Category Archives: Defiance on Indian Creek

Discovering Michael Shirley’s Land

When I began writing Defiance on Indian Creek, in 2008, all I found on Michael Shirley’s land came from a Google Book copy of Oren Morton’s book, A History of Monroe County West Virginia. Listed on page 82 under Surveys under Botetourt County in 1774, in the following format: Shirley, Michael–527–Indian—L—Mar 24.

However, I didn’t know how to find the deed online for the correct location. I printed a map of Indian Creek and learned the creek’s course into the New River. After locating the predominant frontier forts, I decided on a location for the fictional story.

Eight years later, I submitted my manuscript to White Bird Publications. While waiting for the book’s completion, I wondered about the accuracy of my character’s trek toward Cooks Fort.

I emailed the West Virginia Historical Society and contacted the Cook’s Old Mill historian Fred Ziegler. His reply to my inquiry shocked, thrilled, and caused panic at the same time. “…Mary could have walked to the fort in five minutes.”

I called my publisher. “Should I totally rewrite the story plot to fix my blunder?”

My publisher said, “No. It’s a great story, and it’s fictional.”

I’m happy to say book four, Palisades of the Heart, (Work in Progress) places the Shirley family in the correct location for the important romance between William McGuire and Mary Shirley.

I’m not making life easy on them, however. There are major issues to resolve.

Check out Fred Ziegler’s excellent non-fiction book: The Settlement of the Greater Greenbrier Valley, West Virginia. The People, Their Homeplaces, and Their Lives on the Frontier. Buy on Amazon

Defiance on Indian Creek Audiobook-Angelina Kelly

As the author of Defiance on Indian Creek, I’m thrilled that Angelina Kelly chose my book to launch her career as an Audiobook narrator. Her years of experience as a voice actor brings clear pronunciations and confident portrayals of my characters. Hearing the teen voice of Mary interacting with her family and clashing with her papa swells my heart with pride. I hope you enjoy this first Audible audiobook in the Dangerous Loyalties series as Angelina Kelly brings to life the struggles and triumphs Mary revealed to me.


Defiance on Indian Creek-Literary Titan Review


defiance_on_indian_creekI received an awesome four star review from Literary Titan. If you haven’t heard of them check out my review below. I’m pleased with their professionalism.

Defiance on Indian Creek is a quiet, but enthralling read by Phyllis A. Still. We follow a smart, courageous thirteen-year-old girl, Mary on the frontier in West Virginia on the eve of the Revolutionary war. Her father comes home with news that disrupts Mary’s world; talk of loyalty to the unfair King and moving to far off Kentucky. The relationship with her father is stretched as she finds him mired in plots and implications of possibly being a traitor or even a spy. Mary is forced of her own loyalties to her father, family and country as the weeks go on until she is asked to make an impossible choice.

Overall, Still has clearly done her research in this fine YA novel. In the tradition of historical fiction before it, Defiance on Indian Creek takes a quiet frontier family and throws them in the forefront against an increasingly dangerous time. Reading these pages gave me the feeling I was actually there in the reeds of Indian Creek alongside Mary and her Papa. The maps included at the front of the book were helpful in understanding the setting and getting even more of a feel of what this era felt to those early colonists.

It isn’t often such a tale is spun on the frontier, but also invokes the greater happenings on the east coast. Mary is a fun protagonist to follow as the story progresses, because Still is able to give the reader the feeling of anguish from the girl and her struggles over choosing to place trust in her father and the lack thereof.

Being a YA novel the story itself is pretty straightforward and does not beat around the bush when it comes to finding out certain things. Mary herself seems to grasp things beyond her years, but her parents are not the usual inept adults that are so often present in YA novels. And being a young girl, who genuinely wants her father to be okay and her family to be safe, the reader can only root for her.

There are few books that I could remember for the relationships it creates between characters, but Still has managed to make the daughter-father relationship in this book a special one. Especially, since the tension between them is so palpable as the book goes on.

If there is any criticism for the book that can be offered it would be for something that is almost uncontrollable. It concerns the background conflict between the Colonies and the Crown. This is what gives historical fiction its flavor, but it does overshadow the very personal, family struggle between Mary and her father. This is the only real issue with the storyline, beyond this Defiance on Indian Creek will be a pleasurable read to any person who enjoys YA and a painstakingly researched historical fiction.

Source: Defiance on Indian Creek

Interview with Drummer


Drummer, is the Shirley family’s lovable dog and a beloved secondary character from Defiance on Indian Creek. I thought his fans might enjoy learning more about him. I had to coax him out from under the porch with the fatty pieces of my steak.

He licked his lips and sat in front of me.

Thank you for coming out to talk to me, Drummer.


  1. Where did you come from? Papa acquired me from my litter after I kept following him around, watching him claw trees with his paw tool.
  2. Why were you named Drummer and by whom? Papa told Momma my name was Drummer when he brought me to his den. He said every time he took a break from clawing a tree to stroke my fur and talk to me, my tail tapped the ground like a drum.
  3. How old are you in human years? I think four.
  4. How old was Mary when you joined the Shirley pack? She had whispered in my ear that she had just turned 9 and I was her present.
  5. What is your favorite activity? I love to flush rabbits from their holes.
  6. What is your favorite food? Meat scraps and bones, but a tasty treat is the blood drippings.
  7. Are you allowed to go on adventures alone? No. I tried that a couple of times, and Papa placed a rope around my neck both times and made me stay near a tree all day. I hated that.
  8. Who is pack leader when Papa is away? Mary, although sometime George thinks he is. I get away with sneaking off with him, though.
  9. Do you play with the youngest pack members? Yes, except the one called Sally who tries to ride me. The one called Charlie likes to wrestle with me. The others throw things and want me to bring the things back. I humor them until I’m bored.
  10. Did you ever hear an Indian gobble like a turkey? If so, how did you know? I heard a human try to sound like a turkey once, but the pitch was all wrong. They said something ugly that a turkey would never say.
  11. Did you worry about Mary when she and Rebel left without you? I wanted to go on an adventure with them but Papa told me to stay.
  12. Do you have a favorite game to play? I like to hide the things the small ones throw when they are in the den. They must find the things before they can make me play.
  13. What do you like to chase? Squirrels. I wait until they think I’m asleep under the porch, then I pounce out from behind the bush or wood stack.
  14. If you could speak what would you say and to whom? I’d ask Papa why he leaves me at the den sometimes instead of letting me trot beside his horse. I don’t know if I’ve been bad.
  15. Do you always nap under the porch? No. Sometimes I fall asleep under a bush waiting to pounce on squirrels.

Drummer stood and shook his body. “It’s time to go to the bushes. Maybe we can talk more another time?”

Yes. Thank you. We might have more questions before you leave on the long journey with your pack. Have a fun day.

He trotted to the bushes and scurried out of sight. The Shirley’s cabin door creaked open, so I removed the antique comb from my hair and returned to my office. I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the life of the Shirley family through Drummer’s point-of-view.

Be Strong!


Another Addicted Reader

defiance_on_indian_creekDefiance on Indian Creek, continues to lure readers into the intriguing story of thirteen-year-old, Mary Shirley, who lived in western Virginia at the dawn of the American Revolution.

I received this sweet email from a new fan.

“I wanted to let you know that I started reading your book as soon as we got home. I read eight chapters before putting it down to go to bed. I was unable to sleep so decided to read a little more. I finally put it down after I read the complete book at 3:45 this morning 🙂 The book is wonderful and just the type I love to read. I am waiting on the next one to be published! I will be sure to urge my family, friends, and clients to purchase your book, leave a review and watch for new releases. I will be leaving reviews after Christmas. Thank you for such a great book that kept me wanting to keep reading and excited for the next one.”

The next one is Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two)

Book I Defiance on Indian Creek

defiance_on_indian_creekAvailable on Amazon

This Young Adult Historical novel, tells the fictional account of young Mary Shirley who just wants a normal life with friends her age and someday, suitors. She is brave, tenacious, and prone to be rash.

The settlers along Indian Creek in Western Virginia are siding against King George, except Papa. He has declared loyalty and intends to remove the family to Kentucky territory.

After discovering surveys with strange riddles, Mary witnesses her papa exchange documents between a patriot neighbor and a known loyalist. She believes Papa is a cowardly traitor, endangering the family.

Internal struggles lead to lost trust and acts of defiance until Mary is faced with a dangerous decision: loyalty to Papa or loyalty to a cause. Lives are at stake no matter what choice she makes—one, puts hers at risk.