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Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Blogger Janet Bly and Stuart Brannon's Final Shot


JANET CHESTER BLY has authored 31 books, including 19 co-authored with her late husband, award-winning author Stephen Bly. She lives at 4200 ft. elev. in the mountains of Idaho on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. She's mother to 3 married sons, grandmother of 4, and has 1 great-grandchild.

by Stephen Bly (with Janet, Russell, Michael, & Aaron Bly)
Published by Center Point Publishers (hardback); Greenbriar Book Company (ebook and paperback)


It's 1905. Two orphans flee from Oregon's Tillamook Head. One of them is branded a hero. Dare they tell the truth and risk the wrath of a dangerous man? Meanwhile, a retired lawman searches for his missing U.S. Marshal friend while he grapples with the game of golf on behalf of a celebrity tournament.

Readers, buy your copy of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot today!


A Sentimental Journey
Research for Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Janet Chester Bly
Copyright ©2012

To write a story set in 1905, there’s context and conflicts, places and people, a whole lot of detail accuracy to grasp. That’s part of the fun. . .and frustration. . .of writing fiction.

When my three sons and I set out to finish the novel hubby Stephen Bly began, we scrambled to do the groundwork of playing major catch-up on what he knew from long years of immersion in his genre and the times. He left us 7,000 words, a one-page story synopsis, and a long list of character names.

We had four months to do the research, craft the rest of the story, and turn in the final manuscript of 77,000 words. So, part of the plan included passing out assignments. I went on location to the Oregon coast.

I had gone there the year before with hubby, but I came along for the ride that time. He did the work. I enjoyed sunsets over the beach, grilled salmon dinners, digging in the sand and leisurely walks hugged by sea breezes. This time I had to be alert to the specifics of the flora and fauna, the history and smells, and making careful recordings in my notebook and with my camera. I forced myself to ignore romantic memories and the urge to run barefoot along the shore. A very different kind of 'going to the beach' trip.

The Places
I did interviews in Astoria, Oregon, the seat of Clatsop County and sought details at Fort Clatsop, where explorers Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805 and was later the site of the William Smith home where a violent conflict takes place.

I stayed in Gearhart, Oregon, with its razor clams, golf course and infamous Ridgeway Path. I studied about beached gray whales and local snakes, wild horses and cougars. At night I read about general info like horse behavior and control when they're in foreign (to them) landscapes. A short jaunt to Seaside, Oregon, revealed a museum where I could find out about its early twentieth century law enforcement, the layout of the town site and the Salt Works Lewis & Clark memorial.

I searched out what it was like at the Portland, Oregon depot in 1905 and the layout of the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition.

Then there was the late addition of the Tillamook Head promontory for one of the major novel scenes, to substitute for the deserted island that we discovered didn’t exist. No islands at all, only rock outcroppings, off the Oregon coast. Did not realize that. Found out in time not to make a critical mistake.

The People
After settling on the local Clatsop tribe for our Indian characters, gathered biographies on famous golfers and historical persons, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and W.C. Fields. Read up on the orphan trains and Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Later we did a sort of casting audition of all former characters in Stuart Brannon novels to determine who made the cut in this last one.

The Products and Inventions
Ads in old newspapers revealed brands of cigars and cigarettes, clothing styles and golf equipment. Then there's the weapons of the era, as well as various gadgets such as flashlights and lawnmowers, telephones and walking sticks to consider. And the wardrobe, of course. In a search of Oregon trains, came across railroad land controversies that worked well with the plot. Loved finding out about the transportation, the motor cars and boats, bicycles and fire trucks.

More Story World Emersion
Narcissa Kinney passed away before this story opens, but she's a real-life character that provides a lot of background for the novel. She made Gearhart a dry town. The stipulation of no liquor bought or sold within the city remained more than seventy years after her death.

Narcissa also brought culture in the form of a 200-acre Gearhart Park that included an auditorium for traveling circuit speakers and entertainment, part of the Chautauqua movement. Gearhart residents and visitors enjoyed classic plays, Broadway hits, opera stars, glee clubs and bands such as John Philip Sousa’s. Fiery orators and activists, crusaders and preachers took advantage of this forum. More than four hundred cities across the country sponsored these same events. President Theodore Roosevelt called them, “the most American thing in America.”

Narcissa’s husband, Marshall Kinney, instigated the links golf course on the north side of Gearhart. My husband loved playing on the narrow ridges, rolls and dips of the grass-covered dunes. We could hear and feel the ocean, though it’s out of sight. Gearhart Golf Links opened circa 1892 and ranks the second oldest course in the west. There’s not a straight trunk along any fairway, only twisted, wind-sculptured trees. A breezy adventure.

In the shadows of the backdrop of the story, one hundred years earlier the waves swell and roll over the empty sea. No supply ship on the horizon as Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark end their cross-country expedition at the Pacific Ocean. They winter at Fort Clatsop, then the long journey home. All this necessitated a scan of their journals because their adventures spill over into this one.

Creating a story begins with objective facts, the truth in fiction. But I also included the landscape of my own emotions, to partially transfer to the widower, Stuart Brannon. Nothing in life's ever wasted for the writer.

* * * * *

Thank you, Janet, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: Have you ever traveled to a fun location with a purpose other than R&R or family vacation? Where and why?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of your choice of either the hardback or paperback edition of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.


Pam K. said...

The only place I can think of that would fit the criteria of the question is the castle in Austria where our family went to a military chaplains conference. It was beautiful but castles in the middle of the winter are very cold! That took a lot of enjoyment away for me. It was an interesting experience though.
I've read several of Stephen Bly's books so it would be nice to win a copy of this last book that his wife and sons finished. Thanks for the chance.

squiresj said...

I traveled to Jamaica the year before I met my husband. I was going on a Mission trip - took vacation from work to go. I helped do children's crusades and even shared my testimony one night. That was over 33 years ago.
Please enter me. jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

We traveled up into the Blue Mountains to pick Huckleberries. Then had lunch and came home with a lot of berries to make into jam. Yummy!

Wendy said...

In May I traveled to Papua New Guinea for 3 1/2 weeks. I served on wycliffe's internal audit team. It was quite an experience.
I love all of Stephen Bly's books and I would love to win this book for my mom. (either hardback or paperback)

Janet Chester Bly said...

Have enjoyed reading all the comments! Great responses!
Thanks for stopping by ...
Janet Chester Bly

Mrs. S said...

I traveled with my pastor father to candidate for a church, and got lost in the small town! I thought it was fun to be in South Dakota like my favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was fascinated with the prairie. My great grandfather homesteaded here and I met many relatives. Ended up that the church called my Dad to pastor, they moved here and when I came home from college, I met my husband and have lived here ever since. NEVER would have imagined that happening.
I haven't been able to bring myself to buy and read this book because it would mean that my library is complete with Stephen and Janet Bly books. I was not ready to say goodbye to my favorite author, but maybe now I can do it! Would love to win it!

Janet Chester Bly said...

Pam K: You're the winner of the Stephen Bly book. Have sent you an email confirmation. Thanks to you all for entering!