An Inconvenient Gamble–Inspiration and Research


About An Inconvenient Gamble

An Inconvenient Gamble” a novella in A Texas Brides Collection (Barbour Publishing, May, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-1620294635) 60 pages

A reformed gambler grappling with his past as a Civil War prisoner meets the widow of a man who dared him into an impossible decision. Charles Moss has to confront how to make things right for a family he wronged with a poor bet. Jenny Duncan is forced to make hard choices when her father and husband both die of yellow fever and she must take over the horse ranch, the rearing of her two teenage brothers and a crochety mother-in-law. Then she discovers she is pregnant.

How will the two find their way to happiness as Charles fights the urge to gamble and Jenny struggles to keep the ranch running and trusts a man again?


“Touching and inspirational – it teaches how to deal with temptation. Flee.”

“With surprising twists and turns in the story, the reader will love the way the author ends this story by showing the hope that can come from leaving behind reminders of the past.”

~Amazon reviewers


The idea for An Inconvenient Gamble came out my family history, a generation following The Dogtrot Christmas. It incorporated elements from several different family lines in Texas, as well as insight I recently gained on a research field trip to Tennessee and Kentucky.

The story begins with the documented 1867 yellow fever epidemic which afflicted Anderson County, Texas. My great-great-great grandfather perished that year, leaving behind a bride one month pregnant with their child.

I mixed in another great-great grandfather, Col James Steele Hanks (the son of Rev. Thomas Hanks in The Dogtrot Christmas) who was one of the busiest men in the county in the second half of the nineteen century.

My research trip to Tennessee and Kentucky  centered on the life of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. I made my hero, Charles Moss, a disaffected member of Morgan’s Men who endured Fort Delaware Prison Camp the final two years of the Civil War.

Gamble: Hanks

Col. James S. Hanks

I mixed in a horse farm and gambling, and the story fell into place in ten days. I enjoyed writing it.

Serendipity and Research

I love how this works. I’d no sooner finished writing this novella, when I got an email from one of my genealogy contacts. She had photos of relations from this era!

I attended a Civil War days reenactment, where I found someone else to provide me with information for An Inconvenient Gamble!

At the same camp, I fell into conversation with a hostler who explained to me how the cavalry worked and the type of saddle my character would have ridden. Small detail, but it can make a difference.

More elements played a role in crafting An Inconvenient Gamble.

Pertinent blog posts from An Inconvenient Gamble’s research.

Soldiers and Gambling: The Civil War
Using Genealogy to Write a Novel

Writing, Genealogy and Serendipity

POWs, Horror and Hope

Fort Delaware and the Civil War

Writing a Novel: Call the Vet!


Writing Sample

From An Inconvenient Gamble:

August 1867

Jenny Duncan pulled her father’s shotgun off the wall and hoped she’d not have to use it.

A stranger on horseback ambled toward the house from the dirt road to town. He wore an army slouch hat and carried a full load in his saddlebags. A long shape, maybe a rifle, stuck out behind him as he gazed about the property.

There’d been too much death lately; she couldn’t risk appearing vulnerable on the isolated farm, even if she was as strong and tall as a man. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a coal-black crow light on the split-rail fence to ruffle feathers and caw. Jenny tightened her grip.


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