A warm welcome to A.M Burns joining us today here @Love Bytes 🙂
Different is Good
by A.M. Burns
I want to start by telling Dani thanks for having me on the blog as I get the word out about my new book, “Native Wind”. A bit about “Native Wind”, I came up with the idea before I even knew anything about weird westerns. It was about ten years ago when the base idea came to me and like a lot of ideas, it was fairly vague. I wanted to write a story about a young orphan who was raised by Indians. Then I went a step further and came up with the idea he was an apprentice shaman, I couldn’t remember that ever being done before, which is not to say it hasn’t. Then I looked at some of the new age ideas of Native Americans and spirit animals. That gave me a lot to run off of. What if instead of just having spirit animals, Native Americans were shifters, but unlike most shifters we read about nowadays, each person’s form was different even in the same family? What if they found their forms through a spirit quest, or something similar?
I suddenly had my two main characters for “Native Wind” Trey McAlister is our shaman in training and Gray Talon is the Cherokee warrior who loves him. Then all I had to do is come up with an adventure for the two of them to go on. I opted for a classic fantasy quest with Old West and steampunk spice thrown in for good measure. It was unlike anything I’d done before. Before I was done, I had railroad tycoons, cattle barons, metal men, dragons and a lot more. It’s a romping adventure sure to grab anyone’s attention. It goes far beyond a simple romance and I’m frantically working on the second book in the series. Hope everyone likes it and it wets your pallet for something new and different.
After his family is killed by thieves, sole survivor Trey McAlister is taken in by a nearby Comanche clan. Trey has a gift for magic and the clan’s shaman, Singing Crow, makes him an apprentice. While learning to control his powers, Trey bonds with a young warrior and shape shifter, Gray Talon. When they are sent out on a quest to find the missing daughter of a dragon, they encounter the same bandits who murdered Trey’s family, as well as a man made of copper who drives Trey to dig deeper into the magics that created him.
It doesn’t take them long to discover a rancher near Cheyenne, Wyoming is plotting to build a workforce of copper men—and has captured the dragon’s daughter they’ve been searching for. Trey and Gray Talon must draw on all their knowledge and skills to complete their quest—one that grows more complicated, and more dangerous, with each passing day.
Like most of the younger members of the tribe, Trey had been protected from white settlements and towns. Over the past couple of years, he and Gray Talon had been allowed to accompany Laughing Hawk and Singing Crow into smaller towns, like Pueblo and Tascosa, but this was the first time he’d been in one without elders along. As they walked into town, the noise and smell of the place assaulted him. It amazed him that whites could live with the stench that always covered their settlements. He’d heard rumors of much larger cities in the east and had no urge to go there.
“The general store is over there.” Gray Talon pointed across the street to a large window that proclaimed it to be Murphy’s General Store. Several large barrels sat on the boardwalk in front of the store, and a slender old man relaxed in a chair, leaning against the barrel closest to the door.
Trey angled Spot across the dusty street. It looked like Cheyenne, Wyoming hadn’t received any of the rains the Old Man of the Storms claimed to have brought to the area. Just outside of town, the land slowly browned and dried as they moved west. It made him wonder what caused the problem.
“Behave yourself,” Trey told Spot as he tied the horse to the hitching post. He rubbed the horse’s head before turning toward the store. Gray Talon came around from the side, a couple of buffalo hides in his arms that he’d pulled from the saddlebags.
“What can I do you for?” the old man in the chair asked as they stepped onto the boardwalk.
“Is this your store?” Trey asked.
“It is,” the man replied. “I’m Murphy.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Murphy.” Trey extended a hand the way he’d observed white men greeting each other. It went against how the Comanche did it, but he knew better than to stand out too much. That was the big reason they needed to stop in at the general store. “We need some supplies and have a couple of hides to sell.”
The store owner glanced nervously up and down the street. “Let’s get in the shop and take a look at those.” He hurried into the store, not looking behind to see if the two men followed.
Gray Talon placed the hides on the only empty spot on the counter. Murphy reached out and ran his hands through the thick brown fur before unrolling the first one.
“Nice hides. Looks like they could still use a little curing.”
Trey waved his hand over them. “We brought them down about a week ago. Smoked them quickly before a storm hit.”
“No major holes.” The man turned the hide over so he could inspect the back of it. “Let’s look at the other one.” Gray Talon unrolled the second hide for the store owner to look at.
“I can give you fifteen for the two in cash, twenty in trade,” Murphy said.
“I don’t think we need twenty dollars’ worth of goods,” Trey said. “Can we find what we need, then work out some cash for the rest?”
“I suppose so.” The store owner rubbed his chin. “Buffalo are getting harder to find. Where did you get these?”
“Out in Apache lands.” Trey turned from the counter. A rack of clothes caught his attention, and he walked over to it. He needed something that would allow him to blend in more with the whites. His buckskins marked him as an Indian sympathizer. The whites in Wyoming were determined to drive the Indians out. So his normal clothes would make it harder for him to get the information he needed to find the dragon’s daughter.
He was so used to buckskins that the plaid flannel shirt felt strange under his fingers. It felt weak, like it wouldn’t protect his body from the elements. From what he’d seen on his limited visits to white “civilization,” it would do for his temporary needs. He held up one, but it appeared too small for him. After several tries he finally found one that seemed to be large enough for his broad shoulders.
“What do you think?” He looked at Gray Talon.
The Indian flashed him a grin but shook his head. “You’ll look too much like a white man.”
Trey glared over the collar of the blue shirt. “I thought that was the point.”
“It is. But you’ll still look odd.” Gray Talon shrugged.
“I’ll need some pants too.” He looked around.
“Those would be over here,” Murphy said, walking up to a shelf of folded clothes. His brown eyes passed up and down Trey for a moment; then he turned and riffled through the pile. It took a couple of minutes of shaking his head before he finally pulled a pair from the stack. “I think these will work just fine.”
Trey unfolded the brown pants. They were a couple of shades darker than his buckskins but had several pockets and even loops for a belt. He held them up and decided they looked like they would fit.
“You should have a hat too,” Gray Talon said. “Something with a wide brim, but not like what those cavalry men wear.”
“I just got these in a couple of weeks ago.” Murphy pulled a tan wide-brimmed felt hat from a stack. “Here, try this on.”
The hat felt stranger on Trey’s head than the flannel shirt had under his fingers. It was like a tight band around his skull. He couldn’t see how men wore these things all the time.
“Is it supposed to be this tight?” he asked.
“Let’s try a larger one.” Murphy snatched the hat back and handed him another one.
This one felt like it would fall off if Trey moved too fast. “Nope, too loose, I think.”
“So something in the middle then.” It took Murphy longer this time to find an appropriate hat. “Here, this should work.”
The new hat was just tight enough that it would stay on and just loose enough that it wasn’t squeezing. Trey looked in the mirror that sat on the counter near the pile of hats. He didn’t see his own reflection very often, but a stranger stared back at him. It was odd seeing his eyes shadowed by the hat’s brim.
“That should work.” He took the hat off and handed it to Gray Talon.
“So anything else, sir?” Murphy moved back toward the buffalo hides.
A jangle of spurs from the front door drew Trey’s attention before he could answer. Four men stood in the entryway. Three were tall, lanky men covered in trail dust. One was large and bulky. Three were white men, the other dark skinned, Trey wasn’t sure if he was African or Mexican. All four wore pistols at their sides. He now wished he hadn’t left his father’s rifle on Spot’s saddle out in front of the shop. The men’s eyes covered the store before settling on Trey and Gray Talon.
A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, splitting wood, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. He’s enjoyed writing since he was in high school, but it wasn’t until the past few years that he’s begun truly honing his craft. He is the current president of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group: www.csfwg.org. Having lived both in Colorado and Texas, rugged frontier types and independent attitudes often show up in his work.
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Mystichawker Press Author Page: www.mystichawker.com/amburns.html
Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group: www.csfwg.org