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Blood to Rubies is a sweeping western about the cataclysm between Manifest Destiny and native Indian sovereignty, telescoped through the intimate stories and photographs of frontier photographer, Frederick Cortland. Frederick grows up in St. Joseph, Missouri, the starting point for westering pioneers. Thirsting for adventure and steeped in the tales of Lewis and Clark, he longs to see the wilderness and Indians in the flesh. To escape the Civil War draft, he joins a wagon train on the Oregon Trail and photographs pioneers, Indians, and frontier life. He chronicles, too, the lurid underbelly of humanity, freak shows and circuses, hangings and death, soiled doves and the Oriental slave trade. He begins to feel more a voyeur than a photographer. 

In the Bitterroot Mountains, he spies a naked Irish immigrant woman, Sorrel Lanning, in a lake and secretly photographs her. Frederick settles in nearby Spotted Horse, Idaho, and starts a photography business. He becomes obsessed with Sorrel and keeps her clandestine nude photographs in a secret Chinese box. He befriends the local Nez Perce and their venerated young leader, Chief Joseph. Strangely, Frederick's role as photographer—and voyeur—becomes pathological. He witnesses the lives of both Sorrel and the Nez Perce tribe unravel in tortuous irony.  And he feels complicit in the fates of both.

Because my main character is a frontier photographer and so much of my novel research involved perusing old photographs, I begin each chapter with an archival photograph that mirrors Frederick’s experience, as if he himself had taken the photographs.


I am ecstatic to report that I recently signed on with one of the top literary agencies in the country: Trident Media. Trident represents Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Booker Award winners--and two of the writers I admire most: Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) and Marilynne Robinsoon (Housekeeping). AND, they are the leading agency for bestselling books-to-film!! My lifelong dream of becoming a novelist just became real. My book is not published yet. But this is a big step.


This site, as well as my Facebook blog, Notes from the Frontier, and my dot com site,, were created to generate interest in my work. (As any one who's tried writing a novel can attest, writing the damn thing is only half the battle. Getting it published is the other half.) I am also happy to report that, not only two years since I have launched my historical blog, I have nearly 200,000 readers (including about 60,000 loyal followers) who love frontier and Native history. My most popular post, "Stagecoach Mary," has been viewed by almost a MILLION readers! (976,723). I've been sharing my writing adventures with these good folks. If you haven't joined me on my journey yet, please do. It’s sure to be a wild ride. Giddyup!