Shannon here: Though Stephen Bly went to be with the Lord last year, thanks to his loving family, his work lives on. When Stephen was unable to finish his final book, his wife and sons stepped in to complete it. Now that’s love. Read an excerpt from Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot and comment on any post dated July 23 – 27 for a chance to win a copy. Deadline: August 4th, 11:59 pm central time.
Excerpt from Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot by Stephen Bly (with Janet, Russell, Michael & Aaron Bly). Romantic scene between Sylvia Wiseman & Cordelle Plew at the Willamette Orphan Farm, 1905:
Inside the orphanage good light and ventilation gave an airy appearance for the assortment of large rooms, as well as a laundry service and sewing area. A large dining room with hand-carved tables had been set with knives and forks, linen and china, in a cozy, homelike atmosphere.
Cordelle Plew, hat in hand, approached Sylvia with reddened, but kind eyes. A dozen boys, many still in their night clothes, followed at a polite span behind him, peering at Sylvia, then fixed their attention on the revolver in Stuart Brannon’s holster.
Miss Tagg started to shoo them away, but Cordelle prevented her. “What we have to say, we can say in front of them. After all, they are a part of my life too.”
Sylvia hesitated, as though unsure what to do. Then she weaved back and forth in front of the unexpected audience, wringing her hands, casting side glances at Cordelle.
“Before we go any farther, I want you to know my whole story.” She finally pulled up a high-backed chair and plopped down, her back straight, legs stretched forward.
Plew eased into a chair across from her, set his hat on a table and leaned closer.
“Long before we met recently on the Northern Pacific train, I traveled east for adventure. I met some girls who liked to meet sailors at all the ports. I was attracted to one of them. Wills Bennett was the boy all the gals wanted. I couldn’t believe he chose me. We hit it off in every way. But I lost him on February 15, 1898. To be honest, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if he hadn’t died.”
She paused and watched for her intended’s reaction. He didn’t frown or scowl or shy away from this truth.
“I know that date,” he said, “the day of the U.S.S. Maine explosion.”
“Yes, in the Cuban harbor. I was there to be with him, on the mainland. He served his duty on the ship. Later, I stood on a high balcony in Havana to watch the horse-drawn carriage they made into hearses for the lost sailors.” She wiped a tear. “Somehow it brought me a little comfort that this horrendous act started a war. Our whole country would try to avenge Wills’ death and all the others.”
“You feel like you got a bad deal?” Plew said.
“Yes, I do. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time trusting people or God. But I also have a penchant for wanting to know the truth. It’s just so difficult to commit, to tell anyone I love them. . .and I also dread growing old alone. I guess I’m complicated.”
Brannon looked around at the boys’ faces, as well as Miss Tagg’s. They seemed attentive, interested. Henrietta Ober and the Smythes had also gathered nearby. He noticed some solemn and giggly girls sitting and lying on the floor behind them.
Plew didn’t pay attention to any of the others in the room. He focused only on Sylvia. “So, you’re trying to survive with broken dreams.”
“Yes, but I still have those dreams. I thought I was getting close to fulfilling two of them.”
“I’d be honored to know what they were.”
“Finding a man I truly honor to invest in a lifetime relationship and doing something significant with my life. I’m educated, can sing soprano and am a pianist. I embroider and can broil kidneys. I believe I’d make a good wife. But there’s some barriers.”
“Tell me,” Plew said. “I really want to know.”
“Being assured that a man can trust me and believe me when I tell him the truth and . . .”
She pulled up the hem of her skirt a few inches to reveal a tattoo with a sailor hat and the name “Wills” stitched across. “Any man I marry has to live with that.”
In the quiet that followed, one of the smaller boys made a sucking sound with his thumb. Miss Tagg stole over to a drawer and slowly opened it to tug out some handkerchiefs.
Plew leaned in closer to Sylvia. “If you can bear my working with children like these,” he waved an arm at the orphans behind him, “I can welcome Wills Bennett as part of who you are.”
Everyone released their held breaths. Mrs. Smythe looked like she might even clap. But Cordelle Plew hadn’t finished. “However, there is another consideration . . .”
He rolled up his long-sleeved shirt. A colorful tattoo with the name “Susanne” and an anchor was emblazoned on his shoulder.
“Who is Susanne?” Sylvia asked.
“I can’t remember. I did that back in my own sailor days and I admit to a few rip-roaring times.”
Now they all waited for Sylvia’s response. She started with a soft titter and then swelled into a belly laugh. They all joined in, especially the girls hunkered down on the floor.
Cordelle and Sylvia stood up, still laughing, and hugged tightly. Miss Tagg blew her nose again. The children got restless and began to disperse. Brannon turned his head and brushed his sleeve across his cheek.
About Stephen, Janet, Rusell, Michael, & Aaron Bly:
Christy Award finalist and winner Stephen Bly (1944-2011) authored 120 fiction and nonfiction books, 19 of them co-authored with wife Janet.
Janet Chester Bly has authored and co-authored with Stephen Bly thirty nonfiction and fiction books, including Awakening Your Sense of Wonder, Hope Lives Here, The Heart of a Runaway, The Hidden West Series and The Carson City Chronicles. She lives at 4,000 ft. elev. in Winchester, Idaho. Find out more at http://www.blybooks.com/ or http://www.blybooks.blogspot.com/
Russell Bly is married to Lois, father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross), and grandfather of 1-year-old Alayah. He is manager of Deranleau’s department store in Moscow, Idaho.
Michael Bly is married to Michelle and is Director of Business Operations for Inland Cellular in Lewiston, Idaho.
Aaron Bly is married to Rina, father of Keaton and Deckard. He’s Manufacturing Supervisor for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Lewiston, Idaho.
About the book: Finishing Dad’s novel was a family affair. Can a committee create fiction? We had the passion and four months to find out.
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.
Stuart Brannon: The Final Shot by Stephen Bly is available in hardback, paperback & ebook format and can be ordered through your local bookstore or online bookstore such as http://www.amazon.com/ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ or http://www.blybooks.com/.
“Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot delivers and reminds us what we’ll miss most about the beloved author.” Jerry B. Jenkins, NYT Bestselling novelist & biographer
“Bly throws his readers into the fray from the first page and never lets up until the final scene.” Award-winning author Kathleen Y’Barbo
“A poignant reminder of a by-gone time…I was drawn into the world …There’s so much wisdom in this book…I loved the story. I loved the colorful characters…” Review by Angie Arndt, ACFW Carolinas Coordinator
“…comes alive with vivid details…an intriguing and often comical story of adventure and loyalty, flavored with the unexpected…has all the adventure one would expect from a Western, with enough humor to appeal to non-Western readers.” Jennifer Slattery, CWG reviewer
“…unusual experience…I found it a fascinating look into the process.” Michael Ehret, CWG Editor-in-Chief
If you missed Stephen & Janet’s Real Life Romance: http://shannonvannatter.com/stephen-bly-real-life-romance-part-1-of-4-2/
Come back July 25th for Rich Bullock!