Incredible Story Telling: Historical Western Fiction With A Focus On Canada

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The Making Of Jake McTavish by D. M. McGowan

In the west of the 1890s, Jake’s wife is raped and murdered, an image from which he attempts to escape and hide. When two thieves try to take what little he has left, Jake realizes he must face the past and solve his wife’s murder to truly escape the images in his head. But to find the killer, he discovers even more surprises …

Jake McTavish left his home in central Canada when he was in his Winnipeg, feeding cattle south of Fort Garry, and shooting wolves on the prairies, he starts his own cattle operation in the foothills of the western mountains. Then he meets his life-long partner, Anna.

Jake and Anna were married three years when it all came crashing down. He came home to find his beautiful wife raped and murdered. In an attempt to escape the vision of his butchered wife and all that he lost, Jake runs deep into the mountains, where he spends three years trapping and panning gold.

When two outlaws attempt to rob him and leave him for dead, Jake finally comes out of the stupor he has lived in and begins to fight back. First, he deals with the two thugs. Next, he returns to his homestead to find his wife’s killer. Solving a murder after several years is no easy task, especially when it includes surprises he didn’t want to find.

After a variety of work experiences, D. M. McGowan has now returned to work as a commercial driver and lives near Mile “0” of the world-famous Alaska Highway. His books bring Canadian history to life.

Cold Coffee Review: The Making of Jake McTavish by D. M. McGowan is an 1800’s western pioneering era saga that combines exceptional story telling with an historical tale told by Peace Country pioneer John Brown.

Well-developed characters and true to life settings with descriptive writing put the reader into the story. The main character Jake McTavish stands alone in his empty cabin with his thoughts that he voiced to his blue tick hound, “Maybe I’ll just have t’shoot somebody. That way the government will have t’ feed us ‘til they punch my ticket and bury me.”

Life had been especially hard since the murder of his wife. For the fourth year he must continue his Peace River trek in British Columbia (1898) to take the furs that he had collected by canoe down to Ft. St John. This is an important ritual as Jake trades bails of skins for cash to pay for supplies and to repair equipment heading into the new season. Times were hard enough without the ambush that knocked him out cold and took most of everything that he had in his camp.

Just 11 years ago “in the spring of 1887 Jake became a wealthy saddle tramp. He only had fourteen Canadian dollars, two U.S. dollars and eighty-six cents, but he was rich in other goods. He had four horses, a fine, double rigged saddle, a short barrelled Colt pistol, a Colt Navy .36 and a Winchester rifle. He also had a serviceable pack saddle, bed roll, enough food to last a month and the pack covered with two tarps.”

By 1889 Jake had spent two years with the Cambridge Cattle Company and had accumulated some money. With a deep yearning for something more and the passing of the Canadian Homestead Act, Jake chose three hundred and twenty isolated acres in the foothills north of the Rocky Mountains. In the fall of 1891 with 15 yearlings to sell he met Anna Porenski. When she married him he no longer felt driven, because he had it all. Anna was raised on a farm, so ranch life came easy to her and she enjoyed gardening. The only thing missing are children for fate has refused to grant Jake and wife Anna a baby. To end such dreams Anna is murdered and the responding Mounted Policeman comes close to accusing Jake.”

Travel with Jake McTavish on a journey to find Anna’s killer or killers.

The Making of Jake McTavish by D. M. McGowan for the author’s incredible story telling of Jake McTavish. I invite you to also read: The Great Liquor War, Homesteader: Finding Sharon and Partners. D. M. McGowan tells us that Cattle Business is coming soon. This review was completed on December 20, 2015.

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The Great Liquor War by D. M. McGowan

The year is 1885. Hank James has been in Canada several months panning gold from a stream near Roswell, British Columbia. When he hears a prizefight will be held in town, he attends along with everyone for miles around. With a little help from the fight referee, he wins big betting on the fight. Having realized that the life of a miner isn’t nearly as romantic or rewarding as he expected, and with advice from the policeman who helped him win money on the fight, Hank goes to Farwell to haul freight with pack horses for contractors building the transcontinental railroad.

The railroad’s security, a detachment of North West Mounted Police, have maintained across the West that no liquor be allowed one mile on either side of the rail bed. Provincial authorities disagree. Hank James believes in honoring and repaying his debts, but that doesn’t mean he should be involved in a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted.

He and his partners have trouble enough running their freight business, they don’t need to be caught between competing policemen. They are already stuck between Canada’s transcontinental railroad people and the contractors doing the actual construction. While the police are fighting one another, who is looking for criminals, particularly those stealing Hank’s horses? Despite a variety of jobs, D.M. McGowan now works as a commercial driver and lives near Mile “0” of the world-famous Alaska Highway.

His stories bring Canadian history to life. “I believe in seeing morality and societal responsibility rewarded. Too much of today’s fiction seems to lead into the dark instead of the light.”

Cold Coffee Review: The Great Liquor War by D. M. McGowan is a western pioneering era saga that combines great story telling, true-to-life cowboy experience with US and Canadian history combined with legends from the 1800’s.

The main character Hank James was born in Canada and migrated south into the US with his family after the Civil War. Hank’s father headed towards Oregon in search of a farmstead while protecting his family from raids by outlaws and Indians. They made it as far as Kansas to find that the land was too dry to farm so pushed on to Oregon to find the land was too wet. With Mother Nature as their biggest obstacle and many mouths to feed young Hank James set out on his own. He settled down with his own gold mine claim near Rossland, British Columbia in 1984.

Hank wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he wanted more out of life than to eke out a living on his claim. With tenacity Hank took advantage of the Transcanada Railroad, found some partners and started his own freight business. Life should be good, but where there is industry, technology, commerce and economy, there are criminals.

In all my reviews I quote a passage so readers can get a feel for the authors writing style. I quote from page 37.

“It didn’t take a detective to know that the horse thief had played a little joke on the Provincial Police. Constable Art Hubbard was over six feet tall and probably ten pounds lighter than the one eighty mentioned in the description. Not only was he a long way from round, he was also clean shaven.

I gave Constable Hubbard my story, ending with the recovery of the bay gelding and the description I had from Miller. “An’ the fella called himself Art Hubbard,” I added.

The Constable’s expression didn’t change. He worked his chew around into one cheek and sent a stream of tobacco juice into the waste basket. “Feller with a sense o’ humor,” he noted, and then added. “It’ll be one ‘o Bulldog Kelley’s outfit. They work out o’ some of the illegal saloons t’ be found back in the bush. We catch one or two of ‘em every now an’ then, but we can’t get Kelley, an’ he’s the head o’ the snake. I can think of one or two that might fit your description, but not a one that had a full beard. An’ this fella’s probably shaved by now.”

I wrote out my story, signed it, and returned to work.”

Between the horse thieves, authority over liquor sales and a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted Hank is he in over his head? Only time will tell if he makes the right choices and will he win the heart and loyalty of Sharon Dalton?

Saddle up your horse, holster your gun and join a rugged western cast of characters that will take you back to the reality and the legends of the Wild West.

The Great Liquor War by D. M. McGowan shares nuggets of history told within a great story of human experience in the Wild West. This review was completed on August 11, 2015.

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Partners by D. M. McGowen

Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that traveling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone. Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans. Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and cannot understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long. These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners. Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization their wilderness past comes back to haunt them.

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Homesteader: Finding Sharon by D. M. McGowan

Staking a claim to a homestead in the rugged, untamed Canadian frontier of the 1880’s was hard enough. But when someone tries to run roughshod over the “nesters,” a man has to take a stand. There is more than bad weather for Hank James to contend with as he rides in search of the land of his dreams and the woman of his heart. Portis Martin, manager of a large cattle company, has no use for the small homesteaders that have begun to pepper the area…and he isn’t afraid of using every dirty trick he knows to run them out. And Portis had been doing a pretty good job of it-until Hank James and his partner arrive on the stage. The dreams of early homesteaders were not always strong enough to see them through adversity, but with Hank James on their side, the people might just find a way of uniting for the common good and building a dream that can endure.

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About The Author:

“Author Dave McGowan has been a cowboy, forest fire fighter, heavy equipment operator, farmhand, gardener, road musician and businessman.

He now writes, and works as a commercial driver, in Northern British Columbia.”

The forgoing is the bio from the back of my three novels and one might conclude from this information that I was a poor employee … either lazy or didn’t know what I was doing … and was kicked off a lot of jobs.

You would be partially correct, at least in surmising that I don’t know what I am doing. As for my being a poor employee, you would have to ask my bosses … although I think I’ve managed to trick the one I have now.

Of course, when I had my own business my boss thought I was marvelous.

Truthfully, I’ve managed over the years to find employment regardles of my location or the problems that might exist with the economy. I enjoyed much of that experiance at the time and am glad that I attained it.

I’ve also visited a good portion of North America and lived in several areas of Canada where I met some great people and enjoyed some wonderful country.

Speaking of great people, Karen and I are parents to four great people who have supplied eight grandchildren who show that improvements can be possible in each generation.

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Finding Billy Battles Trilogy by Ronald E. Yates

Finding Billy Battles Trilogy by Ronald E. Yates

Must Read Historical Fiction With Action & Adventure Trilogy

All Three Book Bundled At Kindle For $13.97
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From Book 1: Finding Billy Battles

When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control.

For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe.

As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.

One Special Book Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Historical Fiction Amazon Verified Purchase Review

Most of my relatives are normal, boring people. They have interesting anecdotes and some cool experiences, but overall there is nothing that will make me sit back and listen to them for hours on end. Billy Battles is nothing like these people.

Apparently taken partially from a real-life person, this tale is told through the great grandson of Billy Battles reading through the personal journals of his life as a young man, exploring the world and discovering himself.

Having studied history, the research involved in this book is striking and very thorough. The language, the details, the people and cultures, are very true to life, and I have to take my hat off to Ronald Yates. Yet the book doesn’t just rest on being factual. Through the journals, I got a very close look at Billy, and the people he met, which humanized several actual historical characters, without taking any undue liberties to make them fit a certain mold.

I read this book in a day and half the night, and I don’t regret the lost sleep.

Reviewed by Dan Clarke

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From Book 2: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles

Billy Battles is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens, Billy is far from his Kansas roots and his improbable journeys are just starting.

The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.

Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.

As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.

One Special Book Review: You can’t help but be intrigued and fascinated by the intrepid, larger-than-life protagonist in Ronald Yates’ entertaining and thoughtful second book of his Finding Billy Battles trilogy. This time, you see how Billy’s tumultuous life begins to impact him in middle age as he seeks his next adventures to distract him from past grief and guilt. Yates has an effective way of revealing interesting details of exotic places during historic periods–this time primarily in the Orient of the late 19th and early 20th centuries–while weaving in a fascinating tale of a man in perpetual motion. One can’t help but find interesting parallels at Yates’ deft hand between Billy’s unrest and that of French Indochina and the Philippines during a time of conflict and pushback over European colonization. Ray Elliott, Author of, With the Silent Knowledge, Iwo Blasted Again, and Wild Hands Toward the Sky

Awards:
Three Pulitzer Prize nominations by the Chicago Tribune
The Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists
The Inter-American Press Association Tom Wallace Award for coverage of South America
Three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting.

Cold Coffee Review: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is the sequel to Finding Billy Battles. I jumped right into this book without reading the first in this trilogy and found it to be a compelling story based on fact and expanded by narrative fiction.

Ted Sayles who is the great-grandson of Billy Battles inherits Billy’s journals and while writing this trilogy he stays very true to the language of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. While this book opens in 1894 with William (Billy) Battles heading for the Orient aboard the SS China it covers his time in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe.

It is aboard the SS China that Billy meets German Baroness Katharina von Schreiber. She is gorgeous and regal, far out of reach of a Kansas scribbler (journalist). Since you have probably read the book’s description I wrestle with what to share with you from this amazing story and journey that Billy Battles is about to embark on. So I have decided to quote this passage to whet your appetite. I quote:

“Katharina’s cabin was a bit larger than mine was, and like mine, its walls were covered with dark mahogany panels. In addition to the two overstuffed chairs and writing table, she also had a small dining table. That is where we settled, she on one side and me on the other.

“I’m sorry, I have nothing to offer you to drink.” Then she paused, stood up, and walked to her wardrobe where she produced a tear-shaped bottle of Glenglassaugh single malt Scotch whiskey and two heavy cut crystal glasses. “Except for this.”

She returned and placed the glasses on the table in front of us. “May I?” she asked, and then uncorking the bottle, she poured two fingers in each glass. “This was my late husband’s favorite.”

I shuddered imperceptibly at that remark but pulled the glass toward me anyway. Images of Katharina pushing Baron von Schreiber over a cliff or poisoning him with arsenic-laced Wiener schnitzel flooded my mind.

I forced those macabre thoughts out of my mind by focusing on the rich amber hue of the whiskey as I uneasily swirled the glass around and around in front of me.

What was I doing? I found myself thinking. Why was I in Katharina Schreiber’s cabin about to drink expensive single malt Scotch whiskey with a woman who had just admitted she had killed, but not murdered, her husband?”

Murder, mystery, intrigue, people, places and events that were intended to divert Billy’s attention from his past soon gets him embroiled in Katharina’s past, with the German government, not to mention Chinese and Malay pirates. Later on he finds himself perhaps the first American to be involved in the Anti-French insurgency in Indochina which will later be called Vietnam and involve America. War will not end there as he is forced into the Spanish-American War while in the Philippines.

Just as life takes many unexpected turns for Billy Battles so will your desire to keep turning the pages of this book to find out what is it about Billy Battles that causes him to try to escape his past, endure his new reality and find measured peace as he heads into the twilight of his life.

I invite you to read The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles as it is a journey worth your time. Be sure to read Finding Billy Battles (book one in this trilogy) while waiting for the author to write the final book in this amazing trilogy.

Author Ronald E. Yates life experience as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America gives him the authority with which he writes. It is important to point out he won “three Pulitzer Prize nominations and several other awards, including the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; The Inter-American Press Association Award for coverage of South America; and three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting. He is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He lives in Murrieta, California.”

I endorse The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles (Trilogy Book Two) by Ronald E. Yates. Ronald E. Yates is the author of the Finding Billy Battles (book one in this trilogy) and The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a global Economy. I purchased this book from Kindle. This review was completed on June 17, 2016.

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From Book 3: The Lost Years Of Billy Battles

Where in the world is Billy Battles?

As Book Three of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy begins we know where Billy is. He is in Chicago with his wife, the former Baroness Katharina von Schreiber living a sedate and comfortable life after years of adventure and tragedy. That changes with a single telephone call that yanks Billy and Katharina back into a life of havoc and peril.

Persuaded by a powerful old friend to go undercover for the U.S. government the two find themselves in Mexico during the height of the violent 1910-1920 revolution. There they encounter assorted German spies, Mexican revolutionaries, devious political operatives, and other malefactors. Caught in the middle of the 1914 American invasion of Veracruz, they must find a way out while keeping their real identities secret.

Later on, disaster strikes. It is a tragedy Billy is all too familiar with and one that will send him plummeting into a chasm of despair and agony. Then, Billy vanishes leaving family and friends to wonder what happened to him. Where is he? Is he dead or alive? What provoked his disappearance?

In Book 3 of the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy, those questions are answered, and the mystery behind Billy’s disappearance is ultimately revealed.

Cold Coffee Review: Saying goodbye to an old friend is always hard and that is how I feel as the “Finding Billy Battles Trilogy” comes to a close with book three titled “The Lost Years of Billy Battles”.  The fictional Ted Sayles has done a remarkable job reading and producing this trilogy from more than a dozen journals written by his great grandfather Billy Battles. It is the historical significance woven skillfully within the element of fiction that makes this trilogy a must read for history buffs and fans of action and adventure novels.

After years of travel, relationships with foreign governments, wars of American making and wars forced upon us, not to mention the Chinese and Malay pirates; Billy and Katharina finally enjoy a few peaceful years where Billy is an editor for the Chicago Record-Herald and Katharina a successful author. It is inevitable that this serene period wouldn’t last forever. One phone call to go undercover will find them “caught in the middle of the 1914 American invasion of Veracruz”.

Just when danger subsides, I found myself holding my breath when the unthinkable happens. “Katharina wasn’t the one the five men were after. It was me. But when they couldn’t find me, they decided to take Katharina to use as bait. That was the first revelation. Next was who the men were. The man who had dragged Katharina out of the house was Mason Bledsoe, son of Nate Bledsoe, the man I had killed in 1889 on my family’s homestead in Western Kansas. When I heard the name, my knees buckled and my heart raced for a moment.” It was the ransom note that made Billy’s heart sink.

Of all the dangers Billy and Katharina had been exposed to in their life together, how will this one match up? When Billy is nowhere to be found, what reason will be uncovered? How will Billy Battle close the final chapter in his journal? Will Ted Sayles effort to canonize the legacy of his Great Grandfather Billy Battle live on for future generations?

There is no doubt in my mind that Author Ronald E. Yates’ extensive historical research, skilled character development and impeccable story telling has brought the reader to a successful conclusion in this thought-provoking trilogy. I invite you to read the entire “Finding Billy Battles Trilogy” as it portrays, as much a glimpse into history, as it does into one man’s life.

I endorse The Lost Years Of Billy Battles (Finding Billy Battles Trilogy Book 3) by Ronald Yates as a final testimony to the life and times of Billy Battle. I purchased this book in Kindle format. This review was completed on June 26, 2018.

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About The Author:  Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.

His award-winning book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014. His latest book is entitled The Lost Years of Billy Battles. It is book #3 of the trilogy and will be released in May 2018.

Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.

Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 27 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places.

His work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for International Reporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.

Ron is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served in the Army Security Agency.

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