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Carolyn E. Cook

Author of Historical Fiction

     The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting, animating and stirring to action. --- Felix Adler

    I write books for two reasons. One is because I love the process of developing a story and making friends with the characters. When they begin to talk to me, I know I'm on the right track. Number two reason is to add something to a reader's life, characters and situations that will linger.

    So I invite you to check out the Books page -- and connect with me through subscribing. When you join the mailing list, you'll get info about new blog postings and details Jessie's Choice, when it will be out, plus -- I'll send you a free digital copy of my short story, Contrary Don't Have No "i" .

    Currently available on Amazon as ebook and in print--

          Minden Springs Series:

         The Life and Times of Lilly Quinn, Book One

         You Can Call Me Glory, Book Two

         Jessie's Choice, Book Three

Coming soon --- Minden Springs Series, Book Four, titled Salutations, Tribune Readers!

Cover design is currently in progress, but this will be on the back ---

January, 1929. Liberty “Libbie” Dodson is a fine horsewoman and crack shot with firearms. Along with her brothers, she’s been taught well by their parents, retired Sheriff Walker and wife Glory. In her employment at the Minden Springs Tribune, Libbie longs to be a real newswoman and give accounts of accidents, thefts, even train wrecks — the same as the men reporters. However, Miss Pearl Dollarhide, now editor of the paper with occasional input from retired Strat Brock, only assigns her to write of school plays and ladies’ teas.

Then an intriguing flyer arrives in the Tribune mail, advertising for contestants in a race on the Lincoln Highway. Surprisingly, Miss Pearl and Strat offer this assignment to Libbie, to participate in the race and send regular reports of the travel experience, to be printed in the Tribune. Libbie is thrilled and arranges for her friends Etta Ketchum and Butterfly Brock to be her trip companions.

Over several months, equipment is gathered for the journey and the three young women set out for the starting line in Omaha, driving a used 1924 Ford. On June 1, the pistol is fired and twenty-one contestants begin the race.

On their way to San Francisco, Libbie, Etta, and Butterfly soon realize that their travel will be far more complicated than a Sunday drive around Minden Springs, as they must confront a myriad of challenges. More importantly, this odyssey will provide the best opportunity in coming to know themselves as never before, both their failings and their strengths.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 ---

Finally, dawn alighted on Tuesday, the 28th of May. The temperature was cool, but it would warm once the sun was completely up. Out by the Ford, Mama handed me a bag of sandwiches for our lunch and a box of cookies. “Fresh from the oven, last night,” she said.

Dad contributed a pasteboard, boot box containing two Colt pistols.

I blurted, “But these are your favorites.”

“They’re not doing me any good, just lying on a shelf,” he drawled. “You need them. I don’t care what the dadgum guidebook said. No daughter of mine is going on the road unarmed. These’re fully loaded. And there’s plenty more ammunition. Hide this box from prying eyes.”

The lunch and cookies went on the front bench. The firearms box went on the floor, next to where Etta would place her feet. I covered it with a folded blanket.

 At 6:30, Mr. Ketchum brought Etta. Miss Pearl showed immediately after. They admired the car and the ingenious, trailing storage box. Still, the only available room for Etta’s duffel bag was on the back seat, next to mine.

Lastly, Uncle Strat, Aunt Jessie, and Snowbird arrived with Butterfly. I hadn’t seen her since the previous Christmas, but she looked and behaved much the same, straight-faced and quiet as a fawn. Strat squeezed her bag in the back with the other two. Then even Woody and Vic wandered out, still in their pajamas and robes. Trooper came, also, to see the goings-on.

Dad insisted on taking a photograph of Etta, Butterfly, and me at the start of our adventure. He posed us standing beside the Ford. We did make an odd threesome — Etta of the pretty face, perfect bobbed hair, and flowered dress, diminutive Butterfly with her deep, brown eyes, blue-black hair pinned in a knot, and simple, yet faded dress, and plain-faced me wearing an ordinary shirt and khaki trousers, my hair in the regular, long plait.

“Smile,” Dad said. Etta and I obeyed. Butterfly did not. At any rate, he got his picture.

“Now, we really must be going,” I urged.

 There were hugs and cheek kisses all around, and pats for Trooper. (I’d said goodbye to Nutmeg at the stable, the day before.) Then Mama, Woody, Vic, Strat, Jessie, Snowbird, Miss Pearl, and Mr. Ketchum stepped away, while Dad remained close. I primed the engine with the crank and got behind the wheel. Butterfly climbed into the back and pressed herself amid the duffel bags. Etta took the front passenger side.

Dad leaned onto my open window. “Listen. Whenever you get to Omaha, have a bunch of coins ready. Find a for-pay telephone. The operator will call us and connect things. Then you tell of your first three hundred miles and assure us that you’re safe and sound. This is very important to your mother. Don’t you forget.”

“I’ll remember, Dad.”

He moved off, his arms folded, the same as Mama’s.

I glanced at Etta. “Here’s the Kansas map. I marked our route with colored pencil and I’ll need you to keep us on course. Are you ready?”

“Aye aye, Captain.”

I called to the back. “Are you ready, Butterfly?” Of course, she didn’t hear. Etta pivoted around and made some meaningless gestures. “Hey, Libbie! She nodded to me!”

“Okay, Dad!” He turned the crank for the second time, while I went through the start ritual --- the many checks and adjustments. Last, I announced to my fellow travelers, “Giving the gasoline!”

The engine purred and the car pulled away. Etta and I waved out the windows and our send-off crowd waved back. At the first intersection, I turned from Mulberry Street and onto the North Road. A long day was ahead of us and I wanted to make good time.

Dang! We were on our way!


Home: Welcome
You Can Call Me Glory eBook Cover Retail


The summer of 1904, when the air hung thick, like wet sheets on a line, three New Orleans streetcars collided on the tracks, a barge exploded and sank in the river, and Lilly Quinn was three months dead.

The situation wasn’t complicated. She was gone to her reward and I grieved the loss keenly. Try as I might, I couldn’t discover the means to bring her back.

She’d stepped into my life when I’d been but sixteen years of age, an orphan living alone in my dead parents’ house, and in great need of a shepherd, though I didn’t know that at the time. Lilly sensed it and her kindness helped lead me through the rest of my youth. Why did she respond so? Because she was that way, her nature always to put others above herself.

She taught me a good number of things: how to cook, how to mend my clothes, how to scrub a pot until it shone. Moreover, she informed, “Abigail, you can behave confidently, even when you don’t feel it. Hold your head high and speak up. Soon enough, you’ll believe in that confidence.”

When she departed my house, it was not of her own choosing, but of God’s. Our tasks reversed, I tended to her in the last days of her illness. Afterwards, I rattled around in my New Orleans home, at times, weeping deep tears. Other times, I felt benumbed and simply gazed out a window. I’d not grieved for my own parents in such a profound manner, but Lilly had been incomparable.

I talked aloud to her, as if she was right beside me, and I did little without questioning her. “Should I read this book by Twain or this one by Dickens? Yes, the Dickens story is bleaker. I’ll read that.”

The house fell into disorder, cluttered and dirty, and I paid no attention. Outside, the grounds were the only part of the property that retained neatness, kept up by my gardener Jupiter. Beyond him, I didn’t care for engagement with anyone.

Then one morning early, I awoke from nighttime sleep, having conversed with Lilly in a dream. She scolded me for being a woebegone. “Honey, you’re young and should have a joyful life. Get yourself up! Clean this filthy house! Go back to your employment! Stay busy! And you could sort my things as I asked you!”

Even from the confines of my imagining, she was still mindful of me.

I began by going through Lilly’s abandoned possessions and came across an item, completely unexpected. It was a box of papers covered with scribbled tales, comments, and scenes of her life in the West. I sat in what had been her favorite chair, read and read to the bottom of the stack. Of all she’d written, I had previously known less than half of it. What I learned from her words then was overwhelming.

“Lilly, these stories must’ve been very important to you. What would you have me do with them?”

I recognized that her ramblings should not stay in my hands. Thus, I made the difficult decision, bundled, and sent them to the sheriff in Lilly’s former home, a little town called Minden Springs, somewhere on the Kansas prairie.

After that, I set myself to following her other suggestions, cleaned the house and returned to my prior job in a candy shop near the Vieux Carré. Her advice had been sound. Keeping occupied was an elixir to diminish my sorrow. Evenings, I took up my former bent of reading the dime novels about the West, those accounts that Lilly had scorned. Still, I didn’t release the habit of speaking to my fine companion. The fear was, if I stopped, all traces of her would disappear forever.

Throughout the following months, I received correspondence from one Stratford Brock, editor of the Minden Springs twice-weekly. The sheriff had passed Lilly’s papers on to this journalist and he had determined to work towards turning her memories into a printed volume. I was pleased about his endeavor and the letters he sent kept me apprised of his progress.

“Lilly, people will read your journal of the West and they’ll be enthralled.”

The spring of 1905, twelve months after her passing, I reached the age of twenty-eight and believed that I would abide for the rest of my life, as owner of this venerable house on Prytania Street in the city of New Orleans.

But who in this world can know what predicaments might descend, what critical junctures might arrive, or what opportunities might shine through?

I was soon to find out.

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