Welcome Back Cindy Brown — A Gunfight Gone Wrong, Marauding Chihuahuas, & the Real Annie Oakley

Congratulations, Avis! you won an ebook! Cindy will be in touch!

I hope you all have the chance to meet Cindy in person some day. Her smile lights up any room she’s in. Here is are three things that inspired some of Cindy’s latest book Ivy Get Your Gun! Cindy is going to give away an ebook to one person who leaves a comment. Thanks, Cindy!

A Gunfight Gone Wrong, Marauding Chihuahuas, & the Real Annie Oakley

Ivy Get Your Gun may be fiction, but three real-life events inspired the book. The first two were news events in Arizona. When my mom sent me the following clipping, I knew I had the opening to my new book:

Actor Shot During Tombstone, Arizona, ‘Old West’ Gunfight Re-enactment Play

An “Old West” gunfight re-enactment in Arizona ended with real casualties                          Sunday when one of the actors fired five live rounds from his gun instead of                        blanks, injuring another actor and a bystander.

Yep, Ivy’s going undercover at Gold Bug Gulch, a Western theme town a little like Tombstone. She’s also been hired to solve a problem inspired by the following real-life incident:

Stray Chihuahuas Terrorize Arizona Town, Chase Children, Run Wild

Ay, Chihuahua! An Arizona town is overrun with tiny pooches that are terrorizing children    and defecating anywhere they want — and animal control officials can’t get a leash on the problem.  Large packs of the small dogs in Maryvale chase children as they head off to school, and the number of strays has swelled beyond control, officials and residents said.

The third incident was not nearly as dramatic, but a lot closer to home. Ivy is a part-time detective and an actor, so her escapades take place in the theater. In Ivy Get Your Gun, she performs in a melodrama at Gold Bug Gulch, but I also wanted a connection with the show Annie Get Your Gun. I had a difficult time getting hold of the script and the video, so I began by researching Annie Oakley. I’d always been a fan, but I had no idea what a truly amazing woman she was.

She survived a nightmare childhood to single-handedly raise her family out of poverty (when she was still a young teen) and then went on to become the most famous woman in the world, all while maintaining an uncommon degree of integrity. I was smitten. Finally, I received the script in the mail (had to order it off eBay from New Zealand), and was able to get the movie from the library, and…wow. All I had remembered was the wonderful music and some cowboy-type shenanigans. I didn’t remember how stupid they made her look or the makeover she had to endure, and I certainly didn’t know they had changed the real-life ending of Annie’s shooting match with Frank Butler, making her lose on purpose so that she wouldn’t upstage her man. UGH.

But what to do now?  I had the rest of the book in my head and a lot of it on paper. I decided to have Ivy channel me. In addition to acting in the melodrama, she’s auditioning for Annie Get Your Gun. Like me, she has a tough time finding the script in the video and researches Annie Oakley while she waits.  And when she sees what they did to Annie’s legacy, she gets as ticked off as I did and decides to do something about it.

I love how these three real events melded into the book: the gunfight became the mystery, the Chihuahuas became the comic relief, and Annie Oakley became the soul of the book. I hope I did her proud.

Readers: What strong woman do you admire?

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Agatha-nominated Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.





43 Thoughts

  1. This sounds like a great read! Always have wondered if those tiny dogs weren’t secretly plotting world domination.

  2. What fun, Cindy! I LOVED the songs from Annie Get Your Gun when I was growing up. Yes, will have to watch the movie again with an adult eye. Or just read your book, instead! Thanks so much for visiting the blog.

    As a child I read bunches of biographies of women: Clara Barton, Jane Addams for starters. I loved the character Jo in Little Women. Now there are so strong women I admire. I’m partial to my fabulous senator, Elizabeth Warren these days.

    1. LOVE Elizabeth Warren. Maybe we should write a musical about her.

  3. Welcome back to the blog my friend! Luke you, I love this musical up to the end. I need to read up on the real Annie Oakley. She deserves better.

    When I was young I read about Deborah Sampson, a woman who bound her chest so she pass for a man and fight the Revolutionary War. Inspired me to think about what was/is possible.

    Congratulations on the new book!

    1. I read about Deborah, too! I was always looking for kick-ass girl role models.

    1. She sounds amazing! I think I’ll pick up the Amy Brill book that Edith mentions.

  4. ‘Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better’ certainly takes on new light once you know she could do anything he (and all the rest of the men she knew) could do – better, faster, and with more panache, doesn’t it?

    I, too, hate it when women are made to upstage themselves to soothe a man’s fragile ego. I know the movie is very much a product of its time but still, historical figures should be given their due.

    It’s only now, recently (although I did know about Annie Oakley before because even though my mother forced to them to give me a “adult” card the librarians would still only let me read biographies), as I strive to make sure my daughter is taught the vast and complex contributions women have made throughout history that are severely lacking in her school’s history books, I am finding their stories are so much richer, more varied, and more fraught than I ever imagined.

    So the women I admire are the nameless, faceless ones lost to history now who fought hard to change the world and make their mark all the while, knowing full well that their ideas were being stolen and presented as their male counterparts’ work.

    Ivy Get Your Gun sounds just as entertaining as your previous books, Cindy. Congratulations on your launch!

    1. Thank you! And I think that as fiction wrtiters, we can give some of those forgotten women their due.Onward!

  5. Thanks for joining us today! I stumbled on the story of the “female” Paul Revere, Sybil Lubington, when my daughter was in grade school. I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing about her.

    1. You should – I would love to read that! Sad to say I’ve never heard of her.

  6. Great post, Cindy! I love the glimpses into the artistic process and the specific ways each of these influenced specific aspects of the book. Congrats again!

  7. I’ve always loved Annie Get Your Gun. I played a very small part in a school play. But I also got to see Ethel Merman reprise her part on Broadway in 1966 or 1967. Even tho’ she was much too old for the part, it was a gas seeing her. I look forward to reading Ivy!

  8. I’ve been on a British history kick lately and I have really admired everything that I read about Katherine Parr (the sixth wife of Henry VIII). She was very educated, was a published author, and managed to survive Henry (which is a feat all by itself).

    Your book sounds great! I will have to add it to my to be read pile!

    1. She sounds amazing (& resourceful). I am now making a list of women I need to read about …Hope you enjoy IVY GET YOUR GUN!

  9. Welcome back, Cindy! Ivy Get Your Gun sounds amazing.

    My kids daycare did Annie Get Your Gun when they were in elementary school. Elementary school musicals mean the script is cut to shreds, leaving just enough spoken lines for the plot to kind of make sense. Nonetheless, the ending was there (not to mention the racism toward Native Americans, which fortunately with cute little kids in the roles was less obvious). So I figured it was a teachable moment. I explained to my kids that the men they knew, their dad, their grandfather, their uncles didn’t need a girl to lose to them in order to love them. That they were proud of their mothers and daughters and wives who won. My daughter, in a little voice from the backseat of the car answered, “Oh, Mom, That was the olden days.”

    Oh, how I wish it was.

    1. Bless you for taking that teachable moment. At least for your kids it will be “the
      olden days.” And I’ve heard that present-day productions tend to cut out the demeaning Native American references.Let’s hope so.

  10. This really is a fun book. Yes, I was fortunately enough to read it already.

    And the timing is pretty funny since the localish theater I love to go to is opening Annie Get Your Gun this weekend. I’ve never seen it and was planning to since they announce their season. I’ll take it with the shaker of salt it needs when I do.

    1. Ooh, Mark, you will have to tell me all about it. Fascinated to see if/how they update it.

  11. All the women in my family & my husband’s are strong women. i admire them all.
    I missed the Chihuahua story. Sounds like fun.

    1. Yay for strong women! And I think the media may have exaggerated the Chihuahua threat:)

    1. It’s a bit of a reference to Big Bug Creek in AZ. Never went there – the name made me nervous:)

  12. What strong woman do you admire? There are several strong women who are stepping up within the current political scene (Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren), but I also find several of the reporters who tirelessly investigate these same events to be the real stars…Katy Thur, Halley Jackson, Joy Reid, Kristen Welker, and so many more.

    1. I think Malala Yousafzai is amazing. I’m not sure I’d have her courage. And yes, I definitely admire the reporters and advocates who make sure we know what’s going on. SO many of them we never even hear about.

    1. I never knew she invented things. Sounds like my kind of gal – I need to know more about her!

      1. She helped develop a radio controlled torpedo that couldn’t be jammed. Richard Rhodes’ Hedy’s Folly does a great job with the story.

  13. This sounds like a fun read. Love the pictures from the Tombstone re-enactment. Can’t wait to read the book.

    1. Thanks! BTW, the photo was actually take at Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction AZ (right outside Phoenix). Definitely worth a visit!

  14. Hi Cindy, the latest book sounds like a blast–plus we need strong women these days! I’ve only read your first book in the series–but the thought of Ivy pulled up above the stage in that cauldron wearing a shrunken leotard gives me the giggles whenever I think of it. Toil and Trouble! And holy uncomfortable costume!
    Thanks for murder and giggles. Not easy to do!


  15. I recently read a book called Girl in Disguise which is fictional, but is based on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. I really enjoyed the book, and after reading it I did some research on Kate Warne. What an amazing woman. Such an inspiration to all of us.

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