Giveaway + Blog Tour: Once Upon a Time in the Weird West by Various Authors

Today we have a special post from Astrid Amara who's here with a history lesson and to talk Once Upon a Time in the Weird West.

Author Name: Astrid Amara
Short Story Title: Reaper’s Ride

Blog Post: HORSES! How My Obsession Found a Home in the Weird West

When I was first approached with the idea of writing a “weird west” themed story, of course my first thought was HORSES! Because, you know, when I wake up in the morning, my typical first thought is always HORSES! It’s what happens when you’re a horse girl.
And when I thought about HORSES! and the wild west, I inevitably come to the most romanticized and imagination-capturing image of the 19th century, the Pony Express. Like so many ideas I have when writing, I start a project with one idea about a historic event, and through the course of research, learn how much I had wrong. Or didn’t know. Or how very fascinating that time in history was.
The Pony Express is no different. I was shocked to learn, for example, that it only operated for a year. It started in 1860 and ended 1861 once the telegraph reached the west coast and an expedited mail service was no longer needed. But during that year, the mail service became part of American history. It became a critical communication piece for spreading news of the 1860 presidential election and announcing Lincoln’s win. It was also affected by the Civil War, and was a target for ambushes during the Paiute War in May 1860.
As a horsewoman myself, I’m of course fascinated with the riders, and how arduous their tasks must have been. There were Pony Express stations roughly ten miles apart between Sacramento, CA and St Joseph, Missouri. The HORSES! would be swapped out at each station, but the riders generally continued on for 75-100 miles at a stretch, typically at a full gallop except where terrain (especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains) prevented it.
The imagery of such a rider, galloping across the plains with the mail in his special saddle, is such a great, iconic, American west image. Mark Twain put it best:

 We had had a consuming desire, from the beginning, to see a pony-rider, but somehow or other all that passed us and all that met us managed to streak by in the night, and so we heard only a whiz and a hail, and the swift phantom of the desert was gone before we could get our heads out of the windows. But now we were expecting one along every moment, and would see him in broad daylight. Presently the driver exclaims: "HERE HE COMES!" Every neck is stretched further, and every eye strained wider. Away across the endless dead level of the prairie a black speck appears against the sky, and it is plain that it moves. Well, I should think so! In a second or two it becomes a horse and rider, rising and falling, rising and falling--sweeping toward us nearer and nearer--growing more and more distinct, more and more sharply defined--nearer and still nearer, and the flutter of the hoofs comes faintly to the ear--another instant a whoop and a hurrah from our upper deck, a wave of the rider's hand, but no reply, and man and horse burst past our excited faces, and go winging away like a belated fragment of a storm! So sudden is it all, and so like a flash of unreal fancy, that but for the flake of white foam left quivering and perishing on a mail-sack after the vision had flashed by and disappeared, we might have doubted whether we had seen any actual horse and man at all, maybe.

It was with this image in mind that I went about writing Reaper’s Ride. I was captivated not only be the hardship of the job, but also the loneliness of it – hours and days and weeks on the trail, away from civilization, a man alone. And I was also fascinated by the lives of remote station keepers, isolated in the middle of nowhere. It seemed a fabulous setting for something nefarious.
And what’s more nefarious than a dark, suspicious letter delivered by a cloaked, eerie stranger, riding an unnatural, devilish animal? 
Combining fantasy/speculative fiction with historic events is one of my favorite genres, and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to do so in the fun collection of short stories. Thanks to all the fellow authors who contributed, and to Dreamspinner for taking our wild west ideas and making the west weird!

Blog Tour Schedule

12/6 – Gay Book Reviews – Jana Denardo
12/7 – The Novel Approach – Kim Fielding
12/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – Venona Keyes
12/9 – Diverse Reader – Tali Spencer
            Sinfully Gay MM Book Reviews – Jamie Fessenden
12/12 – Love Bytes – Lex Chase
12/13 – Boy Meets Boy – Astrid Amara
12/14 – Prism Book Alliance – Ginn Hale
12/15 – Alpha Book Club – C.S. Poe
12/16 – Joyfully Jay – Langley Hyde
12/19 – Divine Magazine – Nicole Kimberling
12/20 – My Fiction Nook – Shira Anthony
            Open Skye – Andrew Q. Gordon

Purchase Links

Reaper’s Ride Blurb:

Johnny Jenkins loves most aspects of riding for the Pony Express, but the loneliness can be hard to abide. When a raid injures the station keeper at remote Jacob’s Well, Johnny is left alone to tend the incoming riders until a replacement can be found. Isolated and without even a horse to keep him company, Johnny thinks he might go mad from solitude.

That is, until he meets Sye Fairchild, a rider for a different kind of express. This one operates in the shadows, and the deliveries are of a much darker nature. Sye is dashing and kind, but he’s also under a deadline – he’s got to finish his deliveries by Friday, or he breaks a very old and very serious bargain.

And as Johnny finds a kindred soul in Sye, he realizes that soul needs saving – even if it means ruining his own.

Available from Dreamspinner Press this December!
Author Bio:

Astrid Amara lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, four dogs, three goats, and a horse. By day she is a civil servant. By night her time is devoted to her writing, working for animal rescue organizations, and sleeping.

Her novel The Archer's Heart was a finalist for the 2008 Lambda Literary Award for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror, and The Devil Lancer won the 2015 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Fantasy. Her novel Song of the Navigator was a runner up for the 2015 Rainbow Award for Best Science Fiction.

Social Media links

            Twitter: @AmaraAstrid

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  1. I have the chance to read the book before it is released, and let me tell you Astrid, your story is MY FAVORITE!! It's actually one of my favorites of the whole year!! Thank you so much...

    1. Yay! This is the first feedback I've received on the story, so I'm really grateful you read it and commented! I'm happy you enjoyed it - thanks so much. XOXO

  2. Thank you for the post. Looking forward to read all the stories.

    1. Thanks Tan! I hope you enjoy all the stories as much I do. :)

  3. Thanks for the post, the anthology sounds great!

  4. Loved the post and the anthology sounds fun.

    1. I didn't even realize "weird west" was a thing - kind of an off-shoot of Steampunk. Now I'm totally in love with it. XOXO

  5. A great array of wonderful authors! Much success to you all.
    taina1959 @

  6. I love anthologies so many great stories by so many wonderful authors. Thank you for the post =)