Jennifer is here to share a bit about her latest release. She's offered to give away a print copy of the book (US ONLY). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends March 28, 2019. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)
The story behind the story...
I was supposed to be plotting a novella for a collection with the theme of “women doing male-dominated jobs.” Thus, my heroine was a doctor at a time in history when very few women practiced medicine in any formal setting. But I needed some kind of an event that would allow her a big platform to use her medical skills. It was late one evening when I stumbled on a brief mention of the Sand Creek Massacre and thought it would make the perfect setting. Immediately, the hero, Five Kills, began to take shape in my mind. But in the days after that, I dug further into the research of the Sand Creek Massacre and realized just how much history there was to cover. It was not the topic for a novella! And I wondered if it was even a good topic for a novel. But the story called to me, and after praying through the idea, I knew it must be written. So—Sand Creek Serenade was born.
Five Kills listened to the discussion between the Tsitsistas and Hinono-eino chiefs. He appreciated Black Kettle’s insistence that he sit with the elders during their talks, despite the fact his feats in battle should not have earned him such an honor. It was his knowledge of English and French that netted him the seat. His fluency in both languages, plus his passable knowledge of Spanish, often proved useful in knowing whether the white men told the truth during their various interactions. He may not feel he deserved such an esteemed place in the counsel tent, but out of respect for the leader of The People, he came when called, listened carefully to all sides, and offered his thoughts when asked.
From outside the tent, voices rose, and the commotion stalled the conversation within. As the ruckus grew, Black Kettle told a brave to see what was happening. The man slipped from the tent and returned a moment later, eyes settling on Five Kills.
“Your dog has angered the soldiers.”
Heat blanketed his body. Of course it would be his dog, Hótame, to cause a problem. And with the white men, of all people. He reached for his musket, rose, and excused himself. A chill swept his shirtless skin as he emerged from the overly warm tent. He waded into the knot of his tribesmen and women as they faced three soldiers. Their discordant voices silenced as he stopped beside the dog who lay on her belly, attention focused on the white men, her large ears erect and swiveling.
Without a word, he looked at each soldier, waiting for them to state their business.
The man with fiery hair stepped forward. “Your dog stole my sister’s shoe.”
Five Kills furrowed his brow, pretending he didn’t understand.
“The dog.” He nodded at the animal. “It stole my sister’s shoe. Can we have it back please?”
Hótame did, in fact, have a strange-looking object resting between her paws. As Five Kills bent to retrieve it, she snatched it up and bounded sideways. Scowling, he reached for it again, only she backed up, tail wagging.
“Give it to me,” he snarled in the tongue of The People. Hótame woofed around the object, darted past him and the three soldiers, and dropped to her belly. Laughter rippled through the crowd.
Anger flared in his chest, both at Hótame and the laughter. He stalked past the soldiers. With a gathering of the elders in progress, now was not the time for her games. As he drew nearer, she mouthed the stiff footwear and raced off. His people’s tittering followed him. Five Kills refused to look back. He’d laugh once he returned to the camp, but at the moment, the odd situation did nothing but knot his muscles.
Over and over, the dog allowed him to draw near, but dashed a good distance away before he could grab her. The difficulty continued, drawing them toward a building at the white man’s fort. Again, Five Kills reached for the object, and when Hótame dashed out of reach, he stopped.
“I am done with your games,” he warned in The People’s tongue. “Just see what the soldiers will do to you.”
He turned, but the three white men had fanned out to block his path.
Hair-On-Fire spoke. “My sister’s shoe. I need it.”
Five Kills tightened his grip on his musket.
Behind him, Hótame barked furiously, and when he faced her, she scooped up the shoe and trotted toward the corner of the building where a slender, dark-haired woman appeared. The dog bounded toward her, staying just out of her reach.
Five Kills strode to where Hótame played, and when he drew near, she finally dropped the shoe and panted happily. Squatting, he scooped it up and, laying aside the musket, dried the dog’s saliva on his breechcloth.
“Sadie…” Hair-On-Fire’s voice dripped concern as the woman’s long shadow fell across him.
Five Kills grabbed the musket and rocked to his feet, eyeing the three soldiers, the woman, and a yellow-haired man he only now noticed lingering at the front of the building.
“Easy now.” The yellow-haired one came up beside the woman, his hands raised, some sort of dark string dangling from the meaty part of his hand.
In an instant, Hótame was at Five Kills’ side, a growl in her throat.
“Enough,” he hissed in The People’s tongue.
She stopped, though her hackles still stood on end.
When the pretty woman took an uneven step toward Five Kills, the yellow-haired man tried, and failed, to hook her arm.
She smiled, kindness in her brown eyes. “May I please have my shoe?”
The melodious tone of her voice caused him to draw back in surprise. It had been fifteen summers since he’d heard a white woman speak, the last one having a voice like a horde of angry bees. This woman’s voice was expressive. Soothing—like sun-warmed honey.
When he didn’t immediately answer, she edged nearer and touched the shoe, her fingers brushing against his, ever so lightly. “May I have this?”
His heart beating faster at the feather-light touch, Five Kills stared at the dotting of light freckles sprinkled across her nose and cheeks. Shaking off the potent effect she had on him, he thrust the uncomfortable-looking footwear at her.
Her brown eyes lit with gratitude. “Thank you.”
The yellow-haired one stepped closer and, hooking her elbow, drew her behind him. “Yes, thank you,” he bristled. “It would be best if you went back to your camp now.” He jutted his chin toward the encampment a mile away. “Do you understand?”
“Gabriel, don’t be rude,” the woman spoke. “Our new friend is causing no harm.”
“Sadie,” Hair-On-Fire spoke in a warning tone.
She looked at her brother. “The Cheyenne and Arapaho are here seeking peace. The least we can do is be mannerly, especially since he did us a favor.”
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
Where you can find her online...
Instagram: https://www.instagra m.com/jenniferuhlarik/
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