Shannon here: Inspirational author, Kathleen Y’Barbo visits with us for one day and shares how her hero and heroine meet in Anna Finch and the Hired Gun. I’m curious how this meeting can lead to romance. Waterbrook Multnomah is giving away a goody basket with signed copies of two of Kathleen’s books. To enter the contest, read the note from Kathleen at the end of the post.
Excerpt from Anna Finch and the Hired Gun:
Beyond the scrub that lined the stream, the bank tilted at an angle just steep enough to allow a horse to traverse it without sliding in. At the water’s edge, the shadows were still long, showing little of the daylight that crept across the plain. The weather was glorious. The last of the April snow remained only in sparkling patches. Soon the upstream melting would begin and, if combined with a decent thundershower, turn this peaceful stream into a raging river.
Anna guided Maisie to her favorite spot and slipped off the horse. Stretching the kinks left in her back from a night of too much reading and not enough sleep, she debated whether to reach for the Smith & Wesson pistol in her saddlebag and see if she could still match her record of five straight hits on the old log on the other side of the stream. It had been some time since she’d made the attempt.
To keep her hair from hindering her vision, Anna fashioned a hasty braid and retrieved the hat from her saddlebag. She lifted the Smith & Wesson from the saddlebag as well and made short work of filling its chambers with five bullets. After all these years of performing the same rote action, loading the weapon still gave her the tiniest of thrills. Probably because shooting was another in a long line of pastimes she’d been required to give up. At least as far as her father knew.
But then, there was so much he didn’t know.
Anna set the pistol on a rock, then hobbled the horse in case the sound frightened her. Maisie was a high-strung mare under the best of conditions, though she always returned when she bolted. Still, this might be the time she did not, leaving Anna to find her way back to Denver on foot.
Anna raised the pistol and took aim on the log. The fallen tree was slightly larger than a man and of sufficient age to have been used for target practice for two winters. In summer the faded green of the grass made for easy shooting, but in winter the long shadows, occasional covering of snow, and brown earth upped the ante. Here in the golden glow of early morning, the sun danced across the log’s imperfections, invitingly highlighting several places at which to aim. Anna chose a knothole and closed one eye, bringing the makeshift target squarely in her sights.
A squeeze of the trigger, and she saw the first bullet zing off the end of the log. A good shot, but barely, and certainly not close enough to the knothole. Easing her aim a bit to the right, she fired two more rounds directly into the center of the log.
Then she heard the bear. At least she thought it was a bear from the volume of its howl.
Maisie heard it too and began to spook. Wherever the bear was, he’d either been hit by one of her bullets or awakened before his winter nap ended.
In either case, Anna didn’t want to meet him.
She tucked the gun into her waistband and ran for her horse. The faster she tried to remove Maisie’s hobbles, the longer it took. Finally she kicked the last one free, pulled out the gun, and swung her leg over the saddle.
Only somehow, Maisie disappeared from beneath her.
Anna was vaguely aware of the horse’s hindquarters as it trotted over the rise to disappear into the prairie grass. Most of her attention focused on whatever yanked her from the saddle and now held her by the middle in a grip so tight her breath came in short gasps.
Her flailing boots struck something solid, and her attacker dropped her. Anna skittered backwards out of the bear’s reach. The sun blinded her, but she could see the grizzly’s proportions. When her boots refused to find solid ground, she rolled to her belly and began to crawl.
Only then did she realize she still held the Smith & Wesson in her hand.
Panicked math told her two bullets remained in the chamber. Two chances to save her skin. Two shots between her and meeting Jesus well before she expected to.
Taking aim wasn’t possible, so she turned and fired off two quick shots. The second one felled the bear, and he went down with a mighty roar and a string of blistering words.
Anna sat bolt upright.
The bear had transformed into a crumpled mass of buckskin and boots, but appeared to be human. And from the sound of his growl, decidedly male. Leaning out of the sun’s glare, Anna eyed her writhing attacker, definitely man and not grizzly, though shaggy and trail-worn.
A few yards ahead, Maisie appeared over the rise, her desire for spring water obviously overruling any fear or good horse sense she might have. Even with an aching backside, Anna thought she could reach the horse faster than this stranger could find his feet and give chase.
But with a howl, he surprised her by lurching forward and hauling her up by the back of her pants.
“I ought to tan your backside, boy,” he shouted, “but I’ll let your pa do that. Where is he? I doubt he’ll appreciate his son shooting at an innocent man. And the law’s not going to like that you probably chased Doc Holliday himself away. You’re not with Holliday, are you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Her arms swinging wildly, Anna tried to free herself. “Release me this instant, you brute, or I’ll see that my father has you shot. Again.”
It was a stupid comment made in panic, but the bluster did its trick. The man let her go. Anna scrambled for Maisie.
“You won’t get anywhere running off like that,” the stranger shouted. “I’m bigger and faster, and my aim’s a whole lot better than yours. Now stop, or you won’t have to wonder if I’m telling the truth.”
About Kathleen: Kathleen Y’Barbo first discovered her love of books when, at the age of four, she stumbled upon Granny Simpson’s set of World Book Encyclopedias. Letters became words, and words became stories of far-away places and interesting people.
As she grew up, Kathleen learned that her love of story could carry her off to places far beyond her small Texas Gulf Coast town. Soon she hit the road for real, earning a degree in Marketing from Texas A&M before setting off to such exotic destinations as Jakarta, Tokyo, Bali, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Eventually, the road led back to Texas and a career in writing. Within a decade, Kathleen became a best-selling author of more than thirty award-winning novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than 850,000 copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad. Soon Kathleen will be adding nonfiction books to her credits as well.
Kathleen is a member of the Authors Guild, Advance Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Words For the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Public Relations Society of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, as well as a certification in Paralegal Studies. A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has a daughter and three sons.
About the Contest: A note from the author, Kathleen Y’Barbo: “To kick off the release of my new book Anna Finch and the Hired Gun, I’ve put together a basket of goodies including signed copies of Anna Finch and The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper to offer as a prize to one lucky Facebook fan or Twitter follower! Simply comment on a Facebook fan* post or direct message me in response to one of my Tweets between 6/16/2010 and 7/19/2010 and you’ll be entered to win!
Shannon again: Since Kathleen has a contest going, if you leave a comment on the blog, I’ll enter you in the drawing for Roseanna White’s A Stray Drop of Blood. Roseanna will be with us on Weds. and Fri sharing her real life romance and that of her fictional characters.