Friday, January 30, 2015


I‘ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. For years, my brother and I have worked on a family history book for our father’s Johnson/Johnston/Johnstone family. We collected anecdotes, photos, and everything else we could find. I have to admit my brother is better than I am at ferreting out details. I have more anecdotes and photos, and that includes photos of paintings. Yes, we want to know what everyone looked like.

Back when transient artists traveled from home to home painting whoever would pay for their services, there were those who were not, shall we say, in the right profession. For instance, take a gander at the photo below of John Robert Gibson Clemmons and then at the painting of the same man. 

Is the one below of another ancestor and his wife a true likeness? We’ll never know, but we’re using it in our book.

Penuel and Connie Wood about 1775

We’re also using the one below of an early couple in South Carolina. Oh, dear. The distant relative who provided this one, Bill Glenn, said, “You can see where our family gets their good looks.” He’s a nice looking man so he can afford to have a sense of humor about his ancestors.

Painting of Isham and Thurza Wood, about 1840
The thing we wanted to get across is that these old names and dates were REAL PEOPLE. Knowing about their lives brings history of that era alive for us. For instance, knowing that the reason family members went to Georgia is because the men had a price on their heads for blowing up a Tory warehouse during the American Revolution makes that war more personal.

Knowing another branch of the family had their lands Scotland confiscated in 1715 for supporting the Jacobean Rebellion makes that conflict personal. They were sent to Ireland and some came on to Virginia.

Of course we have the, um, not so upstanding members too. Don't we all? I find them fascinating as well. The fellow below was shot before he could testify in a trial. I guess state's evidence is nothing new. He's one of our part Cherokee ancestors.

Levi Akridge before his 1871 death

In other words, this book has been educational. I’m glad it’s complete except for the editing, though. I look forward to holding the finished product in my hands. I hope other family members are as pleased as I will be.

Have you written your family’s history? If not, I urge you to do so while there are those alive to share anecdotes with you. You can always find the dry details, but those stories will disappear unless someone writes them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I collect sayings. My nephew sent me these, and I think each is good advice. Do you agree?

Old Farmer's Advice

“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.”

“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”

Uncle Ray Phifer letting my brother
Don Johnson pretend to drive the tractor

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.” Hero learned this when he plowed over a bumblebee nest as few years ago. He made it to the house, but a mad bumblebee is a danger.

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered…....not yelled.”

“Meanness don't just happen overnight.”

“Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.”

“Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.” Darling Daughter 1 learned this when she tried to get a skunk out of the tack shed. Even a ten foot pole is not long enough to escape being sprayed. Eeew! DD1 only wanted to fee her horses so she could ride.

Darling Daughter 1 riding Guinevere

“It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.” 

“You cannot unsay a cruel word.”

“Every path has a few puddles.”                                 

“The best sermons are lived, not preached.” This is one of my favorite sayings.

“Most of the stuff people worry about, ain't never gonna happen anyway.”

“Don 't judge folks by their relatives."  

“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”

“Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.”

“Don 't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.”

“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.”

“Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

“The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”

“Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.”

“If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.”

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.”

“Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.”

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 26, 2015


Guest author Gretchen Craig

Hello, Caroline and all your readers. My son says he can’t see why anyone would write a book without wizards in it – I wonder why anyone would write a book without romance in it. So my newest book Evermore certainly has a romance, or two depending on how you define romance. One romance ends in happily ever after, but another one doesn’t, and with no happy-ever-after, is it a “romance”?

Rather than give you the polished blog for EVERMORE, let me give you a bigger slice of what the story is about, and then I’ll share the first few pages of the novel.

Nicolette Chamard is a free woman of mixed-blood living in New Orleans when the conquering Yanks parade into town. The citizens are riled and hostile, but Nicolette is thrilled – these soldiers will free every enslaved soul in Louisiana.  Her rich, slave-owning, white half-brother surveys the same parade and sees the end of all his privilege, ease, and wealth. And among the Yanks entering their beloved city is Captain Finnian McKee, a book seller from Boston who finds himself bewildered by the intricacies of race and color in New Orleans.

Nicolette (she looks just like Halley Berry) wants to help the Union win the war even though collaboration with the enemy will be dangerous. She becomes a telegrapher in Captain McKee’s signal office, and with her light skin and fine manners, poor Finn McKee (who looks like the young Tom Selleck) does not understand that underneath, according to the culture of Louisiana, Nicolette is a Negress. They fall in love in spite of not understanding one another fully, and … Won’t tell you the rest of that story-line yet.

Then there’s Alistair, another rich slave-owning planter, who loves Nicolette dearly. But he will never marry her – it would mean ruin for himself, his mother, and his little sister’s chance of marrying well. He will make her his beloved mistress with a committed heart, but that is not enough for Nicolette. I found myself a little in love with Alistair myself in spite of his not being hero-worthy, and maybe you’ll wish him well, too. Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s crush on Ashley Wilkes? I picture Ashley when I’m writing about Alistair.

Marcel, Nicolette’s half-brother, has a much loved mistress who is of mixed blood. (I think Marcel looks a lot like the young Sean Connery, my all-time heart-throb.) They have two boys together, and Marcel is devoted to his little family. Still he must marry a white woman and have a legitimate family as well. Note the “must.” It seemed like a legitimate “must” to Marcel’s class. So he marries a flaxen-haired belle who is madly in love with him. How on earth can we resolve this? I love Marcel, for all his arrogance and conceit, but really – how can he expect this to end well?

There’s more, of course. It’s a fairly big book, but here you have all the elements for broken hearts, healed hearts, and happy-ever-afters.

Here are the first pages of EVERMORE.

Chapter One

May 1862

Nicolette squeezed through the crowd to see the conquering Yanks march up Canal Street. The citizens of New Orleans slung insults and worse at the soldiers, but Nicolette was elated. These soldiers were going to free every enslaved soul in the South. In an unguarded moment, she forgot herself. Her lips curved and she pressed her hands to her heart.
Without warning, fingers gripped her shoulder, the thumb digging under her collar bone. A filthy man with a red face and glaring eyes loomed over her, his mouth twisted in fury.
“You wipe that smirk off your face, missy, you know what’s good for you.”
Icy fear shot up her spine. If he denounced her as a Yankee sympathizer, the crowd would stomp her into the ground. She wrenched free and plunged into the mob. At the edge of the throng, she gripped a light post and told herself to breathe, just breathe.
She’d been careless, letting her feelings show. She knew better. No matter that she was free or that her skin was light, the requisite tignon she wore on her head identified her as a woman of color. And a colored woman in New Orleans better know her place.
Her pulse slowing, Nicolette threaded her way through the fringe of onlookers. Here, where she didn’t have to steel herself against the dreaded touching and bumping, she relaxed her hands and shoulders.
Across from Presswood Mercantile, she looked to see if Marcel had come to witness the Yankees claim his city. He leaned against the balcony railing far above the rabble, his steady gaze on the liberators. Invaders, her half-brother would call them, overturning the life of ease and privilege he enjoyed as a rich white planter.
She resisted raising her hand to him. He would not welcome the familiarity in front of Miss Presswood, his flaxen-haired fiancé. No matter that they shared a deep affection, and no matter that Nicolette’s gray eyes were lighter than his brown ones, her brother lived his life on a different plane. Marcel’s mother had been Bertrand Chamard’s wife. Nicolette’s mother had been a slave on the neighboring plantation.
On a balcony above the hubbub, Marcel gripped the iron railing with white knuckles. His nose twitched at the smell of unwashed soldiers in damp, sweat-soaked wool rising above the street. He had anticipated the day Union troops would enter his beloved city, but the impact was no less painful for having foreseen it.
A Confederate through and through, Marcel Chamard took a keen interest in the Yankee formations. They were neat enough, though their uniforms were worn and sometimes more gray than blue. He excused them their lack of polish. He even excused them the side they’d chosen. At least these men had rallied to their cause. Too many Southern gentlemen yet lingered in the comforts of home. Though he did not yet wear the uniform himself, Marcel was no malingerer.
Deborah Ann took his arm and murmured, “Marcel.” He glanced at his fiancé  and saw the warning on her face. They were amid their enemies. He unfisted his hands and unclenched his jaw.
Marcel spied his little sister down below. Though Nicolette wore an ordinary blue day-dress and a matching tignon, the required cloth folded and tied in intricate fashion over her black hair, she was a bright blue bird among the crows and sparrows of the crowd. Marcel had never wondered that his father fell in love with Nicolette’s beautiful mother. His sister, too, was beautiful. But, as she had been cossetted and adored all her life, she was naïve in her understanding of slavery in the South. No doubt Nicolette believed the Yanks would free the slaves before breakfast and turn the South into some sort of fairy-tale Eden by tomorrow noontime.
No doubt he’d done his part in spoiling her, but no one could deny she was an exceptional girl. Sang like an angel, with just enough of the devil in her to seduce an entire audience. And with her coloring, he thought for the hundredth time, Nicolette could pass for white, if she wanted to. But she chose not to. No, Nicolette knew nothing of politics or the real issues of the war.
When Deborah Ann stepped closer to him and wrapped her arm in his, he patted her hand absently. His attention was still on Nicolette as she made her way through the thinning crowd. So very careful she was not to brush up against anyone. She thought no one knew how she shrank from being touched, but he had watched her withdraw after the …incident. He hardly let himself think of it in more detail than that. It roiled him and threw him into a rage if he dwelled on what Adam Johnston had done to his baby sister, leaving her unconscious, bleeding and bruised.
Deborah Ann tugged at his arm. Marcel blinked the image away. He took one more look over his shoulder, annoyed with Nicolette for being out again with no protector. What good was the slave he’d given her if she left him at home?

Chapter Two

The maître d’ led Finn and his friend Hursh into the gas-lit supper club where silver gleamed and roses scented every table. A white-jacketed waiter offered them menus. Finn waved him off. Dining here would cost them each a week’s wages. Instead he held up two fingers. “Whiskey.”
Finn looked around the room at the other patrons who’d come to take a night’s pleasure in the midst of war. The gleam of brass buttons revealed that about half the diners were men in the uniform of the U. S. Army, Federal officers like himself. The other half were wealthy planters who had decided it was in their best interest to co-exist with the occupying Yanks. Practical men, Finn had to admit.
Amid the fanfare of a drum roll from the stage, the master of ceremonies strode on stage and announced with great fervor, “Mademoiselle Nicolette Chamard!” The white-tie elements of the audience burst into enthusiastic applause.
A young woman entered from stage right, slowly, demurely, with her eyes cast down. Her gown was ice blue, and she wore the get-up on her head that so many women in New Orleans favored, some sort of turban.
The girl began singing a capello, her voice sweet and pitch-perfect, but thin, as if she’d used all her breath just getting on stage. Finn figured she’d been applauded for her looks, not her talent. And looks she had, if you liked a perfect heart-shaped face. Her skin was creamy, not that fish-belly white the young ladies of Boston bragged about. And that lower lip! He leaned forward, his elbows on the table.
The mademoiselle was the picture of innocence, her eyes on the far distance, her hands holding a huge magnolia blossom. Winsomely sweet, she sang her story.

A pretty little maid so neat and gay
To the mill she went one day.

Finn took advantage of sitting in the dark to stare at her bosom mounding nicely above her neckline. He paid little attention to the lyrics, no doubt another insipid ballad about love and loss.

Now I think I will make my best way home.
If my mother ask me why I’ve been so long,

The vision in blue suddenly gave her audience a broad wink and a saucy smile. Her voice took on power and depth and an insinuating tone as she finished with --

I’ll say I’ve been ground by a score or more
But I’ve never been ground so well before.

Finn, caught unawares, guffawed. Hursh slapped the table. The room erupted in laughter.
Then she assumed a mask of hauteur as she seated herself at the piano. She played a tinkling trill in the high register, and then she pounded out a few chords in the lower keys with dramatic, body-swaying expression. Suddenly, as if she’d had a thought, she paused with her chin high in the air, her hands poised over the keys.
“I play piano just like Frederic Chopin, you know,” she said in a confiding tone.
The men in the audience, and they were nearly all men, chuckled, waiting for it.
“With two hands.”
Without waiting for the laughter to die down, Mademoiselle Nicolette launched into a Wagnerian aria in a soaring soprano. When she came to the high note, she stood on tiptoe to reach it, immediately returning to the keyboard and the breathtaking slide down to the alto range, her audience calling out and clapping.
Finn’s eyes never left her. He gazed, not at her bosom, at least not entirely, but at her face, for she’d dropped the innocent-miss mask altogether now. Her eyes sparkled, her face glowed. The regal elegance she projected, and then the humor ranging from sly to clownish – she was a chimera, shifting easily from mock-serious to mock-bawdy, from demure to knowing. Her voice flew like a hummingbird soaring and diving.
She was incandescent.
He was smitten.
Applause rolled through the room as Mademoiselle Chamard took her bows.
From Finn’s personal experience, it had been true, what they said about show people: women of the stage were likely to be generous with their favors. He fervently hoped it were true in New Orleans, too.
“I’ll square with you later,” he said, and bolted, leaving Hursh to pay for the drinks. He wanted to get backstage before the other swains got there.
He found the side door into the performers’ area and closed it firmly in the face of a young gentleman following him. He grabbed a nearby chair and wedged it under the knob. He didn’t need competition from some rich bloke in top hat and cane.
Here the banjo and flute from the next act barely penetrated. A gas light overhead hissed and dimly caught the gleam of blue silk as Mademoiselle Nicolette strode down the hallway toward the brighter dressing area.
She turned. He couldn’t see her face with the light behind her. He came closer and stood in the doorway with her. He stood too close, he knew he did, but he wanted to inhale her intoxicating perfume. He wanted to inhale her.
Up close, she was even more beautiful. Her gray eyes seemed to see through to the back of his head. The heavy scent of the magnolia blossom in her hand made him dizzy, and he swallowed hard.
She backed away from him, bumping into the doorjamb.
No welcoming smile? Finn hesitated, puzzled. In Boston, he’d often gone backstage to congratulate Coleen after a performance, and if he were the first admirer to reach her dressing room, he left the theater a happy man.
Well, what had he expected? That she would invite a stranger into her dressing room, let him tear her clothes off and make passionate love to her all night? Well, yes. He’d been carried away with the image of himself and this astonishing, spirited woman in a sweaty tangle of sheets. Unfair, of course. She was not a fantasy. Still, was there not even a hint of flirtation about her?
He leaned forward, trying to read those astonishing gray eyes. Her pupils widened, and she raised a hand as if to protect herself.
He straightened. He’d blundered, obviously. Yet he was here now. He had to say something.
“I enjoyed your performance, mademoiselle.”
The hand at her bodice fisted on a flounce of lace. “Merci.” She glanced toward the door where he’d wedged the chair.
Could this be the same woman, fearless and bold on stage, shrinking from him here in the hallway? Did he detect a faint trembling in her shoulders?
Good God, the woman was afraid of him.
Finn stepped back. “Pardon me, mademoiselle. I have alarmed you.”
She did not deny it. She was alone, and he was too close. He’d made her feel trapped with the chair under the door knob. He felt like a cad. Heat flushed from his throat to his scalp.
“I do apologize.” He bowed, his eyes on her hemline. “Good night to you, Miss Chamard.”
Nicolette pressed her hand over her heart, watching le Américain retreat down the hallway, his boots loud on the naked boards. His accent was foreign to her, but his voice had been smooth and soothing, like soft butter on a scorched finger. He’d meant her no harm.
His essence lingered, a heady, masculine scent. She breathed, drawing him into her lungs. In spite of the touch of panic, she’d taken in the thick brows and curling dark hair, the lustrous mustache framing a generous lower lip.
He’d been so tall, looming over her. And he’d surprised her. That’s what had unsettled her. If she’d been prepared, if Pierre had been with her, or Maman, she could have smiled and played the coquette. That’s what he wanted, to see the coquette. Not a spiritless gray shadow.
She sat at her dressing table and leaned her forehead against her fist. How long was she going to be like this? A cowardly, timid mouse!
Disgusted with herself, she twisted the lid off the cold cream jar and scoured the make-up off her face. He must have thought she was a ninny. She’d managed, what, one word?
Surrounded by the pale cream, her eyes glowed darkly. She dropped her hand, staring into the mirror. She was not a shadow. She was not a mouse. She still had a spine, she just had to stiffen it and get over that awful moment when Adam Johnston had taken her confidence from her. And she would, she was sure she would. Eventually.
She scraped her chair back. To hell with back stage Lotharios.
Nicolette changed her shoes and joined Cleo and Pierre in the other dressing room. They would go home together and have a late supper in the kitchen. Then she would go to bed and forget all about the officer with the dark brown eyes.
Kind eyes, she remembered, when he saw she was afraid.

EVERMORE, the third book in The Plantation Series, Stories of Slavery and Deliverance, is an e-book and also available in paperback. Click here to buy EVERMORE in digital format. 

Gretchen Craig, author
Gretchen Craig's lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Having lived in diverse climates and terrains, Gretchen infuses her novels with a strong sense of place. THE PLANTATION SERIES brings to the reader the smell of Louisiana's bayous and of New Orleans' gumbo. CRIMSON SKY evokes the lives of people living under a searing sun among the stark beauty of mesas and canyons. THEENA'S LANDING summons the sweltering humidity of the Florida Everglades, the flash of scarlet ibis, and the terror of being stranded in a hurricane. For lovers of the short story, COLOR OF THE ROSE is an award winning collection exploring the characters and issues that comprise ALWAYS AND FOREVER. BAYOU STORIES is a dark look at troubled slows looking for solace in the lonely bayous of Louisiana. The third collection, LOOKIN' FOR LUV, is written just to make you smile. To be published in the fall of 2014: Gretchen's first non-historical novel, THE BARGAIN is about two evil women who blight every life they touch until they finally turn on each other. In Gretchen's usual habit of thorough research, these two characters exemplify the psychopathic profile, creating mayhem and heartbreak without feeling a thing. To be published in 2015: TANSY, a novel of early Louisiana, tells the story of a free woman of color who is born into the system of plaçage in New Orleans. She is destined to become a rich white Creole planter's mistress, but she learns that she can shape her own destiny into something far richer and more fulfilling. DESTINY, a novel of the great slave rebellion of 1811. Based on factual accounts, the story begins and ends with Charles Deslondes who leads a double life as loyal slave and secret conspirator as he inspires the slaves to seize their own destiny. Visit her website at

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Friday, January 23, 2015


Woo Hoo! Another great review for MAIL-ORDER TANGLE, the duet Jacquie Rogers and I wrote about cousins who marry sisters. We had so much fun writing this together. I hope readers have as much fun reading the books. Two books in one, the second one continuing the first's story. Each book stands alone, but they flow together very well.

Here's the review by Sorrel of Long and Short Reviews: close to each other and yet so different from each other. They are willing to do anything for their loved ones. Being Mail Order Brides is the last chance for happiness in their lives.

Mail Order Tangle is a set of two books written by two different, popular and best selling western authors. 

Mail Order Promise by Caroline Clemmons

Ellie Dickerson becomes a contract mail order bride to a Texas rancher. She agrees to marry on one condition. Her sister gets to stay with them. However, upon arrival she finds out that her fiancé is dead. 

Erik takes a promise from his younger brother Kage on his death bed to marry his fiancé. A promise to a dying man is binding. Though Kage made the promise he is not willing to marry a city gal. Nonetheless he is willing to take care and make sure she and her sister have a home.

Kage wants a rancher wife. And is dead set that Ellie doesn't have what it takes to become one. 

Through it all, there is someone lurking eager to do anything, even kill to get what he wants.

Will their love conquer? 

I was pretty surprised from the first chapter in how different the sisters were from each other. Ellie is a social butterfly. Much more comfortable interacting with other people in dinners and parties than being in the kitchen or cleaning. However, she gets no choice when her fiancé dies. The simple truth is, they can't go back where they came from. She sets herself to become the kind of rancher wife that Kage wants. Ellie is very stubborn. She makes a drastic transformation to become and survive being on a ranch.

I loved reading how she changed herself. Learning different tasks. Trying again and again until she gets it right. This is a Historical western romance novel. I expected guns and animals and all aspects of ranch life. I got all of that and more. The writing set the scene put me in the story. It was not only a romance, for me there were times that made me smile like a fool while other times I couldn't contain the tears. There was a myriad of emotions to be felt while reading. 

If a book can make you feel things then it's a very good book. This is a very good book.

Mail Order Ruckus by Jacquie Rogers

Matt Johannsen, cousin to Kage returns to the ranch that they built together before Kage had to take care of Erik's ranch.

Laura dickerson, older cousin to Ellie, is set on having Matt choose her for his bride; for that, she contracts to become a mail order bride in the same town where Matt lives. 

Matt is hesitant to marry with his ranch taking all of the money he makes. But he is put in a very tight place when he sees Laura with all the other brides. Laura is bound to get married, to him or someone else.

More, there is someone who wants to destroy Matt and his ranch.

Laura Dickerson met and fell in love with Matt. However, Matt is adamant. He will marry after one or two years after his ranch has gotten profit. Though this decision is taken out of his hands. I very much liked seeing how everyone came together and plotted behind his back so that Laura has every resource and advantage to get him married to her.

There was something about how the animals are depicted in these stories. It was terrifically funny. It really added a comic relief layer to the stories that kept them from being overly dramatic or serious.

It also portrays other mail order brides and their road to love. They find their love and it is entwined with Laura's. I loved hearing the other bride's stories. It is  written in a way that the reader knows Laura is the main character and the other brides are secondary.

Perfect book to unwind at the end of the day and get lost.

Five stars

In case you haven't read MAIL ORDER TANGLE yet and would like to do so, here are the links:

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Wedding Cake (1)

WEDDING CAKE synopsis:

After years of mysteries, murder, and mayhem, the big day has arrived, and Sadie wants nothing more than for her wedding to Pete to be completely uneventful. When she receives a threatening, anonymous text message just days before the ceremony, she's determined not to let it interfere with the celebration she has carefully planned for months. But as the threat escalates from a distant fear to a frightening reality, Sadie realizes just how much she's underestimated the situation. Desperate to put an end to the games, lies, and manipulation that has shadowed her life, Sadie, her fiance, Pete, and her children pull out all the stops. What they don't know, however, is just how far Sadie's nemesis is willing to go to make good on the thread she made to Sadie three years ago.

Will the wedding go off without a hitch, or will "'til death do us part" come far too soon? There's no turning back for anyone in the riveting conclusion to this twelve-volume culinary mystery series.

Wedding Cake


Everyone was silent for a moment, then Malloy pulled himself up a bit straighter in his chair. “This is an investigation that is all about keeping your mother safe. To return home when we have expressly asked that she stay out of the way and allow us to do our job compromises her safety and—”

“Look,” Shawn said with a forced kind of calmness, zeroing his attention on Malloy. “We both appreciate what you’re doing but I think you’re forgetting that my mom isn’t some Sunday school teacher who doesn’t understand what’s what. In the last four years my mother has put over a dozen people in jail, found missing persons, discovered frauds, uncovered conspiracies, solved several murders, saved lives, and managed to break a few noses in the process. To not consider any of those things is . . . dumb, and with this threat being directly targeting her, I think she has the right to be heard in regard to how she would like to handle things. That she’s talking to you about this at all is merely because, at her core, my mother is a well-mannered woman. She doesn’t need your help—heck, she’s not even asking for your help—she’s simply asking that you support her instincts which have proven to be right time and time again.”

Sadie blinked back tears of pride and gratitude as the room reverberated in the silence left behind her son’s words. She had no idea he felt this way about the things she’d done these last years, especially since it was only six weeks ago that her skills were put to use poking around in his business, which he hadn’t liked very much. That he was proud of her and saw her as strong and capable was an enormous boost of confidence.

When no one spoke in the moments following Shawn’s monologue, he turned to her. “Are you coming with me, then?”

Josi culinary

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                                                          Author Josi S. Kilpack

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.


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

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Monday, January 19, 2015


This post is part of a virtual book tour revealing the cover of Alison Packard's newest book Hearts on Fire which will be released on February 3. One randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter will receive a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Country music star Jessie Grant has it all. An amazing voice, a string of multi-platinum albums, and a sold-out concert tour. But just before her Hearts on Fire tour rolls into Las Vegas, her lead guitarist is badly injured and is unable to play. Desperate to find a replacement before the night of a televised live show, Jessie is forced to accept help from the last person on earth she wants to see again.

Drew Carmichael has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best up-and-coming musicians in Nashville, without cashing in on his renowned father’s name. When Jessie’s manager calls and asks him to fill in for her band’s injured guitar player, he agrees to help Jessie out even though she cut him out of her life four months ago.

In Sin City, sparks fly between Jessie and Drew, and it isn’t long before they give in to their mutual attraction. But when the dark past Jessie has successfully hidden for ten years explodes in the media, their tenuous bond is put to the test, and both Jessie and Drew must learn to trust each other if they don’t want their newfound romantic relationship to go up in flames.

Enjoy an excerpt of HEARTS ON FIRE:

Jessie Grant stared at the cheery yellow wall in her dressing room, and fought the overwhelming urge to throw something. Anything. Her agitated gaze fell on the lovely vase of flowers that had been delivered just before the show, and she had to remind herself that violence, especially towards a perfectly innocent bouquet of pink roses and white calla lilies, wouldn’t solve anything.

But then again, it might relieve the tension that was coiled inside of her like a tightly wound spring.

“Calm down.”

“Calm down?” Jessie whirled around and met the exasperated eyes of her manager. “You expect me to calm down when my guitar player, who, unbeknownst to me, was half-wasted during our set, and decided to stage dive into the audience.” She pointed a finger at him. “That broken arm of his isn’t gonna to heal in four days. I need another guitar player, and I need one now.”

“Relax,” Wally Lindell said in a soothing voice. “I’m working on it.”

“How are you working on it?”

She propped her hands on her hips and gave him her best glacial stare. It didn’t faze him. It never did. He’d been her manager since she was fifteen years old, and he knew her better than anyone. So he should have known that she would be totally freaked out about losing her lead guitar player four days before her exclusive gig in Las Vegas, after all, he was the one who had dubbed her a perfectionist.

“I put in a call to Drew.”

Jessie’s already churning stomach lurched wildly. “Drew Carmichael?”

“How many other guitar players named Drew do you know?” Wally shot her a wise-ass grin.

Only one.

“So you talked to him?” she asked, as she moved to the make-up table. She picked up the bottle of water her stylist had left out for her and took a sip. Maybe the simple task would soothe her frayed nerves.

It didn’t even come close.

“What did he say?”

“I left him a message. He hasn’t called me back yet.” Wally shoved his hands into the front pockets of his black jeans and looked her straight in the eyes with an unflinching directness.

She’d seen that look before; the one telling her that while she might be the star, he was the one who’d gotten her there, and before she went off half-cocked, she’d better let him have his say. And of course, she would. She respected Wally far too much not to listen to him.

“He’s the only guitar player we can get on such short notice that knows your set list,” he continued. “I don’t know what happened between the two of you, but whatever it is, you need to put it aside for the sake of this gig, and maybe the rest of the tour.”

“What makes you think something happened?” she asked with feigned nonchalance.

It was best not to let anyone, especially Wally, know how much she cared about Drew.

“Because you two were as thick as thieves last spring, and now it’s like he’s dropped off the face of the earth. Did you have a falling out?”

“No.” Jessie scowled, as she returned the bottle to the table. “We didn’t have a falling out. I’ve been on the road for months now and he…he’s got a life.”

A life that didn’t include her.

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About Alison Packard:

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alison now lives in Southern Nevada where she’s still getting used to the blistering summers and the slot machines in every grocery store.

When not working at the day job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over her head, and supports her book and chocolate habits, Alison spends most of her free time writing. But when she takes a break, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.




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Friday, January 16, 2015


A Grave Inheritance
by Kari Edgren

Karen will be awarding a $25 gift card to one person who comments on this tour. The Rafflecopter is at the end of the post.


Selah Kilbrid may descend from the goddess Brigid, but her heart beats—and breaks—the same as any human. Yet enduring the scorn of London's most noble lords and ladies is a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness. Selah would endure much more for love, and her betrothed, Lord Henry Fitzalan, is prepared to challenge anyone foolish enough to stand in their way—even another goddess born.

But when a captivating young gentleman draws Selah into a world shadowed by secrets, she is forced to confront her darkest fears. What if some differences are too great to overcome and a future with Henry is doomed from the start?

With these doubts threatening her impending marriage, a violent attack on an innocent child pushes Selah to the very edge of her power. She must find a way to cross into the Otherworld and regain her strength—or forfeit the streets of London to death and disease.


Shifting my weight, I subtly gathered a large handful of silk skirts. Then in one deft movement, I turned to face Henry, planting one knee on either side of the cushion and straddling his lap.

His initial astonishment eased to a grin, and I leaned closer until our lips almost touched. “I suggest a duel.”

Henry didn’t even blink. “Gladly. I shall have my second visit Lord Stroud in the morning.”

I tightened my knees around his thighs. “You misunderstand, Lord Fitzalan. I have just challenged you to a duel. Do you accept?”

He studied me for a moment. “I’ve never faced a woman before.” Firelight played against his skin, illuminated the mix of curiosity and amusement in his eyes. “Which weapons do you propose?”

“Hmmm. What shall it be? Swords or pistols at twenty paces?” My body thrummed with excitement, and I had to exert every bit of self-control not to press myself against him.

“I’ve always preferred swords à l’outrance,” he said, his voice noticeably deeper.

“To first blood?”

“To the uttermost.” His warm breath brushed my lips. “Does that suit you, my lady?”

Henry moved his head forward to claim my mouth, but I pulled back just out of reach. “Oh, no,” I laughed. “I’ll be using an even more deadly weapon.” I tightened my knees once more as Brigid’s fire flared to life inside me.

“And what would that be? I’ve heard the only suitable weapon for women is either poison, or their…” His voice trailed off and he swallowed hard.

I leaned closer to whisper in his ear. “Shall I show you?”

His hands gripped my back as a low growl sounded from deep inside his throat. “Yes, please…”

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Author Kari Edgren

Kari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist. Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a spark of paranormal. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.




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Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Today I'm sharing the opening of my upcoming release, WINTER BRIDE. This book is part of the Stone Mountain Texas series. I had planned to release it on the last day of January, but life interfered and now it will be February before WINTER BRIDE is ready for publication.

The hero is Sheriff Butch Parrish. You'll learn his real name late in the book. I have to tell you it's a doozy and one that would cause any man to go by a nickname.

The heroine is Kendra Murdoch, sister of the woman in the scene below. She has been staying with her sister Glenna Tucker to help her recover from a miscarriage and poor health, and to care for Glenna's three children. Kendra dislikes her brother-in-law, Gus Tucker, and you'll learn why below.

Here's a preview of  WINTER BRIDE;

Winter Bride
Chapter One
Late January, 1875
Sheriff Butch Parrish studied the latest batch of wanted posters. With his booted feet propped on his desk, he sipped a cup of vile-tasting coffee. He failed to understand how a brew he loved most times could taste so awful here at the jail.
The door flew open, admitting Fred McGinnis and a gust of freezing air and snow. “Sheriff, you got to come quick. A man’s beating a woman near to death at the livery.”
With one motion, Butch set down his cup, stood, clapped his hat on his head, and reached for his coat. No point asking his part-time deputy why he didn’t stop the fight. Fred could follow directions, but the man was worthless at handling a crisis on his own. 
“Go for the doc.” Sliding on his jacket as he ran, the sheriff pounded down the sidewalk heedless of the falling snow. As he drew even with the livery, a man on horseback left the stable at a gallop heading west. Pete Hoskins appeared and fired at the retreating figure.
Pete lowered his revolver and faced the sheriff. “Dadburn it. Looks like I missed.”
Butch would go after the man after he learned more.  He headed inside the stables. “What happened?”
“I was in the corral when I heard the commotion. Had to threaten him before he’d stop hitting his woman, but he outfoxed me. I bent to see about her and he cracked me on the head. Time I came around, he’d saddled one of my horses and whipped by me.”
“Let’s see about the poor woman.” He knelt beside her crumpled, bloody mass lying on the dirt floor. She’d been beaten so badly he couldn’t tell whether she was pretty or plain.  
“Sheriff’s here, Miz Tucker.” Pete knelt on her other side.
 He didn’t know how she could see, but she grabbed at his sleeve. He patted her hand. “Doctor’s on his way, ma’am.”
Doctor Ross hurried in with Fred trailing.
The gray-haired physician set his medical bag on the dirt floor and tapped Pete on the shoulder. “Move aside and let me at my patient.”
Pete stood and moved behind the doc. “She’s in a bad way, isn’t she?”
The kindly doctor knelt beside Mrs. Tucker and gently assessed her injuries. “Need to get you to my office.”
After only a few moments, he snapped his bag closed, stood, and glanced at the other two men. “Likely she’s bleeding inside as well as what I can see.”
Butch held her hand where she gripped his sleeve, hoping to offer what comfort he could while he peered at the hostler. “Pete, don’t you have an old Army cot in the tack room?”`
The livery owner nodded. “Sometimes I let a fella bunk down in there if he’s down on his luck. I’ve been known to nap there.”
Butch looked at the doctor. “You think we’d be safe transporting her on the cot?”
“Be better than carrying her outright.”
“I’ll fetch it.” Pete strode toward the tack room.
Doctor Ross met Butch’s gaze. “Have to be real careful lifting this woman. Anyone know who she is?”
“Name’s Tucker. Don’t know her first name.”
When the hostler brought the cot, Butch and the doc lifted the patient onto the canvas. She moaned and appeared to pass out, but her fingers remained locked on Butch’s sleeve. Fred and he carried her while the doc followed along.
At the doctor’s office, which was the front of his house, he led them to a room used as a hospital. They transferred Mrs. Tucker to the nearest of the two beds. Butch tried to pry his coat loose from her grip. She tugged on him and he leaned near her split lips.
Gasping through tears, she whispered, “Gus’ll go for my sister. She and my kids are alone. By now they’re out of food and they’re trapped.”
“Don’t you live in Zach Stone’s place?” He knew where that was, though he’d been there before the Tuckers were tenants.
She sobbed, “Yes. Please, sheriff, you have to hurry.”
“Ma’am, I’ll stock up on supplies and leave right away.”
“Thank you.” She closed her eyes and released him.

He hoped she’d pull through—and he hoped he’d beat Tucker to the cabin on Stone Mountain. 

That's the opening scene. I hope your interest was piqued and you'll be eager to purchase this book when it's released in a few weeks. If you haven't done so, please sign up for my newsletter at the top of the sidebar to be notified of new releases, contests, and news. 
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Monday, January 12, 2015


If you remember, I told you my plotting partners and I plotted some mighty fine books last week, if I do say so myself. I thought you might like to see proof of us at work. Yes, it was hard work. We tossed out ideas for one another until way past one each morning, then climbed out of bed and headed for coffee six hours later.

On most of these sessions, we go to a hotel. When the hotel raised their rates, we rebelled and rented a house. For the same price we had been spending for two rooms, we had an entire home and each of us had a private bedroom and bath. Not that we can't share rooms, because we are all grown up and know how to be polite. But privacy is great--especially when you've just spent eighteen hours with the same three people. And the quiet was wonderful. No banging down the hall or overhead. Plus, we could work in our jammies and robe if we wanted. (Kathy did) I forgot my robe and the weather was too cool for just jammies.

The champion plotter is Geri Foster. She has been a plotting friend for over ten years and a friend for twice that. In fact, I wouldn't know what to do without her as a friend. She may be wearing her Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, but we were not Mickey-Mousing around. Okay, we did laugh a lot and eat a lot, but we worked hard, I promise you.

No, we didn't open all those bags of chips you can see in the kitchen behind Geri. Each of us thought, "I'll just toss in a bag or two of chips."

Geri Foster helping us plot

Sylvia McDaniel also writes western historical romance and she "gets" what I'm trying to convey. We laughed because we had similar stories in mind, but the plots turned out very different. I've known Sylvia for twenty years, too. In fact, I owe getting published to Sylvia. When she and three of her friends sold to Kensington in 1998, she was kind enough to tell me the name of her editor and what she was buying. Sylvia prepared a yummy crockpot stew and a pan of cornbread for one night's dinner.

Sylvia McDaniel making notes on her laptop
with a throw over her legs and feet

Kathy Shaw is another two-decade friend and is as funny as all get out. She adds a lot of humor to our sessions as well as some good ideas. Kathy is one of those who shared her editor at Kensington. I love her sense of humor. She's writing a wonderful romantic suspense now. Kathy prepared a delicious enchilada casserole for dinner one night. And she brought extra of her famous white-chocolate-covered pretzels so I could take some home to Hero.

. Kathy was gracious enough to stand near the wall so I could capture the fireplace in the photo. By the way, the fire was wonderful since the weather was damp and cold.

Our plans now are to write with our fingers flying over our keyboards and produce these great new books we planned. Stay tuned! In addition to her Falcon books, Geri Foster has a wonderful new series planned. If you join her newsletter, you'll get free installments of the first in the series twice a month. Sylvia McDaniel has a new novella series planned in addition to her next Lipstick and Lead series release. Sylvia will keep you informed if you join her newsletter. As I mentioned above, Kathy Shaw is writing a romantic suspense, and it's set in New Orleans. I've planned a new Stone Mountain Texas book, a McClintock book, and a new series. Join my mailing list at the top of the sidebar to be informed of new releases.

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