Fiction Fest: Softly sharing more from Carla Kelly’s ‘Softly Falling’

Softly-Falling_9781462113958Today’s Fiction Fest spotlight belongs to Carla Kelly’s “Softly Falling,” which was released on Nov. 11 and is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

Kelly has won two Rita Awards and made a name for herself in the New York publishing world before bringing her talents to Cedar Fort. Since, she’s won two Whitney Awards for Best Romance of the Year (2011 for “Borrowed Light”) and Best Historical Fiction of the Year (2012 for “My Loving Vigil Keeping”).

You can’t go wrong with a Carla Kelly novel.

EXCERPT:

From the author: Lily is teaching the ranch school, because there is nothing else for her to do there, and her father is a sad disappointment. She has asked Pierre, a mixed blood Lakota and Jack’s top hand, to tell her little class about winter counts, those Indian calendars on buffalo robes. He also warnsg her about Francis, a feral cat everyone ignores and the children fear.

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“I cannot even find you buffalo now,” he replied, deadly serious, and with sadness in his eyes. “They are all gone, and the People are on reservations, eating flour, lard and thin beef.”

“There isn’t much in the world that is fair, is there?” she asked, understanding him perfectly.

“Very little.” He looked toward the trees, nodded, and lowered his voice. “I think I see Francis.” He tipped his Stetson to her. “I’ll go.” He took off his hat, which sent the cat farther back into the tress and underbrush. “Lily, thank you for calling me Pierre, and not Indian.”

“It’s your name,” she said simply. She looked at him. “Do you have another name? A … a Lakota name?”

“My mother’s family call me Blue Hat.” He held up his hand, evidently seeing the question in her eyes. “I’ll tell you sometime.”

“Say it in Lakota.”

He did, guttural sounds that she knew she couldn’t reproduce easily. “I’ll stick with Pierre,” she told him.

“Blue Hat is all right, too.” He started down the hill, walking backward to watch her. “Maybe you will get a name before this winter is over.”

“I’d like it to be ‘Teacher,’ since that is what I have become.”

“No word for that in Lakota,” he said. “Besides, it’s not up to you. Maybe it’ll be She Who Pets Wildcats.”

“Oh, you!”

He started up the hill again until he was close. “I promise you your name will be right and true.”

Lily nodded, feeling shy as Amelie. “Does Jack Sinclair have a name?”

“Oh, yes. His name is Determined.”

“There’s a Lakota word for determined,” she asked, skeptical.

“Well no. It is “He Stands with Feet Planted.’”

Lily nodded. I can see that, she thought, impressed.

“If a better name comes along, I will know.”

She felt that chill again and clasped her hands together. “I think you’re telling me that this winter is going to change us.”

He didn’t reply. Maybe she was wrong to ask such a question. What did she know about Indian Ways? Pierre looked at the sky and held his hand up to the wind that blew stronger from the north and west.

“There will be snow by morning.”

She couldn’t help the catch in her throat. Drat him and Jack for frightening her with vague suspicions. And what did muskrats and wooly caterpillars know anyway? He noticed her agitation, because he touched her arm lightly.

“Just a little snow this time.”