Friday, August 18, 2017


Don't miss the double giveaways at the end of the post--but please read the post first!

OPHELIA is Bride Brigade book 4. I love Ophelia’s gentle nature and loving heart. Certainly her experiences might have caused another to hate and turn to violence. So often we hear on the news of terrible incidents of child abuse that resulted in the child’s death or near death. Seldom can we learn of the continual abuse which creates life-long emotional and physical problems and sometimes contributes to criminal behavior.

In my mind, there is nothing worse than child abuse. We are here to protect those weaker than us, not prey on them. According to an article in the New York Times, each day in the Unites States at least three children die from parental mistreatment. I was interested to learn about the first documented case of child abuse, Mary Ellen Wilson. Please stay with me even though this is a long blog. This is important information!

Mary Ellen was born in 1862 to Frances and Thomas Wilson. Her father was killed in battle at Cold Harbor. Her mother worked two shifts as a laundress at a New York hotel. As was a custom at the time, she boarded Mary Ellen for two dollars a week, which consumed her widow’s pension. After Frances missed payments and visitation several times, the woman turned Mary Ellen over to New York City Children’s Charities. Later when Mrs. Wilson came to visit Mary Ellen, she was told the child had died.
From there, the child’s luck continued downhill. She was placed with Mary and Thomas McCormack. Mary went on to marry Francis Connolly/Connelly following Thomas' death. According to Mary McCormack Connolly's court testimony, Thomas McCormack, Mary Connolly's first husband, claimed to be Mary Ellen Wilson's biological father.  The Department of Charities placed Mary Ellen into the McCormacks' care illegally, without any documentation.
Thomas McCormack signed an "indenture" agreement upon retrieving Mary Ellen from the Department of Charities' care, but did not explain his or his wife's relationship with the child to the Commissioner of Public Charities and Correction. This body administered the city's almshouse, workhouse, insane asylums, orphanages, jails, and public hospitals. The McCormacks were required to report the child's condition annually to the Department. According to Mary Connolly's later court testimony, this only occurred once or twice during Mary Ellen's stay.
Thomas McCormack died and his wife married Francis Connolly/Connelly and moved with him and Mary Ellen to an apartment on 41 Street in Hell’s Kitchen. It was at this address that neighbors first became aware of young Mary Ellen's mistreatment. Her foster mother forced her to do heavy labor, repeatedly beat, burned and cut the child, and locked her in a tiny closet. She was not allowed to go outside or even to look out the window but no one came to her rescue.
When the Connollys moved to a new address, one of the concerned neighbors from their 41st Street apartment asked Etta Angell Wheeler to check on the child. Some accounts say Mrs. Wheeler was a Methodist missionary who worked in the area and others that she was an employee of the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections (and I insist she deserved the Angell part of her name). Wheeler, under the pretext of asking Mrs. Connolly's help in caring for Connolly's chronically ill and home-bound neighbor gained access to the Connollys' apartment to see Mary Ellen's state for herself. When Mrs. Wheeler saw the glaring evidence of severe physical abuse, malnourishment, and neglect, Wheeler began to research legal options to redress the abuse and protect the young girl.
Some jurisdictions had laws prohibiting excessive physical discipline and New York permitted the removal of neglected children. However they determined they would not intervene and Mary Ellen was not removed from the care of Mrs. Connolly. If Mary Ellen's treatment wasn’t severe enough, one wonders what would be! 

Apartment in which Mary Ellen lived before rescue

After finding the local authorities reluctant to act, Wheeler turned to a local advocate for the animal humane movement and the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Henry Bergh. He made it clear that his work was as an individual and not part of his office of the ASPCA. However, he had powerful ties in the community which made people take the case seriously. Once he was involved, Mary Ellen was rescued from her home within forty-eight hours.

Mary Ellen when rescued

Mary Ellen was ten but malnutrition made her only the size of a five or six year old. Her face was blemished because the previous day Mrs. Connolly had slashed her with scissors. The child was carried into the courtroom wrapped in a blanket and screaming. She feared Mary Connolly would punish her for leaving the apartment. A policeman gave her a peppermint stick to calm her. Once she settled down, she revealed a horrific life.
On April 9, 1874, Mary Ellen testified, “My father and mother are both dead. I don‘t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys…Mamma (Mrs. Connolly) has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a raw hide.(A rawhide horse whip was found at the apartment.) The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma‘s lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped…I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me. I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so. I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life.”

Mary Ellen after rescue

Wheeler and Bergh successfully removed Mary Ellen from the Connolly home and took Mary Connolly to trial. On April 21, 1874 Mrs. Connolly was found guilty of felonious assault and sentenced to one year of hard labor in prison. Apparently nothing happened to her husband, who certainly had to be aware of the abuse. Even though he might not have participated, neither did he protect Mary Ellen.
Mary Ellen was sent to what was basically a reform school for girls who had been in trouble. That was not where she needed to be. Mrs. Wheeler was able to get Mary Ellen released into the custody of her family and the child went to live with Mrs. Wheeler’s mother, Susan Angell, where she flourished. She lived there until Mrs. Angell died, at which time she went to live with Etta Wheeler’s sister and brother-in-law. 

Mary Ellen married at age twenty-four to Francis Schutt. He was a widower with three children. Together, they had two daughters, the first named Etta after Etta Angell Wheeler. They also adopted a daughter.

After her first ten years, Mary Ellen deserved all the happiness she found. She died in 1956 at age 92.

Mary Ellen circa 1906

Here's the summary of OPHELIA:
A painful past…
Hope for the future…

Ophelia Shipp wants safety, a home, husband, and to raise a family. To achieve her goal, she travels halfway across the country to a tiny Texas town, Tarnation. What awaits her there must be better than what she left. She longs for a respectable man who will be a gentle and kind husband.

Elias Kendrick had a difficult childhood but he has overcome poverty to build his empire in Tarnation. Now that he owns a successful saloon and the opera house, he is ready to marry and start a family. He’s vowed his children’s life will be different from his—if only he can find the right woman.

Two opposites attract—or are they? Ophelia and Elias must learn to overlook their superficial differences to work out their chance at lasting love.

Amazon buy link is:  

Here’s an excerpt of Ophelia and Elias Kendrick meeting at the first reception:
“What brings you to Tarnation, Miss Shipp?”
“Same as the others I suppose and there’s no point pretending otherwise. I want a kind husband, a secure home, and children. This appears to be a nice town even though it’s small. I notice there’s even an opera house.”
His smile broadened. “That there is. In fact, I built the opera house only a year ago. The manager and I try for a variety of acts so that by the end of the season, everyone has enjoyed at least a couple of shows.”
She leaned forward, happy to know he was so fair-minded. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all. Actually, I’ve never been to a live performance.” Oops, why did she have to confess that?
He leaned back and his eyes widened. “Never? You mean except at school, of course.”
A blush’s heat seared her face. How embarrassing to admit she was a country bumpkin who had done nothing. “My father was very strict. I couldn’t appear in or attend school plays. Mr. Kozlov has invited me to the opera house opening performance in two weeks. I’m looking forward to the event.”
Was that disappointment she saw flash across his face? “You’ll enjoy Geraldine Chitwood. We were exceptionally fortunate to book her. Normally, she only plays larger towns more easily reached. Being without railway access places us at a severe disadvantage.”
She had to stop herself from rubbing her sore rear. “Oh, I haven’t forgotten that stage ride.” She leaned toward him. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Kendrick. Besides owning the opera house, I mean.”
“I’m twenty-nine and never married.” He took a deep breath and averted his gaze before he spoke. “If you led such a quiet life that you weren’t allowed to attend plays, then you’ll no doubt look down on me because, as well as the opera house, I own the local saloon.”
She hoped she hid her surprise that Lydia had included a saloon owner in this group of “acceptable” men. What should she say? A saloon owner here went against everything she’d ever been told. Yet, didn’t she trust Lydia? And, Mr. Kendrick appeared so nice. Think, what would Lydia or Jo say?
“I seek never to pass judgment, Mr. Kendrick. I don’t approve of drunkenness but I know most men enjoy meeting with others and sharing a drink or game of cards.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Very broad-minded of you. Do you play cards, Miss Shipp?”
Relief relaxed her and she couldn’t help laughing at his question. “I don’t play anything. All I’ve ever done is work.”

Don’t forget the giveaway! There are two. One is from me for $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash to one commenter on one of the seven blogs about the Bride Brigade, ending with the release of PRUDENCE on August 25. Winner will be announced on August 28.
The other—which makes mine look paltry—is Kathy Habel’s $250 Cash Back to School Giveaway. Look for the Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photos, Google commons except my cover, which was designed by Skhye Moncrief

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Don’t miss the giveaway entry at the end of this post on Cassandra and the $250 Giveaway at the end of the entire post.

I had fun writing about Cassandra, a servant who pretended to be from wealth. Hmm, actually, she was from what had been a wealthy family before the Civil War. That conflict changed so many things about the South. Although this blog touches on serious subjects, don’t be fooled. The book has many humorous moments.

Although I’ve always loved history, when I was studying in school I had no background to judge the impact of different events. For instance, were you aware more American men were killed in the Civil War than in World Wars I and II combined? I certainly didn’t understand that. Later, learning an ancestor survived Gettysburg brought the conflict home. Imagine the waste of human lives!

Gettysburg battlefield--no one wins a war!
(Actual battlefield photo)

Young men who survived the war came home to find their home was no longer there. Lacking land, many moved West. This meant that in the East, there were not enough young men to meet the demand for husbands. What was a young woman who wanted a home, husband, and children to do?

The South received severe sanctions that extended to everyone, whether they had supported the Confederacy or not unless they had paperwork to prove they helped the North. High, high taxes were levied and many people who had survived the conflict with their home intact were evicted for exorbitant back taxes. This is what happened to Cassandra Bradford’s family (and to Lydia Harrison’s mother).

From Wikipedia: “The majority of Republican governors in the South during Reconstruction were from the North. “Carpetbagger” was used by Southerners as a pejorative term, referring to the carpetbags (a form of cheap luggage made from carpet fabric) which many newcomers carried.” I admit the term is still used derogatively in the South when referring Northerners who won’t fit in with local customs. And, I know people who still aren’t over the Civil War. Sigh. We lost, folks. Deal and move on with your lives.

This is the sad time the Ku Klux Klan was formed, sometime between December 1865 and June 1866. Another tragedy that hit home when I learned one of my relatives was involved. How embarrassing! At least he was going to testify against the KKK members until he was shot down on the courthouse steps before he could. Now there’s a story for another day.

Anyway, Cassandra’s less-than-deserving, scalawag, second cousin ended up with her home. He had played both sides during the war to insure he would be the victor either way. To help her family, she ended up working as a servant in the home in which she had once lived while her young brother worked in the stables.

Her cousin was a bully who enjoyed embarrassing her. Supposedly she was lady’s maid to his daughter, but he insisted she serve at social occasions. Imagine serving those with whom you had once been equal friends—having to show no recognition and no facial expression while your employer went out of his way to humiliate you. No wonder she was determined to marry wealth so she could send for her brother and never worry about money again.

I love Cassandra's snobbish demeanor that hides her terror.

Here’s a summary of CASSANDRA:
A desperate plan…
A masquerade to achieve a goal…
Lies that create a web…

Cassandra Bradford has the cast off wardrobe to pose as a lady. Her goal is to marry a wealthy man who can provide her young brother with a sound future. Drat the luck! The first man she sees in Tarnation is a dusty cowboy who sends her heart pounding. Not for her. She has a better life in mind.

Samuel Drummond is one of the wealthiest ranchers in that part of the state, but he wants that kept quiet. His first wife married him for his money then left when she became bored with ranch life. He won’t let that happen if he remarries. He intends to find a woman who wants him no matter how poor she thinks he is.

When both Cassandra and Sam learn omissions the other has made, there are fireworks between them. They must work through their anger and hurt to achieve happiness.

Oh, what tangled webs we weave… Sam has Cassandra believing he’s just a poor cowboy. Here’s an excerpt from CASSANDRA:

Talking about her family had caused so much distress she hadn’t noticed the cabin until now. Somewhat horrified, she asked, “I-Is this where you live?”
If he noticed her disbelief, he gave no sign. “This is a line cabin where we hole up when we’re trapped out on the range overnight in bad weather or working on this part of the ranch for several days in a row.”
He helped her down and gazed into her eyes as she slid down his body. She thought he held her close longer than necessary, but being near him was too wonderful for her to complain. Even through their clothes, his warmth heated her. When he broke contact, she wanted to throw herself into his arms and hold on forever.
No, no, no! What was she thinking?
After gaining control of her emotions, she asked, “So no one actually lives here?”
“The cowboys sleep in a bunkhouse at the ranch unless they’re married. I guess I could live here if I were married and wanted to. I’ll show you inside.” He led her to the small building with a half shed attached.
Inside was dark until he opened the three windows’ shutters to admit light. A large stone fireplace took up most of one end with wood stacked neatly on the hearth. Nearby was a stove of sorts. Four chairs surrounded a small table on which a lantern stood. Thin ticking mattresses were rolled up on each of the four bunks.
Not much space remained around the small room’s austere furnishings. The floor was stone. Shelves at one end held a few canned goods as well as metal dishes and cutlery. Two pots and a Dutch oven were on the stove. A tall bench held a dishpan, bar of soap, and an empty bucket. She’d seen no creek so there must be a well nearby.
He laid a hand on a range. “We used to cook in the fireplace, but we found this old stove and brought it here. Cooler in summer.” He gestured around the room. “You can see we have everything we need.”
Not to her way of thinking. “What about sheets and pillows and blankets?”
He grinned at her. “We carry bedrolls behind our saddles. Cowboys don’t need sheets and pillows.”
She was incredulous. “You’ve been living like this for eleven years?”

Here’s the Amazon link:


Don’t forget the $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash giveaway combined with the release of PRUDENCE, Bride Brigade book 7 on August 25th. Comment on this blog or any of those through the 25th to be entered. Giveaway will be on the 28th.

YeeHaw! Come to Tarnation, Texas!

Back to School $250 Giveaway
August 17th to September 7th

Thanks to this fabulous group of bloggers and authors for sponsoring this giveaway!

Enter for your chance to win $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon Gift Card.

Sponsor List

I Am A Reader
Geybie's Book Blog
S.T. Bende
Lori's Reading Corner
Laurisa White Reyes
Every Free Chance Books
The Editing Hall
Simple Wyrdings
Author Al Stone
D.S. Venetta ~ Organic Gardening for Kids!
Anna del C. Dye
My Life. One Story at a Time.
Heather Boyd Regency Romance Author
Author Mary Ting
Author Inger Iversen
Krysten Lindsay Hager author
Kindle and Me
Erin Richards
Glistering: B's Blog
Helen Smith
Donna K. Weaver
Carrie @ Reading Is My SuperPower
Alexandrea Weis
Caroline Clemmons
Author D.E. Haggerty
Diana's Book Reviews
Bound 4 Escape
More Than a Review
Heather @ Townsend House
Spirit Filled eBooks
The Serious Reader
Author Felicia Starr
The Page Unbound
Heather Gray, Christian Romance
Mary from YourDesignerDog
Karmack by JC Whyte
Kasey's Book Reviews

Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card

Ends 9/7/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 14, 2017


This series of blogs is about my series of books, the Bride Brigade, set in the fictitious Texas town of Tarnation. Today I’m featuring ANGELINE, Book 2. There’s a $50 giveaway to someone who comments during the set of seven blogs, culminating with the August 25 release of PRUDENCE, the last book of the series.

ANGELINE, Book 2, is the only one of the seven Bride Brigade women who is not from Virginia. Instead, she is from a wealthy family in Missouri. When her fiancé forced himself on her and she became pregnant, he left for a tour of Europe. Instead of protecting her or railing against the cad who dishonored her, her father gave her twenty dollars and threw her out of his house with only what she could carry.

This type of disaster happened to many unfortunate women. Where were they to go? How were they to earn money? They had been trained to live as a decorative wife who managed the servants and organized entertaining to promote the business interests of the man of the house.

But what if her fiancé hadn’t forced her? Should she be held accountable? My opinion is, one person should not carry the blame for something that involved two people. People make mistakes, they change, and accept responsibility for their actions. Also, not everyone who wants children also wants to be married.

Until a few decades ago, a child born out of wedlock in Texas and several other states had ILLEGITIMATE stamped in large letters across the birth certificate. Imagine the embarrassment to the child each time he or she had to produce a birth certificate. Thank goodness that terrible practice has stopped.

While opinion has mellowed somewhat and a single mother is no longer totally ostracized by society, there are still those who believe the woman is always to blame. So how does Angeline proceed? She knows she needs to marry, but fears no one will be good to her child.

Angeline has a compassionate nature. She visits the sick and elderly because she genuinely cares about them. Their response is to become quite fond of this loving young woman. Yet, that doesn’t settle her dilemma.

Here’s the synopsis for ANGELINE:

A desperate young woman
A second chance
A life-changing decision.

Angeline Chandler didn’t invite the attack that created her condition but she’s suffering the result. Disowned by her family and left alone and destitute, she gets a second chance when a kind woman rescues her and invites her to travel to Tarnation, Texas with six other young women for the purpose of marriage. The prospect of marrying one man while carrying another’s child worries Angeline. Who would want her and another man’s baby?

Grady McIntyre is a minister whose wife died soon after their son was born. The woman who has been helping with his toddler has told him she’s too old to continue. When Angeline’s name is suggested as a part-time nanny, he seizes the chance to hire her. Their attraction is instantaneous but Angeline resists. A minister needs a virtuous woman, not a fallen one. Soon they marry and both are happy.

Trouble rears its ugly head until matters come to a crisis. Will detractors destroy the happiness Angeline and Grady have found?

Here’s an excerpt from ANGELINE:

The vigor which had been with Angeline on her walk had completely disappeared. In its place a clammy, smothering sensation overwhelmed her. If only she could reach Lydia’s she’d be safe. She hardly remembered taking her fabric and going out the door.
The world spun and she reached out her hand to steady herself but found only air. She gasped for breath, unable to breathe. Her knees turned to rubber and she felt herself sinking.
Firm hands clasped her upper arms. “Miss, may I help you?”
She looked into the kindest hazel eyes she’d ever seen. His blond hair barely showed under his hat. “I don’t know what came over me. I suppose I’m still tired from my journey.”
He looped her arm onto his. “I’m the local pastor, Grady McIntyre. Please allow me to escort you to the Harrison home.”
“Thank you, I’m Angeline Chandler. Frankly, I can use a solid arm to lean on for the walk.” She clasped his forearm as she would a stair banister. For a minister, he was muscular and appeared strong.
“You must be one of the young women who came with Lydia. I couldn’t get away to greet your arrival but I understand there was quite a reception committee.”
She forced a smile. After all, he was gallant enough to help her and deserved a friendly response. “I was awfully tired. I hardly remember anyone except the mercantile owner and the sheriff. Lydia made a point of greeting them.”
“I remember that trip and imagine by then you only wanted a bath and a bed. That’s a tiring ride.”
“Deadly. I’m surprised my teeth didn’t fall out with all the bumps and rattles.”
“Don’t understand how anyone’s brave enough to leave town. Once I arrived, I vowed never to leave.”
She grinned at his attempt to cheer her. “Me, too.”

If you haven’t read this series, please dive in. Here’s the url for the first two:

JOSEPHINE, Bride Brigade Book 1 99 CENTS)

ANGELINE, Bride Brigade Book 2

Friday, August 11, 2017


Several months ago, I came up with a series about seven women—eight if you count their hostess—and labeled them the Bride Brigade. Being a writer has fun moments. One of them is creating a locale, or world, for characters. I’ll admit naming a town Tarnation made me smile.

What In Tarnation?

Supposedly on the way to his nearby ranch in the late 1850s, rancher Will Harrison came through a nameless village that at that time consisted of nothing more than a small crossroads store, a livery stable, a saloon, and a few hastily constructed cabins.

Will asked at the store, “Where in Tarnation am I?”

When Will came back that way a couple of weeks later, he saw hand-painted signs saying Tarnation Livery, Tarnation Mercantile, and Tarnation Saloon. That was the start of the town of Tarnation, set in North Central Texas at the foot of the Palo Pinto Mountains. Will built up a successful ranch and increased the wealth he’d brought to Texas with him. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he went off to fight—for the North.

At the war’s end, Will Harrison returned with his new bride, Lydia Jane, a Virginia beauty a generation younger than him. By then, the village had grown considerably. Folks in town wondered if Lydia had married Will for his money but those who saw them together had to admit that she and he were in love.

Unfortunately, Will died in a ranch accident in 1869, leaving Lydia a wealthy but lonely widow. The town consisted of couples, two elderly widows, and numerous bachelors who were tired of having no women to court and marry. To prevent young men leaving Tarnation to search for a more diverse population, Lydia went back to Richmond, Virginia to recruit suitable young women to come live with her while deciding which of the Tarnation bachelors they wanted to marry.

The first woman to wed was Josephine Nailor, the only one who had declared she would never marry. Isn’t that the way things always happen?  ☺ Josephine almost missed being included in Lydia’s group. Why Josephine left Virginia, who she married, and how they came to fall in love is something you have to buy the book to discover. (See how sneaky an author can be?) You’ll be happy to learn this first book is only 99 cents and is available at Amazon

Here’s the synopsis for JOSEPHINE:

Josephine Nailor is desperate to escape a terrible situation. When the opportunity arises via a newspaper ad, she and her best friend slip away from their oppressive fathers and head for Richmond.  Neither can relax until they’re far away from their tiny hometown. With wealthy young widow Lydia Harrison’s help, Josephine and six other young women have a new life waiting in Tarnation, Texas.

Michael Buchanan is fairly content running his mercantile and being mayor of Tarnation. The town is dusty and tiny, but it’s growing. He believes it holds all he needs to be happy—except a wife. There are no available women in town, but he hopes Lydia Harrison’s Bride Brigade will offer a woman he can wed. He is immediately attracted to Josephine.

But Josephine has every reason to mistrust men in general and politicians in particular. Will her misgivings ruin her chance at happiness?

Here’s an excerpt:

Josephine brushed and pulled back her hair. “At least we’re clean and neat even if we don’t have fancy clothes.”
Her friend chewed on her lip then met her gaze in the mirror. “I don’t really want to meet anyone right away.”
She smiled. “Afraid you might end up with someone like your pa or mine?”
Ophelia shook her head and pulled on her shawl to cover the stains on her dress. “Oh, no, Lydia won’t invite anyone who isn’t nice. She promised. I feel as shy as usual and need a little more time to adjust.”
Josephine tied a ribbon around her neck with her mother’s locket in the center. “Well, I don’t intend to marry. I want to find a job and be independent.”
Ophelia stared at her. “You mean you never want to wed?”
“Can you blame me?”
Her friend’s face filled with concern. “Jo, you can’t mean it. You’d never have a home and children. Think of your future. Who will keep you company in the evenings?”
“I’ll get a cat.” She smiled at her shy friend and they walked into the hall.

Readers know that in romance, there has to be a happily-ever-after ending that involves more than the heroine adopting a cat. I hope if you haven’t read JOSEPHINE, you’ll choose to do so. 


Please stay with me at this blog for the next couple of weeks while I elaborate on the conditions which send each of the seven women to Tarnation. The final book in the series, PRUDENCE, will release on August 25th. I'll be giving away a $50 Amazon or Pay Pal Gift Card to someone who comments on this series of blogs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Contemporary Romance
Date Published: May 30, 2017

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

The lake town of Maisonville was better known as Renaissance Lake and most who moved there were looking to begin again.

Sydney Bell was no exception. Recovering from a divorce she needed to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.

Unfortunately, in her new town the handsome Ryan Gentry next door and Sydney are already butting heads.

When the real reason she moved to the lake is revealed, she’s reminded that a small town can heal your soul, sparring with an arrogant neighbor can build self-esteem, and true friendship has the ability to make you a better person.

THE FIX Excerpt:

THE DELUGE OF RAIN WAITED until the moving truck was scheduled to arrive and then drowned any hope Sydney had of a smooth move in day.

She’d paid a little extra for them to arrive that morning; that way she’d be finished by the time Ryan returned home next door.

He was the jerk who had helped change her tire the first day she came to town and the owner who reluctantly sold her the house. She wasn’t certain how Will talked him into it, but Will said he was a family friend and that must have mattered to Ryan. Of course, he could have simply been motivated by the cash offer. It took the money she had from the sale of her father’s large home and the sale of her Mercedes wagon for her to afford the beautiful cottage. It was more than she should have spent but way less than the place was worth.

Ryan shook his head during the closing, avoiding looking at her the entire time. Will said he was perpetually grouchy, but she knew he was unhappy about selling to her specifically. She acted sweet and told him how much she loved the house and promised to be a quiet neighbor. However, during the hour-long meeting, Ryan didn’t say more than a few words to her, but he managed to slip the word “genius” into the conversation at least five times.

She couldn’t help it, sometimes words popped out of her mouth before she could stop them. She’d wished she hadn’t been snarky and called Ryan a genius that day on the roadside, especially after he changed her tire, but she couldn’t take it back.

It didn’t matter. He didn’t have to like her. She would prove she could be a good neighbor and ignore him back.


Lisa Herrington is a Women’s Fiction and YA novelist, blogger and speaker. A former medical sales rep, she currently manages the largest Meet-Up writing group in the New Orleans area, The Bayou Writer’s Club. She was born and raised in Louisiana, attended college at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi and accepts that in New Orleans we never hide our crazy but instead parade it around on the front porch and give it a cocktail. It’s certainly why she has so many stories to tell today. When she’s not writing, and spending time with her husband and three children, she spends time reading, watching old movies or planning something new and exciting with her writer’s group.

Connect with Lisa, find out about new releases, and get free books at

Contact Links

Twitter or @lisadherrington

Purchase Links

*Free with Kindle Unlimited*

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Monday, August 07, 2017



Chick Lit/ Women’s Fiction 
*(contains language)*
Date Published: June 6, 2017

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Elle Martin has it all.

Handsome and successful husband. Check.
Daughter and son attending exclusive private high school. Check.
Privilege, status, and wealth. Check, check, check.

But there is more to Elle’s story.

Already struggling to keep up appearances in a social set full of pretension and ultra-competitiveness, Elle’s façade of perfection is threatened when her husband makes an announcement that will force her to confront a dark past she has successfully hidden for years.

What will happen when long-buried secrets are unearthed and haunting new revelations are discovered? Will Elle find the happy ending she so desperately seeks?

Toggling between the early nineties and the present day, GRANNIE PANTIES ARE UNDERRATED captures the Gen X experience from latchkey kid to helicopter parent with keen insight and precision. A page turner full of surprising twists, it is a must read for anyone who has struggled to reconcile the chasm between the person they once were, the person they have become, and the person they long to be.

Praise for Grannie Panties Are Under Rated

"...a highly entertaining and thought provoking book!"

"Gayle Erickson is brilliantly gifted in telling this engaging, sometimes disturbing, yet compulsively addicting story of a woman in crisis due to the bonds of the guilt-filled lens of her past"
"It is visually rich and culturally expansive,"

"You will fall in love with each of these honest, imperfect characters and identify with their struggles, demons, and challenges. Exposing the raw truths we often try to mask..."

"Loved this book, could not put it down"
"A great retrospective of how we come to be who we are and where we are, often without intention or a road map. Like "Grannie's" characters, we all find moments of clarity or awareness, which give rise to change. All this and an accompanying playlist! A song for every chapter...what brilliant context!

Spotify Playlist by Author to compliment the Novel:


May 18, 2017
6:39 p.m.

“Hi, Mrs. Martin!” Tabby waved enthusiastically to Elle. Smiley face, smiley face. Four’s girlfriend spoke with such animated emotion, it seemed like everything she said ended with a corresponding emoticon.

Elle waved back as she walked into the crowded stadium. She liked Tabby. She was a genuinely sweet and perpetually happy girl. She hand-painted fairies and flowers onto children’s clothing and sold them at the Junior League Holiday Bazaar, donating the proceeds to St. Jude’s. Tabby was also pretty in the lithe, wholesome, horseback-riding, patrician sort of way Elle so admired. She would go to a good college, major in art history or French, study abroad, and get an internship at a trendy gallery in the city before marrying.

Tabby would always know what to wear.

She was perfect for Four and just the kind of girl Win should have married.

Tabby skipped toward Elle. Along with the de rigueur out-of-school Country Day uniform for females of black lululemon yoga pants and Ugg boots, she wore Four’s #4 away jersey. She hugged Elle, careful to avoid smudging the 4 she had painted in red on her cheek. “It’s so good to see you!” Row of pink hearts. Tabby stepped away from Elle and frowned. “My mom told me about your tennis match. Is everything okay?” Furrowed brow emoji.

Elle wasn’t surprised that news of the argument at the tennis match had already made the rounds. She ran in a small social circle; it had been Tabby’s mom who had sought advice on the color scheme for her Range Rover at Jane’s house that morning.

Although sure Tabby’s concern was genuine, Elle didn’t have it in her to talk about all the bickering. It seemed pointless. She swatted her hand in the air casually. “Oh, it’s fine. Nothing to worry about.”

“Oh, good!” Smiley face. Tabby looked around and then lowered her voice asking, “Did you hear about Thatcher? It’s such a huge bummer.” Frowny face, frowny face, face with a tear drop.

Thatcher’s suspension was another issue Elle had no interest in discussing, so she didn’t answer. Instead, knowing Tabby was easily distracted and not the type to dwell on anything negative, she changed the subject. “Aren’t you glad the weather is so nice?”

“Yes! I’m so glad it didn’t rain! But still, I’m sooo nervous for Four!” Wide eye emoji. Thatcher’s fate temporarily forgotten, Tabby jumped up and down, rubbing her hands along Elle’s arms. “They can do it, right?” Nervous face, hands in prayer.

“Yes! They can. I have a good feeling about this game.” Elle was confident; she had heard “We Are the Champions”—there couldn’t have been a clearer sign predicting victory. She patted Tabby on the arm reassuringly. “Go on ahead with your friends. I’ll see you after the game.”

“Okay. My stomach is just in knots!” Face with tongue sticking out. Tabby offered Elle another quick hug, waved good-bye, and ran to catch up with her friends. Just like the women on the tennis court earlier that day, Tabby wore her blonde hair in a high ponytail. Adorned with navy and red ribbons, it bounced with youthful optimism as she ran off.

Yes, Tabby was a happy girl. How lucky for her. She would continue to make dream boards and end every text to Four with smiley face and heart emojis. In a few years’ time, she would be debating the merits of varying color schemes for a new European car of her own.

Could Elle be happy in the same way Tabby was? If she had grown up in a house with a pediatrician dad and a nurse mom, would she have been one of those girls who used a red sharpie to decorate white boxer underwear with hearts for her boyfriend? If Jimmy hadn’t died and her dad hadn’t left, would she have spent her free time making mixed tapes for friends with each song title written in a different-colored pastel pen?

It didn’t matter, not anymore. What was important was that Elle’s children wouldn’t look back at their own childhoods and wish they had had more.

Elle continued into the stadium and saw Regina Moore, one of Brynnie’s favorite teachers. Elle often sought out Regina’s company at school events. She was kind, smart, and interesting to talk to.

“Hi, Regina, it’s so nice of you to come tonight.” Elle was impressed that Brynnie’s teacher had made the effort to come to the game. She couldn’t imagine that Regina was an avid sports fan. She was too earthy, too academic—someone who didn’t own a TV and spent her weekends reading the classics with a steamy cup of Earl Grey tea.
“Well, I admit I don’t know much about lacrosse, but I wanted to be here to support my students.”

Of course. Elle knew there was a good reason why she was drawn to Regina. She was genuine; a person who actually gave a shit about others.

Regina took in the atmosphere. “What a glorious evening it is.”

“Yes, it is!” Elle nodded in agreement. Wanting to demonstrate a sincere gratitude, she placed her hand in Regina’s and said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you how much Brynnie is enjoying your class on postmodern feminism in fiction. She was really moved by . . .”

“Hey.” Elle was interrupted by a gruff voice. Ward Johnson, her tennis partner Kit’s husband, entered the conversation, nodding his head slightly toward Regina and half-hugging Elle, his hands otherwise occupied with a hamburger and a soft drink.

Oh, great.

Elle couldn’t stand Ward. He was an ass. An unapologetic social climber and pompous blowhard who thought he knew everything. He was the type of guy who took his job as president of the Homeowner Association for his gated community very seriously. He walked around with a clipboard and sanctimoniously noted every errant weed and every trashcan left on the curb overnight. Ward had fat sausage fingers, and seeing the hamburger in his chunky hands momentarily reminded Elle of her empty stomach and how hungry she was.

Ward lifted his drink in the air and talked with his mouth full. “I can’t believe this situation with Thatcher. It’s ridiculous! I was on the phone with the headmaster all afternoon. He wouldn’t budge.”

Not for the first time, Elle wondered if Ward suffered from some sort of disability which stymied his ability to read social situations. How else to explain his habit of blurting out inappropriate comments? Did he honestly think it was acceptable to bring the situation with Thatcher up in front of a teacher? What did he expect her to say? Strange how a man with an MBA from Harvard could lack such tact.

Elle was unsure how to respond. She offered a half-hearted smile—seeing Ward’s mouth full of hamburger had at least killed her appetite. Regina said nothing.

Oblivious to the awkward position he had put them both in—or maybe he knew and just didn’t care—Ward took another bite of his hamburger and directed his attention toward Regina. “I want to talk to you about Easton’s grade on his paper—a C? C’mon! I read that paper. It was an A paper.”

There it was again; something really must be wrong with him. Elle fidgeted uncomfortably.

Regina seemed slightly taken aback by Ward’s abruptness but rebounded quickly. “If Easton wants to make an appointment, I’d be happy to go over it with him.”
Still chewing with his mouth open, Ward shook his head. “Here’s the thing: he needs an A on that paper.”

Elle was sorry for Regina and the ambush. She should try to diffuse the conversation, to help Regina out somehow, but she couldn’t. As strongly as she had wanted to flee the tennis court earlier, Elle needed to get out of there. Quickly.

“Oh, I see Brynnie. I need to go talk to her,” Elle lied.

Ward, still focused on Regina and clearly unconcerned with Elle, waved his fat sausage-fingered hand dismissively toward her and continued, “Seriously, he deserves an A.”

Elle mouthed the word “sorry” to Regina as she turned to leave. Regina gave her a nod indicating everything was fine and turned toward Ward with a conciliatory gaze.

Elle didn’t know how Regina, or any of the other teachers, abided such poor behavior. Country Day parents could be total nightmares.

Earlier that week, Aubrey had complained to the headmaster about a math teacher after Grayson had failed his latest calculus test. It simply wasn’t possible for her son to get an F; either it wasn’t a fair test or the teacher hadn’t properly explained the concepts. Aubrey had first talked to the teacher, and when she wasn’t satisfied with the answer he gave—something along the lines of “Perhaps Grayson should have rechecked his work for mistakes”—she decided to go above the teacher’s head, straight to the headmaster. Aubrey would be heard. Grayson would be allowed to retake the test.

Although Elle could—and did—helicopter parent with the best of them, Four’s and Brynnie’s grades were not among her neurosis. She didn’t obsessively track her children’s progress online, fretting over each assignment that wasn’t given an A. Elle trusted the Country Day teachers to be fair and refused to indulge any complaints regarding the types of assignments given or their resulting grades. Given all that her children had, it seemed rather trite and petty to complain.

Elle was considering the possibility that she liked the teachers more than the parents at Country Day when she spotted Brynnie in the concession line with a group of friends. She waved her over, and Elle was surprised to see that her daughter also had a 4 painted on her cheek. Tabby must have been behind this—Brynnie wasn’t one for unabashed displays of school spirit.
As if to temper her nod to convention with the face paint, Brynnie eschewed the navy and red logoed Country Day shirts of her classmates in favor of a purple T-shirt with three sets of stick figures on it. The first was a man, a woman, and a child; the second, two men and a child; and the third, two women and a child. In bright rainbow-colored letters across the top it read: “There are all types of families: Love is Love.”

Elle gave her daughter an earnest hug. Normally, she would be worried over what people would say about Brynnie and the statement she was making with the T-shirt, but not tonight. Tonight, Elle was proud of her daughter’s courage, her indifference to what others thought, and her commitment to what she believed. “Hi, sweetie! I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Of course I’m here. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I wasn’t so sure after your argument with Four this morning.”

“That kid makes me crazy sometimes—he can be so ignorant—but I still love him. And besides, I’m quite looking forward to this spectacle.”

Elle was relieved. It gave her hope that Brynnie had also forgiven her. “Have you talked to Jacinda? Is she okay?”

Before Brynnie could answer, Aubrey approached, marching purposefully, like she had an agenda.

First Ward, now Aubrey. Elle couldn’t escape.

Except for her white jeans—apparently, it wasn’t too early to wear white—Aubrey was dressed almost identically to Elle. This should have been incredibly satisfying—it meant Elle had chosen her outfit correctly—but all she could feel at this moment was dread.

Aubrey removed her sunglasses and placed them on top of her head. She reached for Elle’s hands. “Elle! I’m so glad to see you. Are you sure everything is okay? Can I help?”

“Everything’s fine.” Elle’s tone was short. She didn’t feel like playing along.

Aubrey freed her hands and slowly tilted her head from side to side, silently considering Elle for several drawn-out seconds. Without speaking, she turned toward Brynnie and looked over her T-shirt with disdain—or was it confusion?

Brynnie placed her hand soothingly along Aubrey’s arm, the way one would if comforting a child, and explained, “It’s to honor gay rights. I’m sure you’ve read about how the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.”

Aubrey didn’t respond. Instead, she twirled at the platinum medallions—each bearing the name of one of her four children—on the necklace that hung near her chest. Was this some sort of power play? A subtle reminder that she was superior? She had borne four children. She could afford private school tuition, first-class plane tickets, tutors, and nannies—four times over.

After several uncomfortable seconds, Aubrey finally spoke to Brynnie through a strained smile, “Read? I don’t have time to read!”

“Of course not!” Brynnie put her hands up against her cheeks. “How silly of me! I forgot how busy you are. You had a tennis match today, right?”

Holy shit!

Elle was impressed by Brynnie’s quick retort, yet as much as she admired her daughter’s courage, Elle was apprehensive. Aubrey wasn’t one to be crossed.

Sure enough, Aubrey’s retaliation was swift. She cocked her head to the side and pursed her lips. “So, sweetheart, remind me—who is your date to prom?”

Elle’s stomach tightened. Brynnie had never had a boyfriend, let alone a date. Everyone knew that. Was Aubrey implying Brynnie was gay? Elle wanted to say something to protect her daughter, but what?

Brynnie didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the question. “I’m choosing to go alone. I’m independent like that—kind of a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet . . .” She paused, then condescendingly patted Aubrey on the back. “Oh, sorry. How silly of me—since you don’t read, you couldn’t possibly understand the Pride and Prejudice reference.”

Elle tried to contain her laughter. Good for Brynnie.

Aubrey stood speechless, like she had been scolded by a stranger for failing to pick up her dog’s massive dump on the playground—“Aren’t there people for that?”

Smiling, Brynnie kissed Elle on the cheek. “See you after the game!” She walked away, waving her arms high in the air with feigned enthusiasm. “Go, Country Day!”

Aubrey turned toward Elle, eyes squinted in anger. Ignoring phone calls was one thing. Elle had really crossed a line now. Aubrey expected an explanation. An apology.

Elle refused to give in. Let Aubrey say and do whatever she wanted. She no longer cared. Elle offered Aubrey a quick and insincere hug good-bye saying, “I should go. I need to catch up with Win. He’s just closed a major international deal and we have loads to discuss.”

Aubrey’s mouth dropped in shock. She’d have to pick the poop up herself.

Elle walked away, satisfied. She had done it. She had stood up to Aubrey and it was exhilarating.

Still, Elle knew better than to celebrate too much. There would be consequences for her actions; Aubrey would make her pay. She just didn’t yet know how.

About the Author

Gayle Erickson is a Colorado native and graduate of The Colorado College. She lived in Tokyo, Japan and taught English for several years after graduation. Upon her return to the United States she worked in the non-profit sector. Gayle currently lives in suburban Denver with her husband, twin teen-age children, and two dogs. Grannie Panties Are Underrated is her debut novel.

Contact Links

Purchase Link

Reading Addiction Blog Tours