Monday, April 30, 2012


CHEROKEE WINTER: Tales of the West I
By Troy D. Smith
Western Trail Blazer
Ebook $3.99

If you read this blog often, you know I love, love, love westerns, and I've discovered a new one to love. Troy Smith’s collection of fifteen short stories varies from pioneers to contemporary, but each illustrates why he is an award-winning author. Those stories are:

I. “The Stealing Moon” - After Comanches kill his older brother, Will Rafer struggles to regain his self-esteem and his father’s love until a battle reunites them.  One of my favorite of this collection.
II. “The Purification of Jim Barnes” - a former sniper has trouble fitting back in to his old life until his grandfather takes charge. Another favorite that helps me understand veterans.
III. “God Bless Our Home” - gives a new slant to the life and death of a famed outlaw. Sad, but made me believe this might be insightful.
IV. “Confessions of Little Big Man” - is an interesting look at the introspection of a famous man.
V. “They Day They Got Lance Burns” - Does a reformed outlaw still have to answer for his crimes after twenty years, even if he's lived a model life since?
VI. “Mister Maitlin” - A Colorado adventure begins innocently, but evolves into a masquerade that eventually backfires.
VII. “The Hunter’s Snare” - Civil War soldier Charlie Raymond makes a difficult decision.
VIII. “Sergeant Mann” - excellent excerpt from novel BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND. After initial insults, a town shows gratitude to the Buffalo Soldiers who save them from Apaches. One of my favorites.
IX. “Romulus Jones” - An insult to his wife and daughter sets Jones on a course even his best friend cannot curtail. Should he retreat or remain to rein in his friend?
X. “Becoming American” - thought provoking story of Sitting Bull’s time in New York.
XI. “Cherokee Winter” - Tom Spencer loved the mountains of Tennessee and hates to watch them change. His opportunity comes when he guides two surveyors to the East Tennessee Mountains where he meets the Cherokee.
XII. “Casualties” - A Pinkerton agent rescues a kidnapped girl, but the rescue doesn’t go as he planned. Has he become that which he hates?
XIII. “Where the Fire is Never Quenched” - A Civil War soldier helps a friend escape a grass fire after a battle. When does filial devotion end?
XIV. “The Final Nail” - When a man dedicates his life to wreaking vengeance, what happens when that vengeance is complete?
XV. “The Galvanized Yankees of Company D” - Excerpt from the novel of the same name. A heroic band of cavalry officers save a fort. Another of my favorites was very enlightening. I didn’t realize that Confederate prisoners were ever transferred to serve in the Union Army.

CHEROKEE WINTER captured my interest immediately. I have my favorites, as I’ve noted above, but I enjoyed each of the fifteen stories. Troy Smith is a gifted writer who weaves his spell over the reader. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves history, or who just loves a well-written story.

Buy Amazon link for CHEROKEE WINTER is 

This is an impartial review in exchange for the gift of the book.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 27, 2012


Troy Duane Smith, Western Author

Please welcome award-winning western writer, Troy D. Smith, to the blog today. Troy says, "I don't write about things that happen to people- I write about people that things happen to." His short story “Bigfoot Wallace” was nominated for the 1997 Spur Award. In 2001 his novel BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND won the Spur Award for best original paperback and was a finalist in the first novel category. BLACKWELL’S RUN was a Peacemaker Award finalist. “Sin of Eli” was a 2011 Peacemaker Award finalist. Now let’s see what Troy has to say.

CC:Troy, please tell readers about yourself. Where you grew up, were you from a large family, etc.

TDS: I was born in 1968 and raised in Sparta, TN. My family, on both sides, has been in the Upper Cumberland area of Appalachian Tennessee for over two hundred years. The Upper Cumberland has been home to Lester Flatt, Sgt. Alvin York, infamous Civil War guerrilla Champ Ferguson, and Louis L’Amour’s fictional Sackett clan, to name only a few.

My parents divorced when I was very young; they each got remarried, and I have “half-siblings” (although I don’t like that term, they’re not “half-people”) that are several years younger than me. So in essence I was an only child for half my youth, and a big brother the rest of the time.

Although my family has a long history in this region, it is a history of hard times and poverty. I was the first male in the history of my family, on either side, to graduate high school. After graduation I devoted several years to ministerial and mission work, spending two years working with Haitian immigrants in South Florida and New York City (I speak French and some Haitian Creole.) I didn’t actually start college till I was 32 and had a 9-year-old daughter; last summer I defended my dissertation, and am wrapping up my first year as a college professor.

CC: My mother’s family are from Sparta and Spencer, so I’ll bet we have common kin. CHEROKEE WINTER has several stories of military men who have difficulty fitting back into civilian life. Were you in the armed services?

TDS: I was not; I went straight into religious work. Many of my family members were, though, including my dad and all three of his brothers.

I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of those who do serve, and although I can never completely understand their experience I try to come as close as I can. I often point out to young people that volunteering to serve in the military does not just mean risking your life and limb; you risk losing parts of your soul, and of enduring, witnessing, and even participating in things –for the greater good of your country –that may haunt you for the rest of your life even if you come back physically whole. And we as a society need to appreciate that.

CC: We most certainly do! When did you become interested in history?

TDS: I spent my first several years living with my mom and her sister (and my older cousin.) It was like I had two moms, almost, and when they both got remarried we still lived next door to each other. Anyhow, my Aunt Essie married a man who had recently moved to our little Southern town; a Czech Jew named Edgar, who had spent his own childhood as the son of a city official in Prague. Edgar and two of his brothers made a dramatic escape from the Nazis in 1938 and came to America (many of their relatives died in the Holocaust.) Edgar became a successful businessman, and was a huge influence on me as a child. He spoke five languages, read the classics, collected artifacts from Israel, and loved history. I spent countless hours in his library reading his history books. He always said I would grow up to be a professor. He died when I was nine; he inspired me to dream bigger things for myself than most people in my position would think possible. His collection of World War II history books, which I loved so much as a boy, are on a shelf in my office at the university.

CC: I’ve loved history as long as I can remember. Professors must publish in their field to survive, but when did you begin writing fiction?

TDS: Well, I’m new to the professoring business, but I’ve been writing for awhile. I was always writing stories, or drawing my own comics, as a kid, but never dreamed of being a writer (I did dream of being a comic book artist though!)

When I was about 20 I had a job buffing floors at a K-Mart… they would lock me in for 12 hours at night, but it only took half that time to do the job. One night I ran out of things to read, and started making up my own stories, mostly just to entertain myself. By the time I had written two novels it occurred to me I could do this for real. I threw myself into a training regimen; got a subscription to Writer’s Digest, and rounded up every book about writing I could find, and studied them intently. And I wrote, constantly. I sold my first short story to Louis L’Amour Western Magazine in 1995, when I was 27, and kept making sales from there. In ’97 I sold my first history article, to Wild West, and had quite a few of those published over the next few years as well.

CC: To me it seems CHEROKEE WINTER is a collection of powerful short stories with a common theme of personal redemption. What did you intend as the theme of these stories?

TDS: I didn’t actually plan it out… all these stories were previously published, most of them in the late 90s and early 2000’s, so each one was originally taken as a work solely in and of itself. But in retrospect, looking at them all in one volume, it does seem that there are common themes that seem to bind my work together. I suppose they are really things I have been trying to work out within myself all my life. Redemption is definitely one of them; another is grappling with who you really are.

CC: As a professor, what do you stress most to your students?

TDS: I stress that, no matter what their major, American History is going to be one of the most important classes they take in college. It is not an endless litany of names and dates; it is not an endless list of bad and embarrassing things that have happened in our country; nor is it, or should it be, an attempt to whitewash the bad things which did happen. It is a story; the story of human beings forming a country based on noble ideals, and their imperfect attempts to act on those ideals over time, and of how positive changes were gradually made as a result of regular citizens getting involved and working for those improvements –which is an ongoing process. No matter where you fit on the political spectrum (I tell them), at some point something in this country is going to make you mad and you’re going to want to change it. The very first step is understanding it, how things work and how they got that way. And that is important no matter what job you wind up doing, because your first job is citizen.

I also like to say I don’t teach history, I preach it.

CC: Good for you. I had an exceptional history professor at Texas Tech who did the same thing. My husband also took his class, and we both hold him in very high esteem. What do you hope readers take away from your writing?

TDS: I love to tell a good story, so I definitely don’t want to bore people –nor do I want to beat them over the head with a message. But I do want my words to make them think, and make them feel.

CC: Do you have advice for novice writers?

TDS: Write. Writing is a craft, and you have to learn it; no one comes to it with their voice fully formed. So practice, practice, practice, and also read, read, read. And don’t give up –be persistent.

CC: Good advice. So many people are easily discouraged. Give us some insight into why you chose Paladin as your Facebook ID.

TDS: There are several layers of meaning to that one!

I first adopted Paladin as a nickname back in ’97 or so, when I started chatting on the old Yahoo Books & Literature site. A paladin, according to the dictionary, is: “any knightly or heroic champion; any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.” A more accurate definition, in medieval lore, is “a knight with no master- literally a ‘free lance’ who is seeking a noble cause to lend his sword to.”

And I like that. All my life I have been lending my sword (or my pen, really) to causes I thought were noble, and will continue to do so. And I am also a freelance, in a different (more modern) way.

Then, of course, there is Paladin from "Have Gun Will Travel." I always thought that was a great character. He was tough as nails –but he spoke several languages, quoted the classics, enjoyed the finer things in life as well as the simple ones, and was willing to put it all on the line for justice and protecting the innocent. He was a Renaissance Gunslinger, a Sagebrush James Bond, and he was just plain cool. And he chose the name Paladin, because he was a paladin. A white knight.

In one episode –and this has stuck with me since I was a kid –someone asked him why he used a chess knight as his symbol. Because, he explained, of all the pieces on the board –only the knight could move over any obstacle, and only the knight could change directions in mid-move.

I have one tattoo. On my right arm. A white chess knight.

CC: I remember the “Have Gun, Will Travel” series, which I loved. Tell readers where they can find CHEROKEE WINTER as well as your blog and other links.

TDS: Amazon (kindle)-




CC: Thanks, Troy, for sharing with us today.

TDS: And thank you, very much, for the opportunity!

Readers, please return on Monday for a review of Troy's CHEROKEE WINTER, a collection of short stories that will stay with you long after you've finished reading the book.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I am having such a terrific week and want to share it with you!

On Saturday, Jean Headen, a friend from Rockwall, Texas with whom I had lost touch until about two months ago, came for a visit and brought her cousin Anita. Not only that, Jean brought me an afghan she had crocheted in burgundy and white. She knew that I used a lot of burgundy in my Southwestern-style family room, and thought I could snuggle under the afghan this winter. It’s so pretty, I'n not going to simply put it away until next winter, but will leave it on the sofa’s back to show it off. Some people are so talented. Isn’t it nice of her to share her talent? Okay, I know that, technically, that Saturday was part of last week, but I'm counting it with my great week.

On Sunday, my friend and critique partner, Ashley Kath-Bilsky, invited our other critique partner, Geri Foster, and me to accompany her to the Jane Austen Society Tea at the French Room of the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas. Ashley writes Regency novels primarily (although she has written a wonderful western time travel). I love Dallas and have always wanted to venture into the French Room. It was as smaller than I’d imagined, but even prettier.

French Room ceiling, Adolphus Hotel, Dallas, Texas

The tea was wonderful, but not as pretty as the one Ashley set up for the Yellow Rose RWA members in March. Not everyone has Ashley's talent, and I shouldn't judge. The Adolphus servers did an excellent job. We dined on finger sandwiches, a scone, and a plate of tiny elegant deserts. Ashley, Geri and I chose Wild Blackberry tea. If you are up on teas, you know that berry tea is a tisane, but this had black tea mixed with it, so I can call it a tea.

Some of the Jane Austen Society members came in period dress. We were fortunate enough to sit at the first table and easily heard the presentation on the history of tea and how each type benefits us. I learned a lot, and one thing is I’m going to buy some Oolong Tea.

This was one of the most relaxing, lovely afternoons I’ve ever spent. What a treat, and I do mean treat, because Ashley bought the tickets and drove her car. All Geri and I had to do was relax and enjoy ourselves, and we did!

Baronda Bradley giving her presentation on teas
to the Jane Austen Society of North Texas

I was still savoring that experience on when Monday, Nelda Liles, a friend from Plano, Texas I haven’t heard from in ages, emailed me that she had read my blog (Yay!) on bluebonnets and told me how to plant them. In addition, she gave me some terrific bluebonnet photos and said I can use one for the cover of the third Men of Stone Mountain trilogy, BLUEBONNET BRIDE. Here’re a couple of her photos below, many of which she took along Ennis' (Texas) annual Bluebonnet Trail. Isn’t she a talented photographer? In addition, Nelda has a home staging business, and a home she staged was chosen to be shown on HGTV’s “My First Place.” Isn’t that a terrific coup? She has a unbelievable flair with home decor.

 Bluebonnet photos by Nelda Liles

Tuesday I had lunch with friends after our church women’s meeting. I was even good and had a salad, although that chicken-fried steak really called my name. I'm finally losing some weight, and don't want to blow my diet in one meal. Meeting with friends is very good for us and raises our endorphins to elevate our mood as well as antidepressants. That's important for writers who work alone most of the time.

I hope each of you is having as great a week as I am!

Yes, you're right. I MUST concentrate on finishing my current work-in-progress, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, which is Zach's story. Going there now...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 23, 2012


You have been so kind to buy my books, that now I have a surprise for you. 

Announcing my western historical romance-mystery, BRAZOS BRIDE, is FREE today at Amazon Kindle! Yes, that’s right. Zero. Zip. Nada. Gratis. Just for you because you guys are special. Very special. Where would we writers be without readers to pour over our words? Banging our heads against our keyboards, that’s where. 

The FREE link for BRAZOS BRIDE at Amazon Kindle is:

While I’m pounding away on the keyboard, working on the second book in the trilogy, you can be reading BRAZOS BRIDE: Men of Stone Mountain, Book One. 

The trilogy is about the three Stone brothers: Micah in BRAZOS BRIDE, book one; Zach in HIGH STAKES BRIDE, book two; Joel in BLUEBONNET BRIDE, book three. There is another link, as I’ve mentioned previously - poison is used in each book. Book one and book two each deal with a different natural poison found in native a Texas plant. The third poison is one that was common in home and garden use in the nineteenth century.  And I've chosen heroines who are perfect matches for the heroes. At least, I think they are. Book one's heroine is Hope Montoya, a regal Hispanic heiress. Book two features Mary Alice Price, a klutzy, adorable blonde. (Yes, she's my favorite.) Book three has another regal heroine, this one a redhead named Verity Dumas. I almost chose the last name of Robichaux, but think how often I'd have to type that. Aiyiyi! Dumas is so much faster.  

If you enjoy the book, please leave a favorable review on Amazon to let others know. If you don’t enjoy the book, let me know your reasons at  While it’s not possible to please all readers, I do try to write credibly about the Old West and whatever I've chosen. I spend hours and hours on research, on listening to my critique partners, and on revising and editing. Here’s another favor: when you get to the Amazon site to choose my book, please click on LIKE and then scroll down and click on the tags. This sounds silly, but it makes a difference in sales. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Every place in the world has lovely flowers native to that area. Okay, not Antarctica, but most places on the globe. In Texas, residents look forward to our lovely lupines called bluebonnets. Not only are they the state flower, when they show up, spring is here.

Years ago, there were not the numbers of bluebonnets seen today. Don’t go all political on me because this is a non-partisan blog! Lady Bird Johnson is largely responsible for beautifying Texas, and it has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. She made it her mission to improve the landscape, and she did. She crusaded for wildflowers along the roadsides. Through her efforts (nagging) at former Governor John Connally, packets of wildflower seed were given to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and anyone who wrote to Austin, but I don’t remember what office. Sorry.

Lady Bird Johnson and her wildflowers
Next, she insisted that wildflowers were good at erosion prevention along the roadside and suggested (strongly) that mowers skip the wildflowers until after they had dispersed their seeds. She even requested that mowers scatter flower seeds the last time they mowed in the fall. As a result, Texas highways are much prettier now. Even though, as far as I know, the packets of seed are no longer free for the asking, she started people thinking and caring...and planting

If you see wildflowers along the Interstates, thank Lady Bird Johnson. She legislated (what else can you call it) to get wildflowers sewn along all the Interstate highways in the contiguous United States and enlisted Texas Senator Loyd Bentsen’s help. The wildflowers don’t need to be mown, yet prevent soil erosion. This saves taxpayer dollars while providing a beautiful view. I know that funding cuts the past few decades have eliminated many of the seed sowing programs, but you simply have to give Lady Bird a lot of credit for her foresight and determination.

Pasture between Weatherford and Mineral Well, TX.
I aimed carefully to exclude the dead coyote
carcass hanging on the fence nearby.
Several cities, such as Richardson, in the North Central Texas area, have their own wildflower program on their roadways. I love driving along and seeing batchelor buttons, carnations, and other flowers beside the roadway. Isn't that a great idea?

My family and I visited Lady Bird's wildflower test area near Austin. It was lovely. When docents explained the process, growing wildflowers seemed so easy. For me, not so much. I have tried many methods to plant bluebonnets and paintbrush and have given up - almost. On our acreage, we have a few native paintbrush, winecups, Indian blanket, and many other varieties, but NO BLUEBONNETS! It’s as if the bluebonnets mock me. I hear them sending me raspberries from afar. However, less than half a mile away bluebonnets abound.

Will I give up? No. I am determined to grow those lovely flowers! Did you know they smell very sweet, similar to orange blossoms? If you know a good way to cultivate bluebonnets in places where you can't water, please tell me.

What is your favorite wildflower?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Several fellow authors have invited me to participate in a meme where we go to page 77 of our latest work, go to line 7, and then quote the next 7 lines. I couldn’t leave you hanging, so I am including a bit more than the requested 7 lines.

My latest release is BRAZOS BRIDE, a western historical romance/mystery set in 1870 Texas. The scene is when Hope Montoya (the heroine) learns that her only cousin, Eduardo Montoya, has been arrested. One of her Uncle Jorge’s vacqueros has ridden to ask for assistance. Micah Stone is the hero, involved in a paper marriage with Hope to protect her. Joel and Zach are Micah's brothers and Chip Wooster is the ranch foreman.

“What’s wrong?” Micah exchanged a wary look with Joel.

“Señor Eduardo, he has been arrested for murder. He no is guilty, of this I am sure.”

Joel held up his hand. “Wait, who’s Eduardo supposed to have murdered.”

Dread spread through Micah. He figured he already knew the answer to Joel’s question.

“A woman, she worked in the saloon. The Red Horse, but that no is where Señor Eduardo goes to drink and play cards.”

Wooster stepped forward. “Miss Hope will want to go see him. Shall I see the carriage is ready?”

“I’ll try to talk her out of it because she’s still so weak.” Micah turned back to the vaquero. “You’d better come up to the house and tell my wife everything you know.” He looked back. “Wooster, maybe you’d better come to the house with us.”

Hope was too restless to read, and semi-reclined on the chaise while Zach read from his usual chair. For an intelligent man, he certainly read slowly. He’d hardly covered a fourth of Verne’s book.

She jumped when the door opened and Micah, Joel, Chip Wooster, and one of Tio Jorge’s vaqueros hurried in. She rose to her feet. “Why is Rico here? What on earth has happened?”

Micah went to her and urged her back to the chaise. “Sit down and this man will tell us everything. But first, my brothers and I must confess a plot in which we’re involved.”

Hope gazed from one man to the next and registered a serious situation. Her entire body trembled. She feared she’d lose her breakfast. Thank heavens Micah had made her sit on the chaise. “H-have you caught the killer?”

The vaquero waved both hands. In one he held his large-brimmed sombrero and flapped Zach in the face with it. “No, no, Señora Hope.”

Joel’s deep voice filled the room. “Everyone sit down.” He gazed at the frenzied rider and held his hand palm out. “Please, wait until we ask for your story. Micah, your turn to explain to your wife.”

“Eduardo agreed to help us learn all we could about the land across the Brazos River, as well as some hardas...rough looking men who’ve been hanging around the Red Horse Saloon. He learned the land is now owned by Diego Gonzales.”

Hope knew her eyes widened and dread sent her stomach churning. “No, not Diego!” Dear heaven, she’d hoped Diego would never return.

“Yes. A woman named Daisy at the saloon agreed to help Eduardo learn which direction the three men rode when they left the saloon. He arranged to meet her today to find out, then come here to fill us in.”

“Ahora mi, por favor?” the vaquero asked.

Joel nodded. “You can tell your story now. Tell us everything you know.”

“This morning, it was very early. The sheriff, he come to the hacienda. He say Señor Eduardo, he killed this woman, the one called Daisy. They take him away in handcuffs. Señor Montoya, his papa, go with him. Señora tell me, ride here, she says. Ask for help with the sheriff.”

Hope asked, “Rico, has my uncle gone to town yet?”

The vaquero she’d called Rico, nodded. “Sí. He go with his son and the sheriff and men. This is bad situation, verdad?”

“True, Rico, very bad.” Hope looked at the others in the room. “Perhaps you do not especially like him, but Eduardo would not harm a woman. I must go to town and see if I can help him.”

“We aim to go right away, Hope.” Micah took her hand. “You’re wrong, Hope. We’re coming to like him now we know he’s not out to hurt you. And I know he’s like a brother, but you’re still very frail. Please, wait here and we will act for you.”

Hope sighed. She longed to lie back on the chaise and sleep, but Eduardo needed help. Even though her father had died, her name and wealth still carried weight.

“I must go, Micah. Surely you understand. If it were Joel or Zach, you would not stay here either.”

Her husband smiled at her. “We figured that’s what you’d say, but I thought it was worth a try.”

Wooster nodded. “I’ll get the buggy ready. You want me to come, too.”

Micah faced the foreman. “Please. People know you. If it were safe to go off and leave the place deserted, I’d also round up all the hands to go with us like an army and make a big show of support for Eduardo. We can’t do that, but having you along will help our cause.”

Hope asked, “Rico, where is my aunt?”

“She cry much, but she stay at the hacienda.”

Hope placed her hand on Rico’s arm. “Please, go into the kitchen and get something to eat and drink. Then ride home and tell my aunt we are going to help Eduardo.” She hoped she spoke the truth. “Gentlemen, this will require looking my most impressive. If you excuse me, I will change clothes and hurry back.” She pulled the bell pull to summon Maria as she left.

Maria met her in the hallway. “Is something wrong?”

“Very wrong. Eduardo has been arrested. I must dress carefully to look as imposing as possible. My husband, his brothers, and Mr. Wooster are waiting for me, so I must hurry.”

“Your navy suit?” Maria asked as they climbed the stairs.

“Yes, with all the matching accessories. You had better lay out my duster to protect the navy serge.”

“Aii. You will smother, Señora Hope. The sun, today it has much heat.”

“It cannot be helped but I will take my best parasol.” Hope slid out of the cheerful yellow dress dotted with white flowers. She’d always viewed the navy suit her mother had chosen as matronly and too old for her. Now, she needed the mood it provided to confront Eduardo’s accusers.

When Hope had dressed, Maria formed her hair into a sleek braid and coiled it at her neck. Hope chose the elaborate watch brooch she’d inherited from Mama. She inserted dangling pearl earrings and paused to check her reflection.

After Maria settled the hat on Hope’s head and adjusted the veil, Hope said, “There, that should do,” to herself more than to Maria.

“Ah, Señora, your mama would be so proud to see you today. Married to a handsome man and looking so much a wife and lady.”

Is that how I appear?

No time to wonder if it were true. She grabbed her gloves, purse, and parasol. She slid her hands into her gloves as she started down the stairs.

Micah and his brothers waited for her. She thought she’d hurried, but all three men had changed into suits. She almost stumbled on the stairs when she saw Micah appearing so handsome. Truthfully, all three did, but Micah most of all.

“Wooster’s joining us at the buggy.” Micah reached for her and assisted her down the last three steps.

She slid her hand onto his arm and they walked to the front courtyard where Wooster waited with the buggy and three saddled horses.

The buy link for BRAZOS BRIDE at Amazon Kindle is:

If my sweet father were still alive, April 18th would be his birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Daddy! I'm sure all days are happy there.

The winner of my free e-book from the Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop is Lauren M. You'll have my email today, Lauren to determine your book choice.

And thanks to each of you for stopping by!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Did you read my weekend post about Autism Awareness? If not and you know someone with autism, please scroll down below today's post (AFTER you read this one, of course) and read the weekend's post then watch the video. And please remember to leave a comment if you wish to be included in the drawing for one of my books, winner's choice. Remember to leave your email with your comment. A follow counts as an extra entry. Yada, yada, blah, know all that, right? My winner will be announced here on Wednesday, April 18th.


My new trilogy, Men of Stone Mountain, is about the three Stone brothers: Micah, Zach, and Joel. Each is strong, handsome, and has high principles. Aren’t brothers enough of a link for a trilogy?

Yes, but there’s another link to these three books. Each involves poison in some way. No, I’m not bloodthirsty and I don’t intend to use any of my knowledge to wipe out real people. In this trilogy, however, I do kill a few people. Ah, the joys of being a writer. (Laughing fiendishly.)

Studying herbal medicine is sort of a mini-hobby. I’ve taken the herbal class Beth Trissel teaches, as well as perusing my own stash of books on folk medicine and Writer's Digest's DEADLY DOSES. Pioneers relied heavily on their ability to recognize healing plants as well as those that discouraged pests and vermin. No Walgreens or WalMart around in those days. Early settlers also learned that what can heal, if administered improperly, can harm. Don’t you suspect a lot of so-called natural deaths were helped along before modern forensics discouraged using potions and tinctures to kill? Maybe I’m suspicious by nature, but I suspect a lot of troublesome people died prematurely, helped along by a loving family member.

BRAZOS BRIDE is a western historical romance, but it is also a mystery.

Hope Montoya
Hope Montoya, the heroine, is a smart woman and figures out that someone is poisoning her. Who and why are more difficult problems. Until she knows, she can trust no one who has access to her food or medicine. Hope is a very wealthy woman who owns huge cattle ranch on the Brazos River and lives there in a large hacienda.

California version of a hacienda. Substitute cactus for the palm trees
and include an adobe wall around a large
courtyard and fountain for Hope's home.
She vows to fight for her life, but she’s so weakened by the poison that she can’t fight alone. Enter our hero, Micah Stone to the rescue. Do you hear the “1812 Overture” playing as the hero rides up? You know, I’ve heard a highbrow is someone who can hear that music without thinking of the Lone Ranger. But I digress. 

Micah Stone, Rancher

Micah also has enemies in their area. He fought for the Union Army and the Civil War has left many North Texas citizens bitter. Micah’s own brothers fought for the Confederacy. Despite their political views, the Stone brothers are closely knit. When Micah was falsely accused of killing Hope’s father, Zach and Joel came to Micah’s aid.

The story opens two months after the trial in which Micah was acquitted. A severe drought has Micah desperate for water. His own water sources have dried up and his cattle are dying of thirst. Micah and his brothers and ranch hands haul water daily from Zach’s spread further west.

Here’s a review of BRAZOS BRIDE:

Reviewed by: Barb

I found this book to be very entertaining. I read it in one afternoon because I had to know who was trying to murder Hope, the heroine. Her interaction with Micah and their relationship was the heart of the story. I really got into the story and the characters. The mystery of just who of the many characters were the evil ones kept me reading and turning pages (so to speak) on my Kindle. I was unable to stop reading this book until I finished it. That really says something for the author's plot and cast of characters. I enjoy these types of books, but this one was exceptional. I will be patiently waiting for the stories of Micah's brothers, Zach and Joel. I see the potential for some very good stories following these brothers' lives. Good job in making me want more.
Mar 28, 2012
Top Pick 4.5 stars

Isn’t that a lovely review? I love when a reader/reviewer "gets" my books. And the book is ONLY 99 CENTS. What a great deal!

The BRAZOS BRIDE villain is vicious and almost non-stop. After an attempt on their life their wedding night, here’s an excerpt of another strike the next day when they stop by Micah’s ranch on the way to Hope’s hacienda. Bert and Slim are Micah’s ranch hands. I’ve already mentioned that Zach and Joel are his brothers:

Hope savored a bit of the stew, then bit into a fresh biscuit covered with syrup. Closing her eyes in bliss, she chewed slowly. “Oh my, this is wonderful. Never have I tasted better stew. And these biscuits are light enough to float away.”

Bert blushed and lowered his head. “Thank you, Miz Stone.”

Micah’s dimpled smile demonstrated his appreciation for her comment. Why should that please her so?

Hope learned more about their struggle for water, how they'd hauled barrels of it from some spring a good ways off on Zach's land, apparently their only remaining dependable source of water.

She remembered her father’s angry reprimand and the blow he’d delivered when she’d suggested he install windmills on their land. Her eye was swollen and purple for days, but he told the servants she’d fallen against the door. They knew, of course, and wouldn’t look at her until the bruises faded. She pushed the sad memory aside and returned to the present. Did she dare make a suggestion to Micah?

She gathered her courage. “Have you thought about a couple of the Mitchell Self-Governing Patent Windmills? I saw an ad for them and plan to install them in several spots on my land.”

Excitement gleamed in Micah’s eyes. “Hey, I saw an ad also, and I’d love to have them. Until now, I haven’t had the cash.”

He’d planned the same thing. And he didn’t appear to resent her suggestion. She wanted to shout with glee. He actually respected her opinion, and didn’t say a woman had no business thinking such thoughts. “Oh, well, maybe we can get a discount on the freight and cost if we order together.”

Zach nodded. “Good idea, Hope. I wouldn’t mind a couple of them myself, soon as we get your and Micah’s problems settled.”

They talked about where the windmills would be placed and guessed how long it would take them to arrive. All through their discussion, Hope was treated as if her ideas were equal to those of the men. Their response surprised and soothed her. Maybe this arrangement would work for everyone.

Micah laid his spoon aside while Bert served up the pie. "I need to talk about something less pleasant. Someone tried to kill us last night." For a minute everyone stopped talking and stared at Micah. The only sound was a horse’s nervous whinny.

Bert cocked his head toward the window and paused as if listening to the horse, but it quieted so he resumed serving. Everyone forked up the pie while Micah explained about the ordeal.

"Sheriff know?" Joel asked between bites.

Micah nodded. "Surprised me. Acted halfway decent about it. Said he'd keep investigating, but don't suppose anything will come of it. Without a witness, it could be anyone."

"So what's your plan, Cap’n?" Slim asked.

Micah swallowed and said, "I'm leaving you and Bert in charge here. For months now someone’s been poisoning my wife. You know her father was murdered, and now someone's tried to kill us. We have to be on guard all the time. You two are charged with taking care of this place while the rest of us take care of my wife." He dug into the last of his pie.

Slim looked indignant. "Poisoning a purty lady like Miz Stone? Low down sidewinders!"

"You’re right about that.” Micah pushed his plate aside. “Tomorrow you can start the cattle toward the river. One of us will stay at the Montoya ranch with Hope so she's always protected, but the other two will be over to help."

Always protected. She repeated the words in her head while she nibbled at her pie. The words reassured her and she looked at each of the men at the table. She might not have her home to herself, but safety in numbers popped into her mind. She no longer faced danger alone. Things would be all right now.

Bert asked, "Reckon I ought to go cook for you? I could make sure no one messed with Miz Stone's vittles."

Zach smiled apologetically at Hope as if he'd known she should have been included in the decision. "Our two aunts will arrive soon to help our new sister, maybe today if they caught the stage."

Micah said, "You're badly needed here, Bert, to look after this place."

Bert actually smiled. "Me and Slim can do it, cain't we?"

Slim nodded and started to say something, but another horse whinnied and this one sounded alarmed. Slim frowned and sniffed the air. "You smell smoke?"

Micah sniffed at the same time. "Something burning, Bert?"

"Nope, I done put the fire out on account of how dry it is. Covered it good with dirt." He rose and ambled to the window.

"Lord A’mighty, the barn's afire!"

In case you want to rush right over and buy BRAZOS BRIDE at Amazon Kindle (and I truly hope you will), the buy link is:

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Several of my friends have children or grandchildren who are autistic. One member of my extended family is severely autistic. Since this blog is about books, I want to discuss books helpful in understanding autism. List the subject on Amazon, and you’ll bring up numerous books. There's even a movie I'll mention later.

According to my cousin, the most helpful book she’s read to help her unlock her brother’s severe autism is by Temple Grandin, who is herself autistic. Nowa  high-funtioning autistic, Dr. Grandin has learned to speak in public and actually look at the audience--an amazing accomplishment! My cousin said this book was most helpful because it discusses HOW IT FEELS TO BE autistic and how the autistic individual sees and responds to the world as opposed to so-called normal people. (My elderly Opal friend tells me the only normal is a setting on the clothes dryer.) My cousin expressed that the book was a key to helping her brother who, in addition to being severely autistic, has also been blind from birth. There are numerous titles about and by Dr. Grandin. The following and other books on and by Dr. Grandin may be found at

THINKING IN PICTURES: AND OTHER REPORTS FROM MY LIFE WITH AUTISM, by Temple Grandin, PhD was published 1996. This is her first book about autism, although she has published many papers on autism and also books and papers relating tolivestock handling in the beef industry.

The book above was expanded and updated in THINKING IN PICTURES: MY LIFE WITH AUTISM, by Temple Grandin was published in 2010.

This month, a biography of Ms Grandin was released, TEMPLE GRANDIN: HOW THE GIRL WHO LOVED COWS EMBRACED AUTISM AND CHANGED THE WORLD is by Sy Montgomery.

For you visual learners (a joke, people, lighten up), the 2010 movie "Temple Grandin" starred Clare Dane as Temple and was filmed in Austin, Texas. It received very good reviews.

If you, someone in your family, or a friend has a child with autism, please help yourself understand how the autistic view life by reading one of these books. Here’s a video from YouTube of Temple Grandin, PhD, speaking at the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Mind Institute in 2007. Response was so great, the lecture series had to be moved to the University of California auditorium.

Yes, this is a giveaway hop. Autism is such an important subject, that I saved the giveaway until last, so check the list of participants at To qualify for my giveaway, simply leave a comment. If you're a follower, that counts as a second entry, so please mention in your comment that you're a follower. Be certain to leave your email in your comment. My giveaway is winner's choice of a download of one of my books.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This week bloggers have banded together to heighten awareness of a growing disability sweeping the U. S. - Autism. Perhaps one of the reasons Austism is increasing is due to specialists' ability to diagnose and treat this puzzling condition. Several friends and relatives daily seek to reach and aid children and adults who are locked inside autism. I think of them as a person bound by an invisible wall which they battle daily but cannot completely break through. To call attention to autism, Kathy has set up an Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop. You can find a list of participating websites at or click the badge at the top of my sidebar to be taken to her site. My giveaway is one of my ebooks, winner's choice, and the offer is open to international readers. Please leave your email with your comment. As always, a follow counts as a second entry.

Now on to today's fabulous guest. Please welcome Karen Mueller Bryson:

Karen Mueller Bryson - Author, Professor, Publisher

CC: Readers love to get to know authors. Please tell us about growing up

KMB: I grew up in rural northern New Jersey with one brother, who is 3 ½ years younger. Our family would be considered middle class but our parents spoiled us. They expected us to do well in school and my brother and I both excelled academically. My brother was extremely outgoing and funny and I was a quiet bookworm. I didn’t like to play outside or get dirty when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time reading and writing. Having high academic expectations paid off. My brother is now a scientist and I am a university professor and writer.

I am married and live in Arizona with my husband and our two wonderful bloodhounds.

CC: I also live in the Southwest. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

KMB: My two favorite authors are Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). Both writers created iconic characters that are still beloved over a hundred years later. My first two novels, HEY DOROTHY YOU'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE and WHERE IS WONDERLAND ANYWAY, were inspired by the works of these two literary legends.

CC: Both books have contributed many phrases to the common vocabulary. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

KMB: Writing fiction is what I do to relax when I’m not at my day job as a university professor. Some of my other hobbies include working out, watching movies, reading, traveling and playing instruments like the keyboard and dulcimer.

CC: Writing is balm to me, unless I'm having trouble with a scene. I’m impressed you’re so diverse. Describe yourself in three or four words.

KMB: The first word I always use to describe myself is tenacious. What I lack in talent, I always make up for in pure determination to succeed.

The second word I would use to describe myself is passionate. I am extremely passionate about writing!

The third word I would use to describe myself is willing. I am always willing to take risks to achieve my goals and I am always willing to help other travelers on the journey called life.

CC: Great answers. Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?

KMB: I have three “guilty pleasures” that keep me sane. First, I have a subscription to People magazine and I read it every week. As a storyteller, I love reading stories about people’s lives!

Second, I love to watch “sappy” Lifetime movies and RomComs (aka ‘chick-flicks’). As writer, who enjoys entertaining people, these are my sources of entertainment.

Third, I love to cuddle with my bloodhounds. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, I cuddle a bloodhound, and the world seems okay again.

CC: Isn’t it nice to have the unconditional love dogs provide? How long have you been writing?

KMB: I learned to read when I was four years old and, very soon after, my mom helped me write my first book. I have been writing ever since!

CC: I also learned to read before school. Nice head start for becoming a writer, right? Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

KMB: I prefer to write on my laptop in my library in complete silence. I am not able to write with music on; I find it too distracting.

CC: I write to classical. Anything with lyrics distracts me. 0Are you a plotter or a panzer?

KMB: I would have to go with panzer. I’m a Leo (a fire sign). People, who are fire signs, generally get a “spark” of an idea and take off running with it! Once the fire has ignited, there’s no turning back; it’s usually just “full steam ahead.”

CC: Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

KMB: It depends upon the project. When I wrote my middle grades time travel adventure, THE INCREDIBLY AWESOME ADVENTURES OF PUGGIE LIDDELL, I had to do a lot of research because the kids travel back in time to the 1890s. Even though it was a work of fiction, I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible. The book took about a year to complete because I did so much research (and had so much fun immersing myself in the time period).

When I write adult contemporary fiction, I usually do my research along the way, as needed.

CC:Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

KMB: I try to write every day but I work full-time, so there are days I don’t get as much writing done as I would like. I write a lot on the weekends and in the morning before I go to work. I set fairly rigid writing goals and generally stick to them.

CC: What is your day job?

KMB: When I’m not writing, I work as an Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Services at a private, liberal arts university.

CC: Wonderful background for building realistic characters. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

KMB: I’m not sure what would surprise people! People find it interesting that I am a vegetarian and have been for 27 years. I also think it’s unique that I have been to 47 of the 50 United States and four of the seven continents on Earth!

CC: My daughter has been a vegetarian for most of her life. What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

KMB: When I was writing TWYLA’S LAST TRIP, I did a lot of research on Rt. 66, which is an historic highway that runs from Illinois to California. There are many unusual and odd attractions along Rt. 66 but one of the most unique, in my opinion, is "Stubby Stonehenge," which is The Missouri S & T’s reproduction of the prehistoric wonder and half the size of its original English counterpart. The replica is made of 160 tons of granite and was dedicated in 1984 during the summer solstice.

CC: One of the things I have one my bucket list is to travel down Route 66. I love the song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66." What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

KMB: My company, Short on Time Books, provides readers with fast-paced and fun novels they can finish in one sitting. My hope is to provide entertainment to people, who don’t have much time to read, but would still like to enjoy an engaging story.

CC: I’m sure those fast-paced novels are popular. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

KMB: Never give up on your dreams and remember that “write” is a verb. You have to do the writing to be a writer!

CC: Pefect advice. One of your latest releases involves traveling on the famous Route 66. Have you ever driven this highway?

KMB: I have never driven along Rt. 66 but I would love to someday. As I mention in the book’s dedication, I came up with the idea for the story after one of my best friends died of cancer at a young age. Her husband and daughter took my friend’s ashes on a trip along Rt. 66 because it was something my friend had always wanted to do but never got the chance. Although TWYLA’S LAST TRIP is a romantic comedy, there are some serious undertones in the story because I wanted to express some feelings I had about losing my friend and the idea that people need to take time for the things in life that are important.

CC: Exactly what my husband and I decided. No point putting off your dreams until "later." Tell us about your latest releases.

Blurb: TWYLA’S LAST TRIP: Twenty eight-year old, Lucinda Starr is an uptight research psychologist, whose deadline to complete her doctoral dissertation is completely derailed by her estranged mother, Twyla Starr's sudden death. Lucinda must take her mother's ashes on a road trip on Route 66, in order to fulfill the requirements of her will and inherit her fortune. To make matters worse, Lucinda finds herself forced to travel across the country with her mother's easygoing country lawyer, T.J. Yates, who drives her crazy, and his drooling bloodhound, Dakota, who Lucinda finds revolting.

CC: Ooh, I like it already. Where can readers find TWYLA’S LAST TRIP?

Blurb: ONE LAST CLASS: Thirty-two year old, Zak Spencer, is a washed-up teen idol, who decides to rebuild his life by returning to college in Arizona. Trouble ensues when Zak falls in love with the young professor, Amy Campbell, who teaches the one class he needs to complete his degree.

CC: Sounds like fun. Where can readers find ONE LAST CLASS?

How can readers learn more about you?





Short on Time Books:

Karen, thanks so much for sharing with us today.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 09, 2012


I laughed out loud last week when Jacquie Rogers' bio began with, “My parents were poor but honest sharecroppers …” I’ve got a confession of my own. I’m a ‘burb brat.

A Writer is Born

Yep. I grew up in a cookie cutter “ranch” house—yeah, ranch my foot. A suburb of a huge metropolitan city. Streets in a gridlock pattern, easy for Halloween candy collecting. Driveways leading to the garages in back. Trees in front of every “castle” – except ours. We lived smack dab in the middle of the middle block and had a fire hydrant. Lawns – and the soft ‘whirrs’ of the push mowers early every Saturday morning. Our next door neighbor kept his a lush emerald green and so velvety soft, I would rub my bare sole over that lawn when he drove to the store. ‘Mr. Joe’ kept a sharp eye, so I couldn’t avoid getting caught otherwise.

Most of the families were Catholic. Imagine the kids running all over the place (1960s-70s). My mom was an artist, so when she wasn’t cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping or doing laundry (and yes, she would do all of that every day, with eight in our family), she painted oils and then watercolor. I tried my hand at sketching, but preferred to climb on top of the garage roof to read my books in spring or fall. In summer I’d find a quiet tree in the shade. My favorites were the Little House series because I loved history, and Trixie Belden because I loved mystery. I wanted to be a detective when I grew up. I also wanted to travel back in time – until I realized what an outhouse meant. And how horse manure really stinks. Oh, and horses hated me. I tried to ride one. He refused to cooperate. The second time was no better. My ten-speed bike was faster.

Paying Dues

I have to admit reading those early books (over and over again) probably helped build the foundation for my writing career now. Oh, and reading Tolkien. Along with LeGuin and hordes of other authors during my eclectic phase where I read across genres. I could go on and on about college, marriage, joining RWA after my daughter was born, attending conferences and craft workshops, plus racking up scads of rejections. But I’ll spare you all that. Life also adds bricks to a writer’s sturdy foundation.

I learned that revision is key. I have never “dashed” something off and sent it in to anyone with a magical “acceptance” a few days later. There’s something almost criminal in that kind of expectation. Nowadays, anyone can self-publish—but a quality product will always sell more than something inferior or the latest fad. I believe hard work and paying your dues gives far more gratification than any instant pudding success. When it comes to staying power in the writing field, you gotta bite the bullet. Write, write, write, finish a first draft, plot over, develop deeper characters and themes, revise, revise, and revise, tweak, polish, submit, get over rejection, re-polish or re-tweak, re-submit. Consider the professional’s advice, but listen to your gut too. Build a hard shell, because no matter how many books you publish, poor reviews can hurt too.

The writing profession ain’t for sissies!

Western Writers of
America Spur
The Spur Award

So I had this manuscript called DOUBLE CROSSING. I’d done all the above and submitted it to contests, agents and editors. Despite multiple finalist berths, no one wanted it. Hmm. Was it due to having “no naughty bits” exposed? Sure, my cowboy cussed a little, but being a “blended” genre, with mystery, suspense, adventure, a hint of romance and inspirational, DC seemed primed to please everyone. Only it didn’t fit the marketing slots. I toyed with the idea of self-publishing while I accompanied my daughter to Vienna in the spring of 2011. There’s something about Old Word culture and getting away that would refresh anyone.

I returned home and stumbled over a new small press. Astraea’s standards fit my own—clean, no “pink parts” and solid stories. I decided to accept their offer and took out the few instances of “cussing” to suggestions of how a cowboy might swear. And I jumped on the “Author Platform” bandwagon with gusto—trawled the web for book reviewers, called in favors from published author friends for “blurbs” and investigated all the contests I could find. I didn’t expect anything, but I did hope for a finalist berth in one of them. Lo and behold, the biggest prize fell with a WHOMP on my book. Unexpected, but very much appreciated.

Why Me?

Writers everywhere are notorious for self-doubt. I did some thinking. Did the judges mix my name and book title with someone else? Or maybe no one else entered (not a chance, ha). But maybe, just maybe, my “baby” surprised the judges. DOUBLE CROSSING is unique. I’m not gonna apologize for that. I took Charles Portis’ basic premise from True Grit—a young girl’s quest for revenge—and spun it afresh with an older naïve heroine and the transcontinental railroad. Now I’m writing the sequel, DOUBLE OR NOTHING, because I don’t want to be a one-book wonder. And while I’m not expecting to win a second Spur, I’ll enter the contest again—why not? But first, I’ll revisit the stomping grounds. Write, write, write, plot some more, revise, revise, revise, tweak, polish, re-tweak, etc. until it’s better than DOUBLE CROSSING.

It’s wonderful to know that hard work does pay off in the long run.

Here's a blurb for DOUBLE CROSSING, a Historical Western Suspense:

A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.

August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. Only one other person knows about a valuable California gold mine deed — both are now missing. Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad, determined to track the killer. She soon realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey.

As things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price. Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

Here's an excerpt of DOUBLE CROSSING:
I needed something to make me forget the argument with Father. Capturing the lizard’s familiar form, I filled it in with dark cross-hatching and smudges. What a beautiful creature. My friends kept Persian cats or lapdogs, but lizards held a special fascination for me. Exotic, alluring with their patterned skin texture and independence from humans. Lucretia flicked her tongue and scuttled away, alarmed by some noise in the distance. The setting sun glowed dull red and orange past the shadowy trees, casting golden beams over the garden. The aroma of roast chicken, thyme and sage reminded me of dinner.

Rising to my feet, I groped for my mother’s necklace which held the tiny watch that Charles had given me. I must have left it upstairs on the dressing table. Tinkling water spilled from a cherub’s pitcher into the fountain. I sat down on the bench again and added ferns and shadows to my sketch.

Minutes later, a loud crack echoed in the air. The odd sound lingered. It reminded me of the revolver’s shot when I’d killed the badger. Had it come from the house? Closing my book, I hurried through the garden. Two shadowy figures slipped off the side porch and fled toward the street. The taller one wore dark clothing. I recognized the shorter man as Emil Todaro by his frog-like gait. Rushing after them, I witnessed their mad scramble into a waiting buggy. The team shot forward under a whip’s cruel lash.

Why had the lawyer returned? What did they want?

I climbed the steps to the side door and found it locked. Scurrying around to the back of the house, I tried the library’s French doors but they didn’t budge. My heart jumped in my throat. I picked up my skirts, raced around to the front door and flung it wide.

“Etta! Etta, where’s Father?”

The maid poked her head out of the dining room. “In the library.”

“I saw Mr. Todaro leaving with another man. Did you let them in?”

“No, Miss Lily. I did hear the Colonel talking to someone, though.”

“Didn’t you hear a loud bang?”

“I did, but I thought it was Cook with her pots. I was in the cellar fetching more coal.” Etta trailed me through the hall. “Is something wrong?”

“I’m not sure.” The library’s doorknob rattled beneath my fingers when I twisted it open. I peeked inside the dim room. “Are you all right, Father?”

An odd smell tickled my nose—gunpowder. I swallowed hard, my throat constricting, staring at how Father was sprawled over his desk, head down, one arm dangling over the edge. My head and ears thrummed when I saw papers littering the floor. The safe door stood ajar, the drawers yanked open every which way. I took a step, and another, toward the pipe that lay on the plush Persian carpet. His crushed spectacles lay beside it. Father’s hand cradled the small derringer he’d always kept in his desk drawer. Its pearl handle gleamed above a stack of papers, stained dark crimson.

A fly crawled over Father’s cheek. Etta clawed the air, one hand clamped over her mouth. I saw a tiny blackened bullet hole marking his temple, and wet blood trickling downward. Frozen in place, I heard a shrill scream—my own, since pain raked my throat.

Everything swirled and a dark void swallowed me whole.

Ebook: ISBN# 978-1-936852-48-2 Print: ISBN # 1466223200

BUY LINKS: Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords


Meg Mims, Author and
Spur Award Winner
For Best First Western Book
 Meg Mims is an award-winning author and artist. She loves writing blended genres – historical, western, romance, suspense, mystery. DOUBLE CROSSING is currently available from Astraea Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble in ebook and print. Meg wrote a contemporary romance, THE KEY TO LOVE, released in February of 2012, and she’s a staff writer for Lake Effect Living, a West Coast of Michigan tourist on-line magazine. Born and raised in Michigan, she lives with her husband plus a “Make My Day” white Malti-poo and a drooling black cat.

Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Thanks to Meg Mims for sharing with us today. While she's here, I'll be at Peggy Hendersons at Please stop by and comment so I won't be there all alone.

Thanks for stopping by!