Monday, October 05, 2015


As I’ve mentioned before, Fall is my favorite time of year. This past weekend was absolutely glorious. The air was cooler but grass and shrubs are still nice and green though a few trees are beginning to turn colors. In our yard, a few oaks are tinged red at the edge of their leaves. The heat stressed elms are losing yellow leaves and have been for several weeks.

Bigtooth Maple at Lost Maples
Let me share with you a lovely place at this or any time of year in Texas. Lost Maples State Wilderness Area near Bandera, Medina, and Uvalde is a place of wonderment. Maples of various types are popular landscape plants. Bigtooth Maples don’t grow naturally in our state anywhere except in this lovely park. They’re truly lost from another time.

Entrance to the park
My daughter and I were here several years ago when I researched THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE (now FREE in ebook). We loved our excursion as we do all the things we find “on the way”. To people from mountainous areas with diverse temperatures, you are probably wondering why I think this place is such a great thing. I grew up in West Texas where trees were not plentiful. Even now that I live in an area where trees are taken for granted, I still hold them in awe. 

The area used to be an escape trail for rustlers and comancheros heading away from their skulduggery. Now families enjoy visiting the cathedral-like atmosphere of the walled route. The tall rock sides carry sound so I don't know how well it worked as an escape. I suppose that when camped, the criminals could hear a posse's approach.

Lost Maples is an outstanding example of Edwards Plateau flora and fauna. The park is a combination of steep, rugged limestone canyons, springs, grasslands, wooded slopes, and clear streams. The feature that amazes me is a large, isolated stand of uncommon Uvalde bigtooth maple whose fall foliage can be spectacular. Generally, the foliage changes the last two weeks of October through the first two weeks of November. The park is extremely popular during the fall and is often crowded. There are camping spots for those into outdoor living but parking is limited to 250 cars.

Green Kingfisher
Rare species of birds, such as the green kingfisher above, can be seen year-round. The endangered black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler nest and feed in the park in spring and early summer. Wild animals include gray fox, white-tailed deer, armadillo, raccoon, bobcat, rock squirrel, and javelina. I imagine the occasional cougar is also a visitor--and I mean the four-legged variety.

If you’re in Central Texas and would like a unique experience, head to Lost Maples even if it’s not truly “on the way”.

Friday, October 02, 2015


Why do authors price a book free or at 99 cents? Each time an author releases a book, he or she is sharing a sizable investment of hundreds of hours of backbreaking and heart-wrenching work and hundreds of dollars spent for a cover, editing, formatting, and promotional ads. Why would we give the fruit of our toils away?

We can’t do so often. Sometimes we make the first of a series free or reduced in the hope people will like that work and buy the remaining volumes of the series. We actually go into debt to do so. And then—because writing is usually incurable—we start writing another book.

Another way we offer a reduced price is with an anthology or box set with other authors. We each hope readers who are fans of the other authors in the group will like our work enough to become a reader of all of our books. You probably know this is called cross-promotion. Once again, we’re losing money unless the gamble works.

Yes, writers are gamblers. Not in casinos or bingo parlors, or not in my case, but we gamble on ways to attract readers to our works. We are as much gamblers as the farmer who plants crops with the belief that he can harvest in spite of the elements he battles—rain, hail, drought, and insects. Or the rancher who fattens his cattle in a race against disease, rustlers (yes, we still have those), and the elements.

Why I started this is to tell you of a great value coming your way. COURTING THE WEST is a box set of ten western historical romance books by NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors. This box set is now up for pre-order and will be available on October 15.

COURTING THE WEST includes: PAINTED MONTANA SKY by Debra Holland; DAISY by Kirsten Osbourne; HIS BROTHER’S WIFE by Lily Graison; TAME A WILD WIND by Cynthia Woolf; SLEIGHT OF HEART by Jacquie Rogers; A HERO’S HEART by Sylvia McDaniel, LAYING CLAIM by Paty Jager; SARAH SUNSHINE by Merry Farmer, CHASING THE DEAD by Keta Diablo, and THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP by Caroline Clemmons.

I re-read each of these and truly enjoyed them a second time. I even re-read my own book and brazenly admit I enjoyed it too. These are ten novels about handsome, rugged westerners and the women strong enough to tame them. Individually, they'd cost over sixty dollars but readers who purchase this box set can have all ten for only 99 cents. Amazing, right? 

That's only 9 cents a book! Even if you’ve read one or two of these previously, you can’t go wrong at 99 cents for the box set. We’re gambling that fans of the other nine authors will discover our books and become a fan of those, too.

COURTING THE WEST is available now for pre-order on Amazon and will be available on October 15 at Amazon, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo.  

Here’s the preorder url:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


by Michael O'Hara



Dos Angeles, the first in a franchise of mysteries featuring Paco Moran, puts the multicultural thirty-something ex-LAPD homicide detective turned reluctant private eye on the trail of a beautiful young Latina on the run with ten million dollars in cash. Half Anglo and half Mexican, Moran is a transitional character equally at home working in Beverly Hills or blue collar Boyle Heights, the tough East Los Angeles neighborhood where he was raised by a single mom. In his debut case Paco quickly learns he will be the fall guy if he doesn't track down the young immigrant who allegedly stole a small fortune from a sleazy Hollywood producer secretly laundering money for a notorious drug cartel. Paco's frantic search takes him on a roller-coaster ride through a shadowy place he calls Dos Angeles a city within the city and a virtual country unto itself.


Then, the day before the Pirellis were due home, something unexpected came up that needed her immediate attention. On hearing what she thought was the sound of a toilet running she first checked downstairs before heading up to the master suite. Inside the gaudy all gold and marble bathroom she discovered a puddle of water seeping out from inside the extra-long double vanity. Opening the main cabinet doors she saw one of the stainless steel hoses was leaking badly. She tried to tighten the connection but it had no effect. Afraid she might make matters worse, she turned off the valve and hurried downstairs to call a plumber on the approved contact list.

A half hour later Sid Kantor showed up and Maria was immediately intimidated by his off-putting physical presence. Short and obesely overweight with a large shaved head, a Quaker-like beard, and dull, hooded eyes, Kantor reminded her of El Malvado, a cartoon villain that used to terrify her as a little girl in Oaxaca. Because of that and his gruff, unfriendly manner, she quickly sensed he was one of those aggressive white foreigners who only saw Mexicans as workers, never as equals.

Not about to give him the satisfaction of staring at her shapely bottom on the way up the steep winding staircase, she politely stepped aside and gestured for him to lead the way. By the time they reached the second floor landing he was grunting and panting so much she feared he might have a heart attack.

“Are you okay, sir?” she asked with genuine concern.

“Ya, ya,” he muttered, wiping his brow with his shirt sleeve. “It’s dis damn heat.”

Minutes later Maria stood by patiently as Kantor awkwardly maneuvered his way under the sink to remove and replace the faulty hose. When he finally finished he turned the water back on to test it.

“Dat should do it,” he said in a heavily accented, non-American voice. “Let run five minutes to make sure.”

After struggling to get back up on his feet Kantor gestured with the flashlight he’d been using, illuminating the inside of the cabinet.

“You know what behind dere?” he asked, focusing the light on a small pocket door under the sink.

“Behind where?” Maria was confused.

“Dere, dere!” he growled, swirling the light around to emphasize what he was talking about

“I don’t know,” she shrugged.

“Strange. Hah?” He pointed the flashlight at the door again. “Must be something back dere.”

Since Kantor was obviously way too big to crawl through himself, Maria volunteered to take a look while he was still there.

“No time,” he said, tapping on his watch. “Late for next appointment.”

He handed her a business card. “You call if any more problems.”

She promised she would and saw him out.

After he left, she decided to return upstairs to check behind the cabinet to make sure there were no hidden pipes that could be leaking. When she slid open the mystery door, she was startled to discover a secret room. “Dios mío!” she whispered.

Michael O'Hara, Author,
Producer, and Journalist

Emmy nominee Michael O’Hara-- who has written and produced some of the highest-rated television movies and miniseries in recent memory – is adding author to his resume with the August, 2015 the publication of his first novel,  Dos Angeles.

The book, featuring a bilingual and bicultural private eye named Paco Moran, centers around Moran’s desperate search for a beautiful young Latina immigrant who stole ten million dollars from the mob. In a pre-publication review American Book Award winner Peter Quinn said: Paco Moran’s debut in Michael O'Hara's DOS ANGELES is fast-paced, finely crafted, and full of surprises. It's noir fiction for the 21st century, a helluva ride from the first page to last. Here's hoping O'Hara brings Paco back very soon. I can't wait!

A former award-winning journalist and NBC Vice President of Media Relations, O’Hara made an auspicious debut as a writer/producer with “Those She Left Behind,” a critically acclaimed family drama that continues to be the highest-rated TV movie (25.1/38 share) on any network in over twenty years. It starred Gary Cole and Colleen Dewhurst (who won an Emmy Award for her performance). That success was followed by the widely praised NBC movie “She Said No” which won an American Women in Radio & Television Award for Best Television Dramatic Special.

O’Hara next wrote and executive produced “Switched at Birth,” the blockbuster NBC miniseries that earned an Emmy nomination as Best Dramatic Special and remains the highest rated (22 rating/33 share) miniseries on network television since its initial telecast over two decades ago. He was also the writer and executive producer of “Murder in the Heartland,” a celebrated ABC miniseries which garnered a Casting Society of America Award and two Emmy nominations. Right after that he created and executive produced the first of 22 “Moment of Truth” movies for NBC, establishing one of the most successful film franchises in TV history.

O’Hara also wrote “She Woke Up Pregnant,” the pilot for ABC’s ‘Crimes of Passion’ franchise. It scored an impressive 13.4 rating and 21 share, making it the highest-rated ABC movie of the year. He went on to write “One Hot Summer Night,” another ‘Crimes of Passion’ thriller that was ABC’s highest-rated Thursday night movie of the season. Other producing credits include two CBS projects: “Twilight Zone – Rod Serling’s Lost Classics” and “A Child’s Wish,” which was filmed in the Oval Office and featured a cameo appearance by then President Bill Clinton. In addition he wrote and executive produced NBC’s “In His Life: The John Lennon Story” and “1st to Die,” a two-part NBC miniseries based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson.

Overall O’Hara has produced four miniseries and 33 Movies of the Week. Besides his Emmy nomination, other honors include: a Christopher Award (“A Child’s Wish”); a Prism Award (“The Accident”); a Humanitas Award nomination (“Heart of a Child”); a National Easter Seal Society Award (“To Walk Again”); an International Health & Medical Film Award (“Heart of a Child”); and the Media Award from The National Council on Problem Gambling (“Playing to Win.”)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 28, 2015


First, Mary Preston won the giveaway posted on Friday's blog. Congratulations, Mary. 

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post.

One of my favorite trips is one through the Southwest several years ago. Hero had a new car, a Mitsubishi sedan, on which we put a gazillion miles traveling here and there. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but we went a LOT of places in that car before it eventually spluttered its last gasp.

Anyway, on this trip, we went over Wolfe Pass, Colorado in a rainstorm. Hero had his hands full driving but I was able to enjoy the incredible beauty of the landscape. The entire state is gorgeous—something even a dyed-in-the-wool Texan like me can admit.

Silverton, Colorado
We also visited Silverton, Colorado on July 4th and were surprised the temperature was 32 degrees F with patches of snow still on the ground. Fortunately, we had brought very light jackets, but we were cold. Bright sunshine saved us and we enjoyed touring the town.

I had no idea then that I would write a book set in Colorado. At the time, all of my books were set in Texas except for one fluke novella set in Georgia. That changed when gracious and excellent author Cynthia Woolf invited me to participate in a project she had conjured called THE SURPRISE BRIDES. I loved the idea and so did Callie Hutton and Sylvia McDaniel.

Instead of seven brothers as in the old movie musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, we would write four brides for four brothers. We wanted nothing to do with kidnapping, so the mother of these four brothers writes away for mail-order brides. Scheming Mama Fraser poses as each of her sons when she writes these letters and arranges for all four brides to arrive on the same train.

We decided a snowstorm rather than an avalanche should isolate them on Fraser's Circle F Ranch five miles from Angel Springs. A different avalanche plays a part in my story. Certainly we didn’t want to wait all winter to have the brides married. So, one of the brothers is a minister and can marry them—including himself and his bride.

This was the most difficult project with which I have ever been involved. For weeks emails flew back and forth among us to insure each of us included key elements without compromising the others’ books or offering four versions of the same story. The result is, I believe, four great western historical romances that will engage fans of that genre.

The books are JAMIE, CALEB, GIDEON, and ETHAN. The series is THE SURPRISE BRIDES. They are stand alone books and you don’t need to read any one of them to follow the others.  Due to the progression of events in the books’ content, if you plan to read all four I would suggest reading JAMIE first then ETHAN followed by GIDEON and ending with CALEB.

If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll give THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE a chance to entertain you and that you’ll also purchase the other three brothers’ stories. The books are priced low at only $2.99 each.  Here are the buy links at Amazon, but the books are available at Apple, Nook, and Kobo.

Caroline Clemmons, JAMIE
Cynthia Woolf, GIDEON
Callie Hutton, CALEB
Sylvia McDaniel, ETHAN

**I’m giving away a free e-copy of THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE to one person who leaves a comment today. If you already have a copy of that book, you can choose another from my books on Amazon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


What inspires you? Tell me in a comment to be in a drawing for a free e-book. 

Research is a large part of a writer’s world, especially when he or she writes historical novels, and often provides ideas for other novels. I love research and have trouble keeping on task. One of the fun parts of research is the day trip.

Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Palo Pinto County, Texas for a driving tour and that’s when I fell in love with the area. To be truthful, I already loved driving through the hills and valleys. This tour, however, convinced me this was an area in which I would set many books. So far, I have two series set here—The Men of Stone Mountain and Bride Brigade—and a time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.

Palo Pinto Mountains in distance from the valley
To most people, these would be considered hills, but geologically, they are mountains. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a writer. There are many picturesque areas and I enjoy driving through at any time of year. Now, however, is a prime time for the leaves are changing and it’s easy to see why the Native Americans dubbed them “painted posts”.

Although many live oaks dot the forests, most are smaller scrub oaks which turn colors and lose their leaves. Live oaks lose leaves, but they’re replaced and always have dark green leaves year around, hence the name. Also in the area are cedars and they provided fence posts material as well as small logs for cabins. Add in the cottonwoods, pin oak, red oak, hackberry, bois d'arc, elm, and don't forget the late-comer mesquite that plagues ranchers. 

In Palo Pinto County are many hot water springs, the most famous of which is the crazy water well in Mineral Wells. According to accounts, a family with a mentally disturbed wife moved to the area and the husband dug a well. While drinking that water, the woman was cured. It should be called sane water, but that doesn’t have the ring to it that crazy water does.

To this day, Crazy Water Crystals are available for sale. Frankly, I believe these are useful as little more than laxatives now due to the water's mineral content. The county's largest town was named Mineral Wells for a reason. The original well went through a lithium deposit and that provided relief to the woman’s condition. I doubt the FDA would allow over the counter lithium sales.

One of my favorite ranches is the Belding-Gibson Ranch, which has a spring that never dries up and was a favorite Native American campground. This is a beautiful ranch that has been continuously run by the Belding family and descendants since 1859. The original cedar log cabin dating to 1854 has been incorporated into the ranch home, as has the smokehouse and the dog trot and second cabin. This place is so dear to my heart.

Belding-Gibson Ranch Home includes preserved parts of
original cabins and smokehouse.
I enjoy this entire county, although I’m glad I live in a Fort Worth suburb with all the shopping and medical conveniences I prefer. While visiting Palo Pinto, I can visualize life as it was in the last half of the nineteenth century. A drive there sets my imagination’s cog wheels turning and generating new ideas faster than I can write them. The drive also makes me smile and dwell in my happy place.

Do you have special areas that inspire you? I’ll give away a copy of my first Bride Brigade romance, JOSEPHINE, to one person who comments today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


by Mia Marshall

Mia Marshall will award a $50 Amazon/BN Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Rafflecopter is at the end of the post.


Aidan Brook has spent months living with the horror of what happened when she lost control of her magic. Now she is searching for a way to manage her immense power, but she only hits one dead end after another.

On the run from a council intent on her death, Aidan, the bear shifter Mac, and the rest of her friends find themselves on a desperate chase across deserts and oceans in search of answers. Along the way, they encounter a living myth and a dual magic with secrets of his own—and they learn that the cure may be more deadly than the disease.

To save her own life, Aidan will need to confront the most dangerous foe she’s ever faced…herself.

LOST CAUSES is the fourth book in the award-winning Elements urban fantasy series.


The magic hissed in fear and anger. For a moment it considered attacking, but there wasn’t enough water left to drown her.

Also, it was Sera. I didn’t hurt Sera.

I stumbled backwards as reason slammed into me. I wrenched the threads of magic toward me. They twisted in my core, displeased, but at least I controlled them. It had so nearly been the other way around.

Sera’s movements were hesitant, as if she approached a wild beast, but her eyes were as determined as ever.

“I’m back,” I said. My face was red and my heart pounded like I’d just sprinted a mile, but I’d come back. This time, at least, I’d come back.

Sera studied my face for a long, silent moment. She returned the syringe to the black case and tucked that into one of the kitchenette’s drawers.

Carmichael and Vivian watched me as they would a stranger. A stranger who might try to eat their liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

“Really, it’s me. So long as I’m not using the magic, I’m still Aidan. I didn’t slide any further down the sanity slope.”

They looked unconvinced.

“We can’t just use the drug every time.” I attempted logic. “It knocks me out for days, and we can’t afford that.”

“I’m all for knocking you out, but we don’t have enough left to do it whenever you’re an idiot.” That might have been Sera agreeing with me.

I gave her a shaky smile. She slapped my face.

“Hey!” It only stung a little, but allowing her to slap me whenever she thought I was stupid wasn’t a precedent I wanted to set.

BUY Links:





NOTE:  The first book of the series, BROKEN ELEMENTS,  is now FREE!!!

Mia Marshall, Author

Mia Marshall is the award-winning author of the Elements urban fantasy series. Before she started writing about imaginary worlds, she worked as a high school teacher, script supervisor, story editor, legal secretary, and day care worker. She has lived all along the US west coast and throughout the UK, where she collected an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film.

These days, she lives in a small house in the Sierra Nevadas, where she is surrounded by a small but deadly feline army.


Mia Marshall will award a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.

Monday, September 21, 2015


As promised on Friday, here is more information on BRIDE BRIGADE: JOSEPHINE, which is now available at Amazon and—if not already—will soon be available as an e-book on iBooks, Nook, and Kobo.

Here’s the blurb 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?

And here’s an excerpt of JOSEPHINE:
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.”

The buy link for JOSEPHINE,  Bride Brigade book one, is

Please don’t forget THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE is also a new release. The buy link for JAMIE is These books are $2.99 each in e-book, but are also available in print. The companion books about JAMIE’s brothers are GIDEON by Cynthia Woolf, CALEB by Callie Hutton, and ETHAN by Sylvia McDaniel.  GIDEON is available from Amazon at CALEB and ETHAN will be available as e-books by Wednesday. 

Happy reading!