Sunday, July 26, 2015

E.E. Burke's New Release: FUGITIVE HEARTS

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What shapes a hero? 

Violent events in America's past shaped the character of Frank Garrity, the hero in my new release, Fugitive Hearts.

This character was inspired by stories I’d read about a period of time preceding the Civil War, a time of unspeakable violence on the border between Missouri and Kansas. 

In fact, the fighting became so intense the state was dubbed for a time, “Bleeding Kansas." 



Trading Post, Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes River, is about an hour down the highway from where I live. This unincorporated town is reputed to be the longest continuously occupied community in Kansas, established in 1825 as (you guessed it) a trading post with the Osage Indians.

For years I drove by this tiny spot on the map and had no idea of the monumental impact it had on this region and the whole United States. In 1858, a brutal massacre on “free state” men occurred just a few miles away. John Brown built a "fort" close by to protect fellow abolitionists and plotted vengeance on slave owners, which culminated with his raid on Harper’s Ferry Virginia, a year later. From trading post, Kansas Senator Jim Lane and his infamous Jayhawkers launched a retaliatory raid on southern sympathizers in Missouri in 1861. 

All this from a little place called Trading Post. 

Nearby is the site of the Marais des Cynes Massacre, which inspired John Brown to greater violence, spurred Jim Lane to attack Missouri, and arguably lit the spark that started a Civil War. 

Did you know?
Kansas suffered the highest rate of fatal casualties of any Union state, largely because of its great internal divisions over the issue of slavery.

The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles (1854-1861) occurred May 19, 1858, when thirty pro-slavery Missourians seized eleven Kansas ‘Free-State’ men and marched them to a creek bed near Trading Post. The eleven men were lined up execution style and promptly shot, for no other reason than being in support of a Free State.

The incident shocked the nation and galvanized abolitionists.

A few weeks later, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort” (about 14 x 18 feet), which he occupied with a few men through that summer.  That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated eleven slaves, killing one white man in the process. Ultimately, he took his fight east to Virginia, where after his ill-fated raid he was captured and hanged. Later that same year, Kansans rejected a proslavery constitution and entered the Union as a “free state” in 1861. 
A follower of Brown bought his property near Trading Post and later, at the site of the fort, built a stone house that still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site. 

Visiting this and other historical sites caught up in the bloody conflict, I thought about how the "border war" changed the lives of everyday people for decades to come. Out of this bit of history came the character of the sheriff in Fugitive Hearts

Here's an excerpt where Frank reveals an inkling of his past, and his pain, to Claire:

“My mother transplanted trailing roses from our home in Missouri when we moved to a farm just over the border in what was at the time Kansas Territory.” Frank could see in his mind’s eye the profuse vines, heavy with blooms, and his mother’s lined, weathered face, her proud smile. “They spread up a trellis on the side of the house. I can remember how they smelled when the window was open and there was a breeze.”
For years, the scent of roses had reminded him of his mother. Then he’d met Claire. Her soft fragrance reminded him of all he’d lost and made him long for things he wasn’t destined to have, like a stable home and a family. His spirits sank further.
“Are the roses still there?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t been back since she died ten years ago.”
“You don’t have family living there?”
No one lived at the deserted farm. He didn’t know why he hadn’t sold the place.
“No, my sisters live in Missouri with their husbands and families. They’re quite a bit older than me. They married before my parents moved to Kansas in fifty-seven.”
For years, Frank had kept the window on his past firmly shut. Feeling safe with Claire, he opened it. “A year after we moved, southern raiders crossed the border. They rounded up a dozen free-state men, including my father, took them to a ravine and shot them. Murdered them just because they opposed slavery.”
Claire’s eyes were deep pools of sympathy. She had a gift for being able to connect with another person’s pain. Or maybe it was something that was just between the two of them. Whatever it was, it had the same effect on him as bathing in a sun-warmed lake.
“How old were you when your father was killed?”
“Sixteen.”
“That’s too young to lose your father…” A small crease marred her smooth forehead, a sign she was thinking. “You’re thirty-three.”
She said it like she’d compared him to Methuselah.
“Hard to believe with all this gray hair.” Not to mention the extra years carved into his face. He sure felt like he’d lived three lifetimes.
She touched her hair self-consciously. “I’m sure I look older than twenty-eight.”
“Not by a minute.” What a relief to be able to make an honest statement.
Her eyes shone with gratitude, even as her lips twisted in a rueful smile. “Let’s just say we’ve both put a lot of living into our few years.”
She’d been a young bride tied to a broken soldier. He’d spent half his life pursuing justice, which had turned out to be an elusive ideal rather than a hard and fast principle.
“Living isn’t what I’d call it.”

Fugitive Hearts will be released on Tuesday, July 28. You can preorder from AmazonibookstoreKobo or Google Play

Let's Celebrate!

#BestOfTheWest Heroes and Book Release Party
Hosted by E.E. Burke and Angi Morgan
Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central
RSVP http://bit.ly/FugitiveHeartsParty

Chat with your favorite Western romance authors from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central. The all-star cast includes many of my former Best of the West guests: Kathleen Rice Adams, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, B.J. Daniels, Becky Lower, Cindy Nord, Kirsten Osbourne, Kaki Warner and Beth Williamson.

Enter drawings to win books, gift cards and goodies, these generous authors are bringing to the party to help me celebrate my new release.

I'm starting the celebration a little early with a drawing for my GLIAS readers and a giveaway. Enter to win:
FREE on Amazon
1 signed copy, Her Bodyguard
1 signed copy, Passion's Prize
1 signed copy, A Dangerous Passion


You may download my debut novella, Kate's OutlawFREE on Amazon from Friday, July 25 to Tuesday, July 28. 


What historical sites have you visited that had a big impact on you, or inspired a story? 

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10 comments:

  1. I can't wait to read this series, it sounds really good. Entering under the name of Virginia

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    1. Thanks Virginia! Hope you'll come to our FB Party Wednesday. You can enter to win a signed copy of the new release!

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  2. HOW INTERESTING !!

    I hope everyone's joined the FACEBOOK party on Wednesday. We're going to have lots of fun!

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  3. Thanks Angi! YES! Everyone is invited! Lots of fun and goodies.

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  4. Looks like a great series. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Thanks Brenda. My debut novella, Kate's Outlaw, is free on Amazon for a couple more days. It will give you a good introduction to the series if you haven't read it yet. Here's the link: http://amzn.to/17zo9hr

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  5. I have visited Gettysburg and had goosebumps the entire time. We were there in the wee hours and it made me wonder what it felt like to be there in the hours leading up to the first conflict? I can't wait to go back!

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    1. I felt the same way when I visited, Diane! It's a very sacred place.

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  6. I haven't visited any real historical places, but I do genealogy research and have found some fascinating stories about the civil war near the Arkansas-Missouri line. The most interesting though was the letter my great grandmother wrote about her life as a German living in Russia before coming to America in 1893. It would make a great story.

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    1. That letter does sound fascinating! You should write about her! I love digging into family history.
      The area you're talking about is close to where my series is set. Lots of history of the area figures into the stories.
      Thanks for sharing, Brenda. I hope you'll check out the series.

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