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Rock cover

  • Keywords
    • Historical fiction,
    • 19th century,
    • Barringer Hill,
    • Texas,
    • Llano County,
    • Valuable minerals,
    • Mining

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by Montgomery Colt

The West in the late 1880s was more than outlaws and cattle rustlers. It was a place and time of economic growth, scientific discoveries and inventions, and unregulated and often unethical business practices by corporations determined to stake out a claim as key players in a new frontier. Against this backdrop, John Barringer, an uneducated carpenter living a simple life, discovers a mother lode of rare earth minerals in his newly acquired property—Barringer Hill. These minerals include gadolinite, a highly sought-after substance used in “glowers” for electric streetlamps and worth seven times the price of gold. This discovery attracts the interest of many, including George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison, giants in the growing electric lamp industry. As multiple forces compete for Barringer’s discovery, schoolteacher Fannie May Henderson steps in to help protect her soon-to-be husband’s interests. Inspired by the game Rock-Paper-Scissors, she anticipates each of their opponents’ moves and pits them against each other. But increasingly, she and her fiancée find themselves questioning who is friend and who is foe—including a mysterious Japanese man named Chico, who somehow seems to be at the center of everything. Rock is an exciting and action-packed historical novel set in Llano County, Texas in 1886. While mostly fictional, the story is set against a backdrop of real historic players and events that will give readers insight into the forces that helped shape the West.

Montgomery Colt grew up on a cattle ranch in Saskatchewan, Canada in an area similar to the Texas Colorado River Valley, the setting for Rock. His early years included raising and showing beef cattle while attending a country school. Later, he received a degree in Engineering and worked on projects involving food processing, information technology, geology, and water management. He also taught as a university professor and has traveled extensively across North America. His frequent travels to Austin, Texas introduced him to the history of the Texas hill country and the legend of Barringer Hill. Today Colt and his wife live on the shores of Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada. An avid reader of historical fiction and mystery novels, Colt has made sporadic attempts to write this debut novel beginning in 1976. “I wrote this story in six months over forty-five years,” he notes, “and it took being locked down during a pandemic to complete it.” However, his next novel in the Rock-Paper-Scissors Series is on track for release in 2022.


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