Book Jacket


rank 4563
word count 90229
date submitted 13.11.2009
date updated 05.01.2010
genres: Romance, Historical Fiction, Young ...
classification: universal

The Dunning Creek Massacre

Tom Horner

Living and loving on the Pennsylvania frontier in 1755 was difficult but the Revolutionary War and British incited Indians made it very nearly impossible.


John Ernst wakes to see hostile Indians sneaking toward the cabin where only his father had risen. He grabs his clothes and rifle, warns his father, and jumps out the loft window to attempt a cross-fire. Too late, he watchs the Indians burst through the door. Seconds later the foggy morning is shattered with screams. George 15, Mary 13, and Jake 12 jumps out the loft window during the attack. George escapes into the woods while Mary and Jake hid in the bushes and tall grass. With only a muzzle loader rifle he is forced to watch the Indians march his mother and two younger brothers from the cabin and up the trail into the mountains. After taking Mary and Jake to safety, he undertakes his mother's trail. Maturing rapidly at sixteen, John learnx the woodsman's craft as well as that of an Indian scout while on the trail. Losing his mother's trail he comes upon another raiding party with a woman captive. The rescued woman, Ida, and he need to recuperate on the mountain from their wounds. There he learns love with Ida, learned responsibility, overcame his feelings of guilt, and became the man he was destined to be.

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british rum and american indians, british rum and indians, early america, life and love in the pa mountains, love on the mountain., pennsylvania histo...

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Rhiannon65 wrote 1501 days ago

Being a Pennsylvania and someone who could conceivably join the Daughters of the American Revolution I'm going to back your book and then read it. I love the revolutionary war and the history behind it.

Could you also critique the Ataxian Chronicles?

Thanks, Francine

catseatcheese wrote 1534 days ago

I can tell you have the makings of a good story here, but i also thing you're rushing things a little. Take more time to develop the characters you've spoken about. What are pa and ma like? Who are some of the other men who are going to split logs? Are any lazy? funny? Do any have daughters-so your character might want to treat extra nice? etc, etc.

Don't state the obvious-- 'the muzzle loading rifle". What other kinds were there back then? And anyone interested in this type of story already knows about muzzle loaders. How about something like--He slammed the ball home and jerked out the rod--then hesitated. Now what? What was he supposed to do with only one ball?

Be careful of using the same uncommon words too closely together in the same paragraph. This really stands out, and interrupts the flow of the story and brings us back to studying the paragraph instead, looking for more errors.

Think about getting this out of YA--I think you have the beginnings of a whole series here. Get a copy of "White Indian" by Donald Clayton Porter. If you read it, you'll see what I mean.

I can tell you are a lover of history-as am I. This story has great merit-but expand, expand, expand. I am backing this one.

B. J. Winters wrote 1556 days ago

Intriguing opening. The text flows well. The descriptions are strong. The only thing that caught my eye in the first chapter is the number of paragraphs that start with "John". A minor thing. You've definitely put some thought into the uneducated/common speach - and I liked that he thinks with words like git (rather than get) consistent with the spoken phrasing. I liked the last paragarph - and will definitely read on.

T.L Tyson wrote 1568 days ago

Read the first three chapters. What a different idea. I always like finding original pieces of work, this is smacked with originality. I am a little shocked to see this listed as YA. It is written in a more adult way, and the central theme seems like one that would interest an older crowd more so than a younger one. (THat is of course my personal opinion) Are there are lot of YA historical fiction novels?
There is certainly action and suspense a plenty throughout the three chapters I read.
My one concern is the amount of personal pronouns start. There are a lot and I think they could be shaved down.
Other than the fact that i think the audience for this would be older than YA, I think it is a highly entertaining piece.
T.L Tyson-Seeking Eleanor

Bob Steele wrote 1572 days ago

The Dunning Creek massacre is a good story that is written in a style and idiom that seems spot on for the YA target audience, and reeks of period authenticity. I'm happy to back this.
A couple of things for the editor to reflect on. First, I found the dialogue rather stilted in places. To some extent this may be a product of writing in dialect which I generally don't like [a personal foible!] but I'd suggest reading it aloud to check that it seems natural in the context of the rough and ready frontier. For example would Noble Stag reflect knowledgeably on the history of settler-indian treaties when encountering on the trail a friend whose family had just been killed/kidnapped? Second I was thrown in the opening of C1 to see the indians in the mist through John's eyes in the opening paras, then be taken in flashback immediately to him waking up, hearing his parents and then seeing the indians again. Surely there is no need to repeat and this would be better presented chronologically? For example you could go straight from "he struggled to control [his fear] - to think clearly" to "[he] closed the window, quickly pulled his pants over his nightshirt, etc" and keep the flow of the drama and action your first paragraphs set up so vividly.. Worth a thought, anyway. Good luck.

mikegilli wrote 1587 days ago

Terrific story.Congratulations and i back it.
The foreword is a great idea, proving you have researched it
and its not another rip off of the unfortunate natives.
usually they out the pitch in the present tense... in the book it-s
still happening..
All the bet with it.........mikey The Free

Onthedottedline wrote 1587 days ago

I grew up on diet of 'cowboy and indian' films, and while this is updated into a more pc version of events, it is nevertheless an exciting throw-back to early pioneering days. You clearly know your subject well, and write with confidence and authority. Your characters are strong, and well-defined, and the plot is packed with action. Just one tiny quibble with the first line in your pitch: obviously the rum-incited Indians weren't British, as your wording implies! Backed with pleasure. Best wishes, Tony.

gillyflower wrote 1589 days ago

This is a truly exciting book. You start off right into the action, and your short sentences keep the pace moving fast. The description of the Native American attack is gripping, even chilling. I like the way you make it clear, through the conversation with Nobel Stag ( although you are writing from John's point of view ) that the Native Americans have been badly treated. John is a great character, smart, brave, attacked by pangs of conscience although he has tried to do his best. I loved the scene where he competes with the Wetzel brothers. John's voice is authentic, suiting his place, age and period. He says to Lew, 'After watchin' your backside runnin' in front of me, I ain't sayin' how I'd do agin you,' and we can hear him as clearly as if we were there. Lew and Martin are strong characters, too, their personalities coming across easily through their speech and their actions. The setting is described in a masterly fashion, the cabin, the woods, the bushes and grasses and the trails. This should be a very successful book. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

Jupiter Echoes wrote 1590 days ago

I must say i enjoyed the read. There is a story shining through. A gripping start and the prose keeps on moving at a good pace, relevant to scene. Nice work.

Good luck developing this, Tom.


writingwildly wrote 1592 days ago

I love the time period (obviously!), I love the idea of the story and all the adventure implied. I'm sure I could come to love your characters. But you need to work on editing. There are too many grammatical errors for me to work through it. I suggest that you read the story out loud, red pen in hand. You will be amazed at what you hear yourself say. Here are just a few things that I found in the 2nd chapter.

"It was thicker than the surrounding mist" - clarify that you are discussing the shape he sees

"The beginnings of doubt and fear gripped him" - this is "telling" instead of "showing". What does he feel? What does doubt feel like - what is he experiencing? Don't just tell us. Put us in his place.

John was the oldest son of Adam Ernst, aged sixteen. .......... I'm pretty sure you mean John is 16 ... that's just one of the errors that stuck out, and one of the errors I'm pretty sure you would have spotted had you read it out loud.

- Genevieve
Under The Same Sky

Rosali Webb wrote 1592 days ago

Looked at this with a passion because I hear the word 'Indian' and my ears perk up! Loved the blog and cover and title. Three chapters down and I am following the tale gladly. You have a solid story lined up that makes sense, and you write very well. All the best and Backed.
Fieldtrip to Mars

Jack Stirling wrote 1595 days ago

Tom, I always liked westerns so yours will get a read. At present it is on my watchlist. If you have time please give Blindfold a glance.

Kaychristina wrote 1596 days ago

Ooh, a new saga of Independence. Great work, Tom. John is a young hero to follow, I think. His fear palpable and his courage when faced with his father's fate just heart-stirring.

I have more to read and will comment further when I can. For now, my only nit-pick is the pitch... Heh heh. These, like the synopses we send out, are usually in the present tense - expected to be. So it might serve you well to consider that. Oh, and "....he grabbed his cloths...." (should be 'clothes' I believe!!).

Interesting Prologue, too - as one that has studied U.S. history intensively, and it's part of my own ancestry, even though I live in England! I do wish you well with this, and it's backed with pleasure. From -


Andrew W. wrote 1597 days ago

The Dunning Creek Massacre

Hi Tom,

This is really great, I love historical novels, I love this period and I love the detail you bring to this moment in history. The forward is helpful actually, it sets the scene nicely and the action begins straight away. You have an eye for historical detail but a gentle and engaging narrative style that puts your obvious fascination for this period firmly in its place and the telling of the story at the forefront of your writing. A great title and a great yarn which I got lost in immediately. I ended up reading too much of this story and am now late for work. I will try and come back and complete it if time allows. It really flies along, great stuff.

Best wishes and good luck
Andrew W
(Sanctuary’s Loss)