Category Archives: My Books

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

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!


A Whole New Side of the American Revolution


frontier_cabinI’m pleased book one in the Dangerous Loyalties series, Defiance on Indian Creek, is being used by educators for use in Literary Arts and Social Studies curriculums.

As I researched Daughters of the American Revolution Patriots, Mary Shirley McGuire and her papa Michael Shirley, a whole new side of the American Revolution unfolded and begged to be shared—not as the usual fact, fact, fact but shown through tenacious thirteen-year-old Mary, who wants what all young adults want: friends, acceptance, and a peaceful future.

Research revealed that western land grants were at stake if Britain lost the war. Therefore, as early as 1775, Tories made covert attempts to retain control of the western frontier. British-encouraged Indian raids kept western frontier men defending their families and out of the Continental Army in the east. Allegheny settlers also dealt with shortages of supplies and falling tobacco prices due to boycotts of English goods. Most of the Tories fled the pro-independence Alleghenies—those who remained worked covertly to ally the various Indian tribes.

Mary’s fictional story draws readers into common emotional family issues, such as sibling rivalry, trust, faith, forgiveness, and loyalty. Mary is the eldest of eight children living in a small log cabin. She is bossy, prone to daydream, and makes rash judgments. Tension is balanced with humor as Mary interacts with her family through daily frontier life while they prepare for the move to Kentucky territory.

Defiance on Indian Creek is a clean Young Adult historical novel set along Indian Creek, in frontier Western Virginia. In 1775, Mary Shirley is a tenacious thirteen-year-old girl who desires friends her age and a peaceful future. Her papa wants to remain loyal to King George III and remove the family to Kentucky territory if war breaks out. Mary is worried. Papa’s covert activities are endangering the family, and Mary has grown ashamed of him. She wants to change his mind somehow. When he falls ill, he pleads with her to deliver lifesaving dispatches. Mary must decide if loyalty to Papa is more important than loyalty to the cause of freedom.

The multilayered story line allows educators to introduce students to a variety of discussion and research topics, some of which include the following:

  • Stereotyping
  • Slavery
  • Survival Skills
  • Frontier Education
  • Early Surveyor Equipment and Skills
  • Importance of the Borderlands
  • The French and Indian War
  • The Controversy of Lord Dunmore’s Role in the Battle of Point Pleasant
  • Compare Indian Leader Cornstalk’s Crossing of the Ohio River with George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware River
  • The Role of Scouts in the American Revolution

Painstaking historical research, a study of story structure, as well as years of rewrites, have produced a quality product I’m proud to share with educators for inclusion in Literary Arts and Social Studies curriculums.

C. S. Lakin, award-winning author and book editor, says this about Defiance on Indian Creek: “This novel, so rich in historical description and accuracy, brings the era and locale to life through the eyes of young Mary Shirley. Young readers will be transported back to the American Revolution, riveted by the fears and dangers the characters face, while seeing how a life of honor and integrity is at the heart of patriotism, family, and hope for the future. I can think of few novels from my own years in elementary schools that could compare in quality of writing and storytelling. Phyllis A. Still’s novel is right up there with the books penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder and is just as memorable and enduring.”

My goal for this series is for young adults to be inspired by Mary’s story. Teens have always played a significant role in the events taking place around them and shared common desires for friends, acceptance, and a happy and prosperous future. History wouldn’t be boring if taught through the stories of the real men, women, and children—whose lives were changed forever.

This novel has been published by White Bird Publications and is distributed by Ingram. It sells as print on demand through all bookstores.

Thank you for sharing my book with your students.

Be Strong!



dangerous_loyalties_seriesMy Dangerous Loyalties Series, is a fictional account of Mary Shirley and her family’s lives during the American Revolution. It’s set in Western Virginia shortly before Mary’s real life 13th birthday on February 17, 1775. The Shirley family really did live on 527 acres of Indian Creek land.

These posts will reveal their non-fiction story, as well as links, and notes about my research. New information will be added from time to time so please visit often and feel free to leave comments or questions.

Have a great day and–be strong!