Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Author - Lyn Horner

My special guest today is western-with-a- paranormal-twist award-winning romance author,  Lyn Horner. She's busy at work on a new series after the success of her Texas Devlins series. Welcome back, Lyn!

Hi Peggy, thank you for inviting me to your gorgeous site. It’s an honor to be here. Today, I’d like to tell you and your readers about the new series I’m working on and what led me down this path. So far I’ve written mainly western historical romance with dashes of paranormal in the form of Irish psychics.

With The Scrolls of Danu I’m leaving the Old West and venturing into modern times, but continuing the psychic theme. This series will consist of nine to ten novellas, all separate yet intertwined by a larger ongoing story. Think of it as a soap opera on steroids. Wink! The first book, Beyond the Darkness, is set in County Kerry, Ireland. Following installments will jump around the globe.

Premise of the series: A great secret handed down through millennia is guarded by ones who derive unique powers from their long dead ancestors, the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Legend: “In Irish-Celtic mythology, the Tuatha Dé Danann (“People of the goddess Danu”) are the Irish race of gods, founded by the goddess Danu. These gods, who originally lived on ‘the islands in the west’, had perfected the use of magic. They traveled on a big cloud to the land that later would be called Ireland and settled there.” – Micha F. Lindemans, "Tuatha Dé Danann," Encyclopedia Mythica Online.
According to the legend, the Tuatha Dé Danann defeated the Firbolg and the Fomorians, prehistoric inhabitants of Ireland. Later, they were themselves conquered by Milesians from the Iberian Penninsula and were driven to the underworld. Called Aes sidhe, they are invisible to mortals, but in a battle against evil, it is said they will fight beside mankind, wielding lances of blue flame, carrying snow white shields.
Does that kind of remind you of Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring, with the mystical elves fighting beside men against the evil forces of Mordor? It does me!

Enthralled by the magic of Irish myth, I find myself compelled to follow it where it may lead my character. Of course there will be romance, since that’s what I love best to write, although not necessarily hot and steamy in every book. Oh, and there are evil ones trying to get their hands on the treasured scrolls. Maybe they should be shrouded in black cloaks like, ride fire-breathing mount and carry swords like Tolkien’s Ringwraiths, you think?

Naw, that would be plagiarism. Besides, my bad guys live in the real world, not Middle-earth. Well, not the real world, but the real world of my imagination.

EXCERPT from Beyond the Darkness

In this scene, Lara Spenser, Chief Keeper of the ancient scrolls, meets a man she hopes to hire as her bodyguard.

 “Come in,” she called, opening the door and backing away.
Una stepped into the room with a rolling pin gripped in one hand and flour dusting her apron. She partially closed the door behind her.
“Mum, he looks a bad un,” she whispered, worry lines creasing her brow. “Ye oughtn’t to be alone with him.”
Lara hesitated briefly then put the warning down to melodramatics. “I’m sure I’ll be fine. Please show him in, Una.”
“But mum, he’s –”
“Show him in,” Lare gently insisted, raising her hand to stave off further argument.
The Irishwoman issued a mournful sigh and nodded. “Aye, mum, as ye wish.”
While she went to fetch the man, Lara smoothed her long skirt and self-consciously fingered the jagged scar on her right cheek. She considered standing to create a stronger first impression but dismissed the idea with a grimace. Her injured leg wasn’t strong enough to bear her weight yet, if it ever would.
A man’s heavy tread accompanied Una’s footsteps up the hall. The door opened again and the plump Irishwoman warily ushered in a tall stranger. He halted just over the threshold to stare at Lara, obviously unprepared for her appearance. She stiffened self-consciously and gulped at the sight of him. He had to be six-foot-three or four. His coffee-brown hair was shaggy and several days’ growth of beard shaded his square jaw. Clothed in faded jeans, a dark shirt, black leather jacket and boots, with studded leather gloves protruding from one pocket, he looked like he belonged in a motorcycle gang.
“Mum, this is Mr. O’Shea,” Una said tightly, eyeing the man with a disapproving scowl.
Lara forced a stiff smile. “Thank you for coming, Mr. O’Shea. I’m Lara Spenser.” Receiving a silent nod in reply, she glanced at her housekeeper. “That will be all, Una. I’ll ring if I need you.”
Sticking out her chin, the woman appeared ready to argue but evidently thought better of it. “Aye, mum. Excuse me, sir,” she snapped at O’Shea, who finally deigned to step farther into the room.
As the door closed behind him, he cleared his throat. “Sorry for staring. I wasn’t expecting . . . .” He pointed toward her wheelchair.
“You needn’t apologize. Perhaps I should have mentioned this when we spoke.” She tapped her fingers on an arm of the chair, thinking he was probably more shocked by her scarred face. She’d deliberately not told him about her infirmities when he phoned yesterday. He was a complete stranger and in her situation it paid not to give out too much information. Besides, his Texas drawl had rattled her, causing her to stammer like a tongue-tied adolescent.
“Maybe so, ma’am, but my mama would skin me alive for my bad manners,” he said in those deep, achingly familiar tones. He added a genial smile that softened his rugged features. However, that smile didn’t reach his steel-gray eyes, eyes that watched her intently, making her stomach flutter and her hands sweat. Maybe she should have listened to Una.

To find out more about Lyn, please visit her blog!

And check out her books at Amazon

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Ain't No Angel

Laney observed his hands, his subtle finger movements as he played with the reins through which he communicated silently with the animals. He closed his hands in a relaxed fist, and the team came to a stop at the top of the incline. Tyler had a gentle hand with the animals. It required a certain touch, a feel, to control a team with such subtle finesse, and he was a master at it. Before she allowed her mind to wander to what else his hands were capable of, Laney glanced at his profile, wondering why they’d stopped. He looked straight ahead, and her eyes followed his gaze.
“Oh, wow.” Her heart rate accelerated, and she sat up straighter, leaning forward to see over the tops of the horses’ backs. Spread out in the valley below them were several barns and buildings, and wooden fenced corrals. A large log ranch house caught her eye, nestled against the slope of a pine tree-covered hill. A huge stone chimney rose from the backside of the house. Dozens of horses grazed in the outlying fields and larger fenced paddocks. A windmill stood off to the side of the dirt yard that separated the main house from the first outbuildings. The blades turned lazily in the breeze.
“Welcome to the Double M,” Tyler said. There was a distinct note of pride in his voice. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest Author - Susan Horsnell

Today I am pleased to welcome Australian Author of western romance, Susan Horsnell. Welcome, Susan! Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I am the eldest of 5 to British parents. They migrated to Australia in 1952 as £10 Poms – a migration system which cost the Brits £10 each to come. I attended public school and high school near where we lived and at the age of 13, as part of my studies with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, I became a volunteer at our local hospital. This sealed my decision to be a nurse and at age 15 I entered Nursing at the same hospital. In those days we were hospital trained and lived in the quarters at the hospital. I have been married to a Naval Officer for what will be 40 years in March. We have 2 wonderful sons, 2 gorgeous Daughters-In-Law and 5 very special grandchildren which we adore.

Why did you decide to write Western romance? What is the appeal?

I was always fascinated with North American western history. I am very close to my Dad and grew up watching cowboy and indian movies on wet, rainy weekends. It fascinated me and as I grew older I read more and more about it. I felt an affinity with it for some strange reason. My imagination began to run wild with stories so when I retired, 4 years ago, I decided to give it a try. I was always an ‘A’ grade English student and had written some pretty good short stories and essays at school.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

I research quite a bit by using the internet and hoping they have it right. Being an Australian and writing American themed books I have to be very careful. My books are not factual but I do weave some facts throughout them.

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

The best comment was my very first. The reader said she had stayed up until 3am as she had been unable to put the book down. That was for The Glenmore’s: Revenge. My worst, which did hurt, was for The Stuck-Up Governess. The reader didn’t like my use of American slang eg: ya, y’all. She said she couldn’t finish it as Americans didn’t speak that way. I did a rewrite on that book and removed it all. My characters all now speak perfect English which I think took some of the atmosphere from the book. Being a new author I hated the fact I had offended someone.

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I do a little of both. I have a wonderful mentor in Margaret Tanner now and I run the plot by her before I begin. She will tweak it and give me ideas of how to develop certain sections. She then reads chapter by chapter as I write and basically edits for me. It has made my last two books much, much better. I am a good student and take everything she suggests onboard. I tend to have ideas pop into my head as I write too so I usually try to incorporate them as I go.

Can you tell us a little about your current work, Blind Achievement? Is there a story behind the story?

Blind Achievement is the sequel to Blind Acceptance. The little boy, Phillip, who was blinded in an accident at the age of 6, has grown up and is going off to a College for the Blind. I worked with the blind for four years, teaching techniques to help them cope more independently. I worked mainly with newly blinded teenagers and their families. It gave me the idea to explore how dangerous a ranch is, not only for a young child, but a young, blind child. I also focused on the trouble fathers have accepting their child is blind, especially when it is their son and heir. It was particularly hard in the 19th century as people believed if you were blind you were also insane and many were locked away to live their lives in asylums. Being in such an environment usually did send them insane – very sad.

What sets your heroine Belinda apart from all the other women in your hero’s Phillip’s life? Why is she perfect for him?

Phillip ‘rescues’ Belinda from unwanted advances and when she seeks relief in his arms, he is smitten. She is soft-spoken with a musical lilt to her voice that he loves. She is an administration assistant at the school, always around, caring and helpful. She knows the restrictions of the blind but encourages them wherever possible. She is not fazed by Phillip’s blindness like so many others are.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Usually I suffer with writer’s diarrhea but I did get block during my last book. I visited an historical site nearby, sat and meditated. Worked wonders and after talking to volunteers there about the history I now have ideas for my next book.

Can you give us a little background on your hero Phillip that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?

He is wary of females and their honesty after his mother’s betrayal. I do touch on this in the book though as I do pretty much everything in my notes. My inspiration was to show blind people have enormous value to society and should not be cast aside.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel?

My favourite scene is when Phillip’s father, Luke, suddenly realizes Phillips’ sister, Edwina, is growing up and becoming interested in boys, including Phillip’s assistant from the school. I could picture the look on his face and his feelings.

What else do you have in store for your readers?

In this book there will be the love that blossoms between Phillip and Belinda despite her secrets. The danger she places them both in because of her secrets. Attempted murder and kidnap.

Excerpt- Blind Achievement-: Due for release in late September/Early October

….       Luke thanked and paid the driver, adding a tip, before ushering his family indoors.
“I’ll get us checked in,” he said as he strode to the reception desk.
The other members of the family, except Phillip, were craning their necks skywards to take in the ceiling of the lobby. The opulence and splendour was breathtaking.
While they waited for Luke, Rachel positioned herself by Phillip’s side and began describing their surroundings.
“We are in the lobby which has high ceilings up to the very top of the building. There is a walkway around the second floor and you can look over the railing into the lobby. I can see people moving around up there. The floors are exquisite marble and there are huge supporting beams also in marble. Four of the largest chandeliers I have ever seen hang from the ceiling. I have no idea how they would have been lit before electricity.”
Rachel brought her gaze down to floor level and spun in a circle to ensure she wasn’t missing anything. The children stood quietly listening while she explained it all to their brother.
“There is a wide, marble staircase sweeping up to the second floor with red carpet laid down the center. The reception space is made of wood inlaid with marble. Gold framed paintings are scattered on the walls, the chairs are gold with red velvet backs and seats. It is all breathtaking.”
“Who is breathtaking?” Luke asked when he returned with their keys.
“I was describing the lobby to Phillip.” Rachel explained.
“Here I was thinking you thought I was breathtaking.” Luke laughed.
“Father, men aren’t breathtaking. Please be sensible.” Eddie slammed her small hands on her hips and glared at her father in disgust.
He gave Rachel a shocked look at his daughter’s outburst. She inclined her head to the side where the young men from the station now stood.
Luke frowned, grasped his daughter’s hand and began leading the way upstairs.
“Father, please let me go.” Eddie struggled against his hold.
Luke stopped on the steps, crouched down and peered into his daughters’ face. “Edwina, listen carefully. I will say this only once. You are too young for boys and you can drop the high and mighty attitude. Am I understood?”
Her lips quivered and tears began to well in her eyes. “Yes father.”
He released her hand, not wanting to embarrass her any more than she already was, and the family proceeded upstairs to their rooms.
Luke reached over, placed the key in the lock of room 103 and swung the door open.
He stood back while Rachel guided the younger children in first.
“We have adjoining rooms and Phillip has his own room straight across the hall.” He led his son to the room opposite. “Either your mother or I will help you. We know it’s difficult for you being in a strange place.”
“Thanks. It does feel odd not knowin’ where I am or where things are.” Phillip conceded.
Supper was taken early in the hotel dining room. Everyone was too tired for a tour of the city so it was decided to postpone it to the following day.

EBooks available through Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and Kobo.
Paperbacks through Amazon book store

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The General Store - Charlene Raddon

There are more ducks killed around the stoves
on the dry goods boxes at the customary haunts
of local nimrods every evening between seven
and nine-thirty o’clock, than are slain in twenty-
four hours along the Illinois River from source to
mouth. Unless the legislature puts some restriction
on this method of wholesale slaughter, the time
will soon come when there won’t be any duck-shooting
stories to tell -- that anybody will put any confidence in.

-- Correspondent in news notes to the Carrollton Patriot

General stores came into being during the colonial period for the many pioneers who lived outside urban markets. Early owners of general stores or mercantiles often began as traveling peddlers who established permanent locations in settlements where there was a need once they had saved up enough cash. Others moved west with the specific intent of opening a store once they got there. This was particularly true in boom towns, such as mining camps or railroad towns. Frequently, the "peddler" and his "store" would move along to the next booming community if, and when, profits declined. In many new settlements, the country store was the first business established, in which case the town often took its name from the store or store owner, partly because the store usually stood in as the local post office. The store owner might also serve as the town clerk, Justice of the Peace, or undertaker.

The country store served other roles, as well, such as community center, "exchange bank", community message center, and as a forum for men in the community. Somewhere in the premises one might find a sort of bulletin board for local events, or wanted posters.

Every store was different, but there were similarities from a front decorated by tin sign advertising that represented tobacco, cigars, soft drinks, hardware, and more. Most had double doors that opened inward, and windows filled with notions, jewelry and other women's items to entice customers. For the men, displays might show tools and boots.

Each visitor was met with dim light, long counters, rounded glass show cases, and side walls lined with shelves, drawers, and bins. Buggy whips, horse harnesses, lanterns, pails, ropes and more hung from the ceiling. Produce, nuts, beans, and nails were stored in bins on the floor or against a wall. Shelves contained foot stuffs, fabric and sewing notions, household items, soaps, medicines, spices, crockery and dishes, cartridges and shells, and small farm implements. Side windows were rare, adding to the darkness of the interior. The post office, if one existed, stood in a corner or at the rear of the store.

Stacks of overalls, denim and khaki pants, candy jars, tobacco, and all manner of other products likely occupied the counter space, along with the cash register, and possibly a coffee mill, scales and wrapping paper, leaving barely any space for the customer to set down purchases.

Somewhere inside, usually in the center of the room, a pot-bellied stove would be surrounded by chairs, a coal bucket and a spittoon. An empty nail keg might house a checkerboard. Stored along the narrow aisles would be barrels containing pickles, crackers, potatoes, candies, etc. 

Since many of the customers were share-croppers and tenant farmers, one store couldn’t provide credit to all who needed it, resulting in one small town boasting several stores. In Learned, Mississippi, which never had a population of over two hundred, there are four general stores still standing, though only one is still in use.

In 1896, the postal service began to offer Rural Free Delivery (RFD), cutting down on the number of trips a person had to make to the post office, and therefore the general store. The ability of residents to receive mail order catalogues by RFD also took away from the store’s profits as people would mail in their orders. Some alarmed merchants called the mail order catalogs “town killers.”

Along with mail delivery to rural areas came improved government built roads, allowing people who owned cars to travel to larger cities and bypass the local mercantile.

Today only a fraction of these old stores remain and these stand mostly as museums, antique shops or tourist attractions.

Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing. 
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Look Wednesday - Kat Flannery and Hazardous Unions

Plotting a novella with treason…

It took me a long time to figure out what I was going to write for Matty’s story. I couldn’t just write about two people falling in love during the unhappiest time of American history. I needed some substance—something that would push the story along. When I plot out my novels I’m usually looking at a 75-80000-word count, not 30000.

I struggled with writing something so short. What I needed was to come up with a solid plot in order for the story to stand on it’s own. As I researched the war I came across a man who had committed treason by burning the American flag. He was later hung.
My wheels started to turn. Treason by any nation was considered a horrendous crime. Going back as far as the 13th century in England two types of treason existed high and petty. High treason was a large act against the King and was taken rather seriously. Beheaded or hung were the most likely out come of those guilty.
Petty treason was considered much lower than high treason with crimes against every day normal people or peasants.

A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor. Those are strong words that held an impact on those who defied the laws of their government by going against them.
Well, I could work with that. I needed a traitor, and what better way to incorporate that into Matty’s story by using the act of treason during the Civil War.
BAM! The story flowed from there.

Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor


Matty by Kat Flannery

Fort Wayne, Michigan
December 1862

What had she done? Matty Becker was going to hell, and there'd be no one to save her. A loud snore echoed from the other room. She peeked around the corner and caught a glimpse of Colonel Black's stocking feet. She'd burn for sure. She glanced at the paper she held and groaned. She was a horrible, devious, scheming letch. Maggie wouldn't be pleased. Maggie wasn't here. Another snore blew into the kitchen and she placed her head onto the table banging her forehead twice. There was no turning back now.
Last night she'd pushed aside her conscience and let fear guide her. For her plan to work, she'd have to throw all sense to the dogs, not that she hadn't done so already by following through with the blasted thing. She couldn't fail now. If her family found out what she'd done they'd never forgive her. Worse yet, if Colonel Black found out she'd be locked behind bars, a fate far better than the one that got her in this mess to begin with.
She placed the paper on the table and went into the bedroom. Colonel Black lay on the bed with his clothes stripped off and tossed about the floor. He'd been out for nine hours and would wake any minute. Matty stood, pushed all thoughts of reason from her mind and removed her dress, corset and pantaloons. Her face heated and the room spun. He rolled over and she jumped into the bed next to him, pretending to sleep. She knew the moment he'd woken. The bed stilled and she couldn't breathe the air was so stiff.
"What the hell?" He sat up and she knew the instant he saw her. "Son of a bitch."
She felt his nudge once, twice and now a shove almost knocking her from the bed.
"Wake the hell up," he growled.
She squeezed her eyes closed and willed strength into her soul so she could face the dark Colonel. She rolled over pretending to wipe the sleep from her eyes.
"Who are you?" He placed his head in his hands. She'd bet he had one heck of a headache.
"Your wife," she said.
"The hell you are." He shot out of bed without grabbing the sheet, and she averted her eyes.
"Please cover yourself." She held up the sheet and he ripped it from her hand. "The marriage license is in the kitchen on the table if you do not believe me."
She watched as he grabbed his head and closed his eyes. The heavy dose of laudanum she'd placed in his drink the night before had done the trick and it wasn't but a mere suggestion they marry that the Colonel jumped to the challenge. Soon they were standing in the dining room in front of a preacher. Words were spoken—words she thought to say with someone she loved, someone who'd wanted her. Her stomach lurched and her mouth watered with the urge to vomit.
"How did this happen?" he asked sitting on the end of the bed.
"Mrs. Worthington sent me to see if you needed anything."
"I was drinking." He looked at her. "I was drunk."
She shrugged.
He stood holding the sheet tight to his midsection.
She couldn't help but notice the rippled stomach and defined muscles on his chest.
"We can annul. I had too much to drink. My head wasn't clear."
She shook her head.
He frowned.
"We have consummated." A lie of course but she was desperate.
His mouth fell open. A moment she knew he'd not remember. After the preacher left, she'd taken him to the bedroom where he passed out before hitting the bed.
"Impossible. I'd remember that."
She shook her head again praying he'd buy the fib.
He pulled on his pants and dress shirt. "I don't even know you. Why in hell would I marry you?"
"My name is Matty Beck—Black. I was employed with the Worthington's. You've come to dinner several times."
His brown eyes lit with recognition. "You're the house maid."
"I married a maid?"
The words stung and she turned from him so he wouldn't see the disappointment upon her face.
"Why would you marry me if I was into the spirits?"
"You seemed fine to me."
He took a step toward her. "Why would you marry me at all when you don't even know me?"
She gripped the blanket on the bed. "You…you said kind words, and I…I believed them.
"How desperate are you to marry a stranger?" he yelled. "You found out who my father is. You want money. You tricked me."
Well, he got the last one right, but the first two irritated her. She was not the kind of person to marry for money. Really, who did he think she was?
"Sorry to disappoint you but I refused my inheritance years ago."
"If you mean to say that I could not find myself a suitable husband because I am a maid, then you're wrong."
"That is exactly what I am saying Miss—"
"The hell it is."
He went into the kitchen picked up the marriage license and stared at it.
Matty dressed quickly and inched into the room. Confusion pulled at his features and she began to feel sorry for him. This was her fault. She'd planned this. Now she had to continue telling the lie she'd told. She glanced outside and shivered. Boldness, be my tongue. Shakespeare's words echoed in her mind. It was worth it. She'd been living in fear for a week. Colonel Black had been her saviour, and she risked a life full of love and happiness for this—a lie in which she'd speak for the rest of her life. She swallowed back the lump in her throat and willed the tears not to fall.
"Why can't I remember?" He glanced at her. "And why in hell would I marry you?"



Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in the novels she writes. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. This is Kat’s third book and she is hard at work on her next.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Ain't No Angel

Gabe coughed loudly next to her. “I’m afraid there’s been a change in plans, Miss Goodman. Tyler here can fill you in on the particulars.” He glanced up at the other man, a disapproving frown on his face. “But not to worry. There are plenty of other, eager—”
“There’s been no change in plans,” Tyler cut him off sharply. The two men stared each other down like a couple of dogs ready to get into a fight. A wide grin suddenly brightened Gabe’s face, and he relaxed his stance. Next to her, the tension in Tyler was almost palpable.
“Well, in that case, and since the introductions are finished, I suppose you want to go see Reverend Johnson. He’s expecting you.” Gabe rubbed his hands together.
Laney’s head snapped up. “Reverend Johnson? He’s here?”
“You know him?” Tyler asked. He looked at her in surprise.
“I think so. Old guy with grey hair and blue eyes?”
Tyler nodded, and Laney breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness the old man was here. He could fill her in on her apparent memory loss, and what exactly was expected of her.
“Awesome.” Laney smiled. “I really need to see him. Where’s the church?”
Gabe and Tyler exchanged perplexed looks as if she’d said something odd. Gabe grinned smugly, and Tyler scowled. There was some sort of silent communication going on between these two, and if she had to guess, it was because of her. Gabe broke eye contact first, and Tyler offered Laney his arm.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Author - Laura Elliott

Young Adult Author Laura Elliott has a new release!

An excerpt from THE STORYTELLERS by Laura A. H. Elliott:
THE STORYTELLER: Professor Alex Abernathy
THE STORY: Turn Around
Annabelle choked back her tears and sipped her cosmopolitan with a smile, trying not to give away the fact she was certain her marriage was over, even as her husband charmed her best friend, Melissa, by regaling another of his adventure stories—something about the last mountain Blake had climbed.
            All she could think about was the number of years they’d spent together and the fact that they’d gotten married so young no one ever thought it would work out. No one but Annabelle. She was in love with Blake once. Deeply in love. She couldn’t put her finger on when it faded. When love seemed to go from tolerance to distancing and now abandonment. When she’d have to fight back tears in public. Always being sure to tuck a Kleenex away, just in case. She never knew what would trigger her tears. Most of the time, it was the sound in his voice when he’d contradict what she’d say and add his two cents in a tone that let her know he was always right. She had no idea when he started to see her the way he did. He did what he could to make sure Annabelle wasn’t certain of anything. But Annabelle was certain of one thing––Blake didn’t see the real her. And sadder still, maybe he never had.
            “You’ve got to be one of the best storytellers I know. The best. How’d you get to be so good?” Melissa said, standing a little too close to Blake, not that Annabelle cared anymore.
            Annabelle knew something was wrong but hadn’t put all the pieces together yet. She’d been on the receiving end of one of his most uncharming qualities, manipulation. She never knew when he’d attack. It wasn’t physical. The attacks were always about her sensibilities, and for the past year, they grew more and more personal.
            “Annabelle?” Blake said like a parent scolding a child.
            “Yes?” Annabelle said soft and low, knowing he’d be on to entertaining the next beautiful girl as soon as he knew he had her attention.
“Melissa just asked you a question. Honestly, you live in your own little world.” He patted Melissa on the back and made his way across the room to where the men had gathered by one of the large circular tables. Charity events were where he really shined. He liked to shine. It was one of the things Annabelle had loved most about him.
“Want something from the bar?” Melissa said.
Annabelle shook her head. Melissa knew what every woman knew. It was hard to let go of Blake once he had you in his sights.


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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Page Wednesday - Sky Tinted Water by Keta Diablo

Sky Tinted Water
Historical Romance
Keta Diablo


* Mystery
* Suspense

Malevolent schemes and passion collide in this sweet historical novel. Set in Minnesota during the Civil War and the Sioux uprising, this is the story of Rory Hudson, the exquisite Irish lass with an unbreakable spirit and the enigmatic Dawson Finch, a man bound by honor, duty and loyalty.

When Dawson enlists in the army to bring peace to nation divided, Rory’s world plummets into a tailspin. War, distance and time separate them, but nothing can dispel the haunting memories of their love. Not even death can destroy their fierce passion or a love so strong it beats the odds of the impossible.

First Look from Chapter One:
Midwest plains

A dissonant shout jolted Rory Hudson awake. "Indians! Indians!"

She scrambled from her bedroll in the back of the wagon and peered out the open flap. The
eldest of her nephews, Clark and James, stood beside their parents' wagon pointing to the sky.
Rory's gaze followed their outstretched arms to a stream of smoke rising above the treetops. Her
sister, Isabelle, and husband, Jon Caldwell, ran in the direction the wagon train covered yesterday.
The wagon master, Ezekiel Harmon, had warned his little flock against Indian attacks before
they left Boston. He'd insisted they study his simple drawings and practice circling the wagons to
form a line of defense. Rory dressed in haste, rushed from the wagon and glanced at the sky as she
ran. Dense gray puffs wound toward the clouds and the smell of burnt wood tainted the air.

Ezekiel's worst nightmare had come true—hostiles had struck.

A smoldering canvas and charred arrows brought Rory to a stiff–legged halt. The wooden
frame of the McCall wagon stood stark and bleak against the verdant landscape. And the enemy
had slipped away like thieves in the night after striking their death blow. When Amelia McCall went
into labor yesterday, her husband had halted their wagon near a groove of pines, promising to
rejoin the train once the babe arrived. They didn't have to worry about falling too far behind now.
Her hands buffeting the heat, Isabelle screamed and rushed toward the flaming Conestoga.

Ezekiel lunged for her wrist. "You can't go in there, Mrs. Caldwell. Nothing left but bones
With an anguished groan, her sister fell to her knees. "They didn't get out?"
Ezekiel shook his head.

"It can't be true!" Isabelle turned a tear–stained face to her husband. "Another baby dead, and
I just brought that child into the world last night."

Aware of her sister's misery over the death of her own boy, Rory whispered his name. "Jon
Henry." Whenever a child passed now, Isabelle relived the death of the infant who died in her
arms. She wondered how long her sister would continue to practice midwifery after this nightmare.
Jon clutched his wife's elbow and tugged her to her feet. "Come along, girl. No telling when the
hostiles will return."

Struggling upward, her voice cracked. "Let them come. I don't care." Her face ravaged by
angst, she lifted her chin. "Where is God's mercy now, Jon?"

Leading her back to their wagon, his hushed voice reached Rory's ears. "It's not for us to
question His reasoning."

Rory took in the devastation. Hissing shafts of arrows protruded from the blackened ruins, the
acrid smoke turning her stomach. Blankets, trunks and clothing riddled the landscape, and beyond,
empty vats of flour and dry goods littered the ground. Amid the horror, a magnificent ribbon of
sunlight broke through the clouds. How could such terror visit on this glorious day?

Ezekiel broke through her thoughts with a nudge. "Although you're a grown–up young lady, I'm
about to pull rank. Your brother–in–law is right; no telling if the Indians will return. That means I
have to move the wagon train out right away." Shoulders sagging, she nodded and followed him
back to safety.

After shooing her twin toddlers, Sophia and Eliza, to the wagon packed with their household
furnishings, Isabelle took to her wagon for the remainder of the day. Rory had faith her sister would
emerge before long, her invisible armor still penetrable but stronger in intent and purpose. Isabelle
might retreat for a time but she'd never surrender.

The following morning, Ezekiel pulled his horse to a halt near their wagons and plucked a map
from his vest pocket. "We're here, Jon," He pointed to an area on the map. "The border of
southern Minnesota. We'll say goodbye now, be on our way to Dakota Territory and hope we
make Wyoming before the snow falls."

"Godspeed, Ezekiel. We wish you the best in the coming weeks."

Ezekiel tipped his wide–brimmed hat, turned his mount around and directed the wagon train
west. Rory sighed with relief. Always ready for a grand adventure, she'd never choose the life of a
wanderlust fool as long as she lived.

* * *

Reviews from Amazon:

"Ms. Diablo will capture your attention and once she's got it and will not let go until you read the very last sentence. Set in the Midwest during the late 1800s, Sky Tinted Water follows young Rory Hudson as she heads West with her older sister's family, settles in and meets the young man that truly captivates her from the first time she lays eyes on him. Theirs is love at first sight even when all they have is a glimpse of each other and no names to fall back on. Follow Rory and Dawson as their love as it grows and is strengthened by time, tragedy and even war.

To call this simply a Sweet Romance is not doing it justice. If you're not careful, Ms. Diablo will not only capture your attention, she'll capture your heart."
 5 Stars!

* * *
"I was very impressed. The characters were rich and full, immediately lovable and relatable. And yes, there were the typical romance scenes in the book, but this was so much more. I instantly loved the main character, Rory, and turned every page anxiously to see what was coming next. The story seemed very true to the times, and remembering the harsh reality of the civil war and the tribulations between the people who settled in the States and the Natives who were already here, there were moments when the story was heartbreaking and tough. But that's one of the best parts of this book!

As per usual, I don't want to give too much detail or spoilers, because this book is so worth reading. I enjoyed every minute of it, and would not hesitate to pick up another of Keta Diablo's books. I give this a firm five of five stars and urge you to give this book a try." 5 Stars

* * *
"This is the story of a family who moved to Minnesota from the Boston area back in the time of the civil war and Indian uprisings. It is the story of their everyday life--the ups and downs, the joys and the worries. It depicts how people stuck together and helped each other. When an Indian family shows up at their door with a very pregnant wife-she is helped-and a son is born. That act of kindness is repaid-how I will not tell you or I will give away part of the story! It is also the story of a true love--between a husband and wife of long standing and the sweet romance and marriage of a young couple.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this--it was refreshing. I will be watching out for the sequel" 5 Stars

* * *
Sky Tinted Water Available Here:
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