Friday, October 30, 2015


Fury of a Highland Dragon
by Coreene Callahan

Coreene will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

GENRE: Paranormal Romance


Trapped by a future she refuses to face…

Accused of cyber espionage by the United States government, ethical hacker Ivy Macpherson is now on the FBI’s most wanted list. Out of options, she runs, desperate for time to prove her innocence. When fate takes an unexpected turn, bringing her face-to-face with Tydrin, she must decide—trust a man more dangerous than the hunters on her trail to keep her safe. Or risk capture by a covert agency well known for ruthlessness.

Condemned by a past he doesn’t want to remember…

Cursed with a terrible temper, Scottish dragon-warrior Tydrin struggles to atone for a mistake that took innocent lives. Unable to forgive himself, he returns to the scene of his crime in hopes of finding absolution, but discovers a woman in need of his help instead. Intervening in the nick of time, he whisks Ivy to safety, only to realize the daughter of the family he wronged is the one destined to steal his heart.



Feet rooted to the ground, Tydrin stared at the female. He blinked to clear his vision. Nothing. No change in his visual field and—bloody hell. It couldn’t be. He must be seeing things. Must be imagining the impossible. But no matter how many times he forced himself to refocus, nothing changed. She remained front and center, kneeling in the dirt, head bowed, hands resting on her thighs. The submissive position drew him tight, messing with his ability to think for a second.

Tydrin shook his head.

The movement knocked brain cells into motion and…Good Christ. Unbelievable. She was real. He wasn’t imagining her. Or the radiating warmth frothing around her like sea foam. Glowing bright blue, the female’s aura lit up the space around her. Her bio-energy hummed and his dragon half woke, setting off a dangerous chain reaction. Bone-deep hunger punched through. His body came alive. His mind dulled, blocking out everything but her. Long red hair pulled into a messy bun, she shuffled closer to the headstone. Mumbling another apology, she cleared debris away from the granite base. The task was one he usually preformed. On this date, every year when he visited. Right now, though, he didn’t care about his mission.

Or about paying his respects.

Struck stupid by her, only one thought registered—a high-energy female here…in middle the of Aberdeen.

Tydrin frowned. Holy shite. He was in trouble. Neck deep and sinking fast without any idea how to control his reaction to her.


Coreene Callahan, Author
Growing up as the only girl on all-male hockey team, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write characters inspired by them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally gave in and returned to her first love: writing. Her debut novel, FURY OF FIRE, was a finalist in the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest in two categories: Best First Book and Best Paranormal. She combines her love of romance, adventure and writing with her passion for history in her novels. She lives in Canada with her family, a fun-loving golden retriever, and her wild imaginary world.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I enjoy reading about strong women heroines in fiction and in history. Sometimes the fictional women might appear over the top or unrealistic. Historically, though, women have proven themselves to rise to a challenge—especially when it means remaining with or protecting family. Recently, I was reading about heroines of the Old West in Mike Wright’s WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU ABOUT THE WILD WEST.  This is a frightening yet empowering story appropriate as we near Hallowe’en.

Apache Women in camp

An Apache woman named Dilchthe was a middle-aged grandmother captured by Sonoran mercenaries at then Esqueda, Mexico south of present day Douglas, Arizona in the mid 1860’s.  Dilchthe and several other women watched the Apache men executed and were then herded toward the Gulf of California. There they were sold into slavery and shipped across the Gulf to a penal colony on the Baja Peninsula. Many of the women died there, but Dilchthe hung on to life. She was sold again with several women and put to work at a nearby hacienda.

She was treated fairly at the hacienda, but she wanted freedom. Wouldn’t we? She hid food and planned her escape to return to her family. I wonder if she realized how far from them she had been moved?

Desert Dilchthe traveled

Finally, she freed several other women and they escaped. They traveled only at night and Dilchthe led them north along the Gulf. The women evaded the mounted guards sent to track them down and bring them back. Even conserving supplies, they ran out of food. They ate insects and desert plants.

Colorado River

Near the mouth of the Gulf, they faced crossing the Colorado River. Imagine how forceful this river was before damning and pumping to large cities commenced almost a hundred years later. None of the women raised in the desert could swim. Dilchthe promised the women she would find a way.

Gila River

She made friends with an elderly Mexican man who told her where she could safely ford the river. The women pushed northward to the spot the man had described. This was at the confluence of the Colorado and Gila Rivers and later became the site of the Yuma Territorial Prison. Of course the women were afraid, but Dilchthe waded into the water. Her feet struck a sandbar and she waded across the river, followed by the other women.

Yuma (Mojave) Indians

Near Yuma Valley, the women met sweltering heat. She insisted they follow the river, and they persevered for she knew the mountains held powerful enemies. Three nights after they crossed the river, a band of Yuma (also called Mojaves) raiders ambushed them.  Only Dilchthe and one woman survived by fleeing into the brush.

Again they were hunted, but Dilchthe walked over the hot, mostly dry, river bottom past Gila Bend and present-day Phoenix. They skirted Puma and Papago camps and villages. Can you imagine crossing that area with no water, no food, and weary from trudging so far?  These two women were strong!

Dry Riverbed

They were too weak to travel at more than a slow walk, and almost crazed from hunger and grief. At a spot near present day Safford, they collapsed. Dilchthe managed a signal fire. Incredibly enough, the man who saw the smoke was Dilchthe’s son in law. She and her friend were saved.

She had walked more than a thousand miles to be reunited with her family. Can you imagine her welcome as a hero and how her stories were retold again and again? She had outmaneuvered pursuers, carried no map, no weapons, and almost no provisions.

I love this story! We never know what we can do until we are faced with the challenge. Would you be like Dilchthe or one of those who was killed?

Another story of trekking across the land from Central Texas’ Hill Country to North Central Texas is my book, THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP, which is part of the 10-book box set, COURTING THE WEST, now available at Amazon, Nook, 
Kobo, and iTunes for a limited time at only 99 cents.

Dilchte’ story source:
WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU ABOUT THE WILD WEST, by Mike Wright, Presidio Press Inc., pp 285-286
Free photos

Monday, October 26, 2015


Up and In
by Deborah Disney

Deborah will be awarding an eCopy of UP AND IN to 3 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.

Deborah Disney graciously consented to an interview to share with readers.

Caroline: Where did you grow up? 

Deborah: I grew up in Toowoomba, which like many towns in Queensland has an aboriginal name – this one means ‘swamp’ – and I never really understood this as it is located on the top of an extinct volcano and there was nothing swampy about it. I have one older sister who still tries to boss me around. I was a bit of a bookworm as a kid. I am married and have two daughters who are thirteen and nine.

Caroline: My husband and I have always wanted to tour Australia. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Deborah: Women’s Commercial Fiction (whatever that means) and Thrillers are my favourites, and I am a fan of many, many authors. Liane Moriarty is one whose writing I find particularly engaging.

Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Deborah: Wine. Drinking wine.

 Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Deborah: My dad used to always say ‘To thine own self be true’ and as I am getting older, I am realising more about what that really means, and how important it is. So I wrote a book about it …

Caroline: Being true to one’s self is important. How long have you been writing?

Deborah: Forever … but with the idea of actually publishing, only a couple of years.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write?

Deborah: Definitely laptop, and often on my bed. A comfy couch does just as well. I generally prefer it to be quiet.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a pantser?  

Deborah: At the start of the process a plotter. As I actually sit down to write, totally a pantser. One thing that is hard to explain to people who don’t write is that there are times during the novel-writing experience when the story just seems to write itself.

Caroline: And those are wonderful times, aren’t they? Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?  

Deborah: I don’t use real people as characters, but I definitely take inspiration from real people. I think all authors – other than Fantasy authors – do. There will always be some gesture, or facial expression, a turn of phrase, or tone of voice, that comes from something you have seen or heard.

Caroline: I agree—we are the sum of our experiences and we subconsciously draw on them. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Deborah: No to all of those. I write when inspiration hits and when I feel the creative energy burning. Sometimes I don’t write for weeks on end, and sometimes I will write for hours and hours at a stretch. Sometimes in the middle of the night. I can’t ever see myself being a 9-5 writer.

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

Deborah: Laughter. Recognition. Reflection. A resolution to be less bothered by other people’s bad behaviour.

Caroline: All good results. What long-term plans do you have for your career? 

Deborah: I have several books that I need to get out of me, but I am kind of pantsing my way around that too :-/

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

Deborah: I am working on another book that is about friction in female relationships.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Deborah: It isn’t a job. It’s a labour of love. If you see it that way, then any success that flows from publication is a huge bonus. If you view it as a job, you will quickly start looking for better paying jobs.

Caroline: Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

I have trouble spelling manoevre … manouevre …manoeuvre.

Caroline: Me, too. Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Deborah: Even though I was a bookworm in childhood, as an adult I don’t read very much. These days, only four or five books a year :-/

Caroline: That is shocking. I read several times that in a month. But, I know that as we write, we have less time to read. Is your book a series?

Deborah: No. I have been tempted to write a sequel, but it won’t be until after a couple of other books are out of the way.

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?

Deborah: Most of the e-tailers have it. Here’s a link to Amazon:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Deborah: I mainly use Facebook:

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

Deborah: I love it, like LOVE it, when readers contact me. So if anyone wants to know anything else, they are very free to send me a message on Facebook and I would be truly delighted to respond.

Caroline: Thanks so much, Deborah, for sharing with readers. I identify with what I’ve read about your book and look forward to reading UP AND IN. And now please continue reading the information about Deborah's book:

Up and In
by Deborah Disney

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

UP AND IN Blurb:

Distinctly middle-class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.

While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents).

For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.

Fans of Liane Moriarty and Fiona Higgins are sure to enjoy this debut offering from new Australian author, Deborah Disney.

UP AND IN Excerpt:

I first encountered the phenomenon that is Bea when Kate and Mirabella started kindergarten together. Kate was coming home every afternoon with stories about Mirabella. Her rushed delivery of the events of the day was interrupted only by peals of laughter as she enthusiastically recalled Mirabella’s crazy antics. I was so happy that Kate appeared to have made a friend so quickly and I was keen to meet this little dynamo.

One morning I decided to stay in the kindy room for a while with the other mothers, instead of doing my usual drop off with a quick cuddle at the backpack rack so that I could get Sarah home for her morning nap. As we walked into the room, Kate immediately flung away my hand – which she had been holding all the way from the car – and excitedly squealed out 'Mi-ra-bel-la' as she raced off towards a tall, blonde girl dressed in Ralph Lauren from top to toe. As I glanced around the room, I noticed that Kate’s kindy clothes signaled a mother more practical than à la mode, and that although her pre-paint-stained shorts and dark-colored top may not cause me any stress when I picked her up covered in Play-Doh in the afternoon – or as I unloaded them from the washing machine – they were certainly causing me a lot of stress right now. Every child in the room looked ready for a game of croquet. Except Kate. All of a sudden she looked like a little street urchin. Why on earth did I agree to let her do her own hair today?

‘Okay, boys and girls, let’s all say goodbye to our mummies, and let’s put our special art smocks on so we can do some finger-painting!’ announced Miss Collins. Righto then, I guess there was no need for pre-paint-stained shorts. The next day she would be mixing it with the best in her latest outfit … the latest outfit which I planned to go and buy for her as soon as I left the kindy. Sarah’s sleep could wait.

As I was leaving, I noticed a crowd of children around Mirabella – Kate was just one of many vying for her attention. And then I noticed the tall, tanned blonde who bent down to kiss the smaller version of herself, and how she too attracted a crowd of mothers as she made her way out the door.

‘Hi there,’ I ventured a little too loudly as I tried to steal her attention. ‘I’m Maria, Kate’s mum.’

The woman looked at me quizzically. Then she looked to the group of women around her. ‘Kate? Which one is Kate?’ They looked back at her, equally puzzled. Then one announced, ‘Kate is the one who wears the runners.’

‘Ohhh,’ it dawned on them all at once. Add designer kids-size-nine shoes to this morning’s shopping list.

‘Kate just can’t stop talking about Mirabella,’ I continued. ‘I was wondering if she would like to come for a play one afternoon?’

The tall, tanned blonde had still not offered her own name. ‘Yes, perhaps,’ she replied through a forced, yet dazzling, smile. ‘Mirabella does have a lot of activities in the afternoons, though.’

Hmmm, ‘perhaps’? This was going to be harder than I thought. ‘Oh, well, Kate only has swimming which is on Wednesday afternoons, so any other afternoon would be fine with us.’

‘What a shame. That is really Mirabella’s only free afternoon.’ And that was that. If it had not been for two other women chiming ‘Bye Bea’ as they climbed into their four-wheel drives, I still wouldn’t have known her name that day.

Deborah Disney, Author

Australian author, Deborah Disney, grew up in the regional city of Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with her husband and two school-aged daughters. Deborah has a BA/LLB from the University of Queensland and practiced as a solicitor for a number of years prior to having children. She chose to specialize in litigation law as that seemed like the best preparation for what is now her looming battle – mothering her daughters through the teenage years. Deborah's first novel, UP AND IN, is a satirical look at the interactions of school and sporting mums.


Deborah will be awarding an eCopy of UP AND IN to 3 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

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Friday, October 23, 2015


My guest today is the lovely and talented E. E. Burke. She graciously consented to let me grill…I mean interview her. Here’s the interview.

E. E. Burke, Author

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about yourself.  

EE: I was born in a rural lake town in Florida, Pahokee, which in the Seminole language means, Grassy Waters. It wasn’t a swamp, but close enough to the Everglades to qualify. We moved to the Florida coast when I was ten and I became a beach bum. My youth was spent outside playing games and pretending (stories we make up). I did participate in sports, but I wasn’t what you’d consider a jock. I loved to read and when I was in fourth grade I set a goal for myself to read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book in the library. I met my goal…but I don’t think that little local library had very many books in the series. I also loved books about horses, Black Beauty being my favorite. I had a major crush on Tom Sawyer and daydreamed about rafting down a big river with Huck Finn.

After a college foray through Texas and another nine years in the Lone Star State, I moved to Missouri, met my husband and finally ended up in Kansas City. Sometimes people ask if I miss Florida. Nope. Love to visit, wouldn’t want to live there again. Too crowded. Plus, I love the seasons and I’d miss seeing nature put on a show.

Family stuff. I’m married, 30 years to the same man, and we have three wonderful daughters, 15, 26 and 28. One married, but the only grandchildren at the moment are the four-legged variety. I grew up with a younger brother, who I bossed around, as is the right of the big sister.

Caroline: I also have a younger brother. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

EE: Favorite genre is historical anything. I love history, even textbooks. As far as favorite authors, don’t get me started. There are WAY too many to name here. I enjoy so many I hate limiting it to a list. But if you insist, I’ll give you a few longtime favorites: LaVyrle Spencer, Jill Marie Landis, Teresa Medeiros, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Lisa Kleypas, Francine Rivers (take a deep breath). Another author whose sagas I adore is Rosanne Bittner, and this year she released a sequel to her classic, Outlaw Hearts--after 20 years! Isn’t that awesome! A whole new generation will fall in love with her outlaw, and rediscover a wonderful romance writer. Several books I’ll highlight as favorites: True Grit (Charles Portis), Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtrey), Enemy Women (Paulette Jiles), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), North and South (John Jakes), Anne LaMott’s memoirs (oh my can she write!). And if you want to know some of my current favorites, check out Get Lost in a Story every Tuesday for my Best of the West guests!

Caroline: You named some of my favorites. I was able to hear Anne Lamont speak last year in Fort Worth. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

EE: Traveling is how I relax most. Even if it’s just a day trip to do research, I find going places and exploring both relaxing and rejuvenating. Prowling around art museums and galleries is one of my favorite things to do. Hobbies…hmmm…does making fancy martinis count? I enjoy cooking and experimenting with food, but I wouldn’t say it’s a hobby.

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

EE: I’ll quote one of my favorite authors and my personal muse, Mr. Twain.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Caroline: I’ve collected many of his quotes and that’s my favorite. How long have you been writing?

EE: Eight years ago, I jumped ship on a marketing career to pursue what I believe I was created to do--tell stories. I have not looked back once.

Caroline: Obviously, you are gifted at writing and I’m glad you chose to pursue your stories. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

EE: I have a home office and write there most of the time. When the weather is nice, I’ll sit out on the screened in porch and write. I love listening to the birds and natural sounds as background. I also listen to period music.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

EE: Both. I always attempt to outline a story and develop key turning points, but once I start writing, everything changes.

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

EE: Both. My Steam! Romance and Rails series is set against actual historical events during the expansion of the railroad across America. Several years ago, I got hooked on AMC’s television series, “Hell On Wheels,” which follows the transcontinental railroad story. At the time I was working on a Western historical romance based on a railroad race, and it struck me that a railroad story would make a great romance series.

Being a history geek, I dove eagerly into research to find inspiration for my series. I enjoy weaving real events and people into my stories, so that readers will feel they've been transported back in time and are reliving history. I enjoy putting historic characters into my books. (Her Bodyguard is populated with many "real" people.) They aren't usually the main character, with the exception of one. In A Dangerous Passion, the hero, Henry Stevens, is loosely drawn from the first general manager of the Katy Railroad, Robert S. Stevens. Described as a man with "dark flashing eyes and a meticulous style of dress," he was a larger-than-life persona in the history of this legendary railroad and he provided a perfect blueprint for a romance hero.

Caroline:  Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

EE: I write every day, sometimes I set word count goals, other times I just sit and write until I can’t write anymore.

Caroline: I’m familiar with the “write until I can’t write anymore” method, which reminds me of a cousin who worked land “from can to can’t”. ☺ What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

EE: Discovery. Whether it’s learning something new. Discovering something about other people or themselves. Or finding the happy ending we all long to experience.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

EE: Write until I fall over dead.

Caroline: Yes! And die sitting at my computer. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

EE: Two projects: one is a secret and I can’t tell you, but it involves 45 authors who will be making publishing history. Look for an announcement on Nov. 1. I’m also researching the next book in my railroad series.

Caroline: I’m in that same secret project and eagerly anticipate the November 1 announcement. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

EE: Plant your butt in a chair and write.

Caroline: Truth!  Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

EE: I was a disc jockey at a Top-40 radio station during college

Caroline: That is a fun fact. Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

EE: Gosh, I must be a boring person because nothing I do would shock anyone.

Caroline: I know your book is a series, can you tell us about it?

My current release, Fugitive Hearts is part of the series Steam! Romance and Rails.

Caroline: Would you give readers a blurb about your book?

EE: Of course.

“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”

Hotel owner Claire Daines is a respected member of the community. Until she shocks the entire town by rushing into a saloon wearing only her nightclothes and confessing to very inebriated lawman.

Is she a killer? Is she crazy? Or is she covering up something worse?

For years, Claire hushed up her husband’s dangerous condition to guard his reputation. When tragedy strikes, she puts her own life at risk when she vows to keep another terrible secret.

Sheriff Frank Garrity must get to the truth, although the tough, hard-drinking lawman hides his own secrets and would rather walk a lonely path than face his demons. But as Frank unravels Claire’s subterfuge and unlocks her heart, he’s torn between his desire to save her and his duty to bring her to justice.

Caroline: Wow, that certainly intrigued me. How about an excerpt?

EE: Certainly.

Parsons, Kansas, March 3, 1874

“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”
Her honeyed voice sounded familiar, but what she said sounded like pure nonsense. That or he’d misunderstood.
Frank Garrity raised his head from where he’d laid it on his arms after he got tired of holding it up. He dragged open eyelids as heavy as wet canvas and squinted at a fuzzy feminine image clothed in pure white.
God above. An angel.
He tried breathing. The smell of cheap cigars and even cheaper whiskey convinced him he was still in the saloon, therefore amongst the living, which meant he’d slipped into another drunken delusion. He only thought he saw an angel standing there, confessing murder.
This specter looked more substantial and far more pleasurable than the others that haunted his dreams. A wealth of dark hair cascaded over her shoulders, past the point where the scarred tabletop concealed her lower half, keeping the rest of her a tantalizing secret. If inebriation brought on angelic visions like this one, he’d have another drink.
He curled his hand around an empty whiskey bottle, but couldn’t recall finishing it. Regret flickered. Normally, he didn’t drink this much. Only on days when guilt overcame his good sense and there was no other way to obliterate the pain. God might’ve sent an angel to warn him not to overindulge.
“Did you hear me?” The angel’s dulcet voice wavered. “I killed Frederick.”
“Who?” Frank blinked, bleary eyed and confused. The only Frederick he knew lived next door with his wife. Claire.
The whiskey-drenched fog cleared. So did his vision. Frank jerked his attention to her face and shock struck him square in the chest.
No angel. It was the owner of the hotel, Mrs. Daines. He hadn’t recognized her right off because she didn’t have on a dress.
He closed his eyes and then opened them to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. Nope, still there, in her nightgown and wrap, although the proper lady he knew wouldn’t be caught dead in a saloon, much less looking like she’d just crawled out of bed.
Her hair hung loose, in disarray. Her face had an unhealthy flush and she had a wild look in her eyes. She thrust her arms out at him, turning up delicate wrists, pale and blue-veined. Her slender fingers curled inward as if cradling something fragile. “I-I’m turning myself in.”
Surely, the poor woman’s mind had snapped.
Frank came to his feet so fast his chair flew back. It clattered to the floor, all the louder because the noise broke a hushed silence that had fallen over the crowded barroom. No tinkling piano, no clinking glasses, no catcalls, not even a giggle from the scantily clad serving girl a few feet away, wide-eyed and stock-still.
He stumbled against the table as he wheeled around to where the crazy woman stood, holding her arms out in that ridiculous position like she expected him to slap manacles on her. Determined to get her home before the whole damn town saw her in her unmentionables, he stripped off his heavy overcoat—which he’d kept on because the thin walls didn’t stand a chance against the freezing temperatures—and flung it around her shoulders, hauled her up against him and made for the door in as close to a beeline as he could manage.
Not too roostered. He hadn’t fallen over and only weaved slightly.
The next instant, her arm slipped around his waist to steady him.
“Dang it, woman, let me do the rescuing.”

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?  

Amazon - as well as other major online retailers

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

EE: From these links:

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

EE: I’m a contributor to the romance blog Get Lost in a Story, and I feature new finds in historical romance. My “Best of the West” series of interviews features authors who write American historical romance. Over the past four years, I’ve discovered some great new (or new to me) books and authors. I’d love for readers to come by and check us out. You might find your next good read!

Caroline: Thank you for sharing with us today. Best wishes for continued success in your writing career.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Dear Readers,

Sorry I'm late with this blog post. Darling Daughter 1 shattered her femur Monday and had lengthy surgery this week. We have been at the hospital with her and I lost track of days plus had no access to my computer. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes to encourage you (and me).

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." ~ Chinese Proverb

‎"There are many things in life that will catch our eye, but only a few will catch our heart...pursue those." ~ Unknown

"Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Leo Buscaglia

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Pessimist: A person who believes O is the last letter of ZERO instead of the first letter of OPPORTUNITY." -Author unknown

“The most important word in the English language is hope." Eleanor Roosevelt

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Albert Einstein

Found written on a cellar wall where Jews had been hiding in Cologne, Germany during WWII.   "I believe in the sun even when it isn't shining.  I believe in love, even when I am alone.  I believe in God, even when he is silent."

The Dalai Lama says . . .
"Spend some time alone every day."
"Learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly."
"Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it."
"What's my dream worth?"

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ~~Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech

When the dream is big enough, the odds don't matter. -- Chuck Yeager

The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear. -- Herbert Sebastian Agar

No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. - Jeanne Bice

Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Beckett

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. - Dale Carnegie

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
--Robert Schuller

Be the change you want to see in the world. Ghandi (my favorite)

Monday, October 19, 2015


Last Seen
by Jo A. Hiestand

To get us started, Jo A. Hiestand has graciously consented to an interview. Stick around for the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this interesting interview and post about the series. Here we go:

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Locale? Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock?  Married, single? Children?

Jo: Hi, Caroline.  I’m quite excited about talking with you!  I grew up in St Louis, where I currently live.  I’ve lived here all my life except for the year I spent in England – Bolton, Lancashire – when I was trying to get into folk singing professionally.  Through school, and even now, I’m a definite bookworm.  I love to get lost in mysteries or British history, imagining what things were like.  I’m still single but they say it’s never too late to marry!

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Jo: Hmmm, that’s a difficult question about authors because I like so many.  My favorite mystery author is Ngaio Marsh, one of the Queens of the Golden Age of Mystery writing.  Her writing is beautiful, her characters are so well drawn that they jump off the page with life, and her plots are quite ingenious.  I also like Charles Todd and Peter Lovesey, as well as Ann Cleeves and Josephine Tey.  As you can tell from this list, I love mysteries!  Daphne duMaurier is another of my favorite authors in the romantic suspense category.  Bertram Fields, a lawyer who approaches historical mysteries from the direction of proving it in court, is outstanding when he explains and makes cases for those enigmatic subjects. And, while we’re in the history category, Antonia Fraser is also brilliant with her books on the Guy Fawkes Plot, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII’s wives.  Classic book author favorites are Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas, and Charlotte Bronte. When I want to laugh, I read Richard Armour and Mark Twain. Throw in Walter de la Mare for atmospheric poetry, and you’ve got most of my favorites.

Genres are mystery, of course, British history from the Middle Ages through the Georgian period, nature essays and biographies on the Plantagenets, Tudors and people involved in court, such as Cecily Neville, William Cecil and Francis Walsingham.

Caroline: You’ve named some of my favorite authors. My husband and I love mysteries from the Golden Age of Mystery. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Jo: Music is always good to recharge my batteries and relax to.  Favored categories are American and British folk, Dixieland, classical and baroque, early virginal music, anything by Handel, and 1940s big band.  Hobbies run the gamut from baking and playing guitar to crewel embroidery and photography.

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Jo: Gol, that’s easy.  It’s “When Life gives you a rainy day, play in the puddles.”

Caroline: I love that one. How long have you been writing?

Jo: I’ve been writing seriously since 1996. My first published piece was an article in Mystery Scene magazine, about my tour of the Ngaio Marsh house-museum.  My first mystery novel was published in 2004.

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

Jo: I’m rather traditional in my writing habits.  I sit at a desk in my home office and write on a 21” desk-style iMac.  I have a lot of maps, photos, and books that I refer to, so I need a place to spread out.  Plus, I like my office environment.  It’s filled with mementos of my trips to Britain and things related to my protagonist McLaren and the clan to which I belong.  It all creates a satisfying environment.  In general I like quiet, especially when I’m writing the first one hundred or so pages of the first draft.  I have to concentrate!  But I like music when I’m attacking the second draft – baroque, especially Handel or Bach, is my preference, because I tend to listen to vocals if they’re playing!

Caroline: I listen to classical music when I’m writing. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Jo: I don’t outline, but I have paragraphs of notes, including what clues will be given when, or major events that should happen in specific chapters.  I have to plot the basic story, know where I’m going so I can focus on the outcome and get everything solved by then.  McLaren mysteries are easier for me to write than my police detective Taylor & Graham series.  In that one, since they are police officers, certain things have to be done in correct order by specific individuals.  I have time schedules and chain of command charts and who-does-what notes, and I still end up getting something wrong, which necessitates large edits.  McLaren, as an ex-police detective working on his own, can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he can do things a serving officer can’t.  It’s great fun, but I still have to plot so I bring everything to a successful conclusion.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Jo: The short answer is yes!  The more clarifying answer is I use historical events for ideas.  In McLaren’s mystery LAST SEEN I used the Minstrels Court for the catalyst of the murder.  The Minstrels Court was an on-going extravaganza of musicians, jugglers, acrobats, dancers, and other entertainers who entertained at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire.  The event was so well loved and successful that it endured for more than two hundred years.  Leslie Smith, the curator of Tutbury Castle--where the Court took place--suggested it to me as the perfect launch to the murder.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Jo: Oddly enough, I have no goals.  I write most days because I love to write, not because I have any deadline.  I can usually get an 85,000-word manuscript completed, from plot inception to final corrections, in six or seven months.

Caroline: What a lovely and orderly office. Mine is embarrassing by comparison. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Jo: Entertainment, first of all.  Then I hope they loved McLaren as much as I do.  I hope they learn something of the place in which I place him, like Uther Pendragon’s Castle or the tides of Morecambe Bay, or the endangered black rhino.  I’m grateful, too, if they get immersed in the story and like it.  If they feel like they’re actually running through the wood or walking in the rain or poking through an abandoned house with McLaren, that gives me immense happiness.  I know then that I’ve written it well enough and poured out my soul.

Caroline: I confess you’re a new author to me, but I’m eager to read your series. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Jo: I’d love for the BBC to pick up the McLaren series and produce them for television, and for PBS to air them in the States.  I can’t control that, but I’d be over the moon if that happened.  For my own plans, I’d like to keep writing McLaren mysteries as long as readers want them.  I’m toying with an idea for an historical series, but haven’t cemented it yet.

Caroline:  I hope that happens for you—and for your readers. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Jo: Actually, it’s an exciting project…at least to me!  But first a bit of explanation so you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  Each McLaren book features a song that’s important to the murder victim or to McLaren.  The lyrics are in the book.  Fine.  But I thought it’d be great if the reader could actually hear the song, thereby feeling the emotional connection to the victim or to McLaren.  So I contacted various St. Louis musicians and they’ve recorded the songs that go with each book.  These come on single-song CDs that I sell on my website.  Different musicians and different style songs for each book.  That’s the background.  As of this writing, I’m nearly finished with McLaren’s ninth book, FLIGHT PLAN.  I wanted something musically different for this book, so I asked my friend Robert Chamberlin, a nationally-known composer, if he’d write a two-piano piece for FLIGHT PLAN.  He came up with the idea of a six-movement piece, each movement based on a character or scene from the book. The world premier performance will take place in autumn 2016. 

LAST SEEN Companion Songs

Caroline: How exciting. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Jo: It sounds simplistic, but writing is subjective.  Just because one editor at one company doesn’t accept your manuscript doesn’t mean it won’t be accepted by a different editor elsewhere. Keep writing and keep submitting.  It can get discouraging, but if you stop, you’ll never get published.  You’ve decided your own fate.  Don’t lose the chance to see your work in print.  Keep at it!

Caroline: Excellent advice! Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Jo: At a Girl Scout camping competition I won first place in the log chopping contest.

Caroline: That is a fun fact. Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Jo: I was bitten by a rabid skunk.

Caroline: Good heavens, how terrible for you. I know your book is a series but tell us about the series.

Jo: LAST SEEN is the second book in the McLaren Mystery series, featuring ex-police detective Michael McLaren, who quit his job over a great injustice done to a friend.  He now repairs dry stone walls in Derbyshire, England, and investigates cold cases on his own.  Six novels have been published by a former publisher, so my current publisher is revamping/editing/tweaking them and bringing them out as new editions under new titles (characters might be deleted, scenes are added, dialogue edited, sometimes chapters are switched around…).  The series originally had the word ‘song’ in all their titles, but this didn’t sound like the book was a mystery, so I’ve come up with new titles for all the books.  COLD REVENGE is the first book that’s reworked and reprinted; LAST SEEN is the second book out.  It’s 330 pages.  I have two completed manuscripts that haven’t been published, so they’ll be brand new to readers when they are published next year.

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about LAST SEEN?

Jo: Sure, I’m happy to!

One dark night, popular singer Kent Harrison goes missing after his performance at Tutbury Castle.  When his body's found in a forest, the police investigation focuses on Kent's ex-wife, a local herbalist, a covetous colleague, and even the curator of another castle who tried to lure Kent into performing there.  But his occasional singing partner, Dave Morley, seems to have the biggest motive.  He's dying to make his name, money, and the big time, especially at the medieval Minstrels Court reenactment, where Kent's appearance guarantees SRO.  Did Dave murder Kent to eliminate the competition...or had their partnership struck a wrong chord?  To entice him into investigating, ex-cop McLaren's girlfriend plays detective.  But Dena ends up in great danger.  Now McLaren must not only solve Kent's murder but also rescue her, a hard task when a blast of jealousy, anger, and lies mutes the truth.

Tudbury Castle

Caroline: How about an excerpt?

Jo: Here you go:

Rawlton Hall appeared hardly more than a silhouette against the fading evening sky by the time McLaren eased over the brick wall and dropped to the ground. The impact barely made a sound and he glanced at the dark shape before him, half expecting it to jump in fright. He crouched at the base, hardly daring to breathe, and glanced around. From his low angle, the turrets seemed to scrape the clouds that crawled out of the west, their bellies dark and holding the scent of rain. A shaft of moonlight spilled onto the crenellation and down the wall, and threw back pinpricks of light from the leaded window.

McLaren drew in a breath, trying to still his racing heart, and half stood. The sounds of crickets and owls remained unchanged, as did the splash of the brook. He glanced at the Hall, waiting to be bathed in spotlight glare or attacked by dogs. But the night remained unchanged. Nothing seemed upset by his presence. He snapped on his torch and made his way to the car park.

Other than two estate vehicles at the far corner, it was devoid of cars. No watchman appeared from the booth near the main road; no dots of torchlight marked the grounds. McLaren walked slowly as he swept his torch beam across the rock-strewn surface. Time crawled with him, having no presence other than his breathing and the sporadic calls of night birds. A breeze played across the grass and wound through the trees, bringing a drop in air temperature and the pending rain scent closer. He glanced at the sky as thunder rumbled in the west, then pushed on.

He’d covered the bulk of the area when a car slowed on the road. The headlight beams flicked to high as the car stopped on the verge. The purr of the idling engine bore into McLaren’s ears and he ducked behind the booth and turned off his torch. The motor stopped, a car door slammed, and a figure stepped across the stream of light, shutting it off momentarily. As the shape moved onto the verge the footsteps dulled. A muffled “Damn” floated over to McLaren, followed by the crunch of disturbed gravel.

McLaren crouched behind the booth, his palms against the wood surface, his stare on the moving shape before him. The form paused at the entrance to the car park and stopped for what seemed like an eternity. Waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, McLaren wondered? The gravel crunched again, moving toward the other end of the lot, coming toward him. The sound continued until the figure stopped at the point closest to the Hall. Moments later, a bright light snapped on, directed at McLaren; he flattened himself on the ground. The light holder seemed not to notice him, for the beam immediately shifted downward and began sweeping sideways in meter-wide arcs.

The examination of the car park lasted for nearly a half hour. McLaren shifted his position several times to keep out of the searcher’s view, for that’s what the person obviously was doing. Looking for something. But what? Or was it just nerves, perhaps returning to the scene of the assault to find something that might have been left behind? He could think of no other explanation that fitted this midnight visit.

The figure finished his hunt and retraced his steps, but more haphazard this time. He hurried, the light flitting over patches of gravel that looked newly disturbed. When he’d finished with the lot, he walked around the perimeter, venturing onto the lawn and periodically probing the grass. Several times he would straighten and throw something toward the Hall, a twig or stone or coin, McLaren thought. Once the figure even pried something from the soil, but dropped it with an angry “Hell.”

He stood at the patch the torchlight playing over the expanse of gravel in random bobs and jerks. It disappeared behind some trees, focused on the roots and soil around the trunks, then emerged to shine again at waist-level as it pointed at the ticket booth.

The footsteps moved faster this time, the crunch of gravel firm and headed toward McLaren.

He kept the booth between them, creeping as quickly as he could to the opposite wall as he corkscrewed around. The figure evidently didn’t hear, his light and gaze on the ground. When the light suddenly snapped off and only the rumble of thunder sounded, McLaren froze. Should he remain there or move? What was the person doing?

Despite the warmth of the night, perspiration soaked McLaren’s shirt. His pulse throbbed in his throat. He considered tiptoeing around the booth’s corner and jumping the man, but if he mistook the man’s position, coming face-on, and the man saw him…

The gravel shifted and the steps turned the way they’d come. McLaren stepped back as the light played into the lot. When the figure cleared the booth, McLaren lunged forward.

His fingers reached for the man’s clothing as he found himself falling. The torches crashed to the ground, and McLaren and his adversary were plunged into darkness. Arms and legs thrashed as both men fought for control. McLaren grabbed a wrist but felt it turn and slip from his grasp. His palm pushed against the ground to keep him upright, but he crumpled as a shoe kicked his side. He fell in a rush of pain and blackness.

Caroline: Ooohh, very intriguing. Where can readers find your books?

Jo: They’re available through and Barnes and Noble online, as well as my website.  I believe any bookstore can also order them.  For LAST SEEN, here’s the Amazon link:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Jo: Well, I’ve got a Facebook page and I have a website.  Those are, respectively:

McLaren has his own website, too!  He’s got touristy type articles of interesting spots in Britain, notes on music (no pun intended), occasionally there’ll be recipes, and there’s information on up-coming books and their companion CDs.  That site is

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

Jo: I’m not sure they could stand any more!

Thanks for inviting me to chat, Caroline.  I hope you invite me back some time!  Jo

Caroline: Anytime, Jo, just let me know and you’ll be welcome.

Another LAST SEEN Excerpt:

She seemed to be floating in a bizarre landscape where time had ceased to function and the sole inhabitant stared mutely at her. For, framed in the open doorway, silhouetted against the florescent light in the hallway, stood a tall figure dressed in dark coloring. A rubber mask of a smiling Margaret Thatcher covered his face. His hands were gloved, the left holding a coil of rope, the right holding something dark that glistened in the light. He stepped into the room, not speaking, yet making his desires known with the gesture of the gun.

Jo A. Hiestand, Author

Jo A. Hiestand knew in grade school that she wanted to be a mystery writer.  But life got in the way: singing in a semi-pro folk group, traveling to New Zealand, working as a camp counselor, co-inventing P.I.R.A.T.E.S. (a mystery-solving treasure-hunting game), becoming a tour agent for a Scottish folk singing group, attending a citizen police academy and riding along with police officers…  But she needed to immerse herself in All Things British for her books.   England beckoned and she responded.

She bee-lined to Derbyshire, feeling it was the ‘home’ of her books.  Derbyshire also bestowed the essential English police contacts and transformed the St. Louisan into an Anglophile. 

She’s returned nearly a dozen times to Derbyshire, researching and photographing for her McLaren cold case detective novels.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.

Follow Jo and McLaren on these websites:


Jo A. Hiestand will be awarding a McLaren/"Last Seen" ceramic mug and a CD recording of the song featured in the book to several randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour (International Giveaway).

a Rafflecopter giveaway