Best of Texas Book Award for Historical Fiction: Back Side of a Blue Moon by Caleb Pirtle III

What happens when a man with a checkered past comes face to face with a woman whose past is as mysterious as his?

As writers, we tell our stories with the best words we can choose.

Then we revise.

Then we suffer through the agonies of one re-write after another.

And finally, with fear in our hearts, we put the final period in place and send the book spiraling through cyberspace to Amazon.

Will anyone read it?

Will anyone like it?

Occasionally someone does.

I was both honored and flattered when The Association of Texas Authors gave Back Side of a Blue Moon its Best of Texas Book Award for Historical fiction.

I guess the stars were aligned just right. And for that, I am grateful.

The Story:

Times are hard along the Sabine River, and the little East Texas town of Ashland is crumbling under the weight of the Great Depression. Families are broke and hungry. For many, their last meal may well have been their last meal. Families are giving up and leaving town. Everyone knows the fate that awaits the scattered farms. No one can save Ashland. It is as isolated as the back side of a blue moon.

Into town comes Doc Bannister wearing a straw boater and a white suit. He is the miracle man. He has a homemade doodlebug machine that, he says, can find oil and make them all rich. Oil, he swears, lies beneath the blistered farmstead of Eudora Durant. She thinks Doc is a flim flam man. The Sheriff believes he is a con artist. Both are convinced that Doc has come to town to swindle every dime he can get before hitting the road again. Ashland knows Doc may be crooked, but he has brought hope to a town that had no hope.

Eudora has everything Doc wants. She is a beautiful woman who owns cheap land. In Ashland, she is known as the scarlet woman. Whispers say she murdered her husband. No one has seen him since the night they heard a shotgun blast on her farm. The town wants oil. Doc wants Eudora. But Eudora is too independent and stubborn to fall for the charms of a silver-tongued charlatan.

She holds the fate of Ashland in her hands. Will she let Doc drill? Is there really oil lying deep beneath her sunbaked land? Can Doc find it? Or is he more interested in finding love than oil? What happens when a man with a checkered past comes face to face with a woman whose past is as mysterious as his?


Washburn calmly reached in his pocket and removed another shell.

He took his time to reload.

He was laughing now.

“Kill one,” he said.

He raised the shotgun to his shoulder.

“Kill two,” he said.

Washburn cocked the hammer.

“Don’t make any difference.”

He never saw Eudora.

He never looked her way.

He loomed over Doc and shoved the shotgun barrel against his chest.

Doc might be dead.

Might not.

God, don’t let him be dead.

One shot to make sure.

The kill shot.

Eudora grabbed Washburn’s old double barrel shotgun and ripped it from beneath the bed.

She sat up.

Washburn stood above her.

She saw the look in his eyes.

She saw how crazy a crazy man could look if he were crazy.

She heard the laughing.

She heard how crazy a crazy laugh could sound if it was uttered by a man whose mind had been twisted like strands of barbed wire.

The laugh grew louder.

She couldn’t miss.

She knew it.

Eudora pulled both triggers at the same time.

At least she tried.

At least she thought she did.

Thunder rocked the bedroom. Thunder reverberated from one wall to the next. Thunder shook the floor. Thunder roared from the bosom of an unrepentant earth. Thunder rolled across the landscape like a freight train on a downhill run. Thunder seared deep into her soul.

Lightning flashed.

It sizzled.

It scarred everything it touched.

Eudora crumpled to the floor.

She fought back the fog and expected the rain.

She stared through an open window.

A hot wind touched her face.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

There was only the moon.

It was no longer blue.

Please click HERE to purchase Back Side of a Blue Moon from Texas Authors.


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