I’m absolutely delighted to welcome back Carmen Peone. Carmen is not only a fellow member of Women Writing the West, but is currently President Elect. She lives on the Colville Confederated Reservation with husband, Joe. Carmen had worked with elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes-Sinyekst- Language and various cultural traditions and legends. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her Native husband and they moved to the reservation after college. Later, an idea for a story persisted in her head so she decided to write what came to be, Change of Heart.
Then came Heart of Passion, Book 3 in a trilogy about Spupaleena, a young Native American girl, coming of age and racing horses in the mid-1800s, a time when girls would not think of behaving in such a manner. Hannah Gardner was five then, a young girl in love with her adopted Aunt Spupaleena and having a strong desire to emulate the young woman. In Hannah’s Journey, Hannah is sixteen and has to decide if her future is to include horses, racing, a husband, or returning home to enjoy her young life within the strength and protection of the family unit.
Carmen has very graciously offered to give away one copy of Hannah’s Journey to someone leaving a comment below. The winner is Alice Trego.
The thwack of an arrow sinking into a target pumps blood swiftly through veins. But when fifty hit at a time, echoing off gym walls, the hair on the back of a mother’s neck raises, and a shiver sizzles down her back.
Parent’s cheer. Teammates send out shouts of encouragement. Coaches praise and advise.
For the last five years, I’ve been one of those coaches. Through grants, archery is the highest attended sport in the local K-12 school on the reservation I reside with 3 student-athletes qualifying for Nationals in 2017 in Kentucky. Speaking of a life-changing journey! And it was those girls I escorted to Louisville.
As a lover of the sport, it’s only natural to place bow and arrow in fiction. But not compound bows crafted from aluminium alloy or arrows formed from aluminum, or fiberglass. The bows and arrows in my historical fiction are made of what my husband’s Native American ancestors used–yew wood, rock arrowheads, quail feathers, pine or cottonwood bud resin. The rough stems of horsetail were used like sandpaper to smooth jagged edges.
Light to carry, bows were effortlessly hand-carried on foot and even easier to transport while slung over one’s neck and shoulder on horseback.
To raise the stakes among my female protagonist, Hannah Gardner not simply raced horses, but deftly shot at leaves stuck on trees with pine pitch and thick branches stuck into the ground. She and the other jockeys shot them from the backs of horses at high speeds. Today, mounted archery is a fast-growing sport. Hannah and her mare, Moonshine, begin with a walk and quickly advance to a faster pace. Bareback.
For my upcoming launch party, I borrowed a friend’s prairie clothes and rode my Paint gelding in our back pasture that overlooks the Columbia River–the actual setting for my YA books. I used my compound bow and arrow while my husband, Joe, was kind enough to shoot several fun pictures. If only I’d had my hands on traditional gear.
Archery was a means of survival in the old days. Today it’s not only used for hunting, but for sport. My husband and sons are avid archery hunters, a skill I admire. It’s rewarding to bring the best of both worlds and blend them together in my new release–Hannah’s Journey.
In my Young Adult novel, Hannah is sixteen and has to decide if her future is to include horses, racing, a husband, or returning home to enjoy her young life within the strength and protection of the family unit. Hannah spends some of her time chewing on life’s complications while staring down the shaft of an arrow after running away with friends.
The finale involves a final race scene that embraces horses and archery. And again to increase stakes, knife throwing.
The thwack of an arrow skidding into a round target or tree is enough to scamper shivers down any archer’s arms. It was for Hannah.
In the mountains of northeast Washington, sixteen-year-old Hannah Gardner fights for her childhood dream––to race horses with her adopted Indian Aunt Spupaleena. Her mother fears Hannah will get hurt. Frustrated with her daughter’s rebellious spirit, she threatens to send her away to Montana to live with an aunt Hannah’s never met.
To escape this perceived punishment, Hannah runs away to the Sinyekst village along the Columbia River to train with Spupaleena. After Hannah’s first race, an Indian boy pulls her off her horse and spews threats. When Running Elk comes to her rescue, Hannah plans their life together and possible marriage. Will this be the pathway to her freedom?
“Loot!” Running Elk once again uncinched my saddle. He sneered at Falling Rain and motioned for her to set hers on the ground. With a scowl she complied.
I groaned, slid the saddle off Moonie, and set in on the grass. With an extra-hard whack, I settled the pad on top.
Falling Rain set hers back down.
They hopped on their horses with ease. I tried to lift myself up with a couple hops, but failed. I led Moonie over to an old log and heaved myself on her back. The other two looked at me like I was about to give them something bitter to taste.
“Well? Let’s go!” The word patience came to mind. I scoffed and planted the pouch hung around my neck inside Delbert’s shirt. As heavy as Falling Rain’s doeskin dress and leggings were, I was amazed by her agility. I was thankful for boys’ britches. I couldn’t imagine hopping up on Moonie with a dress and all the underclothing required by a lady. But then again I’m no lady. Not yet anyway.
We raced up and down the meadow and somehow I managed to stay on. Until Running Elk had another harebrained idea.
“We could attach leaves on sticks and shoot them with arrows.” He turned and rode into the woods. A loud war-whoop echoed through the valley.
“This will be fun!” Falling Rain said.
I rolled my eyes, nearly toppling off Moonie. I swear I saw my horse roll her eyes, too. “I do not favor a bow like you two. I’ll watch from over there.” I turned to ride off.
“Loot!” Her sharp voice sliced the air.
I spun Moonie around and faced her, eyes wide. “Why not?” I’d never heard her use such a tone.
“I will teach you. It is easy.”
“Easier than fishing with a net?”
Falling Rain laughed. “Much easier.”
I doubted that, but agreed to give it a try. Falling Rain and I rode to the opposite side of the meadow. She insisted we remain seated on our horses since we’d be riding them and shooting from that height. I groaned. But knew she was right.
She pinned a leaf to a tree with sap, moved back beside me on her mare, and drew an arrow. After drawing back her bow, she released. A swoosh stung the air. The thwack the arrow made into the tree echoed. She made it look so easy.
An over-exaggerated sigh escaped my lips. “Give me a rifle and I can kill a spider on a rock at twenty yards. I am not certain I can hit a leaf with a stick.”
Falling Rain chuckled. “Pretend it is your last meal.”
You can discover more about Carmen at:
I would love one of your books. They look like they would be awesome.
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Thank you, Glenda. Being non-Native, I love reading and writing about another culture, especially with ties to my husband.
From Julie Weston: Thanks Andi and Carmen for such an interesting column! And congratulations to Carmen for her Laura Award at Women Writing the West Conference! I enjoyed reading about some of your experiences on the reservation, Carmen, and I loved that you took several girls to archery contests in Kentucky! How proud you must have been for them. I also enjoyed reading the excerpt from Hannah’s Journey. Sounds like an entertaining book!
Thank you, Julie! It was such a treat to be the selected coach to take the girls to nationals. They were amazing! And thank for the congratulatory comments. Winning the LAURA was a blessing and thrill. Hannah is a sassy head-strong gal who learns humility and what in life really matters. It was fun to write!
Great post, Carmen. Interesting to read how full circle you’ve come with Hannah’s story, beginning with your own archery experiences. Good for you! And congratulations on your LAURA Award at the 2017 Women Writing the West Conference in Tucson! It was good to see you, and I’ll be in Walla Walla next year.
Thank you, Alice! It was great to see you too. Walla Walla planning is underway! I’m looking forward to it. Wine country is a spectacular sight.
Looking forward to “meeting” Hannah between the pages of your new book! And to seeing you again, too, in Walla Walla, I hope. Stories like the ones you tell are part of how easterners like me learn about the west. Thanks for making these lessons so exciting!
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Amazing to learn horsetail fern stems are sufficiently rough to polish arrow tips. Hannah sounds like a strong young woman – what empathetic protagonists are made of. Look forward to reading more.
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I hope you enjoy Hannah and yes, we will see each other in Walla Walla next year. I’m glad you enjoy learning more about the west and in this case the Pacific Northwest Tribes. Enjoy!
Judith, horsetail is strong enough, but I’m sure it took more than a handful to smooth the roughness from a bow. Hannah is a firecracker, but also tender. She is a normal teen, running the gamut of emotions!
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