Monday Author Meetup: Peggy L Henderson


Visiting me today is best selling author of western historical and time travel romance, Peggy Henderson. Please make her welcome.

Peggy Henderson

About the author:

Peggy says, I never thought I’d be a writer, much less publish a book some day. I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess life just had other plans for me. When my husband and I decided to start a family, vet school pretty much went out the window. I used to work with a vet who had three children while going through vet school. To this day, she is my hero.

I live with my husband and two teenage sons in southern California. I have a Welsh pony and a miniature horse (down-sized from a barn of six horses). A crazy Labrador retriever who is a food vacuum, three cats, two parakeets, four bearded dragons (my compromise with my sons when they wanted a snake), and a small flock of chickens complete our menagerie of critters. I can’t imagine my life without my animals. My dream is to live in Montana some day.

Four years ago, I began writing a story that, for whatever reason, was stuck in my head for almost a year. I have been an avid romance reader for a long time, and the idea took hold to – why not? – write my own! What a simple idea, right?

It has been a long and difficult journey from my first sentence to a completed, and hopefully polished, manuscript. Today, I have a completed series of 5 books and a novella in what I called The Yellowstone Romance Series, a first book in my new Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and I am currently working on the final book in a trilogy set in the Grand Tetons.

Life does have a way of changing our plans. What about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser? And please tell us why.

I am an absolute panster. I start with a blip of an idea, and I just start writing. I’ve tried plotting before, but the ideas simply don’t come to me when I try and write an outline. I’ll jot down ideas for specific scenes, but that’s as far as my “plotting” goes. I usually don’t know the ending to my story until I’m about two-thirds of the way done, and sometimes not even then.

Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?

I started out with my critique partner back in early 2011 after I wanted some feedback on a story I had written (Yellowstone Heart Song). Since I published the book in January of 2012, I’ve added several beta readers to my team. I’ve had a few other writers critique some chapters in other books here and there, and I have about ten beta readers on my current WIP.

Do you play any sports? What about hobbies?

I’ve never been an athlete. The closest to sports I’ve done has been horseback riding (specifically dressage) which, if you are a serious rider, is definitely cardiovascular in nature, and I don’t mean the increased heart rate because you’re sitting on, and are under the illusion that you are in control, of a 1000 pound living creature with a mind of its own.

For hobbies, I go hiking and camping with my husband. I also enjoy drawing and painting. I used to sell pet portraits professionally.

Hiking and camping sound athletic to me, and dressage? Wow! That’s fantastic. If money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy? (I bet I can guess your answer.)

LOL! You probably can, Lyn. If money was no object, I would buy (after I buy a log cabin with acreage somewhere outside of Yellowstone National Park) a Grand Prix level dressage horse. Years ago, I rode dressage in the “western town” I lived in, and was laughed at by all the cowboys next door on their roping horses, chasing their cows around. I never had the money for a “fancy” horse, only my little off-the-track Running Quarter Horse. I trained him and took him as far as his physical abilities could take him in dressage. To this day, I would love to ride (much less own) a world-class, finished dressage horse.

I guessed the Yellowstone location, and I hope you get your “fancy” horse. Quick change of subject: Do you prefer writing and reading books in a series, or “stand alone” books?

Well, the first book I ever wrote, Yellowstone Heart Song, was supposed to be the only book I ever wrote. I never expected to write another book, and it was written as a stand-alone. I did have an epilogue that actually opened the door for a sequel, and so that’s what I decided to write when my critique partner asked me what I was writing next (after Heart Song was done). Well, the sequel turned into a trilogy, which turned into a five-book plus a novella (to date) series. And I’m currently working on the last book in another trilogy, and the second book in an open-ended series.

As a reader, I love reading series, or books that are connected, because when I enjoy a story, it’s nice to see the characters again in other books, or to see the story continue. I inject that into my writing, as well. I love to revisit the characters I’ve created in previous books.

We have that in common. Do you hear from your readers? If so, please quote your favorite fan letter.

It was difficult to pick my favorite, but here’s one from a reader who is now one of my beta readers.

“What did I do this Labor Day weekend? Finished one of the best romance/historical series I have read in a long time! I zipped through all five books in a week, they were so good, I just couldn’t put them down (although, now I am sad I read them so fast since there aren’t any more!) Terrific job! 
I really love all the characters, the description of how they lived and the beautiful place where they lived, the realistic dialog…everything was just spot on. The heat in the love scenes was good and I especially appreciated that the characters were actually in LOVE with each other first! 
These characters sure stay with you. I hesitate to start another series right away, since I’m still thinking about this family.”

What a wonderful compliment from your fan! I’m sure she loves beta reading for you. Can you tell us what aspect of writing makes you happiest? And what frustrates you most about writing?

What makes me happiest about writing is when I get feedback from readers of how my stories have impacted them in a good way. It always amazes me when readers tell me they really want to go visit Yellowstone after reading my books.

The most frustrating thing about writing is when the words don’t flow or come together on screen the way I see them in my head.

I so agree with you! What project(s) are you working on now?

I am currently working on Book 2 in the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and the final book in the Teton Romance Trilogy. After that, I’ve got something top secret up my sleeve, then the third book in the Second Chances Series, and I’m mulling over a series of historical western romance novellas as well.

Top secret? Ooh, I can’t wait to find out what that is! Now, I’m sure my readers would love to sample one of your books if you’d like to share.

I’d love to. Here’s a little taste of YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG (Book 1 Yellowstone Romance Series)

Peggy's Ad

Blurb:

Passion ignites when the past meets the present in the wilderness we now know as Yellowstone National Park. Aimee Donovan, a modern-day nurse and avid outdoor adventurer unexpectedly travels back in time to encounter the ruggedly handsome mountain man, Daniel Osborne. Can their love endure the test of time, or will untold secrets tear them apart?

Excerpt:

Daniel wasted no time and sprinted across the camp. With a vicious roar, he lunged at Françoise, just as Aimee hit the ground. His body collided with the Frenchman. The impact sent them both to the ground. They rolled in the dirt, and Françoise frantically struggled to gain the upper hand. Daniel threw his full weight against the Frenchman. He straddled the man’s hips. Francoise stabbed wildly in the air with his knife.

“No man touches her and lives,” Daniel snarled. Françoise’s eyes widened in terror. His knife made contact with Daniel’s upper arm. Daniel grabbed hold of the man’s wrist and squeezed. The Frenchman’s sweat-soaked face turned red from strain. His arm trembled.  Turning Francoise’s wrist so that the knife now pointed downward, Daniel pushed the man’s arm until the sharp weapon plunged deep into Francoise’s chest. The Frenchman looked up in surprise for a split second before his face froze. His body went limp.

Daniel pushed himself up off the ground, and caught his breath for a moment, hands on his knees. He swiped his arm across his forehead, then looked around to where Aimee had been thrown to the ground. She had pulled herself to a sitting position and watched with wide, fearful eyes. He approached her slowly. Had he been too late? His beautiful, brave little wildcat had once again amazed him with her quick thinking and actions.

“Aimee,” he said softly. He dropped to his knees in front of her. She wordlessly held out her hands to show him her bound wrists. Cursing, he pulled his knife from its sheath, and with one quick move, sliced through the leather ropes binding her hands. Like a coiled spring that had been released, she threw herself at Daniel and wound her arms tightly around his neck. The impact almost knocked him off balance. With an anguished sigh, he wrapped his arms around her, and crushed her against his chest.

Her body shook in his embrace and she sobbed into his chest. Silently, he held her and let her cry. He gently stroked her back, and combed his fingers through her loose hair. His mind reeled from one emotion to the next. Anger, fear, joy, love.

He wanted to kill those two bastards over and over again for what they had done to her. He reveled in the joy of holding her close to him, knowing she trusted him. He feared what might have already happened before he found her. Consumed by a burning love for this woman he held in his arms, he suddenly realized he couldn’t let her go. The thought of losing her today had tested his strength and endurance to the limit. Daniel knew he would do it all over again if he had to.

After what seemed like hours, Aimee stirred in his arms. She sniffed and wiped her nose and face on her sleeve, and raised her head from his shoulder. He cradled her dirty, tear-streaked face in his hands while his thumbs caressed her cheeks. His eyes devoured her.

“You came for me.” Her voice was a mere whisper.

“I would follow you to the ends of the world if I had to,” Daniel said in a sultry tone.

Aimee smiled weakly and touched a trembling hand to his cheek.

Daniel cleared his throat, and slowly rose to his feet. “I’m afraid my legs are numb from kneeling so long,” he said with a tentative smile. He held out his hand to help her up. She placed her small hand in his, her eyes on his face. He pulled her to her feet, and she cried out. Her knees gave out, and she sank back to the ground. Startled, he reacted purely by reflex. With one arm under her knees and the other at her waist, he scooped her up and held her close.

“What is it?” He searched her face for answers. What had those animals done to her?

“My legs are so sore, I can barely stand,” she answered with a weak smile.

“Did those bastards . . .” he hissed, unable to finish his question, dreading her answer. Aimee shook her head.

“No, they didn’t . . . not in that way.” Her words alleviated his fear. His tense muscles relaxed. “I haven’t ridden on a horse in years, and muscles that I didn’t know existed are protesting.” Aimee gave him a reassuring smile.

Daniel set her feet down on the ground gently, but held her at the waist. She sucked in a deep breath, and her hands reached out to hold on to his shoulders for support. His gaze locked intently with hers. “No man will ever touch you again.” Then, in a whisper, he added, “No man but me.”

His hand reached up to gently cup the side of her face. His thumb stroked her satiny cheek, tracing where a bruise appeared from being struck by the Frenchmen.

“Daniel . . .” She breathed his name. Slowly, he lowered his face to hers. He hesitated for a moment. Searching her face, he waited for her to tell him to stop, waited for her stiffen. When she did neither, his lips brushed hers gently, and Aimee let out a soft moan. Her arms crept up around his neck, and she leaned into him. His heart pounded in his chest. Daniel deepened the kiss, and wrapped one arm around her waist to draw her closer to him. His fingers caressed her cheek, her eyelids, her forehead, and finally entwined in her hair, then he cradled the back of her head. He groaned as Aimee returned his kiss with equal passion. The hunger for her that had been building in him for weeks threatened to overtake him again, but he remained in control of his emotions this time.

He savored her mouth, nipping, tasting, cherishing. When he could bear no more, he pulled back. He was not going to take advantage of her. And he would be taking advantage. The way she clung to him and kissed him back was almost more than he could stand. He trailed a few more light kisses along the side of her mouth, her cheek, and down her neck before pulling his face several inches from hers.

How often had he dreamed of holding her, kissing her, making love to her? He cursed himself for the timing. He released his hold at her waist, and took a step back. With a heavy sigh, he said, “We should get away from here. I know where we can make camp and you can rest for the night.”

Aimee grabbed his upper arm. “Daniel.” Her eyes turned large and round, the deep blue pools shimmering with need. “Daniel . . . I . . . I want to be with you.”

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Obama Care: What do you think?


I have never blogged about political topics because I don’t want to offend and alienate anyone, but I’m making an exception today. This may get me in hot water, but I’m willing to take that risk for something I strongly believe.

First, let me tell you a story from my childhood. My parents were poor, my father disabled with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a hereditary neuromuscular disorder that I and my daughter also have. Daddy was often out of work. Most of the time we had no health insurance, but because we lived in Minnesota, a liberal state, I never went without health care. As a teenager, I underwent several operations to stabilize my ankles and allow me to walk more easily, without often falling and injuring myself as I did before the surgeries, These surgeries were done at the outstanding University of Minnesota Hospital, through the orthopedic department.

Who paid for my expensive operations and follow-up care? The state, meaning the Minnesota tax payers, to whom I am forever grateful. But what if “Obama Care” had existed back then? Could my hard-up parents have afforded a little each month to pay for health insurance? I don’t know, but at least they would have had that option.

So, do you see why I believe everyone, no matter their income level, should have health care coverage? I’m not saying the Affordable Care Act is perfect. There will certainly be problems and changes needed. But in my very humble opinion, that’s far better than the screaming match going on in Washington, with both sides pointing fingers at the other and tossing out all manner of exaggerated statements – for obvious political reasons.

What do you think?

A Getting Personal Interview


Red hat 4 cropped

I’m interviewed today by Massimo Marino, and award winning author based in France. Some of his questions are quite personal, but fun. One of my answers may shock you just a tad. Oh well, if I can’t share my little quirks with a few hundred (thousand would be better) of my closest friends, who can I share them with? Embarrassed smile

http://massimomarinoauthor.com/2013/09/western-romanceparanormal-author-lyn-horner/

What do you think of this new photo of me? It was taken at a book signing back in March. Do you like my red cowgirl hat? I wish I wasn’t wearing my spec! That goofy neck scarf could have been left at home too. Maybe I should paint it out. You think?

Monday Author Meetup: Ciara Gold


I’m happy to welcome versatile author Ciara Gold, author of western historical romance, sci-fi and fantasy. I’m so glad Ciara can be with us in spirit, even though she’s on the road today. She’ll get back later and has promised to answer all comments and questions.

Jami_Bevans_Head shot

About the author:

Ciara describes herself as a well-rounded Renaissance woman with more irons in the fire than a blacksmith. Blessed with an overactive imagination, she is constantly jotting down plot ideas for future stories. At present, she has four fulltime jobs; writer, teacher, layout artist for a local magazine, and housewife. Busy is her middle name. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying time with her wonderful family. Married to the love her life, she and her husband hope to spend retirement days on the coast somewhere. Together, they have a son, a daughter, and a cat.

Ciara, please tell us how you began writing.

Oh goodness, where to start? First, I’d like to thank you, Lyn for having me here as a guest. What fun!

I really didn’t know I was going to be writer until much later in life. If fact, I grew up hating to read because it gave me headaches. We didn’t find out until 6th grade that I had astigmatism and needed glasses. By that time, I’d already developed a strong dislike for reading and English teachers didn’t help by choosing boring books we were forced to read. That said, it wasn’t until my first mother-in-law loaned me her copy of Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss that I developed a new love of reading. I was thoroughly smitten with romance and devoured everything I could at the time. I was twenty-one and the year was 1979 so yeah, I cut my teeth on those wonderful bodice rippers. A year later, I thought I’d try my hand at writing. It took me two years on a manual typewriter but I wrote 400 pages of drivel. That book is still safely hidden under my bed. It wasn’t until 2003 that I would start writing again and all because my husband mentioned to one of his co-workers that I liked to write. She got me into an on-line critique group where I learned so much about the craft. She and I joined an RWA chapter together. A year and a half later, I had a contract from a small publisher and she had a contract from a mainstream publisher. She now writes under the pen name Lily Dalton.

LOL! I need to thank Lily for convincing you to start writing again. Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you choose it?

I do use a pen name because when I first started publishing I wanted to keep my two careers separate. I teach in a conservative town and thought it might be best. The last name I chose is from my great grandmother, Clara Gold but I chose Ciara because I liked the play of words in my head. I was thinking Sierras and how golden they looked in photographs but I chose Ciara because my daughter’s best friend at the time had that name and I liked the spelling.

Who are your books published with? How did you come to be with this publisher? Or, are you self-published? If so, what made you choose this route?

Right now I’m published with Champagne Books, but I also branched out this past year and self published my historical westerns. I signed on with Champagne when they were first getting started. I think I shocked them with how well my first book did and Celestial Dragon was a best seller for them two years in a row. One of my critique partners talked me into submitting the work to them.

At one point in time, Champagne had 4 of my historical westerns but I asked for the rights back when they weren’t selling as well as my other books. It was a scary move, but from a business standpoint, it was the right move to make. I spent the summer concentrating my efforts on promoting the westerns on Amazon and did fairly well. Reaching out to new readers also brought some of those readers to my other books which are mostly paranormal and sci-fi, thus it was a win-win for both my publisher and myself. Gotta love when a plan comes together!

What project(s) are you working on now?

Oh goodness, too many I fear. Right now I’m concentrating my efforts on finishing the sequel to The Keeper of Moon Haven, a paranormal fantasy set in Victorian England. But I also have three historical westerns started. I’m collecting research for each of those and trying to get a handle on the plot for each. I have about 20,000 words written on each of them, but the one I want to focus on the most is Will’s story. Will is Julia’s oldest brother from Julia’s Golden Eagle. I must confess; I write slow.

How do you develop your plots and your characters?

I’m not sure. Seriously. I’m a pantser so the plot and my characters unfold as I put pen to paper. Actually, I do use a bit of astrology to figure out the basic make up of each character. Numerology plays a part as well. Once I get a basic idea of my hero’s and heroine’s personality, I make sure the name fits the personality I want them to have, so I plug possible names in the Numerology generator until I get something that fits.

Wow! That’s an interesting method for choosing character names. I usually choose from baby name lists, making sure the names fit my character’s ancestral roots. Now, would you like to share some tidbits about your latest release?

TexasForged_ColorI sure would. Please enjoy a brief excerpt from my latest historical western romance, Texas Forged. I had such a great time researching for this one as my ancestors entered Texas through the port of Indianola.

Blurb:

Blacksmith, Galin Walker has an uncanny knack for predicting the weather, but he can’t predict the storm about to invade his heart. Telegrapher, Aubrey Caine’s search for her absent husband leads her straight into the arms of a man with a shady past and secrets that haunt him. Together they forge a bond that will endure the forces of nature and a con man’s cruel swindle.

Excerpt:

Galin rushed upstairs and flew into Aubrey’s bedroom, all thoughts of an encore performance lost with the danger knocking at their door. “Wake up and get dressed.”

She jerked from her sleep laden position. “What’s wrong?”

“We gotta leave – now. Your house isn’t safe.”

“Galin, you’re scaring me.” She pushed aside the blankets and reached for her under things. “Turn around.”

“Turn around? After all we just did?” he asked but complied anyway. “Didn’t mean to sleep so soundly. Figured on taking an hour nap, then forcing you to head toward Victoria with me. Reckoned to borrow two horses from the livery, but it’s too late now.”

She tugged on her pantaloons and shrugged into her chemise. “What are you ranting about?”

“The storm. You best peer outside.”

She scrambled from the bed and squinted between a gap in the boarded slats. Her eyes rounded, and she quickly dove into action. She reached for her gingham skirt, but he stayed her hand.

“Have you got pants of any kind?”

“Pants? Well, no, of course not.”

“Then no petticoat. Your skirts are going to get weighted with water and wrap around your legs. Petticoats will make it worse. Wish I’d thought to bring a pair of Teebon’s britches.”

“Wait. You’re not suggesting we leave the safety of my house, are you?”

He pulled her scantily clad body against his. “Got no choice.”

“But…”

“Now’s not the time to be stubborn. The water isn’t going to recede; it’s only going to grow deeper. This house’s foundation isn’t strong enough to withstand the currents. Need to find safer shelter to wait out this monster.”

“No. I don’t want to go out in this. We’ll be just fine waiting it out here.” Fear made her recalcitrant.

“Not giving you a choice this time. You got any valuables, best grab ‘em. We’ll tie ‘em to your person somehow.”

He didn’t give her a chance to respond but left her alone to finish dressing. In the meantime, he hurried downstairs to look for anything that might float. Wind pounded the small house, prompting him to hurry. How they had slept through the noise remained a mystery. Spying the wooden kitchen table, he decided it would do as well as anything else for a raft of sorts. They just had to float seven blocks to the courthouse where the greatest chance at survival existed. As close as it sounded, the task would take an eternity before reaching the safer building.

“Aubrey! Let’s go.”

She rushed down the stairs and met him in the kitchen, her face pinched and drawn. “I really think we should stay.”

He pulled her to his chest, loving the way the smell of gardenia clung to her mussed hair. “Trust me.”

“Trust doesn’t come easy for me. You know that.”

“Then let me prove I’m right and that you can trust me.”

Where you can find Ciara:

www.ciaragold.com

http://ciaragold.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/ciaragold

https://www.facebook.com/ciaragold

Purchase Texas Forged here: http://amzn.com/B00ACOXE52

Monday Author Meetup: Alison Bruce


My guest today is Canadian author Alison Bruce, who has a fantastic Blog Tour going on. (See bottom of post)

Hi, Alison. I’m glad you could join me today.

I’m happy to be 2013-Bruce-author-200here, Lyn. Thank you for inviting me.

About the author:

Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, suspense and historical romance novels.

How did you begin writing?

Long car trips and not being able to read in the car, led me to telling myself stories in my head. I started writing to keep the stories in my head straight. A lot of it was what would now be called fan fiction, but I also created my own worlds and I often travelled through history. The first short story I wrote was about the end of the world. I let my grade five teacher read it (because I had a crush on him) and it worried him so much he called my mother. I think that got me hooked on writing.

LOL! The poor man! He obviously didn’t know how to deal with a budding author. Will you tell us who your books are published with, and how you came to be with this publisher?

I never stopped writing from that first story to now. I tried to get published when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but was easily discouraged by rejection. Around the time I decided it was time to put myself out there again, Cheryl Kaye Tardif was posting about a contest she had entered. I decided to enter it the following year. Cheryl had been self-publishing her own books and working with other indie author to help promote their work. Just after the book that would be UNDER A TEXAS STAR became a finalist in the contest, I heard that Cheryl was starting a publishing company: Imajin Books. We’d been networking, both of us being members of Crime Writers of Canada, so when I learned that she was looking for editors, I applied. Instead of being hired, I became her first author.

Good for you! Do you see yourself in some of your characters?Bruce-HU-400

Absolutely! I think there is probably a little bit of me in most of my characters, including the villains. Or maybe there’s a little bit of them in me by the time I’m done. It’s hard to tell.

Take Maggie, in HAZARDOUS UNIONS, for an example, she and I share a similar sense of humour. Her internal dialogue resembles mine when I’ve been in situations where things are bad and I can’t give into them. Her ability to pick out a tune on the piano is a bit like me too… except she’s better. I never could get the hang of playing with two hands at the same time. I suppose that part of Maggie is wish fulfillment on my part.

How and where do you research for your books?

I’m a research junkie. Once I get started, it’s hard to stop. When I was researching HAZARDOUS UNIONS, I started with a few library books to get the background information. In particular, I found AMERICA AFLAME: How the Civil War Created a Nation, by David Goldfield, and CIVIL WAR, A NARRATIVE, by Shelby Foote, very useful. I also re-watched Ken Burns’ THE CIVIL WAR, which was one of the things that got me interested in this period in the first place.

That was just the start. There is a wealth of material out there on the web. Universities, museums and private collections have historical essays as well as primary sources like letters and documents. Wonderful authors, like yourself Lyn, share sources and stories on Cowboy Kisses and The Western Historical Romance Book Club.

The one thing I couldn’t do for HAZARDOUS UNIONS which I could do for my mystery series, DEADLY LEGACY, is interview live people. If this was a hundred years earlier, I’d be searching for surviving veterans.

I love researching too, Alison, and live interviews are fun. Are your books professionally edited?

I have wonderful beta readers who go over my work before I send it in to my publisher. Then it goes into the hands of a professional editor. For HAZARDOUS UNIONS, this was Todd Barselow. I’d heartily recommend him to any and every one. He was great to work with.

I’ll keep him in mind. What about your book covers? Who designs them?

Again, that was done through my publisher, but I couldn’t have picked anyone better for the job. Ryan Doan is an illustrator and designer.

Another great tip to remember! If money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy?

Funnily enough, my kids and I were just talking about this. We’d travel. We planned out a dream trip around the world that included hitting “must see” places like the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and the pyramids at Giza. Plus, we want to see the place where The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand, and the locations used in the Harry Potter movies and Merlin. We also talked about taking a road trip to see the places I write about (and we see in Supernatural).

Balancing all that activity would be a few cruises where I could catch up on writing.

Doesn’t that sound great?

It sure does. Now, would you like to tell us more about your new release?

I’d love to. Hazardous Unions is a collaboration between myself and Kat Flannery.

Book Blurb

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

Genre: Historical Romance

Authors: Alison Bruce (www.alisonbruce.ca) & Kat Flannery (www.katflannery-author.com)

Publisher: Imajin Books (www.imajinbooks.com)

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Hazardous-Unions-Tales-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00EXA735I

Reviews

“You’ll sigh with pleasure as you finish each story” ~ Caroline Clemmons, author of Bluebonnet Bride

“Stories that play on your senses like a sonata. A must read!” ~ Jacquie Rogers, award-winning author of Much Ado About Madams

“Wonderfully entertaining and well-written, with engaging characters…delightful!” ~ Charlene Raddon, author of To Have and To Hold

Excerpt

Maggie by Alison Bruce

Fall 1862.

The Yankees were coming.

We’d seen the signs days ago. News was, most of west Tennessee had fallen under Union control. Thaddeus scouted them out while hunting rabbits in the brush that bordered the plantation’s cotton fields. We’d prepared as best we could as fast as we could, and now I was waiting for them on the front veranda of Bellevue.

“Why me?”

“Someone has to meet them, Miss Maggie,” Mammy said, setting out tea things as if the neighbors were coming to call. “Mrs. Hamilton hasn’t got your nerve and Miss Patience wouldn’t be a lick of good even if she would come downstairs.”

“I’m just a servant,” I objected half-heartedly.

“Yeah, like Tad here is just a dumb nigger.” Mammy cocked her head to one side and a moment later I heard the faint but shrill whistle of the kettle. She smoothed the skirt of her greying white pinny over her faded grey dress. Eventually, the two garments were going to match. “Watch out for her, boy,” she said, before heading around the corner of the wraparound porch toward the kitchen door.

Only Mammy could get away with calling Thaddeus “boy” or “nigger” without coming under the resolute stare of a man who looked like he could have been carved out of a huge block of obsidian. Mammy was his aunt and had raised him, along with Major Hamilton, from nursery age. The boys had been more like brothers than master and slave, Mammy said, until Master Ned was sent off to West Point to be made an officer and a gentleman. It was hard for me to reconcile her picture of Master Ned with the aloof man who had employed me to take care of his wife.

I was barely sixteen when I was hired by the Captain, now Major Hamilton. Some days I felt that I was twice that age now, instead of just a couple of years older. Today, watching the Union contingent approach, I felt like that frightened girl again. I took small comfort in the pair of pistols hidden in the pockets of my crinoline. Knowing that Thaddeus was watching over me from the shadows, armed to the teeth, was more reassuring.

Half a dozen hard looking men approached the house. Four of them spread out, some facing us, some partly turned to keep an eye on the out buildings. Two of them rode up the path towards the porch. I felt like I was being ringed in by a pack of hungry wolves. The leader of the pack rode up to the bottom of the front steps.

Wolfish was a description that fit him. Hard muscled, wary eyes, shaggy dark hair spiking out from his cap, he looked old with experience and young in years. His uniform had seen better days and his beard was untrimmed, but it appeared that he had made some effort to clean up before approaching the house. That was a good sign.

I had also made an effort for appearances sake. Instead of my usual long braid, I had twisted my blonde hair into knot and allowed tendrils to fall free on either side of my face. I was wearing one of the calico dresses Mrs. Hamilton bought me in St. Louis. She wanted to make it clear that I was no mere servant any more. I was using it today for similar reasons.

“Afternoon, ma’am. I’m Captain Seth Stone. I have a cavalry troop under my command that needs to set up quarters for the winter.”

“I see.” My voice was steady, but I could feel my knees wobble beneath my skirts. “And?”

“And this looks like a good place to stay.”

“How many are you expecting us to accommodate?”

I heard a chuckle from one of his men. It was stifled with a sharp look from the grim-faced sergeant behind the captain.

“Not so many as there should be,” the Captain said, ignoring the interruption. “If you’d oblige me by asking your man to lay down his arms, maybe we can discuss terms.”

Gott hilf mir,” I prayed, but held my ground. “You have your protectors, Captain. I have mine.”

With a hand gesture, he signaled his men and they all dismounted as neatly as if they were on parade. Then he dismounted and held out his reins to the sergeant.

“Thaddeus, would you lead these troopers and their horses to water?”

Thaddeus stepped out of the shadows, empty handed. “Yes, miss.”

The two men passed on the stairs. Thaddeus was significantly taller and broader than the Union officer and was doing his best guard dog imitation, but the Captain didn’t flinch when they passed. He did keep his eye on Thaddeus until he was in the range of his own men. Then he turned his attention back to me and I lifted my head up to make eye-contact. He may not have been as tall as Thaddeus, but he was not a small man and I am on the short side for a woman.

Having asserted his dominance, he backed up a step.

“I understand this is the Hamilton home. Are you Mrs. Hamilton?”

“No, sir. I am Magrethe Becker, Mrs. Hamilton’s companion.”

His eyes widened. “Maybe I should be speaking to the lady of the house.”

“Mrs. Hamilton is indisposed and asked me to…” I stopped, looking for the right word. Meet with him? That sounded too friendly. Deal with him? Almost rude. “Negotiate terms with you.”

He let out a short bark of laughter.

“My terms are simple, Miss Becker. I need to winter seventy men and three officers, plus myself. It’ll be tight, but this place looks like it has enough room with the house and out buildings. We’ll need food and fodder of course. You can either offer, or I will take.”

I shook my head. “No.”

He barked out a longer laugh. “What makes you think you’re in the position to say no?”

“Twelve wounded union soldiers in our care, Captain Stone.”

Visit Alison on these sites:

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Fire!


Revised Cover for B&N

This is a short article I wrote for the “From The Author” feature on my White Witch details page on Amazon. I just posted it last evening, so it’s still under review by Amazon, but I thought some of you might be interested to know how I came to write about the Great Chicago Fire and how it ties in with the Texas Devlins series.

 

While living near Chicago years ago – more than I care to admit – I became fascinated by the history of the Great Fire of 1871, which leveled most of the city. Prior to the fire, Chicago’s buildings, even the fine hotels and mercantile district, were built out of wood. That summer was hot and deadly dry. The city’s fire crews had their hands full fighting one fire after another, even managing to tame a vicious blaze the day before Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over her lantern (so the legend goes). But there was no stopping the wind-driven monster that sent Chicagoans running for their lives on the night of Sunday, October 8, 1871.

How could anyone not be moved by such a tale? Certainly not me! With my imagination on fire (pun intended) I decided to use the fire as the opening for my first book. It didn’t sell, despite the efforts of two different agents and yours truly. Disappointed, I stuffed the manuscript away and kept writing in between raising two kids, being a soccer mom, a rabid band parent during the afore mentioned kids’ high school years, and running a boarding house for six unruly, lovable cats. See Six Cats In My Kitchen.

Eventually, after publishing the first two books in my Texas Devlins series, I decided to dust off the tale of the Chicago Fire, restructure it to fit the series and publish it as a prequel. This required adding a new story line illustrating the fact that my characters are psychics. How did that come about? That’s a story for another day!

As a novella, White Witch is necessarily short, but it spotlights the heroine’s clairvoyant ability in a highly dramatic fashion – at least I think it does – and sets up the great adventure she undertakes in search of the man of her dreams. For that story you’ll need to read Darlin’ Irish (Texas Devlins, Jessie’s Story).

You’ll also meet Jessie’s brother Tye in both the novella and Jessie’s book. He’s kind of a charming rascal, but Jessie loves him dearly. I hope you do, too, because he gets to strut his stuff in Dashing Irish (Texas Devlins, Tye’s Story). His encounter with a feisty Texas cowgirl begins a “stunning story set against the backdrop of the not-so-civilized state of Texas in the . . . 19th century.” – InD’Tale Magazine, 2013

Oh, and don’t forget baby sister Rose! She doesn’t experience the terrifying fire, lucky girl, because she’s not living with her family at that time, but she’s tucked away in Tye and Jessie’s thoughts. Her secrets won’t be fully revealed until she meets her destiny, a hunky half-breed cowboy, in Dearest Irish (Texas Devlins, Rose’s Story).

My advice, dear reader, is take a deep breath and prepare for a wild ride from the ashes of Chicago, across the plains and mountains of the Old West, into the heart of Texas romance. Um, you might need a small fire extinguisher. Winking smile

Monday Author Meetup: DeLaine Roberts


It’s my pleasure to welcome my friend and fellow Texas author DeLaine Roberts.

Hi Lyn. Thank you for hosting me today.

DeLaine Roberts

About the author:

Thirty years involving interventional medicine leads to a great career, but something was missing. After achieving a Master’s degree in Leadership, DeLaine’s professors often suggested that she had a talent for writing and should explore that opportunity. After all, she went to Radiology School on a journalism scholarship.

DeLaine has spent the last decade as a medical sales rep for medical devices, which provides an insider’s scoop into the action behind the scenes. She has the opportunity to blend the fascination of romantic twists from within the medical world while writing in the genre of Contemporary Romance.

Mom to four grown guys and gals, she’s watched enough relationship drama to supply a soap opera for an eternity! She and her husband reside in Dallas with their two Schnauzer’s, Bridgette and Allie.

Do you have a best time of day to write?

Yes, I write best in late evening. Not because it’s quiet, because I listen to music when I write, but more because my mind Music noteshas been flowing all day with ideas. If I don’t get them out, I worry it will explode!

LOL! I know the feeling. Do you use scented candles, music, etc., to put you in the mood to write?

Music! All genres. I love indie artists. In fact, with my books, I have created playlists. Readers have asked for them and I love that. Some of my favorites are: Keaton Simons, A Fine Frenzy, Shinedown, David O’Dowda, Rie Sinclair, Aimee Mann and Jess Moskaluke.

That’s a great list! I’m interested to know how you develop your plots and your characters, and how you choose your subjects.

So far, my stories have been medically based, like my own personal life. My newest release coming in October will be “Chasing Air.” In this writing, Dr. Makenzie Holder is an emergency room physician. Some of the scenes in this book stemmed from real-life experiences I had while working trauma.

Are you self-published?

Yes, I am now self-published and very happy with that decision. I love being in complete control of my writing, my schedule, my books and the close interaction I get with the readers.

Does your significant other and/or family support your writing career?

My family couldn’t be more supportive and I’m totally grateful. I believe that I couldn’t write without their full support.

I agree. Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?

Currently, I use beta readers.

Are your books professionally edited?

Yes they are. There’s no replacement for great editing.

Very true. Who designs your book covers?

I have my own cover models and I utilize a local photographer to shoot my covers. I have a professional company create my cover graphics from the raw shots.

Well, they sure look terrific. What about hobbies?

I enjoy creating mixed-medium art and floral design. It has taken a huge backseat to my writing. Since I work full time, there’s not as much time for hobbies while I’m writing.

I’m a visual artist, too, but have had to put that on the back burner. Just for fun, if money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy?

A VACATION! I need one desperately. I want to spend a few weeks on the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy.

Sounds heavenly. Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Mind. Set. Free.Running_to_You

Three great words, DeLaine! Now please tell us about your book(s).

I’d love to, Lyn. First, here’s the back cover blurb for book one in The Running Series.

Running To You

Alexandra Morrison believes that she has found the perfect job as a medical sales rep in Dallas until she has an infuriating encounter with the elusive Dr. Grayson Brooks.

Grayson, newly single, is used to getting his way. That is, until he crawls up the wrong sides of this stunning redhead when he gives her the brush off.

What starts out as a planned business meeting winds up being an unplanned entanglement. As the past haunts the couple’s future, Alexandra keeps her running shoes on and the exit door in her sights.

Will Grayson conquer her ultimate fear of trust in a real relationship, or will he lose out to her doubts when he makes a dreadful mistake?

And the cover blurb for book two in the series:

Two Sides Of A HeartbeatTwo-Sides-Of-A-Heartbeat_thumb.jpg

“I never stopped loving you, I just stopped begging for you. There’s a difference.”

After a beautiful proposal, Dr. Grayson Brooks pleads with his fiancé’, Alexandra Morrison, not to get on the plane. Once the plane is in the air, the events that unfold turn their lives upside down. The tragedy and loss engulfs both families in a situation that spirals out of control.

Secrets are revealed and the past once again haunts both families; as if that isn’t enough, Olivia Balcone, once engaged to Grayson and romantically involved with his twin brother, Harrison, returns to Dallas and stirs up more feelings and a lot more trouble.

Alexandra was so close to having it all: a baby, a gorgeous husband, and a family united. But is she strong enough to fight for what she wants?

Purchase DeLaine’s books here:

http://www.amazon.com/Running-You-The-Series-ebook/dp/B00CLUM3PM

http://www.amazon.com/Sides-Heartbeat-Running-Series-ebook/dp/B00E8Z8LFE

You can find DeLaine at these site:

https://twitter.com/delaineroberts

https://www.facebook.com/delaine.robertsauthor

http://delaineroberts.blogspot.com/

http://southerncomfortromance.com/our-authors/