Sunday, September 30, 2012


I love writing. I can spend hour after hour happily writing in my pink cave. Wait, I DO spend hour after hour writing. Occasionally, every muse needs a break to recharge. A couple of weeks ago in honor of the Annual Celebration of My 39th Birthday, Hero and I ran away together to East Texas. No, that’s not an exotic place like Paris or London or the Mediterranean. We enjoyed ourselves, though.

Road to our getaway
We went to Blue Gill Cabins between Canton and Athens, Texas. Hero loves to fish, and blue gill are his favorite target. For this stay, we were in the old feed store. Yep, a genuine historic building with corrugated tin outside.

Former feed store now cabin
When the owner found the feed store building, his uncle had sheetrocked over the inside. The owner, Devon Weatherford, removed the sheetrock to display the wide plank walls. You can’t buy wood like that now, so we think he did the right thing.

Bathroom with claw-foot tub
The floors are also wood, although not all the same size planking. Seeing them was a pleasure. Judy Weatherford, Devon’s wife, had decorated perfectly with old advertising signs and feed sacks. This is not the Ritz-Carlton, folks, but a charming rustic cabin with all the comforts like modern plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and large TV with all the channels...but no Wi-Fi.

King-sized bed surrounded by
plank walls (and a window)
The complex includes five small lakes stocked with blue gill (hence the name) plus a few catfish, crappie, and bass. There are four cabins, each with a nice dock. Devon and Judy currently have the site for sale, but can’t decide whether or not they really want to sell. I hope they don’t, or that if they do, the new owners are as hospitable. Caring for the grounds and four cabins must be a huge undertaking, but the Weatherfords do a great job. In addition to the feed store in which we stayed, there is a bunkhouse, an extended A-frame, and Rose cottage. This is a family-friendly site, plus they let us bring our dog, Webster. We only stayed two nights, but next time we’re staying longer. And next visit, we’ll try the Rose cabin.

Whether it's to Paris, France or Paris, Texas, each of us needs a change of routine to recharge and relax. Where do you go to recharge?

Winners of copies of HIGH STAKES BRIDE are MK, Sue, Michelle, Jenn, Pat, and CLivingston. I'll contact you by email and arrange to get your copies to you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 28, 2012


YeeHaw! I’m celebrating the release of HIGH STAKES BRIDE, Men of Stone Mountain, Book 2, in print and e-book. Of course I love this book, and I so hope readers will too. To show my appreciation to my readers, I’ll be giving away two copies of the e-book Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All you have to do to enter, is to leave a comment that includes your email address. For a second entry, sign up for my newsletter that will be emailed to readers next week. I only send these when I have a new release or special news, so you won’t be buried with emails from me. If you follow my blog, that counts extra, too.

                                                     ABOUT THE BOOK AND SERIES

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I developed the premise for this trilogy while visiting the historic Belding-Gibson Ranch in Palo Pinto County. This is a large ranch, but only a fraction of the original size due to divisions among family members through the generations since 1859. The original home site is inhabited by Barbara (Belding) and Charles Gibson. The occasion of their opening their ranch to visitors was the release of Barbara’s book about the ranch, PAINTED POLE. I am so happy that I was able to tour this historic property in the beautiful (to me) Palo Pinto Mountains. The Gibsons have been good stewards of their heritage. The horrid fires of last summer almost destroyed the ranch, and the Gibsons lost cattle and grazing land, but the home was spared.

In the first Men of Stone Mountain book, BRAZOS BRIDE, the ranch was the setting for Hope Montoya’s ranch, but with a Spanish-style hacienda instead of a western ranch house. The smaller ranch owned by Micah Stone cozied up to the vast Montoya acreage, but without access to the river. Most ranchers at this time did not use wire to enclose their land, but Hope’s father had fenced in all of his property except that adjoining the Brazos River. When he was murdered, Micah was accused, and barely escaped with his life. For convenience, I slipped in the town of Radford Crossing a few miles away.

In HIGH STAKES BRIDE, Alice Price is on the run from dangerous men. She had known that when her stepfather died, she would have to hurriedly escape her stepbrothers. Hadn’t she heard them promise her to the meanest man in Texas as payment for high stakes gambling losses? One misfortune after another devils her until she links up with Zach Stone. He looks sturdy as his last name and invites her to his ranch where his two aunts will chaperone them. She figures life finally dealt her a winning hand.

Alice Price
Photo by Serpentina for iStock Photos

Zach Stone has the sweetest ranch in all of Texas, at least he thinks he does. All he needs is a wife to build his family of boys and girls to carry on his ranch and name. He’s been jilted and vows he will never even speak to a woman again unless she's a relative. Then he comes across Alice Price and comes up with a crazy plan. He’s figured everything out, and is sure nothing can go wrong with his plan.

But life holds surprises for Alice and Zach...

Doesn’t it always? HIGH STAKES BRIDE has several incidents based on real life, a first for me. Characters and stories pop into my head unbidden, and I don’t use anything specific from life. I qualify the statement because I believe our subconscious is a pool of combined experiences from our lives and those of people we know or have heard about. In other words, a writer's muse steals from the well of subconscious memories. Must be more than that, because characters pop into my head that are very different from anyone I've ever known.

For this book, though, several things fit the book to perfectly to ignore. The first was an incident that happened to my brother’s ex-fiancée once when she was hunting a day after Thanksgiving. The second is in the excerpt below and happened to my neighbor when her bull--who was just being affectionate--pushed her into one of those large round hay bales. Lastly, I used an historic incident and had a real life hero help my fictional hero. No, I just thought of a fourth one, and that was when a friend tried to dye her hair darker, just as Alice has in the book--and the same thing happened to my friend as happened to Alice.

Now here’s a long, long excerpt from HIGH STAKES BRIDE:
Zach Stone

Zach Stone cursed to himself. If this didn’t just round out his week from hell. All he wanted was to sleep out here alone and sort things in his mind before he went home. Even the approaching storm didn’t worry him. He’d almost welcome the discomfort to take his mind off his predicament.

Although the desire for uninterrupted time alone had sent him toward the little cabin where he’d lived before acquiring the Warren’s vast spread, he’d changed his mind. When he rode across this spot, he’d decided to camp here a few days then head on home. Now icy wind whipped down the valley and he regretted he wasn’t snug in the cabin with the door bolted against the world.

Zach had seen Solomon’s head raise up and ears prick forward, the big gelding’s silent announcement of visitors. Plus, Zach’s years as a lawman meant he had a keen sense of trouble dogging him. He didn’t know who watched him but someone sure as hell lurked in that stand of live oaks. Probably waited to strike until he fell asleep. Well, any two-legged varmint who thought he’d catch Zachariah Greenberry Stone unaware had damn well better think again.

Mary Alice had smelled coffee and wood smoke and decided to investigate. She had parked the mules, winced as she’d slipped out of Pa’s big coat, and crept closer. She rued the bad luck that had plagued her these last couple of days. Even trees hadn’t been too friendly of late, but she’d managed to climb this old live oak due to a low branch that almost dipped to the ground and acted as a step to climb higher.

“Hurry up, mister,” she muttered softly.

She lay along the live oak’s limb and watched the man named Stone cook his dinner—and hers, she hoped—and settle in for the night. When she’d first seen him in Russell Springs yesterday, she’d thought him a rancher but hadn’t any idea where he lived.

Definitely the same man she’d seen in Russell Springs, but he appeared to have been camped here a couple of days. She heaved a sigh and once more wished Pa had taught her something about the area when he taught her to shoot, but he wanted her safe at home. Safe? She almost snorted to herself.

She’d heard her two stepbrothers promise to deliver her to that devil Fernando Vargas. All to satisfy their gambling debts, as if she counted no more than a hand of cards or coins. Vargas had probably cheated at poker as he did at other things.

She remembered overhearing Vargas brag about the women he’d used. If he got his hands on her, she’d be a goner for sure. Assuming she lived until that monster tired of her, she’d wind up chained in some Mexican brothel with no hope of escape until she died of disease or mistreatment.

Fear dragged at her weary body. Not since Pa took sick three years ago had she had a good night’s sleep. If not for Pa’s illness, she would have gone east when Mama died.

Back then, Pa could still control the boys and prevent them from following her, but a few weeks before Ma died, he started coughing up blood. He hid it from the boys for a couple of years, but he’d finally had to tell them he was sick from stomach cancer. A few months back he was forced to take to his bed.

“Poor Pa.” She looked heavenward, hoping that’s where he’d ended up. “Sorry I couldn’t even see to your burying.”

The Stone man on the ground moved and reminded her she needed to pay attention to her quarry. Shoulders wide as a door and one of the tallest men she’d ever seen let her know he’d be hard to beat in a struggle.
Something told her he was a nice person, though she couldn’t say why.

Just the same, Mary Alice thought, she’d better bide her time and wait for this giant to sleep. Pa was the only kindly man she’d met since she was old enough to remember. She couldn’t take a chance on this one being any better than the rest who’d come around.

The Stone man placed the coffeepot on a rock at the side of his campfire then did the same with a pot of what looked like beans. Next he took several slices of bacon from a frying pan and laid them on top of the beans. The grease sizzled as he dumped it onto the sand. A frigid breeze carried the pungent aroma of bacon and coffee mixed in with woodsmoke.

Her mouth watered and her belly rumbled so loud that she feared the man might hear. She’d been without food since yesterday. First she’d feared taking time to eat more than a few cold biscuits, then she’d ditched her food when her horse ran away. Now the smell of this man's dinner had her near fainting--provided she didn’t freeze first.

Why didn’t he give up and climb into that fancy bedroll he’d spread out earlier? Then she could slip down and get something to eat. If, that is, she could stay in this tree and not pass out from a combination of pain, fear, hunger, and fatigue.

Clouds rolled in from the north to mask the full moon and the temperature dropped rapidly. She smelled the coming storm on the wind. Lord, but she wished he’d settle in before the storm reached them. At last he finished his preparations and crawled into his bedroll. Now all she had to do was wait until he fell asleep. How long could that take?

Zach slipped into the bedroll and waited, pistol in hand. He feigned sleep, wondering what kind of man tarried nearby. Whoever it was could have picked Zach off, so the sidewinder must not have murder on his mind.

Probably up to no good hiding out like that, though, because any Westerner would share his campfire and vittles with anyone who rode into camp. Zach wriggled into a comfortable spot and lay motionless. Anger at recent events helped him remain awake.

The footfalls came so softly he almost missed them. He opened his eyes a slit, but enough to see a thin shadow move toward the fire. About then heavy clouds overhead parted and the moonlight revealed a boy who scooped up a slice of bacon and slid it into his mouth.

The culprit set Zach’s tin plate on the ground near the fire, ladled beans into it, and picked up a fork. He squatted down and balanced the plate on his knees before he commenced eating. Zach noticed he kept his left hand in his pocket the whole time.

Something must be wrong with the thief’s left arm.  Looked too young for it to have been a casualty of the War. Lots of other ways to get hurt out here. Whatever had happened to his left arm, his right one worked well enough. He forked food into his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in a week.

Zach let him shovel beans for a few minutes. Crook or not, anyone that hungry deserved a meal. When the kid stopped eating, Zach couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  It looked as if he used the fork to scratch around on the ground, so he must have eaten his fill. Zach slipped his hand from beneath the cover and cocked the pistol.

“Hold it right there, son. I’d like to know why you’re eating without at least a howdy to the man who provided the food.”

The boy paused, then set the plate down slowly. “I left money here on a rock to pay for it.”

Odd sounding voice, but the kid was probably scared. Zach slipped from his bedroll and stood, but kept his gun pointed at the food robber. “Maybe.”

Zach walked toward the kid, careful to train his gaze so the firelight didn’t dim his eyesight. Sure enough, he spotted a couple of coins on the rock beside his pot of beans, or what remained of them, and his empty plate.

He faced the intruder. “Why not just come into camp earlier instead of sneaking in after you thought I was

“I—I was afraid you weren’t friendly.”

Zach thought he also heard the kid mutter what sounded like “...or maybe too friendly.” Must be the wind, he thought, as he neared the boy.

Zach motioned with his free hand. “I don’t begrudge anyone food, but I hate dishonesty and sneaking around.  Stand up so I can see you.”

The kid stood, hat low over his face and his good hand clenched.

Zach reached to push the brim back. “What’s your name?”

The kid stepped forward. “None of your business, mister.”

A fistful of sand hit Zach’s face. He heard his assailant run. Mad as the devil, Zach brushed grit from his eyes and set out in pursuit. The kid was fast, he’d give him that, but so was Zach. His longer legs narrowed the distance between them.  With a running lunge, he tackled the kid.

“Oof. Let me go.” The lad was all wriggles and kicking feet as he squirmed trying to escape.

Zach wasn’t about to let that happen. They rolled in the dirt. In one move Zach pinned the boy’s good arm.

The hat fell aside and a mass of curls spilled around the kid’s face. His jacket parted and unmistakable curves pushed upward where Zach’s other hand rested. Zach stared in disbelief. Registering his hand pressed against a heavenly mound shocked him and he jerked his paw away.

“Well, I’ll be damned. You’re not a boy.”

The woman glared at him. “Right, and you’re not exactly a feather. Get off me.”

Zach stood and bent to help her but she curled into a ball where she lay. “Ma’am, you okay?”

“Just dandy.” She sat up, moving like a hundred-year-old. She glared at him while holding her stomach with her good hand. The other arm dangled uselessly. “You’ve likely broken the few uninjured bones I had left.”

His temper flared. “Hey, lady, don’t try to put the blame on me. If you’d been honest and come into camp like any other traveler, I’d have shared my food with you.”

“Yeah, well a woman on her own can’t be too careful and I don’t know you or anything about you.”

Zach saw her point. Though most Western men would respect a woman, it wouldn’t help if she ran into one of the exceptions. “What’s wrong with your arm?”

She glared at him and appeared to debate with herself before she said, “Fell out of a tree. My arm caught in the fork of a branch. Pulled it out of socket and I can’t get it back.”

Well hell. As if he didn’t have enough on his mind. Now that he’d decided not to speak to another woman unrelated to him, this bundle of trouble showed up needing a keeper.

Resigning himself to one more stroke of bad luck, he said, “Take off your coat and come over here to my bedroll.”

The campfire sparked less than her eyes. “I’ll do no such of a thing. Don’t be thinking you can take liberties because I ate your food and I’m injured. I paid for the food.”

Zach exhaled and planted his fists on his hips. “Ma’am, there’s not enough money in Texas to pay me to take liberties with you. If you’ll move to my bedroll and lie down, I’ll put your arm back in place. You’ll likely have to take off your, um, your shirt.”

She looked him up and down as if she weighed him and found him lacking. “I figured you for a rancher. You a doctor then?”

“Ranchers have to know a good bit about patching people.”

She straightened herself and swished past him as if she wore a ball gown instead of a man’s torn britches.

Watching the feminine sway of her hips as she sashayed to the other side of the campfire, he wondered how he ever mistook her for male. He followed her and tried not to appreciate her long legs or the way the fabric molded to them like a second skin.

When she reached the blasted bedroll he’d been stuck with, she slid out of her jacket. A grimace of pain flashed across her face as the weight of the light coat slipped down her injured arm. In one graceful move she plopped down on the bedroll.

“You’re sure you can do this?” she asked and looked up at him.

Flickering firelight placed her features in shadow. Moving closer, he figured the poor light played tricks on him, for he couldn't tell the color of her hair. He decided she had light brown or dark blonde curls. Whatever color her eyes were, maybe blue or green, they were big and watched him with suspicion.

“Yes. Sorry, I don’t have any spirits with me to deaden the pain.”

“I never touch alcohol. If you’re sure you can do this, just get on with it.” She unbuttoned her shirt and winced as she slid the injured shoulder and arm free, and then stuck her chin up as if she dared him to make an improper comment or gesture.

He knelt beside her, keenly aware of the differences that proved her womanhood. A chemise of fabric worn so thin as to be almost transparent pulled taut across her breasts. He swallowed and willed himself to ignore the dark circles surrounding the pearly peaks thrusting at the flimsy material. The memory of the lush mound he’d touched briefly wouldn’t leave him. He’d been alone too long and had better concentrate on the job at hand.

“Stretch out and try to relax. I’ll be as gentle as I can, but this will hurt.”

“Hurts already, but I better put my bandana in my mouth so I don’t scream. I’m not a whiner, mind, but wouldn’t want to draw attention if there’s others nearby.” She slipped the cloth knotted around her neck up to her mouth like a gag, then laid down.

She moaned but didn’t fight him. Zach had seen this done numerous times over the years and had performed it twice. He probed her shoulder gently, then rotated her arm to slip it back into place.

He listened for the snick of the bone reseating itself in the socket. When he finished, he massaged the muscles of her upper arm and shoulder. She’d likely be sore for weeks, but the harm she had done wasn’t permanent.

“Have to give it to you, ma’am. You were the quietest patient I’ve ever seen.”

She lay with her face turned away from him. When he leaned over, he realized she’d passed out.

And it’s no wonder, is it? I'll bet having her shoulder reset hurt. If this post has intrigued you, here are the places you can buy HIGH STAKES BRIDE in E-Book:


Amazon: ebook/dp/B009F7JLTK/ref=sr_1_27?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348783897&sr=1-27&keywords=caroline+clemmons

In Print:

If you wish to be included for the giveaway, please leave your contact email in the comment. And take advantage of the extra entries. Good luck. I'll announce the winners on Monday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Please help me welcome Krista Kedrik to the blog today. Krista is working with Black Lion Tours to promote her release, FAMILY TIES. And she knows a lot about the subject due to her own closely-knit family.

Krista will be giving away a copy of FAMILY TIES at each tour stop.

Caroline: Please tell us something about yourself and be as chatty as you like:

Krista: First off, I love your whole attitude about that chattiness because that is totally me – chatty to a fault. We are of like mind there. I grew up in a little town in Nebraska named after the Sioux Indian tribe. Ogallala (O-gash-lah-la). Typical family, mom, dad, older quieter sister, and me the loud baby of the family. We are a tight-knit family who spent most of our time together with the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents and even the extended relatives eating, laughing and playing pitch. I spent most of my years with a ball in my hand. Softball, volleyball, and golf, those were my favorites and gave me more time to spend with my dad and grandpa.  The rest of my time was dedicated to daydreaming and cracking jokes. In my family it was more important to be quick witted than smart.

I am married to a fantastic, supportive and amazing man who makes me a better person every day. We have two little girls, a basset hound named Wally and live in our home town.

Caroline: Aren’t we lucky to each have a supportive husband? Not all authors do. Who are your favorite authors and genres?

Krista: Where do I start?  Honestly with my Kindle and the availability of inexpensive books I find great authors all the time, but I’d have to say that Judith McNaught is the writer who made me want to write books. I’ve read her novels more times than I can count. Next would have to be JK Rowling, she has such a passion for her characters and a style that grabs you and pulls you into the Harry Potter world. And who wouldn’t love a writer who actually changed the world and made reading cool again.

Caroline: Oh, I agree about JK Rowling. She did such a great service by making it cool for boys to read and discver they love books. What are your favorite genres?

Krista:: I try not to pigeonhole myself, I’ll read almost anything… almost.

Caroline: I have definite genres I don't read. What are your hobbies or what do you do to relax?

Krista: That’s funny. ☺ I’m an independent author, online broadcast network owner, host and producer of A Novel Idea Live, volleyball coach, PTL president and have a full-time paying job. I don’t relax, take time off or have any hobbies other than family time.

Caroline: You made me tired just reading that answer. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up you outlook on life?

Krista: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9

Caroline: Wonderful quote. How long have you been writing?

Krista: Since about the age of nine, I won a poetry contest. I wrote an ode to my cat Calvin and it was the moment where I found you could share something of yourself no matter how silly and they could enjoy it and appreciate it. It made me feel good about my wild imagination.

Caroline: What a cute story. Where do you write?

Krista: I have adapted to be able to write anywhere. In the living room with my kids running around, on a school bus on the way to a game, on the deck while my girls ride their bikes or swing. PC, laptop doesn’t matter as long as I have one ear bud in my ear and my good old country music playing for inspiration I’m good to go.

Caroline:  That’s great, especially with your busy schedule. Do you plot or are you a pantser?

Krista: I’m mainly a plotter. I see it in my head how I want it to go, then I get a stack of notecards and fill them up with a broad idea of plot and scenes and a very specific list of character traits.  Now that doesn’t mean the story always stays with my plan. It has taken twists and turns that I never saw coming.

Caroline: Do you use real people or events?

Krista: Not as of yet. I do use real places just renamed. My novels are all set in Nebraska because I love the diversity of the prairies, the rivers and lakes and the Sandhills. But recently I have been covering a lot of funny news stories with my broadcast show that they have tapped into the funnier and more twisted side of my imagination. Recently a story about $450 worth of stolen women’s underwear brought out scenes of a high speed chase and plus-sized undergarments being flung from the open windows as the two women speed away. And it goes on from there but I look to be inspired by real life in future novels.

Caroline: You have a fun imagination. Do you set daily writing goals?

Krista: I’m happy if I can get 500 words, I aim higher but get interrupted easily, darn that Facebook and email. Oh look another status update. Joking. I usually shoot for the afternoon, when my youngest is napping and before we have to pick my oldest up from school. I’m a planner. I have to schedule my whole day out so I can fit everything in.

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Krista: Honestly, I hope that my stories bring people all the emotions they would have if they were experiencing it for themselves. I want them to feel like they know the people in the story and lived the events right alongside them.

Caroline: What are your long-term career goals?

Krista: My long-term goal is to be so good at the answer to the previous question that I have a writing career. Otherwise I won’t be able to defend sitting around in my pj’s and slippers fantasizing to my husband about handsome, shirtless men and spunky, fearless women.

Caroline: Can you share what you’re working on now?

Krista: Of course I would! I’m working on my first series, The Doves of Primrose. It’s based on three friends Lacy, Emmylou and Scarlett.  The first book is Lacy’s story. She is rumored to be the decendent of Frank James and her family’s B&B has an amazing history of prostitutes, thieves and ghosts.

Caroline: Sounds interesting. What advice to you have to share with upcoming writiers?

Krista: I would say have a plan, know your goals and if it’s truly your dream never give up.

Caroline: What’s a fun fact about yourself others might not know?

Krista: I was a band majorette and had to wear a giant orange and black plume in my hat.

Caroline: What’s something about you others would find surprising?

Krista: My mother, sister and I owned a pet store together for 8 years and never got into a fight.

Caroline: That is impressive! Are your books series or single title?

Krista: Both my books are single title contemporary western romances, but my next three will be a series.

Caroline: Can you share something you learned while doing research?

Krista: I don’t remember having to research anything specifically, but I did sadly pull from my extensive experience in planning family funerals.  As I said we are a very tight-knit family and I have lost a fair amount of my closest relatives.

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Krista: I am the co-founder of the Writers & Readers Broadcast Network, the first network dedicated to authors and readers. I host and produce my own show on A Novel Idea Live where I interview guests and talk about the news in the book world with a Tip of the Week at the end. And co-host another show on the network called @Random where we have a roundtable talk with other authors.

Caroline: Can you give us a blurb about FAMILY TIES?

Krista: Happy to:

She’s all country…

He’s all city…

Grace Tucker thought she had her life put back together, with the help of her over-protective brothers.  She had a quiet, predictable life operating the family hardware store in her hometown and spending her free time with her friends, the Caldwell family.  That was… until a tragic accident took her two best friends and left their daughters orphaned.  If that wasn’t devastating enough - Dirk Caldwell, the egocentric, completely handsome brother no one’s met, blows into town.

Dirk Caldwell realized he wasn’t in California anymore when he stepped from the redneck,  rattletrap airplane and was smacked in the face with a cold breeze laced with manure.  It was exactly what he’d expected from the backwater town his brother called home.  But going head to head with Grace Tucker was not.  The hot-headed, leggy cowgirl was almost more than he could handle.  But, oh how he’d like to give it a try.

When two worlds collide can they realize love, tame passion and form a bond strong enough to tie a family together?

Caroline: Very nice set up.Now how about an excerpt from FAMILY TIES?

Krista: Here you are:
     “Push that tape down so it don’t stick to your butt.”

     Twelve hours ago Dirk Caldwell would’ve never imagined another man making reference to his butt.  Ever.  It just wasn’t done.  Then again, twelve hours ago he wouldn’t have pictured himself struggling to get inside a tiny, run-down, four-seater plane carrying his own luggage.

    He would never have been anywhere near a man who’s idea of style was Wrangler jeans paired with scuffed cowboy boots, Nebraska Huskers t-shirt and a dusty camouflage baseball cap with the phrase “That’s Mr. Redneck to You” emblazoned on it.  He hadn’t realized people like that existed let alone were allowed to hold a pilot’s license.  Yet here he was bumping elbows, knees and any manner of body parts with him while juggling his way around the cockpit.

     “Just toss yer’ bag back over there.”

     Dirk looked in the direction the work-worn hand pointed and balked.  He was supposed to put his $4,000 Bottega Veneta on top of a pile of dirty rags, maintenance manuals and something that looked like it came straight out of the engine of this nineteen-seventy something Cessna?  Yeah right.

     He surveyed the tiny plane, finally resigning to set his bag on the floor beneath the mess.  The distinct sound of tape being pulled from its roll drew his attention back to the pilot in time to see him tear a strip free with his teeth.  At least they were clean and in the vicinity of white.

     The weathered hand held out the wide silver tape motioning towards the co-pilots seat populated by other such strips.  With a sneer, Dirk took it and laid it across the most obvious spot.

     “Good as new.”  The pilot smiled and tucked the roll back under his seat.

     Oh Christ!  They were going to end up dead in a fiery inferno in the middle of some cornfield.  Well, then he wouldn’t be any worse off than his brother.  His chest constricted the instant he thought that.  Danny.  Tears stung his eyes, he swallowed hard and they disappeared.

     Dirk loosened his tie.  Not his favorite.  He normally went for a flashier style, but it was a Christmas present from his brother and it just felt right to wear it for the occasion.  The tears threatened again, he blinked rapidly, but they welled further.  Thank God for his Ray-Bans.  He quickly swiped a finger beneath them while pretending to check his pockets with the other hand.

     “If you’ll get buckled up, the tower said we’re next for take-off.”

     Dirk was grateful for the distraction.  He wondered if the seat belt was also secured with Duct Tape.  He wouldn’t be surprised.  It was amazing this rattle-trap passed inspections, but then he wasn’t sure if privately chartered planes to nowhere had to go through inspections.  Probably not.

     The seatbelt seemed secure enough.  At least he would be strapped in when they crashed.  The pilot adjusted his headset and communicated with the tower.  Dirk was surprised he actually used professional pilot jargon.   Instead of   “Gee, y’all we’re ready to git the heck outta here now”.

     His estimation of a safe arrival notched up a fraction.  Even though, his full attention was on the runway and horizon until they were safely up and cruising.
     Dirk pulled his phone from his pocket with the intention of getting some work done, except it wasn’t working.  He poked at the screen anyway.  They hadn’t even left the state of Colorado and already he felt the constricting weakness of being disconnected from civilization.  It was like being naked in the wilderness.  He unbuttoned his top shirt button.

     “Sorry you won’t be able to use that for a while, probably not til you get home.”
Dirk twisted his head to the pilot.  “I’m sorry….”  He honestly couldn’t remember the guy’s name.

     “Clive.”  The pilot nodded.  “Name’s Clive.”  He returned attention to the sky.

     Of course it is.  “Clive.  I can’t go two hours without contacting my clients, let alone two days.”

     Dirk didn’t like the assessing once-over he got from Clive.  What did he know anyway?  He probably communicated by smoke signal.  Dirk adjusted his cuff links glancing at his watch.

     “I’ll getcha there on time.”

     Dirk looked sideways at Clive, whose concentration was still on the horizon and his gauges.  If it weren’t for the sympathetic half smile on his face, Dirk wouldn’t have known the man said anything.  He was really tired of those smiles; he had seen them on his girlfriend’s face for twelve straight hours.  At least it looked genuine on Clive’s.

     “Did you know Danny?”

     “Of course.”  Clive smiled warmly, as if remembering better times.  “He was a good man.”

     Dirk waited for him to say more, wanted him to say more, but Clive fell silent again.  He seemed to be a man of few words, not something Dirk was used to.  In his line of work people never shut up.  They jabbered just to hear their own voice, thinking if they stopped they might disappear from the spotlight.

     It was that very thing that kept him busy twenty-four hours a day covering media, defusing situations and bailing clients out of trouble or jail.  So busy, in fact, he hadn’t seen his brother in more than a year.  He hadn’t even met his youngest niece and she was nearly five.  Not that Danny hadn’t asked him to visit; there just was never a right time.  Public relations never slept.

     When Dirk’s phone had rung two nights ago he thought that’s what Danny was calling about.  Another trip.  A vacation to Nebraska.  Nebraska.  Not exactly the ultimate dream destination.  Corn fields and feed lots.  Seemed like a place of misery to Dirk.

     He had ignored the first call.  He would listen to Danny’s lighthearted message and subtle plea later.  He was making progress with a smoking hot redhead at the club and didn’t need any distractions.  Of course in L.A. you never could tell what was fake and what was real, so smoking hot was all relative, but that was part
of the fun.

     Dirk loved his life.  He was successful; at least it appeared that way.  His bank account wasn’t too awful to look at.  He worked and played with the rich and famous.  They liked having him around and it was nice to be needed by them.  He had been gifted with the amazing talent to twist anything into an advantage.  He was the ultimate bull-shit slinger and the people loved him for it.

Caroline: I can tell I'm going to love, love, love this book. It reminds me of a trip to Mexico several years ago in an airplane that sounded as if it were about to vibrate apart any second. I feel for Dirk! Where can readers learn more about you?

Krista: Website Link: and



Caroline: Where can people buy FAMILY TIES?

Krista: Here:


Barnes & Noble:

To participate in the rest of my tour, follow these links:

Sept 29 - My Devotional Thoughts/review and guest post
Oct 1 - A Novel Idea LIVE Blog/guest post
Oct 3 - Makayla's Book Reviews/review and author spotlight
Oct 5 - MK McClintock Blog/guest post
Oct 10 - General Book Reviews/review
Oct 12 - Turning the Pages/review and interview
Oct 16 - Bunny's Review/review
Oct 18 - Kimberly Lewis Novels/review
Oct 19 - Black Lion Tour Blog/wrap-up

Caroline: Here’s more about Krista:

Krista Kedrik, author
Krista was born and raised in Nebraska.  Her first years were spent on a ranch near the Stinkin' Water Creek in Chase County with her family raising cattle, lambs and chickens and stirring up trouble.  After spending several childhood years in Colorado and Kansas her family returned to make Nebraska their home.
Her light-hearted take on the world splashes the pages of her novels creating a wonderful mix of seriousness and humor.  And living in small communities has given her the inside view of small town people-their wholesomeness, kindness and appreciation of the little things in life.  These one-of-a-kind people are the heart of her characters. She stumbled into broadcasting when her friend interviewed her on his show and a love for the microphone bloomed into a weekly broadcast of news and humor as a co-host for the online show @Random.

Krista makes her home in Nebraska with her husband, two daughters and basset hound where she loves to work in her yard, which supports her vivid settings in her novels.

Her novels UNDER A PRAIRIE MOON and FAMILY TIES are available in both paperback and ebook on,, and for the nook at

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 24, 2012


If we’re being honest, I admit I DO judge a book by the cover. No, the cover doesn’t have to feature a hunky guy’s torso (not that I mind if it does). What the book cover must do is make me believe the content is something that will intrigue me. I love book covers by many self-pubbed or indie pubbed authors as well as those from traditional NY publishers. A cover must tell the reader the genre and time period and give a hint to the story's flavor. For instance, of my four covers from Kensington Publishing, one was a bit odd, one was great, one was worse than no cover at all, and another almost as bad. All of my covers from The Wild Rose Press were superior. My self-pubbed covers follow a distinct learning curve. ☺ Yes, Hero and I are getting the hang of it, but the journey is painful and slow.

Earlier this summer, I recovered the rights to OUT OF THE BLUE, a romantic suspense time travel with a heroine who is clairvoyant. Talk about cross genres!  My friend Sandy Crowley helped me plot this book, then Geri Foster and others helped critique the book as I wrote it. Honestly, this book was the most fun of any book I’ve written.  It is my husband’s favorite of all the books I’ve written. (My favorite is always the one I’m writing.) When I conceived the cover, I wanted a photo of the cliff in the book, the formation known as Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake in Palo Pinto and Young Counties. The formation and lake are important to setting up the story.

Next I thought I would have a lovely woman on the front. Apparently no one else thought she was lovely, because sales almost zeroed. Did prospective readers think she was an angel and the book an inspirational? That she was unappealing? What? I have no idea, so I have a new cover to introduce:

This one leaves nothing to chance. As you can see on the cover, the multiple genres are listed: TIME TRAVEL ROMANTIC MYSTERY.  Above the title, Hero added DEIRDRE TRAVELED FROM 1845 TO TODAY AND FELL ...In addition, the hero and heroine are shown with the lake in the background. He tried to cover everything. Now, in the event you’ve forgotten this book, here’s a blurb:

Deirdre Dougherty never cursed at anyone, much less put a curse on the potato crop of her remote Irish village. She’d rather take her chances with the Atlantic lapping at the bottom of the cliff than the mob intent on burning her as they have her cottage. Deirdre leaps . . . and plops down over 160 years later in a Texas lake. She doesn’t understand how she’s ended up with the man from her recent visions or why he has the same name as the saint to whom she prayed. She’s in danger of falling for the handsome policeman who rescued her, in spite of the fact that he thinks she’s lying to him. How can she convince him her story is true when she’s finding it difficult to believe the tale herself?

Police Detective Brendan Hunter wants answers. Who shot him and killed his partner? Why? And why does Deirdre know details of the event? Her story has to be a colossal fabrication or else she’s a beautiful psycho. Either way, he wants her gone before he becomes even more fascinated with her. But he can’t let her out of his sight until she confesses to how she learned details no one but he and his late partner knew.

Another photo of the models for Deirdre and Brendan--
of course, this closeness is near the end of the book

The set up for an excerpt of OUT OF THE BLUE is that Blossom is the hero’s mom, and she owns a Health Food Store where Deirdre now works. Blossom is a sort of leftover hippie, with compassion for everyone. She also is sweet on a nearby neighbor, Dave Roan. In addition to being Brendan's mom, Blossom is also mentoring Deirdre and teaching her the ins and outs of our current time.

Blossom Hunter and her beau, Dr. Dave Roan

Here's the excerpt of OUT OF THE BLUE:

        Blossom gave Deirdre the mail. “Do you mind, dear? I hate going out in this sticky heat. It frizzes my perm, but it seems to have no effect on your gorgeous, thick hair.”
“I’ll post these and be back in a minute to straighten the front display of that new organic salsa from Austin.” Deirdre carried the letters outside and dropped them into the box on the corner across the parking lot. She turned to start back.
A huge black car apparently had been parked at the back of the lot by the Dumpster and pulled alongside her. She saw the dented fender before the door opened. Then she realized the two scary guys from the bar were inside, partially obscured from view by the tinted windows. The blond stepped out and reached for her.
She understood his intent so she screamed for help and ran away from him. People came to the store window.
Polly rushed to the door. “Blossom’s calling the police. Hold on, Deirdre, we’re coming.”
But no one rushed to her aid. What could a few ladies do against these two frightening men? She’d have to save herself, so she screamed again.
The blond caught up with her and grabbed her arm. “No use screaming, lady. You’re coming with us.” He dragged her toward the car.
She kicked him and screamed again, clawing at him with her free hand. She drew blood along his arm and scratched his face.
He jerked her and grabbed both her hands. “You’re gonna be sorry you made me mad. I have lots of ways to get even.” He told her what he planned as he yanked her toward the car’s back seat.
Strong as an ox, the man held her in an iron grasp so her feet barely touched the ground. He heaved her toward the open door. Suspended above the ground, she braced a foot against the car’s body. With her other, she kicked him between the legs, just as Ma had taught her.
He turned red and released her as he doubled over and dropped to his knees. Without him supporting her, she hit the pavement hard. Her back took the force of her fall and the air whooshed from her. She couldn’t stand but she rolled away.
The driver pointed a gun at her. “Get in or you die right here, right now.”
What had Brendan said about this situation when they watched television? Never get in the car with anyone. But how could she resist without him shooting her? She recalled the blonde’s threats. If she had to die, she’d rather it be here quickly than at the hands of these two later. She made the sign of the cross and prepared herself for death.
A horn honked and tires squealed. Brendan yelled. “Deirdre, I’m coming.”
Blossom and Polly hurried toward her, each carrying a broom and wielding it as if they intended to beat on the blond man. Several associates came with them and lobbed jars of something at the car. In the heat, the jars exploded like small bombs. After one loud crack, red oozed along the spider-webbed glass windshield.
“What the hell?” The scary man in black turned back toward the steering wheel. “Damn it, Rod, with or without her, get the hell in here.”
She struggled to her knees then stood, backing away.
Apparently unable to straighten, the guy she’d kicked hoisted himself back into the car. He yelled, “I’ll get you for this, bitch. When I do, you’re gonna beg me to kill you before I’m through.”
The black car took off with a squeal from smoking tires, dripping red salsa and leaving glass shards in its wake. The driver had his head stuck halfway out the side window, his front windshield obviously too damaged and dirty for the wipers to clear. Aromas from the salsa’s spicy contents filled the air—cilantro, tomatoes, chili peppers. Deirdre fell in love with those scents.
Then Brendan was there, lifting her and carrying her to his car. He cradled her in his lap with the door open.
Blossom followed them and stood beside the car. “I called the police. We couldn’t think of any weapons but brooms and one-pound jars of salsa. Pretty feeble.”
Polly hovered behind Blossom. The other associates had gone back to their duties. A dozen customers and people from nearby stores stood near the building in the shade of the overhang, talking to one another or staring.
“You were brave and clever,” Deirdre assured Blossom and Polly then looked up at Brendan. “But they’d have been unable to stop the men if you hadn’t come.”
He smiled. “It looks like you had them on the run, Mom. Salsa was a clever touch. Didn’t help the parking lot, though.”
Polly said, “Oh, those horrid men, at least they’re gone. We’ll use the brooms to get rid of the glass and hope for rain. Otherwise, maybe we can talk the fire department into hooking up a hose and spraying the lot for us.”
Deirdre nestled her head near Brendan’s ear. “The scary guy with the black hair had a gun. A broom and jars of tomato salsa are not much against a bullet. He could have killed everyone.”
She shivered, recalling her fear and her decision. “He pointed it at me and told me to get in or he’d shoot me. But I remembered what you said.”
“Don’t get in the car with a kidnapper. Thank God you didn’t, honey. I don’t have my gun with me and all I could do is chase them and phone for backup.” He closed his eyes and held her tight. “Damn, they got a good look at both of us at the bar, but I never thought they’d come after you. And another thing’s for sure, that’s the SUV that ran me off the road.”
She held onto him, grateful for his strength. “That’s what I saw first when they stopped, the cracked fender with scrapes of paint on it the same blue color as your old car. If Michelle was correct, they killed Frank.”
Polly came back out and handed them a piece of paper. “Here’s the license number of that SUV. One of our associates wrote it down while Blossom and I grabbed brooms and the other associates loaded up on jars.”
“You all did some quick thinking.” He took the paper.
Sirens blared and a police car pulled up short of the broken glass. An officer got out. “Hunter, you snatching women now? What’s going on? Heard there was a kidnapping in progress.”
“There was.” He slid Deirdre from his lap, but kept her hand in his. “Two men in a black SUV tried to abduct Miss Dougherty at gunpoint.”
Deirdre noticed he copied the license number into his own notebook before he handed it to the officer. “One of the clerks got the license.” He told them what kind of SUV and the approximate year. “Could we go inside where it’s air-conditioned to continue this?”
Half an hour later, the officers left.
Brendan still held Deirdre’s hand. “Mom, I’m taking Deirdre home. She’s been through enough for the day.”
Blossom nodded. “Yes, this was terrible, but I think I’ll stay here. Both Chrissy and Rosa are off today, and we’ll be understaffed if I leave too. Oh, won’t they be sorry they missed this excitement?”
“Are you sure you want to stay? They can get along without you for an afternoon.”
“I think I’ll worry less if I’m busy here.” Blossom, normally cheerful, looked near tears. “So many horrid things keep happening. When will it end?”
“Soon, Mom. It’ll all be settled soon.” He hugged his mother then tugged Deirdre toward the door. “Come on, honey, let’s go home.”
With as much enthusiasm as she could muster, she turned and waved. “Everyone, thank you for your help.”
They left to calls of “Goodbye” and “Take Care.” Deirdre hated to abandon Blossom, but she’d be useless at work. Her legs wobbled and she couldn’t stop shaking. Hitting the pavement had created aches across her shoulders and hips. Her stomach still fluttered but at least her heartbeat had returned to normal.
Broken glass had been cleaned away, but she and Brendan had to weave around chunky blobs and streaks of tomato salsa.
She surveyed the damage. “They must have thrown fifteen or twenty jars. Too bad. That’s wonderful salsa made from organic tomatoes and herbs. It’s very expensive.”
“Not compared to your welfare. I’ll make sure Mom gives all her employees a bonus for helping you. ”
“You’re a generous man.” Deirdre forced a smile for him but they were well on their way before she spoke again, “It’s a lovely car.”
He glanced at her and raised his eyebrows. “It’s silver.”
She nodded, pleased he’d remembered her choice. “So I see.” Then the aftermath of terror hit her anew and she reached for his hand. “Brendan, I was so very frightened. Those men said they’d come back for me. Th-They plan to do terrible things to me. They will too, I know they will.”

Cathbad, Deirdre's cat who traveled with her through time

Deirdre has a right to be scared. Those guys mean business and you know they won’t give up so easily. In the meantime, why not snag a copy of OUT OF THE BLUE for yourself? It’s available in print or e-book from these places:

Print (slow to change cover):



Barnes and Noble (who are also very slow to change to the new cover):

Brendan's dog, Prince, a Leonberger,
although Brendan calls him a mutt mix

You can see that not only are the characters real to me, so are there pets. ☺ I hope you are enticed to purchase OUT OF THE BLUE.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012


Greetings and Salutations!
By AJ Nuest

Many thanks to Caroline for hosting us on her blog today! We’ve got some really exciting news to share with everyone so grab that cuppa and let the blogging begin!

September marks the official launch of Mystical Press Services!!!

In case you haven’t yet heard about our website, allow me to introduce you to a place where you just might find the fulfillment of your dreams. That’s right! The talented folks at Mystical Press want to help you reach your publishing goals!

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked!

Arial Burnz, Author and Editor

Mystical Press is the culmination of an idea that came from two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—where we help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” 

A J Nuest, Author and Editor

At Mystical Press our primary goal is to help writers. As authors, we understand the frustration of not receiving constructive and useful feedback, the aggravation of navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry and that, sometimes, authors just need a place to vent. Well, we’re here to tell you, the insanity can end!

Like-minded individuals can gather online at Mystical Press to work one-on-one with professional editors who help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission. Whether you are looking for a Manuscript Evaluation, Submission Evaluation, or a full story edit, we will give you honest, encouraging feedback and work diligently with you on your story to make sure it’s ready to land on an editor’s desk. No project is too big or too small and all receive the same precise attention to detail.

Perhaps your submission is ready but you need assistance with smaller editing projects like a query letter and synopsis? Have no fear! Mystical Press is here! We offer a full edit of query letters and synopses with comments and suggestions that come directly from AN EDITOR! TAH-DAH!

And don’t worry! If your goal is to write your very own dynamite synopsis, at Mystical Press we believe in “teaching a man to fish.” Our Power Class, “How to Write a WINNING Synopsis,” is designed to easily guide you through the process of crafting your very own synopsis! Yes, that’s right. I used “easily” and “synopsis” in the same sentence!

The self-paced course curriculum at Mystical Press can assist in tackling those pesky problem areas as well (e.g., show vs. tell, POV shifts, realistic character and story development, etc.). If you’ve read books, articles and/or taken workshops and are still in search of that elusive contract offer, perhaps Mystical Press can help. Take one class or take a whole series—our online classes are designed to meet each writer’s individual needs.

Is your next project of the self-publishing variety? Mystical Press has a selection of pre-made covers we guarantee will only be used once! No one will have the same cover! Or, if you’d like, we can design a cover specifically tailored to your vision—you will work one-on-one with our talented cover artists! We are also happy to edit your baby and can even format the document to meet the specifications of most popular self-publishing platforms.

Remember to mention Mystical Press to all your friends and fellow writing pals – here’s why. Mystical Press offers a free Referral Program. Just register on the site and we will assign you a Referral ID. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a referral fee! Whether you choose cash or a credit for products or services on the site, consider this our thank you for helping us spread the word.

Oh! And before I forget…we offer a wide range of gift certificates designed specifically with the writer in mind. Tired of searching for the “write” present for your author pals? Maybe that next birthday or anniversary calls for an eGift from Mystical Press!

So now that you know all about us, please tell us all about you! Head on over to Mystical Press and register free on the site. Everyone who does will be entered into our drawing for fabulous gifts and prizes! Join our celebration and together we will strive to get your voice heard!

Thanks, AJ, for your post. Readers, please stop by on Monday to help celebrate Banned Book Week with us. Marianne Evans will be my first guest of the week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Please welcome Karen Wojcik Berner, who is on a blog tour with WOW (Women on Writing). For her other appearances, see her blog events at her site at the bottom of this post..

Author Karen Wojcik Berner on a trip to England

Caroline: For those readers who didn't meet you on your first visit to the blog, tell us about yourself.

Karen: I grew up in Elmwood Park, a small city-suburb on the border of Chicago. Although it was technically the suburbs, it felt more like the city. We took public transportation, not like in the true ‘burbs where I live now, in which everyone drives to everything.

I’m an only child who was definitely considered more of a bookworm in school. Not blessed with the hand-eye motor skill coordination necessary to play most sports, I spent my time reading on the front stoop, or singing and dancing in my room.

My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-two years. We have two sons, one in 7th grade and one who just left for college. Sniff. ((Wipes away small tear.))

Caroline: Oh, I know you miss the one who is in college. How long have you been writing?

Karen: Pretty much my entire life. My career began in early grammar school with the production of “The Car,” my beautifully colored and hard-bound with cardboard classic about a family coming to grips with selling the beloved family automobile. It sold one copy…to my parents.

The journalism bug bit me junior year in high school when I started writing for the school newspaper and became editor my senior year. Deciding to major in English and communications in college, I set out on my great adventure.

Over the years, I have written everything from newspaper articles to press releases for clown college to a restaurant menu to Mozart educational packets for a symphony orchestra. A magazine editor for ten years, I decided to take a break when I was pregnant with my second son. That’s when I got the idea for my first novel, A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One).”

Caroline: So your books are a series?

Karen: While I was writing WHISPER I fell in love with the book club members, the Bibliophiles, and thought it would be fun to write each of their stories. There will be six books, each of which will have a different “star” or two. For example, the first novel tells the stories of Sarah and Annie, which you might remember from my last WOW! blog tour. This time, Catherine Elbert takes the stage.

UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT is the second novel of The Bibliophiles series of stories about the lives of fictional suburban book club members.

Caroline: Certainly I remember FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, and I love series books. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Karen: I have three present-day authors who greatly influence and inspire me, my literary trinity, if you will. Anne Tyler is my guide for realistic fiction. Joyce Carol Oates is the writing beast, a fierce and prolific force, unafraid of any subject. And Maeve Binchy was the heart.  And, of course, being an English major, I have a soft spot in my heart for the classics, particularly Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Karen: Usually, you can find me in my upstairs office, which I grabbed before anyone else in the family when we first moved into our house several years ago. I am a firm believer in women writers having rooms of their own a la Virginia Woolf. Unless one of my kids gets there first to his homework. Or practice guitar. Or violin. Oh, well.

Believe it or not, I write everything out long-hand first on legal pads. I know, I’m a fossil, but I love the physical act of writing. When creating, I don’t want to have to think about typing. I like to let the words flow. After a couple of edits, I enter the work into the computer.

Caroline: Oh, your poor hand. Tell us something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Karen: Oh, scandalous! There are no tabloid-worthy tidbits lurking in my closet. The most shocking thing about me would probably be that I think Marilyn Manson rocks. Her music tells many ultimate truths. One does not expect that of a forty-ish, short, round woman.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Karen: Right now, I am putting the finishing touches on a digital holiday short story with Sarah and Annie, the characters from A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One). It will be released November 1st.

After that, it’s all about book three of the Bibliophiles, which will feature Spring, the leftover flower child, and Thaddeus, a computer programmer with the heart of a poet.

Caroline: Oh, I love holiday stories, especially those set at Christmas. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?

Karen: I host Flash Fiction Fridays on my blog, Bibliophilic Blather, every week. I don’t know if you are familiar with the form, but it is sometimes referred to as micro-fiction. On my blog, it is 1,000 words or less on any topic, penned by authors of all genres. The only theme months are October (horror), December (holidays) and February (romance).

If anyone is interested in contributing, there is a tab on my blog with all of the details. I’d love to hear from you.

Caroline: Sounds interesting. Do you have a quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Karen: Since I am fascinated by people’s backstories and what made them who they are today, I’d say one of my favorite quotes is from David Byrne, former frontman of the Talking Heads, from their song, “Once in a Lifetime.”

“You may say to yourself: ‘Well, how did I get here?’”

Caroline: I liked that song by Talking Heads. Would you share a blurb about UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT?

Karen: Sure, the tag line is: You can’t run away from yourself

Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a small child, or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to life than being stuck on her family’s farm in Wisconsin.

While watching a PBS travel show, Catherine becomes entranced by Portland, Maine. The ocean. The lobsters. The rugged coast. Nothing could be more different from the flat, nondescript farmlands of Burkesville.

Despite her parents threatening to disown her and her brothers taking bets on how many days until she comes home, Catherine settles on Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.

She is finally free.

Or so she thought.

Caroline: What a great tag line, and it is so true. None of us is ever totally free, are we? Can you share an excerpt of the book to tempt us further?

Karen: Sure, Caroline. Here is the beginning of my second novel, UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT (The Bibliophiles: Book Two).

Chapter One
Burkesville, Wisconsin

       It takes a lot of effort to be ordinary-looking. Catherine performed the same morning routine the pretty girls did. The same shampoo, conditioner, blow dry, style, spray. The same moisturizer, concealer, foundation, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick. She checked herself out in the mirror. Ugh, still me.
Still a senior in high school who hesitated to use the term “farm girl” for fear of it being too clichéd after her English teacher defined the term as “the lack of thought.” Clearly, nobody aspires to be a stereotype, but, really, is everyone that original?
Who hasn’t grown up knowing the bitchy cheerleader, a dumb jock, the computer nerd, an overbearing mother, a distant father, a misunderstood old person, or an alienated artist, writer, musician or dancer? If everybody knows these people, are they really clichés or merely categories? Maybe the various cities, towns, neighborhoods, and blocks are really replicating microcosms? The same strands woven together to create one large tapestry of life?
Still living in boring-as-shit Burkesville, Wisconsin. The entire town consisted of a bank, post office, drug store, gas station, church, two schools and four taverns, all within a four-block area. Anyone could walk through it in about two seconds unless old Ben got a hold of you. Ben practically lived on the third-from-the-left bar stool at Pat’s Bar and Grill, Burkesville’s only real restaurant.
One day, Catherine and her friends were there for pizza and old Ben started blabbing to anyone who’d listen about how Bart Starr was the greatest quarterback who ever lived. Then this guy, Ernie, who usually goes to Padowski’s, but it was closed because the furnace broke, piped up with “Well, what about Dan Marino?”
Ben turned to Ernie like he was going to beat the shit out of him for even thinking of someone besides Starr, (a) because he’s a Miami Dolphin and (b) he’s not a Packer.  Heaven forbid! Like there aren’t any other teams in the NFL. Catherine could not have cared less about the Packers. Who would wear green and yellow together anyway? Vomitosis.


“Moooooom! I hate sunny-side up.” There was something about the way the yolks jiggled, like teasing, googly eyes. Eat me, Catherine. Eat me.
“Everyone else likes them well enough.” Vintage Clara Elbert. Don’t deviate from what the men in the family want for breakfast. Eggs. Bacon. Homemade bread, toasted. Would it kill her to buy some fruit?
By nine o’clock on Saturday morning, her father had already put down fresh hay for the pigs and milked the cows. “Here ya go, Clara,” he said, placing a filled pitcher in front of her.
“Thanks, Hank. Boys, wash your hands.”
No matter how old the brothers were, Clara always referred to them as “the boys.” Of course, since they acted like little kids, maybe she was right. Catherine fiddled with her eggs, eventually covering the oozing yolks with bread. “So, Mr. Leary is nagging me about ‘my future plans.’ How am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life? I’m only seventeen.”
Clara scoffed.
Russell smirked. “Yeah, like you’re so good at makin’ decisions.”
“Remember Dairy Queen?” Laughing, Peter pulled his sleeve over his left wrist and ran it across his face. Ma shot him a pulverizing look. He grabbed his napkin and wiped his mouth properly.
“I mean, really, even if I do go to college, what am I supposed to major in?”
Hank glanced at his wife, then at the boys. “You could work with us here.”
How could she tell her family that staying on Elbert Farm was the only thing Catherine was certain she could never do?

Copyright © 2012 Karen Wojcik Berner

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