be most appreciated.
Just published! A collection of political cartoons that I’ve drawn over the past couple of years, primarily in reaction to the tumultuous 2016 political campaign, and the surprising victory of a former TV reality show star. I’ve chronicled his often outrageous behavior, as well as the reactions of those around him, in a series of pen and ink sketches that I think you will enjoy. The book is available on Amazon and other retail book sites, in paperback and Kindle version.
Wagons West: Daniel’s Journey
Outlaws Publishing LLC.
I’ve written a lot about where my story ideas come from, but my most recent book, Wagons West: Daniel’s Journey, from Outlaws Publishing, LLC; the story of a ten-year-old’s view of a wagon train journey from his home in Iowa to a new home in Oregon, came about through the strangest way yet.
Several months ago, I was contacted by J. C. Hulsey, head of Outlaws Publishing, to be interviewed for his Internet radio show regarding my book about the famous deputy U.S. Marshal, Bass Reeves; Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. During the interview, we discussed our mutual love of the western genre, and ideas on how new readers might be brought to love it as much as we do. One of the way, we both agreed, would be to interest young readers. That led to the idea (I don’t recall which of us brought it up first, but it was likely me) of doing books that appeal to younger people. One thing led to another, and in the end the idea of doing a series of western novellas was born.
After some thinking, I decided that the best way to appeal to younger readers was to have a youngster as the main character. That way, the history of the west, and the genre could be made relatable. Some more thinking, and I came up with Daniel Waterford, a 10-year-old, and his introduction to the West. I started with the title, Wagon’s West, but as I neared the end, I added Daniel’s Journey. I deliberately kept it short, and kept the violence to a minimum, and added no foul language, so it can be read by, or read to, any age group.
I kept the historical input to a minimum, but did try to show the diversity that was the western frontier in the years after the Civil War—including some references to the war itself, and kept the main character front and center. The idea was to show this environment through the eyes of a young person.
Outlaws Publishing did a great job with the cover and editing. The hallmark of a well-edited book is that the Kindle version has no stray margins or glitches that often happen when the manuscript for a paperback is converted to e-format.
At the risk of sounding vain, I think we did a great job with this first book in what I hope will be an extensive series, following Daniel as he grows up on the frontier.
It’s available on Amazon at the following links:
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/154631640X/. $5.40
Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072L35SJF/. $0.99
If you’re a fan of the western genre, or you have a youngster that you’d like to get interested in reading, I encourage you to take a look at Daniel’s Journey. As always, if you like the book, a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or any other book review site, would be greatly appreciated.
Comments here rea welcomed as well.
To celebrate the arrival of spring, each week in March I’m offering a Kindle version of one of my books free. The first will be Buffalo Soldier: The Piano, one of the best in the Buffalo Soldier series, which will be available March 1 – 5 for Kindle or Kindle apps. To see the other books available, check out my publisher page on Facebook, where you’ll also find other book-related information. To get The Piano, click on the link below on or after March 1.
February is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the contributions of people of color to the rich tapestry that is the history of the United States. It’s unfortunate that it has taken the establishment of a special month to highlight the role so prominently played at the time of the historical events, but that was later erased from the history books, or at best, downplayed. One of the figures of our historical past who has yet to receive the full acknowledgement due him is Bass Reeves. Reeves was a former slave who spent the years of the Civil War in Indian Territory in Oklahoma. After the war, he returned to his native Arkansas and became a farmer, and sometimes scout for the deputy U.S. marshals traveling into Indian territory in search of fugitives. Even though he could neither read nor write English, Reeves was an expert tracker who spoke six Native American languages, was handy with his fists, and was so proficient with firearms (fired with either hand) he was banned from entering Turkey Shoots in his community. When Isaac Parker was made federal judge for western Arkansas and the Indian Territory by President Grant, he decided to hire black deputy marshals because they would be able to operate easier in Indian territory than white men would. Reeves was one of the men hired, and his exploits for the next 30 years was the stuff of legend. Despite this, popular media and American history has mostly forgotten him, There have been a couple of minor movies and a few books, but few people know that he’s thought to be the model for the popular ‘Lone Ranger’ character of radio, TV and comic books.
Black History Month is a good time to do some reading that helps to set the historical record straight. A few years ago, when I came across information about Reeves while doing research for my Buffalo Soldier series (stories about the black Ninth Cavalry soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers by their Native American adversaries), I was fascinated, and decided to do a fictionalized account of his activities. That book, Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, has been one of my more popular books, with consistent month-to-month sales since it was published in 2014, in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Though fiction, it’s historically accurate, and while I’m a bit biased, I also think it’s an entertaining story.
Paperback and Kindle versions of the book are available at the following link which is the Amazon store on my other blog:
Once there, go to the bottom of the store and click on ‘Page 8.’ The two versions of the book are at the bottom of the page. By clicking on the one you want, you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to purchase the book directly from Amazon.
Some of my other books relating to minorities and their contributions to American history:
Following is an excerpt from chapter 1 of Here, There Be Demons, the third book in the Chronicle of Pip of Pandara series. Appreciate reader comments:
Pip sat at the large wooden desk, staring down at the pile of documents overflowing its top. He shook his head, and then bowed it, cupping his hands to either side, fingers entwined in his flame red hair.
“This is not how it was supposed to be,” he said to himself. “A soldier is not supposed to have to battle stacks of paper.”
Through slitted eyes he stared down at the unruly parchments piled there, silently swearing that they seemed to have grown in number in the few minutes he’d been staring at them. There were supply requests from the quartermaster’s office with Tamara’s untidy scrawl at the bottom of each. Tamara, a fairy of wood and water, did double duty as chief of the quartermaster unit and chief trainer for scouting and reconnaissance. It was the second duty that she much preferred, but her ability with figures had forced Pip to give her the additional duty of keeping track of the many supplies needed to keep his small army feed, clothed and equipped. The volume of requests from her office, though, was her way of getting back at him for the odious office duty which she hated, a fact that she reminded him of each time they met. Beneath that was a smaller pile of documents, mainly from his two regimental commanders, Godfred and Melchor, informing him of their training schedules, plans for recruitment to fill the ranks, and notifications of disciplinary actions—thankfully, there were only a few of these—mostly for minor infractions.
That each of his subordinate chiefs felt it necessary for him to see so much paper was for Pip a constant source of frustration.
What he really ached to do was be out in the field, working with the still green soldiers of Pandara’s national army. No, he reminded himself; fully a third of the ranks were filled by beings from the Land of Fire, making it a combined Pandaran-Land of Fire force. He had yet to think of an appropriate name, so everyone kept the name, National Army of Pandara, shortened to NAP by the soldiers and officers alike. That name would have to go, he thought. He did not want to lead a force called NAP, it sounded too much like a band of vacationers whose aim was to find a place to . . . take a nap. But, try as he might, he’d been unable to think of a more suitable designation.
He felt the beginning of a headache, a dull throbbing at his temples that always came when he wrestled with naming the army. Oh well, that’ll have to be a task for another day. He took the quill pen from its ivory holder, dipped it in the inkwell until the tip was black, and quickly scribbled his name at the bottom of each document. When he’d signed the final document, he stacked them neatly to the left side of his desk. After putting the pen back in its holder, he leaned back and sighed deeply.
A few moments later he sat upright. “Norbert,” he called. “Norbert.”
His aide-de-camp, Norbert, rushed into the office.
“Yes, your highness,” he said. “What do you require?”
Pip looked up at the young soldier. The gold star on his collar, signifying his recent promotion to lieutenant, reflected the light from the lamp on Pip’s desk.
“What I require, Norbert, is for you to call me commander, not your highness. We are in the army here, not the throne room. Here I am the commander.”
“B-but, your high-, er commander, you are the heir to the throne, second only to her majesty, Queen Daphne. It hardly seems appropriate for me not to–”
Pip waved his hand in a choppy motion, causing the young man to stop mid-sentence with his mouth hanging open.
“That is an order, Lieutenant. We will follow military discipline in this army. Am I clear?”
Norbert’s back straightened and he threw his shoulders back.
“Aye, sir, commander, sir,” he said.
“Good,” Pip said. He smiled. “Now, I want you to take this forsaken paperwork from my desk and return it to the authors. I am going to my quarters to have a few words with Lady Zohra, and after that you and I will go on an inspection of the army, so get our horses ready.”
“Aye, commander.” Norbert beamed a broad smile as he gathered the papers. “Should I bring the mounts to your quarters?”
“No, I’ll meet you at the stables.”
Norbert clicked his heels and bowed his head slightly. Pip would have preferred a salute, but the man was holding the documents against his chest with both hands.
“Aye, commander, I will wait for you at the stable.”
Pip rose as Norbert marched smartly out. He could not restrain a smile, thinking that young Norbert just a short time before had been a farm boy, new to the army, when Pip had taken him on the mission against the evil tyrant Tenkuk in Barbaria. The lad had acquitted himself well in that operation, and upon his return, Pip had made him his aide, recently promoting him to a rank befitting the aide-de-camp of the army commander.
Pip adjusted his tunic as he walked toward the door. At the door, he took his sword from the rack and belted it around his waist. Chuckling, he exited his office. Zohra, he knew, would chide him for wearing it when he visited her in her chambers, but he didn’t want to take the time to return to his office for it before joining Norbert at the stable.
As he’d guessed, his wife’s eyes went directly to the sword at his waist when he entered the bedchamber.
“So, now that I’m heavy with child, my husband finds it necessary to arm himself before approaching me,” she said wryly. “Am I truly that unattractive?”
Pip pulled up short, his mouth agape. For a few heartbeats he was at a loss for words. Unattractive? His Zohra? Far from it. He’d found that as her belly grew rounder with the life she carried inside her body, she seemed to become radiant, that he desired her even more. When he gazed upon her face, his breathing stopped, and his heart beat so fiercely he feared it would burst from his chest.
“No, my dearest wife,” he said when he could at last find his voice. “You are without doubt the most beautiful woman in all of Pandara; nay, the most beautiful in the entire known and unknown universe.”
Zohra, now in her sixth month of pregnancy, lowered her gaze. Her cheeks darkened. She could not stifle the smile that turned her carmine lips upward. But, Zohra of Avia, of the Eagle Clan, was not one to let her victim off easily.
“If I am truly such a beauty, then why do you find it necessary to wear your sword in my presence?”
Pip looked closely. He saw the twitching of her lips, and knew that she was having her amusement with him. He let out the breath that he’d been holding. Since she became pregnant, Zohra had been subject to many swings of mood, she desired many strange and exotic foods, and at times could not hold food in her stomach, especially in the early mornings. He could never know when her words were in jest or the signal for an angry outburst of recrimination or tears. Truly, he thought, what a child did to a woman’s body and mind was amazing—and quite frightening. At least now, though, she seemed to be in a playful mood.
“I am on my way to the stable,” he said. “I am riding with Norbert out to inspect the regiments at training outside the city. It would have been out of my way to have to return to my office for my sword. Please forgive me, my dear, for bringing it into your bedchamber.”
Zohra put her hands over her mouth. Her body shook. Then, she burst out laughing.
“Truly, Pip,” she said between gasps of laughter. “You are far too easy. You know I do not mind. In fact, I would like very much to ride with you. Being confined to this castle is driving me mad.”
That Pip could easily understand. Zohra had been one of her tribe’s most fearless warriors, spending much of her day on horseback patrolling the boundaries of their land and fighting off bandits and predators. Since learning of her impending motherhood, however, Queen Daphne had, through the palace physician, ordered that she remain within the confines of the structure, lest some misfortune befall the child she carried—a child that would fall just behind Pip himself as heir to the crown that the good Queen Daphne, Pip’s aunt, wore.
“I know how you feel, goodwife,” he said. “But, we can take no chances of harm coming to our son.”
“Or, daughter, good husband.” She put the cloth she’d been embroidering down on the table at her knees and smiled up at him. “You know there is as much chance of the child being a girl as a boy, given the numbers of girls born to my people, more in fact.”
She slapped the table, hard enough to make it jump, and cause Pip to flinch.