Local author Jan Shinpaugh has launched into a new frontier with a short story called “Irene,” which is her first attempt at writing about the old West.
“Although I grew up watching Roy Rogers, my hero, and the other Westerns of the ’40s and ’50s, this is my first writing venture into the Western genre,” said Shinpaugh. “I enjoyed it and doing the research. When you are researching a certain time period, you have to dig deep. The little things will trip you up.”
“Irene” was submitted to Frontier Tales, a relatively new e-magazine that features Western stories. Readers on the website can vote once for the story they think should be named Readers Choice for the month. The winner is included in a hardcopy volume of “The Best of Frontier Tales Anthology.”
Shinpaugh has written several books, including “Mary Margaret Mellon,” “Better Late ‘N Never,” “Madder ‘N a Wet Hen,” “Crazier ‘N a Bessie Bug,” “Deader ‘N a Doornail,” and “When Pigs Fly.” She has also written several plays and is a children’s book author with the adventures of Cat Girl and Squeaky Mouse in a serious of five books.
The introduction to “Irene” is, “The stage driver was dead, the stage burned, and the woman was badly beaten. She wore a nun’s habit, but $100,000 was hidden in its folds. What was she? A nun, a thief, or even a killer!”
Shinpaugh says the short story focuses on violence toward women.
“As for the plot of the story, I decided to write about violence toward women, which is a timeless brutality. In addition, I wanted to show that despite the main character’s personal tragedies, she was accepted by the other characters,” Shinpaugh said.
All of the works by Shinpaugh are fiction. However, because the time period was pre-1900, a lot of research had to be done for “Irene” to make the story historically accurate.
“Take an item such as soap,” said Shinpaugh. “You can’t have your 1880 characters using Irish Spring Soap when it didn’t even exist then. That idea applies to almost every aspect of your story, and adds credibility to your work. In Westerns, when you are dealing with guns, you can’t simply write the character carried a Colt. You have to specify what type and caliber, according to the year.”
Frontier Tales is a free online magazine.
“The magazine doesn’t charge for reading by the public,” said Shinpaugh. “The magazine also doesn’t charge the writer for publishing her or his story. You would be surprised at how many online magazines do. Frontier Tales is a good venue for budding and experienced writers to showcase their work and offers national exposure.”
Visitors to the website can vote only once a month for the short story they would like to be named Readers Choice.