Thursday, April 25, 2013

Peacemaker Nominee: The Keepers of Camelot by Cheryl Pierson #western


The Keepers of Camelot

Peacemaker nominee for Best Short Story

Romancing The West welcomes Cheryl Pierson today.  Cheryl's special because although she didn't write the first guest article published at RTW, she was the very first author booked.  Now we have the honor of a return visit so she can tell us all about her short story that was nominated for a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award.

Cheryl and King Arthur
Who likes the stories of King Arthur and his knights? I do! I have been fascinated with the entire legend of Camelot since I was a child. The Sword In the Stone, the Disney cartoon movie, was a favorite when I was young.

As I got older, I couldn’t get enough of the movie musical, Camelot, with Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, and Richard Harris in the starring roles. I valiantly tried to struggle through T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King” but finally had to admit, it was too heavy for a twelve-year-old. As an adult, I enjoyed it, along with Mary Stewart’s series of the Arthurian legend as told from Merlin’s POV—a “must read” set if you’re a Camelot fan.

So, the story I wrote for the Six-guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas anthology is one that is dear to my heart in many ways. Even the title, The Keepers of Camelot, was not something I had to think about for long. This story has just been nominated for the 2013 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards in the Short Story Category. I am beyond thrilled. It also received a specific mention in Publishers Weekly when the anthology came out. Here’s a bit about the story itself.

Cheryl Pierson, Author
Legend says that Arthur will rise once more when the world needs him the most. But in my story, something goes awry, and Arthur has returned in many times, many places, throughout the centuries since his final battle.

The story opens with Arthur on a stagecoach in the American west—Indian Territory—of the 1880s. But in this life, he comes across two people he’d never thought to see again—Lancelot and Guinevere. Why are they here—and how will it all end…this time?

The stage is attacked by Apaches minutes before the driver gets the passengers to the safety of the next stage station. Though they’re safe for the time being, a nerve-wracking Christmas Eve is in store as the Apaches wait for them outside.

Arthur has a plan. He’s seen the fearless leader of the Apache—the man they call Sky Eyes, a man he knew as Lancelot du Lac a hundred lifetimes ago.

Will Lance’s prowess as a warrior combine with his legendary arrogance to seal the fate of the people inside the station—including Guinevere, the woman he gave up everything for in the past?

One young boy in the group unknowingly holds the key to Lance’s decision. But will the glorious legend of Camelot be remembered?

Excerpt: the set up
In my story, Arthur, and Guinevere have come back during the 1880's to the western frontier. They are under an Apache attack, and Arthur has recognized the leader of the Apaches as none other than Lancelot du Lac. He knows that Guinevere has recognized him, as well. Guinevere is married to the stage station proprietor, and Arthur finds himself on the stage headed for New Mexico. They've each lived a thousand lives since that last fateful day they spent together, when Lance rescued Ginny and then fought with Arthur. The legend says Arthur will return, but why are Lance and Ginny here, too? Here's what happens:

Excerpt from
The Keepers of Camelot 
by Cheryl Pierson

“Come now, Ginny. Let’s have done with this pretense, shall we? We both know Lance is leading that band of savages.”

Her gaze faltered, and she looked away from him, not answering.

“Do you really believe he’ll harm you?” The note of gentleness crept into his tone, in spite of his resolve not to care.

“I—I don’t know, truly. He was—so angry when we last spoke. When I told him I’d made my decision to go to the convent—”

“You haven’t seen him since—since we fought?”

She shook her head. “Not really…Oh, I’ve seen him, during these attacks, but never spoken to him. Arthur, I’ve lived a thousand lives, but not fully. I seem to just wake up in another time, another place. Somehow, I—” She stopped herself, then went on in a controlled tone. “I believe it must be the same for you. And for Lancelot. We’re all trapped in this circle”

“How do we end it, Ginny?”

She moistened her lips in the nervous gesture he recalled so well. “I’m not sure. But I—I wonder if maybe it’s not somehow connected to…forgiveness.”

Anger flared quickly in Arthur’s heart. She dared ask him to forgive? Forgive her treachery? Forgive Lance’s betrayal? Forgive her causing the death of the dream he’d held so dear? A cold smile touched his lips.

“You ask much, my lady. Especially after all you’ve taken.”

She nodded, the stricken look in her eyes almost too much for him. Even in the near darkness, he could see the pallor of her flawless skin.

“Yes. You were always a much better person than I, Arthur. You had a generous heart. A loving soul.”

“Make no mistake, Ginny—I am first a warrior. A ruler.”

In the gathering darkness, she laid a hand on his. “No, Arthur. You are first a man. And a good one.” The softness of her skin on his in the shadows brought a flood of memories that he’d thought were carefully locked away.

“You know Lance won’t attack now.” His lips curved caustically. “He loved Christmas-tide more than the rest of us put together.” It had always been Lance who suggested they find the biggest Yule log in the forest, spearheading the effort to organize the men and making it a festive occasion. It had been Lance who sang the Yule songs with such fervor, his deep baritone booming through the stone hallways of the castle.

Ginny’s eyes filled with sudden tears. “Arthur—when I see him as he was today…I wonder if he even recalls the things we remember. It seems he’s become absorbed in the ways of the Apache. The look on his face is so intent, so—cruel. I don’t believe he’s the person we knew.”

“He was never the person I thought I knew, Ginny. Never.” At her quick look, he smiled. “Yet, there’s a part of me that, even now, wants to call him my brother, as I did before—before everything fell apart.”

Ginny nodded. “I hope that same part of you remembers me in another light as well, Arthur,” she whispered.
♥ ♥ ♥

I have to wait until June 1 to know the outcome of the decision, but no matter what, I feel like I’m a winner to be in such wonderful company of the other nominees, Troy Smith, Jim Griffin, Wayne Dundee, and C. Courtney Joyner.

There are some excellent stories in this book by many great western writers, including Troy Smith, Courtney Joyner, Robert Randisi, L.J. Washburn, James Reasoner, and many more. They’re all paranormal in some way, and they all take place in a western setting—it’s not just for Christmas!

About Cheryl:
Cheryl was born in Duncan, OK, and grew up in Seminole, OK.  She graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and holds a B.A. in English.  She writes historical western and contemporary romantic suspense short stories and novels. Cheryl lives with her husband in Oklahoma City, OK, where she has been for the past 29 years.  She has two grown children, ages 23 and 26.

Her website is under construction, but you can e-mail her at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com  and visit her Amazon author page for a complete list of all work.

Congratulations for your nomination, Cheryl!

The Lifetime Achievement Peacemaker will be presented to Robert Vaughan

2013 BEST WESTERN NOVEL:
  • City of Rocks (Five Star Publishing — Cengage) by Michael Zimmer
  • Unbroke Horses (Goldminds Publishing, LLC) by D.B. Jackson
  • Apache Lawman (AmazonEncore) by Phil Dunlap
  • Wide Open (Berkley Publishing Group) by Larry Bjornson
2013 BEST WESTERN SHORT STORY:
  • Christmas Comes to Freedom Hill” (Christmas Campfire Companion — Port Yonder Press) by Troy Smith
  • Christmas For Evangeline” (Six-guns and Slay Bells — WF ) by C. Courtney Joyner
  • Keepers of Camelot” (Six-guns and Slay Bells — WF) by Cheryl Pierson
  • The Toys” (Six-guns and Slay Bells — WF) by James J. Griffin
  • Adeline” (Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT — Goombah Gumbo Press ) by Wayne Dundee
2013 BEST WESTERN FIRST NOVEL:
  • High Stakes (Musa Publishing) by Chad Strong
  • Wide Open (Berkley Publishing Group) by Larry Bjornson
  • Red Lands Outlaw, the Ballad of Henry Starr (AWOC.com Publishing) by Phil Truman
  • Last Stand At Bitter Creek (Western Trail Blazer) by Tom Rizzo
  • Sipping Whiskey in a Shallow Grave (Sunbury Press) by Mark Mitten
Winners will be announced on June 1, 2013 

11 comments:

  1. I just love your version of Camelot Cheryl. Big congrats on your nomination. I am sending you good thoughts and crossing my fingers that you are a big winner, well you are a winner in my books all ready...

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    1. Kathleen, that is so, so sweet of you to say. I appreciate your wonderful support and of course, I can use all the good thoughts and finger crossing I can get, with all the fantastic stories in that category! LOL Thanks so much for coming by today!

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  2. Awesome excerpt! What an interesting premise. CONGRATS again!!

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    1. Thank you, Meg! I'm still on Cloud Nine!

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  3. Wonderful, Cheryl. I haven't read Keepers of Camelot yet, but yes, I will. (you now how it is...time to read, time to read...). I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you in the Peacekeepers contest. But as you say, just to be with those other accomplished authors is just fantastic. Good for you, and you know I'm proud of you!

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    1. CELIA! Thank you, my dear friend. By now you're probably sick of hearing about The Keepers of Camelot. LOL Bless you for being so supportive. Yes, please keep your fingers crossed for me. I'm so thrilled, no matter what the outcome may be.
      Cheryl

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  4. I loved Keepers of Camelot. It was such an innovative idea. Congratulations on your nomination and good luck. You certainly deserve it.

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  5. I just love your writing Cheryl, no matter what the genre. Congratulations on your nomination for the Peacekeepers award. as the lady above me says, you certainly deserve it!

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  6. Sarah, thank you so very much for all your support. You are such a dear friend. What would I do without you? LOL I was so surprised to be nominated, but wow, what a great honor! Thanks for everything!
    Cheryl

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  7. Hi Liana! Thank you for coming by and for your very kind words. You are such an inspiration to me. I'm so glad you enjoy my work so much--that's a week-maker, at least! LOL
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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