April 27, 2014

LOVE'S GAMBLE ~ $2.99 on Amazon


http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Gamble-Inspirational-Historical-Romance-ebook/dp/B00JW2DN6U/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_2

An inspirational historical romantic comedy. 
One mail-order-bride, two men, and a whole mess of trouble. 
With no family left, Molly moves to the wild west to 
marry a stranger who makes his fortune panning for gold. 
What she didn’t expect was his brother!

I'm excited to share with you that Love's Gamble released a few days ago. It's been a great journey sharing Molly's story with you and I thank you all for encouraging me to publish the book. I hope you'll enjoy the whole series, which is called The Brides of Julian Creek. Love's Gamble is book 1. A Home for the Heart (book 2) will release in mid- to late June 2014.

If you don't mind, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you so very much!

Tina Dee

August 29, 2013

Old West True Tale: Ben-Hur Novelist Meets Billy the Kid

Old West True Tale by Stephen Bly
Stephen Bly

Another Old West True Tale by award-winning western author Stephen Bly 

One of my favorite governors was Lew Wallace of New Mexico Territory (1878-1881). In addition, he was a lawyer, Union general in the American Civil War, American statesman and author. He's the source for many and Old West true tale. He's best remembered for his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

He hailed from Crawfordsville, Indiana, same as my character Develyn Worrell of The Horse Dreams Series. I visited the Lew Wallace Museum and Library in Crawfordsville while doing research for Memories of a Dirt Road Town, The Mustang Breaker, and Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago.

What I recall most about Wallace: he built a moat around his study, to keep people from bothering him. One
Old West True Tale of Lew Wallace & Billy the Kid
Lew Wallace

way to insure privacy.

He captures my interest for at least two other reasons. As governor of New Mexico Territory, he offered amnesty to many men involved in the Lincoln County War. In the process he met Billy the Kid. On March 17, 1879, he arranged that the Kid would act as an informant and testify against those involved in the Lincoln County War. In return, the Kid would be "scot free with a pardon in [his] pocket for all [his] misdeeds." But the Kid returned to his outlaw ways and Governor Wallace withdrew his offer.

While serving as governor, Wallace completed Ben-Hur, one of the most bestselling American novels of the 19th Century. The book has never been out of print and has been filmed four times.

The story is told that Wallace set out to study the Bible in order to prove it wrong. Instead, he claimed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The novel became a statement of his newfound faith.

I like the Old West true tale idea that the author of Ben-Hur also sat down with Billy the Kid. It reminds me what interesting, eclectic people tramped out west back in the early days.

Come to think of it, westerners are still a remarkable, diverse bunch.
Old West True Tale of author of novel Ben-Hur
Move: Ben-Hur

Copyright©2009
Stephen Bly
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TWEETABLES:

Old West true tale: the author of Ben-Hur meets Billy the Kid: http://clicktotweet.com/uc9QW

Bestselling novelist Lew Wallace was also governor of New Mexico Territory: http://clicktotweet.com/mUja8

This writer built a moat around his study, a way to insure privacy: http://clicktotweet.com/3TcAk
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Horse Dreams Series available at Bly Books website:  http://www.blybooks.com/product_category/contemporary-fiction/

The Horse Dreams Series Book 1 by Stephen Bly
Memories of a Dirt Road Town

The Horse Dreams Series Book 3 by Stephen Bly
Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago




The Horse Dreams Series Book 2 by Stephen Bly
The Mustang Breaker

July 28, 2013

16 Cowboy Songs: A Music Quiz by Western Author Stephen Bly

Cowboy Songs romance & trail musicMatch the line from the cowboy songs lyrics to the title. 

Keep in mind, since most of these cowboy songs existed as oral tradition before they were written down, several versions of each have survived. The words you remember might be a tad different. 

Cowboy Songs Titles:

A. THE OLD CHISOLM TRAIL
B. BUFFALO GIRLS
C. JESSE JAMES
D. BORDER AFFAIR
E. BURY ME NOT ON THE LONE PRAIRIE
F. BILLY THE KID
G. GIT ALONG LITTLE DOGIES
I. RED RIVER VALLEY
J. GOOD-BYE OL' PAINT
K. SAM BASS
L. HOME ON THE RANGE
M. STRAWBERRY ROAN
N. WHEN THE WORKS ALL DONE NEXT FALL

Cowboy Songs on the trail

Cowboy Songs Lyrics: 

1. "Do not hasten to bid me adieu . . ."
2. "Stay away from that city, they call it Cheyenne . . . "
3. "I don't look much like a lover . . ."
4. "A kinder hearted fellow you seldom ever see . . ."
5. "Out of a job and not making a dime . . ."
6. "It's your misfortune and none of my own . . ."
7. "On a little brown pony he called Chaw . . ."
8. "A group of jolly cowboys discussing plans at ease . . ."
9. "The dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard . . ."
10. ". . . and I stood there amazed."
11. "And tell of the desperate deeds that he did . . ."
12. "With a $10 horse and a $40 saddle . . ."
13. "I'm off to Montana for to throw the hoolihan . . ."
14. "And dance by the light of the moon . . ."
15. "Where the rattlesnakes hiss and the wind blows free . . ."

Cowboy Songs Sweet Betsy of Pike

BONUS QUESTION: Which of the Old West cowboy songs had these words?

"A tall shanghai rooster and a one spotted hog . . ."

Clue: She was the most sung about lady in the Old West.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

COWBOY SONGS MUSIC QUIZ ANSWERS: 

A. The Old Chisholm Trail (12)
B. Buffalo Girls (14)
C. Jesse James (9)
D. Border Affair (3)
E. Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie (15)
F. Billy the Kid (11)
G. Little Joe the Wrangler (7)
H. Git Along Little Dogies (6)
I. Red River Valley (1)
J. Good-Bye Ol' Paint (13)
K. Sam Bass (4)
L. Home on the Range (10)
M. Strawberry Roan (5)
N. When the Works All Done Next Fall (8)
O. Dreary Black Hills (2)

And the cowboy songs bonus question . . . "a tall shanghai rooster and a one spotted hog . . ." comes from Sweet Betsy From Pike.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot by Stephen Bly
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Free stuff, blog & store: http://BlyBooks.com
On A Western Trail Blog: http://BlyBooks.blogspot.com

Stuart Brannon's Final Shot by Stephen Bly
with Janet, Russell, Michael & Aaron Bly
Selah Award Finalist
http://bit.ly/X5fKTb

Videos on "Getting The Writing Call" & "How We Got Our Ideas" by Janet Chester Bly:  http://bit.ly/YO67W2

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June 28, 2013

Six Plot Kickers for Authentic Western Fiction

Authentic Western Fiction article by Stephen Bly
Stephen Bly

Authentic Western Fiction Plot Kickers by Stephen Bly


It's knowing the little facts that can produce the most authentic western short stories and novels, the truth in fiction. Some of the details of the Old West like those below can provide an extra shot of realism and emotion for the western genre and kickstart a sagging plot. All the examples are excerpts from Creede of Old Montana . . . .

1.) Count on fire hazards.

Most authentic western towns burned to the ground several times in their short existence. Stick frame houses with cedar shingles and careless wood stoves and chimneys created a cocktail for disaster. Firefighters did all they could with their primitive technology. But burning buildings seldom got saved, though they might manage to protect the rest of the town.
When the half-keg of gun powder exploded, the ground shook beneath Avery. Windows rattled at the hardware store, over a block away.
By the time he and Carla got within two hundred feet of the Sheriff's office, the building was consumed in flames. Hundreds of bystanders watched from a distance safe enough not to singe their eyebrows. Two crews of men operated hand-pumps to wet down adjacent buildings.
Avery hung back in the shadows to study the faces.

2.) Rouse up the "High Noon" mentality.
Authentic western movie High Noon
High Noon

Heroes often call on the citizens of a town or region to step up and help contain a threat or enemy. But what if they receive no more help than Will Cane (Gary Cooper) in his famed movie? Avery John Creede tries to get the mayor and town leaders involved and has initial success.

'Avery, what do you intend to do?' Carla asked. 'Find him before he finds me.' Someone tapped his shoulder. Avery spun around, gun drawn. A short man in a suit waved his hands. "Wait. It's me, Mayor Leitner. Young Emerson said you wanted to see me.' ' Get together anyone that isn't fighting the fire. Block off both ends of Main Street, so no one can get in or out, unless they're on foot.' 'What if they dismantle the barricade?' 'Throw lead their way. They'll scatter. I'll find Rinkmann.'

3.) Rattle the sabers.

It's crucial to know authentic western basics like horse behavior, time period clothing styles and the rhythm of the language, but especially the correct description and use of weapons. Know your guns and their quirks.

For instance, most authentic western gunmen carried only five cartridges in their revolvers. They left the hammer on an empty chamber, for safety reasons. But when going into a fight, they loaded the sixth cartridge. Knowing trivia like this can provide practical hassles and challenges for an otherwise competent hero. Or add authentic western detail in a poignant or humorous moment.
'What can I do to help?' Carla asked.
'Stand in front of the church so he can see you. Wear your mildly distraught look.'
'How will that help?'
'It will keep him looking out front. Maybe I can sneak up from behind.
'I see. A diversion. Why not have me flash an ankle instead?'
Avery shoved a cartridge into the last empty chamber of his revolver. 'This is not a time for humor.'
'Are you calling my ankles humorous?'
'I've never seen your ankles.'
'That can be arranged,' she cooed.

4.) Tackle hero family hassles.

Chaos reigns as several hundred residents in Fort Benton, Montana, crowd the streets to watch a huge fire rage. It seems every citizen is on the streets. Most of them shout to be heard above the roar and confusion of the fire. Meanwhile, Avery John Creede faces a family dilemma, a parenting issue in the middle of a tense scene. As the guardian of his nephew, he's forced to apply some discipline while pursuing some criminals whom he believes started the fire to hide a burglary and murder.
Avery leaned against the cupola railing and caught his breath. He pulled the hammer back on his revolver. Heat surged through his leg muscles as he pushed up. 'Throw down,' he commanded.
A young male jumped in front of him waving his arms. 'Don't shoot, Uncle Avery.'
Avery's gun hand dropped. 'Ace?'
"Hi, Mr. Creede,' said a cheery female voice.
'Miss Leitner? What are you doing here?'
'Ace is protecting me. Isn't he brave?'
'Where's your shirt?' Avery demanded.
Ace rubbed his bare chest. 'Miss Tabby was cold, so I let her wear it.'
Avery shoved his gun into his holster. 'Get your shirt on right now.'
'But you said it could be dangerous at her house. I wanted to take her someplace safe.'
'No one ever comes up here to the bell tower,' the girl said. 'Did you come looking for us?'
'I'm looking for Rinkmann and now I've lost him.' He glared at the two teens.
Tabby Leitner slipped her hand into Ace's. 'Maybe he's over on the bank roof. We saw two men prowling. When the jail exploded, we spotted them.'
'Give Ace back his shirt. And, young man, take Miss Leitner back to her mother.'

5.) Opposites share a past.

Have protagonist and antagonist connect. Avery John Creede knew this guy Rinkmann all along. They both hail from A.T.P. (Arizona Territorial Prison) at Yuma, Arizona, one of the most severe jails in the Old West.

A few were hung there. But most died of the extreme climate conditions. Not many escaped. They had to cross on foot hundreds of miles of desolate desert. Add to that a bounty the authorities gave to the local Indian tribes for returning escapees. Rinkmann and Tap Andrews (from The Code of the West Series) are the only ones I know of that made a successful exit.
'Creede?' His mouth twisted in a scowl. "I thought you were in Mexico."
'Owens? I thought you were in Hades. When did you take the name Rinkmann?'
'When I busted out of Yuma. It's my real name. What are you doing here?'
'I'm going to arrest you.'

6.) Test heroine for authentic western tough.

They can start as city girls, like Carla Loganaire in Creede of Old Montana, but through a process of trials and time they've got to prove to be standers. Or be booted from the story.

Many wealthy people from the eastern states and from Europe came West for adventure. They realized history was being made in the vast expanses beyond the Mississippi. They wanted to soak it all up, but not get their fashionable clothes dirty. Carla was such a gal. And the jury's still out on her at this point of the events. But I'm sure she'd prefer to be on a carriage ride along Lake Michigan rather than in this rough scene. (Caution: some violence references, which is part of any authentic western.)
Rinkmann yanked Carla's arm behind her back, his knife at her throat. 'So, you do know Miss Loganaire of Chicago. When she told me she was going to meet the bravest man in the west, I should have known it was you who lied to her. Throw your gun down, Creede, or Miss Loganaire makes it to heaven before you.'
'Avery, he's hurting me.'
'That's stupid, Rinkmann. You can't make it out of this town. These people won't let you.'
'You're a dreamer. Which one is going to stop me?'
Carla tried to pull away. 'I want to go home. I don't want to be here.'
'Turn her loose!'
'I think I'll slice her throat a little at a time,' Rinkmann rasped.
'I'm going to be sick.' Carla doubled at the waist, started to cough, then vomited all over Rinmann's arm.
Copyright©2008
Stephen Bly

website: www.BlyBooks.com
"On A Western Trail" blog: www.BlyBooks.blogspot.com
To find Creede of Old Montana: http://www.blybooks.com/bookstore/western-romance-novel-2/

~~~~~~~~~~~

What do you expect most in a good authentic western?
What makes a memorable authentic western heroine for you?

~~~~~~~~~~~~
3 Auto Tweets prepared for you:

Western fiction plot kicker: Count on fire hazards - http://clicktotweet.com/0uyHz
Authentic fiction plot idea: Tackle hero/oine family hassles -  http://clicktotweet.com/ifYOb
Authentic western plot idea: Rouse up the 'High Noon' mentality - http://clicktotweet.com/it295
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Authentic western fiction - Creede of Old Montana by Stephen Bly
Creede of Old Montana
http://www.blybooks.com/bookstore/western-romance-novel-2/

May 29, 2013

STORY DOODLES, Stephen Bly's Story Worksheet for Homeschoolers, Future Writers & Those With Writer's Block

Story Worksheet Article by Stephen Bly
Stephen Bly

Many have asked about my story worksheet that I've used at writer's classes, workshops and conferences.


What's a story worksheet?

Do you remember those cardboard matchbook covers that said, "Draw Me!" If you're not of a certain age, probably not. They often included a cartoon character of a lady's or man's head.

(Do you even recall matchbooks?)
Story Worksheet Article - Draw Me! Matchbook
Draw Me! Matchbook


If you could draw that character, the company you sent it to would claim you had real artistic talent. You qualified for their writing course (as long as you paid the bucks for it).

I've always been disappointed they didn't have one that said, "Write Me!" I could send them a story I wrote. They would tell me what wonderful talent I had and let me enroll in their correspondence course.

The truth is, not everyone is an artist. Nor can everyone become a published writer. However, anyone can have fun drawing, sketching, and doodling.

Story Worksheet Article - Sure Hope You Become A WriterMost all of us do it anyway. It's personal expression. It's fun.

In the same way, anybody can write a story. Think of it as story doodling. You can be a story doodler! Here's a way to give you a start. I've used this story worksheet for homeschoolers and public school classes, as well as for beginning writer workshops at conferences.

Sit back. Let your mind run free. Fill in these blanks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"STORY DOODLE" Story Worksheet


My story is about a ____________________ named ___________________



who is ________ years old and lives in ______________.



He/she/it wakes up one ________ and finds much to his/her/its surprise that



_________________________.



Not wanting others to find out that he/she/it is ____________________



or even __________________,



he-she-it sets out to ____________________



in order to find __________________.



Little does he/she/it know that ____________________ has already __________________.



Throughout the story, he/she/it struggles to understand ___________________



and through a series of __________________ finally discovers



____________________.



Now, all you have to do is come up with a catchy title (recommend six words or less):



" ___________________________________________________"



Voila! You have a story. If you're really brave, show it to someone.
Or email it to janet(at)blybooks(dot)com. She will feature it on one of our blogs.
You are welcome to drag and paste and print out this sample, as long as you include the credit:
Stephen Bly, http://www.blybooks.com/
Or you can email janet(at)blybooks(dot)com and ask for a Story Doodle Worksheet attachment to be sent to you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you're a homeschooler, beginning writer, or been in writer's block mode for a time, consider a correspondence course or one of these other writer's resources:

Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, correspondence courses for fiction and nonfiction, for all levels of writers. For more info: www.christianwritersguild.com

An Introduction to Christian Writing, by Ethel Herr, in-depth of the complete writing experience: http://amzn.to/11b289d

Writing the Natural Way, by Gabriele Lusser Rico, using right-brain techniques to release your expressive powers: http://amzn.to/15j4sv9

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



April 29, 2013

Western Research: 12 Incredible Montana Factoids

Western Research: author Stephen Bly
Stephen Bly (1944-2011)
12 Incredible Montana Factoids, western research by award-winning western author Stephen Bly


I've set lots of books in Montana, including the recent historical western romance, Creede of Old Montana. In fact, we came close to moving to the Treasure State over thirty years ago. Somehow, Idaho snagged us instead. Even though there were a dozen towns in western Montana from our western research that intrigued and tugged at us.

In the meantime, I learned a lot about the Big Sky country. All of it part of my extensive western research, both fiction wise and personal. Here's some of Montana's many charms.

12 Incredible Montana Factoids

Montana pronghorn antelope
1. Today the average square mile contains 1.4 elk, 1.4 pronghorn antelope, 3.3 deer and 6 humans.
2. In 1888, the city of Helena had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world.
3. 46 of Montana's 56 counties are considered "frontier counties" because of extremely low population.
4. Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park. My family and I have been there.
5. Montana has more different species of mammals than any other state.
6. Flathead Lake in NW Montana is considered the largest natural freshwater lake in the west. It contains over 200 sq. miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline.
7. The first luge run in North America was built at Lolo Hot Springs on Lolo Pass in 1965.
8. Virginia City, founded in 1863, is considered the most complete original town of its kind in the U.S.
Western research: Montana Going to the Sun Highway
Going To The Sun Highway
9. The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman gained fame through the work of its chief paleontologist, Jack Horner. He was the prototype for the character Dr. Alan Grant in the bestselling novel and movie, "Jurassic Park."
10. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Park is considered by many the most scenic drive in America.
11. Roe River, which flows near Great Falls, often at 58 feet in length, is considered the shortest river in the country. Its source is Giant Springs, the largest freshwater spring in the U.S.
12. Montana's name comes from the Spanish word for mountain: montaňa f; montón m. 

Going To The Sun Highway Weeping  Wall

Montana Bighorn Sheep

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TWEETABLES for Western Research: 12 Incredible Montana Factoids:
Montana's average sq. mile contains 1.4 elk, 1.4 pronghorn antelope, 3.3 deer & 6 humans: http://clicktotweet.com/o983e
Montana has more different species of mammals than any other state: http://clicktotweet.com/v2e8G
Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Park most scenic U.S. drive: http://clicktotweet.com/OBI67
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Website Links for other western authors who do western research:

Terry Burns http://www.terryburns.net/
Lena Nelson Dooley http://www.lenanelsondooley.com/
Tina Dee Books http://tinadeebooks.com/
Molly Noble Bull http://www.mollynoblebull.com/
Amber Stockton http://amberstockton.com/ 

April 03, 2013

Give Me a Regional Cookbook and I'll Tell a Story



by Mona Hodgson



I'm not a Food Network viewer, nor am I a gourmet cook. In fact, my hubby does most of the cooking and baking at our house. But don't ask me to write about a new setting without a cookbook from the location.


For The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, I poured over Church History Cook Book from the First Congregational Church in Cripple Creek, Colorado. A yummy resource for time period dishes and recipes, ingredients listings, people names from the time and place, and other tidbits.


Here's a fun tip offered by Mrs. J. S. Bates: "To keep apples from turning dark when peeled, use a silver knife."


I can hear a character in one of my stories sharing that household hint.


Ginger Snaps with Mrs. Ira Hart and Mrs. Theodore Hartman


One cup molasses, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup shortening, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 level teaspoon soda, 1 eggs. Add flour to roll. Bake in a quick oven.


Yep, I can see one of the Sinclair sisters nibbling a ginger snaps at Miss Hattie's Boardinghouse in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, or Twice a Bride.



For The Quilted Heart, three eBook novellas, Celebrating Our Heritage from the St. Charles German Heritage Club provided me with tasty recipes and fun tidbits. 


Hunter’s Schnitzel from the German Club Archives


Pork or veal cutlets

Salt

Pepper

Brown sugar

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced

Cream

Cooking sherry (if desired)

Crushed garlic (if desired)

Onions (if desired)

Butter for browning



Make sure the cutlets are thin. Wash the cutlets, dry with a paper towel and rub with pepper, salt and just a little brown sugar. Cook the cutlets on both sides in real butter in an open pan until the meat is done and takes on a nice brown color. Put the schnitzels in a serving dish and keep hot. In the meat juice left in the pan, cook fresh sliced mushrooms (about one pound for 2 schnitzels) until the liquid is mostly gone, adding pepper, salt and a touch of sugar to taste (not too much sugar or the mushrooms will be spoiled). Stir in fresh cream until you get a thick sauce. Pour on top of the schnitzels and serve with potato pancakes. Another variation is to add a little cooking sherry, onions and/or garlic to the mushroom gravy (the onions and garlic are cooked together with the mushrooms; the sherry is added with the cream).  



Sounds to me like a “receipt” we could find in Emilie Heinrich’s kitchen in Bending Toward the Sun, a Quilted Heart novella.



Hunger ist der beste Koch. (Hunger is the best cook.) One of the many sayings I found in the German heritage cookbook, along with fascinating bits of history.





I turned to The Oregon Trail Cookbook, A Historical View of Cooking, Traveling, and Surviving on the Trail for culinary inspiration and cultural tidbits for Hearts Seeking Home, my next series. Look for Prairie Song, Book 1, to release on August 6th!    


“Originally called ‘The Emigrant Road’ by the early pioneers, the route commonly became known as ‘The Oregon Trail’ and later as ‘The Overland Trail.’ Regardless of its name, emigrants always referred to it as ‘the road’ and not a ‘trail.’”


Sourdough Griddle Cakes

2 c. sourdough starter

4 c. warm water

4 T. oil

1 tsp. salt

4 T. sugar

5 c. flour

2 eggs

½ c. condensed milk

2 tsp. baking soda



Mix starter, flour and warm water the night before. Reserve 2-3 cups to replenish starter. To what is left, add eggs, oil and milk; over dough and gently fold in. Let rise 3-4 minutes. Fry on hot griddle. Serve immediately.



I can almost smell the griddle cakes Caroline Milburn will cook over the coals of a campfire out on the prairie in Prairie Song.


Read the prequel to Prairie Song in Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore.



Do you have a favorite regional cookbook?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

March 30, 2013

Character Name Calling: Fun For Writers


Character Name Calling by Author Stephen Bly
Stephen Bly (1944-2011)
In my book Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, the narrator is never identified by a particular character name. He is just called "Little Brother" by the six old cowboys.

However, had he a real bona fide character name, what should he be called? I was pondering that as I read this week the 10 MOST POPULAR NAMES FOR 2008: 1) Aidan, 2) Jayden, 3) Jacob, 4) Michael, 5) Ethan, 6) Caden, 7) James, 8) Caleb, 9) Andrew, and 10) Matthew. 
But "Little Brother" in this story is 10 years old in 1954. That puts him in the 5th grade, born in 1944. So, the question is ... what were the 10 MOST COMMON BOYS NAMES IN 1944?

Here's the list:  
1. Robert
2. James
3. John
4. William
5. Richard
6. David
7. Charles
8. Thomas
9. Michael
10. Ronald
Character Name Calling & 1954 5th grade class
1954 5th grade class
So, he should be called by a character name such as Bobby or Jimmy, Johnny or Billy, Dicky or Davy, Charlie or Tommy, Mikey or Ronnie. Notice that Michael and James were on both lists. But I rather fancy Stevie, if I had to give him a choice character name.That might give you a clue as to who this character is most like.

One of the boys in this 1954 5th grade class could be the narrator for this story.

Character name calling is one of the most delightful parts of being a writer. I love finding different sounding names. Whether it's Tapadera ... or Lixie ... or Jolie. Or Devy. Or Miss Oliole Fontenot. I don't limit myself to the Top 10 of the Year. But that's a good place to begin.

Along with character name creating, there's the fun of discovering the environment of the character's times.
1950s F.W. Woolworth store
For today's consumer, it's a shopping mall world. But for someone like Little Brother, it's hard to imagine the incredible thrill to him of a product-packed Five and Dime store. I'm not sure kids today can experience anything near that excitement.  

Here's a "Little Brother" narration excerpt from Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon:

When WalMart was beyond anyone's imagination, we had Five & Dime stores like Newberry's and Woolworth's ... Mama worked at Woolworth's right out of high school. Even in 1954 most of the merchandise was inexpensive. And they had everything. What a marvelous world for a boy from the country who thought the Fuller Brush man had so much merchandise in his Chevrolet CarryAll that is must surely be sinful.
To the casual observer, we must have looked like an invasion of old men in narrow brimmed Stetsons, cowboy boots, white shirts buttoned at the collar and a little boy with plastic cap guns holstered to his side. But to my 10-year-old imagination, we were a posse surveyin' a crowd, on the trail of some bad hombres.

Stephen Bly - Copyright 2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whether it's picking a character name in writing a fiction story or choosing a name for a newborn child, what's your guidelines for making that awesome choice?
What's your clearest memory of when you were 10-years-old?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you're looking for a character name or what to name a baby, check out this Baby Names site: http://www.babynames.com/character-names.php

Character Name Calling for novel Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon
Here's where to find Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon: http://www.blybooks.com/bookstore/1950s-cowboys-novel/