Reckoning by Mike Torreano

Happy holidays to all!  Give a big welcome to Mike Torreano, author of The Reckoning, an historical western set in 1868.

Have a seat and grab an insulated mug. I’ve got hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee. Choose your pot, they’re labeled over on the counter. Pick your choice of a Snicker-doodle, Chocolate Chip or Peanut butter cookie from the plate. Yep, I baked them myself. Lets see what  The Reckoning is all about.  Thanks for joining us!

Mike tell us what  inspired this particular story?

Well, Tena, since I’m a pantser, I really didn’t have much of an idea how The Reckoning would unfold. I took a well-known historical fact-Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas in 1863-and spun a western mystery out of it, but I didn’t necessarily have that in mind when I started the story. So, when people ask me what I write, I like to say I write mysteries!
I’d always had the idea of writing a traditional western in the back of my head ever since this Ohio schoolboy discovered Zane Grey in elementary school. I fell in love with the West then, and feel so fortunate to live in Colorado now.
Writing The Reckoning was an adventure, as it usually is for pantsers. The story just unfolded as Ike traveled from Kansas to the high mountain valley of South Park to search for his parents’ killers. I also wanted my story to have strong women alongside strong men, as that’s what it took to survive in the American West in the late nineteenth century.
And yes, one of the advantages of being a pantser is that your characters sometimes do things you never expect. In more than one scene of The Reckoning, my fingers took off and I let them twist and turn the story as they found fit. Unexpected creativity is one of the advantages of being a pantser, but there are certainly drawbacks as well. Like staring at a blank page, and saying to yourself, ‘What happens now’? 🙂
I can certainly relate as I write by the seat of my pants too! LOL  I understand this odd looking contraption you’ve brought with you is a time machine and you’re going to take us back to 1868 to observe a conversation with Ike McAlister of The Reckoning.  Right?
Exactly, back to June of 1868. Okay here we go.
Everything fades in a whirl of color then suddenly stopped. 

The Cottonwood (Colorado) Courier interview with Ike McAlister of The Reckoning, June 1868


Courier: Thank you for taking a few minutes with me this morning. (Panting from keeping up with Ike’s long strides).

Ike: (Nods). You’re welcome, but I’m not sure why you’d want to talk with me. I’m new around here.

Courier: I’ve heard you have an interesting background. Except for the Civil War, you’ve always lived in Kansas, is that right? What brings you to Colorado?

Ike: Just felt like I wore my welcome out back there.

Courier: There’s rumors you were a vigilante in Kansas after the war.

Ike: (Stops, strikes a match and lights up). Is that what people say? That I’m a vigilante? Are they sayin’ anything about the Quantrill’s Raiders that killed my folks? And about how no one ever brought any of them to justice? Not likely anyone else is gonna track them down, either. Most men I know would do the same thing I’m doin’. (Stares down at reporter).

Courier: Are you asking me what I’d do in the same situation?

Ike: Not really.

Courier: It’s obvious I’ve touched a nerve.

Ike: Anything else?

Courier: Just a few more questions. I know your sister, Sue, recently disappeared here in Cottonwood. Do you have any clues about what happened to her?

Ike: (Takes a drag). Wish I did. Seems like she just up and vanished in thin air, but she can take care of herself. Always has.

Courier: Does that mean you’re not looking for her?

Ike: (Glares). I’m lookin’ for her. What kind of a brother would I be if I didn’t? I’ll find her.

Courier: I detect a note of anger, or is that uncertainty, in your voice?

Ike: Just stick to your questions.

Courier: What if you never…

Ike: Next question.

Courier: So I hear you’re staying at Lorraine Blanchard’s boarding house. How is that working out?

Ike: What do you mean? (Rubs his beard).

Courier: I don’t mean anything in particular, just that you’re both single and…

Ike: (Reddens). Better stop right there. (Long exhale).

Courier: All right, back to my first question. What brought you and your sister out here?

Ike: My brother, Rob, came out too. We’ve been lookin’ for a good place to make a new start. Cottonwood seems like a nice place.

Courier: The word around town is you’re looking for something all right, but it’s not just a good place to make a new start. That you’re looking for someone in particular here.

Ike: I’m lookin’ to make things right. Anything wrong with that? (Cocks his head at the reporter).

Courier: So, it’s true. You think your folks’ killers are here in Cottonwood, don’t you?

Ike: Hard to say.

Courier: Do you think your sister’s disappearance is connected to your search for them?

Ike: Might be. I’m here to find that out or die tryin’. (Walks away).

The scene fades and the whirl of color returns and stops just like before.

WHEW, what a ride. (I open one eye to make sure we are back to 2017.) Yep!

Mike, tell us a little more about The Reckoning.

Ike McAlister returns home to Kansas after the Civil War, his soul bruised and empty. Worse, his parents have been killed by Quantrills raiders who are still on the loose. No stranger to death and destruction, he vows to run the killers down. A clue leads him to the high plains of Colorado, but when his sister, Sue, disappears from there, his world quickly spins out of control. In the midst of this turmoil, a feisty landlady sparks an attraction, the only good thing in Ike’s life. Racing against time, he must make a deadly choice. If he continues to pursue the killers, Sue will likely never be found. But if he veers off to find his sister, the killers trail will go cold. Which track to follow? Will the love of family triumph in his broken heart, or will it be the passionate hate of revenge?

How about a peek between the pages of The Reckoning:

The cards were coming up aces for the scruffy cowboy across from him. The man was cheating, but Ike couldn’t see how. Ike had been losing to the surly wrangler for more than an hour and still hadn’t figured out his tricks. From what he could see, the man’s shuffle looked okay. His deal looked okay. It had to be something else. The sooner he figured it out the better. The stash of money in front of him had dwindled to next to nothing.

One of the players asked Ike where he was from. “I’m from back east a ways. Came here lookin’ for somebody.”

“Sounds like you’re looking for someone in particular. Mind my asking who?”

The man was a proper-looking sort in a black suit and bolo tie, both out of place in a rundown saloon like the Wildfire. He resembled a banker. Ike decided he might as well answer since he’d already told the sheriff why he was here. “I’m lookin’ for my sister, Sue.”

The cowboy spun a card to Ike that flew off the table. “That one got away from me.”

You can find The Reckoning at Amazon, The Wild Rose Press and other online retail outlets.

More about the author:

Mike writes historical fiction and westerns set in late 19th century America. Growing up in Ohio, he developed a love for the West during grade school when he read every Zane Gray novel he could lay his hands on. His favorite authors in this genre are Gray, Louis L’amour, and Jack London. Favorite poet associated with the North is Robert Service, several of whose poems Mike has memorized and recites.
Mike wrote a short story called The Trade, which is published in an anthology available on Amazon based on his grandfather’s time in the Yukon Gold Rush from 1898-1900. It grew from a kernel of a story his mother shared with him about a dramatic incident his grandfather experienced there.
The Reckoning is his first published novel-thank you, The Wild Rose Press! Set in Colorado during 1868, it’s a tale of murdered parents, a sister’s disappearance, the love of a feisty landlady and a son’s revenge. He’s working on the sequel now and has a trilogy in mind.
He also has a novel titled Fireflies At Dusk set during the Civil War. It is currently gathering dust on an electronic shelf and is a coming of age tale of a young man who throws off his pacifist upbringing and joins the Union Army. The war strips him of his self-respect and he must endure a gritty journey during harsh combat to reclaim it as well as his sweetheart.

You can find Mike at:




It was wonderful having you with us today, Mike and Ike.  Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Reckoning.


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Mystery of the Missing Christmas Lighting Display

As Christmas approaches one family tradition is to drive the neighborhoods enjoying the Christmas lighting displays everyone puts up.  The last few years there have been less and less.  I understand, as our own lighting display has been downsized.

Last year many around our area protested a utilities rate hike in November set to reap the benefits of those who put up Christmas lighting displays.  Yes, sadly we were one of those, since the year before our December utility bill had been a lot higher than in previous years.  We couldn’t afford another huge increase, and the deliberate timing of the hike was deliberately grinchy, so we put up only the minimal lighting display. It was a sad year for enjoying Christmas lights displays.

This year, the rate hike will be put off until January as in previous years, except last year. Wise decision utilities department. The lightening displays have returned, and ours included.

The real point of this post is for many years, we watched a certain home in our area add to his homemade Christmas display and looked forward to seeing what had been added each year. It was not religious in nature, but fun. There were Peanuts characters, then Tweety Bird & its companions, Little Mermaid, the Grinch, Disney Characters, Winnie the Pooh and pals, just to name a few, all homemade. Spotlights illumined the display.  Suddenly about four years ago, not only were there no new characters, but the display disappeared entirely. Each Christmas we checked, still the house was dark, no sign of the previously wonderful Christmas light and character display. Had they moved, after all this is a military town, people come and go a lot? Was there a family illness or emergency that caused the display to go missing?  While we reveled in the other fantastic lighting displays, we were saddened as we drove past the dark house checking each year.

No we never knew the people who lived in that house. But we felt a connection to them watching the display grow year after year.

Last night, December 10, 2017, we clambered into our truck, hot chocolate in hand, to go check out the neighborhood Christmas lights. With trepidation we turned the corner where the darkened house had been for several years. Lo and behold, in all its previous glory the Christmas lights and beloved characters were on the front lawn, house and roof.  We were ecstatic to see the house lit up once again, the Peanuts merry-go-round spinning slowly, all the other cartoon characters smiling broadly. No new characters, but that was alright because the decorations were back. 

We took pictures, and decided to share the beloved display with you. Funny how one thing can brighten your spirits as that house did ours last night. This year I believe we will go back to that house and knock on their door and tell them how much we have enjoyed their display throughout the years. Also how much we missed it when it was gone.  Christmas lighting is a time consuming, expensive endeavored and a labor of love. To those of you who set up Christmas displays year after year, THANK YOU!

Please share your Christmas Traditions with us in the comments.


Posted in My Say What Blog and tagged , , , , , by with 2 comments.

Colorado Hauntings – Happy Halloween

IMG_5623Celebrating a spooktacular Halloween all month on My Say What Blog, so check back for haunting articles about Halloween.  What’s not to love about Halloween?  One day out of the year you can dress up and pretend to be anything you want and people don’t think you’re crazy.  Okay, well, not as crazy as if it wasn’t Halloween!

One of the highest haunts in Colorado is the Stanley Hotel at an altitude of over 7,500 feet. Bawawawa!  You know the one that claims to be the 2006-estes-park-the-stanley-hotel-008inspiration for Stephen’s King’s The Shining (REDRUM – MURDER) .  The Hotel was built in 1909 by Freelan and Flora Stanley of Stanley Steamer fortune.  Originally, they came to Colorado in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of Freelan’s tuberculosis. They fell in love with Colorado and purchased property and built a home. The Stanley was built as a summer resort for guests Freelan and Flora entertained during their extended vacations in Colorado.

2006-estes-park-stanley-hotel-2It’s believed Flora haunts the hotel to this day, enjoying one of her favorite pastimes of playing the piano late at night when no one is around. Tales abound of visitors claiming sounds of revelry occurring in the empty ballroom.  Room 217 is purported to be haunted by the ghost of a long-term housekeeper. If you gain her favor, she’ll help you unpack. If not…. Well…. It is the room allegedly occupied by Stephen King at one time. Inspiring The Shining?

I don’t know about that, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up as I took photos of The Stanley Hotel outside in broad daylight.

Want to know more about haunted places in Colorado? Click on the link.

Speaking of Hauntings!

Did you know, most present day Halloween traditions are traceable to the ancient Celtic day of the dead? Halloween consists of mysterious customs, buthalloween image each has a history, or at least a story behind it.

Take wearing costumes, and roaming from door to door demanding treats. This behavior can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and about, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This is where the practice of trick-or-treating began. To this day, vampires, witches, ghosts, and skeletons are among the favorite costumes.

Our Halloween also retains activities from the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, (pumpkins) as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices for cider associated with the day. Although at my house, hot chocolate is pretty popular, since Halloween almost guarantees the first snow of the year.

AWitchsJourney_w10497_medLooking for a fun Halloween Read? A Witch’s Journey is full of meddling ghosts, shapeshifters, sexy witch, a ruggedly-handsome Navy SEAL. An exciting story of redemption, wildlife rescue and Halloween festivals. Available at, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.  And I let you in on a little secret.  A Witch’s Journey will be available in audiobook soon, so watch for it!  After you’ve read A Witch’s Journey, you’ll want the sequel, A Witch’s Holiday Wedding,  available at, Kobo.


Well, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to don my vampire costume, custom fitted fangs and pull up a stool in the shadows. With a candy bowl beside me, I sneakily turn on the fog machine. Out of the mist, I’ll greet the little trick or treaters or scare the bejeebers out of the older ones with bats hanging over head and screeching on my command. Won’t you join me? Happy Halloween!



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Halloween Hauntings – Part Two

With its wild and turbulent past, Cripple Creek has a history of unexplained, supernatural occurrences, no wonder it’s earned the reputationmining structure of one of the most haunted towns in America. Tales of haunted Cripple Creek hotels, casinos, and homes flourish.
ImperialHotel1970-275The Imperial Hotel at Third Street and Bennett Avenue known originally as the Collins Hotel, was built after most the town burned to the ground in 1896. As a young man, George Long emigrated from Europe and eventually made his way to Denver. He married his first cousin and together they ran the hotel. The union produced two daughters and a son. The eldest daughter, Alice, was mentally disturbed and the parents were forced to keep her locked in their apartment next to the lobby for her safety and the safety of others. Soon after George fell to his death while negotiating the narrow stairs to the basement. Or some say Alice escaped, waited for him at the top of the stairs, struck him over the head and he crashed to his death from the stop of the stairs. It’s rumored his ghost haunts the hotel to this day.
My experience at the Imperial Hotel was at the performance of Dracula by the Imperial Players in early 1990’s. The performance was excellent, but the strong feeling of someone watching, icy patches and pressure on my arm and lower back, when no one was there. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. After meeting the cast in the lobby for an autograph session, my family and I quickly exited the hotel and raced to the safety of our vehicle, thankful that we hadn’t booked a room. Looking back on the experience, was it the performance725A0143 of Dracula in the supposedly haunted hotel that caused my imagination to run wild, or was there really something there? I admit to having an overactive imagination, but not that time. In the years since, I’ve visited Cripple Creek on numerous occasions, to explore old buildings andIMG_1485 mining shacks. My husband and I drive up Hwy 67 to enjoy the turning of the Aspens in autumn, used to camp at the Lost Burro Campground but I haven’t set foot in the Imperial Hotel since that night.
** Next week, more Halloween Haunting with traditions, legends and spooky fun. You don’t want to miss it.


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