Today I’m hosting D.J. Davis and her paranormal romantic suspense Summer Star. D.J. is giving away a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card, so make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! D.J. is also here today to talk to us about blending ghostly elements with an Old West theme.
Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!
BLENDING GHOSTLY ELEMENTS WITH AN OLD WEST THEME
The old west and ghostly elements go hand in hand because history is about the ghosts. Whether they are actual disembodied spirits or nothing more than memories and leftover energy is always up for debate, but I don’t think you can spend any amount of time in a lonely, forgotten cabin and not feel something, even if it’s just wondering what life was like back then.
For many, the old west means cowboys and Indians, and that certainly was a huge part of it. But so were the trappers, prospectors, railroaders, homesteaders, surveyors, and the townsfolk, just to name a few. And let’s not forget the plight of the Native Americans and what manifest destiny meant for them.
Where I live, high in the mountains of Colorado, the old west can be found around almost every corner. There are many places to visit where the historical districts have been preserved. All you have to do is take a stroll up Harrison Avenue in Leadville to walk in Doc Holiday’s footsteps. Or visit the Jackson Hotel in Poncha Springs where Jesse James slept. A ride on the Silverton train is like stepping back in time. The old west and ghosts? Well, mention the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and ghosts are often the first thing that come to mind. For a writer who likes suspense, history and a touch of romance, these places are pure gold.
These are just a few examples of the many places one can experience the old west—to a point. For me, the best way to connect with the history of the old west is to get away from the tourist areas, away from the famous names that bring people to visit, away from the pavement. Join me, won’t you? We’ll take a scenic drive through the mountains, bumping and bouncing along a winding dirt road. Then a refreshing hike through the timber, up a trail clinging to the steep slope. Our destination: the spot where a miner bet everything he owned that the mountain would give up her riches.
Here’s our cabin. Notice the sod roof is gone and wildflowers are growing on the dirt floor. Chipmunks chase each other over streaked, crumbling logs. A few rusted cans with soldered seams are hidden under the willows. Here and there sunlight glints on broken glass. A stream gurgles past our feet. On the other side, beneath a towering spruce, is a depression in the ground. A weathered slab of rock that might be a headstone leans in the shade of the tree.
Sit here for a moment. Stretch your legs out in the grass, rest your back against the logs. Logs that were cut, notched, and chinked with mud by a miner whose name history has forgotten. Maybe this cabin was later used by claim jumpers, robbers, or horse thieves.
Listen to the sounds of the wilderness: birds, insects, the breeze in the trees (or was that a whisper?). Smell the tang of pine and sagebrush. Imagine if you will, the clink of a miner’s pick hacking at the rocks. Or maybe it’s horses and the creak of saddle leather. Perhaps it’s the sound of a banjo on a long summer’s night.
The memories are here, waiting for us. It’s easy to imagine the laughter and tears. Sorrow and joy. Fortunes made and fortunes lost. Life snuffed out too soon by greed, illness, accidents or the elements. These ghosts have stories to tell, but what if there is no one to listen? For decades they wait, through the brief high altitude summers and the long, silent winters. Then one comes along who can hear them. But what happens if he chooses not to listen?
And that is how I wrote the premise for SUMMER STAR. I sat on a sun-warmed log in front of this old cabin and let the history I knew combine with the things I felt. It was just me and the mountain—and the ghosts.
Loner and history buff Troy Hart gets more than he bargained for when his psychic connection to the past leads him to the mountains of Colorado. The legend of buried treasure is nothing new, but falling in love is—and that’s the last thing Troy wants.
Troy’s visions of the old west are all fun and games, until the ghost of an outlaw forces Troy to fulfill his dying wish. To save his own life, and the life of the woman he loves, Troy must follow the trail of greed, betrayal and revenge on a treasure hunt for lost Civil War gold.
Now the fun is over and the game is survival as Troy battles the elements, a dead man, and his own heart deep in the remote high country.
As the last light crept out of the sky Troy asked the truck for a little more. It skidded over rocks, jolted over roots. He rammed it through the creek and parked in front of the cabin. The hissing radiator and antifreeze pouring on the ground confirmed it. They’d be hoofing it from here on out.
Troy sprinted to the cabin. He threw his canteen, a few bottles of water, beef jerky, and candy bars into his pack. He added two flashlights, batteries, and Eric’s hardhat. He rushed to the tipi for a denim jacket and the map. The piece of oiled canvas, made to be laced over a sleeping bag in bad weather, caught his eye. He pushed it down on top of everything else.
He shined the light into the trees, hoping beyond hope to see Eric’s tent. It was gone, all that remained was a smooth spot on the ground. Troy put a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Wait here.”
“Screw that. I love her, too.” Dean put his own hand on Troy’s shoulder and squeezed it hard. “Let’s go get her, bro.”
Troy gave Dean the second flashlight and set off at a grueling pace. It wasn’t long before he could no longer hear Dean behind him or see Dean’s light bobbing in the dark timber. His jaw hurt and a stitch nagged in his ribs. His bear-bit hip joined the chorus. He thought of Summer in crazy Charlotte’s jealous clutches and pushed himself harder. Troy Hart ran for her life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
DJ Davis is a Colorado native and the rugged high country sets the scene for her stories. When she’s not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, photographing the wildlife, or camping with her husband. A Great Dane runs her life.
A portion of each sale of her novel “Courageous Cain” will be donated to Big Bones Canine Rescue in Windsor, Colorado. Help us help big dogs in need.
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